Saturday, April 30, 2016

30 April 2016

It is now official.  We will be returning home on May 19, 2016!

The first question that will be asked is:  Are you coming home early?   Answer: Yes.
The second question will be:  Are you sick?  Answer:  NO!

Tinandayagan Falls and Resort.  We visited here on Friday
before going to the Pamplona Zone Conference for lunch.
We are not sick right now and don't know that we have any major diseases or illnesses. However, we and President Reeder have recognized that we have had some ongoing health issues and a loss of energy the past few months.  President Reeder started the discussion and even suggested that we consider going home sooner. We do know that nothing will change while we are here so we decided we should go home where we can start to take care of ourselves.We have basically completed all of our major assignments but still have a few little things we need to do before we can leave.  Some of the "to do" things is a piano recital on May 11;  speaking in Naga 3rd Ward Sacrament meeting on May 15, and then another commitment to speak at a special conference for the Univeristy Nueva Caceras on May 16.   We both speak in the afternoon and when we are done - we are done! We will fly the next morning to Manila where we will spend 2 nights and then fly home from Manila on May 19.

We visited this great man and his family while on the Iriga
Zone trip.  This is the Branch President of Baao.  They live
in humble circumstances but he is always smiling.

We have had a fun week.  As we are very near the end, we and our closest neighbors (the Watsons) have been visiting each Zone Conference to say goodbye to the missionaries. We have now been to 3 of the 5 zones.  We have not been going to the full meetings but just stopping in for lunch.  That has given us some time to visit other sites or people while in the area.  It is our intention to attend the entire conference for the Naga Zone.  That is our home Zone and we want to hear the messages from President and Sister Reeder.  

This is where they cook and the water hand pump is on the left
in the area outlined with wood.

There are many people who live right around here.  As soon
as we got there, the whole yard filled up with kids.  The family
here has 4 children.

The rest of our week was filled with the following:  Pick up and drive a Sister Missionary who finally got her Visa for the US and take her to the airport.  She is going to the SLC Temple Square mission.  We were excited to tell her that we would be seeing her again soon.

We also had lunch for the Office Elders which included 2 extras - the Zone Leaders were on exchanges with the Assistants that day.  Pictures are below.

The Elders fixing their own enchiladas.

This is serious business!!!
Pamplona Zone

Iriga Zone
The rest of the week was piano meetings and lessons along with cookie baking for the Zone Meetings.  Sister Hoopes started a tradition of taking cookies to every meeting so she can't quit now.

The week went by fast and the next two weeks will be the same.  We still have a lot going on with visits to Branches to say goodbye.  We will never see them again.  We also have at least one large trip to make with the Watsons to visit Caramoan which is a resort city on the ocean front which is a long ways away but still in our mission.

See you soon!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

23 April 2016

An interesting week with a lot of emotion!
Taken in Daet on Friday at Zone Conference.  This is on the
Eastern side of the island.  

We had so many different things to do this past week which always keeps things interesting.  

The week went as follows:

Sunday:  Church in Naga 3 to see Elmer John Nebria Galon speak before leaving for the Baguio Mission.

Elmer joined the church about 3 years ago and is the only member in his family.  His father left the family years ago.  His siblings work out of the country.  A grandfather and a nephew live with him and his mother.  He is just a wonderful young man who turns 20 in June.  He worked in a call center and speak English excellently.  He is going to be a great missionary and is so excited to go and serve.

Elmer with his mother.  She is sad to see him go.  This was
the night of his setting apart.  It was in the old Mission Home
since our church is being demolished. He got on a bus to go to
Manila an hour later and arrived there Friday morning.  Notice
the words above the door.  Very appropriate.

6 Sisters and 1 Brother who will be teaching
others to play. piano.

Monday:  Sister Hoopes held a 2 hour meeting with piano teachers at the CES building and then we had a meeting with President Reeder at his home.

Tuesday:  We taught the all day workshop for 5 missionaries going home. The sad thing for us is that this was the last time we will teach it here. There were 3 Elders and 2 Sisters going home. We enjoyed this class again and have just loved being with these young men and women who have served so diligently.

Bishop Bigtas is on the far left.  He has agreed to take our material and teach it for the next group going home which won't be until July.  The new Mission President will have to decide what he wants to do from there.

Wednesday:  Sister Hoopes had piano lessons all morning at CES and then in the afternoon, we drove to San Fernando to pick up some souvenirs.  Wednesday night, we went to Elmer's home for a small "party" before he left on his mission.  He and his mother had cooked food all day and it was very good.  We are still a little careful about what we eat but we are still doing good and it is now Saturday.

Thursday:  We went to Iriga with the Watsons and did a little shopping at the market.  The Watsons met with the Zone leaders at the church to talk Family History and Sister Hoopes met with one of the Young Women who plays piano and is willing to teach some of the others.  We were also able to meet with both Iriga Branch Presidents while there.  Always teaching and supporting these great young men.

Just one of the booths at the market.  An appetizing display
of DRIED FISH !!!!!!

 Friday:  We went with the Watsons to the Daet Zone Conference so we could see all the missionaries and say goodbye to them.  We will not likely see any of them again while here in the Philippines.

I took a lot of pictures.  Perhaps your missionary is in one of them.

Take care.  We will write again next week and probably have some news about when we return home.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

17 April 2016

Happy birthday to all the birthday kids at home!!  (children and grandchild)

James -  April 15, Jon- May 16,  Jason - May 10, Justin - April 26
Jesse,  April 18, Jennifer and Jacob (center back row), Jared - May 13

As kids Jennifer and Jacob could never figure out why they didn't get to celebrate their birthdays with everybody else!

I am going to  hit this week really fast.  It is getting really hard to put anything in here that is different or interesting.   So, let the reader beware.

NOTE:  This week's post is being written by both of us.  So read with understanding.

Sunday last:  We decided not to fight the crowds at the Stake Center for General Conference so we stayed home and watched it on the internet.  Sister Hoopes has had a bad cold which is still continuing today.  Her coughing was bad last week so that was part of the decision.  She still has the cough today.

Monday:  We got a call on Sunday night from the Assistants, wondering if we would take a Sister Missionary to the airport for a flight to Manila.  She is going to the Reno Nevada Mission and finally got her visa.

Tuesday:  Again to Pasacao for piano lessons. I only had 1 student there this week.  This was Lian's last piano lesson as she is returning home to somewhere by Manila for the summer.  She was going to take the keyboard that they had been sharing so she could practice a recital piece and return at the end of May.  She has been doing very well and has been playing for relief society .  She is excited to learn and claps her hands every time she learns something new.  She is committed to learning and teaching piano to others.

Ariana with Sister Hoopes.  Ari is from Italy and comes
for a month every year.
Wednesday:  We took the afternoon and went with the Watsons to a water park about a half hour away.  None of us had ever seen it but it was quite interesting.  I guess it is world renowned and people come from all over the world to train at wake boarding.. (mostly because it is sooooo cheap compared to other places in the world). When we arrived we saw a young woman from Italy that we had met last year. She had been traveling alone last year. This year she has 2 friends.  We had a nice conversion over lunch last year and this year I was greeted with a kiss and hug.  She explained what they were doing so we took a series of pictures.  It's like water wake boarding from the sky.  The tow ropes descend and off you go, over obstacles, around and through.  Many were doing twists in the air and flying off the jumps.  I listened to an instructor help one of Ariana's friends.  Reminds me of my water skiing days.  Face plant after face plant.  Ok, it must be fun when you are young.

 To Iriga for District Meeting.  Elder Hoopes ended up being the workshop that day.  He trained them in helping branches with membership records and finding people; also English test preparation. I visited with a young sister about the keyboard grant program.  She has in the past taught piano but had to move to Manila area in hopes of finding work.

Friday:  At the end of a quiet day, we had a truck show up with supplies for the office.  It was exciting because it contained the 30 new Keyboards for Sister Hoopes along with some piano books.

Saturday:  We left at 1:00 pm for Goa with the Watsons.  They had a Family History event that the Missionaries had put together.  Sister Hoopes delivered 5 keyboards to Sister Kathleen Bonon in Goa for the students she will be teaching.
Sisters Cruz and Blad
Goa missionaries had a Luau with singing and dancing.  It was fun.  It is also the last week for Sister Blad, as she is going home on Wednesday.

Naga Panganiban Chapel - demolition starts tomorrow
Sunday (today): Last Sunday was the final Sacrament meeting at this chapel.  We attended church today at the improvised old Mission Home, which will act as the chapel for the next 18 months. We stayed in Naga for the farewell of Elmer John Nebrea Galon who is leaving for the MTC in Manila on Friday.  He will be going to the Baguio Mission in Northern Luzon.  He is a convert of about 3 years and a wonderful young man. We really wanted to be here to share this day with him.  We will be going to his home on Wednesday night for a going away party, and of course, I'll be bringing cookies.

We just finished talking to our son James and was wishing him happy Birthday as he traveled into work at 4:00 AM Utah time.  As he arrived at work, our son Jason was there, so we got to say Hello, to two sons at one time.  A great day.  We are so proud of their great work ethic.

Until next week.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

9 April 2016

QUESTION:  How many people can you get on a Jeepney?

ANSWER:  As many as there are spots for a body or hand to hang on.  There are 11 on the outside of the Jeepney that we can see.  There are more on top we can't see and 4 looking out the back that are hard to see and probably another 30 inside the Jeepney that can't be seen.  One of the widely used forms of transportation here.  The next is the Tricycle which you see coming from the other direction. (a motorcycle with a cart attached)

Hi everyone.  We saw this Jeepney as we were going to Pasacao on Tuesday. Pasacao has beautiful beaches and a lot of people go there.  In fact, our ward had an over night outing up there Friday night and invited us to attend.  We were in Goa for the day and got back too late.  We have seen this many times but this one was close by, as we had to follow it until we could pass it. As we passed, I could see that the inside was as packed as the back end was.  Can you imagine the angst this would cause in the US?  No seat belts?

President Oliva and his daughter Jasmine.
This was a very busy week for piano lessons and piano meetings.

We went to Cotnogan on Sunday.  It has been a long time since we were there on Sunday and knew that they didn't have a piano in their meetings.  Sister Hoopes was hopeful to find someone who had some piano experience and leave a keyboard.  It was a special day and a miracle to find that the Branch President's daughter has played before. They actually have a keyboard at home but it hasn't worked in a long time, as it got wet in a Typhoon! They were so thrilled to get the keyboard so she can practice and then use it in church. This man has been Branch President since the Branch was organized 23 years ago. We had a message aabout him a few months ago regarding his work in the Barangay where he is the Captain.

Tuesday in Pasacao again to teach two girls but only one showed up.  During the piano teaching time, I, Elder Hoopes, walked next door to see if Christian Repuya was there.  All of the family are members but Christian has been going to school and is not usually there.  Thinking that he might be home because it is now summer vacation, I decided to go see if he was around and he was the first person I saw.  He is a returned missionary and has now completed his education and is working as a teacher in a college or University in the city.  He also has a small business making specialty belts for members and missionaries.  They are very nice and very popular among the missionaries. His father has a wood shop and makes any kind of wood product that people need. Behind Christian are some doors that his father is building. As I was getting ready to leave, Christian asked me if I wanted to work the next time I came.  I assumed that he meant in the wood shop and thought "this will be fun".  I asked what kind of clothes I needed and he looked at me funny and said, "Just what you have on now".  Then I asked what kind of work we would be doing and he answered, "Missionary work".    He thought I would like to go visit some members which was great.  Sorry, that shows where my mind is nowdays.

From Sister Hoopes:
Wednesday was a meeting of piano teachers and/or people who work with music in the wards, stake and branches in and near Naga.  The intent was to teach them how to teach students to play. I have only a few weeks to get an actual program that can carry on after I leave.
The Sister in Orange was given a keyboard from a missionary couple ninteen years ago.  She has diligently taught music to others.   In the class, 7 out of 8 people had been her students. 4 of the students are teenagers, but I tell them, they will be the ones to carry on the music in Camarines Sur (province).  One person cannot do it all!  Once these young people got their keyboards, their music skills improved tremendously.  We now have about 7 church units that haven't had musical accompaniment for many years,(or ever)  using music in their church meetings. Unfortuntely most of the Church Owned keyboards don't work, or they never had one. So, they must take and use their keyboards at the church.  But, according to the grant, the instruments are not property of the ward, they are for use by the students at home.

Two of the three are Keyboard Students and future teachers!
These three girls came knocking on our door quite late one evening last week.  They had been to the church for a dance practice for Youth Conference which is coming up.  I think they just came to say hi.  Two are learning to play the piano and took lessons from the Filipino sister mentioned above.  I got them keyboards so they can practice at home and use them at church.  Mae, on the far right, is is a small branch outside of Naga and is now playing in church each Sunday.  She is using the simplified hymn book and the chords (left hand) which I taught her.
The Jeepney which brought the ward members home from Pasacao.
As seen from our Bedroom window!  

The week finished up with another piano meeting in Goa.  We met at the church on Friday afternoon to discuss teaching methods and needs for them to be able to teach others.
This was a long day and then end of a long week.

Saturday, (today) is General Conference here in the Philippines.  We have decided to stay at home and watch the sessions on internet.  Sister Hoopes has a cold which hasn't slowed her down yet but it will if she isn't careful.  We have lunch with the Watsons and Reeders tomorrow and will surely attend that.  We might watch conference from home again, however.

Take care and have a great week.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

2 April 2016

Our week was almost back to normal - Almost!

Someone had brought some very nice flower arrangements
for the Easter program.
Last Sunday was Easter Sunday and we had been working with the Naga 3rd Ward choir on an Easter program.  We practiced on Sunday evenings for approximately 2 months. The program turned out very nice even though we actually had a few new members join us with only 1 or 2 practices and could not sing the parts.  President and Sister Reeder came for the Sacrament meeting and stayed for the entire aftenoon.  (Our meetings are 1 to 4)  We had invited them and the Watsons for Easter Dinner at 5 at our home and President Reeder had another meeting at our church at 6 pm. He was grateful as he would have had to go home in between meetings for something to eat.  We had a very nice evening together.

Another flower setting for Easter Sunday.  The white
roses are plastic but it was still beautiful.
We are still doing English tests but it has really slowed down.  We did 2 on Monday and will do two more again tomorrow.  Piano lessons seem to be the prevailing time consumer now and will probably become even more so for the next two months.  There are 2 reasons for this: One is that all schools are out for April and May. It is their summer holiday and the second reason is that we are going home in June and have a lot to accomplish before then.  Sister Hoopes has a plan to teach someone from each area her way of teaching piano and then have them continue the teaching of others when she is gone.  She has another 30 keyboards coming from the grant which will need to be passed out to qualifying individuals before we leave.

Bishops wife on the left and his sister holding their baby.
We were invited to the home of the Bishop from the Naga 2nd Ward for Family Home Evening.  His wife is one of the piano students of Sister Hoopes.  Even though we don't attend their ward meetings, we see them often and have a very good relationship with them.  They had also invited all of the Full time missionaries who work in their ward. 

Bishop and Sister DeGuzman in the middle back with 2 kids.
The rest are all Elders and Sisters.

 They have a little family with 2 small children and there were 10 missionaries including us.  The Elders had prepared a FHE lesson which they presented and then we played some games.  Afterwards, there was food provided by the Bishop's wife and sister.

This is only 1 section of the 2nd floor.

The produce looked quite good although not early as nice as in
 Germany. We were told that it is much cheaper but we won't
be doing our shopping here.  Too far; too hard to park; too
many people.
We took some time on Friday morning to go with Elder and Sister Watson to the "Market". We knew about this place but hadn't been inside.  It is a large place in downtown Naga. It is 3 stories of everything imaginable.  The first floor was basically dry goods; second floor mostly meat and fish; and the top floor mostly produce.  Of course, no air conditioning and it was a hot day. Imagine the smell on the second floor with all the meat and fish.  We left there and went to Jack's Blue Plate Diner for their all you can eat Buffet. I am amazed at how well I did at the diner after the sights and smells of the "market".   

Several of the Elders were benefactors of Sister Hoopes' generosity this past week.  The assistants got some leftover Strawberry dessert which Elder Tan loves.  The rest of the Elders got donuts but we don't have any pictures of them.
Elder Hofeling with his Strawberry Dessert.  His first taste of
this wonderful stuff.

Elder Tan is responsible for this as the last time he had it
he said it was his favorite dessert.  He was saving it to eat
after he finished his emails.  He wanted to enjoy every bite.

We look forward to conference and then it will soon be transfers again.  We have been asked to speak again at a University function in May but thankfully, we can use the same presentations we did last year.  
Some girls frm the Naga 2nd Ward earning money
for the next temple trip for baptisms.  That is our car.

That is all for this week.  We know that Conference is starting at home this week but it won't be shown here until next week.  We, however, have internet and will be watching it at home as we have time.  We are excited to hear from the leaders again.

Hope all is well.

Until next week.