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