Sunday, December 20, 2015

19 December 2015

A busy week!!!

Transfer week coupled with a Typhoon coming through made for a hectic and somewhat unsettled week.

9 Elders out to play basketball for the last time at 5:00 am on
Tuesday morning.  All are going to the workshop that day and
going home on Wednesday.  They love their basketball.
We heard on Saturday that a Typhoon was headed our way and would hit Naga sometime on Monday afternoon.  With transfers happening on Tuesday and Wednesday, everything was up in the air as to what would happen with the Workshop on Tuesday and then flights to and from Manila on Wednesday.  Finally, on Monday, President Reeder told us that it appeared that the Typhoon would move further south and that we should plan on the workshop as usual.  Actually, everything worked out all right other than we lost power for an hour on Tuesday which really hindered our workshop but it came back on and we were able to finish.

The whole crew for the workshop.  Elder and Sister
Watson joined us for the day.
You might wonder why power is so important during the workshop.   The entire day is on a Power Point Presentation and while the laptop can run on battery, the projector requires power.  In addition to that, the presentors require AIR CONDITIONING!!!!!  Even though we might have emergency power (which doesn't work in the chapel we were using), it does not cover the air conditioning units.  So, we were all very grateful for the power to come back on.

Then on Tuesday evening, we heard that the Manila office was sending the new missionaries by bus on Tuesday and that they would arrive at the Naga Mission office on Wednesday morning at 7:00 am.  Nothing more was heard until about 7:00 am Wednesday morning and then the message was that the new missionaries were NOT coming by bus.  It was canceled due to signal 2 storm warning, too dangerous to travel by land. So back to plan "A" travel by plane.  The new missionaries arrive usually by plane about 10:30 Wednesday mornings and the missionaries going home fly back to Manila on that same plane.  President Reeder did not even know until about 9:30 whether the new missionaries would actually get there on the plane and whether he could send those going home out on the plane.  But it all worked out okay.  Those going home got out and those coming in came in.  Everyone just has to learn to be patient and "go with the flow" and let it all happen.  It usually works out fine.

8 Elders for breakfast on Wednesday.  There were more
over the course of an hour.  Some are office Elders
and the rest are new Trainers coming in to get their
new companions later in the day.

We had a great day on Tuesday teaching some wonderful missionaries who went home.  Most of them we have gotten to know very well and we just love them and will miss them.  Then another great day on Wednesday with the new missionaries who just arrived.  We also got to spend some time with the trainers of the new missionaries.
With all the delays and changes, it resulted in an impromptu French Toast Breakfast, with NO trimmings.  Elder Teichert, aus (from) Cokeville.  Declared the French Toast breakfast, "Christmas come Early".

President Oliva of the Cotnogan branch.  This is in
his office.  His plaque and certificate for his award
are on the desk in front of him.

We had big plans for Friday that didn't materialize.  We were going to go with the Watsons to Buhi and then cross the lake on a boat and go to the new Ibayugen Group Christmas Party planned for Friday afternoon.  But it rained so hard on Thursday that we chickened out and visited Cotnogan instead. The Watson's had received some money from their ward members to be used for Christmas presents for needy kids and they had purchased a large amount of toys.  We delivered some of those to President Oliva of the Cotnogan branch on Friday.  I am including some pictures of him.  He has been the Branch President for 24 years and is just a wonderful man.  He is the Captain of the local Barangay.  That is like being the mayor of a small town.  It is an elected position and he is really loved by the people in this little community.  He won an award on Friday night as the best Barangay captain in the province and  he won 100,000 Pesos for the Barangay.  It is interesting to hear him talk as he told us that all of the programs he has instituted in the Barangay are church programs.  For example, he said that they have a Fast Offering program.  It is not called Fast Offerings but it is a way for people to donate extra food which is given to someone who needs it.  They also have a Word of Wisdom program to help people with drugs, alcohol and tobacco.  He takes no credit for himself but said all of the successful things that he has done have come directly from the church.
The plan for the community. 
I was very impressed with a 10 year plan for the community which he put together.  Many of the things on the plan have been completed and others are still goals.  This is truly a great man in this community.  Thanks to his membership in the church, he has been able to bless not only the members but the entire community of Cotnogan.

Watson's and Sister Hoopes along with Pres. Oliva.
We were reading the other day from the Book of Mormon about the people and conditions after the Savior visited and taught the Nephites in the land of Bountiful.  It is interesting how the people were all one at that time.  That is, as Mormon tells us, there were no "ites".  No Nephites, Lamanites, Zoramites, etc.  They were all one people without any distinctions to differentiate them.  It struck me that while we don't have the distinction of "ites" in our language and culture, we do have a myriad of groups of people. Unfortunately, everyone is now classified by race or color; by immigration status; membership in groups or gangs; and now splintered even more by religious affiliation.  We used to all be one in this country, we were all Americans.  The Evil One has intentionally gone about creating splinter groups with the intent to create hostility and even violence among all groups of people.  Some are openly calling for death and violence upon other groups. All this is contrary to what the Savior taught. I pray that we may see what is happening and bring the Lord back into our lives and the lives of our beloved brethren. The return of the Savior to live with us again is contingent upon learning to love all people.

We took some packages to the Elders Apartment who were
not home.  They asked us to leave them here.  This is where
they hang clothes to dry.  An unfinished top of the house
they live in.

Stairway up to the unfinished part.  I am trying to catch
water dropping down.

We drove up on Mt Iriga for a view of the city below.  This is
the remains of a hut which was mostly destroyed by the
Typhoon this past week.  It overlooks Baao.

A rice paddy being planted.  The baskets hold the new rice
plants which he is dropping off at specific intervals.

These guys are planting the new plants in the mud.  It is amazing
how fast they put them down and how exact their
planting is.  

Last minute preparations! Our audience awaits!
Sister Hoopes:
Well, today was the ward Sacrament Christmas program.   As far as I can tell, it was the very first one in Naga Phippines.   I know it was the 1st for the Naga 3rd ward and the Naga stake.  Anyway, I consider it a great success.  Our ward choir was large and well supported.  Members never complained about practicing, only Elder Hoopes!!! They sang solo's when asked, accompanied with the violin, met in groups and offered so much support.  This was new for them to have someone to be able to play music and for them to learn and sing parts. It was such a joy for me to help them participate in a beautiful program with a beautiful message.  "Never has there been a happier people" sharing a Christmas message.   Merry Christmas to all.  May the Spirit of Christmas be with you all week long!

1 comment:

  1. You and your sharing of your talents has blessed them forever!
    Years ago a couple from our stake serving in Vietnam had some Messiah songbooks sent over and they taught the members some of the songs and performed The Messiah for the first time ever there!