Alex's Mission Address:

Elder Alex McLean Ditto

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

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Learning and Becoming, Through Serving


Eu am avut un saptamana cel mai bun. For all you Americans, that means I had a great week! I cannot believe that my time here at the MTC is coming to a close. We leave for Romania in 11 days!!! I am super excited, nervous, and humbled. This has been a time of great learning and becoming for me, and I will continue to work as hard as I can, and carry that momentum into the field! I kind of like to look my experience here as being "primed". This is the layer before the actual coat of paint! The better priming job I do here, the better the actual coats of paint will look in Romania. I will greatly miss the MTC, especially my wonderful teachers, but I know that the Lord has so many wonderful experiences and challenges waiting for me in Romania!!!
Colegi lui Romania

I want to share a story about our dear friend Cati, that will also testify of the things I have learned and worked on this week spiritually . As mentioned in a previous letter, we have been teaching Cati for a couple of weeks now. We have had a roller coaster of emotions with her during our lessons- some have been really great and we have felt the spirit very strong, and other times we feel like Cati is not understanding or that we haven't satisfied her need. This is probably the biggest focus as a missionary- identifying the need of the investigator. Every investigator has a need that can be fulfilled through learning the gospel of Jesus Christ. So we decided to fast for Cati, so that we could receive some extra insight and revelation for her. Since we didn't go to meals, we had more time to study and discuss the needs of Cati. So we went into the lesson with a plan of relating the story of the restoration with her. To some it up, the spirit was really present, and she committed to baptism, when she gets a confirmation that the church is true. That was SUCH an exciting moment for us. She was one step closer to baptism!! So the next lesson we decided to teach her was about the Plan of Salvation. 

We thought it went well, but our teacher Sora Long, told us that Cati told her we looked very "sad" and not a lot of energy. Well, one thing was certain: we were SUPER tired that day! Keep in mind that these are not actual investigators, but our teachers are playing the role of actual people who they have taught on their missions. The spirit works the same in each situation- it is really cool! So we were pretty bummed that it was actually not as good as we had hoped. I am so thankful that we were made aware of this, however, because the Lord was able to help us add a lot more primer to us! We learned several things from this experience: 

1. No matter how tired we are, we need to at least act awake and happy. Our appearance to our investigators is a very crucial element to teaching. A good way to think about this is "How would the Savior be behaving in this situation?" and the answer then becomes clear. The reality is that missionary work is exhausting, but we carry on and receive strength from the man upstairs! 

2. I need to have FAITH in my calling as a missionary. I have received SO many great blessings and promises for being a missionary work. I was reading my patriarchal blessing this week, and a certain part really stood out, "I will be given the right words to say to each person who I teach." WOAH! That is an incredible blessing. I realized that in order for this promise to take effect, I must have FAITH that the Lord will in fact bless me with this great gift. I am working hard having more faith in this and all other blessings that I can receive as being a missionary. The scriptures are filled with blessings for us! Praying for these daily is also key for us to receive these blessings.

3. LISTENING is key to missionary work. I have caught myself at times either not focusing intently to what my investigator has to say because I am trying to come up with something good to say in response. This can hinder my ability to listen and act to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I shared this scripture last week, but it also applies to this thought...
 D&C 84:85... "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man."
As I prepare for my investigators through reviewing lessons, studying the scriptures, praying, etc, the Spirit WILL give me the words that I need at that moment! I know that this is true because I have applied it to my past few lessons. I have really made an effort to do this with Cati specifically. I have also noticed that as I listen to her with real concern, my love and concern for her has increased. I have been inspired to share certain scriptures and experiences, testify, etc. I know that because I applied D&C 84:85, the Lord has blessed me with His spirit! I have also worked on praying for my companions as they teach, and listen with real intent to them. All of this has really helped our lessons become led by the spirit!  

An awesome quote that I heard the other day was, "Our actions as missionaries are inspired if we are living worthy." That's pretty dang comforting! 
As close to the mountains as I can get right now!

It is really humbling to reflect back and see how the Lord is working on me, through me working to help investigators. This is the beauty of missionary work! "Each missionary will have at least one convert by the end of their mission (as long as they work diligently)- that is themselves!!" Amen, Elder Bednar, Amen. 

Ok, so back to the story of Cati. This has led up to the "Miracle of the Week"!! So after applying these three attributes (WOAH I JUST REALIZED THAT THESE ARE ATTRIBUTES OF CHRIST), it was time to teach Cati again. This time we were coming in with more love, more faith, and more preparation, with a goal to listen better. We taught one of the best lessons we have ever taught (meaning the spirit was really present) through relating the "Living Waters" (see John 4) to the JOY that comes from living the gospel. Joy is an everlasting feeling that only comes from Christmas (hehehehe) and more importantly living the Doctrine of Christ "Doctrina lui Hristos". We were able to help paint a picture of how Cati could have- not just joy- but an everlasting fountain of J O Y through living Christ's gospel. We bore testimony and did everything that the spirit wanted us to do. At the end, I was prompted to invite her to baptism again. And here is the miracle... She said Y E S. AH SO EXCITING!! The spirit was so strong and Cati received her witness. Wow I love this gospel. We said "Noi simtim fericit (We feel very happy) and then Cati replied, "Ne, e bucurie" (No, it is joy!). Ah how wonderful it was to hear that!!!

So this was our miracle of the week. Through accepting the Lord's time for Cati as our time, and developing greater faith, listening skills, love for Cati, and learning with her, the spirit was able to help Cati come closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. She is now ready to make the next step! It has been fun teaching her about the commandments now.

Something Sora Long explained yesterday was the contrast of how investigators receive spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. Those who honestly seek to know the truth either receive it in the "Alma 32" way, or the "Moroni 10:5" way. The Alma 32 way is gradual, just like how faith starts like a little seed (meaning planting the word of God in their hearts). When they do so, it slowly grows until eventually they have enough faith to begin making covenants with God and be baptized. This was the case for Cati, I feel. The other way is through receiving a distinct confirmation from the Holy Ghost relatively quick. Each way is perfect- perfect for every type of individual. 

There were so many other great experiences this week, but I feel like this story best describes how the Lord is using me and "priming me" haha!
Fratele Brundage... best teacher ever!

I am so excited for conference. I was able to print out some talks and am studying them throughout the week. I love our prophet and his apostles. I know that they are called of God and receive inspiration for each us, and we need to be prepared to listen and act on those feelings that we get! A little quote that gave some great insight on the importance of the Holy Ghost in missionary work is by Elder Hales. He says, "The Holy Ghost is a medium for God's work... 'Through the Holy Ghost, we experience the multitude of [Christ's] tender mercies and miracles that do not cease." Boy this spoke to me! The whole them of my week was basically this! I am going to miss our monkey bread, eggs and POG, on conference, though. I will be thinking of you guys while we watch conference!

So, tomorrow I get my flight plans!!! We all guessed our flight route, and the winner gets a candy bar from the others in the district. My guess is Salt Lake to JFK to Paris to Bucaresti! When we get the flight plan it's going to feel even more real. Then next week we will begin packing!! Yikes!!
Guesses for flight plans

To prepare for the culture of Romania, Vasrstnic Baker and I (V. Loder refused to participate.. you'll see why) decided that we would start drinking mineral water (club soda) so that when we get to Romania we will be used to it! Apparently mineral water is big in ROU, just like throughout Europe. It started out pretty rough, and we'd only drink about a quarter of a glass, but these days we are just going pure Mineral Water, baby! It's really not too bad besides the fact that it makes me burp after drinking it, haha.
The most positive district on the planet!

Something that I have really been focusing on for the language is memorizing scriptures in Romanian. (I think I talked about this in a past letter). Anyways, this week I memorized Filipeni 4:13 și Iacov 1.5. Daca vreunia dintre voi îi lipsește întelepciunea, s-o ceara de la Dumnezeu, care dă tuturor cu mâna larga și făra mustrare, și ea îi va fi data. If you couldn't understand that for some reason, it's James 1:5 ha ha. I have been able to use the scriptures that I have memorized in lessons this week. This goal of learning a new scripture each week has stretched me, but is such a blessing as well. 
Rainstorm at the MTC
Mount Timpanogas

Two funny language mistakes this week-
One is actually from a couple of weeks ago, but I just remembered it. We were teaching Cati I think in the first lesson, and we gave her a Cartea Lui Mormon, but she said that she didn't have money to buy it. We didn't have a clue how to say it's free, but then I remembered that "agency" is "libertate de alege", so I decided to just say, "Este libertate" (It is freedom!). HA! She cracked up and then we realized what I said and we all started laughing. Note: I do know how to say "free" now: gratuit!

The next one was I think after we committed Cati to baptism. After she said "yes" to being baptized, I said, "Suntem foarte agitate pentru tine!" Cait immeditately started laughing and then motioned to me what I said, scratching herself. Then I realized that I said "I am very agitated for you" HA! Agitate is basically the negative way to say excited and it made no sense. 

If there is one thing I am good at, it is just trying to speak the language, regardless if I sound like a crazy agitated missionary haha! I feel strongly that this is the only way that I'll learn Romanian- through trying and making mistakes! So it is with becoming like our Savior- we try our hardest, committing sins along the way, but we learn and eventually can become perfected through Christ's Atonement. Wow! The Atonement applies to learning Romanian too!!
Zone 22 - the best ever!

So we attended the temple this afternoon and as we were walking to the beautiful house of God, I saw a couple that looked familiar. Any guesses who it was?? Hint: Mom was a HUGE fan of her a couple years back. I'll reveal who it was at the end of the letter. (THIS IS ACTUALLY REALLY COOL)

I am happy and well here at the MTC. I appreciate all of the prayers and thought that have come my way, they have truly blessed me! 

So who did I see at the temple? Well, when I was walking up the stairs, I saw them and almost walked past but I knew I had to say something. I was like, "Are you Nienie?" And she was like "Yes!" And I said something that I don't remember because I was so in shock that I just met someone that I really admire. That's right- I met Stephanie Nielson and her husband!!!! I got to shake her and and everything but I didn't get a picture- UGH! And now that I think about it I wonder if she thought it was weird that I said Nienie- that's the name of her blog hahaha. 
Alex may not have gotten a picture but ironically Stephanie Nelson posted this picture on her instagram account the same day as when Alex introduced himself to her.  

All my love, Va iubesc,

Vasrtnic Ditto

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