Alex's Mission Address:

Elder Alex McLean Ditto

Romania/Moldova Mission
Bdul. Primaveril Nr. 19-21 Et.1 #13
Sector 1
011972 Bucharest
Romania

Email -
alex.ditto@myldsmail.net

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Members of Romania

Buna ziua tuturor!!!

Well, first thing's first... I am finally overcame that cold and running on all cylinders now!!! I felt a little outta my contacting game this week, but we had some incredible success in terms of strengthening the Mihai Bravu branch.
Fratele Brais. Currently in the Mental Hospital so we paid him a visit. He is one of the kindest and most genuine men I have met. We had a nice chat as we walked through the hospital ground.  I have never liked the hospitals here in Romania, but was glad to make his day.  Everyone needs a friend!

We also gave him a blessing.

The Mihai Bravu branch is very different to the others that I have served in. Arad, Alexandria, Craiova- all of these have been bands of some of the most faithful members of the church that I have ever met. I will always marvel and their faithfulness and devotion to serving the Lord. The saints of Romania are pioneers, and they are my heroes. I have told many stories of members in Romania in the past year, Sora Krancs and her devotion to pay tithing and come to church, regardless of the situation, Sora Emmanuela in Alexandria- the only woman of the church in her little town, Mirela Minunata of Craiova, the woman who's life has flipped a 180 because of the hope and happiness that the gospel brings. The teachings and plan that has blessed my life so much, has blessed millions of people around the world, because of their own decision to follow Jesus Christ. 

Alma 26:37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

I add my testimony that God truly is mindful of every people, and joy comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Orthodox church by night

SLAM DUNK BURGERS... Made these 250 grammers from scratch!

Now, back to Bucharest. I will be honest, it took me a while to receive trust from the members here. In the other branches, we just wholly relied upon one another. This branch seemed a little different to me. Here in Bucharest we are blessed with two chapels for two branches. At one point in church history here, there were two branches that would meet in each building and hundreds of members would flock to the church on Sundays! Now, this is sadly not the case. 
Our tramvai we take to the church

On a good Sunday, we have around 45 members that come to sacrament meeting. Now, that is 5X more than in any other branch that I have been in, but Bucharest is home to 1 million and somethin' people... God has more prepared children here that are waiting to here the good news! With this, we have many goals and ambitions that will help unite the members and missionaries together to build up the kingdom of God here in Bucharest, that we might fulfill the apostolic blessing that there will be stakes here!

I made an effort to take pictures of the members that we met with this week. Enjoy them! 
Fratele Manescu... A faithful member of many years, only drinks LEMONADE, loves Joseph Smith and everything history. He will talk your ears off if you let him!

Fratele Paun. One of the goofiest guys in all of Romania. He is a true blue mormon- his testimony is firm and dedicates his time to helping others in the branch.   This week he fed us some killer pizza and fanta madness (grape fanta but way better than in the states).

We celebrated Soro Gorzo's 81st birthday with her this past week.  
https://youtu.be/Q5nrJ7n0ANU
Sora Gorzo's bday!! 81 and still a champion chef!

Elder Bontempo and I have been working hard to gain trust of the members here and connect with the leaders of the branch, which will create an atmosphere of excitement for member missionary work and love one to another! It has been a really unique experience to be in the details of how the church works in terms of leadership and logistics at a branch and mission level. The things I am doing now, rest assured, will come back to help me and others in another time of my life. 


Our English Board fell because of the high wind speeds... 

Phillip. Traveling all around the world on his bike.

Gotta scoot- but hope this painted a nice little picture of where the church is at in Romania. the Lord blesses us as we serve in whatever calling or position we are in. He expands our talents and capacity to love when we thrust in our sickle!

Love,

Alex

Luca... the best covrigerie in the whole wide world
Pday shenanigans

Monday, September 11, 2017

Missionary Work of the Bucuresti

Hey fam!

Well another week in Bucharest accomplished. The sick bug finally caught up to me this weekend and put me out of commission yesterday, but more about that later!
Wandering the streets of a little village outside of Bucharest
Romanian sunsets

I can't believe that I have been in Bucharest for more than three months now. Time as a missionary is very weird. Dad was wanting to here about my role as a zone leader, so I thought I would talk a little bit about how this position has helped me learn and grow, as well as helped the zone of Bucharest!
Romanian construction... the slowest on earth
Elder Ditto 
Homeless people napping in the park


To start, when I first arrived in Bucharest, our zone was in a little rut, and the energy was very low. Bucharest has a million and something residents- you would think that each missionary would have a bushel of people to teach! Three months ago, that just wasn't the case! I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed and not sure how to help the zone. The first step was for  Elder Bontempo and I to get organized and get to work. 
Our boy Dani Firaru

I am happy to say that Elder Bontempo and I have not slowed down our efforts over the course of these three months, but rather have worked even harder! I feel like each week we get more and more committed to finding those who are looking for the truth, and to following the spirit. I have learned so much! Amidst the success, we have had many difficult days, even weeks! The Lord is not forgetful of us- I have witnessed that as we stay faithful in doing the things we know are right, even when it is hard or not desirable, He rewards us for out efforts more than we could have imagined.  I see this everyday! One day this week, we had a lesson with a family in our branch in the morning, and then nothing else planned the rest of the day. After a great lesson and an incredible homemade meal of ciorba de fasole (bean soup) , cartofi piure (mashed potatoes), si curcan (they had just butchered a turkey... probably the best turkey I have ever had), we set out to find new people. The Lord blessed us in finding a really awesome kid, and even we ran into a guy that I had met six months ago, and he is now an investigator!! 
Fajitas!!!

Don't worry...everything gonna be alright!

So after getting ourselves committed, we brain stormed ways that we could get the other missionaries excited. We decided to do Zone Contacting every Sunday night. We have a nice big street board and a table, and all of the missionaries in Bucharest take over a park and talk to everyone! The energy that is created is incredible, and seeing everyone doing the Lord's work is really neat. I feel blessed to be in an area with many other missionaries, something that I had not experienced for the majority of my mission!
District contacting

An Orthodox church

We also created a sports night, where all the missionaries can invite their friends and investigators for a fun night of playing sports. The idea is to create a natural environment for inviting people to learn more about how the gospel can help them! This has turned out to be a huge success, last week we had about 50 people come out! 
A nice stroll in a nice evening 

A ghetto dacia pick-up filled with Romania's favorite veggie... onions!

Also, every first week of a new transfer, we have Missionary Leadership Council, where all of the leaders of the mission meet for a day to talk about how to improve the mission. We meet at the Hettinger's home and talk about the needs of our mission, what we can do to help our missionaries get more excited about the work, and how to do improve ourselves as leaders. We usually have a theme for the council, and this months was from chapter 9 of Preach my Gospel- Finding People! We had a lot of fun brainstorming ways to make finding more creative and fun. I really appreciate the Hettinger's love and committment to helping us as missionaries. Their love for the Savior and bringing God's children back to the fold is apparent. 
Dani and I

Reminded me of Brasil or something

So amidst hard work, zone contacting, activities, councils, I stay pretty busy as a zone leader! I have really enjoyed working closely with the other missionaries and learning from them. Each missionary is unique and is called to Romania for a specific reason. I have learned that missionary work is truly a collective effort. We are all working towards one thing- Inviting others come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! I am grateful that I have been assigned to serve in Romania. I love this country and the people in it! Being here has helped me in so many ways, through the difficult times and doubts the Lord is refining me and turning me into a ROCK! I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and that His gospel is the way to happiness in this life, and the next. My love for my family has increased 10 fold. I don't know why, but being gone has helped me realize how much I truly love and need them. Good thing we have got eternity! 
Informing our students that we will not be having English class

Right before he took a leak on the tree behind him...

Sora Leavitt teaching the young adults how to paint!

In other news, yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting. It went really well! I talked about living with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The spirit was there, and the Lord blessed me with the gift of tongues. We are working with several people, praying that they can continue to do the things that will give them the power to change! Reading the Book of Mormon and praying is essential to anyone's continual conversion.

Life is awesome, even if yesterday I had a gnarly fever and  had the chills! Come what may, and love it! 
This was in the heat of having the chills..

Love you guys!

Elder Ditto
Another orthodox church next to communism

Chilllin' with some Romanian dudes

Another random man...

Dinner at Borsalinos

Ioana.... a nice old lady that always stands next to the Mega Image next to our block

The real Bucharest
The original Arad group back together

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

An Insider of the Streets of Bucharest

Hey everyone!!! So good to hear from all of you and see the pictures from the recent vacations... Dittos sure know how to live it up! 

This week was a pretty good one, Elder Bontempo and I did our best to find people to teach and teach when we found. Over the course of the week, it was so clear to me that the Lord is the master of His work, and as we are obedient and work with all of our might, he blesses us with people to teach and help bring to the fold. 
Contacting for the concert

Missionary life is the most beautiful, yet exhausting and stressful thing I have done in my life! The good thing is that the stress is all from good things, like wanting to learn
Romanian better and praying with all your might that your investigator and friend will decide to be baptized, etc. With this, I have had to learn to master my attitude, for it can be easy to get discouraged, annoyed, sad, or just plain hopeless. Luckily, all of these adjectives have an antonym, and the Lord is always at my side. I have had many experiences where just when I thought I couldn't go one step farther, or when I have wanted to quit and just go to the apartment and sleep, or maybe when I have felt like I can't teach the gospel in Romanian, the Lord gives me a boost, just enough to let me know that he cares, that he truly is with me every step of the way. I am grateful that it is this way, for any easier, I wouldn't be able to turn my weaknesses into strengths!

So, that leads me to explaining a little bit of the day to day activities and routines that I do as a missionary in Bucharest, Romania.

First of all, I feel super blessed to be living in a beautiful apartment, with an incredible view. Elder Bontempo and I arise at 6:30, say a prayer together, and then attempt to work out for thirty minutes. Fortunately, Elder Bontempo has a weights set and we do biceps a lot 😄 I usually rotate between biceps and abs. Some days we feel so tired that all we can do is stretch and listen to MoTab [Mormon Tabernacle Choir]... I chuckle just thinking of that sight... two 19 year olds attempting to work out to MoTab at 6:45 AM... yup that is us!

Another big blessing is our food situation. We eat dang good... like Greek yogurt and granola, or a nice big omelet with salam and Gouda cheese and OJ. It has been fun learning how to cook with Elder Bontempo the past 3 months. The best thing we have made was the lime honey marinade chicken... incredible!
A nice salad for lunch

The most important part of our morning routine is personal study... I have truly become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ as I have studied His words and applied them to my life. The Lord has blessed me with many experiences of feeling His love for me as I ponder the words of life. 
Companionship study on the balcony

Lets talk a little bit about what we do during the daytime hours... 

First of all, being on the street in Bucharest is one of the craziest things ever. You see BMWs everywhere, yet you also see gypsies who are treated more like dogs, who are carrying wagons full of garbage to their little villages that smells like poop. You will see beggars, asking you for money, some you randomly become friends with. Beer for the Romanian man is water. Even at 10 am there are men with their 2.75 litre beer bottles chugging away. Same goes for smoking- almost everyone smokes. Even though I wasn't alive thirty years ago in America, I would like to describe the Romanian society as thirty years- maybe even fifty- behind America. People still don't have a good understanding that their health is at risk!
Tyler's stickers are everywhere in Bucharest!

Well, that sounded pretty saddening... there are also some beautiful parts of walking out into Bucharest! The Romanian people are very welcoming, and love to help foreigners, and even their own, with directions. I recall one time on a bus, where this old man was asking for directions to one guy, which ended up with EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE BUS giving him the directions that they thought were the best... made me laugh! 
Elder Bontempo caught this great shot of a lightening storm.

There are many old people here, and lots of "babas"(old Romanian women), who carry random things in their bags or grocery strollers. I helped one old baba onto the bus this week, and was astounded at how heavy her cart was, I could barely lift it! Wasn't quite sure how she was getting around without a personal helper- but that is just it- the Romanian people are helpers! All respect the older generation and it is not uncommon to see little acts of kindness.
The gang

Some days it feels like contacting (going up to people and asking them something about our message) seems like the scariest and hopeless thing that we could ever do, and other days it is fun. Elder Bontempo and I try to talk to everyone everywhere- on the metros, on the streets, parks, in the grocery store, etc. Elder Bontempo is really good at this, and has helped me become more confident. Sometimes when I see kids on scooters or bikes, I ask to ride them. They other day, I did like FOUR 360s on different kid's scooters!! The last one I totally crashed and face-planted- felt good to get some adrenaline!
Tibi and I

It is amazing to see how the Lord guides us or others to hear our message. My favorite thing is to testify to people about the reality that Christ lives and His church has been restored by a prophet in these latter days. 

Romanians are very suspicious people. You can't whistle inside, everyone hates the windows open as you can get a "cold," I had one guy tell me that there are two days every month that are cursed for him, many people claim they have visions, and EVERYONE knows their horoscope things, and believe in them! Apparently I am the crab dude! haha I must say, I do not think my qualities relate to crab guy, clearly I am a lion!

Well, I am out of time, but I hope I painted a picture of what it is like to walk the streets of Bucharest. Next week I will explain more about my role as a zone leader and about the branch!
The bro and I
Institute [gospel class for college-aged kids]

I love you all, know that I am well and am determined to give the Lord all I've got to find those who are ready to accept the message that God still speaks to us today, and the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. Onward!

Love,
Alex

Monday, August 28, 2017

The School of Life

Hey everyone,

Seriously can't believe all of you guys start school TOMORROW! It is still a little weird to me that I am not in school right now. This life that I am living right now is a very different one compared to the one at home. Rather than learning math and economics, I am fully invested in the school of life "scoala vietii." I did a lot of thinking this week about life in general, and the life that God gave me. 
Love this guy...

I am reading in 1 Corinthians right now and came across a scripture that I really liked. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.


I really like this verse because it puts life into perspective. This week, Elder Bontempo and I faced a lot of adversity and we had to work with grit. 
Our bellies were full and happy after the Hard Rock Cafe!
The one and only...

I don't really know what to talk about this week, my brain is just a little empty!

We went to Craiova for exchanges. It was great to be with Elder Krieger again. He is such a great man, one who is all in to teaching the gospel to everyone. We got to visit Mirela which was so wonderful. I am amazed at the change that I see in her as she continues to commit to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has truly changed her whole person! We took Craiova by storm with three sets of missionaries and talking to everyone about the gospel. Elder Krieger and I focused on talking to families as we made a survey that talks about the Family Proclamation. 

Let the road trip begin

49km till Slatina

Cake with Viki

Dan the Man

A great contacting session in Parcul Romanescu

The original gang all back together! 

Me in my beloved city of Craiova

6AM travel back to Bucharest


Although we did not have our baptism this week (we are still helping Vio become ready to make this great step of baptism), we did get to participate at another's baptism- the wife of a recent convert. 
The font wasn't filling up fast enough... so we did plan B

It was such a special experience to see a man of God baptize his wife into the church of God. One of the coolest things I have seen here for sure! I was reminded about what the gospel is all about- families! I feel so grateful to have a family who loves me and supports me in all my endeavors. I realized that I want to talk to more families about the gospel as I go throughout the mission... to help them realize the wonderful blessing it is to have their home based on the principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!
Family night at the Leavitts [a senior missionary couple]

Paninis and corn on the cob with a fruit smoothie... now that's livin.
Thank you Ami for this cozy pillow case!

Sora Gorzo and I chilling after some ardei umpluti

Well, I am sorry for the lame letter but I hope the pictures make up for it!!
Bucharest at night
Power companionship of the Bucharest

Love you all so much, and am praying for a great first week of school!!!

Love,
Alex



Ran into my brother Elder Loder!!! 
The crew trying to be like the Finnish in the middle.