Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 3 Cogeo

Hi Family,
This week has flown by. Not only this week but the past 7 months being in the mission field! I'm looking at the calendar and it's almost April!

It was a pretty normal week here in Cogeo.  Just the continuous grind of missionary work. 

On Thursday I had an exchange with the DL's anak- elder Esurim. He's still in his 12 weeks program and so I had the opportunity to lead in his area (bagong nayon). It was an awesome exchange. We taught many powerful lessons that went so well. It's the best feeling leaving a lesson and feeling so spiritually in tune, knowing that I did all I could in the lesson to help the investigator. Here's a cool story: we taught these 2 guys that are less active. As soon as we started talking and getting to know each other it seemed like we knew each other before.  It was weird, I've never connected with anyone like I did with these 2 brothers so far in my mission. I really felt like they were my brothers, and I was talking to them like my best friends- truly concerned for them and wanting to help them. I learned a lot from this exchange.  I'm really excited to hopefully train one day. It's a lot of fun working with younger missionaries. 

This week I studied Humility. The past couple weeks I've really noticed that my Tagalog is improving, and also my teaching skills.  Because of this, pride has snuck up on me a little bit.  As I was reading in the BoM I was quickly humbled when I read Mosiah 2: 23-25 when King Benjamin tells the people not to boast- we are always indebted to God and are as of the dust. 

Elder Barrientos and I have gotten a little bit discouraged with our situation right now. We have zero progressing investigators, and it seems like everything negative that could happen to our investigators is happening. One of our special 2 left for good, back to his province. And our other investigators simple are just not progressing. We've been working our tails off trying to find new investigators and to help our area. We've introduced the family mission plan to the members to try and get them involved and to receive referrals. It's even harder when we have zero members that are willing to work with us. I don't know what else to do. We're trying our absolute best to be exactly obedient, but our area is still struggling really bad right now. I know this is part of Heavenly Father's plan for us but it's really frustrating. I haven't had the opportunity to baptize someone in over 4 months or see the progression of an investigator. 

All I ask for you family is to pray for my area. I know we'll be blessed as long as we continue to work hard and do what we can. I'm just patiently waiting for these blessings to come haha. A highlight of this week was that 2 less active families that we taught came to church! I was so happy to see them walk into the chapel doors and feel of the spirit in the house of lord. 

I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and that the church of Jesus Christ was restored through him! 
Sige po, until next week family, ingat palagi!

Elder Johnson

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 2 in Cogeo

Magandang buhay!

Another wonderful week here in the Philippines as a full time missionary! 

On Tuesday was my first zone training with my new zone (Antipolo)! I love my zone leaders Elder Dickens and Elder Galia. They gave a great workshop about the inspired teaching cycle. It's been a common theme for the Philippines Quezon City mission- becoming the tools for the spirit to use by teaching effectively and with power and authority! PMG says- effective teaching can be hard and takes great effort on the part of each companionship. Elder Barrientos and I have been applying this cycle and our lessons have been very powerful. We have been able to teach according to the needs of our investigators and give them a commitment to act. 

Wednesday was Zone Conference with 3 other zones at the Aurora chapel.  I know I always say this but I always look forward to trainings and conferences to be able to learn from President and from my leaders! I was so happy when I walked into the chapel and saw my MTC companion Elder Sanft! Man it was great catching up with him. I love that elder. Sana one day we'll become companions again haha.
There are many things that the spirit taught me at the conference but one thing I learned that I'll share with y'all is that becoming a consecrated missionary means leaving everything on the altar of sacrifice and giving my whole soul to the Lord! (Omni 1:26). I had the opportunity at the conference to bear my testimony in front of the zones.  It was so awesome.  After we watched the video of the Jeffrey R. Holland's inspiring talk about the atonement and missionary work, President Revillo chose a few of us to bear testimony of the Savior. 

On Thursday Elder Rawson (TA) worked with us.  Exchanges are my absolute favorite thing ever talaga.  The evaluation especially.  It gives us the chance to discuss what we did well during the day/lessons and what we can improve on.  It really humbles me knowing I have so much to learn and that really I am nothing without my Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ.  In one of the lessons to one of our progressing investigators, Brother Arnel, we were focusing on the Atonement. We realized in our evaluation how hard it really is to teach about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Rawson explained that we have to continue to truly come to understand our Savior's Atonement and apply it in our lives every day! I'm so grateful for this mission, my time to serve the Lord for 2 years and to come to know him better every single day. 

I also learned that I as a missionary must help the investigator understand the WHY and then teach them the HOW? (example: repentance). 

Elder Barrientos and I continue to find those people that the Lord has prepared for us here in Cogeo.  I had a cool experience this week when I felt a prompting from the spirit to stop and go back to talk to this guy. We taught him right away and he told us that he believed that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. He's a golden investigator talaga! Hopefully he'll continue to progress because as of right now we don't have any progressing investigators. Every area that I've been in so far in my mission it's been like this, like starting over finding new investigators! But we're staying positive and we know that we can baptize in April and May. 

That's all for this week family. I feel your prayers and I appreciate your love and support. All I ask is that you continue to pray for this area and my investigators so that we can have some progressing investigators. I'm doing well. The language is getting better but is still frustrating. Love y'all. Talk to y'all next week! 

P.S. Today we got to attend the Manila Temple and do a session! It was so wonderful. I love the house of the Lord. It was exactly what I needed- it had been 4 months! 
Also.. I got an allergic reaction this week... I'm not sure from what but it was pretty bad haha. I have red dots all over my body.. and I'm talkin like my whole body.. and it itches.. like crazy! haha but it's all good:) the life of a missionary in the Philippines :)

Elder Johnson

Monday, March 14, 2016

Emergency transferred ako sa Antipolo Zone- COGEO A

Hey Family! 

I received a call from one of the AP's on Monday night as my district and I were doing service for a member. I was shocked at what he said to me. "Elder Johnson you are getting emergency transferred to Antipolo Zone- Cogeo A." many questions rushed through my head and I was just really confused. I didn't even know what ET even meant. All I knew was to pack my bags and that I was leaving the next morning. It was hard saying goodbye even though I had only been in QC for a week and a half. I loved my companion and the members. I wasnt ready to leave- I just got there! 

In the AP's car on the way to my new area, President Revillo (my mission President) called me. Sinabi niya sa akin, "Elder Johnson I'm sorry that I had to pull you from your new area, but I need you to do something in Cogeo." He continued on telling me that the Elders that were there were being pasaway and "acting as tourists." He said that there was a lack of spirit and that he needed me to go and be an example to my new companion and kabahays. He told me that this was an opportunity to lead by example, as senior companion. When I heard these words from him I was thinking to myself, "Wow this is a big responsibility". I had no idea the situation I was going into. All I knew is that I needed to lead by example. 

As I arrived to Cogeo, I met my companion- Elder Barrientos. I'm not supposed to talk about negative things to you about my companion or the work but let's just say I wasn't impressed at first. As I got to know him he told me about his past and that he was disobedient, but that he wanted to change. I was relieved when those words came out of his mouth. It's been great getting to know him. He's a really cool guy.  I like him a lot. 

We got right to work of course! We work really well together. Elder Barrientos has been in the mission for 18 months now so he knows what he should be doing. We had a baptism on Saturday and also one planned for March 26. But besides that, we have kunti lang mga investigator. I love my new area- I'm back in the Province :). It's beautiful. We proselyte up in the bundok (mountains). We basically hike everyday haha. But the potential here is incredible! There are so many houses and families. The problem here in Cogeo is less actives. There are so many! It's crazy sad. I'm going to reactivate all of them! 

This weekend we had stake conference. President Revillo reminded us to strive to truly understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I'll share with y'all a little something I learned in my personal study that increased my understanding and appreciation of my Savior Jesus Christ. I was reading in True to the Faith.  Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life. He was free from the demands of Justice, He had the power of Redemption, He was the ONLY one who could pay the debt for those who repent! I know that Jesus Christ is the center of everything. I'm grateful to represent him and to strive to become like him everyday. This church is true and I know it.
My challenge ako para sa inyo lahat.. my family- study the Atonement of Jesus Christ and gain a better understanding of his sacrifice for you. Apply His Atonement everyday. I know that as we do this, we will feel peace and joy. This gospel is true.
I hope you all have a great week. Love y'all!
Elder Johnson

Monday, March 7, 2016

First Week in My Second Area- Quezon City 4B

Kumusta po,

Well I have successfully completed my first full week in my new area in Quezon City. Man it's like a whole different mission compared to my last area in Sablayan. I'm actually in the city- maraming cars, people, pollution, and it's always cloudy. It's a different kind of poor here too. It's hard to explain but in some areas it's like walking through narrow alleys and some of the houses are so tiny that I have to put my legs outside haha. I really do like it here though- the members are so awesome.  They feed us a lot haha. My bishop is great, and I'm in a ward! It's a change for sure, but I'm loving it.
This week has still be stressful for me. The work here is really hard, like it's tough. The most difficult part for me has been trying to lead the planning- where to find, and just adjusting to this change. But at the same time, I've learned a lot and I almost have the area memorized. Having kunti lang investigators is sometimes discouraging, especially at night time when we don't know who to plan for, but the work is progressing here. We had one investigator at church yesterday and he's really interested - he's just slightly weird haha. Our other investigators have potential, but the most important thing that I've decided to do is to continue to FIND. My area needs new investigators and the best way for us to succeed is through the members! Member referrals are key! And the members here are so willing to help us, so I'm excited to continue building a relationship with all of them and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ! 

This week have really enjoyed being a trainer. I absolutely love it! The things that I've learned from Elder Santiago I've applied my training to my anak- Elder Petilla. I know I don't know everything, but I feel as if I know my purpose as a missionary and I know how missionary work is supposed to go. My companion Elder Petilla expressed to me his struggles and weaknesses. He's so awesome. I look up to him talaga- he's the most Christlike person ever. It's crazy. I've been able to really help him and understand his challenges, because I was in his shoes just a few months ago. I know this transfer will be great with him. We will accomplish great things with the help of the Lord! I love this work family, and I really am grateful to be a part of it. I know Heavenly Father has a plan for this area and I'm excited to be here and watch it grow as I put my trust and faith in my Savior Jesus Christ. 

Thanks for all the prayers, I love and miss you all. Ingat po kayo palagi! 

Elder Johnson

 We did some family history work with members this week.