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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.


Sister Lavides and me

Our "golden" investigator

 My District.  


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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. 

Sister Gentry
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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. 

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)
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