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, October 9, 2017

He guides our Paths, We Need to Choose our Paths.

Hey all!!!
Iubesc Romania!

First of all, I apologize for not writing last week. I wanted so badly to write one, as writing these letters really help me clear my thoughts and make me feel more connected to home. However, I had to make a sacrifice due to the time we arrived home from... HIKING. Yep. That's why I wasn't able to write. When Elder Giron and his companion offered to take us a long to a place where I have truly wanted to go since the day I googled Romania... TRANSYLVANIA. If you want to get real technical, it was a couple kilometers south of Sinaia in a little mountain village called Busteni. We headed out bright and early to summit a peak in the Bucegi Mountains, to see Crucea Eroiler. I could talk all day about this, but much more wonderful things happened this week. Hiking is one of my most favorite things on earth, because everything denotes that there is a God. Being in nature is one of the ways where I feel the peaceful presence of the man upstairs. Just look at the pictures and you'll understand why.
The Ditto pose has made it to Busteni

Another world on the top of a canyon thing

Can you find the gondola?

Can you find the mountain goat?

Craziest rock formation... PTPD

Elder Bontempo

Good 'ol Cliff provided me the energy. Thanks ma!

Gotta do a jump.

The trail markers are symbols here in Romania.

Heroes Cross - Google it!

I'm on top of the world hey!



Can you spot the cross?
Nap in the misty mountains

Romanians love their crosses..

Sfinxul

Shnikies!!!

So dang beautiful

STEEP switchbacks all the way up

STOKED to be in the mountains!

Strange how this happened... they thought I wanted a picture with them!

The bro and I enjoying the view

The hiking squad

The small mountain village from below... Whewww nelly! A long way down!

Behold Mother Nature!

Yes there are bears!

The end of an incredible Pday

Where to start... two weeks ago was General Conference. I had the opportunity to watch one session in English, and the rest in Romania. I really enjoyed watching it in this beautiful language, but there is something special about listening to the voice of the speaker and the feelings that they portray! It is a blessing that we know English. I am thankful that English is my native language, but there is also something really special about connecting with another culture in their own language. I was talking on the phone to Fratele Petrescu, the old cute little man in Arad. I always talked with him in English, mainly because I didn't know much Romanian while I was there. This time was different and I felt a new connection with him as we spoke his language. Really interesting how that works! I am thankful that Christ is the Savior of the WHOLE world. His church is for each person in every culture. These special cultural differences define us, yet the principles of the gospel remain the same, and bless everyone who chooses to follow. 
We have been able to help the Radulescu's get an apartment in Bucharest ready for their daughter. She treated us to a homemade lunch!
A traditional Romanian meal

Elder Giron... my good friend

City Hall

So all in all, it was such a treat to listen with my Romanian friends to the words of the leaders of the church. Even though there weren't too many members who came to the church to watch, it was such a special feeling to be joined with them, listening to the voice of the Lord through His servants. 

This conference was a very special one, as I felt a greater love and connection to the apostles of the Lord. God's chosen servants do not just give us great words of council and love, but they live these words. They follow the words that the prophet Thomas S. Monson gives to us. This really hit home and made me reflect my own commitment to follow the prophet. I have sadly not read the Book of Mormon every single day in the past fifty years... but I have committed to start NOW. I know that the promises of reading and studying the Book of Mormon are true. I feel the power to resist temptation, to stay true to the faith and receive peace in times of difficulty. How blessed we are to receive guidance from our Heavenly Father through modern day revelation, to help us navigate through this increasingly sketchy world. We need this guidance now more than ever!


Artsy Shot
The horse police dudes

Elder Bontempo and I have felt that we can be more bold as we deliver this glad message that the IS a prophet in our days, and that Heavenly Father still speaks to us today, that miracles still happen and that Jesus Christ has created a path for us to follow. We have found much success doing this, and as a bi-product, the Lord has just given us so many wonderful opportunities to bear testimony and to help many. Yesterday the Lord put three people into our path to help. As I wrote in my journal, it was just so evident that God is our Heavenly Father, and whether you are an old Romanian lady, an American lady that lives in Romania, or a homeless man, God's arms are always reached out, and a lot of the times it is through us. How aware are we of those around us? How often do we judge because of someones external appearance or circumstance?
Discovering more of Bucharest

Homemade Granola... THANKS MOM!!!

Our community service this week - Just painting a wall with our awesome vests.

Delicious lunch we made using some of the things in my suitcase present - marinated some meat to make a Philly cheese-steak sandwich, added some of the special Sweet Golden Mustard BBQ sauce, Mountain Bar for dessert with a cup of hot cocoa!!

To close, I will share the story of my new friend Robert, who was the homeless man that I judged last night. We had been block knocking near Piata Romana as a zone, each companionship took their own block and we invited many to come unto Christ. That was where we found Jessica, a nice American lady, who we touched with the spirit. In the end, she did not want to learn more, but that is okay because the spirit was present and that is an experience that she will never forget. As we exited the block, we saw the sisters, and a random homeless man was following them. I immediately started to judge him, and started to walk away. Elder Bontempo is a man who is no respecter of persons. It doesn't even matter if they aren't the least bit interested- he will always take a little time for them. This is something that I am not too good at and something that I am trying to learn from him.

So we eventually walk away and the homeless man somehow finds us and the assistants. I tried to have a little more patience, but could still feel myself judging. That was when this homeless dude's friend came and told him that they just want to tell you about Joseph Smith, he was a grumpy guy, and walked away. I had a prompting to ask him, right before he left, what he knew about Joseph Smith. Somehow that conversation led into his life. And how unhappy he was. He had been a good man, educated for sure, and had a job. He told me he wanted a family and a job- he wanted to find HAPPINESS. When I asked him how he fell to this state, he started to tear up. I shared the Book of Mormon with him and explained how reading, and applying the teaching of the Book of Mormon in my life has helped me find happiness, that it is through following the teaching of Jesus Christ- the path he has set for us- that we can find this happiness. I shared with him Ether 12:27

I felt a love for him that HE can come back to the fold, that hope is not lost for him. I don't know what will come out of this, but he wanted to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am praying that he will come to our church tomorrow at 18:30 to meet and learn more. 

My wonderful family and friends, we are blessed to have been taught the gospel. We are blessed to understand our true identity as children of a loving Heavenly Father. We are blessed when we keep the commandments of God. We are blessed when we honor Mom and Dad. This life is the time for our labors, and we have GREAT potential. Whatever our circumstances are now, it is never too late to "look up," and let the Redeemer carry our load. I know that He lives, and that His church has been restored back onto the earth. 

I love you guys!

Elder Ditto
Hai Dinamo!

Exchanges with Elder Bird

We love Sora Radulescu

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Recipe for Awesomeness

Hey fam bam!!
I love Romania!

First of all... Mom told me that she was going to be sending me a package with someone who was coming over to Romania. I was expecting a nice little box... NOT a SUITCASE!?!?! Holy shnykies!!! I honestly couldn't believe me eyes, or my muscles when I picked up that 50 pound suitcase full of joy. Elder Bontempo and I scurried on home and opened it up... let me tell you I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT!!! Thank you, Mom, for putting that together. Watch the video and you'll believe me when I say you made two little missionary boy's lives complete. To each one of you who contributed whether it be a letter or logistics, thank you from the bottom of my heart! I don't even need Christmas (or Halloween for obvious reasons) now! 
Mike Dover, a friend of my Aunt Leah in Utah, played Santa for me delivering a 50# suitcase from home full of goodies!  He surprised me by coming to my branch for church on Sunday. (photo courtesy from Mike Dover via a text message from his wife.  Side note from Momma:  I was sitting in church yesterday when I got this picture texted to me.  I had to hold myself down from cheering as I knew the suitcase has arrived!!!)

Elder Bontempo and I picking up the suitcase from Mike Dover's hotel.  (photo courtesy from Mike Dover via a text message from his wife)


Christmas in September!!
Got a kick out of this series of letters... nice one cousins!

This week was a mighty fine one, starting off with Zone Conference. I always look forward to ZZone Conference because it is motivating, and it lets me be the moment and reflect and listen to the Spirit as to what I can do to improve as a leader and a missionary. The Hettingers focused on urgency as missionaries. We talked a lot about how we can improve ourselves in every aspect of the work. Something I admire about the Hettingers is that they are happy people. I made the connection as to why they are happy, its the same reason as to why Mom and Dad are happy. They keep the commandments and work hard! This is the recipe for happiness in life! I feel like I am pretty good at this... but I could be really, really, really, good at this! Everyday has room for improvement, and living with urgency is the secret to a successful mission, and a successful life!
A must presser... This is only made in the fall and is freshly pressed grape juice!

Asked the lady how they wash their grapes... the rain of course!

So the fun didn't stop there... the very next day we had exchanges with the missionaries serving in Craiova! This time they came up to the capital and I got to be with one of my best friends again- Elder Krieger! It was great to be with him again and reflect on life and how we can come closer to Christ. We decided to go look for a less-active members of the church in the morning and ended up having an incredible experience.
Bros for life!

We headed down to the metro station, Aparatorii Patriei, to find a member. I knew the general area as to where we needed to go, but it just so happened that I forgot to write down the exact address. Finding the exact block where someone lives is just as successful as finding a needle in a haystack. The blocks are MASSIVE and completely not in an organized fashion. The block that we happened to need was the biggest one I had ever seen in my life. We asked around to see if anyone knew this lady we were looking for and where she lives, and taught a couple of people along the way. 

Finally, the member called us and gave us the exact address but she was not home. We decided to leave a little not, and then felt like we should knock the doors around her apartment. It was Elder Krieger's first time block knocking and he was willing, but hesitant to try it. I was praying that we would have someone even open the door. Just when we were about to exit the block after many unsuccessful attempts, the spirit prompted me to knock on a the door right across from the member's.

I had skipped it on purpose the first time, but this time I felt strongly that we needed to knock it. We knocked and a little old lady hesitantly opened the door. I told her what we were doing and she wasn't interested. Then, the spirit took over.  I don't remember exactly what I said to her, but as she continued to talk she started to cry and tell us about her deceased husband and the cancer treatments that she was going through. We asked if we could say a prayer with her and she ended up letting us in. She showed us her little one-room home and told us about her little family and how life was difficult. Man, could you even imagine living alone at seventy-five year's old in a communist block with cancer and now firm knowledge of what is to happen after death? 

We read a scripture to her and a friend that came to take the older woman to her chemo appointment and closed with a prayer. The persona of this little old toothless lady had completely change. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, we had given her hope and happiness because of Jesus Christ and his gospel. We left the lady and went on our way. 

After exiting the block, we said a prayer of gratitude and then reflected on the experience. So often I overlook older people and just don't even think about talking to them because they are so set in their ways. 

2 Nephi 26:33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

God loves each one of us. It doesn't matter if we are 16, 43, or 75, he cares about our happiness. Jesus Christ invites EVERYONE to come unto him. Indeed, Jesus Christ is the SAVIOR of the WORLD.  Each day I understand this a little bit better. I know that I am one of his called disciples to preach the word of God, and help all come unto him. By living like the Son and following his gospel, we can have peace and happiness in every circumstance. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE4tNTMdoe4
Elder Krieger and I loving life!

The rest of the week was like this, honestly. It comprised of Elder Bontempo and I using our agency to be urgent in the work of the Lord, and God blessing us because of this. So many times I had the opportunity to teach and testify of the reality of the Savior and his restored gospel. Missionary work is hard, but joyous when we work hard and keep the commandments- living like the Savior. 
Piata Obor.. one of the biggest open markets in Bucharest!

The Mihai Bravu District
Two lambos... Had to get a pic for Coop!

I encourage everyone to be anxiously engaged in whatever good cause you are in and look for opportunities to serve and bear testimony. This is a recipe for awesomeness!

I love and miss all of you! Thank you all again, for the prayers and kind words and letters and thoughts and packages and everything! Man, we are lucky. 

Love,
Elder Ditto