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, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017 in Moldova

The following post is taken from notes that I took while we had our special Christmas skype call with Elder Ditto:

  • official language in Moldova is Romanian.  There are still lots of Russian signs.
  • we teach an English class and have about twelve people in attendance.  It is held at the Learning Center which is a nice building that President Ivory purchased
  • President Hettinger gave Alex two charges when he transferred to Moldova - strengthen in the Romanian branch (there is also a Russian branch in the same town) and baptize
  • the branch had a great Christmas activity where Alex played his guitar and sang "Mary, did you know" translated into Romanian

  • the people in Chisinau, Moldova seem either so passionate about the country or so poor that they want to leave
  • there are LOTS of beggers
  • the branch president is a very poor man with a small baby.  The missionaries try to help his family.
  • Alex says that they often take the "maxi taxi" which is a van that is converted into a bus
  • the missionaries got to watch "Star Wars - Rouge One" for Christmas
  • Moldova is not made for cars
  • Elder Ditto does not currently have a leadership position in church or as a missionary but said he is able to be a leader through his actions
  • spoke about Mirela being such a beacon of light since finding the gospel.
  • bore a testimony of the importance of us each being a missionary through our actions

Two young boys caroling at Elder Ditto's door
Thanks Ami and Poppi for the package!

Favorite family in Chisinau

Christmas Branch Party

Streets of Chisinau

These guys to yoga every day like this.

If you are interested in listening to our 40 minute conversation here is the recording:

Monday, December 18, 2017


Craciun Fericit!!!!

Man I can't even believe it's already here... I have so many fond memories of our Ditto Christmas traditions, we are so blessed to be knit together through prayer, fun, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dad sent me a picture of the living room... I think this is like the 6th time he has done this since being on my mission! haha I think I have seen him the happiest and most peaceful when he sits on the grey comfy chair looking at the family finances or reading his scriptures when the whole upstairs is silent. Just to be clear I am totally not making fun of Dad!!!!! hahaha
A cool little statue that I just had to jump off.

When I read his letter, I was reminded of my own living room experience this week. This living room didn't actually look anything like ours, and in fact it smelled quite funny. I was on a trolley bus riding to the church, and a woman tried to pay the ticket guy who receives 2 lei from everyone and in return gives them a ticket. Pretty horrible system but that is how it is... 
The Chisinau Romana District

So the lady gave him 200 lei and he wasn't too happy and had to get in to his other giant wad of money to get the right change. I offered to pay for her but the man said that he would get the change. The bus right at that moment hit a bump and everyone ran into each other and his money went flying. He was NOT a happy camper. 

After the whole situation was resolved, everyone went back into their little bubbles and that was that. Being 6 feet tall I get a nice look at everyone's scalps, and I decided to kind of look around and observe. I thought about the Plan of Salvation and the fact that we are all God's children. Then I thought about all of the people around me and how most of them don't have this eternal perspective, and that we all have some sort of trial or struggle in life. I then felt a burst of peace... for two reasons.

1st - Knowing that my peace comes from Jesus Christ. I have really tried to put an emphasis on Jesus Christ in all that I do and say this month. I have learned a lot about him, as I have learned about his teachings. I have come to know him as I have applied these things! I know that Chirst IS the Savior of the World! I know that he truly did live and die, and then live again for each and everyone of us. My favorite scripture to share lately is found in 3 Nephi, and invitation from the Savior himself!

3 Nephi 18:24 Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.

He truly is the light of the world, and we can too!

2nd - I felt peace knowing that the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring this peace into their lives! This week was rough, and there was a lot of rejection, but the Lord blessed us with little bursts of light, witnessing the light of Christ influence the lives of those to whom I bore testimony of Him. 
Elder Krylborn and I on an exchange headed to Dancu... this was much needed breath of fresh air!

A valley in the heart of Moldova

An artsy shot for ya'll

This shot was taken on the way to a little village. The people of Moldova are very poor but have good hearts and find joy in their circumstances!
Romania just across the forest...

You know, life isn't easy! Christ's life wasn't easy. That's pretty interesting that we celebrate his life. Do we really understand what he truly did for us? This Christmas season we do good and serve and sing and love because of our hope that the Savior brings us. Hallelujah! 

3 Nephi 5:13Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.

This Christmas season, I am humbled to wear his name on my chest, to bring forth the blessed news that we all might have everlasting life!!! 
Fratele George and us... He built (is building) this house... incredible!

This man had gathered up a bunch of thrown out sheep wool, cleaned it, and then put in on the third floor as insulation.

The Moldovan doors open up outwards instead of inwards...

The Moldovan countryside

Thank you Mom, Dad, Tyler, Alysee, Nathan, Cooper, and Chloe for being the best. We are so blessed and I am proud to call each one of you my best friends. Thanks for your prayers, love, letters, packages, etc. MAN I AM LUCKY!
We block knocked this week... a lot!

See you face-to-face next week!!!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Strange Land....learning NOT to be a stranger

Buna zuia de la Chisinau!!!!

Man this week has just opened up my eyes to a whole new way of thinking... Did you know you can buy milk in a bag, or pay a dude 30 cents and you can go literally anywhere in the city along with the other thirty people crammed in to a little bus, or the fact that Russians and most Moldovan celebrate Christmas on the "new day" (7 Jan) instead of the "old day" (25 Dec)? I think it is safe to say that I feel like I am in a whole 'nother world over here in the Republic of Moldova. Have you ever looked at a map of this place!? We are literally bordering Ukraine! 

Elder Quist and I!

I live in the capital city - Chisinau

I'll just start back in Bucharest when everything was normal. We met up with Elder Baker and the three of us got on to a train that would take us from Bucharest to Chisinau in 15 hours... we left at 7:15pm and arrived around 9:30am the next day. I don't know what you imagine when you think of a train, but it probably was not the kind of train that I was on. This bad boy is straight from the communist regime, where everything is written in Russian, and you can bet 1,000,000 Moldavian lei that somebody has probably peed in the little cot that I was sleeping in. We had a TON of luggage, and thankfully it all fit our little room with three other sweet communist bunks. We made ourselves at home, which gave us the weird feeling that "home" was in 1960 when these trains were probably pretty cool.
Chillin' in our bunk

Elder Baker... my cherished friend

Elder Baker and I played a little guitar, we chatted for a little, and then we were off to sleep. Come 2am, we were woken up by the train lady saying that we were on the border of the two countries. 4 hours later we had made it through customs, and they had lifted up every single car and switched the European train wheel thingys to the Russians ones. It was pretty neat to see how they did it, but man, I would never want to be the worker do that at 4 am in the morning in December...

We finally made it to Chisinau feeling 50% rested, but excited to see our new home. We parted ways with Elder Baker, and some of the Russian missionaries helped us get our bags and everything to our apartment. It is a huge one, kinda old, but I absolutely love it now that we put up a Christmas tree and lights :) 
Some fellows walking home on a snowy day.

Elder Quist and I got right to work by looking at the Area Book, setting up some companionship goals and what not, and then got out and contacted because, well, we knew no one! I felt pretty overwhelmed because I am a man of order, and I felt like so many things were out of my control at that point. Everything was foreign, and even the Moldovans who speak Romanian don't even claim that it's Romanian- its Moldovaneste! Just think speaking English with a Russian accent and that is it. I thought it was the ugliest thing! The first guy I met was speaking to me in this weird language and I was just in shock that nobody had a pure, beautiful Romanian accent. Thankfully, this nice fellow guided us to a currency exchange place where I got rid of all my Romanian lei and switched it to the Moldovan stuff, which is worth even less (17 Moldovan lei to a dollar) This brings up the next concern... Elder Quist and I had no clue how much to spend on groceries! Everyone says you can just eat out everyday here... but it is hard to just drop 40-60 lei every time you want to eat something!
Stefan Cel Mare... the center of Chisinau

Centru lit up

Chisinau itself is a fairly beautiful city. It is the capital of Moldova, and is built on 7 hills... I like to dream that they are mountains! Just yesterday as we were walking home through the dirty streets, it dawned on me as to how foreign this land really is. I honestly could have never dreamed about something like this. Moldova is not part of the European Union, and that means that there is even more corruption and illegal things going on... like riding those maxi taxis around the city holding on to dear life, even if it means jamming your rear end in between the dash board and windshield... true story. In America, we have it pretty dang good- don't forget that! Amidst all of these little quirks, the people of Moldova are truly special, and I had many experiences this week that helped my heart grow a little bigger to make room for these humble people.
This is what Moldova really looks like...

Being that we started with 1 investigator from a previous companionship, Elder Quist and I had a lot of time to go out and find somebody to teach. The first night it was so dang cold, but I felt like we needed to go out and contact, to show the Lord we are ready. Almost no one was willing to stop and talk with us. We went out the next day and had a much different experience. I felt a strong urgency to just talk with everyone, and to testify to everyone that I could. We taught many people about the Book of Mormon that day, and found a family that wanted to learn more. We are going back tonight
Having a great conversation with Nicoleta

The next day we did the same, and talked with a nice 24 year old guy by the name of Nicolai. He accepted a Book of Mormon, and then we met up with him the next day. We have met up with him every day since, and have taught him the doctrine of the kingdom. Nicolai has had a very rough life, and has had to work to provide for himself his whole life. He now works 7 days a week from 8 to 5 and then travels outside of the city where he is staying. He used to drink and smoke, but felt like he needed to change, as well as change his friends. So there he was, walking down the main street, and we felt prompted to stop him. Nicolai is full of humility and has a strong desire to repent and come closer to God. He asked us when he could be baptized. We set a date for the 30th of December, but a lot is going to have to get straightened out in his life. His first step is asking his boss if he can get 2 hours off on sunday to come to church. We are praying for him, that God will make it possible for him to be baptized soon! 

Even after 3 days of meeting with this awesome guy, I have seen a significant difference in his countenance. The gospel truly is giving him hope, Jesus Christ is truly healing and bringing him peace. I felt a great love for Nicolai as we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ, and know that God has a great plan for him. I am humbled to think that even after  week of being here, the Lord is using us as his hands to bring people into the fold. I feel true joy being one of his missionaries here in this rad country. 
Elder Coberly learning about this nice lady's children

Sweet little lady... she has a rough life.

Look at that rug!!!

My love for this country also grew as we went to an old folks home and sang for them and chatted with each one of them as we delivered little goodie bags to each one. there are like 20 missionaries and 3 senior couples in this city so this makes service projects fun! I really loved sitting and talking with some of the old ladies, letting them give me big juicy kisses on the cheek, laughing with many, and comforting some that just have had plain hard lives. The spirit of Christmas was just bursting as we brought tidings of great joy to all! 
Walking home on a snowy day.

The boys

I am reminded that it truly doesn't matter where you are, there are always people that need the gospel, whether that means actually learning the the doctrines, or just receiving an act of kindness- it is because of our Savior! We all have a great duty and privilage to light the world this Christmas season. Man, being a missionary during this time really is the best... and to think I get 2 more weeks after the 25th since they celebrate on the 7th!!!

Many more great stories to come, I wish you all a great week and a Craciun Fericit! Can't believe we get to facetime soon!!!!

Elder Ditto 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Basarabia e Romania!

La multi ani Romnia!

This week my Romanian pride went up ten fold. You know how the July 4th is super awesome and we all can't wait to party as a family on that day? Well that is the First of December for Romanians! The only problem is that it is kind of cold, so instead of a BBQ, we make a sort of baked beans and dance the hora till we can't any longer! 
Posing doing the hora... a traditional Romanian dance where you hold hands and dance in a circle.

A traditional dish - fasole_

Elder Jacobson and I spent the day speaking numai limba romana (only speaking Romanian), because we were just surrounded by so many activities that involved speaking Romanian. After a whole day of pure romaneste, your brain starts to hurt, to be honest! It was such a neat experience being in the capitol on this greatly anticipated day. We went to the military parade and saw the president of Romania, learned a lot about cool airplanes and tanks, and spent some time with our new investigator, Claudiu who we found block knocking. 
Feelin some American pride! (look behind the union jack)

Enjoying the parade!
Favorite part of the parade

It was PACKED!

One of my favorites shots from the parade.

The president of Romania was here in person! On the screen he is two from the left.

That evening, we went to a combined branch celebration where we did dance the hora and eat and watch a classic Romanian movie called "Amintiri din copilarie." Elder Jacobson and I went home bursting with love for this country, and more importantly, a greater love and understanding for the people of Romanian
Sora Leavitt is a dream cook!

Ziua Romaniei feast with my friends.

We held a mini zone meeting to talk about how we can better reach the hearts of the people of Romania through understanding the Romanian culture and implementing that in the way we teach, speak Romanian, interact with members, and help others understand the importance and empowering effect of accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

1 Corinthians 9:20And unto the ROMANIANS I became as a ROMANIAN, that I might gain the ROMANIANS; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

Paul truly understood his divine call as a missionary of Jesus Christ, and that is what I am continually learning and realizing. Romanians cannot be taught an American lesson. They need to hear the gospel from their point of view! The beautiful thing is that the principles of the gospel are the same where ever you go, but the way in which people recognize that this message is for them may be a little different. That is the cool and humbling challenge that we face everyday- to teach to the Romanians! We had a lot of success as we went and tried new things, as we strove to live worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost and to serve these people with all of our hearts. 
Some of the happiest people I have met!

Our English class

Elder Jacobson has really helped me understand and apply this principle into the way I do missionary work. I am truly grateful for his example and love for the culture of Romania and each Romanian that he comes into contact with. Truly, my love and appreciation for this people is great. I admire the grit and the humility that they have. Romanians are the most giving and welcoming people I have ever met, and I truly feel connected to this culture, and feel blessed to have made so many wonderful connections with so many superb people.
Sora Gorzo. She is truly a wonderful friend who sure knows how to cook some good Romanian food!

Sora Marilena making some Christmas crafts

Dani always wants a picture with "her boys."

Now... do you remember the title of today's letter? Translated it is "Basarabia is Romania!" Basarabia was a region of Romania that was annexed from the Romanian motherland after World War 1. It is now known as the Republic of Moldova and is controlled by some pro-Russian politicians. It is also the poorest country in Europe. And the Lord has trusted me to go and serve there! 
Amazing how two years of stuff can fit two suitcases, a backpack, and a guitar case.
My summer shoes... toast! 

That is right. All of that Romanian pride is going to have to take a pause, 'cause I am headed out on a night train to live in the Republic of Moldova! I am honestly shocked and was expecting to stay in my city of Bucharest. President Hettinger felt last minute that he needed to send me and my new companion, Elder Quist, to "white wash" (meaning neither of us have ever served in this area) into the great capitol called Chisinau. When I heard this, I was shocked, but as a prayed and thought about it, a peace came into my mind and heart. I know that the Lord has a great work for me and my new companion over there! Chisinau is known as the "promised land" over here. Every says that the missionary culture is so great and that there are so many prepared people. I am really excited, yet sad to leave my people here in Romania. 
This was just the best transfer ever!

Well, I could talk more about Chisinau, but I would rather just experience it for myself and then tell ya'll about it. Elder Jacobson asked me what is the first thing I will do when I leave the apartment on Tuesday. I honestly have no clue... Pray for me!!!

1 Corinthians 9:20 And unto the MOLDOVANS I became as a MOLDOVANS, that I might gain the MOLDOVANS; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

Love you all, and hope you guys have an adventurous week like mine will be!

Elder Ditto
One last contacting hurrah with my favorite elders

A fun morning with these people

Fratele Lucian Frimu... an excellent man whom I look up to.

Fratele Paun's fiance came to visit from America. We love Daisy!



Love this guy!

Classic Vio again

The Leavitt Family. I will be forever grateful for their love and influence in my life!

Sorin Cartof Mici

We made chili boats!
Luand un pranz turcesc with Vio