Hello from the beautiful fortress of the MTC!
1) The MTC campus is... kind of like a prison compound :p just kidding. It's an incredible place, but it's really hard to know that BYU is a block down the street and that it's an entirely different world. And that I just want to get into the field!!! We have one classroom that we basically live in. My classroom is 7M (building)-209 (room), which won't mean anything to anyone who hasn't been in the MTC. But that's where we have class (usually 6 hours a day, one Tuesdays and P-day 3, and on Sunday not at all), also have personal, companionship, and language study in the same room. So we average about 8 hours in that room per day. 1M is the main building, and we eat and have church there. There is one big cafeteria, and everyone eats there, just at staggered times. 19M is where the gym is, we have 50 minutes of gym time every day, and we also have our Tuesday and Sunday night Devotional/Firesides there.
2) We will be watching Conference in 19M. There will probably be a couple overflow rooms in 1M, but we'll be in 19M in the front of the room (we always make sure and get within the first 3 rows for stuff in there).
3) Like I mentioned, we have church in 1M. We have sacrament meeting every Sunday from 8-9 and every Sunday but Fast Sunday we have Priesthood from 11:10-12:00 (Fast Sundays we have Mission Conference in 19M). We have branch presidencies (called from the general Utah/Salt Lake Valley area). They are all very faithful and experienced brethren in the church. Two of our three speak Spanish (we pray, sing, bless the Sacrament, and two elders/sisters give 5ish minute talks per week in Spanish), and our president served as a mission president and as a sealer in the temple.
4) I think I mostly answered this question in your my last response, but our teachers are BYU students (both awesome guys), we have a few Zone resource teachers who are great too (I will definitely have stories about Hermano Gamez after my mission...). Other than that, we have a DL and ZL's (expected, right?), and our Branch Presidency serves as our mission presidency (more or less) while we're here.
5) Of course, after a month of spending 10+ hours a day, day in and day out, with the same people, they start to wear on you a little bit. But I really have no complaints. Our district is the best I could have asked for. Elder Rhodes is an awesome missionary. We're not as alike as I first thought, but we've found that as long as we're focusing on the work, any disagreements are worked out easily and quickly. My DL, Elder Whited (from Texas, going to California), is incredible. He's the perfect example of humility, hard work, and quiet dignity.
6) Our first couple weeks in the TRC were not what I was expecting. Of course, since I volunteered for the English TRC, I was expecting to teach investigators. What actually happens (for Spanish apparently it's different) is that we go and teach members (it's a lot like Home Teaching actually) and ask for referrals and stuff. This week we started teaching our first actual investigator in the TRC. Which is a lot more real than when our teachers were role-playing to be progressing investigators. The hermano that Elder Rhodes and I are teaching right now is named Abraham. He is 57 years old, from Mexico City, and has a son who passed away a couple years ago. It's still role-play, but since he is actually hispanic and speaks Mexican Spanish, it feels a lot more real. We teach him twice a week (the second time will be tomorrow). Monday we taught him a lot (mostly let him do the talking), mostly about the Plan of Salvation. Tomorrow, we'll be going over the Restoration and the Book of Mormon so we can challenge him to read and pray (absolutely the most important thing, since that is where is strength in the Savior is strengthened and where he gains his own testimony).
7) The dearelders are working great! I really appreciate the nightly message. And I am getting my packages, thank you so much for those :) they definitely brighten my week as well. There's nothing in specific that I think I would want (unless you could somehow hook me up with a Mexican visa :p)
8) No specific questions... I love hearing from you guys though :) I'm really going to try to get off another round of letters soon... I just wish I had more time to write than the 2-3 hours on P-day... But it says pretty clearly in the handbook that we should only write on P-day, and the Lord knows a whole lot better than I do, so I'll stick with what I've been doing :)
Don't have a whole lot more to report this week than that... Elder David Archuleta reported to the MTC yesterday, his classroom is right down the hall from mine, so that's kind of cool. Other than that, nothing new. Spanish is still a work in progress, teaching is getting to be infinitely easier (especially now that Elder Rhodes and I have found a balance in our teaching, instead of me dominating the lessons... I was being pretty bad about that since my Spanish is a little ahead of his). But we're doing a lot better now, and with the balance the Spirit is a lot more present in our lessons.
I'm so glad I'm here, even though I don't love the MTC. I just can't wait to go preach the Gospel!!!!!!!
Con mucho amor!!!!!!!!!!
Elder Andrew Nickerl