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!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Transfer Week!! New area, and New Calling

Hello Family!
On Sunday night President Koster called me.  He extended to me my new calling in the's crazy man.
I've been called to serve as a Zone Leader in the Pasig zone!! I'll be in Pasig 4a and my new companion is Elder Vergara. To be honest I'm not really feeling too much right now; mixed emotions of course. But this past week I've learned from one of the RM's here that always works with us that we as missionaries can't be stressed. We need to be happy, always!! If we are stressed we won't be happy. totoo yan talaga! So although I'm thinking about the these wonderful people here in Cogeo that I will be leaving, I'm excited for the next journey that Heavenly Father has ahead for me!
It's been a great week for us. Our investigators are progressing and I feel confident in Elder Garcia that he can lead this area well and keep the work going strong here in Cogeo!
I want to share with you, my family, one of the best experiences we had this past week. On Saturday we taught the Palomares family and it went absolutely perfect. We invited one of the members who is a perfect fellowshipper for Oliver and his wife din. During the lesson, we asked the member how the gospel has blessed his family. After that sister Viviet Palomares (wife of Oliver) really opened up and shared with us how she has seen the change in Oliver since he became a member of the church. She was tearing up as she told us that that is what she wants for her go to church as a family and be happy. It was literally perfect and the Spirit was so strong. I'll never forget it. My wish now, as I leave, is that soon sister will be baptized and before I leave the mission they will be preparing to enter the temple :) I couldn't be more excited and happy for the Palomares family and the future ahead for them.
It's been a fun 6 weeks training Elder Garcia. I learned a lot from him. He taught me patience and humility and love. I hope he will continue to become a successful missionary and apply the things that he has learned. This transfer has flown by. I feel like I still don't know Elder Garcia too much; he's pretty shy. But it's been super fun getting to know him, seeing him opening up, and helping him adjust and become an effective missionary.
Well that's all for now. I'll probably have a lot to say next week in my new area. Tonight I will be saying goodbye to the members and my recent converts. It's going to be sad (especially the Bareno family and Oliver). But it's only for a short time..."til we meet again!!"

Elder Johnson

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bagyo season here in the Philippines

It's been a rainy week here in the Philippines. We got hit with a typhoon that lasted all week. Luckily, our work didn't suffer too bad. We still were able to manage a decent week with the work here in Cogeo.
Tuesday, we had our zone training and zone lunch. The training was great. We learned about effective planning and how to focus on the key indicators for conversion. We've applied what the zone leaders shared in our nightly planning and have found our work to be so much more effective. I've realized this week how important it is to set goals and to use our missionary planner to its fullest. 

After the training, I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with Elder Ruiz (zone leader). To be honest I was a little nervous at first haha. But that soon went away. We had such a successful exchange! Our day was full, we were comfortable and there was no pressure. It was awesome talaga. Elder Ruiz is super cool and is a stud missionary. I learned a lot from him in our evaluation. I was able to ask him what I can do as a district leader to improve and the advice he gave was, "Be more spiritual.  Call upon Heavenly Father and rely on him to give you inspiration for every elder in your district." Also he told me how when I go on exchanges with my elders, I need to help them in every aspect of the work and especially teach them how to plan and work effectively. I love the verse in the BoM that he shared to me - Mosiah18:21. So that's been on my mind all week, how I can help each elder in my district by figuring out their individual needs and how we can become unified with one purpose as an "Abinadi District."

One of the best things ever happened this week...guess what, we taught Viviet Palomares...the asawa of Brother Oliver!! It was perfect! We BRT'd and HTBT'd and just made her feel comfortable. Our plan is to not rush the lessons and pressure her, but to just have her feel the spirit. I'm so excited for this week and to teach her the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh, also they came to church as a family on Sunday! :) I couldn't be more happy and excited for their family!
We have a ton of investigators that we're teaching. The problem is that they just haven't accepted a baptism date. Which is good, it means they understand and realize the commitments they need to keep in order to know the truth. Elder Garcia and I are excited this week to help these people understand why they need to be baptized.  We're expecting them to progress this week, so please pray for them!
Elder Garcia and I had some interesting experiences this week, with the lessons. It's a continual process of progression and practice for sure haha. I continue to help him learn how to teach people not lessons. It's kind of taking him a while, but we're gettin' there!
Being a District leader is stressful. This week I really had some moments of frustration with some of my elders.. especially this morning when our kabahays were blatantly disobedient. I had a moment of weakness and I have learned through my personal study this morning that I need to lead how the Savior did, in all ways! We can all change. Every day we have the chance to become more like Jesus Christ. That's what I am enjoying the most right now at this time of my mission. :)
Mahal ko kayo lahat!
Elder Johnson

Monday, August 8, 2016

Week 22 Cogeo

Magandang magandang umaga po family,
I believe one of the best feelings here as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ and His Gospel is leading and watching other missionaries succeed in this marvelous work. We as missionaries are united together in one purpose: to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the  gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the great is my calling?!

On Sunday I was able to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting in the Cogeo ward. I reflected on my first year in the mission and how grateful I am to be here in the PQCM! This mission is flying by and couldn't be more grateful to serve my Savior for another year.
Last Tuesday I gave a workshop on teaching; on how we can become better teachers when we teach the lessons. I focused mostly on lesson 1 - The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how we as missionaries teach it literally all the time sometimes 5 times a day! I invited one of the Returned Missionary's brother Al Tabios. He's so magaling at teaching, like I've told y'all before he's the master teacher. We did some role play on how we can teach new investigators that we just met lesson 1, but at the same time teaching them according to their needs. Essentially it was a teach people not lessons workshop. We practiced how we can incorporate "our unique message to the world" in every situation kahit sino ka or whatever a person's situation is. It went really well and my companion and I have really been striving to apply it in our daily work. But, it takes continuous practice, which is one thing that I love about being a missionary; every day we have the opportunity to learn and grow.
Elder Garcia really came out of his shell this week; he's exploding! (in a good way haha). He's not as shy or timid and has gained a ton of confidence; he's a stud! It's been a lot of fun this week. We've been on the finding grind!! We found 18 new investigators and are giving baptism dates for the future months. I've been really working my hardest to leave Cogeo A as solid as possible for my companion and the future missionaries that come here. We've been applying the 4 month projection and trying to have weekly baptisms for the next weeks/months (that's the new goal and vision for our mission).
I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with one of my best friends this MTC companion who is now in my district again...Elder Sanft!! It was such a blast, we had a great time. He hasn't changed at all...the same magaling missionary as in the MTC. He's still better at tagalog then me haha. And his teaching is crazy good. He really is a "special boy" like Elder Christofferson told him in the MTC. Even though he's still a junior companion, and has had a rough time with his companions his whole mission, he really a special guy. I'm so grateful to have met him.  I will cherish our relationship that we have for the rest of my life.
The DeGuzman family just texted us this morning. Bad news talaga. We don't what's going on but we will visit them later and figure it out. Keep them in your prayers please.
I love y'all, ingat po kayo
Elder Johnson

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 21 Cogeo

Dear family and friends,
As a District Leader and as a missionary in general I have the chance to receive personal revelation. Revelation for my district and for myself. It's so awesome. This week I gave a workshop on "Teaching Repentance and Baptizing Converts." This has been the common theme of missionary work around the world and we continue to emphasize it here in the PQCM. I was able to dig a little deeper and talk about how we as missionaries need to help our investigators to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ by teaching them how he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and how the condition of the Atonement is repentance!  We also did a role play about how we can help people truly repent.. we do this by giving them specific commitments. The workshop went really well. I'm grateful for the spirit which guides me everyday doing the Lord's work.
I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with one of the elders in my district this past week. The exchange went really well, and we both learned a lot. This elder (elder Nawaia) is close to the end of his mission. He's been pasaway most of his mission and told me during our evaluation that he wanted to change and go back to his old obedient self at the beginning of his mission. It was cool to see that he has a desire to finish his mission strong. I've seen the past few days changes in him. I hope it continues.
On Thursday I had my first interview with President Koster! It went so well! He's so awesome talaga. I was able to open up with him about how I'm doing with training Elder Garcia and being a district leader. He expressed his gratitude for my efforts and it comforted me knowing that I'm doing a great job. I told him that it's been difficult. It really has. He told me that he had a strong feeling that Elder Garcia should be my companion. He confirmed to me that this is what I need and these callings are from Heavenly Father. I am really going to enjoy this next year with President Koster. He has such a strong spirit and desire to do missionary work. He's a stud.
Elder Garcia is doing well; he improves daily. What's been a big help is doing role plays. It has not been easy and sometimes I've gotten frustrated and impatient, but I'm trying my best to really help him. I'm excited for these next days and weeks because seeing my anak grow is the best feeling ever :)

The DeGuzman family is doing well. the problem is that brother still has a Word of Wisdom problem with coffee. We set a date where we said that by August 10 he should be completely done. He's also behind in the lessons and with his testimony. We are going to have to take some time really focus on Bro Deguzman and help with gain a testimony. They might not be baptized in August but we are going to continue to help them be ready for the end of August :)

Thanks for your prayers, I love y'all!
Elder Johnson

Part of Brandon's MTC District reunited!