Sunday, December 27, 2015

My First Christmas in the Mission Field

Maligayang Pasko and Happy New Year Pamilya ko!

I had a lot of highs this week...and just a few lows here in the mission field.

This week Elder Pedrosa and I were so happy because of the baptism dates we extended to a lot of our new investigators. We now have 15! Our lessons this week were so powerful. The spirit was strong. Unfortunately a lot of our lessons fell through because many people weren't home or were busy because of Christmas. This transfer I've learned to teach lesson 1 pretty well! haha.  We've taught it a lot because of how much finding we've done and the new investigators we have. It's the most important lesson and I've grown to love teaching it!  I used to be scared because of my Tagalog but it's coming along.  There's no reason to be nervous because the spirit is the real teacher. 

I've noticed many blessings from my heavenly father this week. I'm learning and striving to become a better teacher and effective minister of the Savior Jesus Christ. Tagalog is coming along. I just need to stay patient and continue to speak it as much as possible. My companionship with Elder Pedrosa is so great.  He's an example to me and I've learned a lot from him already.
Christmas Eve was so fun. We had the YSA (Young Single Adults) in the branch come over to our apartment and we made spaghetti, adobo, fried chicken, rice, pancit, and buco juice (coconut juice)!  It was a blast. We called it "missionary family home evening". We shared with each other who Jesus Christ was for us and our testimonies of him. 

On Christmas day we worked, we visited members and had a delicious sweet spaghetti dish (its different than American spaghetti but it is so good!) and buco salad. It didn't feel like Christmas but it was nice. All the members are so nice. They spoiled us by giving us so much food. The highlight of this week was of course Skyping y'all! That was amazing.  It was so great seeing y'all and being able to talk to y'all. I feel so blessed. 

It's now time to get back to work and refocus on the work here in Sablayan. Elder Pedrosa and I were so disappointed on Sunday.  We were expecting at least 10 investigators who committed to come to church to come, but they didn't. It's very frustrating. But we have to be better and help them have the desire to attend next week! Missionary work is hard and there are highs and lows, but I'm grateful to be here in the Philippines right now. I hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas, and have a great new year!
Elder Johnson

 Christmas Eve with the YSA

 Christmas Dinner
Christmas Party

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Week 9 in Sablayan

Maligayang Pasko!!

Hello family! It's almost Christmas here in the Philippines. They've been celebrating it since September haha. I can't believe how fast time is flying here in my first area Sablayan, especially this transfer. It doesn't feel like Christmas because it's hot haha. I'm used to it being cold, but it's nice because everyone here is so enthusiastic about Pasko!
On Monday we had zone training. It was so great. We got to hear from our wonderful zone leaders Elders De Dios and Ezekiela. They gave a workshop about learning to recognize and rely on the spirit. How important is this?! The spirit is everything in missionary work. It is necessary. We cannot teach or find, or do anything without it. I learned that the spirit will give me a prompting and then it will leave and let me use my agency to decide whether to follow the prompting or ignore it. The spirit wont tell us everything to do. He respects our agency. But he will prompt us, with a still small voice. I must be willing to listen carefully and always be worthy of the spirit in my daily work. 

We also did a role play about the atmosphere we teach in. We had 2 elders "teach" other sisters while the rest of us made noise and had normal conversations while they were teaching. After a few minutes we stopped and evaluated. The zone leaders concluded that it doesn't matter what atmosphere we are in when we teach a lesson...noisy, kids running around, etc.  We need to be focused solely on the investigators, keep eye contact and listen carefully. I loved what they told us, how "being distracted is a choice." I'm grateful for this zone training. The spirit will be with us if we focus and listen. 

Tuesday a typhoon came to Mindoro! It was a signal 3 so we couldn't work all day. It was kind of nice because I had the opportunity to recover from my fever. It was actually a blessing for me haha. 

This week Elder Pedrosa and I got punted a lot...more than I ever have before since being a missionary. A lot of lessons fell through because our investigators were never home this week. we didn't reach our goals and it was disappointing. It's frustrating when we plan for a great lesson and we need to teach our progressing investigators, but then they aren't home or are "busy". This week wasn't the best. It resulted in only 4 investigators at church. But one of our investigators named Christian is progressing! He's been to church twice now. I know he'll be baptized. A lot of our investigators have potential and I'm still excited for the upcoming weeks. 

I know this week will be better for Elder Pedrosa and me. We just have to continue to find and teach! This week is Christmas and I'm excited to bring people unto Christ! (the real reason for the season). My testimony continues to grow every day being a missionary. I feel so grateful to be a representative of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I know this church is true, and this gospel gives us so much hope!  I love you all family. That's all for this week. I hope y'all have a great Christmas and I can't wait to talk to y'all on Skype! 

Elder Johnson

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 8 in Sablayan

Hello my wonderful family!

This week Elder Pedrosa and I did a lot of work. We sat down together in our planning session, looked at the board with all the names of our investigators... and I knew changes had to be made. We then erased most all of the names. We basically said we would change the focus of who Elder Santiago and I were focusing on and find new investigators. The ones that have been on the board for at least 2 months have either not been progressing, or can't get baptized because of marriage problems. 

So this week Elder Pedrosa and I focused solely on finding! The Lord really blessed us this week. We found 4 families and 4 solid potential male priesthood holders. I've realized that if we want Mindoro (my zone) to become a stake and for Sablayan to become a branch we need priesthood holders and families! I'm grateful for this week. Miracles definitely are occurring here in Sablayan. We extended 5 baptism dates to our new investigators. I have faith that in January we can baptize at least 4. 

Also this week, we've been blessed with referrals from members that we will contact next week. I've realized since being out on the mission that it is super hard to get investigators to come to church and even to read the Book of Mormon! It's so disappointing when we follow up and ask "Did you read and pray about the BoM?" and then they respond, "ah pasensyia po kasi busy ako." The key is to love them, and then recommit and tell them the importance of reading and praying to know the truth. 

Nothing else really this week family. It was a great week of finding. I'm excited for the upcoming weeks and to continue to find people that are ready and have been prepared to receive the gospel and are ready to be baptized now! 

Also on Saturday night when we were working I started to get signs of a fever. I struggled to finish the day.. the past 2 nights have been awful. My fever is pretty bad right now but I'm living on Advil (life saver). Hopefully it will go away soon. I don't have time to be sick- I've got to get to work! 

P.S. I'm getting fat for real...I eat too much rice haha

Love you all! Talk to y'all next week!
Elder Johnson

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Changes here in Sablayan

Magandang umaga!!

This week was full of changes here in my wonderful area Sablayan.  I was able to work with Elder Sambile and Elder Lopez until Thursday.  Elder Lopez got transferred back to the mainland and so it was just me and Elder Sambile patiently waiting for Friday to pick up our new companions. My new companion is Elder Predrosa!! He's a super nice little quiet Filipino haha. I like him a lot.  He loves basketball so I'll finally be able to play! 

We got straight to work on Friday.  I quickly found out that Elder Predrosa does his work differently than my other trainer Elder Santiago. The way he plans and teaches is different. There's nothing wrong with it but it's just different than what I was taught. I feel like this transfer I might be having to train myself.  He's just super quiet but he's a great teacher. I know I'm meant to learn things from him and I know we will be a great companionship. It's just interesting to see the different personalities and ways of training of 2 different missionaries. He works hard and loves to "OYM" (Open Your Mouth) and I know we will accomplish great things this transfer. 

I'm a little frustrated because my investigators aren't progressing. We had a lot of setbacks this week. Only one came to church but she can't even get baptized because she isn't married. It's frustrating when my investigators aren't keeping commitments or coming to church and are making excuses. It's hard. This week Elder Predrosa and I made it a goal to do a lot of finding- finding the people that are ready right now to receive the restored gospel!! We can't be messing around with investigators who aren't keeping commitments!
The highlight of my week was having the opportunity to confirm brother Robert and sister Donna Bell (the 2 I baptized) as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! My branch president asked them who they wanted to confirm them and they responded, "Elder Johnson." 

Wow I wasn't expecting it.  I was nervous, but so willing. I knew Heavenly Father would help me and guide the blessing.  That's exactly what happened.  I couldn't believe it.  The spirit was so strong and I knew the blessing was from Heavenly Father specifically for them. I feel so blessed and grateful. I know this church is true.
My Tagalog is's still so frustrating because I want to be fluent already. I strive every day to become more of an effective teacher of truth and be more like the Savior. Anyway family, I hope you all have a great week and I'll talk to y'all next week!

Elder Johnson

This is the view from a few weeks ago

Santos family. They're great.

Family Home Evening

JJ Dankingking. She's so cute.

Monday, November 30, 2015

What a week! (Sablayan Week 6)

Hello family!!

This week was so eventful! I am so happy to be a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So many things happened this week...where do i start?! 

So on Monday I had the opportunity to work with Elder Padua (TA) and I learned so much from him. He taught me a way to teach an overview lesson. 

Tuesday was the best day of my mission so far. Elder Santiago and I baptized Robert Legario and Donna Bell Amarila!! I was a little nervous because I was worrying about saying everything right. It went very well though. I felt so grateful for the opportunity to baptize sister Donna Bell.  Just the feeling of helping someone get on the path back to our Heavenly Father is amazing. I feel so blessed to be able to help these 2 receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no greater joy than baptizing! Donna Bell and Robert were so happy. I couldn't help but smile the whole time. This is an experience I'll never forget. I want this for everybody!! I realize how important my calling is- I am striving to bring as many people unto Christ as possible! True happiness is found in the gospel. It is SO true!
Unfortunately a lot of my investigators aren't progressing. It's frustrating when you want all of your investigators to come to church and keep commitments but they aren't. We had zero investigators at church this week.
Thursday I found out that my companion Elder Santiago is getting transferred and becoming a TA (teaching assistant). It's so fitting for him. He's such an amazing teacher/truly converted/PMG (Preach My Gospel) missionary. I'll be forever grateful for his influence and his training he gave me. The things he taught me I will never forget. I know our companionship was inspired and I needed him for the first 6 weeks as a new missionary. My new companion is Elder Pedrosa! I don't know who he is but he arrives on Friday. I'm working with Elder Sambile and Lopez the next few days. I'm excited for this upcoming transfer and to learn things from my new trainer. 

On Thursday we headed to San Jose for our zone Christmas conference and District Conference!! For Thanksgiving dinner we had Jollibee haha. Friday was so fun! President  and Sister Revillo came and we had our Mindoro zone Christmas conference! We had delicious food, had workshops, performed our skit and song, played games, and ended the day by watching Frozen! It was an awesome time with my zone. Our motto is #ASaviorIsBorn. I'm excited to share this message with the people here in Sablayan.

Saturday I had my interview with President Revillo. He's so great. I'm so grateful for his advice to me. He told me to pray for charity for my investigators and that that miracles will happen and that the Lord called me here for a specific reason.
District conference was nice, seeing all of my ward members attend (3 hours ride to San Jose from Sablayan) was amazing! They are so faithful! The goal for next year is to become a stake. We need 25 Melchizedek priesthood holders in each branch. 

I'm so happy family! I love being a missionary. It's still hard and my Tagalog is still bad but I'm grateful to be here. I hope you all are doing great. Talk to y'all next week. Love you!! 

Elder Johnson

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sablayan Week 5

Magandang umaga pamilyia ko! 

Wow, what a great week here in the mission field. Tuesday was one of the best days I've had in a while. In the morning, I had the opportunity to go to the Manila temple with my Mindoro zone! It was the most spiritual experience I've had in the temple- especially the celestial room. I'm grateful for my Heavenly Father. He is always there, waiting for me to call upon Him for help and strength. I've learned to rely on God with everything I do. 

Meeting and hearing from the apostles was amazing! Being in the same room with all Quezon city missionaries and 2 apostles was an experience I will never forget. Their talks were great. The spirit was so strong. I really do believe they are special witnesses of the Savior Jesus Christ. I learned from Elder Renlund to have an A+ attitude and give A+ effort in missionary work.  I am the only one who controls my attitude! Elder Andersen talked about having an eye single to the glory of God. This means conforming His will to mine- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I can't juggle 2 balls (as in, thinking about things non-related to the work). I've tried to apply the things I've learned to my every day work.
I also got to see my batch! It was so fun catching up with the other elders from the MTC. I ate Mcdonalds in the mainland. haha It was delicious! And the mega mall there is so huge! it reminds me of Lenox in ATL. The Filipinos love Christmas. There are so many lights and I heard some Christmas songs.

The boat ride home was gorgeous. I'll try and send some pics. We drove through islands and it was beautiful. On Friday, I had exchanges with Elder Sambile. He's our district leader, and he's a great missionary. He's a small little Filipino who's quiet, but his testimony and confidence is bold and inspiring. I continue to learn from Elder Santiago- he's tough, but I'm learning and growing.
Great news family!! Brother Robert and Sister Donnabelle are getting baptized tomorrow morning!! It's official. I'm so excited for them. I'm nervous to baptize for the first time, but I'm so grateful. I never thought this day would come- my first baptism. I don't want them just to be baptized though. Eventually my goal for these 2 is the temple! I want all my investigators to be truly converted to the gospel. 
Anyway, it was a great week. Miss you all! Have a great Thanksgiving! Love you all family. Talk to y'all next week.

Elder Johnson

Outside the Manila Temple

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sablayan Week 4

Magandang umaga pamylia ko!!

What a great week here in my wonderful area Sablayan! Last Monday we had our first zone training! It was great. I love my zone leaders- Elders Tonga and De Dios. They're awesome. At the training they talked about the lessons in Preach My Gospel and how we as missionaries need to STUDY, BELIEVE, LOVE AND TEACH the lessons in chapter 3. It's so true! I'm grateful every day for personal study- to really dive into the Book of Mormon and PMG. My knowledge of the gospel continues to grow. I don't know everything, and I'm for sure not a perfect teacher but man...I know this church is true!!

Tuesday we had splits with the zone leaders. I worked with both of them. They're such amazing missionaries. Hopefully one day I'll be as good as them. I'm grateful to be placed where I am surrounded by these missionaries. I've learned a lot about how to teach, and different skills, and of course trying to improve my Tagalog. 

Wednesday night was one of the most powerful lessons that Elder Santiago and I have taught together. We taught Brother Donald about free agency and how it's a gift given to us from God but it's so important that we use it wisely and follow Jesus Christ! Unfortunately Brother Donald has chosen to give the Book of Mormon back to us and not get baptized because his wife threatened to leave him. I was so disappointed, but Elder Santiago told me, "We did our part. He used his agency- we can't be sad."
Thursday wasn't the best day. Elder Santiago felt like I didn't have his back in one of the lessons. I learned from that mistake and I'm growing and trying my best. Our companionship continues to grow. It's strong right now. He's a little impatient and I've had to learn to just do what he says, because he's my trainer. He's a great missionary and his testimony and knowledge of the gospel is incredible. 

Saturday we taught the temple preparation class. It's so fun teaching the members about the importance of the temple. That night we had a Family Home Evening. I love the FHE's so much! The Filipinos here are so awesome. I love them all. I love the Philippines!!
Sunday I spoke in sacrament meeting! I feel like the members don't understand me but I'm trying my best. And now today we're on the mainland! I'm in Manila right now.  We're probably going to go to the mall later and then tomorrow is the big day... I get to meet Elder Andersen and Elder Renlund!! How incredible to meet 2 apostles of the Lord. I can't wait. 

Well that's it for this week family. I miss you all. Hope y'all are doing great. It's almost Thanksgiving...geez time flies...I've almost been in my area for a month! Talk to y'all next week, love y'all!!!

Elder Johnson

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sablayan Week 3

Kumusta po kayo pamilyia ko!!
I'm still getting adjusted to every day missionary life here, but every day gets better and better. I'm grateful to be here in Mindoro and my wonderful area Sablayan. 

This week I had ups and downs for sure. Elder Santiago continues to push me with his training, teaching me everything he knows. He's tough on me sometimes, but only wants the best for me. He's a great trainer and I continue to learn every single day! There is so much room for improvement, and Preach my Gospel is amazing. This week I learned in my 12 weeks program about how to "teach people not lessons" and "find when you teach and teach when you find." I really struggle with the gift of discernment and discerning what the investigator really needs to hear. Elder Santiago is great at it so it's nice to learn from him. Every day I pray for this gift and of course the gift of tongues. Being a missionary is hard work, and it's stressful in every way, but I love it. Elder Santiago asked me a question this week.. "Elder Johnson, are you truly happy here being a missionary?" I hope soon I can say that I really am. I'm trying my best to lose myself and really strive to be fully committed. I'm excited and so grateful for this journey ahead of me. I truly do need this mission.
Great news.. they're making branches here and hopefully soon wards and stakes. The church is growing!! It's so humbling to be here and to help build up the kingdom of God here in Sablayan. I think the most rewarding thing is walking into church and seeing my investigators!! It's incredible to watch investigators progress and make steps to come unto Christ. Sister Mary Ann, Brother Robert and Donnabelle, Lucy (old lady who me and Elder Santiago never expected to come because she's a hard core Catholic) all are progressing so well! Bad news.. our most progressing investigator Brother Donald is possibly not getting baptized this Saturday. His wife is so against it and won't allow it. She's very hard- hearted. Please pray for Brother Donald that he will make the right decision and be baptized. He was so ready but because of his wife, he's doubting. Keep him in your prayers- he's a great man. I could possibly be sending a picture next week with my first baptism. We'll see!
This week we had exchanges, I had the opportunity to work with Elder Lopez! It was great. I learned a lot- he's a pretty new missionary so we could relate. It's interesting to see how different missionaries teach. One thing that I liked from him is that he likes short, but powerful lessons.

This week I tried chicken blood and intestines!! haha. It was actually masarap (delicious). The food here is great. We eat at like the same 3 restaurants at night. They're little huts. It's so humbling teaching lessons in huts or basically sitting on wood seats outside. It's amazing. These people are so humble. They're looking for the gospel, and I'm blessed to have the opportunity to share it with them. The members are awesome. I love them all so much. Their testimonies are so strong even though they're all mostly recent converts! 
Thanks for the prayers, family. I miss y'all and love y'all so much! I'll talk to y'all next week!
Elder Johnson

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Week 2 in Sablayan

Hello my amazing family! 

This week was so great. I'm still a little homesick and still trying to adjust to the missionary life but it's getting better. This week I've learned a lot. I've realized that I need to change as a missionary and realize my purpose here. I need to be facing Jesus Christ and serve him with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. 

This week Elder Santiago taught me many things. I learned how to get better at "How to begin teaching," which means to establish expectations, invite the spirit, and to help others recognize that we represent Jesus Christ. My attitude needs to change, my faith needs to grow, and I must give all of myself to this work. So I continue to strive for these attributes. I want to change. I need this mission because I want to become fully converted to the Lord Jesus Christ. I know it is a process and there's so much for me to learn. I'm grateful for this opportunity to serve these wonderful people in Mindoro and to "find myself by losing myself in the work." 

Last Saturday, Elder Santiago and I went up to this beautiful view of the island (its called Parola). You'll see in the pictures I send. It's beautiful here. I'm blessed! This is also where we have our district meetings. It's awesome. 

We had a cool opportunity this week where we walked by this house and were impressed to talk to the old Tatay (grandpa). Turns out he is 102 years old and has been praying for the missionaries to visit him for 9 years! He's a member, but is too old to come to church. We plan on visiting every week. 

Our investigators are progressing!! Brother Donald is going to get baptized on November 14! He's an incredible man, with so much faith. His wife is against him joining, but he knows it's true. He fasted yesterday and paid a fast offering!  He's 40 years old and is excited to be baptized! Brother Robert is progressing too! He's attended church twice now and knows Joseph Smith was a true prophet. Elder Santiago and I can see many of our other investigators progressing too. It's great to see them keep commitments and start to have the light in their eyes! We have high hopes for the next few weeks and hope that our investigators will continue to grow. 

The work here is moving fast!! They announced that they were going to start preparing to build an actual church building here! The members are so amazing. I love them. All the kids love me haha. It's so cute. They all think I'm a giant and love to make fun of my Tagalog and my white skin haha. We had FHE with the members and also a family day at the beach yesterday! It was so fun. The members have such strong testimonies. It's so cool to see. Most of the members are recent converts too! 

Yesterday the people celebrated "day of the souls." I guess it's their Halloween. They remember their dead ancestors by lighting candles. 

Great news...on November 16 all of us missionaries here in Mindoro get to go to the mainland for when Neil L Andersen comes!! We are so excited. 

Well that's it. I love and miss you all so much. Thanks for all the prayers. I will continue to become the missionary that Heavenly Father expects me to be. Talk to you next week!! 

Elder Johnson

Sunday, October 25, 2015

First week in the Philippines!!

Hello my wonderful family!! 

It feels like I haven't talked to y'all in forever! I can't believe I'm here in the Philippines! It's been 9 days! So I arrived at the Manila MTC last Saturday and was there until Wednesday. The Manila MTC was really cool. All the Filipinos loved seeing us Americans.  They love us.  They all thought I was super tall and good at basketball. The food there was sooo good! Of course we had rice every meal but they make some masarap (delicious) dishes here in the Philippines! 

While at the Manila MTC, Elder Sanft and I taught our last lessons together as companions, and I also met President Trask - he gave great devotionals to us and inspired us with his words. He had a lot of success as a missionary in the Philippines and expects us to strive BIG here. 

On Wednesday I said goodbye to my original Provo district and zone. It was sad saying goodbye, but we'll all be reunited again someday! President Revillo picked up the Quezon City missionaries in the morning and we headed to the mission home. As we headed in I was super nervous. It HIT wow I'm really about to start missionary work in my first area. I met with the President- he's a nice guy, I like him. They started playing videos and introducing us to the goals they expect of me and also the Quezon City standards. I was so nervous. I'm really a missionary. I am really here in the Philippines! I still can't believe it. 

Sooo now to the good part....I have been called to serve in my first area as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the.... MINDORO SABLAYANA area!!!!! I'm on the island!!! I couldn't believe it. Everyone was so surprised, especially me, because only 2 out of like 30 missionaries got called with me. Everyone was jealous of me haha. They all say it's the best area...and it is!! My flight wasn't until Friday morning so I went proselyting with local missionaries until my flight. 

I got to Mindoro Friday morning at like 8 (only a 30 minute flight). The bus ride to my area was 3 hours. Holy cow, the view to my area is beautiful!! Palm trees, the ocean, hills, jungle, open's the middle of nowhere. There are a lot less people than in the city which I like. The only way of transportation is by tricycle. It's sweet. It's a culture shock for sure but I love it. No houses, just shacks, or huts. I don't even know how to describe them. It's the sticks haha. My companion Elder Santiago picked me up- he's awesome! He's a short Filipino who has been out on the mission for a year and a half. He's a veteran, a fireball, hardworking, selfless, and loves the work and the Lord. He's going to be great for me. 

We dove right into the work as soon as we got there. We taught 5 lessons to investigators. By the end of the day I was exhausted. It's all so real now, it's crazy. What I like about Elder Santiago is that he lets me speak even though I can't. My Tagalog stinks. Geez, it's frustrating. But he backs me up and helps me out. Multiple times he has made me lead the lessons. It's so hard but I'm trying my best. The past 3 days I think we've taught like 12 lessons to investigators. It's amazing to come here and all of the sudden start teaching and inviting people to baptized.  We have 4 investigators right now who we hope will get baptized.. Donald, Robert and his cousin, and Jenny Ann. It's unbelievable to have the opportunity to  invite the Filipinos to come unto Christ and follow his example.  I've only been here 3 days and I've invited 3 people to be baptized and they said yes!! They're so humble here, it's incredible. I love it here. My testimony and knowledge of the gospel continues to grow each day as I study the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. PMG is amazing. I'm supposed to become a Preach My Gospel missionary and it is such an inspired missionary tool.
My apartment isn't too bad- better than I thought.  No shower though-only a bucket shower. And no toilet paper.. sooo I've learned to wipe with my left hand hahaha. The Elders next door- Elders Lopez and Sambile know how to cook and they're teaching me.
To be honest family, I miss y'all so much!! I've been homesick the past 3 days. I've found myself on my knees crying a lot. I didn't think it would be this hard, but being a missionary is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I'm homesick, and I miss y'all so much, but I know I'm here for a reason. I've thought to myself, "How can I do this? I'm not good enough. I'm not a good missionary. I can't speak the language. Why am I here?" But I know I should be here and become converted and bring many people to happiness that I feel in this wonderful gospel. Keep me in your prayers family. I can feel your love. I love you all so much. I pray for all of you.
I don't know if I forgot anything but time flies emailing and I need to go, but I love you all. I'll try and send pics but I don't know if I can. I'll try to next week. Goodbye family, hope you all are doing well. I love Mindoro, my area, the members in the branch, and all the people here. Talk to y'all next week! 

Elder Johnson 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chapter 1: MTC (A Poem by Dad)

Dear Elder Johnson,

A kind  of graduation you might say
The end of an amazing MTC stay
Short stay by calendar days for sure
But spiritual gains will long endure
A pathway of life change you see
The language, people, love to be
A love by message that God indeed
Loves all his children their every seed
The people to know God's love alone
By you--an Elder bee -- no drone!
You will stand all amazed every day
The  power of His Spirit in every way
A graduation, the close of a chapter 1
In a book you are writing--dear son!

Love, Dad

Today we received two pictures from Brandon!  Tomorrow he is headed from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, LA to Hong Kong, then Hong Kong to Manila, Philippines!  Keep him in your prayers as he has a long day of traveling ahead.  

Don't forget that you can always keep in touch with him by emailing him at:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

MTC Week 6!

Magandang araw pamylia! 

This week was such a great week here at the Missionary Training Center. I felt like I got back on track from a rough week last week. General Conference definitely lifted my spirits.  I loved listening to the words of the apostles and prophets and their testimonies of Jesus Christ. I learned so much and every talk applied to me being a missionary and servant of the Lord. 

Sunday night, BYU Vocal Point came and sang to us. They were so good! Not gonna lie, I think I've sung more here then I ever have before and I love it. I sing in front of my district- for some reason they think I'm good. I'm not too bad, I can keep a note haha.  

Anyways the language is coming along more and more. Practice is key when learning a language. I have to be trying to practice and speak out loud what I've learned in the classroom if I want to improve. This week Elder Sanft and I taught 4 lessons.  They were good- we followed the spirit and spoke with confidence hoping that the spirit would be right there with us helping us speak Tagalog.  My testimony continues to grow as I dive into the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. I've come to love the Book of Mormon. I know that it is the true word of God. This week i was reading in the introduction and the back of Joseph Smith History with Oliver Cowdery's declaration and his testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. His testimony is so strong! He knows that Joseph could not have translated the book without revelation from God. I know this to be true as well.  Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to restore His true church on the earth today. I was able to watch the film "The Restoration Through the Prophet Joseph Smith" this week- so powerful!

On Friday, we had in field orientation. It was great! We got to practice different teaching situations and watch some clips on how to be a more effective missionary, but my favorite part was being taught how to set goals and how important that is. I must use key indicators and set goals! Also, numbers do matter- the numbers mean something. They are souls, human beings, real people waiting for me to bring them unto Christ! Why wouldn't I want to bring as many souls unto Christ as possible?! If I want to baptize a lot of Filipino people, I have to work as hard as I possibly can, fully committed to the work! I'm so excited for that! The next time you'll hear from me I'll be in the PHILIPPINES! I'm so excited! (obviously nervous) but mostly excited to get to work! Quezon City here I come! 

Elder Johnson 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

MTC Week 5!

This week was definitely the hardest week so far being a missionary. I was going into this week confident from last week, because of how the lessons and language were coming along. But I was humbled this week, multiple times. The lessons that Elder Sanft and I taught didn't go very well. I forgot words, made dumb Tagalog mistakes, and simply didn't know what I was saying. My confidence was shot. When we skyped a Filipino who was in the Philippines, I realized I didn't know how to keep a conversation going without it being basically English. Although it was a cool experience, it's frustrating because there's so much I want to say, but I just can't say it. There's a lot to learn, and Tagalog isn't going to come unless I continue to work as hard as I can. Then the Lord will help. Like James B. Martino said in this afternoon's conference, "Be like Nephi, Have faith. For faith without works is dead."

Wednesday I had the opportunity to host the new missionaries that came in. I started to remember how I felt coming into the MTC as I watched the missionaries get out of their car, and say goodbye to their moms. Man, that was tough. I tried to have a smile on my face as I welcomed the missionaries out of their cars, and acted like the MTC was the happiest place on earth haha.
Unfortunately a few missionaries went home this week. It wasn't easy to take that in. Honestly, this week I questioned a few times.  But I always remember to doubt my doubts before I doubt my faith. 

Today was much needed, being able to watch General conference. Here they call it the "superbowl" for missionaries. I agree. It is amazing. Many of my questions were answered and my faith has increased. Hearing the words of the apostles of the Lord is exactly what I needed. It's such a blessing to be able to listen to all the general authorities that are called of God and to think that I was also called of God to serve in the Philippines! I wish I could share with y'all all of my favorite things from conference, but here are a few.

"We cannot jump out of the old ship Zion. We must stay on because God leads us to exaltation."

"Walk in the faith of discipleship - faith, hope and charity."

"Our lives must be centered on Christ if we want true joy, happiness, and peace."

"It will all work out."

"Be humble enough the ask, but faithful enough to ACT."

Many more but not enough time to type them all haha.

Good news family...I leave October 15, not the 21st. I've been here for almost 5 weeks. 1 and a half more weeks until the Philippines. I got my flight plans yesterday. Also, more great news- in LA I get to call y'all at the airport before I head to Hong Kong, then Manila. I'll have more info next week. I hope this week will be better for me. Keep me in your prayers. I love and miss you all!! 

Elder Johnson

Saturday, September 26, 2015

MTC Week 4

Another week down here at the Missionary Training Center!

Last Sunday was the best one yet. Lloyd Newell from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (the guy who introduces general conference on tv) came and we did 'MTC and the Spoken Word' with all the missionaries in choir. I look forward to choir because our director is hilarious. He makes practice more fun by telling us stories and cracking jokes. We sang 2 wonderful hymns that night - How Firm a Foundation and Redeemer of Israel! They were both so powerful. The spirit is always so strong when we sing. After the devotional we got the chance to see a film/talk. My kasama Elder Sanft and I saw that Meet the Mormons was playing! We both turned and looked at each other and said "We're seeing that." It was the first time we both had watched it. It was great! They did a perfect job. I was very impressed. Non-members must see it!

The work is still pressing forward steadfast! The language is coming along and I'm becoming more comfortable when speaking/teaching a lesson. This week I took some strides. My kasama even noticed. I memorized like 100 verbs of the guys in our district said, "we're doing it for the people in the Philippines." It made me want to work even harder so I can be able to communicate as best I can as soon as I can. There is still a lot to learn, but I can do it (I will do it). This week I totally noticed the spirit in our lessons. Each lesson we become more comfortable and just say what the spirit prompts us to say. A few times this week I totally don't remember what I said or how I said it but I knew it wasn't me speaking - it was the spirit. There's a verse in D&C I read this week, It states, the words which thou shalt say shall come to thy remembrance (something like that). It's so true though. If I work hard, and practice, the Lord will bless me.
Wednesday was such a great day!! Thank you for all the packages! Mom- you sent like 4 haha. And I believe I got like 8 total. My district couldn't believe how much food you sent! I think I'm good for the next 2 years on snacks haha. Anyway, my district made my birthday very special. I'm lucky. They got me a shirt, more candy to make me fat, and sang to me at dinner in front of the whole cafeteria filled with hundreds of missionaries staring at us haha. It was so nice and thoughtful of them. What better way to spend your birthday than as a missionary! What made my day was seeing my best friend Elder Ogden!! I was running around the MTC searching for his class, opened the door and I'm pretty sure I surprised the heck out of him and gave him a welcome to the MTC hand shake. Later that night I found his dorm and surprised him again. It was great catching up with him. He looks so happy. We are both so grateful to be servants and representatives of Jesus Christ. On Thursday I saw another one of my best friends, Elder Ohman! I got to eat with him and catch up with him as well. It's so cool seeing 2 of my best buds here doing what we know brings us happiness and joy.

I'm looking forward to this next week. Only 2 and half more weeks at the here until the Philippines. I can't wait. Thank y'all for everything! Love and miss y'all so much! 

Elder Johnson