Monday, December 26, 2016

I'm staying in Pasig!

It was so wonderful seeing all your beautiful faces over Skype! I miss y'all so much and I thank y'all for the support and prayers. You all motivate me to be the best missionary that I can be. I loved talking to y'all, and I'm so grateful to have such an amazing family. It makes me so happy :) 

Guess what? I'm staying another transfer in Pasig pala! Crazy no? I wasn't expecting that, but the Lord needs me here, so I will go and do what He has commanded! 

Elder Johnson

Monday, December 19, 2016

Maligayang Pasko

Maligayang Pasko!
I hope y'all are doing as well as I am here!! 

We are busy today so I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still alive and loving every single day of my mission. :) We had a successful baptism on Saturday with kuya Aljon and Dave Borja Espinas! They're cute, and we're happy for them. We know one day they'll grow up and serve the Lord as a missionary and become leaders in the church.
We sang at Eastwood mall on Friday. It was awesome. We all sounded really good! It was a cool experience for sure, a different way to shine the light! 

I love my companionship with Elder Montera. We work really well together and are constantly striving to follow the Spirit. That's one thing I've been constantly trying to work on, always being worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. It's been a goal of mine that I've set since Elder Bowen's visit last week.
We are being helped by our Young Men President who continues to give us referrals. As of now most of our progressing investigators are young men. It's been a blast working with them and relating to them as well. We already seen a change in their attitude and the way they act. It's awesome. I testify that the Gospel changes people. Through Christ's Atonement we can be made perfect.
I love y'all so much! Talk to y'all in a week!! :)
Elder Johnson

Monday, December 12, 2016

Pasig Week 15


We just came from the  Manila Temple, so we're feelin' good right now! Nothing better than being in the House of the Lord. 

This week was nice, it really was. The past few days, I've seen the miracles that the Lord has blessed us with. As a missionary, I've realized that God works in small and simple ways. He loves us and is aware of all His children.

We had a week full of meetings! The first was on Tuesday with our New Leaders Training meeting, then on Wednesday we had our zone training! Saturday we had our ward Christmas party. Mission tour yesterday was awesome! Elder and Sister Bowen visited our mission. He is the President of the Area Seventy here in the Philippines. Many, many things learned and spirit felt, but I'll share the highlight. Elder Bowen focused on helping us understand who we are. Because of the things he talked about - Abrahamic covenant, covenants in general, I came to a better understanding of who I am as a child of God and how blessed I am to be a member of the church. It was so amazing, because of yesterday, because I now am reminded of who I am, the covenants I've made, and I am a different person. Like Elder Bowen said, "We as Priesthood holders know that there are certain things that we cannot do." This meeting (if you remembered last year with Elder Andersen) has changed me as a missionary, and the way I will continue to act. 

Elder Montera and I are filling up our 4 month projection, although we lost a few projections for January. Heavenly Father has blessed us with many people to teach. It's been crazy noticing the small miracles with our work this week.  It's so cool, I love it. 

We have a baptism on Saturday so we're excited. It's the baptism of part member kids, kuya Dale and Aljon :)

Love y'all,
Elder Johnson

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pasig Week 14

Magandang December family!
It's been another great week for us here in Pasig!!
On Tuesday I went on exchanges with the new missionary from Idaho (we are kabahays) and guess what- he knows very well the Crofts family! haha. His name is Elder Moffett, and he's doing well, adjusting to the mission life etc. But we had an awesome time together. It was a blast to work with a new American who had the same struggles as I did last year haha. I was able to teach him and help him on how to be a successful missionary. The cool thing is that he already has it down. He knows the most important thing is to have the Spirit and serve God the best we can :). My goal before I leave my mission/hopefully I'll have the opportunity to train an American!
On Wednesday we got the zone together and did some service for a Barangay. It went well. It was good bonding time with the missionaries here in Pasig.  We're looking to also do another service at an Elderly person's home later this month.
So, on Thursday began the wonderful new Christmas initiative of..#LIGHTTHEWORLD!!  It's been awesome these past 5 days introducing this to members, less actives, and recent converts. It's such a perfect finding tool that we must take advantage of in order to spread this Gospel to the world. It's been fun getting the people excited to do the things like Jesus Christ did. It feels good to serve others, no? I hope you all are doing this! Light the world! If you haven't started, get started today! 

We had MLC on Friday. It was a little different, but still okay. We just felt a lack of power/strong spirit from the workshops and from the other leaders, but it's okay because Elder Montera and I are excited to help our zone at zone training tomorrow by explaining the 4 month projection- the way to baptize weekly! (This is something that was introduced dati, but hasn't been explained on how to use it effectively)
It's been a huge improvement since my new companion has arrived. Our baptism projections have spiraled up! We are looking at weekly baptisms starting in January. It's been a miracle to see what's been happening with our area. Now, from the things we learned from the AP's, we are excited to teach our zone and continue to be an "example of the believers."
We are excited for our baptism on December 17, and for the baptisms in January. Just continue to pray for our progressing investigators! (Ryan Gutierrez, Angelica, Borja kids, Wendy Santos)
Elder Montera and I are learning together. It's been so fun working with him. He's so magaling. We really have recognized when the Spirit is present with us during our lessons, or not. But the times that it has this week, man it's powerful! I testify that missionary work can only be done God's way!
P.s. My pday is next Wednesday so talk to y'all then :).. temple trip kasi!! 

Love y'all,
Elder Johnson

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
It's been such an amazing week with my new companion Elder Montera!
We've started this transfer out on fire let me tell y'all!
In just a few days with Elder Montera we've already been blessed with miracles and incredible spiritual experiences!
I want to share with y'all the way my view/approach on teaching has changed dramatically. I'm so grateful that I get to learn from my companion. Even though I've been in the mission for while now and I understand the principles of missionary work and what it takes to be successful, I've truly, like it has sunk into my heart just this week, what it takes to teach people not lessons. I've been able to watch and learn from the way my companion teaches. It's really helped me talaga. The statement of "you must KNOW the person, in order to teach them" has been made clear to me. I've been a good teacher, a good missionary, successful, etc, but these past few days I've recognized the things I must improve in order to be extraordinary. It starts with knowing the people I teach/talk to.
My companion made sister Estioco (less active) cry during the lesson. It was absolutely beautiful to watch how using the Book of Mormon applies to anyone's life situation. The verse he shared was perfect (Jacob 2:8) and she felt the spirit, I felt the spirit, we all felt Heavenly Father's love.
In another lesson to a less active family (Balbene family.. actually part-member) we used the Book of Mormon and helped them feel the the joy that they once felt dati when they used to come to church. And guess what? They came yesterday for the first time in over 5 months.

I could share with you all the powerful lessons that we had this week, but it's just too long, too many haha. I've felt a difference in the work. The phrase of "teaching by the spirit" has also been made clear to me. Like just now sunk in.  It's weird the differences I've felt this week, but I believe this will change my mission.

We are pumped up right now with our area, the zone, everything. I haven't been this excited in a while to be honest.
We had 12 investigators at church on Sunday. Grabe sobrang masaya. The Lord blesses us. We've been patient these past 2 transfers and now here comes the heaps of miracles.
I love my mission talaga, there are no words to describe-just joy. I can't believe it's taken me this long on my mission to realize the importance of the Spirit. To actually recognize it, and to teach people and know who they are, but the Lord is merciful and has helped me more than I recognize.
Elder Johnson

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pasig Week 12

Maligayang araw!
Maganda talaga ang linggo namin dito sa Pasig!
Elder Vergara and I were the most excited to give our workshop during zone training on Tuesday because of the topic that the AP's have been focusing on- Consecration! It went so well. Just talking about it gets me fired up to be a better representative of Jesus Christ. We as the zone leaders have committed ourselves to leave everything on the altar of sacrifice, to repent, to change our nature and we committed the zone to do the same! It's the most difficult thing, especially realizing that I'm far from consecration, but it's so rewarding when we as missionaries strive and try our best. Like Elder Holland said, "God blesses people who try."

I've come to realize, especially this past week, that everyone has agency to choose what's right and wrong. I cannot force them. The only thing I can do is be the example by helping, inspiring, uplifting and blessing them.
Saturday was one of the best days of my mission. We were able to take the Manuel family to the temple and do baptisms for the dead with them! They were so excited to enter and to experience the joy inside the house of the Lord. it was perfect, and they loved it. Next year they'll be able to enter and be sealed as a family!
      We came straight from the temple to the chapel for the baptism of sister Leonila Sagrados! It was so great.  She said in her testimony that she "cant even express her happiness." She was confirmed on Sunday and hopefully we can get her and Sister Gutierrez (less active dati and who referred Leonila to us) to the temple to do baptisms for the dead as well!
Only good things are happening to us here in our area. Our Young Men president is so masipag it's crazy. He's given us so many referrals and the YM program in our ward has exploded with new faces, friends of recent converts, etc. It's so awesome. We were able to teach them this week, and 3 of the YM want to be baptized asap haha. So we're striving for December. We are hoping to teach their whole family and get their family to church, not just the young men. Please pray that we can have success and get these families progressing!
It's transfer week pala, my companion Elder Vergara is transferring. My new companion is Elder Montera! I know him and he's a stud missionary so I'm excited for this transfer to get to lead with him.
Iyan lang po
Mahal ko kayo,
Elder Johnson

Monday, November 7, 2016

Miracle Week

We experienced a miracle week here in Pasig! The Lord blessed us in so many ways its been incredible!
On Monday we taught our recent convert family (Manuel family) about baptisms for the dead...because of course it was "the day of the dead" lol. Get it? But anyways, it was so perfect because this week the Manila Temple opens back up and we have planned to take them on a temple tour and do temple work this next Saturday! We are going to rent a jeepney and bring some investigators too. We're super excited!
Tuesday we visited a less active family (Aneban family) and we were able to figure out their concern and really help them feel the Spirit.  The miracle here was that Sister Aneban came to church and also brought her neighbors who aren't members! They are interested and willing to learn about how the Gospel blesses families!
On Wednesday we had our Pasig zone interviews! I always look forward to my interviews with President. He's so awesome, and I'm so grateful for him. It was successful. We and the AP's also gave some training. Our workshop focused on helping investigators keep commitments and how to follow up effectively. It went really well. We introduced a new way to help investigators remember and keep their commitments. This is something Elder Vergara and I have felt our zone is struggling with and will really help them to have progressing investigators. We also mentioned how we as missionaries must keep all the commitments from our leaders and apply it to our work, because that's the chance we have to repent! Our zone is getting hot, we can feel it.
Our responsibilities as zone leaders took us away from the work a lot this week especially on Thursday where we had to drive the couple missionaries around to every apartment and do apartments checks. Oh and by the way we had the cleanest apartment in the zone...we got a perfect score :) I think my experience with cleaning the gym before my mission prepared me for this haha.
MLC on Friday was powerful and inspiring! We discussed about becoming a consecrated missionary! Man it was awesome!! I know the things I must change in order to truly be consecrated- it's laying everything on the altar! I'm so excited I can't even tell y'all! This is what we as the leaders must do in order to change the culture of the PQCM. That's out focus right now.. casualness is the gateway to disobedience! It's changing our nature! That's the key to consecration and it'll come by surrendering to God and  giving it all these last 10 months. I couldn't be happier, thinking, praying, and fasting for the welfare of my brothers and sisters here in the Philippines. 
Miracles this week:

10 investigators at church! (the members and especially the YMP are starting to produce)
Sister Leonila will be baptized on Saturday! Her bleeding stopped and she's so ready!! :)
My companion and I had a powerful lesson with one of our progressing investigators sister Margerie (part member family). She cried during the lesson when we asked her if she believed our message was true and what she was feeling. We need your prayers though because her parents don't want her to be baptized.
I loved this week, and I love my mission. This work is true!
Elder Johnson

Monday, October 31, 2016


Happy Halloween!
It's been a busy Preparation day and a pretty normal week family, so I'll keep this letter short :)
On Tuesday I really strove to have a successful and effective exchange with one of the district leaders in my zone (Elder Almasin). With the guidance of the Spirit we had such an awesome day of work and we both became better missionaries. As a leader in the Pasig zone and representative of Jesus Christ I've really been focusing personally on leading like the Savior. I felt the Lord's hand during my exchange as I truly felt love towards Elder Almasin and wanted to him to succeed. It made me so happy when I learned in my follow-up call a few days later that he had applied the things he learned from our exchange and how he thanked me for the things I inspired him with. I'm grateful for my mission.  There's no other place where we can just focus on developing Christlike attributes and help these wonderful people live His Gospel.
I had a spiritual experience with the Priesthood this week where I had the opportunity to bless one of the sisters in my zone. She's suffering with depression so I didn't know what I was supposed to say. But the blessing was from Heavenly Father, I testify it was.
Nothing much has changed with the area of me and my companion Elder Vergara. Leonila will be baptized in November, most likely the 12th. She's so awesome. It's been incredible to be a part of her conversion. Her testimony is so strong! It's the best feeling when an investigator expresses to you how grateful she is for us and the Gospel of Jesus Christ we helped bring to her life. She's so happy, she glows for real haha. The trial is, she has bleeding problems so we need your prayers family!
It's been nice this week getting new potential investigators from the members! We are staying faithful here in Pasig and still visiting the members, introducing Preach My Gospel with them. It's been effective, just a little process. But success will come!
Until next week.. ingat! Have a fun Halloween over there in the states.. I'll be celebrating Day of the Dead here in the Philippines! 
P.S. I joined the mission choir!! We are performing on December 4 and we practice weekly. It's so fun! I got the tenor part..I gotta share my talents kasi ;)
Elder Johnson

Monday, October 24, 2016

Pasig Week 8

Dear family,

Its been an unique week, full of service! :)

I don't know if I've told y'all about the Manuel family (recent converts here in Pasig). They're so awesome and literally the nicest and most humble people I've ever met! We have FHE (Family Home Evening) at their house every week and it's such a wonderful activity that we as members get to participate in.  It brings the family together and strengthens testimonies. For us as missionaries it's a perfect opportunity to invite non member friends to hear our message of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. I've seen the blessings come from FHE and we've gained new investigators because of it.  So I challenge y'all to have FHE weekly! and invite your friends!

On Tuesday I had an exchange with one of our District Leaders, Elder Binhaon. The day was interesting to say the least.  It started out well, the lessons were on and off, but then he got sick and threw up so the rest of the night was not as planned and we weren't able to have a successful evaluation. I wish I could just redo the day haha. But oh well, it's time to just move on. Heavenly Father keeps testing how I will respond to delays and things not going my way, because this week I got a little frustrated at my other DL who is having a difficult time with his district and with leading. So I've been working real hard on being patient and loving him like Christ. I continue to have the question come into my mind, "Do the missionaries in my bahay, and zone feel my love?" This is something I'm really striving to improve because I'm far from perfect.

Unexpectedly we found ourselves at Aurora chapel doing service most of Wednesday and Thursday. It was cool though, I really enjoyed serving in a different way than just teaching. We carried heavy boxes of food and packed canned goods for the parts of the Philippines that have been hit by the typhoons. It was definitely a successful service project :)

Saturday was a throwback day for me haha. We had the opportunity to do MTC exchanges! So if y'all remember last year at this time when I was in Manila MTC for a few days I went out and worked with one of the missionaries in the Manila mission. Ya well that's what I got to participate in again! This time, I was the old guy in the mission draggin around 2 new white boys from Utah serving in the Bacolod mission haha. Our experience was awesome!! At first I asked them what they wanted to accomplish and what were their goals for the quick 2 hour exchange. Their response was one I'll never forget.."I just want to help these people and help them feel the Spirit." What a simple yet amazing response from an excited missionary ready to serve the Lord. It brought back memories of what I felt last year and my excitement to just go out and help these wonderful people! I really felt the spirit and I learned so much from these 2 Elders. All I desire is to help the people come unto Christ and help them feel the Holy Ghost! 

Our area is struggling pa rin.. it's starting to get really frustrating looking up our board of baptisms and seeing no projection for October and a weak 1 lang for November. The Lord expects more from us here. Elder Vergara and I are just figuring out what else we can do to reach weekly baptisms.  For now it's just prayer and fasting for miracles. 

Ingat po kayo palagi! 

Mahal ko kayo,
Elder Johnson 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pasig Week 8

Oh how great this work is! 
My companion and I Elder Vergara prepared our workshop on Monday night and really relied on the Spirit to guide us the whole way. We prayed with more faith and felt confident in the Lords promise that "if you are prepared, ye shall not fear!" 

Zone training came and we were so excited! The Sister Training Leaders in our zone gave a little workshop first about teaching repentance to our investigators.  It was awesome and set the stage for our workshop to our Pasig zone! We focused on one of the steps of the inspired teaching cycle: listening, observing, and discerning. The focus was to help the missionaries become effective teachers. How? By LOVING our investigators. It's all about love and charity. Anyway, we believe that the zone felt the spirit and I'm just so grateful for the promise of Heavenly Father gives in the sacrament prayer.."the spirit shall always be with you."
On Wednesday we had a "new leaders training meeting." This was the first time PQCM has done this, and it was absolutely amazing! The objective was to train us as the leaders how to be successful in our callings. I'll share with you the thoughts given from President and Sister Koster to us:

*In order to achieve a new goal, we need to change what we're doing, do something new! *
*Be a spiritual blessing to the missionaries in my zone- how should they feel after they talk with me?*
*Leave my calling better than I found it, be a better person, train those DL's to become a better ZL than I ever was! *
The spirit taught me many more things as well, in order to become an effective leader. One thing that I'll never forget is just what I mentioned kanina. Do I really love every missionary in my zone? Do I love my investigators? How do the missionaries in Pasig feel after they talk with me? Am I inspiring, blessing and uplifting them? I've reflected on that and I know that charity is an attribute that can only be obtained just like Moroni said, through prayer and through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.
Elder Vergara and I are doing well.  We are still constantly striving to make our area the model area. Heavenly Father is testing us with patience for sure. He's also trying our faith.

The Apid family (one of our progressing investigators who really understood the doctrine) just told us yesterday that they are moving out of our area. The Sta. Ana family was progressing but now we are seeing no progression at all. Rolly has problems with his sins and keeps telling us that he can't turn away from it because he wont survive.
So that's the frustrating part haha. But we have so much positive coming our way! Leonila came to church so her baptism will be on November 5! And yesterday we had 3 miracle investigators come to church so we are excited!

It really all comes down to faith. I've really come to know that on my mission...have faith!
Well, I love y'all and thanks for your prayers. Have a great week!
Elder Johnson

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pasig Week 7

Family! :)
I'm so grateful for this week that I had talaga. It's been such a spiritual, motivational, and inspiring week here for me. Because of the Missionary Leadership Council, and General Conference, I'm back on track ready to conquer anything the Lord places before me.
I'm also so grateful for my companionship that I have with Elder Vergara. As missionaries, and companionships, we must have the spirit to be with us. If it's nonexistent, we cannot do this work.  With both of us noticing our need to change, we were able to communicate and discuss what we must do in order to be powerful and unified. We are so excited for this transfer and it's already off to a hot start!
On Friday we had the monthly MLC with President Koster and all the leaders in the mission. This was my second one so I knew what to expect and how to prepare.  Man this meeting was powerful let me tell ya! The spirit is undeniable and it wouldn't be the same without our wonderful mission President and his wife. From the start, they bring a sense of fire and excitement that gets us (as the leaders) pumped up and ready to inspire our zone. President Koster wants changes in this mission, not just the usual average baptisms every month. Heavenly Father has high expectations and it is our responsibility to carry out the work! Our zone training workshop tomorrow is gonna be sick.  The zone will feel the spirit and hopefully catch the desire and vision of what we can accomplish. Please pray for me and my companion as we prepare our workshop! salamat :)
Quotes i loved from MLC from our leaders: "There's nothing better than what I am doing which is 'Declaring Repentance!'" (D&C 15 and 16)
"Be excited, go out to teach and baptize!"
"I am successful when I feel the spirit in my work and desire the salvation of others."
"Keep going, don't stop, don't ever give up"
"Listen differently, with my heart, not just my ears"
" Gods plan is eternal, not everything will be accomplished in these 2 years."

I couldn't have been more excited to watch General conference! It was awesome! 

I bear testimony that Thomas S. Monson is our living and true prophet on this earth and that this church is Christ's true church. I felt it, and I know it to be true.  How lucky we are to have this Gospel that brings us JOY! Do we feel that joy now?
I could write for days about the things that I loved from conference, but I'll just share a few:
"Pray with your heart, not just your lips."
"Have Faith in Jesus Christ!"
"If we read the Book of Mormon every day, we will never go's impossible!! We will be converted to the Restored Gospel."
Are y'all reading the Book of Mormon daily? Do you exercise your faith in your Savior Jesus Christ? Do you have joy even in the midst of your trials? Are you praying with your heart?

Ponder those questions :)...because I did! 

I love y'all and I'll talk to y'all next week!
Elder Johnson

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pasig Week 6

Update on my life changing mission in the PQCM:
Well family this week was pretty rough for me. Not much has happened this week in our area or in our zone. It's transfer week and Elder Vergara and I are looking forward to continuing to lead the Pasig zone.
Our week was okay with the work. I think we lacked something and I'm not sure yet what it is. I feel like things need to change; I must change. For some reason I've gotten frustrated this week with little things that have happened and I haven't found happiness in this week's work. It's been a lot of personal pondering and self reflecting for the past few days. But although it's been hard for me, I know things are going to get better as long as I lose myself again in the work. The Spirit is constantly telling me to remember that again, not focusing on myself, but on others. I look forward to bouncing back and getting back on the road to conversion. 

We Baptized Ramon Del Gallego on Friday!! haha It went so well, he's the funniest old man. I wish y'all could meet him... hes awesome. You'll see in the pics that I'll send :) 

We've had a set back with our investigators which has been a little discouraging, especially for our October baptism goals. We just need y'all to pray for Leonila, Rolly, and the Sta. Ana family!
I'm excited to lead the Pasig zone again this transfer. We've got some new District Leaders who are coming in which will really help. Also, we met and had a meeting with the stake leaders here and discussed what we need to do to hasten the work of salvation. Only positive on the horizon!!

Sorry this letter is short, but I love and miss you all! I hope y'all are keeping the commandments because you love the Lord. I love my Savior, I know Heavenly Father lives, and loves all of His children.
ingat po kayo palagi, mahal ko kayo!
Elder Johnson

Oliver baptized his wife!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pasig Week 5

Hoy Kumusta kayo?

It was a successful birthday and week here in the Philippines! So much progress this week. A lot of good things are happening. It's exciting! 

On Tuesday I worked with my older brother in the mission - Elder Tokanang (his tatay/trainer is also Elder Santiago). We had such a fun exchange. He's from Kiribati so he's super makulit and he's going home in 2 weeks so I tried my best to help him not get trunky and finish the mission strong. (especially because he's one of our District Leaders). He has a different spirit with's contagious and powerful, and made me strive to have that same type of strong spirit with me.

Elder Vergara and I have been blessed with many new investigators these past weeks...the miracle has been that we have found the ones that are willing to commit and now we have 6 solid progressing investigators. The Sta. Ana family came to church on Sunday! They are really recognizing the spirit in their lives and are starting to gain a testimony. Now we are just helping them understand the Restoration, but they're doing so well! Oh and also they came to a baptism on Saturday, and were greeted by the members with love. I've realized that's one of the most important things we must do as missionaries is to help the members learn to fellowship and friend the investigators. We've been striving to have a couple the same age join us in the lessons, and in my experience, the lessons are much more powerful and effective because the investigator has someone to relate to and share their feelings, instead of 2 20 year old boys haha.

We are also super excited about brother Rolly! We just met him last week and he came to church on Sunday! He reminds me a little bit of brother Oliver- super nice and has been prepared by the Lord for the Gospel. He is preparing to be baptized on October 29.

Ramon (old tatay that we've been teaching) will be baptized on Friday September 30! He's been a long time investigator who has a testimony talaga that this is the only true church.

My birthday on Friday was great, it really was :) We celebrated with some pizza. My kabahays are awesome.
But I want to share with you all the best news I have ever received since being a missionary. on Friday we had a language test so I saw all my Provo batch at Aurora chapel. Anyway I talked with Elder Huish! (who by the way is my anak's - Elder Garcia's follow up trainer in Cogeo) so it was so sweet catching up with him about Cogeo, the investigators, my RC's etc...GUESS WHAT?!! Oliver Palomares is going to baptize his wife Viviet on October 1 !!!! When Elder Huish told me that I wanted to cry I was so happy. That's the best thing that has happened to me talaga. I felt just complete joy. That family is so incredible!!  To think that I was used as an instrument to find, teach, and baptize Oliver and now he has the priesthood and will baptize his wife, pure joy talaga.  This is what it's all about!!

Our zone is doing well.  We're trying to finish the transfer strong and keep up the momentum.  We feel an improvement with the work of our missionaries here in Pasig which is a positive. To be honest it's still weird being a zone leader.  I'm still trying to figure things out and doing my best to fulfill my calling.

Thank y'all for the prayers and all the birthday wishes. There's no other place I'd rather be than here in the beautiful Philippines helping these people come unto Christ.

Elder Johnson

 Happy birthday, Brandon!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Almost 20 years old :)

Kumusta fam?,
I can't believe it...I'm almost 20 years old! Weird, huh? I'm no more a teenager :( haha. I'm getting old, but I love that one scripture verse in the Bible (I forgot where) that says when I grew up I left my childish things behind! So true! Anyway, we plan on partying this week for my birthday... for me that means helping my investigators receive the restored gospel!
On Tuesday I gave my first workshop as a Zone Leader at our Zone training.  Elder Vergara's and my calling is to relay the information, plans, and vision of President Koster and help our zone catch that vision. We gave a workshop about the importance of the members and where each Ward needs to be in order to baptize 4 people every month = weekly baptisms. We talked about the stages of missionary work with the members. Stage 1: missionaries doing all the work. Stage 2: members helping the missionaries. Stage 3: missionaries helping the members. The workshop went pretty well. Elder Vergara and I felt like there was something missing (may kulang). We are somewhat pleased, but not even close to satisfied. We feel that we needed to do more. Hopefully next zone training we can improve. The commitment to the zone was to help each member in their ward become PMG (Preach My Gospel) members. That's our focus right now. Because of the lack of support and leadership here in the Philippines, we as missionaries must take initiative and help the members understand their role and how they can help share the gospel. The ideas that we have is to share PMG with the members and help them apply the principles that the Lord has set so that we can achieve the expectations in this mission of one family baptism every month. We can do it! The hard part is helping the zone feel they can do it as well- putting faith into action!
Thursday we had zone conference with President Koster. It was great, I always love the conferences. They are like a boost of excitement and eagerness to succeed in this work. The spirit taught me a lot; many things that I need to repent of. I'm grateful for the verse that President read Alma 26:12 about not boasting of ourselves but of our God. I've realized the importance of teaching by the Spirit and the things I need to do to feel the spirit every lesson. This week in our work we really worked on that and we noticed a huge difference the past few days. Every lesson was powerful. Not just 1 or 2. The faith that we have is either growing or it is weakening. I especially feel the need of increasing my faith, purifying my heart, and relying on the Lord to succeed in my area and calling here in Pasig.
Our work in the Pasig 4th ward is improving. One family is progressing - the Sta Ana family! They have really felt the spirit and the blessings of us sharing the Gospel to them. Last night we taught them the correct way to pray to our Heavenly Father and we're excited for them to come to church on Sunday. We just need your prayers family that we can achieve our goals and have a baptism this month (brother Ramon).
It's a little frustrating coming into this area and expecting to have success right away, but it's just the opposite. I would have thought that the zone leaders' area would be on fire, but again, it was just the opposite. My whole mission I have felt the responsibility of like starting over and helping the area get going. It's okay though, I must stay positive and happy :)
i love you all and miss y'all! Have a great week !
Commitment ko sa inyo : help the missionaries in your ward by giving them a referral and working with them! Our friends need the Gospel!!
Elder Johnson
P.S. I worked with a new missionary this week who's from Utah. It was cool, 2 white guys in the Pines! Also, I struggle with English now! Tagalog all the way now! haha

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pasig Week 3

Dear Fam,

I've learned a lot this week from other missionaries and other people I came in contact with... I've come to realize the beauty of having every day the chance to change, repent, and continue to rely on the Lord. It doesn't matter if you have a calling to be a leader in the mission or not. We all have 1 purpose, and throughout my mission I've gotten the wonderful opportunity to learn from others. I'm excited to share with y'all what I learned this week as a servant of Christ.

On Tuesday I had one of the best exchanges that I've ever had since being a missionary.  Man it was so awesome! I worked with Elder Udesike. He's from New Zealand (hes a baller too), he's kind of new and is struggling with the language, but the things I learned from him I'll never forget.

I first want to share with y'all one of the coolest experiences ever that happened to us as we were walking.  One random guy came up to us (he was in a rush back home) and said, "Hey elders".. of course we were a little surprised.  We eventually found out that he was a less active member (32 yrs old who served a mission! ). Before he ran off we were like, "Hey! Wait we want to come visit you today!" haha. Long story short, we went to his house and had one of the most spiritual lessons I've ever been a part of.  This guy (Leo is his name) hadn't opened up his BoM in 2 years. He hadn't prayed in long time too! And guess what? We shared a verse in the BoM that the spirit inspired us to share and he prayed for the first time again with us at the end of the lesson. Man, it was simply awesome. I think the best part was when he told us that he felt like he should stop and talk to the "big white and black foreigners walking " haha. And we know...I know it was the spirit that guided him to us. He felt the spirit and God's love for him again, and I couldn't be more grateful.

I believe that I learned more from the exchange than Elder Udesike. He doesn't have a calling yet but he's a born leader. He gave me advice on what I can do to improve and help the zone. I felt like Heavenly Father again used him (in our evaluation) for me to receive personal revelation. The spirit is the true teacher.  We must be willing to humble ourselves and listen!

I think this is the first time that I've mentioned to y'all about the bible bashing here in the Philippines. haha. Let's just say I've done a lot of studying in the Bible the past months. Some guys are ruthless, but I've learned even if we continue to answer their questions, it comes to humility and accepting the fact the God does not cease to work miracles. He called Joseph Smith to be his prophet in the last days and the fullness of the Gospel of the Jesus Christ was restored through him!  The Book of Mormon is the word of God. I love testifying of it daily..because of it.. there's no more confusion. This is Christ's true church!

On Friday I experienced my first Missionary Leadership Council! All the Zone Leaders, STL's, AP's and President all meet together in the mission home and discuss the needs of the mission and how we can improve. It's sweet.
I love the question that Sister Koster had us ponder, "Is there anything more i can do?" that applies to us as the leaders. The lord can be pleased but he will never be satisfied! President Koster talked about hit me.. how strong is my faith?  Of course it needs to continue to grow in strength. I learned the importance of relying on the Savior for everything; especially in knowing how to bless the members of our zone. 

President ended with asking, "Why are you happy?" Great question huh...I am happy because I am a full-time missionary, and I know my purpose! 

There are many more things from MLC that Elder Vergara and I are excited to apply and share to the missionaries in our zone. We are so excited! (Pasig = best zone in the mission).

Our area is doing okay. We are still weeding out investigators. Luckily we have high hopes for the next week in our work, but as of now we're kind of struggling.

Keep praying for us here. I love y'all!

Elder Johnson

Selfie after a long day's work!

Monday, September 5, 2016

1 YEAR!!!

Happy 1 year family!
Masaya ako talaga!! (I'm so happy) to be a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! It's so crazy how fast 1 year has gone by, no? It feels like just yesterday I was in the MTC, struggling with Tagalog haha. To be honest I feel like this year has been super successful, and I've done my best.. but this next year, my last year in the mission I want to do extraordinary things. As a zone leader I've caught the vision of what the Lord expects of me. Now it's time to push and help my zone catch that same vision.
It's been so fun this week working with my companion, Elder Vergara. We bought a "get to know you" card question thing.. it's opened us up haha. We have such good unity and are really striving to become the best missionaries we can be. In our weekly zone planning we discussed what we need to do as leaders to help the elders and sisters in our zone. It's not easy receiving revelation for 24 missionaries but, it'll come. Fast Sunday was yesterday which was exactly what I needed; especially being new and not really knowing how to lead a zone. My prayers have definitely been more reliant, knowing Elder Vergara and I can't do this work without the help of the Lord.

Last Tuesday I had the chance to go on my first "surprise" exchanges with one of the Elders in my zone. It was interesting to say the least. Let's just say this Elder and is work ethic, attitude, and desire is holding us back from becoming the best zone in the mission. It was great though because I was able to have an evaluation with him and really figure out the problem. It comes down to desire.  Who do we really want to become? Why are we here serving? What does Heavenly Father expects of us? Sana, because of continued follow ups, some of our elders will shape up and get to work haha.

Since I have arrived here in Pasig, the work has improved.  This week we really found out with some of our investigators kung handa ba sila na mabinyagan or hindi.. Elder Vergara have come to a conclusion that Joan and Ramon (scheduled for September) are not ready.. so we've moved on! Although some unfortunate things happened to a few of our new progressing investigators, Heavenly Father has really blessed us with new ones to replace! It's been a small miracle that has occurred in our area this week. With 2 new part member families that the Lord has placed in our path and a new family who just accepted a baptismal date last night (they are member referral). It doesn't look like we'll have baptisms for Sept, but Oct and Nov we are excited!! 

My new ward is...ok I guess haha. Elder Vergara and I have made it a goal to visit all the members in our area so we can build trust and gain referrals.  We're excited to get this ward excited to do missionary work.
That's all for this week. I love and miss you all!! 1 more year :)

Elder Johnson

Monday, August 29, 2016

First week as a Zone Leader in Pasig

My dear family,
On Tuesday I said goodbye to all the members and my recent converts in Cogeo. It was a little sad but I promised them I would return... one day sana haha. I spent most of my time with the Palomares family and the Bareno family. I have made unforgettable memories with them that I will never forget. They've made my mission talaga, an incredible 6 months in Anitpolo.
Wednesday morning I arose early and traveled to my new area - Pasig! I met my new companion- Elder Vergara!! He's super nice, humble, and is a great missionary talaga. I'm excited for the next weeks with him.  I've already learned so much within these past 6 days. It's crazy! We went back to the apartment and I soon found out it's a lot different than my last's really tiny, like super masikip, pero the good thing is we have air conditioning haha. My kabahays are Elder Saliva and Elder Vegamora. They're awesome as well. Elder Vergara and I got straight to work in our area- Pasig 4a.  Once again I soon found out the difference between my last areas hahaha. I don't really know how to describe it.  Let's just say my new area is.. interesting...and pangit talaga haha. It's all city, the streets are so narrow and there are so many people it's packed! It's polluted as well. There are puddles everywhere and rocks in some areas. Basta I'll take pics this week so that y'all can see it to know for yourselves haha.
Although our area isn't the prettiest, it's really big and and there are tons of people so we have maraming investigators! We'll never get out of people to teach, that's for sure. The problem we are having right now is finding quality, instead of quantity.  We don't have many quality investigators who are progressing, pero we have a few naman. In our ward council yesterday we discussed setting appointments with the active members so that we can get some referrals.
Well I'm still pretty new being a Zone Leader so I can't say too much about it yet, pero I'm honestly so excited for this responsibility and chance to serve. It was cool, yesterday Elder Hanie (of the area seventy) came to our stake so I was able to meet most of the missionaries in my zone. It was also cool to do follow up calls with my district leaders and get a feel of the life of a zone leader and the responsibilities I have. I read an article that Elder Vergara gave me to read. It's so awesome talaga. It's from President Eyering about being a Zone Leader. Reading it I felt some pressure, but mostly just excitement!
Thats pretty much all family. Elder Vergara explained to me that email time as a zone leader is mostly sending numbers and emailing President, so I feel like my emails will continue to be a little shorter. I will continue to share will y'all the wonderful things I learn daily as the Lord's representative and the miracles that occur, but don't expect too much haha. Just know that I love y'all and I know with all my heart that this is the true church of Jesus Christ and I couldn't be happier than I am in the PQCM right now!
ingat palagi :)
Elder Johnson

Brandon's District in Cogeo



Goodbye to the YSA!

Saying goodbye to the members in Cogeo!