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, January 15, 2018

Munca Misionara in Stilul Iernii!

Good morning fam!!!!

Well this week was cold. BUT AWESOME! Elder Quist made the comment that in Canada it is like -22 Celsius (here is like -2), but he never had to stay outside in that kind of weather. So, we are grateful that is is only -2 degrees Celsius! 
Bravin the cold!
Older man in a small town called Ialoveni

Cold means that people are inside, or at least trying to find warmth. That same friend who was going to have to live outside, ended up finding a place to stay for a week. He works outside all day, and when we met up with him, we offered him an extra coat and gloves that we had lying around in the apartment. His face lit up and said that he would love that so much. We ran home and brought him those warm layers, along with some hottie hand-warmers that I had gotten, and a treat. The gratitude that he expressed was simple and from the heart. Elder Quist and felt a lot warmer after that tender experience. 

We saw the Lord work through us in many ways this week. I have been really striving to listen to the still small voice that we call the Holy Ghost, and acting at all costs on the impressions that I receive. This led to us back tracking where we walked to find a man and his son, who turned out to be interested in hearing our message! I am reminded of Elder Rasband's talk about being a first prompting responder. I know that as we follow the promptings to do good, to talk to someone, or whatever it may be, the Lord will use us to bless His children. 

As we went about doing good, and talking with everyone, the Lord gave us little miracles, in ways that we weren't expecting. During a long night of block knocking,  a young man walked down the stair well, and immediately looked at the Book of Mormon that I was holding. He was intrigued, and wanted to know more! We testified to him of the truthfulness of the book, and he took one. Hoping to meet up with him this week! 

SUN!!!!

Another night, we were block knocking (we do this a whole dang lot!), and didn't have much success until the last door, when I mother opened the door and accepted a return visit to hear our message. Last night, we taught well, not the family but her three teenage daughters Elvira, Maghizar, and Samaia the restoration... I wasn't expecting that and was frankly quite uncomfortable at the beginning as we sat in the small kitchen with the girls. Thankfully, we found out that the mom and forgotten that the day she scheduled with us was her birthday and was going to have guests over!!! That meant next time it was going to be the whole family!!! But in those 45 minutes, we taught those daughters of God about their Heavenly Father, His plan that he has for us, and the guidance that he has given us. We showed them that their questions can be answered through studying the Book of Mormon. It was a really amazing experience at the end of the day!
Eu sunt in reprezintant al lui Isus Hristos!

Orthodox church in the works of being built... they build everything with those weird brick paver things

So, in spite of the cold, the rejection, seemingly awkward experiences, and random challenges, this week was quite wonderful. I know that the Lord blesses us after we show our faith in him... day in and day out. And after the trial of our faith, we see how much the Lord truly did bless us!
Elder Coberly is headed to Romania... Had a pizza good bye lunch to celebrate his awesomness!

Sora Gorgos...a wonderful and humble woman

This is a very Europeany posed picture

I love you all!!! Keep being awesome and good luck on finals!

Love,
Elder Ditto

Monday, January 8, 2018

Rejoice! The Lord is King

Hey fam bam!!!

First of all I just need to give a big shout out to momma for putting together those AMAZING posts about the family happenings during the Christmas time... I laughed out loud way too many times seeing all of the great pictures of each one of you! So thanks, mother dear!
Artsy shot!

This week was just a rock solid, dirt hard, full of little tender mercies, great week! As I looked over my journal, I picked out a few events that really portray missionary life here in Moldova. This week really put life into perspective, and I found a couple of great scripture stories that helped me continue to stay courageous and do hard things!


We have spent a lot of time on the streets and in soviet-built blocks this week. This has brought some cool experiences, some scary ones, and also heart-wrenching. Moldova really is at another level of poverty and corruption. I have seen so many people scavenging through the garbage to find something to eat, right next to a brand new BMW. I have also talked to kids that have absolutely nothing but a little souvenir that they are trying to sell. I have also talked to these kids and have seen their humility and faith in God. I am friends with someone who we had been teaching who has no place to stay until he gets his small salary in a week so he will have to stay on the streets. Imagine getting 100 dollars (maybe) to live on every month. This is the majority of people here. As a missionary I do not have permission to give money, so I try to think of other ways to help these people. I know that the Lord looks after his children, though. And that although our lives are different and we all have our own trials, all of them will be for our good, if we put our confidence in the Lord.
I feel like the Lord has opened another chamber of my heart -- I am just LOVING the Moldovan people!

One of my favorite experiences this week was teaching a young father what it means to repent, and that the Lord invites all to learn of him, no matter what mistakes you have made. The spirit was there, and I saw the Spirit enlightening the man. 
Elder Quist and I with friends.


Just ten minutes after that in the same block, we knocked on a door when a younger man opened. In Russian he asked, "How did you get in here?" (Luckily) he spoke English... and quickly commanded us to leave. We told him we that we didn't want to bother him, but he insisted that we leave the block. He put on his shoes and "escorted" us out of that block. It blew my mind how big of a contrast those two experiences were!

Luke 622 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

This is a very humbling and invigorating promise from the Lord Jesus Christ himself! I have nothing really to add to this... this what it's all about! 
Putting out crockpot into good use.

I bought a little Nativity made out of corn husks by this man.  I hope it makes it home okay.

Rejoice! the Lord is King.

Love,

Elder Ditto

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 and Beyond... Learning to follow the Savior!

Hey ya'll!!! Man, sounds like the Christmas and New Years festivities were LIT this year!!! I almost started tearing up because of how happy I was too see that little video of all the Ditto's saying "hi" and "I love you" or that they got a new tie and are not wearing it 😊 I feel so dang blessed to have a wonderful immediate family and extended and then everyone in between! Truly the gospel of Jesus Christ brings all mankind together, for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ!
Exploring Durlești (a town in Chișinău municipality, Moldova)

This week... was really packed with goodness. Moldovans sure like to party and sometimes a little too hard- walking the streets of Chisinau this morning there were endless bottles of wine and beer, used fireworks, and confetti. Yesterday we had to go inside early because the streets were getting pretty busy and rambunctious... fireworks going off in the streets and too many drunk people! It was a weird thing to see, it reminded me how keeping the commandments really does set you free, and that the devil wants to trick us into thinking that what the world does is desirable. 
Fotbal squad!

I think we were a little tired.
I am really excited for this new year... last year was incredible, and I am determined to make this one even better. Looking back a year ago, the Lord has truly been with me every step of the way, even in those times where I am not looking. He has helped me improve in so many aspects and I have even picked up some new hobbies and discovered hidden talents. 

This week the Lord reminded me that though I have improved and become stronger, I have so much more room to grow! You know, that is the coolest part about this life- there is ALWAYS more to learn! 

So here is my refiners fire story for the week. To set the scene- this week was a pretty hard week in terms of teaching people. The Moldovan people are prettyyy flaky and it is not common to be "bunged" (having a planned meeting and then they don't show up) so we had a lot of time to talk with people on the streets and in their homes, or at least in their blocks... So at times it seemed like no one in this whole entire country wants the gospel, at other times the Lord does grant us opportunities to meet with God's children that are ready. The hardest thing is to have unshaken faith, especially when it is 7 pm and you are in the scariest block in all of Chisinau and everyone slams the door on you! 

Well, I am going off track now, but I need to share this tender mercy that was a result because of our effort to maintain unshaken faith. Friday it rained all stinkin day, and Elder Quist and I did not have anyone to teach for that day. We felt like we should go and visit a less-active and after some help from a very orthodox lady, we arrived at her block. We found apartamentul 903 and knocked. A nice lady opened the door and we asked her if she knew this lady. She did not know this less-active lady, but then realized that she lives in 903! *side note: knocking one door in a block here in Moldova many times may be an extension to more apartments. Its complicated* We explained that we are missionaries, and have a message about Jesus Christ. She said that she had five minutes and so we began to teach her the message of the restoration of the gospel. 
Endless blocks...

Fifteen minutes ended up passing, and during that time I saw her touched by the spirit, especially as we testified of the prophet Joseph Smith. There was a special spirit about that meeting, and Valeria wanted to read the Book of Mormon. This experience transformed that rainy day into a faith building journey! I remember praying to God that day, pleading to give us some one to teach. After the trial of our faith, he delivered!

This pattern of working hard and having little rays of tender mercies lighten our days is actually a pattern that is truly present in our lives EVERYDAY... sometimes we just gotta look a little harder!
Funny sign.

I'm singing in the rain!

Amidst the daily struggles that come from missionary work, the Lord gave me a couple of other opportunities to learn and grow. I was humbled as I spoke to a man on the street who ended up challenging me to recite all of the Ten Commandments in order. At the fourth one I messed up, and he criticized me for coming here and teaching people about Jesus Christ when I don't even know the Ten Commandments! This made me a tad angry, and I criticized back maybe just a tad. At the end of the conversation, I got really heated a walked away. I felt like he defeated me, mainly because of the way I behaved. I could have been more like the Savior and meekly stood up for what I believed and acknowledged his argument! After talking with one of the senior missionaries that was nearby, I got the conclusion to go up and tell that man (who was back on his phone near where we had had our conversation) "thank you" for helping me realize that I needed to memorize the Ten Commandments. I told him that I would, and then he told me that I better start living them. I smiled, assured him that I would, and walked away. 

The ironic thing is that he told me that he doesn't live them!

SO. From that experience I learned "yes" about how to diffuse a controversial argument, but I also learned a little more about my Savior. He loves all men. He has taught us to be slow to anger, to love our enemies, and to do good to those that hate you. He also has taught us to have unshaken faith in him, and trust in his promised blessings. 

Becoming like the Savior is a life long journey, and that journey is full of ups and downs, mistakes and triumphs, but he is with us every step of the way!

Here's to a great 2018!
A nice Russian babushka took this for us!

La multi ani!!!

Elder Ditto

PS If you haven't committed the Ten Commandments to memory... do that this week!!! That is what I am doing😉

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017 in Moldova

The following post is taken from notes that I took while we had our special Christmas skype call with Elder Ditto:


  • official language in Moldova is Romanian.  There are still lots of Russian signs.
  • we teach an English class and have about twelve people in attendance.  It is held at the Learning Center which is a nice building that President Ivory purchased
  • President Hettinger gave Alex two charges when he transferred to Moldova - strengthen in the Romanian branch (there is also a Russian branch in the same town) and baptize
  • the branch had a great Christmas activity where Alex played his guitar and sang "Mary, did you know" translated into Romanian



  • the people in Chisinau, Moldova seem either so passionate about the country or so poor that they want to leave
  • there are LOTS of beggers
  • the branch president is a very poor man with a small baby.  The missionaries try to help his family.
  • Alex says that they often take the "maxi taxi" which is a van that is converted into a bus
  • the missionaries got to watch "Star Wars - Rouge One" for Christmas
  • Moldova is not made for cars
  • Elder Ditto does not currently have a leadership position in church or as a missionary but said he is able to be a leader through his actions
  • spoke about Mirela being such a beacon of light since finding the gospel.
  • bore a testimony of the importance of us each being a missionary through our actions


Two young boys caroling at Elder Ditto's door
Thanks Ami and Poppi for the package!



Favorite family in Chisinau


Christmas Branch Party


Streets of Chisinau


These guys to yoga every day like this.

If you are interested in listening to our 40 minute conversation here is the recording:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uwjvATfFRtXOjlTbKe3bm8WKMy_fVeKz/view?usp=sharing

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hallelujah!

Craciun Fericit!!!!

Man I can't even believe it's already here... I have so many fond memories of our Ditto Christmas traditions, we are so blessed to be knit together through prayer, fun, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dad sent me a picture of the living room... I think this is like the 6th time he has done this since being on my mission! haha I think I have seen him the happiest and most peaceful when he sits on the grey comfy chair looking at the family finances or reading his scriptures when the whole upstairs is silent. Just to be clear I am totally not making fun of Dad!!!!! hahaha
A cool little statue that I just had to jump off.

When I read his letter, I was reminded of my own living room experience this week. This living room didn't actually look anything like ours, and in fact it smelled quite funny. I was on a trolley bus riding to the church, and a woman tried to pay the ticket guy who receives 2 lei from everyone and in return gives them a ticket. Pretty horrible system but that is how it is... 
The Chisinau Romana District

So the lady gave him 200 lei and he wasn't too happy and had to get in to his other giant wad of money to get the right change. I offered to pay for her but the man said that he would get the change. The bus right at that moment hit a bump and everyone ran into each other and his money went flying. He was NOT a happy camper. 

After the whole situation was resolved, everyone went back into their little bubbles and that was that. Being 6 feet tall I get a nice look at everyone's scalps, and I decided to kind of look around and observe. I thought about the Plan of Salvation and the fact that we are all God's children. Then I thought about all of the people around me and how most of them don't have this eternal perspective, and that we all have some sort of trial or struggle in life. I then felt a burst of peace... for two reasons.

1st - Knowing that my peace comes from Jesus Christ. I have really tried to put an emphasis on Jesus Christ in all that I do and say this month. I have learned a lot about him, as I have learned about his teachings. I have come to know him as I have applied these things! I know that Chirst IS the Savior of the World! I know that he truly did live and die, and then live again for each and everyone of us. My favorite scripture to share lately is found in 3 Nephi, and invitation from the Savior himself!

3 Nephi 18:24 Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.

He truly is the light of the world, and we can too!

2nd - I felt peace knowing that the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring this peace into their lives! This week was rough, and there was a lot of rejection, but the Lord blessed us with little bursts of light, witnessing the light of Christ influence the lives of those to whom I bore testimony of Him. 
Elder Krylborn and I on an exchange headed to Dancu... this was much needed breath of fresh air!

A valley in the heart of Moldova

An artsy shot for ya'll

This shot was taken on the way to a little village. The people of Moldova are very poor but have good hearts and find joy in their circumstances!
Romania just across the forest...

You know, life isn't easy! Christ's life wasn't easy. That's pretty interesting that we celebrate his life. Do we really understand what he truly did for us? This Christmas season we do good and serve and sing and love because of our hope that the Savior brings us. Hallelujah! 

3 Nephi 5:13Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.

This Christmas season, I am humbled to wear his name on my chest, to bring forth the blessed news that we all might have everlasting life!!! 
Fratele George and us... He built (is building) this house... incredible!

This man had gathered up a bunch of thrown out sheep wool, cleaned it, and then put in on the third floor as insulation.

The Moldovan doors open up outwards instead of inwards...

The Moldovan countryside

Thank you Mom, Dad, Tyler, Alysee, Nathan, Cooper, and Chloe for being the best. We are so blessed and I am proud to call each one of you my best friends. Thanks for your prayers, love, letters, packages, etc. MAN I AM LUCKY!
We block knocked this week... a lot!

See you face-to-face next week!!!

Love,
Alex

Monday, December 11, 2017

Strange Land....learning NOT to be a stranger

Buna zuia de la Chisinau!!!!

Man this week has just opened up my eyes to a whole new way of thinking... Did you know you can buy milk in a bag, or pay a dude 30 cents and you can go literally anywhere in the city along with the other thirty people crammed in to a little bus, or the fact that Russians and most Moldovan celebrate Christmas on the "new day" (7 Jan) instead of the "old day" (25 Dec)? I think it is safe to say that I feel like I am in a whole 'nother world over here in the Republic of Moldova. Have you ever looked at a map of this place!? We are literally bordering Ukraine! 

Elder Quist and I!

I live in the capital city - Chisinau

I'll just start back in Bucharest when everything was normal. We met up with Elder Baker and the three of us got on to a train that would take us from Bucharest to Chisinau in 15 hours... we left at 7:15pm and arrived around 9:30am the next day. I don't know what you imagine when you think of a train, but it probably was not the kind of train that I was on. This bad boy is straight from the communist regime, where everything is written in Russian, and you can bet 1,000,000 Moldavian lei that somebody has probably peed in the little cot that I was sleeping in. We had a TON of luggage, and thankfully it all fit our little room with three other sweet communist bunks. We made ourselves at home, which gave us the weird feeling that "home" was in 1960 when these trains were probably pretty cool.
Chillin' in our bunk

Elder Baker... my cherished friend

Elder Baker and I played a little guitar, we chatted for a little, and then we were off to sleep. Come 2am, we were woken up by the train lady saying that we were on the border of the two countries. 4 hours later we had made it through customs, and they had lifted up every single car and switched the European train wheel thingys to the Russians ones. It was pretty neat to see how they did it, but man, I would never want to be the worker do that at 4 am in the morning in December...


We finally made it to Chisinau feeling 50% rested, but excited to see our new home. We parted ways with Elder Baker, and some of the Russian missionaries helped us get our bags and everything to our apartment. It is a huge one, kinda old, but I absolutely love it now that we put up a Christmas tree and lights :) 
Some fellows walking home on a snowy day.

Elder Quist and I got right to work by looking at the Area Book, setting up some companionship goals and what not, and then got out and contacted because, well, we knew no one! I felt pretty overwhelmed because I am a man of order, and I felt like so many things were out of my control at that point. Everything was foreign, and even the Moldovans who speak Romanian don't even claim that it's Romanian- its Moldovaneste! Just think speaking English with a Russian accent and that is it. I thought it was the ugliest thing! The first guy I met was speaking to me in this weird language and I was just in shock that nobody had a pure, beautiful Romanian accent. Thankfully, this nice fellow guided us to a currency exchange place where I got rid of all my Romanian lei and switched it to the Moldovan stuff, which is worth even less (17 Moldovan lei to a dollar) This brings up the next concern... Elder Quist and I had no clue how much to spend on groceries! Everyone says you can just eat out everyday here... but it is hard to just drop 40-60 lei every time you want to eat something!
Stefan Cel Mare... the center of Chisinau

Centru lit up

Chisinau itself is a fairly beautiful city. It is the capital of Moldova, and is built on 7 hills... I like to dream that they are mountains! Just yesterday as we were walking home through the dirty streets, it dawned on me as to how foreign this land really is. I honestly could have never dreamed about something like this. Moldova is not part of the European Union, and that means that there is even more corruption and illegal things going on... like riding those maxi taxis around the city holding on to dear life, even if it means jamming your rear end in between the dash board and windshield... true story. In America, we have it pretty dang good- don't forget that! Amidst all of these little quirks, the people of Moldova are truly special, and I had many experiences this week that helped my heart grow a little bigger to make room for these humble people.
This is what Moldova really looks like...

Being that we started with 1 investigator from a previous companionship, Elder Quist and I had a lot of time to go out and find somebody to teach. The first night it was so dang cold, but I felt like we needed to go out and contact, to show the Lord we are ready. Almost no one was willing to stop and talk with us. We went out the next day and had a much different experience. I felt a strong urgency to just talk with everyone, and to testify to everyone that I could. We taught many people about the Book of Mormon that day, and found a family that wanted to learn more. We are going back tonight
Having a great conversation with Nicoleta

The next day we did the same, and talked with a nice 24 year old guy by the name of Nicolai. He accepted a Book of Mormon, and then we met up with him the next day. We have met up with him every day since, and have taught him the doctrine of the kingdom. Nicolai has had a very rough life, and has had to work to provide for himself his whole life. He now works 7 days a week from 8 to 5 and then travels outside of the city where he is staying. He used to drink and smoke, but felt like he needed to change, as well as change his friends. So there he was, walking down the main street, and we felt prompted to stop him. Nicolai is full of humility and has a strong desire to repent and come closer to God. He asked us when he could be baptized. We set a date for the 30th of December, but a lot is going to have to get straightened out in his life. His first step is asking his boss if he can get 2 hours off on sunday to come to church. We are praying for him, that God will make it possible for him to be baptized soon! 
Nicloai

Even after 3 days of meeting with this awesome guy, I have seen a significant difference in his countenance. The gospel truly is giving him hope, Jesus Christ is truly healing and bringing him peace. I felt a great love for Nicolai as we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ, and know that God has a great plan for him. I am humbled to think that even after  week of being here, the Lord is using us as his hands to bring people into the fold. I feel true joy being one of his missionaries here in this rad country. 
Elder Coberly learning about this nice lady's children

Sweet little lady... she has a rough life.

Look at that rug!!!

My love for this country also grew as we went to an old folks home and sang for them and chatted with each one of them as we delivered little goodie bags to each one. there are like 20 missionaries and 3 senior couples in this city so this makes service projects fun! I really loved sitting and talking with some of the old ladies, letting them give me big juicy kisses on the cheek, laughing with many, and comforting some that just have had plain hard lives. The spirit of Christmas was just bursting as we brought tidings of great joy to all! 
Walking home on a snowy day.

The boys

I am reminded that it truly doesn't matter where you are, there are always people that need the gospel, whether that means actually learning the the doctrines, or just receiving an act of kindness- it is because of our Savior! We all have a great duty and privilage to light the world this Christmas season. Man, being a missionary during this time really is the best... and to think I get 2 more weeks after the 25th since they celebrate on the 7th!!!

Many more great stories to come, I wish you all a great week and a Craciun Fericit! Can't believe we get to facetime soon!!!!

Love,
Elder Ditto