Hello!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!Thanks,Elder Spencer Tingey