Merry Christmas

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Every week brings different challenges, but we watched a video of the hero cycle at our Christmas conference.  It showed the parallels of the hero cycle and missionary work. It states that challeges change us and make us better. After we endure little or big challenges, everyday we are altered and refined (if we let them refine us).  As we have come closer to Christmas, I have been grateful for the beautiful words and messages coming from leaders. The Christmas Fireside was very inspiring for me. I realize how fortunate I am to be spending this blessed season in the midst of His work. Never before have I felt so close to my Savior around this time of year. My heart swells with love for my Him and for His life that HE gave for each and everyone of us. In my personal study the birth of the Savior has been my main focus. I love His words "to this end was I born". As we show the video to those we teach and it says "a Savior is born... discover why," Jesus Christ answers when he states "to this end was I born." From the very beginning Jesus Christ has been the arbitrator for the great plan of God. I can only imagine all the anticipation from people on earth, people who had alreay come to earth and those who had yet to come to earth, anxiously awaiting the day when their Savior would come to earth making it possible for them to not only return, but to inherit the kingdom of God in all its glory. I have no doubt in my mind that the Savior's day of birth was greatly rejoiced on high as we were all filled with gratitude for the glorious work about to come forth. The day a Savior was born, was a day every single one of God's children had reason to rejoice and be filled with immense gratitude to their selfless older brother. I am grateful to my Savior, my brother and my friend. I am so happy to be able to spend this season and every other day bringing our brothers and sisters unto Him. As a representative of Him, I testify of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior, our friend, our advocate. He continues to pour out His love unto us and His infinite Atonement redeems my soul everyday. I am grateful for the knowledge I have of His true gospel and that I may fully understand and receive all the blessings the Atonement has to offer. I hope to make Him proud as I humbly strive to represent Him and help others accept His love. I love my Savior. I know that He lives and I will continue to testify of Him as long as I may exist. 
This testimony is what makes me work my hardest, do my best and improve each and everyday. I have much farther to go, but i know He is right here helping me along the path.

Have a very blessed and wonderful Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Dear Everyone,

Love you and miss you. Got all your Christmas packages this week. I was so happy! Thank you so much for everything that you sent. The camera is a million times better than the old one. I gave the old camera to the Biador family here in the ward.  They were pretty excited about it so I was happy to let them have it. I hope that is okay with you guys. How was Thanksgiving? It was kind of tough knowing that a holiday was happening and I wasn’t there, but I tried not to think about it too much.  The Philippines started celebrating Christmas in September.  But now it’s getting real. They are so funny.  Any excuse to celebrate and take a day off of work, they take it. There are always like 3 holidays a month. They carol here, and then you give them money. It also doesn’t feel like Christmas because it’s also blistering hot.  But I now know what the real meaning of Christmas is, and I have never felt closer to my Savior. The first presidency came out with the message and video, " a Savior is Born" and we are using that theme in contacting people. It is effective especially for filipinos who love Jesus so much. We are simply inviting them to discover why He was born. Literally from the moment He was born, He lived an extraordinary, selfless life.  Everything He did was for our Salvation.  We invite them to see the whole effect of Jesus Christ in their lives and really how they can make Him their everything. This is a VERY rewarding experience. This week was difficult. Our investigators are not progressing. Looks like we won’t have any baptisms this transfer… However, I know that as long as I am truly doing my best, Heavenly Father will be pleased with my work.  I am really so happy and grateful to be serving Him.  I don’t want it to end.  TIme has flown so fast, almost 6 months now and time is only gonna go faster. 
Thank you for everything. I can’t wait to talk to you guys Christmas Day. Prepare yourself… I'll probably cry too. But it will be a happy call. I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH and miss you.  

Give everyone my love. 

Sister Gentry

Hello Dear Children of God, I love you all and miss you all

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There is so much that happens in one week that weekly emails are really difficult to write. This week has been a particularly great week. Our mission president initiated a "relentless week" where your goals are extremely high and you account to your district leader every night. I honestly have never been so exhasted in my whole entire life than I am after this week, but it was an amazingly rewarding week. 

Our greatest improvement occurred in our "OYMs - open your mouth/ oh youre mormon" basically it is when you go to people's gates or because everyone here hangs out side, you walk up to them and offer your message, you introduce yourself and try to set up a return appointment. Our goal was 20/day (our last weeks total was 5 so that tells you how insurmountable the seemed). I hate OYMs, they scare me, but we did it, and it was our most successful week here in my mission. The Lord truly blesses you for sharing His message. It was amazing to see how some people were actually really ready to hear His message and really receptive. It was a lot of fun too to meet different people and get to make new friends. 

Our second greatest improvement was LMP (lessons with members present). TO ALL YOU PEOPLE. WORK WITH THE MISSIONARIES IN YOUR AREAS. If you have never worked with the missionaries, Repent. They need you. Members are essential for this work. Like with no members, there is no success. Every single one of our recent converts in my mission had a member present in their lessons with the missionaries. Every single one of our stagnant investigators, dont have a member at all of their lessons. RIGHT NOW, go and contact the missionaries and tell them you will work with them, even if it is just for 1 hour. They will be so grateful, and most importnatnly God will be happy. Invite them to family home evening, to your house for dinner, anything. JUST WORK WITH THE MISSIONARIES, GIVE THEM REFERRALS. Members are essential. There. my rant is over. I'll be following up.

Dearest people, everyday is an adventure. This week, I watched as members literally took their dead goat and transformed it into dinner. The whole process. (the head comes off, then the insides come out, they are cleaned, its quite amazing actually). People keep calling me barbie even though there is literally NO resemblance. If you give children candy, they'll remember your name and chase you down the street screaming your name everytime you pass their house. I sat in a lesson, where one man kept asking me if we could get married and if I was attracted to filipino men, Then introduced me to his 19 year old daughter, Samantha. 
I also sat in some amazing spiritual lessons this week, as people poured out their hearts, and I didnt understand everything they said, but the Lord gave them the words they needed to hear. Yesterday we sat around a kitchen table with a bunch of women, who had prepared an amazing meal, as we ate, we laughed and then when we taught, they poured out their souls, I looked around the table and saw how beautiful these women were and how much our father in heaven cares for His daughters. There were tears, and beautiful words spoken, the members present poured out their hearts to the Sisters we were teaching and it was one of the most spiritual expereinces I have had here in the mission. THe gospel blesses all people, but women recieve some of the greatest blessings from the gospel, they are vital to His plan and Heavenly Father pours His blessings to His daughters. 

Well friends, Ingat po kayo. 
MAHAL KITA. 

BTW plz make this my new profile pic, people here have found my facebook, and keep commenting that I look so different here in the philippines (bc here I am always wet, my hair is wild and my makeup doesnt even try to stay on.) 

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Lots of pictures!

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Transfer Day

My dear little friends





whom I love so dearly....


Just doing what I asked.....

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Dear family and friends,

I had an interview with my mission president this week. It was great. I really, really love my mission president. He is a really great, great man, and funny too. He is confident in my abilities, which makes me a little nervous.. cuz he expects a lot of me. But it is good to have someone who expects that of me, keeps me working hard and always remembering that ultimately I am on the Lord's errand. I need to do my absolute best. In the interview he asked me some questions about my parents. He wanted to make sure of course, that my father was okay and that he knew for sure that I was okay. (like I said, Kurt gentry is known here in the Urdaneta Mission). Then he asked me how old Walker was and this is how our conversation went from there. word for word (almost)

Him: How old is the youngest 
me: 16
Him: Oh, so he could stay home
me: yeah?
Him: I am asking about your family, because I think your parents can serve here in the Philippines Urdaneta Mission. Yes, Kasi we need two more couple missionaries, and I know that I can get your parents assigned here in Urdaneta. 
me: *kinda of laughing*
Him: (serious) I am serious. There are three elders in the quorum that think like filipinos and that is Elder Oaks, Elder Cook, and Elder (one of the new ones). I'll be here for three more years and you'll be here for a while. so they would just return a little bit after you. It would work. Talk to them.
Me: I dont know. My parents want to serve but probably in the future.
Him: Just talk to them. (then he proceeds to write. "Sister Gentry's parents will serve in the Urdaneta mission")

So I am just following the counsel of my mission president. I know right now in your life is not the right time. Maybe in the future though you will get to serve where I served. That would be cool.

I love you all dearly. I miss everyone. I pray for your health and safety everyday. 
Sorry my emails have been a little skimpy lately. It is difficult to relay everything that happens in the week. Some experiences are so powerful, there is no way to describe it. You just feel it in your heart. These people, these experiences, they are engraved in my heart. There is no sufficient word to describe it. There is one clip in the "District" (which we watch for training) a woman goes into the chapel and is overwhelmed. She describes it "It feels like there is something too big to fit inside me. It is nice." Its true. You just feel like your heart is so swollen with gratitude, and love for Heavenly Father, for all the blessings He has given me, for his plan, for my family, for my friends, for the people I meet everyday. It is all so much bigger than me, than any of us. It gives you a glimpse of the grandeur of the eternities. It brings peace and joy. It feels nice. 

Mom and Dad, think about what my mission president said, I know a mission is in your future, maybe not right now, but I am sure you two will have an opportunity to serve again and make a difference in the hearts of others once again. 


LOVE YOU 

SIster Gentry

My life in Mapandan

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This is my house

Birthday party for one of our fellow missionaries



Baptism!

Cute little goats...they remind me of Martha....Sassy!

On the road

What we eat when we are shut up in our house during a typhoon - we will definitely be more prepared next time...




Safe and Sound

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Just a quick note, I AM SAFE. I am now very popular in the mission and everyone knows Kurt Gentry...good to know that I still have an overprotective father! I am safe of course. The Lord takes care of His missionaries. The typhoon was probably worse in other areas of the Philippines and luckily we live in one of the higher barangays (neighborhoods) in Mapandan, so no flooding. Alrthough, some of our investigators have flooding up to their waists. So probably dont watch the dramatic news in America. All is well, if there is a people who know how to deal with a "bagyo" it's the Filipinos. We do have another typhoon coming this weekend, this time we are more prepared, but my house is safe and all is well. I have food. I have protection. All is well. 


Thank you for your prayers. I feel all of your love here in the Philippines. I am enjoying the cold that comes with the weather. Pray for those who are in worse conditions than I am in. I don't know what is happening in other parts of the Philippines, hopefully everyone is alright.  Short amount of time because internet is slow here. But I love you all very ,very much. Hopefully I can email you next week, but if we have another typhoon this weekend...probably not. BUT DONT WORRY. I really, really, truly am okay. 

MAHAL KO KAYO lahat.!!!!

HELLO Fantastic people of America.

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I. Love. You. 

This week has been a wild one. My trainer finished her mission, so I got a new trainer. Sister Ufau. She's perfect. I love her. But, they kept me in my area, and got rid of the other sisters in Mapandan. So know we are opening the other part of Mapandan. So I am leading an open area. Thankfully, I have been on exchanges with the other sisters before, so I kind of know where things are, but this is definitely something that is another challenge to overtake. But all is well of course. God is good. Filipinos are beautiful people. My heart is full. For all that of you that asked, hong kong is not a thing anymore (I was bummed too). turns out it was all just planned in order to be able to get a visa, but the trip was never really going to happen. 

My new companion is Sister Ufau, she is from Samoa. She has been out for 15 months (so as long as I have left) and is almost to the end:( But, like I said, shes perfect. So kind. so loving. Our house is getting uglier and uglier everyday. I went to take a shower and a giant spider was in the bucket. I lost it and now we are looking for a new apartment. So if you know of anyone renting in Mapandan,Philippines HMU. 

General Conference was BEAUTIFUL. Oh man, I loved it. One common theme that stuck out to me (there were many) was Self improvement. As saints we are required to constantly be perfecting ourselves. Constantly becoming more obedient, more humble, more faithful, and ultimately more like our Savior Jesus Christ. I really loved what was said about Women in the church from Russell M. Nelson and Jeffery R Holland. For any people that feel that church doesn't hold women with the highest regard needs to listen to those talks. It was such a stark contrast from how the world dictates how a woman can become more powerful. The world confuses people into thinking that Bold, Influential, Nurturing and loving are contradicting characteristics. The bretheren made that very clear, that that is not the case. A woman's most powerful and influential characteristic is her maternal, nurturing Nature. As women, we have been blessed with a very divine characteristic and should not turn away from it, but embrace it. When we embrace those divine qualities, our influence will not only impact life here on earth, but will reach into the Eternities. No earthy quality of being seductive, aggressive, or selfish can ever have such a far reaching influence. compared to the eternities, this life here is a small moment, we want to be sure that our influence will not end once this life ends. The words coming from the bretheren, which really come from our Father in Heaven, eloquently state what manner of women we ought to be. It definitely put a lot of things into perspective for me and helped me understand to whom I should look to for an example, and whom I should emulate. 

Then all the other talks were perfect too. RE-read and re read and ponder and then re read general conference. It is literally Heavnely Father's modern day counsel for us, in this moment of time. SO important for us to heed to and apply its words. 

I hope everyone is getting my pictures, I have been sending them to mom and dad when I have wifi. I am getting fat here in the Philippines :( so sad. Also, my legs now look like a war zone. the mosquito bites are out of control. No malaria here tho, so we are safe. So yes, the Philippines has made me ugly, I hope you all will still love and accept me when I return. 

MAHAL KO KAYO. 
Sister Gentry

My beautiful friends

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Q & A

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Okay, I’ll try to address your questions this week:

Dad: Is a transfer in the works? How often do you transfer and how many sisters are in your mission?

Sam: Actually, tomorrow, my companion is going home. She is finished with her mission and is returning to Manila. Transfer day is on Thursday and I don’t find out until Wednesday if I am being transferred or not, but I have a feeling I am going to stay in Mapandan. Which is kind of scary, cuz that means I will have to lead the area, and show my new trainer around. We will see!! So I get a new trainer and this next transfer is only 4 weeks (usually 6) for some reason, and A LOT Of changes are apparently in the works. WE WILL SEE. LOTs of sisters in this mission, probably close to half of the missionaries.  

Dad: Of the areas in your mission, would your area be considered poor or better off?  How comfortable is your bed?

Sam: My area, is pretty mixed, there are poor barangays and wealthier barangays. Definitely not the poorest area in the Philippines. I think my whole mission is in a more affluent area. But in comparison to the states, it is all still very humbling. WE are extremely blessed. Very humbling experiences…My bed is acceptable, just glad I have a bed. 

Dad: do the members drive cars, walk or take Jeepnies….how do you spell Jeepnies?

Sam: No cars really, that is only for the wealthy. Most people walk and if they are more middle class they drive trikes. Trikes are our most common means of transportation throughout the day. We only take jeepnies when we are going to different cities. 

Dad: What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day? Did your frog dinner taste like chicken?

Sam: My food, is well, not great. RICE every meal. Breakfast: rice and hot dogs is normal. Lunch: rice and meat and Dinner: rice and meat again. But the rice was making me sick so I have tried to eat different things and not eat rice. Food is difficult in this area, especially right now, not a lot of fruits available and they eat A LOT of processed food here. I am hoping I can just figure out my menu so that I have the energy I need to work hard and take care of myself. STILL figuring that all out, it has been frustrating, but I am still alive. FROG IS VERY GOOD. It actually tastes like chicken but better, like more moist. You just have to get over the whole eating a frog thing. Just trying to avoid dog. 

Dad:  Do you miss your Dad?

Sam:  Of course, I miss my dad. EVERYDAY. It has been very difficult being away from you. I had to remove my picture of us from my study area, because I found it was making me too homesick. I love you, I am homesick for you, but I am so immensely grateful for the love you have given me. Honestly. I have been so lucky to have a father who loves so dearly, because it has really helped me truly understand how much my Father in Heaven really cares for me and all of His children. I remember as a little girl you told me that Heavenly Father loves me even more than you do, and I had a hard time even comprehending that. Thank you for your love. Thank you for teaching me the correct principles and that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and knows me. Thank you for showing me how to love God. Even though I am away from you, your protection and your care, my Father in Heaven is here with me. I take great comfort in that. I feel it every day. I feel a portion of His love for His children, and that small portion is enough to cause change. I look forward to the day when all of us can be with those that we love dearly in the arms of our Creator that loves us most. 

Don't worry about me. I am safe. I am so happy. I am watched over by our Father in Heaven. He is strengthening me. He is changing me. He is helping me everyday. I love you so very much. I pray for you and mom every day. You two are constantly in my heart and of course, I feel your love all the way here in the Philippines. 

Please tell everyone at home I love and miss them and pray for them.  

Mahal ko kayo,


Sister Gentry

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Sister power is awesome!



 Gabriel and Roldan Abracia getting baptized by their brother

Hello Beautiful People,

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Okay well I hit my 1 month mark in Urdaneta (actually Mapandan) yesterday. Time has flown and this month has been the most difficult month of my whole entire life, but it has been very rewarding. So first things first, the pictures I sent of the baptism: The two men are Gabriel and Roldan, they are brothers. Their brother baptized them, he converted a little while ago. They have a brother on a mission and a sister in Utah that are members also. So after Gabriel and Roldan got baptized, 6/7 of the siblings in the Abracia family are now members. Gabriel and Roldan were a referral and when we met them, they were just so receptive to the gospel. We met them my first week here and they were baptized within 4 weeks ( you have to attend church 4 weeks in a row before you get baptized here). If we could have they probably would have been baptized sooner. I don't know how to explain when your investigator gets baptized. I guess I imagined it would be like this proud moment where you felt good about what you have done. But of course its not, because the conversion that took place was not because of me or Sister Lavides, the change that happened came about because God was preparing them, the Spirit was testifying to them, and they were making the necessary changes and decisions. So the feeling you feel is more of a pure joy- you are so happy for someone else and the marvelous things that are about to happen to them. It was a really neat experience. Our mission president showed up, and that was intimidating and the baptism started over an hour late, and no one really showed up. But everything somehow went perfectly.

Of course, there was a lot of difficult things this week. We have been teaching this family that is so dear to my heart. I figured this was their time and they were ready. They accepted a baptismal date and everything was going wonderful. Then the other day, they told us to stop coming, and their dad wouldn’t even come out. I don’t know what happened, our last lesson with them was so powerful and then they just wanted to stop. It was heartbreaking. When you really fall in love with the people you teach, it kills when they don't accept the gospel. You imagine how great the outcome will be for them, you see how much it will bless and change their life, but you can’t force them to it. So heartbroken, we accepted their choice and said goodbye. I was discouraged because we have really struggled finding progressing investigators, but Heavenly Father strengthens us in times of discouragement. Although we aren’t teaching them anymore, I have faith that one day, the seed we planted with be ready, and it will be their time. So right now, we are looking for the elect and praying for their family, and still loving their family dearly. 

K, lets talk about the Philippines:
HOT, I just can’t explain it. 
Christmas has started kinda, mostly just hip hop rap, Christmas music mixes. I don’t know. But I make sure that Christmas mo tab is on every morning and its all great. 

I ATE A FROG! and when I say I ate a frog, I ate like the whole body, head and all on my plate, and I ate it. It was actually delicious and I'll probs do it again. And then a bunch of other weird stuff, but frog is the most weird so far. NOT balut* yet, but It is gonna happen soon. 

I'll tell you about the spiders. Yes there was a giant spider (easily the size of my head and I am not being dramatic). Yes I could see its eyes, and Yes I cried. Thats all I am going to say about it.

The Philippines is SO different. For a while that was really hard for me, but now I am just trying to accept it all and feel at home here.  Also, because I am white, I always have people touching me and asking me why I am "maputi" (white) and they also always comment on my "grumpy face" so I have to make sure that I smile ALWAYS.

Tagalog is coming. People are very patient and kind about it. I finally just let the words come out and hope that it makes sense.

I truly, truly love this work. Like heart swelling, so much it hurts, kind of love. I love all of you. Hope everyone is doing well.

Mahal KITa 
Sister Gentry


*Duck fetus

LOVE YOU guys a whole lot!

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No time for mass email. But let everyone know I love them. This week I have to speak in church, give a spiritual thought at a ward party, and teach everyone Family Home Evening games at the party :| We were fortunate enough to have eight investigators at church yesterday! I am really hoping they all progress. We have one family that is particularly close to my heart. I’ll tell you about them next week, hopefully I can get a pic with them.  I am falling in love with the Philippines and the people I am teaching. It is difficult to adjust but it is happening.  I loved the story about your first investigator, Dad. I know the first person that we found, then taught was the first time I realized how capable I was of loving people I didn’t know. Now I feel that for all my investigators and I desire so badly for them to accept this gospel and change their lives. One of the hardest thing about missionary work is wanting something so badly for someone else, and having to wait for them to accept it.

I just read President Uchtdorf’s talk this morning actually and I loved it!  Amazing how you and I seem to be studying the same things!!!! I am very excited for general conference. I long to hear the words of our beloved prophet and his counselors. I now truly have a real understanding of how fortunate we are to be able to hear the words of God through them for two whole days.  Looking forward to it greatly.

I love everyone lots! I hope you are able to figure out letter pouch mail from Sister Strohn’s mom, I’d love to hear from everyone. The camera I have is pretty bad. I am gonna try to figure it out this week, but if not, I may need you to just send a nicer quality, simple camera in the Christmas package (no need for the really nice one I had before). 

I love, love, love you all with all my heart. 


Sister Gentry

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Chillin' in the shade.

Sisters!

Sister Lavides and me

Our "golden" investigator

 My District.  

Pictures!

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Our kitchen,

 the other side of our kitchen...

My companion Sister Lavides and an unidentified food bandit. 

"It's really HOT here and it's not even summer yet!"

Riding in a traysikel

quite the adventure...  Like Space Mountain, but in real traffic.

our driver.

Hello the people I love !!!

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Week two is here and this has been a very long week. but listen, with great trail, comes great things (profound, i know). tbh, i cried everyday this week, except yesterday and today, so progress!!!! some of it has been spiritual crying so that is really great! this week has really caused me to lose myself, there is no other way to do this work. people kept telling me that, but i had to experience myself i guess. now i know. we had a lesson with a new investigator this week that we met outside of his home, (that is common here, people just sit on their porch so its easy to talk to them). anyway, i dont know what it was, actually i do (love of God), but i felt so much love for this man while we were teaching. he told us that he is a member of the baptist church, and he just goes but there is a lot of things he feels he is missing in this life (i know what it is). he has been very receptive and we are now teaching his wife so yay! our golden investigators, gabriel and roldan, are fabulous, they come to church, they bear their testimony to us every lesson. so their bap date is on sep 26th and i am 100% sure it is gonna happen. your investigator has to come to church at least four times in a row here in order for them to be baptized, otherwise, they probably would have wanted to get baptized immediately. i love them and they are a testament that God is truly preparing his children. some are more aware of their preparation than others, but like i always say to sister lavides (trainer) "everyone is a mormon, some just dont know it yet"
fun things about the philippines: 

- HOT ALL THE TIME ALWAYS. I have sweat so much that i think i forgot what it feels like to be dry. but its okay, cuz when it rains, doesnt even phase me. 

-rains everyday, REALLY hard, nothing like ive ever seen, for like 10 minutes.. then if you are walking home, it starts again. good thing i love the rain. 

- i have eaten a fish with the head, eyes, tail, scales, all that still attached... so yay me. i also ate goat, mini shrimp (head, tail, feet, everything), and possibly dog, but i dont know if they were joking with me, i cant understand them still. 

- the language is still slowly coming but its coming. the people are patient. but most everyone understands english, so while im struggling to teach, i have had people interrupt me and say, "sister, its easier for me to understand you if you just speak english" its embarrassing.

- they LOVE americans here. like a lot. it is kind of a confidence booster, but mostly uncomfortable. LOTS of staring always. I have been asked if i know barbie, just about everyday, and everyone says, "hey jo!" as i walk by. kids are especially excited. i am going to use it to my advantage and start teaching and passing out pamphlets to everyone that talks to me. i just have to figure out how to speak first. 

I'm falling in love with this place and falling in love with these people. my heart is always full of love. it is an indescribable feeling. 

i love every single one of you A LOT. 

mahal ko kayo!!!!
sister gentry

Live from Urdaneta!!

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I am alive and safe here in Urdaneta!! I got here on wednesday after 5 days in the Manila MTC. It has been a difficult past few days. I was fortunate enough to get a filipino trainer, Sister Lavides, I love her. She has been out for 17 months so this is her last transfer. We were assigned to the Mangaldan Zone and we were assigned to open a new area. Opening an area is a bit more difficult and Sister Lavides has never done that before so we are trying to figure that out. My apartment is very different. WE DO have a floor and flushing toilet so that is very good. Pero, in the philippines they dont have running showers, you have a bucket that you just fill with tap water, and a little scoop that you use to pour on your head and body. Its an adventure, and its not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I have found myself unbelievably homesick these past few days and it has been very hard. After our first night of proselyting, I was very discouraged about the language and the task at hand. They speak two other dialects here, Ilocano and Pagasinan, so sometimes they'll speak that I already struggle a lot with understanding tagalog. My first night I was overwhelmed and really questioned whether I could do this for the next 18 months. But the next day, we were out proselyting, we were teaching a less active family, and started to sing "Be still my soul" and I was overcome. The Lord was comforting me. Then a member shared a scripture with us, Alma 26:27 and I knew everything was going to be okay. THere have been many many experiences these past few days that have confirmed to me that things are not only going to be alright but they are going to be wonderful. The filipino people are AMAZING people. The members that are active are always more than willing to work with us and teach with us. They help me with my tagalog, because most members speak english, one nine year old boy (recent convert) prayed for me yesterday. He asked God, "please help this american sister to get better at tagalog" I stand out A LOT here. EVERYbody stares at me and points and talks to me. Its kind of uncomfortable but its a good tool to get people to listen to the Good word. 

Yes, it is very very hot here. I am always sweating but when it rains, IT POURS for a long time... then it cools off. The whether at night here is SO PERfect. but this is the winter season, come february, thats when it will be REALLY hot so I will let  you know then.

My RBF is still present and its something I have to work on. People keep telling me, "Sister SMILE!" Members always ask me if I am okay. and yesterday we were teaching a new investigator (GOLDEN INvestigator))) and he told me, "SIster, you are a lot nicer than i thought you were going to be. When I met you, I thought you were mean, but dont worry you are nice." So I have to work on that. 

I have so much to tell about, but even less time than I have had in the past. So keep writing everyone and I will keep trying to respond. You have no idea how much I love hearing from all of you. I hope everyone is doing well!!! 

LOVE LOVE LOVE all of you!!!!

BUHAY po AKO (I'm alive)

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I made it to the Philippines safe and sound after 28 hours of travel
yesterday! We got in at about 11:30 pm PHI time. The Manila MTC is so
beautiful and so nice! I am still with my same district and same
companion for these next few days. The residence is really nice. we
have a gorgeous view outside of our room (Philippines is SO GREEN),
The showers are REALLY nice, and the beds are comfortable. The MTC
here is so much smaller! No lines at meals, you personally get to meet
like all the missionaries and the MTC president, very relaxed and
chill. They tell you that its a "stress free zone" at the Manila MTC -
so VERY different from the Provo MTC. This afternoon, we go out with
Quezon City and Manila missionaries and go proselyting, so we will see
how much Tagalog I actually know today...  Last night I was so nervous
and so anxious,I was having a hard time being excited because it was a
new experience and then I  realized that I am going to constantly
doing new things and experiencing new things on this mission. So Last
night I spent a long time praying to know that I can do this, and for
His help, today I feel at peace and I feel sure that I can do this. I
am excited and I am ready to take on whatever comes my way (even
Balut) because I know I am not doing this alone and I am doing exactly
what I need to be doing!

                            Now for the VERY bad news, somehow during
my travel I lost my camera...I didnt realized until I was 8 hrs into
our flight to Tokyo that I didnt have it in my bag. I didnt take
anything out of my bag until that flight.. The last time I remember
seeing it was when I was showing dad something on the camera in SLC.
SO mom and Dad, can you please call the SLC airport, the Portland
airport and Delta Airlines to see if you can find it. I am not really
sure what to do.. There are a lot of places here to buy a camera if
needed... So I will just wait until the next P-day I have so you can
let me know... I am so sorry, I dont know what happened! Its really
upsetting, hopefully we can get it worked out. Let me know
                                                       
Love you all, Thank you for your prayers and for everything. 

MAHAL KITA 
Sister Gentry
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PAMILYA KO!!!!
 
Listen, I am l getting on the plane tomorrow. I love you all sobra much, and it was really great hearing from some of you this week. The MTC letter is no longer applicable, so you can take it down from the sites and stuff. I dont know when I am getting to Urdaneta yet.... I really dont know much. I am hoping that I will be able to email from the Manila MTC, but I am not sure. 

Tomorrow my flight leaves at 11:30, I am headed to Portland, then to TOkyo, and then to Manila Friday night at 9:30... I can call at the SLC airport and the Portland Airport! SO i will be calling mom's cell from SLC!!!!!! Should be anywhere from 9-11.... I really have no idea, just be sure to not have your phone busy because it apparently doesnt always work if the line is busy! Excited!!!

The Nerverreha is real today... but that's okay, cuz I gained 2 lbs in the MTC anyway.... But honestly I am a little nervous, but last night a member of the branch presidency gave all the departing missionaries a blessing. I was kinda bummed when I saw that I was getting a blessing from the counselor who I have never spoken to. But I entered the room and he immediately was friendly and warm, and his blessing addressed literally everything that I needed. I was amazed.. then I realized how ridiculous it was that I even cared who gave the blessing because either way, it was God speaking to me. 

The MTC has been an amazing experience. It is crazy to think that my mission hasn't even started and that so many more things are going to happen. I LOVE THIS MISSION. I LOVE THIS GOSPEL. I LOVE HEAVENLY FATHER AND JESUS CHRIST. I LITERALLY LOVE EVERYONE I MEET THESE DAYS. I just have ALL the love in my heart. I hope I can feel like this always! It makes you so happy!!!! UGH. okay. well obviously I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! Pray that my plane doesn't crash. Joke-lang. It won't crash. I promise!!!!

Thank you mom for the packages!!!! Mahal Kita. Thank you Walker for the granola. Mahal Kita. 

MUCH LOVE 
Sister Gentry

(p.s. Dad I should have given you the log in for the canon image gateway... HOpefully from the airport i can connect and see if it works with you over the phone real quick)

Pilapinas hEre I CoME!!!!

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PAMILYA KO,
I love love love you all sobra much. How is everyone???
I am great. Thank you. Leaving for the Philippines in 4 days. SO thats cool. Actually I am really excited and not that nervous. Which is extremely out of the ordinary for me.. I am gonna miss the MTC actually a little bit, gonna miss my teachers and miss my district a whole lot. It has been an amazing experience and I know the field is gonna be even better. I have given up on being worried about tagalog. I memorized the first vision, can bear a simple testimony, and say a prayer, so we are gonna pretend that that is gonna work for me...


The week has of course, gone by REALLY Fast!!! This week's spiritual experience is about the scriptures. THis week we have studied a lot about the Book of Mormon and how important it is. We looked at patterns in the scriptures of prophets praying and pleading for God to preserve these records, and He did. There are so many miracles that are involved in the preserving of the record and now we are fortunate enough to have a copy at our convenience. (watch this movie on lds.org: "Legacy: the scriptures") There is such power in the scriptures. This week I was reading in ALma 26:35-36 where ammon is boasting in the Lord because he is filled with immense gratitude for the gospel and for God. He says, "yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding;he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful being, even unto Salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name. vs 36- Now if this is boasting, even so I will boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo..." and I was so grateful that I have these words from God. I was so grateful that I have this gospel in my Life. I am filled with so much gratitude that I cant wait to spend the next 18 months boasting in the Lord, of His power and of His love and of His gospel. Now I am gonna invite everyone to do something (because missionaries LOVE commitments :)))) I just want to encourage everyone to read the scriptures everyday for just like 10 minutes. Do it personally, set time aside and just pour your heart out into the scriptures. As you read, think about why these words were preserved and how can they answer a question or a concern of yours. Ask yourself, "What is my Father in Heaven saying to me in these scriptures?" I cannot adequately express how important it is to read the words of God, it is a simple act that I can testify will change your life. Read as a family, read on your own, however you do it, it will change your life. And if you do take on the challenge, Id LOVE to hear about what it has done for you and your experience. I wish I had more time to adequately express how I feel about the scriptures. My heart swells when I read. I cannot verbally share what it has done for me, but I know it will do that same for everyone else. Pour your heart out to the scriptures, show your gratitude for its teachings, come closer to God by abiding by its teachings.


I really really really love you all! I might be able to spend some more time emailing on wednesday. But if not, I'll write again from the Philippines. MUCH LOVE
MAhal kITa!!!
Sister Gentry



"ELDERs in my district. We play district volleyball 2 times a week and they have become very cocky in their ability." 


"This is when I wacked myself with my lanyard and the key cut my head open.... #winning" 




"Sister Strohn and I getting pumped for the Philippines, And of course, the weekly selfie." 



Week 5!

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KUMUSTA!!!!!!

SO guess what?!?!? 12 more days in the MTC and then I am off to the Philippines! We got our travel information yesterday and it was the most exciting thing to happen this week. (so yeah, this letter is gonna be pretty dull) ANYWAY, we leave the morning of Aug 20 (11:30 to be exact) and we are outta here! SO excited to never have to eat MTC food again, now I will just be eating duck fetus and fish heads. BOOM.

So listen, I know dad wants the details of my flight info, to "make sure im safe" but I have a feeling that giving him the details might result in a surprise visit in the SLC airport. SO just know that I am gonna be safe, because the Lord will watch over me, and just be expecting a phone call from me on the morning of the 20th and throughout the day because I can call you from the Portland, the Tokyo and the Manila airport. (okay, now that's all the detail im gonna give.) ALSO, on the 21st of September, so like a month after being in the philippines, I am traveling back to manila so i can fly to Hong Kong for a day or so. I have to go to Hong Kong for my visa or something, but either way, my whole district is on the same flight, so we will get to see each other again after being in different missions... so that's pretty cool!

SOOOO EXCITED to go to the Philippines. I don't even care that I wont be able to communicate, because I am so ready to start teaching. I have like this fear/hope that my first companion will be a native, because I know it'll be rough, but I think I'll be able to learn faster that way.
Time is going by freaky fast and I am now at the point where it makes me sad that my mission is starting to already fly by and I haven't even really started. There is a very unique joy that you experience on a mission. I don't know how to explain it, but I am constantly happy. Palagi nga (ALWAYS).

Still having tons of fun with my district. We get reprimanded all the time though for being to hilarious. Actually, for laughing too much and being to loud, but whatever. They came up with this mormon rap and elder evans (who's really good at beatboxing) put together this one about Cookies, because of this inside joke, but anyway, they got in trouble for that. luckily, we took video of it before they were told to stop. #rebellife We have started going to the temple at 6 am on our p-days when its not crowded with tons of missionaries. We are all half asleep, and its still pitch black outside when we walk to the temple, but it is a really cool experience. People always come up and talk to you in the temple and tell you neat missionary stories, or when they see that name tag, they'll just come up and hug you or shake your hand.

Our investigators are progressing and we are slowly, but surely learning how to teach the gospel. Its pretty simple. the only way you prepare is to prepare yourself. You continue to learn the language so you can communicate, but pretty much, as a missionary, you mainly need to focus on spiritually preparing yourself. Once you walk into the lesson, you forget everything you had prepared anyway and then its just you depending on the spirit. The Spirit is the only way for the missionary to truly know the needs of the investigator and know what they need to hear. This week, we met with one of our "gold tag" investigators, who are these people that may or may not be a member who come to the MTC to learn more about the gospel and be uplifted. There isnt really a way for you to know if they are an actual nonmember or not, so you just teach them like they are. So anytime your strolling around campus you can just walk up to them and start up a conversation. Sister whitehead and I met Hely a couple weeks ago. she is from Guatemala and just moved from Cali to Utah with her husband, she is catholic and told us about her beliefs and her concerns and just talked to us. (ALL of this is in English and its really nice to teach in english sometimes). Anyway, this week, we met with Hely and she brought her husband Jose. We were only supposed to meet for 20 mins but ended up teaching for 1 hr and 15 mins (missed gym.... oh well). The lesson went in a completely different direction than what we had anticipated, so we were completely unprepared with material. So it was only through the spirit that we were teaching. Lesson went SOOO GOOD. we talked about prayer, God is our father, Joseph Smith, priesthood, restoration, the Atonement. Literally all the gospel pretty much. At one point, we asked, "is there something you'd like to ask God?" They opened up about their daughter who has a debilitating disease that requires constant care. They talked about how taxing it was for them, but mostly how bad they felt for her. Hely told me, that she wonders why God would cause that kind of pain in their life, and asked if it was because she was a bad person. I did not know the perfect response for that. I obviously reassured her that Heavenly Father was of course not punishing her, and then we just started speaking from the Promptings of the Holy Ghost. Im not even really sure everything that we said. But we told her about how "God loves you and He does not give us trails to punish us, and I am not always sure why some of us get the trails that we do, but there is never a moment in our suffering that we are alone. God strengthens us in those hard times, and we can become better, stronger people because of our difficulties. Bad things in life happen always, sometimes more for other people, but Heavenly Father never once leaves our side, or never once takes away the opportunity to receive help from Him." Then there was other stuff said, and by the end of the lesson, every single one of us were in tears. yeah. The spirit completely taught that lesson and I am so grateful for it.

To end, God loves all of you, Jesus loves all of you and OF course, I love all of you!!!! Thanks again for all the letters!!!! MAHAL KITA LAHAT!!!!!!!!!!!
Sister Gentry







Sister Whitehead taking a selfie. ME taking a selfie and Sister strohn and Tanielu.

Week 4: Ang Diyos ang ating mapagmahal na Ama sa Langit

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Kumusta!

I am over the hump! I only have 19 days left in the MTC and have already been here for 25 days, just two and a half more weeks!!! Which is so crazy because like I said last week (which feels like just yesterday), weeks go by SO fast! I am so ready to be out in the field. Not like prepared ready, but anxious ready and excited ready. Sister Strohn (in my district) was showing us pictures that her friend sent her from his mission in Urdaneta. I guess it rained this past week, and there is water up to their knees and in one pic you can only see the top of the jeepney and some sisters are just sitting on the roof of it, "trying" to stay dry. I get there at the pinnacle of the rainy season... so I don't plan on being dry for a while in the Philippines. I keep getting emails, or comments about how great the Philippines are and how great the people are, and how great the food is (doubtful). But when people tell me about the Philippines, I just get so excited that I get to live there the next 17 months (one month down. wow). There is a filipino sister on our floor and she is going to Indonesia, but she is always in our room telling us about the Philippines and told us that in Urdaneta, we will probably learn two other dialects on top of Tagalog. so cool. Looking forward to the Manila MTC! We we will be there for 5 days before heading out to the field, and we will get to go to the Temple, go out into Manila and teach, and all that fun stuff ( that is what I have been told. don't know if its truth)! SO great

MTC is great. Food is fine. I have found what I can eat and just have that (mostly cereal, but I don't mind). This week, there is a rumor that an apostle is coming to speak, so let's all hope for that! District is great! They now know every single embarrassing detail of my life, so we are all pretty comfortable around each other, and nothing I do makes them feel awkward, because they know that it is not my worst. (This included a very shameful night of singing Les Mis "I dreamed a dream" in Gollum's voice, apparently I am not holding back.) Anyway, we are all hilarious and spend most of our time just laughing, which is probably why the missionaries who have been here for two weeks know more tagalog than we do. Yes, I still have a crush on my district leader and yes, I still have a crush on my teacher, But we just call it, "enjoying the scenery."

Like I say in every email, and like everyone always says, "A mission is the most difficult thing, and the most rewarding thing you will ever do." I just kind of listened to those words, and obviously only focused on the "hardest thing" part,and have already explained why it is SOBRA MAHIRAP (so difficult), but I am gonna tell you why it is the most rewarding thing ever. Lots of things are rewarding in life and that is a blessing from Heavenly Father, but there is something different about giving of yourself completely to the Lord. If I could, I would write everyday with at least one really powerful experience where I have this Spiritual awakening that stops me for a moment, to take in the amazement (I dont know if thats a word, but I'm making it one) of it. This week, These moments have been a lot about how God is our Loving Heavenly Father (title of the email). "God is our Loving heavenly Father" is the first lesson in the Preach My Gospel, and it is like the go to first message for missionaries ( in my opinion), and I realized why. That message is such a powerful message. To think,GOD is YOUR father. In the scriptures, it says this a lot,
"God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna..." I always just assumed that it just said that, so that readers would understand that the people in the Book of Mormon believed in the same exact God that the people in the bible believed in, and so people would know that Mormons dont have their own God, and that may be the reason. But as I was reading for personal study, I read that, and it hit me. The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the God that caused the Red Sea to part, the God that sent His son to die for us, the God that performed all these unfathomable miracles that we learn about, the omnipotent, powerful, and mighty God, is my Father in Heaven, and He is all of our Father. He is our Father, and we are His children. That very same God, is answering my prayers about Tagalog, and He is telling me what to say to my teacher/investigator, and He is strengthening me when I have lost all confidence in my abilities. God knows me, and I know He knows ALL of His children, because as a missionary, I get to feel part of His love for His children, and be told through the spirit, what He wants me to say to His children that are lost. He cares about every. single. one of us, and I have the opportunity to be a tool in His hands in bringing more of His children back to Him. God has all power, and compared to him, we are nothing, but to Him we are everything. I don't know if I am getting across exactly how strongly I feel about this message, but I truly understand now how amazing it is that I know God is my loving Heavenly Father. It is something, I want to share with EVERYONE now, because knowing it, Truly understanding that message, is an indescribable feeling.

I love you all!!! Love hearing from you!!! LOVE the pics I have been getting, Keep 'em coming!!!

Mahal kayo ng Diyos (God loves you)
Sister Gentry

Pictures from the week:



 


Update on pictures!

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