Saturday, March 26, 2016

27 March 2016 Easter Sunday

Happy Easter!   

"Our Savior’s Atonement does more than assure us of immortality by a universal resurrection and give us the opportunity to be cleansed from sin by repentance and baptism. His Atonement also provides the opportunity to call upon Him who has experienced all of our mortal infirmities to give us the strength to bear the burdens of mortality. He knows of our anguish, and He is there for us. Like the good Samaritan, when He finds us wounded at the wayside, He will bind up our wounds and care for us (see Luke 10:34). The healing and strengthening power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement is for all of us who will ask."  Elder Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference October, 2015.
This talk by Elder Oaks is so powerful in helping us understand that the atonement is more than just paying for our sins and the resurrection.  We are so grateful for the blessings of the Atonement and for our Savior Jesus Christ.  We are grateful to represent Him here in the Philippines.  It is a beautiful day here in Naga.  We hope it is the same for you wherever you are.  (Elder and Sister Hoopes)

Elder Doria will be NJ and Sister Corpuz is in Irvine CA.
We started this past week by delivering two missionaries to the airport on Sunday. They were Elder Doria and Sister Corpuz who had both been called to missions in the US but could not get their Visa's and so were assigned to this mission until the Visa's came through.  That happened this past week and they flew to Manila on Sunday.  We were planning to go to the Pili ward for church on Sunday and as the airport is nearly to the city of Pili,
Sister Corpuz with two companions from Pili and
a little sister from the ward.
we volunteered to take them to church with us and then deliver them at the airport.  This was special to us because we had just been to Pili on Tuesday of the week before to pick up Sister Corpuz and bring her to Naga for her last week.  She had loved Pili and was so thrilled to be able to go back to the ward for Sacrament meeting.  Of course, there were lots of hugs and tears before we were able to leave and head to the airport and they asked her to speak in Sac Meeting.

RS program last Saturday with dances from each Ward.
This is fromt the Naga 2nd Ward.  Glenda, one of the piano
students is the one in front.  Love teh cowboy touch.
The rest of the week was almost like usual with an English test on Monday; piano lessons on Tuesday in Pasacao; District meeting and then a wedding reception of some friends on Saturday.  In between all of this was shopping because we had done little the week before; car washing and some downtime to rest from the labors of the previous week.

This is from the Naga 3rd Ward dance presentation.

Wedding reception buffet line.  Sis Hoopes made
donut "holes".  They should be invisible but aren't and
still have calories but tasted really good.  That is Sister Gamil
at the table.  Mother of the Groom.

Yasir and Marie Gamil.  He is a RM from Australia.  We met him early last
year and his family have been good friends to us.  Marie is a RM also.  

These three pictures are fromt the Wedding reception on Saturday (yesterday) of Yasir and Marie Gamil.  They were married on Thursday in the Manila Temple.  It is quite a trip to go to the temple.  This wedding was planned to coincide with a stake temple day.  They arrange for a bus and leave on Wednesday evening about 8.  The bus drives all night and they get there the next morning.  Spend the day in the temple.  If it is 2 days, they stay overnight in the Temple housing and then leave the next night for home and get home about 5 am.  Makes for along trip.  Both returned missionaries.  Yasur is the Elder Quorum Pres in the Naga 3rd Ward.

President and Sister Reeder at the reception along with
our good friends the Lopez'

There is not much else to say about this week other than it was very busy for Sister Hoopes. It was Holy Week here and Friday is a big day so she cancelled piano lessons on Friday night but was cooking most of the day getting ready for Saturday.  She had volunteered to take desserts to the wedding reception.  Then she offered to bring Bread Pudding to the choir members for Choir practice on Saturday night. She was running from early Saturday morning until late Saturday night.  Now Sunday is here and we have the program in church at 1 and then dinner here with President and Sister Reeder and Elder and Sister Watson.

And thus begins another week.  

Gia Valenciano next to Sis Hoopes and her mother (Naga 3 RS Pres) on the
far left along with our 2 Sister Missionaries in Naga 3.
The sister on the far right will be going to Mesa when she gets a Visa.

This little guy is named Wilford Woodruff Tud, the oldest child and son of
Bishop Tud in Pili.  He told me he wants to be a missionary.  His
grandfather is the Patriarch of the Naga Stake.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

19 March 2016

These are not hippo's but Carabau or Water Buffalo.  They love
water and mud.  There are several others not visible in this view.

This was a routine week with some minor variation from other weeks.  I will explain mostly by pictures - some from way back that we had intended to add earlier.  We will note what each one was about.  

We went with the Watsons to Lubigan which is a small branch/area in the Pamplona District.  None of us had been there before. We saw these Carabou on the way there.  It was a beautiful little place.  The Watsons had scheduled a meeting to talk about Family History and we went for fun but Sister Hoopes was able to talk to a sister who plays the piano and wants to learn more.

We visited a museum which was on the campus of University Nueva Caseras. The Watsons had seen it advertised as a Museum of Naga City.  When we arrived, a man greeted us and actually took 2 hours with us and showed us through the entire museum.  He is the Curator and has been there many years.  His name was Clodualdo N. Ceron and he was a very cordial and helpful guy.  He said that he knew the leader of our church Mr. Collado and that the Collado daughter had been one of his students.   Elder Collado is one of the Area 70 out of the Manila area and was just recently here on a visit with Elder Nelson.  Elder Collado had previously been a Mission President in the Philippines.  We were treated royally again and thanked profusely for coming to see the Muscum.  I think there are not many people who visit the museum but we enjoyed it and learned a lot.  It would not have been so special without him to show us through.

The Museum contained a lot of history of the University as well as the Philippines.  There was information on the 300 years of Spanish occupation and also the time the United States was here.  The founder of the University was named Jamie Hernandez and he was an accountant/auditor.  I believe that he had, at one time, been in government in the Philippines.  On our way out, we were shown a large document on the wall which was a paper written by Jamie Hernandez on "What Makes an Auditor".  I am sure any of you would be thrilled to read this. Actually, I was interested but Mr. Ceron pointed out one section which talked about Moral Integrity which was very good.

The important part is in the picture here but a little hard to read.  The important part is: "Moral integrity!   Those are not mere words.  These are basic elements of any organization composed of human beings.  You take out those elements and that organization become and empty shell.  It becomes a mistake of nature."  He goes on to talk about the need for integrity within the auditing function and how important it is to for an auditor to be of high moral integrity.  We really liked this and have put a picture of it here just to keep for our memories.

The need for moral integrity is not just for auditors but everyone and it is the only way we can truly relate to each other on this earth.  Sadly, this element is missing in so many of the relationships today whether it be government; business; social; and even within family relationships.  The lack of such integrity is one of the signs of an iniquitous people as identified so often in the Book of Mormon.  This article was written in 1959.

Us with Mr. Ceron from the University Museum.  Sister Hoopes
says that I didn't know I married an Angel.  See her HALO in
this picture?

The rest of the week was piano lessons; picking up missionaries who needed to be moved; assisting on car issues; and so forth. That is it for this week.

PDay at our apartment on Monday.  Also Elder Beard's BDay.
Sister Hoopes had been promising them Mexican Food.

Elder Howard, Elder Hofeling on the left and Elder
Imalay on the right.  E. Hofeling is the new AP.

Elder Garcia on left, Elder Beard with the cake and Elder
Tan on the right.  No candles but it sure tasted good.

President asked us on Tuesday to go to Pili and pick up the
Sister on the right.  She is a VISA Waiver going to Irvine
California and will be leaving on Sunday.  She is crying.

In Lubigan.  This cowboy rode right past the church and up into the trees.

Elder Costner from New Mexico.  We deliverd a package
to him on Sunday.  He is in Buhi but we saw him at the
Iriga District Conference last week.

Sister Killian from Washington also received a package.

We took the Baao Sister and Elders home and they had an
investigator with them who we dropped off here.

Notice the quaintness of this little place.  There are benches on both sides of the little bridge. Everything is cleaned up nice.  There are people in the doorway watching us and one can just picture the inside.  Probably a couple of rooms and some very minor furniture. Probably no water inside or cooking facilities. It does appear to have a solid floor.  Still a very picturesque little place.

We were given some coconut milk and Buko which is the
young coconut.  I am feeding Sister Hoopes the Buko.  She
loves it!!!!!!!

This was taken a little while ago.  The Elder on the right is
Elder Aquino.  He was here on Visa Waiver waiting to go to
the Las Vegas Mission.  He is there now.

This little guy is the son of President Tino in Bato.
When we visit, he sits by me and finds the songs
in the Hymn book for me.  Cute little boy.

Friday, March 11, 2016

12 March 2016

A very different and interesting experience this week!

This was taken during the early procession
into the meeting hall.  They grabbed
ahold of me like I was going to escape.
I have mentionend in past weeks, I was invited to speak at the Brentwood College of Asia International School Commencement Exercises.  I was also asked to give the invocation.  I received the program ahead of time and could see that there was a speaker from Vancouver, Canada so I invited Elder and Sister Watson to go with us.  The event was held at a large center which was not far from the old Mission Home and so we were able to get there quickly and easily.  We left at 3:30 pm, as the event was to start at 4:00.  We found a parking spot and went through a gate that was controlled by security guards without any issues (I think our uniforms give us away) and were promptly greeted by some young women who we did not know.  We were ushered into a large reception hall that was very nice and beautifully appointed. We were given a place to sit while they were getting ready. About 4 pm they started a procession of the graduating students which seemed to take forever but it was interesting to watch.  They had kids from preschool all the way to college who were graduating that day.

After a while, two young women came and asked me to go with them.
The US flag was recognized and the National Anthem was
played by the band.  It was beautiful and great to stand at
attention with our hands over our hearts in a foreign country.
They led me out of the building and up some stairs; across a balcony and then down an elegant winding set of stairs to the outside courtyard where we had entered.  We progressed through the courtyard and then back into the hall and I was seated in the front on the stage.  I was the only one there at this time.  The other speaker came a little later and was ushered in like I was and then the President of the College and the Administrator both ushered in and  sat on the stand.  We had met the President and Administrator before at an English evaluation day at the school and they were very nice and gracious people.  (This was covered in a post last year)  The Philippines National Army Band was there and played a few songs during the ceremonies and also during the Dinner Party afterwards.  Interestingly, the US flag was prominent during the Presentation of the Colors by the Military Police.

The graduating students.

When everything finally got going, we had a speech from the President followed by lots of different recognitions during which the students all came forward in a slow procession again to receive their awards.  At some point, the Canadian named Francesco Cena spoke. He is a young man who is an entertainer, Mr. World Canada, Mr. World Talent, a debate coach, along with many other accomplishments.  They had 2 pages of written material that they covered for him.  I was feeling quite inferior by the time they finished with his Bio.  But, he was very genuine and a great speaker.

Taken during the Dinner Party.  Frankie Cena on the right.
Next to him is the President and then the Administrator is
the woman standing in the middle.

I was scheduled as the closing speaker and it was probably about 8:30 in the evening so we had been there for a long time.  The theme for the event was "7 Billions Dreams, 1 Planet, Consume Carefully".  I took one look at that and said to myself, "I am not going to give a green speech, that just isn't me".  I decided to talk to everyone as an individual about God's plan for us; what God wants for each one and how we relate to each other.  I basically gave a shortened version of the workshop which we do for the Missionaries going home.

The dance group outside in the courtyard in some of their costumes.
 After the formal activities were over, there was a Dinner Party which I hadn't planned to stay for because it was so late but we ended up staying and it was very wonderful.  The facility was beautifully laid out.  There was a nice buffet line but we sat at the Presidents table and we were served.  The food was Filipino and was excellent.  We also had entertainment from the band and from a group of Native Philippino dancers which was very good.

It was truly a memorable evening and I am glad that the Watsons went with us.  We had a great time.

The dancers in the Gazebo in the courtyard.

The whole week was busy with transfers going on from Monday through Wednesday.  After the long night on Monday, we taught the all day workshop on Tuesday and it was probably one of our best days ever.  We had invited our Bishop, Alan Bigtas, to attend and he was really helpful and offered good insight from a Filipino perspective. The concepts we try to teach are especially important as there is a special emphasis on Self-Reliance here in the Philippines.
Wednesday, we helped with the orientation of 15 new missionaries, who arrived that morning from Manila.

That is enough for this week.  We will have lots of pictures of new missionaries and transferred missionaries next week.  Take care......

Saturday lunch at our place prepared by Elder Luardo who
went home on Wednesday.  

Elder Luardo with a plate of Mexican WEDDING cookies
made by Sister Hoopes.  It was a special joke for him
to remember to go home and get married.  We will
miss him.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

5 March 2016

And the playing continues.....

This is the skating apparatus.  Small engine and moveable
bench seats.
Monday was District activity day and we went skating....   Not the kind of skating that you would think of when in Utah or Woming. There is no ice!  This kind of skating is done on a small platform on train tracks.  It is actually a mode of transportation for people who live along the train tracks.  This form of transportation is a small platform built on top of some rollers which fit on the tracks.  It has a small gas engine which drives it and a couple of bench seats which can be moved on and off as the need dictates.

One might ask, "What happens when you meet a train or someone coming from the other direction"?

Easy answer.  You just move everyone off and pick it up and move it.  See the picture.....

The district on the skate.  The driver took the picture.  Sorry,
the sun made it very difficult to get a good picture.

Another question might be, "How many people can you get on one of those things"?  Answer: We don't know.  On our way back from nowhere, we started with our 14 and the driver. We stopped somewhere between 7 and 15 times to pick up additional passengers and being wedged in between people, it became impossible to see how many were on our skate. I asked one of the taller missionaries standing in the back to try to count and he finally came back to me and said, "I think about 30".

We actually had a really good time.  The skate moves along fast enough that you feel every bump and connection on the tracks but we got a nice breeze and that made it really good for us.

The rest of our week was just like the past weeks.  We traveled some for piano lessons and Zone training meetings.  Sister Hoopes has been preparing some guides to help non English speaking missionaries practice English.  The following is one of her stories for them regarding the tricycles that provide so much of the transportation.  

(EX. A tricie is a motor cycle with a built on side cart that carries 1 -50 people.  It is a major transportation provider in the Philippines, one must wear a gas mask to survive traveling more than 1 KM (kilometer) if following a Jeepney on a Tricie, because of carbon monoxide poisoning from  the exhaust fumes.)

This is so true!!!

Program for the Graduation Exercises on Monday night.
Notice the Guest of Honor speaker.

We start getting really busy now.  We are leaving this afternoon for a Pamplona District Conference Adult session; tomorow is Buhi Branch in the Iriga district; Monday is the speech at the Brentwood College of Asia International School and Tuesday is the Career Workshop. 

I am adding to this post an email which we received from one of the Missionary Sisters who returned home in January.  It is so fun to read.

Elder and Sister Hoopes! 

        Thanks so much for forwarding the powerpoint and for the sweet email! Your career workshop was totally awesome and has helped me so much in the past almost-month since I've been back. I loved the practical spin you took on Elder Christofferson's talk! I loved the quote "He will not act to make us something we do not choose by our actions to become" and have found it so true even in the almost 4 weeks since I've touched base with the mother land. The day after I got home I was still so inspired ( and jet-lagged) that I applied for BYU Provo, and good thing too, cause the deadline was in 2 days! If it wasn't for your powerpoint and extra push, maybe I wouldn't have applied. Then that same day I applied for BYU, I went out and got a job as a receptionist at a dentist office. I just marched in there all confident, told them my "skills" with wording from that personality test sheet, and BAM I was hired. This week BYU responded and lo and behold I got accepted! So here I am, not even a month back, and I have a great job and start school in the fall. 
Everything has been falling perfectly into place as I've put myself in a position to have it be so. The Lord is so merciful to his obedient and hard working missionaries that really give their all, and is so ready to pour out blessings when we aim high and show Him by our actions what we wish to become. Thank you so much for gearing my mind to think about the future, its really made coping with the loss of the past a much better experience! There is so much to look forward to in this life and I'm just grateful I get to keep living it and figure it all out. I miss the mission SO much, those people changed my life and I love them dearly. I learned so much and my testimony and faith became real to me. The good thing though is that the real life has plenty of opportunities to use that faith and testimony, and I only hope to continue to do my best every day. Dadagos man ako :)

       Thanks again for the workshop, the cookies, the spontaneous rides in your car, and everything else. 

        Love, Sister Chloe McGrath

That is all for this week.  

Look close.  He is turning the skate while on the tracks.  He
lifts one end and puts a jack stand under and then pushes
down and swings the entire contraption around.  The bench seats
are sitting to the right.  They will go back on after turning.

All were invited to the Hoopes' apartment afterwards for hot dogs and fresh donuts.
Hot dogs for breakfast?  The hot donuts were wonderful.

The entire group for breakfast after the activity on Monday.