Saturday, February 27, 2016

27 February 2016 Ibayugen

A week of playing and partying!        Well, maybe not quite...

From the boat sailing towards Ibayugen.
 We left Monday morning early with the Watsons and President and Sister Reeder on our way to Ibayugen.  This is a remote area on the other side of the lake which is near Buhi. We arrived a little late due to traffic issues but met 6 missionaries there and our boat to cross the lake.  It took about 45 minutes to cross the lake.  After arriving on the other shore, we had to walk a short distance into the village but it was mostly on a concrete path.  There we met with Branch President Oliveras from Buhi and some of the members in the group in Ibayugen.  We had picked up Branch President Botor from Baao on the way.  We learned that he likes to go when he can.  He is a security guard and he always stood in the back watching over everything as if he were there protecting us.  And MAYBE he was although we never once felt threatened or in any danger.  

Native tribe during their dance.
Sister Missionaries along with the chief in red in the middle
and another woman who I don't know.
There is a native tribe that lives there of about 2000 people.  A few of these native people did a cultural dance for us which showed their gratitude for their lives and the earth.  We struggled to understand the interpreter's explanation of their beliefs but a lot of this was about gratitude for the light and life of the earth.

 A very few of these natives are members.  The chief of the tribe is a woman who is 80 plus years old and not a member.  But they love the Mormons.  We had heard before that a few years ago, a landslide had covered their water supply and they asked government and other religions to help them get water back to their village.  The only ones willing to help were the Mormons through the Church Humanitarian services.  The church went in and developed a new water system and piped it to the village.  To this day, the church is highly respected in Ibayugen and also in Buhi.  

There are missionaries who go there almost daily to teach and they are having great success.  We keep hearing that if the chief were to get baptized, all of the tribe would be baptized.  Consider bringing an entire stake in at one time. Some day, that is going to happen.  

The chief (woman in red in front) and the others from the dance.

This is the home where they hold the church meetings.
We had a great time there with these people.  The chief spoke a little english but no one else does.  So, with help from the missionaries and Branch Presidents, we were able to get along great.

President Botor (Baao branch and our body guard) and me looking
over the lake before returning back to Buhi.

Pres and Sis Reeder along with Elder Kostner from New Mexico.
Pres Botor helping Sis Hoopes from the boat.

The rest of the week:
Piano lessons in Pasacao on Tuesday.
Dinner with the Reeders and Watsons on Wednesday
Couples party in Pamplona.  We went with the Watsons on Thursday evening.
Friday was Naga Zone Conference.

Still seems busy when I start writing about all the things we were doing this past week.  Next week starts with a District activity on Monday morning which we will participate in.  Then it is prepare all week for the following week.  I, Elder Hoopes, have been asked to speak at the Brentwood College of Asia International School Commencement Exercises as the keynote speaker.  I will also be giving the opening prayer.  I have received an invitation which I will post next week.  And then on Tuesday is the all day Workshop for the missionaries going home.

Plastic wrap from the Bautista's and one of the bags of sugar.
Lastly, this week we received an unexpected gift from some great friends in Canada.  One of our Elders here in this mission is from Naga, Elder Bautista.  His parents sent him a package which included some things for Sister Hoopes.  If you can't tell from the picture, it is a large roll of film which dispenses so easily and 3 bags of Canadian sugar.  Sister Hoopes said she might start baking again now that she has this wrap.  And then, just a couple of days ago, I heard her say, "Oh, I am so excited.  I get to use my roll of wrap" as she wrapped up half an onion.  Thanks to you dear missionary parents for your blessings to your missionaries and to us.

That is all for this week.  Take care.

This is a closeup of a small hut on the lake.  They were all over
and people live here on the lake.  See the boat which is their
access back and forth to land.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

20 February 2016

District Leaders of the Naga Mission
After such a huge week, we deserved to have a slower week.  After the General Authorities left on Sunday and we got things cleaned up at the Mission Home, we came home and just relaxed.  We didn't have choir practice so we were able to just enjoy the quiet afternoon and evening.

Monday, as usual, was English testing again although only 2 actual tests with one additional practice test with Elder Peralta who is one of the assistants and will be leaving the office in 2 weeks.  He actually goes home in April.  I, Elder Hoopes, spent all my spare time preparing for the District Leader Training on Tuesday.  I have been teaching a part of this meeting since nearly a year ago.  It is held quarterly and is for all of the District Leaders in the Mission.  My assignment is to teach from the Handbook 2 the part on, "Leadership in the church".  It is a very great lesson that I enjoy teaching to these young men. I really appreciate President Reeder allowing me to be part of this. Sister Hoopes attends with me and gets to spend more time with Sister Reeder.  My part only takes 45 minutes but we spend the entire day with them.  It is always special for us to be with the Missionaries and President and Sister Reeder.   Unfortunately, they are usually talking about and dealing with missionary health issues.

Elder Wright and his companion in the office on Tuesday.
Monday night, I, Sister Hoopes, gave a piano lesson to a single adult sister that had been introduced to me by the Piano Teacher who taught piano lessons all last summer at the church next door.  Cilyn was a very good student who picked up my teaching method very quickly.  I was so impressed with her that I decided to send a keyboard home with her that night.  We had an extra long lesson and then it took an extra 15 minutes to set her up with a Keyboard.  Because it is so bulky to carry in a box, and she had a very long way to go, I put the keyboard in the carrying case, and because it had been a little rainy earlier, I decided to cover the keyboard and carrying case with 2 plastic garbage bags, although it was not rainy at the time.  About an hour later, I received this message "Good evening sis. Hoopes...this is sis cilyn...I got hold-up but don't worry they did not take the organ maybe because it is wrapped with garbage bag.  They took my bag with the manual you gave me in it so I cannot practice.  I'm sorry, they have gun with them I did not get the manual."

We felt the hand of the Lord blessing her that night. This brand new keyboard was the most valuable thing that she had.  But to the robbers, it must have looked like garbage. This sweet young woman was robbed and threatened and still worried about not being able to practice, I know she will be a blessing to her ward and her keyboard was saved by the hand of the Lord.  I also learned that I we have to be careful and are protected as a people as we go about the Lords work.

I, Elder Hoopes, took a sick day on Wednesday and I was actually quite ill.  I thought I might have Dengue because of some mosquito bites I had the previous weekend and how I felt but we decided it was probably some kind of flu.  We did all our natural treatments during the day and I received a blessing on Wednesday evening from Elder Watson and felt pretty good on Thursday.  Back to normal pretty much on Friday. Sister Hoopes was feeling a little down yesterday but still did piano lessons last night and again this morning.

We have a big day coming up on Monday.  We are going to Ibayugen with the Watsons and Reeders.  This is a small and remote area where we have a group of saints who are part of the Buhi Branch.  We are going there for a special program that they are putting on for all of the missionaries who are in Buhi and for us.  We drive to Buhi and then get on a boat and cross the lake.  At the shore, we will walk a little way on a dirt path and climb a hill to get to the meeting house which is the home of one of the members.  We look forward to going and meeting with them.  It should be quite an adventure. Will have lots of pictures and an update on our visit for next week's post.

Following are a few pictures from the week.  Have a great week!!
Our air conditioners have been giving us  trouble so they
got a cleaning on Thursday.  Notice the hole in the wall.
That is where the unit sits in our main area.  Another one is
in the bedroom.

Units being cleaned using high pressure washer.

We bought the coconut to drink the milk for 25 Pesos (50 cents).  This is a young
coconut called Buko.  You just spoon out the soft coconut
and can eat it.

One of the great students who has learned to play quite
well taking lessons from Sis. Hoopes.  This is Glenda.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

14 February 2016


It is now Sunday afternoon on February 14, 2016.  It has been a really crazy week in many ways and a GREAT week in others.  I will explain.

We had a visit this weekend from Elder and Sister Russel M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve.  With him were Elder and Sister Ardern from the Area Presidency and Elder and Sister Collado, the Area Authority Seventy.  We were notified of the visit a few weeks ago and President and  Sister Reeder asked Sister Hoopes and Sister Watson to take care of providing all of the food for the visit.  That meant a Saturday morning meal; a Saturday afternoon meal and a Sunday lunch after all the meetings were finished.

This was a very special visit for Elder and Sister Watson as Sister Nelson is the first cousin of Elder Watson.  She is from Canada originally and they have not seen each other is about 15 years but have communicated a little by email.  They commented on the fact that they would go clear around the world to meet up with each other.

Choir practice with missionaries on Thursday morning
The week went like this:

On  Sunday, we went to the Naga 1st Ward which meets in the Canaman chapel.  We met with the Bishop about a girl in his ward who has been taking piano lessons from Sister Hoopes.  She needs encouragement and support from the ward.  After this meeting, we went back to our Naga chapel where we attended Priesthood and Relief Socity with the Naga 2nd Ward.  This was just for fun as we had invited the Watson's over for dinner in the afternoon.  Our Naga 3rd ward now meets at 1 pm.

Monday was English tests again for most of the day.  We will finish up the testing tomorrow for all of those going home in March.

Tuesday we left early again for Pasacao for piano lessons and then back to Pamplona where Sister Hoopes met with another Sister who is teaching piano lessons to 9 kids from her area.

One of two practice Lemon Meringue pies.  The Elders were
thrilled to be able to test it for us.
Wednesday was a shopping and food preparation and testing day.  See the attached pictures.

Thursday was District meeting day for all districts.  We had called a Final Practice for the Missionary Choir which was held in the Canaman chapel.  This chapel was being cleaned for the visit of Elder Nelson and it took a major effort to get them to open up and let the missionaries come in to practice but after the practice they all had to go elsewhere for their district meetings.  We went back to our apartment to continue with the food prep and testing.

Food prep at our place on Friday.  We also had lunch with
the Watsons this day.

Friday Sister Hoopes and Sister Watson went shopping for the final things needed for the food preparation on Saturday and Sunday.  Piano lessons in the evening for Sister Hoopes which went until 8 pm.

Saturday morning early, we left for the Mission Home to prepare the Saturday morning Brunch for the visitors arriving around 10:30.  Sadly, the Philippines airline did not cooperate. They were distracted by the fact the "Pres. Aquino of the Philippines" had priority.  He was in the Naga airspace and they wouldn't allow anyone else in, until he had cleared and so, the visitors did not arrive until just in time for their meetings in the afternoon.  Some were able to get a little to eat before they had to run.  Saturday afternoon dinner was very quiet so the food was either very good or they were very hungry and tired.  Maybe all three as Sister Hoopes and Watson received all kinds of praise and recognition for all the food.

Sisters surveying the table for the guests.
Saturday evening was soup and salad with bread sticks and the Quiche from Saturday morning. Sister Hoopes prepared a Pasta Fagioli soup using a "copycat" recipe from the internet.  The soup tasted just like the the soup from the Olive Garden restaurant. They loved it and Elder and Sister Nelson asked for more of the soup on Sunday at lunch.  The Collado's also asked for more when they saw what the Nelson's were eating.  The missionary choir sang  the Hymnplicity arrangement of "Joseph Smith's, First Prayer " during the  Saturday evening missionary session. Our young Elders and Sister did a wonderful job. But more importantly they had a wonderful time preparing and singing for an Apostle.  Sister Baird lead the arrangement and Elder Garcia played the piano, which was no easy task.  This was a brand new experience for them all.  Most of the Elders and Sisters have never sung parts, yet they tried and learned to really enjoy trying to learn to sing. All the missionaries from the entire mission were invited to the meeting.  It was a great time to hear from the Reeders, Arderns and the Nelsons.  Elder Nelson spoke very personally to the missionaries about their calling. He referred us to D&C 31. This section names a number of blessings that are OURS because "of your faith in my work". The blessing that so many of us desire is "I will bless you and your family, yea your little ones; and the day cometh that they will believe and know the truth and be one with you in my church". We all come from different circumstances in our lives, but we all have the same desires, that our families will join with us,"that they will believe and know the truth and be ONE with (US) in (HIS) church".
He then left a special Apostolic blessing upon all the missionaries.  It was very special to all of us who were there.

After the General Authorities left the Mission Home.
Sunday off to the Mission home early.  This lunch included Sister Hoopes' special chicken salad sandwich with her own rolls and an excellent Italian vegetable salad from Sister Watson.  Lemon Meringue pies were made and finished early Sunday morning but were too hot to take up at the time and we never did get them up to the visitors.  However, they had plenty to eat and were very satisfied.  We know that the missionaries downstairs are very hopeful that they will be the recipients of some of the pie as they are being stored in their refrigerator.

This week was truly different because it involved so much of the food preparation and cleanup to make the visit for these General Authorities special.  Also, we were glad to take the burden of food prep and planning off Sister Reeder. The choir practice and singing, proved to be quite stressful as I, Sister Hoopes,was running back and forth between the Mission Home, where we were feeding our visiting authorities, and the chapel, where we had 20 minutes for a final practice. Me thinks I must have been acting quite stressed out because Elder Howard said.  "It's alright Sister Hoopes you just have to have faith. It's good!",  as I was trying to get "38 youngster's" into place and ready to go, before an Apostle of the Lord appeared to shake their hands!!!

That's all for this week.  Hopefully, things slow down a little.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

6 February 2016

The week after transfers is always a slower week and we are grateful to have a little less going on.   

This week in quick review was as follows:

The New Zealand Rib Eye STEAK
English Tests all day on Monday
Pasacao for Piano lessons
Feeding Missionaries 
Missionary choir practice for Elder Nelson's visit next week
Month end car reports
Feeding Facility Management
Piano lessons in Naga Friday night and Saturday morning

The week included another visit to the restaurant which the Watsons found and took us to.   The menu included a beef steak from New Zealand so Sister Hoopes just had to try it.  It tasted good but was quite tough with lots of gristle.  She says she
will give them "one more chance"! "Flavorful
tasty steak, too bad I had to chew and
swallow it!"

The assistants for Chili Dogs.  Elder Tan said the next day
that he was  addicted to the chili.  (after one time eating it)

These Elders got Chili over baked potatoes.  I think they
liked it!
A thought for this coming week:

I read a talk given by Elder Holland at a Mission President's Training in June of 2013. This talk is featured on the church web site at  It is titled, "Knowing The Godhead". It was an excellent talk on the Godhead and their roles and relationships. I was very touched by a concept which he identified near the end of his talk.  It was in relationship to his testimony of the Holy Ghost.  

He said, "I testify that through the power of the Holy Ghost, we can chase darkness from among us and be warned against danger and against untruth. I bear witness that the Holy Ghost is also the Holy Spirit of Promise, confirming and authenticating covenants and ordinances and ultimately sealing all saving blessings unto eternal life. I am in awe that we have such ready access to a member of the Godhead and have it so constantly and repeatedly if we live worthily of it. I express my near inexpressible gratitude
for the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Missionary choir practice
The underline and bolding of the text are mine. While the concept is not something new, it is not something I had really thought of before. How marvelous that we can actually have a member of the Godhead available to us at any point in time. The Lord has provided for us everything that we need to move ahead in this life to fulfill the measure of our creation. We just need to live worthy of it and take advantage of everything that He has provided for us including the Savior's atonement and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

That is all for this week. The picture's captions give enough information about each of the pictures.

Until next week.
Our Facility Maintenance friends came by for an
American breakfast of fried potatoes with eggs, ham, bacon
and pancakes. 

Elder and Sister Watson went to Buhi and brought these
bananas home with them.  They were green and covered
with bugs so we stored them in our laundry room.  Now they
are ripe all at once.