Thursday, December 30, 2010

Missionary Training Center Week 8

Hola familia,

First, the big news. Our permisos (Mexican visas) have NOT come yet. We will recieve reassignments once the Quorum of the Twelve's vacation ends next Wednesday and one of them can approve our new assignments. We will serve in the general area of Utah while we wait so we can go to the Mexican Consulate that apparently exists in Salt Lake City when we need to. I am very excited about this! My friend just came back through the MTC after serving in St. George for three months and he really enjoyed it. It will be really fun to serve in two different areas eventually. We'll be in the MTC for some extra time until we recieve our reassignments.

The temple has been closed for a few weeks, but today my district has the opportunity to clean the temple! We're really excited about it.

Christmas in the MTC was great! Elder Nelson was here and he spoke three times over two days. He has a LOT of knowledge. He spent an hour explaining linguistics relative to Christmas and the Nativity; it was very interesting for me. We also got to watch Mr. Krueger's Christmas; I vaguely remember falling asleep watching it once before. I loved it this time. It's really funny. Earlier in the day, we had the Christmas talent show. Elder Pearson and I tried out with "Hallelujah," and the coordinator said if we changed the lyrics a bit we could play, and then we just never did. We realized afterwards that we could have tried out with basically anything and it would have been fun. The talent show had some really awesome parts (it also had some really terrible parts, but those were pretty fun too). A group of five Russian missionaries has achieved celebrity status after their rendition of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," entitled "You Missionary Now." It was hilarious. Apparently Lady Gaga is huge in Russia; they knew the dance and the song really, really. They also can't REALLY speak English, so the lyrics were really funny. I think that everytime I remember it, they have more and more pitch. The best part of the act was the reaction from the crowd. I can't really describe it. It was weird. A companionship from my zone played an MTC version of "Tribute" by Tenacious D, which was also one of the favorite acts.

We did Secret Santa as a district. Everyone just bought each other the best that the MTC bookstore has to offer: scripture markers, scripture cases, scriptures, tie-related items, Pepto Bismol... you name it. The missionaries get a 40% discount on everything except stamps at the MTC Bookstore, so things tend to be really cheap. In fact, I wish that I hadn't bought a lot of things for packing list until I got here, because it would have been much, much cheaper to just buy them here. After the movie the night of Christmas we had a really great testimony meeting in our room with our district and shared some of our favorite stories of Christ.

Thank you for the Christmas presents and the speakers and the beef jerky. I got 6 bags of beef jerky in a package, and thought, I'll never be able to eat all this! And then, two days later it was all gone. And thanks for the photo album; it's really great. Maybe I can get a picture of our family as well? I really liked all the Christmas cards and stories too! Especially Jane's "Mary Christmas" card. I really enjoy reading stories. It doesn't really matter what they're about of if they make a lot of sense. I was laughing out loud about Mom's explanation of Trey Tagliaferri's Tingey and Tingey feature.

Congratulations to Daniel for graduating! And congratulations to Charlie for being a boy and making Kate's stomach bigger! Many people enjoyed the ultrasound. It's up on the wall with Tyler, Carson and Ella's christmas card (that was SO awesome). What are the plans for Daniel, Kate and Charlie next fall?

Jacob's ski-trip sounds insane! What?!

The TRC is where we teach lessons to volunteering investigators once a week. We prepare new vocabulary and for a task each Tuesday and then teach a lesson. It's one of the most helpful tools we have available. Taking the TRC seriously and signing up for "Teaching Evaluation" appointments are some of the best ways to progress.

Most districts in the MTC have 2 teachers, but so far we have had 12! Yesterday, our twelfth teacher helped us with setting goals for who we want to become during our mission and who we want to be afterwards. I want to become a perfect disciple of Christ in my diligence. I am woprking very hard to become better and spending all of my time as best as I can, because it's not only my time, it's the Lord's and it is the time of the people I am serving.


Elder Tingey

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Missionary Training Center Week 6


I don't know what my Mexican address is going to be. Could someone let me know?

Also, I've ended up with only a few minutes to e-mail today, so this should be pretty short. Hopefully the package I send makes up for it! Our mailroom is closed from the 22nd to the 27th, by the way. We weren't sure when it opened again last week.

Yesterday our zone received two new districts! Elder Brown and I introduced them yesterday. They seem great, but there are a whole lot of missionaries to get to know. The district that is a few weeks older than us is leaving in a few days as well, which is very strange. But we're really excited to get to Mexico! We put a big Mexican flag over our light and it makes our room very Christmasy.
Our district has made a "No Más Inglés" pact, so things are pretty intense. I didn't speak a word of English yesterday. We play a game called "El Nativo" which I was trying to get points for. We have our last TRC lesson next week because it closes during Christmastime. Last week's TRC lesson was great as well. Elder Brown and I are developing our ability to teach and are growing better and better at working as a companionship.

I know that as I am serving my mission I am doing the Lord's work, and I am strengthened by this fact. I'm working to become more diligent and gain more knowledge so I can be a better servant of the Lord.

Thanks for everything!

- Elder Tingey

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Missionary Training Center Week 5


Things are going very well here at the MTC. There are thousands of missionaries and only four phone lines apparently. Therefore, I won't be calling home for Christmas. And the mail room closes on the 22nd, so I won't be able to get any mail or packages after that. I'm not sure when it opens again. Happy Christmas!

Elder Zwick of the Quorum of the Seventy spoke at our Tuesday devotional. His wife told a story about the first phone called they received from a missionary when Elder Zwick was serving as the Mission President of Santiago, Chile; apparently the missionary said something to the extent of: "I'm at a pay phone and I'm only wearing a coat... 12 terrorists burned down our church building and took my clothes. What would you like us to do?" It was interesting. He told us about his mission as well; he served in Bolivia and rode horses as a primary form of transportation, built the first chapel in Bolivia and baptized 500 members in 3 small Bolivian towns. He emphasized throughout the talk the importance of coming to know Christ and how to do so. I have been following his example of testimony by praying, studying and being obedient in order to gain great faith in Christ.

Elder Brown and I prepared a zone activity for a meeting on Monday. We split the zone up into groups and each group discussed 2 things that they can work on personally and 2 which they see others doing which drive away the Spirit or distract them from their purpose as a missionary. Each group picked one distraction that they felt was the worst and we discussed it as a zone, applying our purpose as missionaries, being a representative of Christ, and having charity. From this we made a specific goal for each distraction which the entire zone then commit to. Hopefully it was helpful to making us better missionaries and better representatives of Christ. From the goals we made, we are now playing a zone wide game of "El Nativo," which is basically just a way to get us to speak more Spanish throughout the day. We use a system called Speak Your Language or Hable Su Idioma in Spanish; the idea is to use as much Spanish as you can at all times and ask when you don't understand or don't know how to say something. It is extremely beneficial when it is done diligently.

Apparently you are supposed to dry clean 100% wool sweaters.

Last week was very testimony-building time for my faith in the prophethood (probably not a real word) of Joseph Smith. We watch the Joseph Smith movie every other Sunday. It is really great. If you have the opportunity to watch it, do so. We have been teaching the message of the Restoration of the Gospel for a while, and each time I bear testimony of the truthfulness of the First Vision and of Joseph Smith, my faith grows stronger. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to go on the Church History trip. It's difficult to express how visiting all of the Church sites that we did is affecting me now, but it is doing so in a very powerful way. I know Ben isn't able to go with Garth W. Tesch this summer, but it would be really good if he could find some alternative eventually, because I'm feeling so blessed by the testimony I gained and the effect it had on my life and is having today.

Thanks for the letters; I wrote one today to the family, but I don't know how long it takes to get there. I doubt it is faster than e-mail. We're having a great time and we are progressing quickly and becoming better servants of the Lord. We're excited for Christmas (kind of) but we're really excited for Mexico (and Bolivia and Peru, for the other Elders in my district).


Elder Tingey

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Missionary Training Center Week 4


Next week in the TRC, we will be teaching entirely in Spanish! We're working hard to prepare for it. Our ability to speak Spanish is coming along, but teaching with no English will be a very different experience. I feel like teaching in Spanish is actually quite a blessing; I can only say things very simply, so the concepts that we discuss are much simpler. The lessons are better this way. When we speak English, we tend to allow our intellect to get in the way. When we speak Spanish, we teach by the Spirit. So I think our next TRC experience will be a very good one. During our Sunday Fireside, everyone who is serving a Spanish-speaking mission stood up; it was about two-thirds of the missionaries in the auditorium! Crazy. I didn't realize there were so many learning Spanish.

It's now very snowy here! I think landing in Mexico will be shocking after living in snow for a month.

More missionaries from our district received travel plans and should be leaving to the Peru MTC soon. It's always strange when our district changes because we spend so much time together, but it's exciting when some of us leave the country!

Sister Julie Beck spoke in our Tuesday devotional. Towards the end of her talk, she told a story about the importance of loving your companion, loving the people you serve and loving your Mission President. I'm working hard to be charitable and only act out of love for others. As a missionary, if you do everything because you love the people you serve, everything else required for success will follow.

For the Christmastime talent show, Elder Piersen and I are preparing "Hallelujah" by that one guy. I'm playing guitar and singing and he's playing piano and singing. Hopefully it's good. I guess we'll find out if it's good when we audition, but in the meantime it's just really fun to play. They have a little Yamaha guitar with nylon strings and a really fat neck and a really high action that I can rent out for 50 minutes at a time. It's awesome.

Being a missionary is great. My life is very simple, my focus is very directed, my perception of importance is very clear, and my perception of time is totally gone. Missionaries here often say that weeks go by like days and days go by like weeks. It's very true. We study a lot every day, and it makes the days seem very long, but I feel like I have been here for no time at all. I'm really enjoying studying, and I'm very excited to get to Mexico (or somewhere) and start serving. And start speaking very broken Spanish to natives.

Elder Brown and I are having a good time as Zone Leaders. The most important part of this responsibility is just being a good example. It's a great responsibility to have because it gives a lot of motivation to be diligent and obedient. We're doing our best to improve our zone.

Thanks for the support! I know that what I'm doing is very important. Also, I'm getting pretty good a volleyball from gym five days a week.


Elder Tingey

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mission Training Center Week 3 - Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving! This week has been great. Elder Brown and I were called as Zone Leaders. It's quite a bit more responsibility. The Zone Leader orientation felt like the first day at the MTC again; lots and lots of information that I was sure I would be able to remember was given to us. But we're now settling into the calling the same we settled into the MTC after a while. We're not the oldest district here, so it's difficult to have stewardship for some missionaries that have been here longer than we have, but we're doing our best to keep everyone doing their best.

Serving a mission is a very unique opportunity. We are receiving so many blessings. Elder Brown and I taught a lesson on Monday; we had prepared notes and scriptures for the lesson, but we forgot all of them. The lesson that we taught was better than the lesson that we had planned, and teaching the way we did is something that I was far from capable of doing a month ago. Our ability to teach is improving, but the most important aspect of that ability is our perception of the needs of those we are teaching. Our teachers say to "teach people, not lesson." I am beginning to understand what they mean. In the beginning of my time here, I was focused on how well we were doing in our lessons, but that is far from what matters. What matters is the feelings of those we are teaching: how they receive our message, and the influence of the Spirit on them. I have been gaining more and more faith in the power of the Spirit to teach, and have begun to rely more and more upon that power.

We were able to hear from Elder Holland today for Thanksgiving! He spoke on his gratitude for the Savior's ability to atone for us on his own, on his gratitude for God's compassion for the poor, and for his gratitude that God knows each of us by name. Every devotional I attend helps me to know how I can be better, and how I can know what is required of me. There are more Thanksgiving-related activities later today! We're making school kits for underprivileged children. Also, apparently people eat pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving, because my roommates and I have been sent 5 loaves of pumpkin bread. Thanks for the pumpkin bread!

There was a "major storm warning" earlier this week. We were heading to teach in the TRC and one of the teachers told us that everyone besides the missionaries had to leave by three, because "the worst storm in years" was coming and that we would have a few feet of snow. It snowed for about 30 minutes and there was about an inch of snow. And the next day was one of the clearest we've had for a while! So, we never know what to expect.
One Elder from our district left to the Peru MTC this week! We were happy that he managed to get his Visa in time, because some other Elders in our district did not. The Visa situation for Mexico is not looking good; there are some missionaries here that have been here for 12 weeks! I'm hoping that everything works out, but I really wouldn't mind serving somewhere in Utah while waiting, like some of my friends are doing. Except I'll probably need warmer clothes than I have for Mexico...

Learning Spanish is still going really well, and it's genuinely just fun for me. I spend more time during language study teaching than anything I do learning. A lot of other Elders are having a lot of difficulty learning a new language, and it's a great opportunity for me to be able to reinforce my own learning by teaching them. I'm sure that our district will be speaking great Spanish by January.

There's an MTC talent show around Christmas. Some other missionaries from my district and I are trying to put something together for that. You can rent out guitars apparently; I suppose I'll know more about that later, but I'm pretty excited about being able to do something musical.
Thanks for all of your support. I'm working hard and learning to work harder. I appreciate all of the letters that I get. I dry-cleaned my suit and then spilled milk all over it.

Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Elder Spencer Tingey

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mission Training Center Week 2

I have been in the MTC for two weeks now! We're pretty comfortable now. We're pretty much MTC experts. I was kind of sick and couldn't really sleep for the first week, but now I am HEALTHY and WAKEFUL and this makes working and staying awake throughout the day much easier. So things are going very well. I've been learning more about some of the MTC hidden gems. There are a lot of pass-downs from other missionaries; we found out that there are names and dates written in glow-in-the-dark paint written on a portion of the wall in our room. This was really cool. Most of the dates are about ten years old. Also, I left some ugly ties at home (one has horses and one has polka-dots, they're really cool). Now I need those for... something...
Elder Kevin Pearson of the Seventy spoke for our Tuesday night devotional and it was very, very good. He explained how important it is that we perceive ourselves as missionaries, and it has helped me to try to have a fully "missionary" attitude; this involves calling everyone "Elders" and "Sisters/Hermanas" instead of "guys" which is hard. But I'm getting better, and me and my district are maturing. We plan our day out down to five minute intervals the night before and this allows us to study very efficiently the next day.
New elders came in last night! It's very exciting for us. This included Elder Braxton Boyer! I just ate breakfast with him, and all of my two weeks of experience allowed me to share some pearls of wisdom. Wesley wrote me a letter with some good questions. We should all follow Wesley's example and write me a letter. But I felt like some of the answers would be good for this e-mail. The pace and workload of the MTC have not been overbearing so far. I've never been good at being diligent in school studies, but it's not a problem here at all. The only deterrent has been fatigue, but that's being worked out with earplugs. I am not getting fatter. So far. Maybe I'll get less skinny though. Yes, I will be here in the MTC for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and Hannukah. I don't know what, if any anything is different in the MTC for these. Hopefully, some turkeys will be available to eat. I've heard that lots of apostles come visit during the holidays, and that would be awesome! Also, we didn't take any "Matrix" pictures, but we did take some "lightsaber" pictures. I think these are probably cool, and maybe everyone can see some if I can get pictures home somehow. Working on that.
I think (this may have been a dream) that Brian Stucki wrote me on my birthday when he was on a mission... Whether that happened or not, it was awesome. So I'd like a family list so I can do the same!
Speaking of not knowing what's real, my perception of time is distorted beyond belief here. It's very strange. I feel like I was writing my last e-mail an hour ago (that was last week) but I feel like this morning was months ago (that was this morning). It's because we're really busy, I suppose. It's fantastic.
I hope everyone understands how easy it is to send me messages with Dear Elder! Getting mail is so great. I'm going to try to respond to everyone who sent me something with the time I have for writing letters today. But feel free to send me a Dear Elder, even if it's short! Letters are really nice to, especially if they have pictures. Tell Evan Lipman that I won't play Halo 7 with him unless he writes me a letter. And I really like pictures. Hopefully my last e-mail made sense; I ran the clock down to the last few seconds before I sent it. Hopefully this one makes sense too. I'm not entirely sure who is reading these, but I hope that those who want to are able to.
Family, thanks you for sending bread and staff paper and sweaters and other treats! We have a drawer full of candy and cookies and things which is why I wanted bread to balance it out. Also, I like bread. I hoped that my e-mail wasn't misinterpreted to mean that I was asking for new things, I just wanted the things I already owned sent up to me. Because it's really cold here! They didn't plan for the MTC weather in my Mexico packing list.
I know the work I'm doing here is very important. I'm working very diligently to become a better missionary. We had a great experience teaching in the "TRC" this last Tuesday. My companion and I did very well teaching together about the Restoration of the Gospel. The Spirit was very strong and the experience has motivated me to work even harder. Thanks for all of the support!
- Elder Tingey

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mission Training Center Week 1


The MTC is great. It's honestly really fun. Right after I was dropped off, we went and started practicing teaching people about the church. I was asked to bear my testimony almost immediately and to a room full of strangers, so my comfort zone grew very quickly. And then I got a bloody nose in that first activity, so my self-consciousness grew, and my companion's confusion grew as well. It was awesome! The first day, everything goes VERY quickly; they direct the new missionaries everywhere that they go, and I felt like we were just being swept around, but the second day it's all up to you and your companion to be fully obedient to the schedule.
It's decidedly difficult to explain how different the MTC is from "normal" life. I expected a very austere environment from what you hear about being here, but I've been surprised by that not being the case. The mission president, President Smith, requires us to be rigorously obedient. That may seem like the same thing, but the spirit is much different. (Mostly) everyone is focused on doing the work that we are here to do. I've been pleasantly surprised by the amount of people here who I know, or have found connections with, whether they're from Vegas or BYU or my family. Apparently there's another Elder
Tingey somewhere, so I'll have to find him. And there is a Sister Brown whose parents are serving with my Grandparents in West Africa! There are a too many people to mention specifically, but it's great to see familiar faces.

My companion is Elder Benjamin Brown from Farmington, Utah. We get along very well, and we've been getting a lot of work down by setting new goals each night to stretch ourselves to be more and more diligent. He's really tall and really generous and funny. We've really enjoyed our district as well; I can't even express how lucky I feel about my companionship and district. We all became friends very quickly, and we have so much fun. and we get a lot of studying done as well. My zone and Branch President, President Estes are great as well. Branch 50, District D!
Learning Spanish has not really been challenging so far. Last Thursday, I had to write a talk in Spanish. That was quite difficult, but since then I have just been learning more vocabulary and grammar and it's been really entertaining; I can tell that my ability to learn is being strengthened beyond what I would be capable of on my own. Along with hours of language study each day, my companion and I spend a lot of time studying the gospel and the scriptures; I am learning a lot, and I feel more prepared to teach everyday. Elder Bednar spoke at a devotional on Tuesday. It was amazing. It honestly influenced my entire attitude about behavior on my mission. He explained that, in the church, we often try to use applications to solve a problem, when those applications are based on principles which are based on doctrines, and those doctrines are the answer.
To the priests/youth/those preparing for a mission: Decide now whether you want to serve. Once you are here, the work of the missionaries is the most important thing in your life, and it's your only focus. You'll be very appreciative of your time in seminary - and I am SO appreciative of my two years in high school Spanish. Try to recognize how important it will be to you in a few years, and apply that importance to your diligence in seminary right now.

One of the teachers here asked, "Oh, Elder Tingey! Do you have a brother who plays in a band? Broby... or Bramby?"
"Yeah, that's me. I play bass or something."
"Ah. I have you on my iPod."
So that's cool. My disctrict is really curious about Brumby's music and why people keep asking my about it. So Battle Born better be on iTunes by now so that their families can listen to it!
We can't listen to music here in the MTC, but once I leave, it would be really great to have an iPod with Hymns, church music and a LOT of classical music, and a set of battery-powered speakers. I don't now how easy that would all be, but it would be much appreciated.
Some elders have multiple SD cards, and they take pictures on one and then send it home so they can keep taking pictures with their camera. That could work for sending pictures home in the MTC, at least, I don't know how much I'll be able to rely on Mexican post.

Anyways, write me! I can't write you until you write me because I don't have any addresses! And I have plenty of time to read letters, but only a half hour to e-mail, so feel free to send me any length of letter any time. And send me pictures!


Elder Spencer Tingey