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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Monday, October 24, 2016

On the Lord's Errand.. and Time!

BUNA DIMINEATA!!! Wohooo dawgy that was a crazy week. CRAZY AWESOME!!! Being a missionary is fantastic. I had so many experiences this week where I felt a reassurance that this is what God wants me to be doing. Although this week was crazy awesome, that is not to say that it was also a very hard week. That is the interesting thing about being a missionary- it is hard but also amazing. 

It is not like I did anything really cool this week (although I had some incredible pastries and viewed some stunning sunrises and sunsets, and also walked some jaw dropping streets of Arad). 
My favorite picture of the week!

Gypsy Mansion

The thing that made it so awesome was that I talked to people and learned their story; I ministered to families of the branch; I taught the gospel to people who are ready to make commitments to follow the Savior; and I even got doors slammed on me. 

Everyone does have cool doors in Romania!

Wait. What? Yes even getting doors slammed in the face are awesome experiences because when I endure these "not successful experiences," I am showing God my COMMITMENT to teach repentance and baptize converts.
What I am trying to say that I've learned is that attitude is everything. If I go out with an attitude of "everything and everyone is awesome," with the desire to talk to people and serve them, then BAM! I can find joy, even on the darkest days. This is something that applies to everyone! 
Church near our apartment
Podgoria at dusk
Statue in centru

The way of life in Romania is very different than America. Almost everyone is poor- we are talking 1 to 3 bedroom little communist block apartments. They do not have much! This has really put my life in perspective.  Anyone who reads this letter has more than a Romanian has (minus the corrupt people who have Bentleys or Porches). We have SO much to be thankful for. This humility has really made the Romanian people rely on God for comfort and strength. The cool part about this is that as a missionary, I can help them receive even more comfort and blessings in their lives! I am just giddy to help people see this. 
Beautiful building in Arad
Teatru at night

Much of the days here in Arad is spent contacting, where we are trying to have "meaningful conversations" (this does not have to be about the gospel, although the hope is that by acting like normal people, others will notice us and wonder why we are here... then BOOM! Gospel conversation.) Even though my Romanian is still poor, I try my best to talk to everyone. I have had so many awesome experiences already by just "opening my mouth." One day, I was talking to a man on the tram and I was asking him about some sort of tree... random... but when I got off the train, a kid my age stopped me and said that he noticed that I was trying to speak Romanian. We chatted for a while (in English) and I ended up giving him a Book of Mormon, and we are meeting up with him this week! Little things like that remind me that God has prepared his children in Romania to hear the gospel, and all I need to do is open my mouth, or be a friend.
Love the reflection of the building in the street puddles.

Many awkward situations have come from my tactic of "opening my mouth"... such as when I was talking to a bunch of punk teenagers who laughed at everything I said. At one point I was referring to my companion, Elder Giron, and said "colega mea"... which means my female companion. HA!!! They were laughing so hard. I didn't even realize that I made that mistake until Elder Giron told me when we got off. That was a good laugh!

Which leads me to the next subject... my companion! Elder Giron is from Oregon in a little town outside of Portland. He enjoys photography, music, and running. He is Mexican! He knows Spanish as well haha. Thankfully, he is not a duck fan! He is a fantastic missionary, and a pro trainer. He knows Romanian really well, and is so good at helping me learn from my mistakes. He gives constructive criticism, which is so crucial for me to be able to progress.  

Another struggle this week was I got a nasty head cold thing on Tuesday... It was pretty bad but after some medicine and an extra hour of sleep, I had enough energy to go out and do the work. Thankfully, I am feeling so much better now! First time being sick away from home... check!
Arad at dusk

Since I am the branch clerk, I had a clerk finance meeting with some MLS (member and leader services) representatives that came down from Germany. It was a great training meeting. I really enjoyed learning about how sacred tithing funds are, and how to properly record financial transactions with the church programs. I am being prepped for being a financial adviser and future ward clerk! 

We also got to visit many members of the Branch this week. I have loved getting to know them and build a relationship with them. I truly love ministering to the members of the branch. I just think about how Christ would do the same thing! I love the branch, and we are currently seeing some growth in church attendance! Yesterday we had 25 people! 

I am giving a talk in Sacrament next week.. in Romanian! Prayers please! 

The language is... super tough! I have been hard on myself this week. Elder Giron shared a scripture with me in Mosiah 4:27, which talks about how God does not expect me to "run faster than I have strength", he just wants me to do my best. This really hit me! I need more patience for the language, my teaching abilities - everything! I am trying to have a more realistic perspective this week and work towards smaller goals that will lead to great things! 

The miracle of the week... I am going to try to keep this simple. In the MTC, one of my teachers shared with us about her investigator, Cati, who was never baptized because she randomly disappeared. My teacher one day remembered that Cati may have moved in with her daughter, and she was going to email the sister missionaries in Arad with the possible addresses of where to find her. So I got called to serve in Arad, where Cati supposedly lives, and I got the info from the sister missionaries about Cati and her Investigator record.

One day, an appointment didn't fall through, so we decided to go and try to find Cati. Apparently she is a "golden investigator," but nobody could seem to find where she lives! So, after walking a bunch and not finding her, I kind of got a little discouraged and thought to myself, "I'll just look for her again in a couple months." We decided to go to one more possible street, Strada Dornei, and look there. We approached an intersection and decided to pray as to which way we should go. I felt like we should go left, and Elder Giron felt the same. We walked a ways, trying to find the cross street, Ghica Voda, and finally found it! 

Centru Street 2

We passed a couple that was sitting on these steps outside of their home, and we didn't talk to them, but instead talked to a guy who was sticking his head out of a window... not sure why we chose him haha. We asked him if he knew a Cati that lived on this street, and he motioned for the lady who was sitting on the steps to come over, that these dudes were wondering about her sister. I was like NO WAY WERE WE SERIOUSLY LED PERFECTLY TO CATI!? She yelled for Cati to come out, we explained who we were and she was a little confused at first, but after I showed a pic of my MTC picture, she was like no way! 
Me, Iuliana and Cati

I got kind of overwhelmed, just so humbled that God would lead us to find this lady. Cati invited us in to her home (which like never happens with strangers in Romania) and she said that she, her daughter, and her sister (the lady that was sitting on the steps), were interested in our message. We had a great visit and scheduled to go back the next day (Sunday). We couldn't believe it... three new investigators!!! I said a great prayer of gratitude that night to Heavenly Father, for guiding us to these three individuals. 
Me, Cati and Mia (Cati's daughter)

So the more I thought about what I knew about the Cati from my teacher at the MTC and what I learned about the Cati that I met on Strada Dornei, the more that the two didn't seem to mesh. After much pondering, and talking with Elder Giron and some of the Sisters who knew Cati, I realized that I don't think we met the same Cati! This is weird for a lot of reasons (too long to tell), but after I get some more details, I will confirm. Regardless of this mystery, God did lead us to these individuals, and they want the gospel. So I am super grateful for that! 

Hopefully that all made sense. Sometimes missionary work is like being a detective. Super fun!

God's hand is so evident in my every day life. As I strive to be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost and be obedient, God will work miracles through me, a servant of the Lord. I know that because I have seen this and it is also in the scriptures, which makes it a guarantee haha. 
Gyspy on a carriage.

So now I will answer a couple questions about Romania that I have gotten...

I either write my emails at the church, or at the Internet Cafes. There are lots of them in Romania. The one that I have been to smells like smoke so bad- even worse than Rick's house! I used the computer for an hour and a half and paid 4 lei, so a dollar! Super duper cheap.
Cool home

Brohans... There are SO MANY NICE CARS IN ROMANIA. Bentely's, Porsche, Renalt, Range Rover, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, BMW, Audi... these are almost typical to see in Arad. The economy is very corrupt, so either you are rich, or you are poor... almost everyone is poor. You guys would drool if you walked through the streets!
European chocolate mixed with American candy=Heaven

We eat out a little too much :) The food is so cheap here, and delicious! Covrige is my favorite, especially Chocolate Covrige. It is a soft dough in a circle shape filled with nutella. Need I say more?
Chocolate Covrige

Shaorma is soooo good too. All the pasteries are just incredible. Pizza is really big here. Sometimes we will go and get pizza for dinner. It is way better as it is less greasy and lighter than American pizza.
Cool street in Arad

Centru at dusk

Most cities in Romania are like other European countries where they have a "Centru." A center of town where most of the shops are and there are beautiful buildings and churches, etc. Within most of the big buildings that surround the Centru, are little communities that are inside the walls of the buildings. You can only get into the little communities if you can get through the door, so when we contact these places, we have to ring a random person who lives there and ask them if they will press the button to let us in. Sometimes nobody will let us in... lame!!
Cool building
Beautiful church

Almost everyone smokes here... it is kind of ridiculous! 

I bought a pomegranate at the market.

The smells of Arad are... interesting. When you walk past a bakery or restaurant, it smells amazing! But then you go past a sewer drainage and it smells like puke and poop and it is just horrible. Some of the smells are indescribably bad!

One day we were on the tram and there was an old man that was making puking noises... super weird and creepy, but I couldn't help but chuckling! 
Hungarian church at night

I am so happy that everyone is doing well back in Yakima. I miss all of you, but know that we are all being blessed for my service! Glad the water heater issue got solved!! Thank you all for your prayers and emails- they make my day!

I am happy and working hard, and pray for you guys every day!

Till next time. ATTACK THE DAY!

Love, Elder Ditto

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