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