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, August 21, 2017

Just a Dang Solid Week of Preachin' the Gospel

Hey everyone!!!

Well another lightning fast week with some incredible experiences. The week was kicked off by Zone Conference. I enjoyed each moment of being with so many great people and friends, not to mention Elder Bontempo and I ordered 15 medium sized pizzas from Dominos for the lunch, each equipped with Philadelphia cream cheese...

We had the opportunity to present about the importance of making daily goals and raising our level of commitment. I felt like our words were guided by the spirit and we were able to get the missionaries pumped! It is so much fun being in this gigantic city with many missionaries and help each other catch the wave of commitment to teaching repentance and baptizing converts!

Elder Bontempo and I worked our buns off again- walking and travelling by metro many kilometers, and helping our friends come to know their Savior more as we bore bold testimonies with the spirit.
A great evening in Cismigiu

Real quick a couple of amazing experiences...

We are helping our friend Vio get ready for baptism! We taught him most of the commandments this week. Ever since Vio felt like he should come into the church to see when we have sacrament meeting, he has had a fairly easy time accepting the truths of the restored gospel. As we taught him the Word of Wisdom, it was all good until we said "coffee." Yup! He likes his coffee. As we talked with him and helped Vio understand why God gives us commandments, his attitude began to change from "I can't," to "I want to, because I know the Lord will bless me!" What a tender mercy!!!! From then on no more coffee from Vio and he tells us everyday!

We also had many opportunities to teach about the role of the Book of Mormon. I find it so amazing that someone who seems to have no faith in God, or no desire to change, can have a paradigm shift as I testify of the truthfulness and the reality that Joseph Smith did translate this book by the power of God. The Book of Mormon truly does bring man closer to God than any other book.

Finally, Mom said that she prayed for my "tongue to be loosened." I have felt discouraged at times with speaking Romanian. This week I truly felt like God blessed me with the gift of tongues. There is nothing cooler than saying a crazy sentence in Romanian and then thinking to yourself, "Did I just say that!?" The miracle is that it wasn't by my own power, but God's!
George and I

I know that the Lord is the author of this work, and he blesses those that keep His commandments and come unto him. Hurrah!

Love,

Elder Ditto

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Good News Is For Everyone

Hey family!!

Crazy that it's almost the end of summer, and what's even crazier is that today marks my half way mark of my mission. Nu vin sa cred! Just like time on the mission, this email is going to be lightning fast, because I have some other stuff that needs to be done! 
A little bike trip to celebrate Mihai leaving on his mission!

Sorina and George... true friends

This week was good in terms of missionary work. We set a baptismal date with one of our friends, and taught many people about the reality of Christ's restored church on earth. I had many opportunities to learn from my experiences. The Lord has been giving many new opportunities to learn new things here in Bucharest. It has been fun being a leader over the missionaries in Bucharest [Alex is a zone leader]. I am learning how to love and be an example in words and in deeds. 
Playing with Ianis

Elder Stanciu and Ditto

Besides from committing our friend, Vio, to baptism, there was another really awesome experience. There is a great man in our English class who we have felt for a long time that we need to talk to him about the gospel. We had been trying to set an appointment with him for quite a while, and finally we made one- and we were going to bowl with him and his wife! Turns out that his wife couldn't come, and that he invited some of the other English students. That was fine, but we were nervous that we weren't going to be able to have a good conversation with him about the gospel.

So we get to the mall and head over to the bowling alley and wham! All of the lanes are booked for the evening. We decided that we would try and go to another mall. At this point we were pretty nervous that we weren't going to have an opportunity to talk with him. Just then, he offered us a ride to the other mall. We joyfully accepted, and he even invited another guy to go with us in the car, but he rejected the offer... 

And then it was just us and our friend. 

As we drove through the horrible traffic of Bucharest, we talked about many things, and he expressed that he didn't even know why he took his car. Eventually, we asked him if he had ever talked with the missionaries about our believes. He said he hadn't and this led in to an incredible discussion about the Plan of Salvation and the Book of Mormon

We arrived at the mall, thanking God that he blessed us with an opportunity to talk with this man about the gospel. He was curious, and we were able to give him many answers, and invited him to learn for himself. 

What a tender mercy!! I know that I am on the Lord's errand, and that he knows the needs of His children. I am thankful to see God's hands in the details of my life.
Mirela came for a visit!

I know that this work is directed of God. Jesus Christ lives, and as we base our lives upon the teachings of Jesus Christ's gospel, we will be forever blessed and have more happiness in this life than we could ever have otherwise.

I love all of you!
Ginormous clams in lacul herestrau

It Never Gets Old... the Lord is Guiding Our Steps!

Hey fam! 

Well, Elder Bontempo and I worked our tails off this week. We definitely saw the fruits of our labors, too! 
Working hard from dawn till sunset!

I want to start off sharing a little scripture that I read this week from one of the greatest missionaries, Paul himself.

Romans 1:1616 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Let me explain why this scripture hit me hard. In Bucharest, the fastest and most efficient way to travel is by metro. You can get from the north part of Bucharest to the south in about 30 minutes or so... that's lightning! Most times I try to talk to people, assuming I can hear them as the metro can be pretty noisy sometimes. That particular ride, I was doing a little thing called "people watching." No it's not be a creep-o, it's just a form of observation and reflection! As I was deep in thought, I realized that even though so many people seem like they are well-off and strong on their own, without God, they are nothing. This goes the same for my life! That's when I realized the significance of Paul's words... the gospel of Jesus Christ IS the power of God unto salvation... to everyone!!! That means that, wherever we are in life, we can improve our relationship with God. That's why I am a missionary, pretty simple!
Elder Krieger always told me about these... happened to find them in an international market. Proud to say I too am a weet bix kid!!!

The reality that God truly has provided a path for each of his children to follow and be blessed through the gospel of Jesus Christ was so evident in every single day of the work this week. It seemed like every time we stepped out of the house, the Lord placed some one in our path or helped prepare us to say words that were not our own, but words from Heavenly Father to his beloved children here in Romania. 
A communist truck... photo credit: Elder Bontempo

One day we decided to go to Piata Unirii for a companionship study. We were waiting at a stop light when a lady asked us if we know Jesus. We turned around and were like... uh better believe it! She went on saying her son (right next to her) doesn't believe in Jesus and wanted us to talk to him. That was the awkward part. Eventually, after getting to know the mother and the son, we had a great discussion about how the Book of Mormon can help us strengthen and come to understand how and why Jesus Christ is so important in our lives. The kid loved it and said that he wanted to meet up. Praying that we will be able to!

Another wonderful experience... We planned to meet with a great brother in the branch named Fratele Gabi Marin. He is a great and humble man who doesn't have a whole lot in his life. He wanted to meet us at a certain metro station and then go to a little park that is surrounded by communist blocks. There were no open benches except one that was two feet facing another bench with a couple occupying it. We asked if we could sit on the other one and they said ok, but chuckling. We awkwardly had our own conversation with Fratele Gabi, until brave Elder Bontempo brought the couple into the conversation. As we began to talk, they couple began to have religious questions that turned into a whole lesson. Fratele Gabi was able to share his conversion story as well as his testimony. What a wonderful sight to see-  a Romanian testifying of truth to another Romanian! My heart was touched. We concluded the conversation, got their numbers and parted ways, empty handed as we had given them our copies of the Cartea Lui Mormon. 
Piata Obor
The iconic Mega Image... Bucharest's favorite grocery mart

Two days later, we called up the woman and she accepted our request to visit her. We taught her The Plan of Salvation, testified of the importance of families in this life, and the essential truth that God is our Heavenly Father. The spirit was strong and I could see her gears turning- The Plan of God that has been restored by modern day revelation through Joseph Smith is TRUE! What a blessing it was to see how God led us to this woman and softened her heart as she listened to our message. 
First time heating up milk... apparently you have to constantly stir!! 

Like Paul, I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation. What a special opportunity I have to share this knowledge and invitation to the people of Romania!
Our friend Cristian. Incredible lesson with him!

I love all of you, and appreciate the love and support through prayers, emails, letters, etc.

Till next time!

Elder Ditto
A stadium in the middle of a communist neighborhood

A neighborhood fotbal cage

A trolli hamburger... just as weirdly delicious as I remembered

Monday, July 31, 2017

Let the Holy Spirit Guide

Hey family!! 

This week was an interesting one. Kind of a week of opposites in fact. There were some incredibly uplifting experiences with friends who are looking for truth and more happiness in their lives, and then there were some experiences that were not so much like that. 
Just enjoying life as a missionary.
To start with the most amazing experience of the week- it begins with our friend, Florin. We have known Florin for quite a while now, and after a series of amazing meetings with him, he began to deeply consider our message. He began to read the Book of Mormon, to pray, read talks from the prophets and apostles, you know, all of the things that qualify you to receive the promised blessings from God! As he did these things with real intent and a sincere desire to find out if it was true, God gave him an answer, that the Book of Mormon is true, and the He really does care about Florin. This alone brings so much joy to my heart. To see a young man who is pure in heart and eager for truth something is awe-striking. 
European architecture... never gets old

Church squad of Mihai Bravu

We asked President Hettinger and his wife if we could have a lesson at their home with Florin. They were of course extra nice and prepared an Italian dinner equipped with monster cookies (yes, my favorite!) at the end. The Hettinger family are some of the nicest people that I have ever met. I can see the light of Christ in them and their desire to follow the Savior with true purpose of heart. 
Cismigiu model shot in the rain

As we talked after dinner with Florin all together, the spirit began to fill the room. It was fitting, considering the fact that the lesson was focused on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. As we shared our own experiences with one another, read verses from the Bible and Book of Mormon, and testified, there was no doubt that everyone in the room was filled with the conviction that what we were speaking about was true. 
Photo credit- Elder Bontempo

I felt the spirit especially strong two times. Well three. No four... AH JUST SO MANY TIMES!

The first was when I shared a story about receiving guidance from the Holy Ghost in a crucial moment of my life, when I was deciding whether or not to do Running Start. I could feel the truth and power in my words as I testified of the reality that the Spirit does guide us in our lives. 

The second was when Sora Hettinger invited Florin to be baptized... the invitation to be baptized is an invitation to follow Christ and receive the blessings that he has promised us when we make the covenant of baptism. 

The last one I will mention is when Florin bore his testimony. Whether he knew it or not, he was bearing witness of truths that were so simple and pure, ones that the Savior taught long ago, but are ever so much essential in our lives. The Book of Mormon, repentance, following the prophet, all of these things he testified with a pure heart. And the spirit was incredibly strong. His testimony strengthened mine, the spirit at that time witnessed to me again that this work is true- that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored again to the earth! Hallelujah!
Our favorite means of contacting

Got stuck outside in a rain storm..

Well now I don't even want to talk about the negative experiences... to keep it brief- a lot of people this week also questioned and challenged the idea that one can receive a divine witness from God that something is true. Placebo effect, energy, there is no God, being raised in a certain environment... these are some examples of the doubts that were presented to me. It saddened me, because these people weren't willing to experiment upon the word- to take the challenge that by the power of the Holy Ghost you might know all things. Yes, that means reading with a heart willing to change and do the will of God! I realized that no matter how much you try to talk them into it, my words are at no use if I don't have the spirit, or if they are not willing to listen to the feelings that they receive that come from the Holy Ghost- the source to finding all truth!

John 1426 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

This is true, and how wonderful is it that I have the opportunity to help other people receive the gift of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost! I know that the Holy Ghost is real, that the feelings we receive when something feels true, or the feelings of comfort we get when we are down or distressed don't come because of psychological feelings, but because of the fact that we are children of God, and He sent his son that through him we might be saved and have someone who will never leave us hanging- the Comforter- that same one that is mentioned in like a million verses of scripture not just in the Book of Mormon but the Bible too!!!
A little bit of English class promotion

Language study

It is really neat seeing these principles in a great light as I strive to live the gospel more fully and help others do the same- what a blessing!

Each one of you are a blessing in my life too- lets have a great week!

Your brother and friend rooting in Romania,

Alex

A pigeon pic for Chloe and Alysee!

Bucuresti

University area

This dude had a sick bike... I showed him the sick book!
Real Mexican food... I am in heaven!

Monday, July 24, 2017

He's in the details

Woo nelly!!! Another fast-paced week here in the capital of Romania. 
The streets of Buc

Well, turned 19 this week which is crazy to me! I am really grateful that I chose to go on my mission at 18- this year has been full of adventures, opportunities, triumphs, heart-aches- all for my good. I am truly grateful that I can be a missionary for the Lord, and see His children of Romania a little more like he does. 
George... a true friend.

La Multi Ani!

PUMPED about the ultra star!

Flower from Mirela and cake from George 

Birthday party!

Dream come true.. Bucharest Open!

Fun birthday night

The longer I am out, the more I realize how simple my mission should be. I have used a lot of different contacting, teaching, and studying methods in the pass year and I think I am finally starting to understand what really works for me, and what the Lord wants and expects from me. 

There is this book. It is called the Book of Mormon! Most of the world doesn't really have a clue about what is really contained in the book. Those who read it understand that it is a book claimed to be written by ancient prophets that lived in America before and after Jesus Christ, that contains the record of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. Those who truly study out the words, with a desire to know if the Book of Mormon is the word of God, will come to the realization that it is so much more than just a history book, but holy scripture that is written for these latter days! It contains the word of God- the Gospel of Jesus Christ in it's purest state! It contains stories of the triumphs and heart-aches of fathers, brothers, kings, and servants, and if carefully read and applied, it will change your life and you will feel the love of God for you more fully.

This is what I shared this week with a whole heap of people. We decided to do "Book of Mormon" contacting with a lot of the elders in our zone... the most success I have had on my mission regarding teaching people about the Book of Mormon! We stood near the entrance of a park and just started conversations with anyone who was willing to talk. It is incredible to see how so many people have the desire to strengthen their relationship with God in this world... it is a universal craving because GOD IS OUR FATHER. What a miracle it is that God gave us another book of scripture to help remind us of this and help us come closer to him. I know that this is true because I see it in the details of my life everyday.

Back to the part where I said that God is our father. He is more than just a father, he is our LOVING Heavenly Father. This is something that I have truly come to more fully understand not just this week, but every day of my mission. 


Here is a little witness-

It was blistering hot on my birthday, and there we were, at the entrance of Cismigiu park doing what we do best. After a solid two hours of talking and testifying, we decided to head out. As we were walking down the street we heard a loud "pop" noise and saw an old car pull over on the side of the road. We noticed the tire was flat and so we ran over there. 
Team Les Schwab

Thirty minutes later, the old lady's spare wheel was all snug on the axle and ready to be driven away (there might have been some minor issues along the way like having one of the lug nuts supporting the weight of the car as we had to readjust the jack...). The kind old lady was so thankful and was in a rush trying to get to a ceremony of some sort. She was able to leave quickly and not be too late to her event. 

I love two things about this experience.

1. All of the Romanians who passed by us just stared and many told us that we were not going to be able to fix the tire. I think they forgot that they were talking to four Eagle Scouts who are from the land of Les Schwab...

2. And most importantly... I realized that the hand of God was in this. God knew that we would be walking down the street right when the lady's tire would pop. We were able to answer the call of duty and help her out, just as Christ would have done. Truly, God cares about that woman and wants her to be happy, because he IS her loving Heavenly Father. He cares about each one of us and wants us to have success and happiness. What a blessing that I got to witness this!

Well, I am currently out of time, but just in some other news, my birthday was great; I was really treated like a king by many people. I had an incredible birthday dinner form the amazing Sora Gorzo with homemade tiramisu cake... YUM! I also got to go to the Bucharest Open tennis tournament... wow that was incredible. Yup, just living the life!

I love you all,

Elder Ditto
Cruisin in the maxi _taxi

Scrumptious.

The Brinarus!
Exchanges with Elder Cowser

Monday, July 17, 2017

Agency and Anchors

Hey everyone!!!

Man I forgot how busy summer is at our house, glad everyone is safe and happy! I have so many fond memories of the many activities that I did during summer throughout the years. When Dad told me I did that beach hike five years ago, I literally could not believe that... way too long ago!!! I really miss hiking in the northwest, but the Lord is making it up as he blessed me with many learning experiences and miracles this week.

Bucharest is a really special place. The work here is thriving, some may say it is because there are so many people in this immense and complex, communist-feeling city, others say because we have members and two chapels, cool places to meet people, etc. I think those points all have their place, but the biggest reason and factor is our dedication and faith in the Lord that we WILL find people. 
I love Romania!!!!




We were blessed with finding a lot of interested people, whether it be through our contacting efforts, calling area book contacts, or referrals from already investigator friends! We had the opportunity to have many lessons with our investigators with some of our awesome members from the Mihai Bravu branch, which was a huge blessing. When I see a Romanian testify of the truthfulness of the gospel to another Romanian, my heart melts a little. Christ is truly the head of his church and is strengthening his children in Romania to help others. I am reminded that it is not just my efforts that matter, but the collective effort between missionaries, members, and even friends of the church. Every action counts! People notice how members of the church behave! 
Coming home after a visit at a member's house


Chilling at the piata in Universitate

Some kendama slayers near our apartment... they were pretty impressed that I could play!

This week I learned a lot about myself through analyzing how I choose to act each day. To be honest, I was a grouchy-pants a couple of days this week. I was doing work, but I was letting some really small things get in the way of my attitude. 

Practicing my photography

Crazy how elaborate these churches are!

Some saints in the orthodox church

The church is designed like a cross

Where the priest chants scriptures from the bible

Witnessing painters paint some orthodox saints in a cathedral

In the beginning, Adam and Eve had the opportunity to stay in the Garden of Eden forever and have all of their needs taken care of. They were warned that if they partook of the forbidden fruit, they would "surely die." They weighed their two choices and used their agency to choose to partake of the fruit. This meant that they would be thrown out of the Garden of Eden and would become subject to temptation of the flesh. BUT this also meant that they would have the opportunity to overcome these temptations and PROGRESS. They fell that they, and everyone after them, might have joy. 
Me and my friend Lee from Korea

As I reflected on this over the past couple of days, I realized that I have the opportunity to choose for myself every day if I want to take part in this joy that will surely come if I progress, if I overcome the "natural man." 

2 Nephi 2:27 "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."

Where does this joy come from? Another scripture that I really loved this week has the answer...

Ether 12:4 "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."

I know that this joy come from anchoring yourself to Jesus Christ. When we get a little shaken up on the surface, we can always re-direct ourselves if our anchor is our Savior. I know that joy comes from following the Savior and doing as he did and still does. I am grateful that I have the knowledge of the fullness of His gospel to help guide me in paths of righteousness in the midst of great darkness that surrounds us each day. 

This is what I learned as I taught others about this same principle. What a blessing it is to be on the errand of the Lord, and seeing His gospel give people the peace, the hope, the purpose that they are so desperate to find!

I love you all, and am thankful that I have such a wonderful family to be anchored to!

All my love,
Alex
Soccer on Pday!

Lunch with the Elders


Incredibly delicious dessert


Elder Bontempo and I... bros for life!
Elder Green and I on exchanges