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