Temple moments

`A wonderful reward'

Elder Darwin L. Johnson and his companion picked their way warily through a housing area in Pasay City, Philippines, in 1969. Tracting the stilted, frame homes was rarely rewarding, but never boring. In one home they faced the muzzles of guns before finding a hasty exit.But at another home they met the opposite extreme. There, Ricardo and Leonila Bagano and their large, young family welcomed the missionaries. The elders taught them the gospel by candle light and soon baptized them.

"That was the first and only family we tracted out," said Elder Johnson, who now works for a title company in Heber City, Utah.

The Bagano family made the news in 1971 when Sister Bagano braved a typhoon to run back into her home to retrieve a copy of the Book of Mormon. But despite efforts by both the Baganos and Elder Johnson, contact was lost between him and the family.

In 1988, his parents, Elder and Sister Venil P. Johnson of Vernal, Utah, Maeser 3rd Ward, were thrilled to be called to serve a mission as ordinance workers in the Manila Philippines Temple.

The Johnsons arrived in the Philippines and soon began serving in the temple. Less than a week and a half later, one of the Filipino ordinance workers approached Sister Johnson.

"Johnson," she said as she read the missionary's name tag. "Our missionary was Johnson - Elder Darwin Johnson. Do you know him?"

Elated, Sister Johnson replied, "Yes, he's our son."

Sister Bagano was also overjoyed. The next day, Sister Bagano brought a photo of Elder Johnson, confirming that it was indeed the right "Johnson." Later, she brought members of her family to the temple.

"All the Bagano family are active Church members and have remained true," said Venil Johnson.

In addition to Sister Bagano, who is a temple ordinance worker; her husband, Ricardo, is a high councilor and a former bishop; and a daughter Vivian is on the stake Primary board. Another daughter completed a full-time mission.

"What a wonderful reward after 18 years for parents of a young missionary," said the senior Elder Johnson. "It is really a thrill to find and meet the results of our son's labors, years ago." - John L. Hart

(Another in a series of "Temple Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed