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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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to have a great week as a missionary in Romania 101

Oh hey guys, I was just biking through the forest in western Romania and found a Hungarian village on an island, but I am back now! 
Haunted Forest

Crazy right!??? ROMANIA IS AMAZING!! I love it more and more everyday. Today for Pday we did in fact go biking through a forest close near Arad, and saw some amazing things. I am very grateful for opportunities like this to explore and understand the culture better because this is what helps me LOVE Romania and LOVE the people! Europe is just so gnarly. I can't get over it. Like really. 
Biking in the forest

I LOVE Romania!

Abandoned building

Abandoned building next to the Mures

Loving the people and the culture is so essential in learning the language. This has been very evident in the past couple of days. I am truly progressing in Romanian and I truly love learning. One day I had a conversation with a nice man for about 10 minutes about how the family can strengthen our world and the importance of not focusing on the past. I couldn't believe that I actually had a conversation where I understood everything and was able to convey my thoughts effectively. I was so grateful for this opportunity to help edify and be edified. The gift of tongues is real! There would be no other way that I could talk about World War 1 or how Hungaria was oppressed and Arad has a statue to pay their respects. 
Hungarian monument

There really isn't anything quite like a mission. The opportunity to be fully immersed in a new culture and to be meeting people all day everyday is just so cool. This is how we find people to teach about the gospel! 
Inside a tram

This is how we met our new friend, Alex. On our way back from Cluj, I saw this kid who had a MASSIVE Afro. Of course I had to go compliment him! After a good chat, we exchanged numbers and met up the next day to get to know each other better and share about what we believe. Three pizzas, a walk to the park, and 5 hours later, we had taught him most of the first lesson, gave him a Book of Mormon, and bore testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. We are sooo excited to help him increase His faith. Why 5 hours? Well he wanted to spend the day with us and I am not a "neigh" sayer! haha It was just so amazing to share the gospel with someone who genuinely wants to know more.
Thanksgiving with the Sisters, Elder and Sora Days, and the Timisoara Elders

There were a lot of ups and downs to this week. Thanksgiving day was hard- I was homesick! It would have been my first year sitting with the adults at Thanksgiving dinner at the Dittos. Not just that but holidays are about family!!! And I sure love my family. The cure for missing family during a holiday? SERVICE! We made cookies and delivered them with thank you notes all over Arad to members as well as people who we have gotten to know in the community. 
Atrium mall

Elder Giron and Elder Ditto

Primaria prepping for Ziua Romanilor


We walked like another 500 miles this week. I am pretty sure I will be able to sing that song by the Proclaimers to my wife with legitimacy in the words! haha 

One day we were trying to find a past investigator and wandered through the labyrinth of the communist blocs for 2 HOURS! Finally...we found the bloc, only to find that the person was not there. I didn't want to give up though! We decided to ring one person's door, and the lady was not interested. I noticed her trash was waiting to be thrown out, so I offered to throw it out for her! It felt good to render an act of service, and to not let our efforts go in vain. This is a principle I have learned here. Do everything you think you can do, then do a little more, and that is what will make us become true disciples of Christ. This is easier said than done but it has a lot of applications and I enjoy trying to challenge myself. 

There was one day this week where I kind of just felt like going home and playing kendama with the bros, or relaxing and watching a movie with everyone, or laughing with the sissy's! This is all awesome but right now I am here on the Lord's errand. I kept pitting myself and was having a depressed attitude about missionary work. Then, we were walking in a park and and there were some kids chilling by there bikes. I asked them if any of them knew how to do a wheelie, and they said "no." Then they were curious to know if I could do one! So I was like, "ya, like kinda..." One of the kids gave me his bike, I took a couple of practices, and finally got a good one! The kids were pretty impressed, not to brag or anything, but one kid took a video of me and asked if he could post it on Instagram! haha He then requested to follow me on insta. 

So this story is not intended to put myself on a pedestal (Although how many missionaries have done wheelies on some kid's bike😃)) But it is an example of having an attitude shift! Once I forgot about my problems and focused on helping others and related to them, all my worries and discomfort went away. This is how God answered my prayer in needing to feel comfort. I think it is so important to remember that we can't just sit on our tooshies all day waiting for stuff to happen, or prayers to be answered... We need to get out and be all in! 
Elder Giron

So, I am learning and growing and struggling, laughing, joking, wheelieing, and everything in between, but the most important thing is that I know that this is where I am supposed to be... I have been called to teach the people of Romania, and bring them to the knowledge of God's plan. 

I love and cherish this great calling, and appreciate all of the prayers that have been sent my way.

Let's get out and be awesome this week!

Love, Elder Alex Ditto
Free concert in centru- a boy band

Prepping for Romanian revolution day

Elder Giron levitating 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Adventures of Elder Ditto

Buna ziua from the best city ever!
Elder Giron and Elder Ditto in Oradea

Streets of Arad

Beautiful Oradea
Rau Mures

This week marks the 6th week of being here in Romania which means... I MADE IT THROUGH MY 1ST TRANSFER IN THE COUNTRY!!! I can't believe how fast it has gone by- it seems like I was on the sleeper train for 15 hours just yesterday...ha! Elder Giron and I are staying together for one more transfer, and boy, am I glad! I look forward to continue to learn from him and work hard.
So this week was an interesting one! Of course it was full of ups and downs, but I like focusing on the ups of course. Missionary life is just so fun because there is just so much randomness that happens. 
Oradea Statue
Oradea at Sunset
Oradea Street

Oradea Prepping for Christmas

To demonstrate: Elder Giron and I were chased out of a block by a lion dog (at least that's what it sounded like haha), and I was told by a man that he is a cannibal and he could eat me right now, but won't because he prefers skinny (but not too skinny) women instead... Ummmm I was sooo creeped out!! Turns out he wants to have a a cool nick name like Varstnicul and be baptized... If there was a branch specifically for crazy people (there's a lot of em) in Arad, I would have baptized him, but because there's not, that's a no go! Moral of that story: Missionary work is about baptizing CONVERTS not CANNIBALS. Ha!
Delicious Gogosi and Swiss Flags
In other news... I continued to eat wonderfully (I even had the best hot cocoa ever), walked something like 500 miles, traveled to Nadloc (the place by Hungary), Cluj, and Oradea... a total of like 15 hours of travelling this week! 

A couple of culture facts...

  • Communism is very prevalent here. Most people aren't going to be too friendly to you at first encounter. People don't smile or laugh that much! It makes for some awkward moments! People also stare at me all the time... I've gotten used to it. The younger generation is definitely more friendly and American teenager-like, though.

  • Gypsies are everywhere, and the Romanians don't like them at all. There is definitely a separation between them.

  • Life for everyone here is tough. The living standards are not too nice, the government is still oppressing, and people work so hard for so little. Sora Krnacs makes 4 lei an hour. That is 1 dollar an hour here... can you believe this?

  • Culture and religion are one here. So many people will not change their ways simply because that is the culture in Romania, if you switch religions, you are basically disowning your family! That is why missionary work is pretty tough.

I also made two great language mistakes. The first one was very simple, I asked this kid if he is a soccer player and said "Esti on fotbalista?" instead of "Esti un fotbalist?"... I called the kid a girl soccer player! The grammar in Romanian is very complicated, and you have to genderize and pluralize everything... I'll get it!
Graffiti Selfie

The other one was while we were in Cluj for exchanges. We met the branch president and he asked me how I was doing. Instead of responding to that like a normal person, I said "My name is Elder Ditto. It is nice to meet you!" The moment I said that I was like... what in the heck! The guy looked at me and then moved on. It was pretty funny! I am going to make the excuse of being very tired and not all the way there... haha
Cluj Orthodox Church

Building in the city of Cluj

Yummy Thai Massaman  Curry
Dinner in Cluj

Cluj Catholic Church

Cluj Centru 2

Cluj Centru 3

So we went to Cluj for exchanges. I went with Elder Cressmin (going home next transfer) and he showed me around Cluj and did some cool stuff! We visited a lady and gave her a blessing too, that was really neat. I have had the opportunity to participate in three blessings and I have given one since being here. I am grateful for the priesthood and to be worthy to hold the power of God! We then went to Oradea the next day (Sunday) for district conference. 
Elder Cressmin and I in Centru

Elder Cressmin and Elder Ditto

The Cluj Elders
Oradea Centru

Cluj River
Oradea Building
Cluj Church

Cluj Orthodox Church

Cluj Orthodox
Cluj Sign
It was a wonderful weekend and super cool to get to know new missionaries and experience new parts of Romania! One of my favorite parts of the trips was seeing the mountains as we traveled. It reminded me of home-sweet-home! By the end of the journey I was ready to go back to Arad. I realized that I truly love being here! I love the people and the city. This has taken time, and with more time this love for the people of Arad will grow even stronger, which will make me a more effective missionary!
Romanian Mountains


Cluj Streets
During exchanges, I learned what kind of missionary I want to become. It is an eight letter word... OBEDIENT. This is an attribute that I have a very strong testimony in, as I have had opportunities to demonstrate my obedience to the commandments of the Lord many times throughout my life. This is a time where I get to demonstrate and apply this attribute and becoming even more obedient to the Lord! WHEN we are obedient with a WILLING HEART we will be BLESSED. And this is exactly what I need right now. This is exactly what we all need right now! I know that when we have a humble heart and are obedient to the Lord out of love and trust in Him, He will bless us in so many ways. Like everything else, it starts with an attitude of GRATITUDE and POSITIVISM
Elder Ditto and Statue 2

That is what I am going to work on this week- being more obedient with a better attitude! 
Mihail Bravu
I am so excited for Thanksgiving this week; Romania doesn't celebrate it but we are still going to have a feast with the district and do acts of gratitude and service throughout the day. 

Euro Basketball Cup

I am thankful for my wonderful family, for this opportunity to serve the Lord with all my heart for two years, and to be a member of the Lord's church which has been restored to this earth. There is so much to be thankful for right now... Take some time to reflect!

I love all of you so much. We are face-timing in like 1 month!!! Craziness!