Soldier in God's Army

Soldier in God's Army
Soldier in God's Army

Thursday, April 26, 2012

MTC Week 6

So a fair amount of stuff happened this week, today being the end of my 6th week at the MTC. Last sunday I got assigned as District leader over the 7 Elders in my District. I will hold that position until we leave to Mexico. This puts a lot of responsibility on me as I hold weekly interviews with each Elder in my District, conduct all the meetings, and lead them in every other way as a District as we strive to learn the Spanish language and learn how to share the Gospel effectively.
My P-Day got switched to Thursday, as our entire daily schedule got completely rearranged in preparation for welcoming the massive flood of missionaries who are going to be coming in after the end of the school semester.
I'm starting to get pretty fluent with the Spanish language. I am close to mastering all of the grammatical aspects, now I just have to learn more words. I know enough to be able to teach effectively, as our teachers act as role-playing investigators that we have to teach entirely in Spanish.
I won't really have a lot of good stuff to say until I finally get into the field and start having experiences. I can't wait for that. 3 more weeks! Everybody, pray for Mexico Visas, because I don't think I could stand staying at the MTC longer than I have to as a visa-waiter.
How is everything back home and in the outside world? Politics? Sports?
So, I forgot to mention in my other e-mails that we have had quite a few general authorities come and visit us. We have had 3 of the 12 apostles come in the last 3 weeks. It's pretty rare for something like that to happen. I figure they must have heard I was here. So the first apostle that came was Elder Packer, who came on Easter Sunday. Elder Ballard came on what I think was last Tuesday, but I'm not sure. This last Tuesday, Elder Nelson came and spoke. All were really powerful devotionals and firesides.
One of my favorite speakers that came was on a Tuesday devotional a few weeks back, Vai Sikahema - sportscaster and football player. He talked about his mission and how when he got hired as a sportscaster in Philly, he always snuck in little Mormon Messages and even did a story on the MTC.
Our District is doing good. Our Zone has had quite a few districts leave to go to the field, and for a time there were only 2 district in our Zone. Yesterday we brought in a new District, 4 Elders and 4 Hermanas (Sisters). 5 of them are going to the Salt Lake City spanish-speaking mission, and I'm not sure where the others are going.
I have been able to avoid the problem other elders have with putting a ton of weight on in the MTC. So far I have been pretty much the same. A few days ago I weighed in at 223 lbs., but I still look slimmer than when I came in. I'm glad me and Elder Wensel lift everyday, it helps a lot. If not for our lifting, I would probably have to get my pants resized.
Sorry I haven't sent many pictures home. I'll send a memory card back at the end of my 8th week, when I have more pictures on it. I'll get a district and zone picture too, if possible. Otherwise I'll just get those on our last night when we have our traditional zone fairwell gathering.
So I don't know what else to put in these letters. I've pretty much told you guys everything. If anybody has questions or requests, or just wants to write (which would be awesome, as you can never have enough letters here) send them to me by mail or
Elder Tyler Riggs
MTC Box 292 (Departure Date 05-21)
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

Saturday, April 21, 2012

MTC Week 5

This week has gone by so fast! It seems like I was just sitting down at the computer writing my last letter. It has been a pretty good week.
Story time: So about half an hour after writing my last letter, Elders Wensel, Riggs, Farley, and Beeston got called to the front desk where we were individually interrogated by the head of BYU Police for about 3 hours pertaining to certain pranks that didn't have much to do with us. Apparently there is some guy going around breaking into rooms, trashing them, and leaving a card that says "the MTC Prankster". And a lot of people have been going in to security giving reports and giving my exact description. Then there is a room on our floor who claims somebody broke in and stole a guys wallet, because he couldn't find it. Coincidentally, this happened at the same time as our room got pranked pretty hard by our zone leaders. Security thought there was a connection and interrogated us on our P-Day. When we got to the front desk, the interrogater took one look at me and decided to interrogate me first. He started asking his question and then asked if I was this "MTC Prankster", and I had no idea this character even existed. I was like "what are you talking about", and he gave the shpeal and said "we have been getting reports of a person pranking, and they describe him as a caucasian having red hair, average-to-above-average height, largely built, and in your same building." I had no idea where this was coming from, and he didn't believe me at first. I'm pretty sure he still thinks I'm the "MTC Prankster" and I am at the top of his list. Turns out the kid lost his wallet and found it in his pants pocket the next day.
I can't wait to finally get out of the MTC and go to Mexico. I feel a little to confined to this campus. At least the weeks fly by pretty fast.
All of those who were excited about David Archuleta being here, he left on Monday. So now the MTC is normal again, and we don't have to hear a ton of whispering every time he walks by.
This last week has gone especially well for me spiritually. I am starting to recognize the spirit and be able to use it when I teach. The language is also coming along pretty awesomely. Last week during TRC (Training Resource Center: it's where actual members come in and talk to you in the mission language and need help in some aspect of their lives), me and Elder Wensel were speaking spanish almost like natives, and it was pretty fluent. I never had to stop to think of a word, and I don't even have to translate from English to Spanish in my head anymore! It's starting to come naturally. English and Spanish are completely separate in my head. It's nice because it's harder to understand when someone else is speaking spanish if you have to translate every word. It's easier to just tough it out until you are able to understand Spanish on its own.
Well I'm out of time again, and I simply can't fit all of the highlights of the week in a 30 minute e-mail session, so if you want to know more you're gonna have to write me!
Elder Tyler Riggs
MTC Box 292
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604
P.S. You can't use the excuse of not wanting to buy stamps. is free.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

MTC Week #4 4/13/2012

What can I say about this week? It went by so fast. Well, we finally got a new district in our zone, so we aren't the newest ones here anymore. Unfortunately, these Elders don't take pranks as well as we do (or as well as we give out, and we are pretty generous with them.) One time I spooned (put a spoon from the cafeteria in their pockets) all of the new guys. We were eating lunch and I managed to get a spoon in multiple pockets for each new district member without getting caught - quite an accomplishment considering there are 7 of them. Then while they were in a meeting with one of the branch presidency, one of the Elders reached into his pocket for a pen and pulled out the spoon! He had no idea what was going on, and the branch presidency member pretty much new the prank but thought it was long over.

So I just got back to the temple, and it was a pretty good experience. I have really been trying to recognize the spirit more easily. I have been working with one of my instructors on helping me to feel and recognize the spirit, as I have been having a hard time because it feels as though I can't feel it when I should be, and when everybody else seems to be feeling it pretty strongly. I think a lot of it might be because since I was a kid I have naturally shielded myself from most emotions (subconsciously protecting myself from anybody who could emotionally hurt me), and that shield I have put up is not allowing me to feel the spirit or God's love for me. I need to start trusting others, especially God, and stop looking out for myself. I have realized that I need to allow others to be a part of my life and not be so protective of my emotions, despite how I may have taken some major blows in the past (of which only a handful of people may know about). I have been making an effort to make a change of heart and turn to God in all that I do.

So at the MTC here, most people gain quite a bit of weight. I consider it to be a major accomplishment for me to have lost 0.3 lbs in one week, weighing myself in at 220.1. If me and my companion, Elder Wensel, didn't lift hard every day, I'm certain I would look like the next Chris Farley.

So they finally announced that we don't have to wear suit coats around everywhere anymore! Only to devotionals. When they announced this, everybody in the devotional meeting stood up and screamed for joy and jumped around and there was hugging everywhere. This announcement was long waited for.

This last week went by really fast. It seems like I just wrote the last e-mail 2 days ago. I am getting pretty good at saying whatever I want to say in Spanish, but it still sounds like I have a speech impediment when I talk. Hopefully I'll get faster and more fluent in the next two weeks. Elder Wensel and I have made a goal to master the language by the end of the 6th week (that's 2 more week!) I think we can do it if we work hard enough.

If anybody has questions or just wants to write me, feel free! My mailbox has plenty of room in it. Lately it seems so emtpy I think dust and cobwebs are starting to appear.

Elder Tyler Riggs
MTC Box 292-0521
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

I just want you all to know that I know that God lives and Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that although I need to know it more in the heart as of right now, I know it in my mind and I can't deny him. And I know I can rebuild my relationship with him and feel in my heart that he loves me and will help me through learning the Spanish language and to teach the people in Torreon, Mexico.

Well, my time on the computer is up, but I hope you all feel the urge to write me. If not, you should feel guilty and send me a package. Just kidding. But seriously.

Until next week,
Elder Tyler Mitchell Riggs

P.S. I'm thinking I might want to start going my Mitchell when I get back home, as it is more professional and suitable for the business world. Any thought?

Friday, April 6, 2012

MTC Letter #3

So we're coming to the end of week 3 at the MTC, and so far things are still going well. I feel like the Spanish is really starting to come. I can almost say anything I want to in Spanish, I just can't say it very quickly/fluently. I'm also struggling with understanding extremely fast Spanish, especially when my Spanish teacher tries to force it on us. He usually just gets blank stares in response.
To answer some of the questions I have been getting:
1. My companion, Elder Andrew Wensel, is from West Jordan, UT.
2. There are 3 of us in the district going to Torreon, Mexico and 2 that are going to Hermosillo (or something like that). 2 others in our district are going to Columbia, but they are leaving in a few days to go to the Columbian MTC.
3. Elder Kraymer Eppich just left this morning. I got to see him quite a bit before he left. He stopped by my residence to tell me and gave me his key card so I could go visit him before he left. He still hasn't got his visa yet, so they temporarily reassigned him to Nashville, Tennessee. He says he's going to try to convert Taylor Swift.
4. Here's my P-Day schedule. I have used science and math to make it the best possible P-Day schedule known to missionaries. This way I get to pack in an extra 2 hours for free time that would otherwise be spent doing laundry:
     6:20 am --- Wake up, run to the laundry room and put all laundry in the washers
     6:30 am --- Shower, get dressed, get ready (in Missionary attire)
     7:10 am --- Switch laundry from washers to dryers
     7:15 am --- Eat a hot breakfast (instead of a lousy sack breakfast)
     7:50 am --- Get laundry from dryers and run to the residence, hang it all up, fold garments & P-Day Clothes, spray/iron shirts
     8:20 am --- Personal Study
     9:20 am --- Go to the temple & complete a session
   10:50 am --- Go to a TALL Lab (computer lab) and e-mail
   11:20 am --- Go back to the residence, get in P-Day Clothes, and write letters until all are done
    after that --- Chillax, take naps, walk around, go to the gym, go to the bookstore, pretty much do whatever until 6:00 pm when classes start again
5. Conference in the MTC was pretty good. I was able to pay attention a lot better, but it got pretty hot in the gym/auditorium, considering there was over 2,000 people in there and we weren't allowed to take off our jackets.
6. And I know you're all waiting for this one: Yes, I have seen David Archuleta. Not that awesome, he's just a person, not a superior being. I have seen him many, many times. Probably every other day at least. He's pretty tiny actually. He's probably about 5'3" or so (he only comes up to about my mid chest, maybe a little higher) and I would estimate he weighs between 120 and 130. He is going to the same mission as our Zone Leaders, Elders Edwards and Page.
7. No, I was DEFINITELY not in the choir. I'm pretty much against it. Don't expect to ever see me in a choir by my own free will (even if it gets me on TV)
So I'm almost out of time, so I'll finish up with a story. Yesterday morning my Companion asked me if I was up for some reason at 3 am the night before. Clueless, I said no (being completely unconscious). He said he woke up at 3 am, and he heard me speaking Spanish in my sleep, and it sounded like I was teaching a lesson. So apparently I have mastered the language in my sleep and am unable to unlock that part of my brain during my conscious state haha.