|Not quite as many tulips as in the Best Two Years, but still oh so beautiful!|
My this week was packed full of goodness and learning experiences, but at the same time it felt a little long! First of all, I love Craiova. It is a bigger city in Romania, but still kind of has a small town feel- reminds me a lot of Arad. The people are generally friendlier here for some reason. There is a good diversity of age- there is a big university here so lots of young adults here. Something that stands out about Craiova are the parks. They have one of the biggest parks in all of Romania! All are kept very clean and provide lots of opportunities for fun and conversations. We live by "gradina botanica" which is the most beautiful park I have ever been in. It is perfectly kept to the point where it is forbidden to step on most areas of grass! Elder Miller and I have spent a lot of time contacting in this park.
|Elder Miller using his talents (he was a college Quarterback) to spread joy to the kids!|
Something that I have really come to know to be true is that it doesn't matter WHERE you serve, but HOW. You could be in the most beautiful city in all of Romania, but not have any fun, and visa versa.
|One of the most well-kept parks I have ever been in|
I have a confession to make. When I was younger, I had a problem with judging others. I would judge by what they wore, how they talked- mostly by their "cover." I mean, I guess that is probably a problem for most people at some point, but I realized that I really didn't feel good making judgments about people.
|A member's father grilling us some mici for a Sunday afternoon BBQ. Mici does not exist in America. SO good though|
For the past couple of weeks, I have been studying the New Testament- the earthy ministry of our Savior! Man, every chapter seems to be filled with experiences of Christ showing charity, love, compassion, service, to those who, to the natural man, might seem unworthy of attention.
From Matthew 71 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Man, I just love how clear Jesus paints this picture! I am not at all perfect. That is why I am out on a mission, which is weird because you would think that God would want strong and more perfect people to do his perfect work. Well, it is just the opposite!!! I love the mission because through my service to Him, he is blessing me in ways that I could not even imagine. THIS is evidence of His love for me!
This week I started to realize one way he is blessing me, I think a big part was a result of moving cities.
|A nice little find in the streets of Craiova!|
|Orthodox Cathedrals are very unique|
|The beautiful entry doors|
In a new city, it can be a little daunting because you know zero people, have no idea where anything is or how to reach the hearts of the people hear, etc. There are three active members- all male- in this branch here.
The first thing I did? Got to know these awesome dudes. The cool part about being in a small branch is that you can really grow close to each one of them. We have game nights together, play billiards, have barbecues, branch council, lessons, etc all together. I truly feel like I have brothers here in Craiova! As I have gotten to know each one, learning about their lives and including them in missionary work here, I have grown very fond of them. I have felt the spirit testifying to me that God loves each one of them so much, and is looking out for them. Each one of them has a unique story, but I have already seen the POWER that comes from combining our talents and abilities when we try to help others come unto Christ and serve others.
|Adam. A man with a great heart and determination to hitch hike around the world. I think I might do this one day!|
|He let me play the guitar! Didn't make him any money thought|
Another amazing experience was visiting famila Boboc. They are a gypsy family who may or may not have been baptized for the right reasons. I wanted to go and visit them, to see for myself. We were looking for an older lady in-particular, but ran into the whole family in their very run down and make-shift home. They live in a seemingly different world than the rest of Craiova and the world; garbage everywhere, no running water or air-conditioning, etc. It broke my heart to see three little children- beautiful little children of God to be raised by their grandma and forgotten disabled mother in such horrible circumstances.
|Found Sora Boboc at the piata today... She gave me some liliac and zambile!|
This really touched my heart as I witnessed all of this. I really tried to connect with each one and see where they were coming from. As I talked to the old lady, who had a fake eye and weathered wrinkly skin and a horrible back, my heart was overfilled with love for her. Maybe when I was a young teenager I would have been scared to even look at her or be thoroughly authentic with her.
|Familia Boboc's meager living situation. Crazy. You wouldn't believe the inside.|
BUT. The Lord has been shaping me into a new and improved Alex Ditto and in that moment I realized the change that was taking place.
|I was swatting a fly!|
|So much garbage in the gypsy part of town|
We talked about the hand of God in our lives and how we can always partake of the goodness of Christ. We left her with an incredible feeling. The last thing she told us was that she had been waiting for "the boys" to come visit her for a long time. Man, how amazing is it to be on the Lord's errand!
I remember someone explaining to me the importance of my calling here in Romania. He told me that every home that I visit is touched because I have a light that has been unknown to the people of Romania. That light is the knowledge and gratitude I have of the restored gospel of Christ! Hallelujah.
After that experience, I started to notice how much I truly do love the people of Romania. Each day my love for them deepens as I try to find way to serve, to smile, laugh, and share my light! It doesn't matter if they are gypsy or Romanian, have good smelling breath or are missing half of their teeth- I care not for their mote in their eye, but love them as I love myself. When I do this, the Lord starts to cast the beam out of my own eye!
How grateful I am for the way the Lord is shaping me as I strive to do my best.
This type of change isn't just for missionaries but for all who desire to come unto Christ! Do it!
In other news, I got to play tennis on clay this week, played tenis de picior (tennis with a soccer ball and your feet), basketball, shared many Book of Mormon's with people, made some dang good pizza, and just loving life!
|Chef Alex... Ya I've got some skills!|
|Elder Miller's creation|
|Thanks to some 1 leu dough called "coca," the pizza wasn't too hard to make)|
I love each and everyone of you! Keep on being the best you.
Love, Varstnicul Ditto
|One of the milllion florarie in Craiova|
|View from my apartment|
|A perfect Sunday evening|
|An open produce market on a busy Monday morning|