Alex's Mission Address:

Elder Alex McLean Ditto

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

Email -

Thursday, September 8, 2016


... And not only did I survive... I am thriving!! haha I secretly pumped my fist in my mind when I got to the MTC because Mom had always stressed for me to be careful and safe during our summer adventures so I would be 100% ready to learn and grow in the MTC. Well, I'm here with no broken bones and have memories from this summer that I will cherish for eternity! 

I don't even know where to begin... First off, thanks to Matt and Jessica/fam and Leah and Geoff/fam for having me stay with them until I got to the MTC. IT was the perfect way to transition to the MTC. I was super glad that you guys weren't there to send me off to the MTC because it would've been SO hard to leave you guys like that. Instead, I was super happy and excited.

Right when I got my name tag I knew that I was going to be stretched of my abilities to learn Romanian. My name is now Varstnic Ditto (pronounced Verstnic, clench your teeth when you say ver and you'l get the sound right! haha) The MTC is a truly sacred place that is filled with the spirit. I could feel that spirit immediately. I was excited to learn that I would be in a trio with two other elders (Varstnic Baker si Loder). I was even more excited to find that Varstnic Baker LOVES to climb and mtn bike (he's a dirt jumper, and Varstnic Loder is a surfer dude and longboarder, Coop would love him). We got to our classroom to find that there is only one sister (sora in Romana) here at the MTC going to Romania. So that is our District, and that's who I spend my whole day with every day of the week! It is fun being the only Romanian elders as everyone thinks it is super cool and unique. I love thinking that out of 3,000 missionaries here at the MTC, I was one of four that the Lord called to serve his children in Romania. Our branch/ zone consists of us 4 Romanians, and then 43 italians!!! So crazy. The Anzianos (elders in italiani) have been so friendly to us, and we spend our exercise and meal times with them. It's also fun to hear the similarities with the limbas (languages). 
Varstnic Ditto's Name Tag
Thursday... might have been the longest day of my life! It is insane how much you learn if you are in a classroom for 6 and studying for 4. I remember feeling very overwhelmed tired the whole day. Our District is blessed with 3 fantastic teachers, all of whom served in Romania and got back within the last year.

That night, the branch presidency met with our district and we all had interviews with the Branch President, President Taylor, I had a nice interview with him and shortly after the interviews, I was assigned to be the District Leader. I was humbled by this assignment and also excited to improve my leadership skills. If there is one thing I have learned here, it is that being a missionary means losing yourself in serve to others. (I'll talk more about that later) I have already participated in some leadership training meetings and a branch council meeting. I thought a lot about Dad as I attended these meetings, and how he would participate and discuss with fellow leaders. 

Each morning we wake up at 6 and do our push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, and then shower, get ready, and go to breakfast by 7:20. The food was so good at first- I couldn't believe there were donuts and muffins and P.O.G. (passion, orange, guava juice) etc EVERY DAY! haha ...but don't worry Mom I have restrained myself to only one donut at breakfast hahahahaha But I actually am holding myself back. I'm sticking to salad for at least lunch each day and eat lots of fruit... and drink POG like ever meal because wouldn't you guys???  Yesterday though, the "prophecy" that an elder randomly gave us concerning Jeremiah 4: 19-20 (read at dinner and you guys will CRACK UP)... came to pass. Oh my bowels! We were late for an appointment with our simpatizant (instigators) because the bathroom was calling our names... yikes. Anyways, I'm recommitted to rationing the good stuff and eating the healthy stuff haha. 

Now getting spiritual... being a missionary is honestly different than I had envisioned. Although it is different, it feels so natural. I am so glad that I prepared in so many ways for this, and that our family is so dedicated to the gospel. Mom and Dad, you guys ROCK! Thank you for being such great examples and parents. Tyler, Alysee, Nate, Coop, and Chloe, YOU GUYS ARE ROCKSTARS! Thank you for being the best siblings ever and teaching me Christ-like love. Everything is focused on the missionary purpose, which is, well I'll give it to you guys in Romanian and you guys can decipher. The only problem with writing romana on the computer is that I can't use accents so ya'll might have to look it up. De-i invita pe altii sa vina la Hristos, ajutundu-i sa premeasca Evanghelia restaurata prin credinta in Isus Hristos si ispasirea Sa pocainta, botez, primirea darului Duhului Sfant, si indurarea pana la Sfarsit. (basically inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through the doctrine of Christ.) THIS is what the mission is all about. It's not about me, it's about God's children who are ready to become converted to Christ through His restored gospel. That is my purpose, and everything I do is centered around that- learning the language, personal and companionship study, exercising, teaching, ALL OF IT! 

This is probably the biggest thing I have learned while hear this week. All I am doing is focusing on others, and because of that I too am becoming a more converted disciple of Christ. 

With that being said, the MTC is not about learning the language. Crazy right? Learning the language simply helps me fulfill my purpose as a missionary- bringing others to Christ! That is the beauty of being a missionary.  That is not to say that I haven't stressed about the language or have doubted my ability to learn it- because I definitely have! It has been a struggle for me to convey my feelings about the gospel in Romanian, when I have gotten so good at doing that in English! I've thought, being an English speaking missionary would be so easy! (NOTE: I am not saying anything negative about English elders, I am positive there are many struggles they have that I will not have) This past week most of my personal study has been focused on recognizing the spirit and how to always have the companionship of the Holy Ghost with me at all times, as the Spirit is the teacher, not me! I can lecture all I want and testify all I want, but if the Spirit is not there with me, then it will mean nothing to the investigator, and they won't come closer to Christ. SO HOW IN THE HECK CAN I HAVE THE SPIRIT WITH ME IF I CAN'T SPEAK ROMANIAN? This was the question of the week for me. In class one day we watched a video of some English elders teaching an investigator about how to pray, and I got pretty discouraged because I wanted so badly to do what they did- to be able to speak freely without the restriction of trying to speak a new language! I just wanted soooo badly to speak with the spirit in Romanian, and say things that the spirit prompts me to say in Romanian. As I studied and pondered about this, I realized some very important things that have given me a new sense of confidence and purpose. The Lord knows my strengths. I feel like I have been blessed with a powerful testimony and a way to convey truth with the spirit. But, the Lord is using this new "trial" of learning Romanian to shape me into a more effective tool!! He has given me this opportunity to become more humble, and rely on the Lord to make my weaknesses into strengths through him- Oh ya I just gave a talk about that 3 weeks ago and I am already seeing more evidence of the truthfulness of this scripture!!! I can't copy and past on this computer, but read D&C 88: 76-84. The Lord has promised me SO many blessings as humble myself, work diligently and
"tarry" here at the MTC. Such beautiful promises that have given me a new sense of strength with learning the language so that I can fulfill my purpose as a missionary.

I know that as I continue to work my hardest and rely on the Lord, HE WILL HELP ME LEARN ROMANIAN! It is already so incredible how much I have learned in one week. Last Sunday I decided to bear my testimony in romana. I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to go up and do that, so I did! I was able to say many things, even if it I butchered some words, but the important thing is the spirit was with me. I have learned that the best way to learn a new language is to speak it, so I use every opportunity I get to use Romanian. I got a lot of compliments after bearing my testimony as the italianis were impressed that I could do that after 3 days at the MTC. 

In all honesty, the language is coming along nicely for me. I have been able to understand most of what our investigators say, and each day as I practice new words and phrases, and memorize new things, the spirit helps me with the rest. 

I had the best experience in the whole wide world yesterday concerning the language and teaching our investigator. We had our last discussion with "Mele" (our 4th lesson) and we decided that instead of creating a lesson outline and translating it, we would create some questions to help fulfill her needs, and have more of a discussion with her, rather than a lecture. We felt like we needed the spirit with us more than in the past, so thus our outline was basically "teach by the spirit" with a focus on baptism and repentance. We were all pretty nervous going into the lesson, but once we asked her a question, the spirit took the lesson from there. We were able to answer many of her questions and I got to tlak to her about baptism and the covenants we make when we are baptized. I then had a strong feeling that it was time to invite her to be baptized. I had practiced memorizing the baptism invitation in romana for the whole day, so I was able to look her in the eyes and invite her to baptism. It was so cool!! .. but then she said that she couldn't because her family would basically disown her. I was super bummed but then I remembered a scripture that we had talked about earlier that day in Mark 9:23 about all things are possible through the Lord, and then we bore testimony of this. she started to get teary and then said something like "I know I need to get baptized but I can't because of my family". And she kept saying stuff but we were like oh man, what do we do? And I testified again and then she asked for a piece of paper and she wrote something down... SHE WAS SAYING SHE WOULD BE BAPTIZED ALL ALONG! haha We were STOKED!!!! An incredible feeling of love for Mele and joy just over came me. The spirit was so strong and I started crying too!!! It was one of the happiest moments of my life, honestly. There is no greater feeling in the world than having an investigator accept the invitation to be baptized- to get on the path to eternal happiness! I am so glad I had the opportunity to feel this so early in my time as a missionary. It was one of those times where I just couldn't help but say "I  love being a missionary! I cannot wait to have so many more of these sort of experiences for the next two years.

I have so much more to say, and sorry if some of the sentences don't make sense, I'm trying to write fast so I can give you guys as much deets as possible!

Some exciting things that happened this week...
-Chad Lewis (former BYU and NFL player) came to speak to us Sunday night... INCREDIBLE! It was such a motivating talk. 

-I saw Mason at the MTC! Super fun to see how he has grown as a missionary.
Elders and Friends Forever! Mason Barduhn and I
-Blayre sent me a package!! THANKS AUNTIE!! I love you! I use the highlighters so much and the snickers bar came in clutch last night haha.

-The most exciting thing... MY FAVORITE APOSTLE GAVE THE DEVOTIONAL TUESDAY NIGHT!!! Can you guess who it was? Elder Christofferson!!!!! He gave an incredible talk about teaching repentance and the sacred role of being a missionary. Something that he said that really stood out to me was that the apostles need ME to help with their commission to teach all nations of the gospel, but most importantly, the Savior NEEDS me. There are people that he needs my talents and abilities to teach and invite them to come unto Christ. Ah there is so much more I could say about the talk...

And some funny things that happened.. mostly language mistakes hahaha)

-The funniest one from me was as I was teaching about the "fruits of the spirit", but instead I said the Spirit gives us fruit. Then Varstnic Loder leaned over to me and said, "I think you said the spirit gives us fruit!"" hahaha We all laughed at that one!

- The funniest language mistake was while we were teaching about the apostasy. Varstnic Baker said, "Jesus Christ MURDERED His apostles", and then me and Varstnic Loder repeated the same thing making sure it sounded right. We didn't even know we made the mistake until Mele, our investigator, told us yesterday! We laughed so hard!!!

I gotta go! I've spent a little to much time writing this week! Just know I am happy and am working my hardest. 

I love you guys so much. We really do have the best family on earth, and are winning the world series of family awesomeness!!!

Till next Thursday,

Varsntic Ditto

Cream Soda Tree

Picture I like...Jesus Walking on Water

Classic MTC Picture

Comps and Romanian Flag

First Lesson Outline

How Romanian sit while waiting for the bus

The Trio
Varstnic Ditto

Varstnicii In Room

ROU Classroom
ROU Flag In Room

Studying With A View

The Classic MTC Pose

The Trio


  1. I couldn't help myself from reading this right away! Loved your letter love his enthusiasm, love him!! And District leader already - wow! Good job Mom and Dad :-) prayers and hugs, Aunt Laurie

  2. Oh Alex - what a delight to read your post. We send our love and want you to know that we pray for you daily. Mission life -- the best! Love, Ami and Poppy