Monday, February 29, 2016


Hello my wonderful family,

I received the call from my zone leader last Wednesday. The news I received shocked me. I wasn't surprised that I have been transferred, but I have received my first calling in the mission field.  I have been transferred to Quezon City 4B!! (4th ward). I have been called as the Senior companion and...a follow up trainer!! When Elder de Dios told me this I couldn't believe it. This is only my 4th transfer...geez. I was filled with mixed emotions; I was sad to leave my first area and the members, overwhelmed because of my calling, but also excited for the change. I said goodbye to all the members and my favorite people ever that I'll never forget- the YSA (Young Single Adults). It was tough but I know life is all about change and the now the Lord needs me in Quezon City! 

As I traveled it was like a throw back to my first day in the mission, not knowing what to expect, nervous, and overwhelmed. This week has been the longest week. As of now I still don't know what the heck is going on, just continuing to press forward with faith. As I arrived in QC, my kabahays picked me up from the chapel.  I thought to myself, "Well here we go!" A new journey- same purpose!
We got right to work as we arrived to the apartment (weekly planning). My companion is Elder Petilla! He's the man, the most humble guy I've ever met talaga (I'll explain why later). We got to know each other and talked for a few. He's from IloIlo.
The even crazier part about this, family, is that our area is whitewashed (which means that its brand new), so the area book is tiny with little information because it's a new area. When I realized this I really became stressed. I've been called to finish my step anak- Elder Petilla's training. I lead in finding, teaching, planning everything! I've never been so stressed in my life talaga. This is the hardest responsibility ever, it's crazy.
Although I feel overwhelmed and underqualified for this task ahead of me, I know I've been called here by God and that this is what he expects of me. I read a scripture this week that comforted me during my time of trial- 2 Nephi 22:2 "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation." I love this verse. The BoM is true and is the best help for us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. No matter what we're going through, I know Heavenly Father will prepare a way for us. I've relied on prayer a lot these past few days. I'm so grateful I can turn to my Heavenly Father for help-  he's our literal Father in Heaven and wants to help us because he loves us more than we know.
My ward is so great. I bore my testimony in church yesterday. I've only met a few members and they're all so awesome. I'll tell y'all more next week.
I realized that I'm extremely blessed and shouldn't be complaining. After I got to know my new companion and his background and family I couldn't believe it. Long story short, he doesn't know his father, he paid for his whole mission, and can't even communicate to his family over email because they have none. He's truly an incredible guy. I'm excited to get to know him more and work with him/train him.
iyan lang po , ilol talk to yall next week, love you so much. I've missed you a lot this past week but I'm glad I'm here serving the Lord and helping our brothers and sisters here in the Philippines. 

Elder Johnson

Monday, February 22, 2016

Last Week in Sablayan

Dear Family,

I love being a missionary! This work is incredible. The spirit is real and I'm so happy to be here serving the Lord in the Philippines. That pretty much sums up my week here. It was a great week in the mission.
Tuesday the Zone Leaders came and gave us Sablayan missionaries zone training! I always look forward to learning from my leaders. They stated something that really stuck out to me that will stick with me my whole mission. "When you truly come to understand the doctrine of Jesus Christ, your behavior changes!" I love this quote and I know that it is true. We will become like our Savior Jesus Christ and develop his attributes when we know his gospel!
This week Elder Pedrosa and I continued to find more, more, and some more haha. We gave a lot of baptism dates and found a lot of potential.  Although for the second straight week in a row we had zero investigators at church, I'm happy because Elder Pedrosa and I did all we could this week. We taught powerful lessons, the spirit touched the hearts of our investigators, and we know it. I'm so grateful for my step tatay in the mission field (Elder Pedrosa, my follow up trainer). I've come to realize this transfer how great a missionary he is. He truly exemplifies all christlike attributes and has been an amazing example to me. I love him and I've grown a lot these past 12 weeks with him as my companion. 
So family...I'm almost positive these are my last days here in my first area-my love- Sablayan.  I find out tomorrow morning what will happen to me. I'm excited for change! Well, I'll talk to y'all next week! Love and miss you all! 

P.S.. This morning I had my first district activity! We went on a hike in the bunkod (mountain) and it was beautiful. 
Also I tried the guyabano fruit this week. Wow it was delicious. (the Philippines has the best tasting fruits) 


Hike this morning for our district activity

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 14, 2016

Magandang umaga po sa akin pamilya! 

It was a rough week for me here in Sablayan. Nothing seemed to go our way this week, and the stress of missionary work and life continued. For the first time in the past two transfers, I got frustrated with my companion and how the teaching/lessons were going. Ive learned a lot this week and the thing that I realized is that I have to focus more on the BRT which is getting to know my investigators and finding out their concerns. It's really difficult for me to discern the needs of my investigators and to teach people, not lessons. It's something that I know will come as I continue to improve in Tagalog and to listen for the promptings of the Spirit.
Another really frustrating aspect of the work here in the Philippines is to get my investigators to keep commitments. The first visits go so well and Elder Pedrosa and I feel like they have so much potential, and then when we return, they make excuses and aren't interested anymore.  We evaluated our work and what we can do to be more effective missionaries and help these people recognize that we are representatives of Jesus Christ and that they NEED to accept this gospel.  

In my studies lately I've come to realize how important this work is - the work of the Lord - missionary work. Elder Holland states in PMG chapter 1.. "This is eternal life! Eternity hangs in the balance!" My calling as a full time missionary is the most important thing I can be doing right now, and every day I strive to help the people here in Sablayan come unto Christ and accept his gospel. My testimony of the gospel grows every day.  I have a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know it's true, and it's our guide back to our Heavenly Father.
On Friday I had exchanges with my district leader Elder Sambile. The day went really well. I always look forward to working with him. We teach really well together and the lessons we taught were powerful.
I was super disappointed on Sunday when we had 0 investigators at church after 10 of them committed to come. The only highlight of this week really was the the group officially became a Branch! The new Branch President is President Abrea- he's the man!
Lately I've been reflecting on my work and thinking to myself, "What lack I yet?" "Why aren't my investigators progressing?" I don't understand right now but I know that Heavenly Father is aware of me and what's happening here in my area. I've prayed fervently that I can be His instrument to teach the truth with power and authority so that my investigators will change their lives. I don't know what will happen but I continue to be faithful and diligent and giving my heart to the Lord and His work. 

P.S... this might be my last full week here in Sablayan (transfer week next week) 

I love you all, talk to y'all next week.

Elder Johnson

Selfie before a day's work

Selfie after a day's work..see the difference? Exhausted! haha

Brother Billy- member that works with us all the time. He's the man.

My area :)

Lizard you know

Dinner at the Dakingkind family's house

Elder Santiago and Pedrosa

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Week Full of Exchanges

Hey Family! 

It was a busy week here in Sablayan- a wonderful week for me as a missionary! 

On Tuesday my Tatay (trainer) Elder Santiago came and he got to work with us as a TA(teaching assistant)! It was so awesome to be able to work with him again! I realized how much I actually missed him and how amazing a trainer he was for me. Teaching with him again brought back all my memories of my first 6 weeks here in the Philippines.  And now I've almost been here for 4 months! Of course I learned a lot from him. I'll share a few things I learned from his evaluation. He told us to become a VESSEL for the Lord. He then named attributes that will help us become the vessel- worthiness, exact obedience, cleanliness, and valiant (diligent)! I'm striving to become the vessel for the Lord so the spirit can speak through me and I can help my investigators.  Elder Santiago is like a discernment machine. He's the best missionary in the mission field and I hope one day I can be the kind of missionary he is.
On Thursday Elder Asetre (my Zone Leader) worked with Elder Pedrosa and me. He's a great missionary. We have a lot in common (he likes basketball), and he's like the nicest Filipino I've ever met.  I really appreciated this exchange. I learned that shorter lessons (less than 30 minutes ) is what we need to be striving for! I also learned to find out the concerns of our investigators right away so we can know how to teach them the doctrine. He uses the scriptures really well. That's something I'm trying to improve on in my teaching- using the BoM every lesson!
Friday Elder Espinili and I had exchanges! This was interesting...2 Americans that have both been out in the mission field for less than 4 months.  It was so great! I had the opportunity to lead the lessons and lead as the senior companion for the day. It was such a humbling experience. We both relied on the spirit and our day went really well. Luckily we had a member present, so that was a nice help as well. I learned a lot- mostly that my Tagalog is pangit haha. But I'm trying my best and I know it'll come.
So bad news family. My investigator brother Jasem that was supposed to be baptized on February 13 will not be baptized. Long story short- he made some poor decisions with a member who is supposed to be a good example to him but they're both pasaway. I'm really sad and disappointed, especially knowing that this transfer we will go without a baptism again.

Some better news is brother Nilmar who I've been teaching since October since I've been here told us this week that he believes this church is the only true church on the earth! He Believes, He Knows! When he told us that I couldn't help but smile. I was truly filled with joy. This is what it's all about. Although it took 4 months, we kept on ministering to him and he finally knows for himself the truth. I love this guy. I know one day he'll be baptized- probably in April.
This week I've come to know more of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know he lives. I know he loves each and every one of us. I studied more of His Atonement for us. It's truly incredible. Through Jesus Christ we can return to live with our Father in Heaven again! I know this gospel is true with all my heart, and this is the way to the celestial kingdom- why I'm here serving a help people reach exaltation!  

Iyan lang pamilya ko

Elder Johnson

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016

Magandang umaga po sa akin pamilya! 

Another wonderful week as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here in the Philippines. My district leader Elder Sambile gave us a powerful workshop on Tuesday about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He committed us to mention the Atonement in every single lesson. Including lessons like Word of Wisdom, law of chastity etc. Jesus Christ is central to everything, and as missionaries we must, "have his name on our lips at all times." (Neil. L. Andersen- worldwide missionary broadcast). 

Elder Pedrosa and I are helping one of our investigators and his Lola (grandma) prepare for their baptism on Feb.13! His name is Jasem, he's 14 and is best friends with one of the members.  They're both kind of pasaway (naughty/troublemakers) but he's starting to change and we're trying our best to help build his testimony.  This next week we're going to teach him the importance of repentance (Plan of Salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ...lessons 2 and 3). 

On Wednesday we went to the branch and had a "one day mission" with the members.  We were able to help the members learn how to teach and then we went and visited less actives. It was effective too because most of them came to church on Sunday

Saturday was zone interviews with President Revillo! I love the conferences, trainings, and interviews because I always learn so much from my leaders!  We had the opportunity to watch the worldwide missionary broadcast, and listen to some of the apostles speak- Elder Bednar and Andersen.  The topic was Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts.  I learned a lot talaga.  The speakers focused on the principles of Preach My Gospel.  I'll share one of the many things I learned.  I cannot forget to teach repentance and it's importance. It's easy to sometimes teach faith in Jesus Christ and then go straight to baptism.  That's something I'm going to change in my teaching...always "cry repentance".
The ZL's and TA's also gave amazing workshops.  Elder Santiago came back! It was great seeing him, catching up, and hearing his workshop about using the 3 month projection system effectively. To summarize it, I need to always be finding! The cycle that he taught was Planting, Nurturing, and Harvesting!
My meeting with President Revillo went so well.  I love meeting with him.  He's so great. His counsel and love really helps me.  I'm grateful for him and I know he's called of God. He also visited Sablayan on Sunday and came to the group sacrament meeting.  It was the most people we've had in the meetinghouse- 85+.  We could barely fit in the room haha. It was truly a miracle.  He announced that the group will become a branch soon! Such great news. 

Well that's about all for this past week family. I continue every day to grow and learn. Missionary work is hard but I know it's not supposed to be easy because salvation is not cheap! 

Elder Johnson