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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Lost in the Work

Hey fam!

We are winding down to the last week of the transfer which is quite crazy. Elder Trottier is headed home and I will have one more transfer left... that means eight more weeks of awesomeness in Romania! This upcoming week we will be busy with all sorts of shenanigans including transfer boards, residency permit applications, last minute tweaks to our Romania Administration for Dummies handbooks, finishing cleaning out the mission storage room, planning travel for Mission Leadership Council- the list just goes on! I am confident that because of our preparation, the Lord will provide a way to have this mission move work.
Waiting for the summer rainstorm to pass

Summer storm in Bucharest... it lasted 10 minutes

This week wasn't too shabby. I'll talk about three cool happenings.

1. A big push in the mission and in the church as a whole in Romania has been family history work. I personally have not done too much family history work back at home. Whenever I tried to do it I got bored easily... probably because I was doing it wrong. In the church we believe that in order to return to the presence of God, we must make certain promises with God here in this life. For those who did not do this on earth, we do their ordinances in the temple including baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost in behalf of our ancestors. Because of the restored power of the priesthood, what is bound on earth is also bound in heaven and our loved ones on the other side have the opportunity to accept their ordinances. 

For many years now, church leaders have urged us to engage in this work! It took a mission in Romania for me to understand the importance of and joy found in doing family history work. I think what really helped change my attitude was my understanding of the Romanian culture. I have said many times that I love Romanians for their emphasis put on the family unit. As a nation, Romanians are close to their own families, and are quick to help one another. 

For a long time, it has been difficult for Romanians to do their family history work because there are no digitized records. In order to find names of your ancestors you have to actually go to the local archive or in many cases the local orthodox church and prove that you are related, etc. The church has recently been working out a deal to help digitize the archives which would be a HUGE deal. For right now, we are trying to follow the council of church leaders and do our best. The results have been wonderful! 

We worked with two members this week to help them put in the names and information about their parents and grandparents into family search. We first met with Vio, the man who I baptized last year. My favorite part was writing in a description of each family member from Vio's perspective. It was so clear to me how much he values his relationships with his family members, and ultimately how important it is to ensure that those relationships last beyond the grave. I felt joy helping Vio do family history work.

We also helped a man named Gabi Marin. After twenty-five minutes of waiting for his computer to boot up, and another fifteen minutes as he slowly entered in the information on the computer, we were able to help him request ordinances for his grandparents. Again, as we helped Gabi do his family history work, I felt the spirit confirm to me that this is important and a real work.
Fratele Gabi working hard on family history work on his dinosaur.

Exchange with Elder Krieger!
2. Romania recently just received an assigned patriarch to give patriarchal blessings to the members in Romania. The man, Robert F. Orton was one of the first mission presidents in Romania, and also served in the second quorum of the seventy. I have had the opportunity to talk with him as well as observe how he interacts with the members. What really stuck with me is his optimism for the future. He stressed the importance of always living with a dream in mind... you wouldn't believe what his first dream was! He talked about how our prophet, Russell M. Nelson, has always lived life with a vision, and it is so evident in the way he leads and guides us today. I hope that we all have a vision to work towards in this life, and if you don't, make one!

3. On Fridays we have sport nights, where investigators and young adults come and play soccer and other sports all together. Before the activity, I felt inspired to call a former investigator named Ciprian. He originally found the church in Spain, and we had a lesson with him that was focused around baptism a couple of months ago. Since then we lost contact with him, but today he accepted the invitation to come to sports night. He absolutely loved it, and it made him remember the importance of drawing nearer to God. He was inspired to come to church that Sunday and also had a confirmation that what he was doing was what God wants. He told me thanks for never giving up on him. I responded, "Are you kidding me? Never!" I imagined how the Savior feels when we don't do our part. I know that he never gives up on us, and if we turn to him, he will "succor us according to our infirmities" because of His great love and atoning sacrifice.
Sora Gorzo... the master chef!

Ardei umpluti... mmmm

So many great experiences. I hope each and everyone of you will take time to learn from the many adventures that you have each and every day... that is what this life is all about!

With love,

Elder Ditto
Dani and us

George and I

Kunnai...incredible thai curry

Monday, June 11, 2018

T-minus 3 Weeks

Hey everyone!!

Well another week of craziness. Writing lately has been a struggle because I don't really know how to explain what is happening. All of the problems, tasks, goals, meetings, conversations, are really centered on three things right now: 

1. Preparing for the move to Hungary. 
2. Helping missionaries. 
3. Teaching the Gospel. 

These are all wonderful things, and I feel so blessed to take part in the Lord's work here in Romania in so many different aspects. 

So I didn't mention this last email, but when we have the mission tour, Elder Trottier and I organized all of the travel, and that was why we were running frantically moving and picking-up missionaries. I remember walking into the chapel of the day of the conference and seeing so many friends and great missionaries. My first thought was, "Dang, that is pretty cool that we got everyone here after hours of planning and buying tickets!" I really enjoyed the spirit that was present as almost the whole mission was gathered in humility to receive council from a chosen servant of the Lord.
One box at a time!

In order to keep all of the important things that need to be done before the mission change, we made a timeline with all of the important tasks that need to be accomplished. For months now we have been preparing for the big month of June where all of the really madness happens. Our latest project that we undertook was moving all of the missionary resources and materials from the storage room in the basement below the office to the Panduri chapel attic. 
So much stuff!

Sora Despain as well as the Leavitt family have spent a ton of time organizing and moving materials on their own, and we got to pitch in this Saturday when we filled our big van up TWICE full of Book of Mormons, pamphlets, water filters, business cards, the Book of Mormon in braille (actually 8 giant binders)- you name it. we moved it! After a full-day's worth of work, along with some other random assignments that we hand that day, we got the majority of the materials moved. Hurray!

Other things... we met with a woman from Germany about our residency permit process. It was good for me to review everything and to break down each step. We had already made a administrative notebook that talks about the process of obtaining a residency permit as well as how to conduct travel throughout Romania. Both of these things will really bless the lives of future missionaries, which is a cool thought! Fun food for thought- Imagine trying to get from Spokane, WA to La Push, WA. By car, pretty dang easy, just long! Now, what about by any other means of transportation? Probablyyy not possible. What about Craiova to Galati (Romania). That has no meaning to you guys, but these cities are prettyyy far away, yet you can totally get there by (yes car) but also by train!!! Though we say the infrastructure of Romania is pretty bad, you gotta hand it to the railway system- they can get you places (not necessarily fast, but they will get you there!).
Piata Vicotriei and a "positive" demonstration...

A very unique part of this calling in the office is the many ways we offer our service to other missionaries. We are constantly meeting missionaries from around the mission that come into Bucharest for many different reasons including doctor appts, exchanges, emergency transfers, etc. Elder Trottier pointed out how cool is is that we get to be so invested in helping others. He's right, we have one purpose here and that is to serve! I hope we always remember and learn from the various opportunities that we have had in our own lives to offer service to God's children. This is what life is all about!
Tudor and I

We have also had some good experiences in terms of teaching the gospel. We are teaching a man that is soo cool, and very smart. He is going to by moving away for school soon, but we have had the privilege to become friends and teach this man the gospel. Over the past couple of months, Tudor's faith, as well as mine have really grown as we have committed to live the teaching of Jesus Christ. We recently just taught him the Word of Wisdom, which was a pretty big deal. He committed to do his best to start living this commandment. I admire Tudor's drive to continually make changes in his life, and his personal drive to come closer to God.

I have a lot of more stories, but I will stop there.



Love you all!! Have a great last week of school, praying for you!

Elder Ditto

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Romanian Alps

Hello friends and fam!!!

Coming into the beginning of the week, we knew it was going to go by quite fast. We were right! Though the days seemed long, taking on many important tasks and ensuring that the Mission Conference went smoothly. We made several trips to the aeroport shuttling many missionaries and whatnot. 
Mission Tour with Elder De Feo

I don't have too much time, but I thought I would share a little insight from mission conference. Elder De Feo was the visiting area authority and I was very impressed by his spiritual mindset throughout the day. 
Elder De Feo is a native of Italy.

Could you imagine traveling to another country every single week for stake conference? Craziness! I feel lucky that I got to hear a special witness of the Lord bear witness of the importance of missionary work. Something profound that he spoke of, and something that has been highlighted a few times recently is the importance of the two greatest commandments. Do you know what they are?

Matthew 22
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Elder De Feo explained the importance of remembering and living the first commandment, before we act on the second. 

In other words, when we have our own personal testimony that Jesus is the Savior, and that God is our loving Heavenly Father, we will have the desire and courage to help and minister to those around us. 

Being a missionary is awesome. I am so thankful for the diversities of adventures and learning experiences that I have had on my mission. We had another unreal preparation day adventure today... totally rejuvenated for another week!!!  We hiked to Moieciu de Sus, in the Carpathian Mountains.
I was freaking out the whole drive up... incredible views!

The Carpathian Mountains form a semicircle around Transylvania.


"Black Archer" get-up

A monastery in the mountains.

Bran, Romania

Castle Bran... where Count Dracula lives!
E Kreiger... best buds for life


Elder Krylborn and I

Fraternitate

Elders singing "High on the Mountain Top." https://youtu.be/9eXMGrr8g70
When it starts to rain...


Friends for life

In my habitat

In the misty mountains...

Lambs

Pure Happiness

Magar pe munte

Slack lining on a rock

Some gypsy kids carrying some potable water back home 

The Crew

The shire or something

THIS IS ROMANIA! 

Love you all!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I Would Walk/Hike/Drive 450 Miles

Hello my family!!!

This week was pretty dang awesome... in total we traveled over 450 miles including a trip over to Craiova with the Hettingers to visit the branch... more about that later!
Photo shoot fun

The week started with
transfers, which also meant that a few missionaries were going home. Elder Forsyth, who was my companion in Alexandria and Otopeni way back when, had arrived to the finish and I got to bid him farewell. 
Gonna miss these guys!

Elder Parrett...sad to see this man go!

It was a bittersweet moment- each of my companions have taught me many lessons, and I have so many great memories with each doing the Lord's work. Elder Forsyth was no exception to this list. I couldn't help but wipe away a tear when we hugged for the last time in the mission field.

After transfer day, our schedule freed up a tad, and we were able to get some good lessons, member visits, and contacting sessions in. 
Sora Stoica and I

Sora Stoica spoiled us with sarmale and mamaliga (a personal fav), and we got to have a great lesson with an investigator that we are teaching from Craiova about the priesthood. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost witness to me and to Petru that the priesthood- God's power and authority- has been restored to the earth under the direction of Joseph Smith. 
Us and Petru... phenomenal guy

I had another really cool experience while contacting in Piata Romana. I stopped a guy who was initially not interested in religion because he had a lot doubts about God. After talking for a little, I started to ask inspired questions and then after talking about how I know God is real, something clicked in his brain and started to become curious in how a belief in God could help him in his life. By the end he had accepted a Book of Mormon and was on his way. I stood there a little shocked, reviewing what had just happened. The moment when he became curious about how a belief in God could help him, I was able to teach to his need, and testify with power. It reminded me a little bit of Ammon's experience in the Book of Mormon.

Alma 1834 Ammon said unto him: I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true;
35 And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.

Pretty cool verses that I can say are TRUE! We can have the experiences that the great heroes from the Book of Mormon and the Bible have.

We had been planning a trip to Craiova for about two months, and all this week we prepared and helped the members prepare in various ways. I had the thought that I should see if I could locate the old area book for Craiova, as there are currently no missionaries in that city. The DeSpains (Senior couple that are serving in the office) helped me find it and I was able to look back at all of the past people that I had met and invited them to church. 

Early Sunday morning we took off with the Hettinger family and made the long journey to see our fellow brothers and sister in Craiova. The church building had just been remodeled and looked amazing! I honestly felt like a super star... everyone was so excited to see me and I was excited to see them. In total we had twenty-four people at church, and eleven of those were investigators... that is definitely a new high for that branch! During sacrament meeting, I played the guitar just like old times. After finishing "I'm trying to be like Jesus," the whole room got quiet, and then burst into applause! Super funny, and I loved feeling their energy. The best part was singing "Eu cred in Hristos," as we started singing I felt a great love for the people here, and for their desire to learn about Jesus Christ. This branch, like most branches in Romania, have a lot of work to be done, but I know that God is mindful of each one!
A walk in the park with the crew!

After church, we had a lunch all together and got to visit for a while. Mirela is doing well, sure do love my Romanian mom! Craiova has a special place in my heart!  

We finished this crazy week with a P-day hike and added a couple of miles to our total for this week.
Super duper foggy today

Capra neagra

I love spring hiking

Pioneer club in Romania!

ET si ED

Elder Jacobson and me

Band of brothers
This is what a classic communist Romanian city looks like.

I don't know if it was just super humid, if I was out of shape, or if the Ditto genes caught up to me, but I was a sweaty guy! I feel refreshed and ready to go for another crazy and busy week.

Love you all!

Elder Ditto
I love traditional Romanian garb

People were doing the hora in the hall!

Romanian Folklore night

We had primary today!

The kids loved the guitar!