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.