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 15, 2016

Saptamana Doua!

Buna ziua!!

Before I start this letter- please know that if I write in Romanian throughout the letters I will most likely not be able to use all of the symbols that are required to use... so just use your little Romanian imagination!!

Also, MANY THANKS TO ALL OF YA'LLS PACKAGES/LETTERS!!!! I feel so so so so blessed to have such a loving a supportive family. The Ditto family is blessed for our determination to be obedient to all of the Lord's commandments. I feel bad that I am usually the one to get the letters and packages from my district, but man does it feel nice to get so many!! They are literally like gold here at the MTC.
I LOVE getting packages! - Two week anniversary package from Aunti Leah
I love the MTC. Even though every day is basically the same- wake up, shower, eat, go to class, study, go to class,EXERCISE, lunch, class, class, dinner, study.... the experiences we have are so enriching and valuable. I have learned SO much about how to effectively teach to others the gospel of Jesus Christ, about Romanian, about myself, and most importantly the Savior. I have come to cherish my personal study time- I honestly feel like I don't get enough. I started a study journal as I thought about how Tyler keeps one, and this has been a huge blessing in my life. I am not too good at thinking about questions as I study, but I am trying to get better at that- when we write things down, we have the opportunity to learn even more and really think about the teachings. Also, when we write things down, the Spirit will bring these things to our remembrance when me need them most. 

The language is coming around really nicely! I am most definitely being stretched to my capabilities, but something about that makes me giddy, knowing that the Lord is on my side and shaping me into a fine piece of cutlery... The rumors are true.. Apparently I sleep talk in Romanian, and my companions joke that this is why I am doing well with the language haha. I love Romanian. It is such a beautiful language. I cannot wait to be immersed in the romanian culture and meet God's wonderful children there. Apparently Pres. Uchtdorf came to visit the ROU/MOL Mission this past month, and he told them that "Romania is on the tipping point, and one day there will be a temple in Bucharest". AHHH!!! Doesn't that just make you so excited!? I am going into Romania at one of the most exciting and promising times in it's history- for the field is truly white, already to harvest. 
Love my companions - Ditto pose at the Provo Temple

Ah man there are so many good stories to tell this week.. I'll start by answering some of Dad's questions that he had from last week's email.

I forgot to mention that Mele was a role playing investigator. At first I struggled with this thought, but I came to the understanding that the spirit testifies the same, and that by teaching "Mele", she is coming closer to Christ, which is what my purpose of a missionary is. Sora Long (Mele) is actually one of my favorite teachers- she is full of life and has so many good insights on how to be the best missionary ever, not to mention her ways of learning romana is super fun.

In the morning on P-days, we wake up at 6:30 and shower, then bring our laundry to the laundry mat (I've never seen so many washer and dryers in one place in my life haha), and then we go eat breakfast while we wait for our laundry to finish. Today we went back to our residence while we were waiting for our clothes to finish drying and I took the time to study. It was quite nice. 
Headed to do laundry

Laundry Time
Then we go email, and today we are getting haircuts.... I am like really nervous since Mom has been the only one to give me a haircut. Hopefully it looks half as good as the ones you give me mom! I'll miss the back scratches after, though ;) At 12 we are going to go to the temple cafeteria and have lunch, and then go to an endowment session at the Provo Temple. Such a big temple!! Last weeks session was really great- it was fun to be with my comps there, but I gotta say- I missed Dad's insights! I love having the opportunity to attend the temple each week here- the spirit at the temple is so unique and strong. After the temple, we have a little bit of time before dinner, and after dinner we go to class from 6-9. Such a great day!
Provo Temple

... And I just got back from my haircut! It was actually a super great experience. The hair stylist was super nice and she did exactly what I wanted! I am super happy about it- now I can go to the Turkish barbers in Romania with confidence and swagger. haha

Another clarification- My name tag does indeed say "Varstnicul" This means "The elder", however, if I am refering to myself or talking to another elder, I would say "Varstnic", meaning elder! Interesting stuff!

So the week started off kind of hecktik- We forgot to set our alarm the night before and ended sleeping in till 7:20... and I had a Leadership training meeting at 7:30!!! Yikes!! Needless to say, we did not shower that morning and were booking it to our class room so that I could be on time... I was only 4 minutes late and wasn't the last one... Mission accomplished! As Varstnic Baker puts it, we felt bad, but don't regret it. Ha! We had a great Sabbath, the whole day is spent with personal study time and fantastic talks- both in devotionals and sacrament meeting. At 11am we go on a temple walk (see attached pictures). So nice to get some much needed fresh air! for sacrament meeting we are all expected to prepare a 5 minute talk, because the branch president randomly calls on one elder and one sister to give talks. 
Walk around Provo Temple

So now on to the devotionals... have 2 devotionals each week- one Sunday evening and the other Tuesday evening. We have been fortunate enough to hear from 3 APOSTLES. I can't believe how blessed we've been to hear from so many apostles of Christ. Each time they walk into the room, I can just feel of their special calling from the Lord. I know the apostles are called of God! This week we heard from Elder Ballard and Cook. Both gave fantastic talks. I don't have my journal with me, or else I would totally share some of the notes I tool. One quote that Elder Cook said was, "The Lord is not trying to protect us, he's trying to perfect us". I love this because all of us are asked to do things that may be out of our comfort zones- anything from individual trials, family struggles, health, learning a new language, etc. As we trust in the Lord, and pray to our Heavenly Father that he might "consecrate our afflictions for our gain (See 2 Nephi 2:2, 32:9), we will become who he wants us to be! The MTC has most definitely stretched me, but all in good ways. I love pushing myself, and the beauty of doing the Lord's work is there are no boundaries! Becoming a converted disciple of Christ is a life long journey, and beyond. 

This week we got 2 new investigators. This is pretty intimidating for us because that means we need to do twice as much praying, studying, and preparing, for our investigators, not to mention we need to learn new vocabulary and role play in Romanian so that we can actually say what we feel like we should say to our investigators! While we were preparing for our first investigator, Cati, we just couldn't figure out what she needed to hear. The challenging part about learning a new language and talking to investigators is that if the spirit prompts us to teach about something different during the lesson, it is hard to do that as we don't always have the vocabulary for that subject. Because of this, we feel like it it very important to prayerfully study what our investigator needs. Anyways, Sora Langenstein wanted to help us so she showed us the mormon message called "Refiners Fire", I think. It really brought the spirit into the room and we all decided to individually pray for what Cati needed to hear. After praying, I opened up my scriptures to where I had been studying before and was miraculously about the refiners fire. The spirit literally said to me "trials". At that moment I knew that what Cati needed to hear was that God can help us overcome our trials, and that trials make us stronger. Varstincii Loder si Baker had the exact same impression. It was such a tender mercy. Our lesson with Cati went very well. Such a cool experience!! 
My District
One funny story that I'll share- Mom sent me some golgosi (the Moldovan peach cookies) I shared them with my district and teacher (she said that they were totally authentic, but in Moldova they don't do the fancy decor) they were SO good. The only problem was that Varstnic Baker is allergic to hazelnuts, and apparently there were hazelnuts in the golgosi... long story short we had to go get his epi pen (fortunately he didn't need use it) and took some Benedryl. He was WIPED out and lethargic that night, but he said that he'd eat another one in a heart beat, haha.

Eating golgosi, Moldovan peach cookies, that my mom sent us

As a district, we had a goal to memorize the 1. Scopul Nostru (Missionary Purpose) 2. Primul Viziune (First Vision) 3. Moroni 10:5 and 4. The baptismal invitation. I have now memorized all of them and it has been so neat to apply these into lessons. There is great power in memorizing scriptures, as the spirit can then bring them to your remembrance when you need them. Also, it's another great way to learn more vocabulary words! We also do this program called "Basic Core", where we have a list of about 250 words, and like 25 phrases that we needed to have memorized by the 14th of September. This was a great way to always have something to study for. We all made flashcards where we put all of the words that we are learning. It is incredible how much I've learned in 14 short days. The gift of tongues is truly with me, and as long as I stay worthy of that gift and seek it through prayer and diligence in learningromana, I will continue to be blessed by it!

A cool language story- I was role playing as an investigator for Sora Long as she was demonstrating how to teach the first lesson. My job was to act as an investigator and to SYL (which means speak as much romanian as possible, and when you get stuck on a word say the english word and continue inromanian. I spoke like 98% romanian during the lesson- it was SO cool!! When you are teaching the gospel in a new language, you have to pick out what matters most, as you don't have the vocab to say all of the "extra" stuff. This opportunity to speak Romanian has helped me reflect on the most important matters of the gospel- the stuff that will mean the most to my investigators.

Speaking by the spirit has definitely become easier! As I really focus on the investigator, the words seem to just flow from my mouth in Romanian (but of course I probably shank every 4th word haha). But the point is that I am speaking by the spirit- and that's THE most important thing. "The Holy Ghost is the concrete to our investigator's conversion". 

So we have really become good friends with all of the Anzianos in our zone. During our exercise we always play a huge game of soccer with them, or other days some of the anzianos and us will go play indoor volleyball (our favorite). Exercise time is honestly the highlight of the day. It is sooo important for us to go and get all of our energy out so that we can focus for the rest of the day. The gym where we play volleyball is converted into the conference hall where the devotionals are held- it's CRAZY huge and when it's converted to the conference hall, it looks nothing like the gym. It is crazy to think that it is transformed twice every week. The MTC takes SO much work to run- it's incredible, really! 

Back to the Anzianos- the Varstnicii and I were in our rooms, having a chat with our zone leader, Anziano Smith. He was sitting by our door and kept peaking out for some reason, but I didn't think much of it. Then he's like, "Varstnic Ditto- you are are the District leader, right?" I'm like, "Ya...?" then he says, "Will you go grab some paper towels?" I thought it was kind of weird but I just assumed we needed to clean something up in our room or something so I said yes and walked over to the janitor's closet. Right when I opened the door, about 25 people screamed at my face and I FREAKED out! Varstnic Loder  recalls that I literally jumped 6 ft past our door haha. I turned around and for like 15 secondsAnzianis just kept coming out of the room! I couldn't believe my eyes!! We all had a really good laugh haha. 

I forgot to share this last week, but my cough completely subsided around day 3 of being at the MTC. The sick bug has started to go around at the MTC, and as President Whiting of our branch presidency said, "The MTC is like a pitri dish- once a sickness goes around it's almost inevitable to get it!" Keeping this in mind, every time we go past a hand sanitizer thing we lather up, and make sure to get a good amount of rest. (like we have a choice, right? haha) I have always kept in the blessing that Dad gave me before I left, blessing me that I would be healthy during my time here at the MTC. I have really felt blessed that I have not gotten any sicknesses.

The Lord is blessing me so much, and I am just giddy to go out and serve the Romanians... 4 more weeks!!! 

So as you can see, the MTC is a great place, and I love it so much. So many miracles have already happened while being here, and cannot wait to see what is in store for the next 4 weeks!

Thank you for all of your prayers, I pray for you guys every single day! You guys are the best. 

Varstnic Ditto

One week anniversary present from Leah - homemade Mounds Bars!!  DELISH!

President Taylor and Sister Taylor

Elder Loder - prepared for life

Moldovan Cookie Package from my mom

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