Pilapinas hEre I CoME!!!!

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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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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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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:


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