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, May 22, 2017

Sometimes it takes a blogpost!

Hey Fam!!

Hope you all had an incredible week. Mine was crazy up the wazoo! We did a ton of travelling as it was zone conference this week. Elder Krieger and I woke up at 3:30 AM to get to our train on time that was heading to Bucharest. We got there right on time, only to find that the train was an hour late... grr!!! I never like staying in the train stations in Romania because they are gross and filled with lots of homeless people and beggars. Kind of sad! Finally our train came and we were off to Bucharest. 
Our train back from Bucharest... no AC and we stood for 3 hours because it was so jam packed. We did meet a cool Nigerian though!

That day we had our last Zone Conference with the Ivory's... so sad! It was a great meeting and it was fun to see a lot of friends. The next day we did exchanges with the zone leaders, a lot of fun and good experiences, but Elder Krieger and I were pooped and ready to go back to our comfy beds! 
A orthodox church in the heart of Bucharest

Admiring the House of the People

Beautiful interior architecture

This week I did a lot of reflecting about myself, how I am as a missionary, and how I can truly help my investigators make the next steps in the journey in coming closer to Christ, because that is what this mission is about! At the beginning of my mission, I didn't have a whole lot of intense love for the people of Romania. With regards to this, I feel like I have made so much progress. Every day I find a new reason to love Romanians. In fact, sometimes when I talk to foreigners and then switch to a Romanian, I just feel way more connected to them! I know that I was called to serve the people of Romania, and I am so thankful. Romanians are some of the most welcoming and friendly people I know, especially here in Craiova. 

So I have this burning love to serve the people here; I feel like my testimony of the gospel and of Jesus Christ as my Savior grows by the day, but then I go and try to teach a Romanian and somehow the simplicity of this calling just gets lost. I think this is a common worry for all missionaries, regardless of where they are serving. There are a lot of factors to teaching the gospel- how the message is presented, my own personal testimony, the receptiveness of the listener, and most importantly, the presence of the spirit. 

The message that I bring to the world is so simple- that God still gives us guidance in these latter days so that we can be happy and prepare to return to His presence. And we have a convincing evidence that this is true- through another witness that Jesus is the Christ... the Book of Mormon. I testify and invite the person to read, ponder the words, and then pray to know if it is true. The spirit will testify of the truthfulness to those who are truly seeking the truth. That's the nutshell of the message! Some people will accept this invitation and read with sincerity, and others will reject. My job is to find those who are ready to accept this invitation that will truly enhance and bless their lives. 

That takes care of the presenting the message part, but it is just sooo much more than that. I have found that the most important part is the relationship between the teacher and the listener. Now, the listener has a little bit more power because they are the ultimate decider on whether or not they will accept the extended invitations, but my role as a teacher is sooo important. I have kind of been struggling (in my mind), whether or not I teach by the spirit. I think I am naturally a little harder on myself, but I truly want to do this right. I think a big factor of my self-criticism is the fact that I haven't seen anyone become fully converted to the gospel, which is kind of frustrating sometimes because I want it for them so badly!!!! Now, this is a dangerous thought, and I do not measure my progress by baptisms by any means, but a boy has got to wonder sometimes! 
Rockin' our shades on a beautiful evening in Bucharest

First thing is first, I know that I have made a difference in so many peoples lives here, regardless if they have accepted the gospel or not. I have learned that making any change that brings you closer to God, even if it is just something as simple as reading a passage in the Book of Mormon or saying a prayer, is actually huge! 

So the biggest question I posed on myself is if I am teaching and being guided by the spirit? Sometimes I feel like I just shank the lesson and that if I had been more conscious of the spirit it would have gone better! THIS IS ALSO DANGEROUS.

Elder Krieger said something really profound the other day. He is a man of incredible faith and determination, which is something that I have missed in a companion. I tell him is in on fire! He told me that "holy ghost is the absence of doubt." That kind of just clicked in my mind... of course!!! If I doubt my words, then the spirit probably won't be with me. The fruits of the spirit are peace, joy, confirmation of truth, etc... ALL come because doubt has been diminished. I learned that I need not have doubt or be shy as I teach the gospel, what I am teaching is TRUE and has blessed my life... and if I have the FAITH and confidence that it can bless the lives of those who I am teaching, the spirit will be so much stronger. This is the relationship between doubt, faith, and the spirit. 

You know, the fact that all of this clicked to me, and that Elder Krieger was in a state of clarity and helped me is evidence that God is helping us in the work here, and that he has a plan. That gives me a lot of peace!

Before I talk about my next realization this week, I want to share a little tender mercy/on the Lord's errand story. Elder Krieger and I were on our way home for lunch the other day, when I ran into an old lady that Elder Miller and I had block knocked a while ago. I remembered that she had dementia and was probably lost right now. I offered to take her to where she wanted to go. She told me she just had to cross the street to go get some medicine from the pharmacy, but I insisted to escort her there. It was a good thing, because she didn't have too much recollection of where she was, which was manifested by her repeated questions of where I was from and why am I here. In response to the second, I told her the we are servants of God. She immediately crossed herself, as any faithful orthodox old person would do and we continued on her way. 

Even though this lady had a full-on mustache and beard and was five times my age, I realized that SHE MATTERS TO HEAVENLY FATHER. He sent me to her because she was in need of help. Would God do that? In the words of Elder Bednar, "Absolutely. In fact, he does it all the time." I just smile when I think about all of the people who saw this act being done. Not because I was a great hero but because maybe it touched one of their hearts to do something nice to someone else. Remember that video we watched for FHE that one night about the chain reaction that happens when someone does a good thing? It was kind of like that. This was something that Christ would have most definitely done if he had been in that situation. We ALL have this opportunity every day, to minister to others- to go out of our way to help someone in need. That little old, bearded lady has a special place in my heart. 

Any time we are enlightened or are inspired to do good, means that it is from God, which is also evidence of the spirit. Another way that we can be influenced by the spirit is from the words or actions of others, like what the words of Elder Krieger did to me. During Zone Conference Sora Ivory said something that made me realize how the gospel has actually blessed me and the life of us- our family!!! This may sound so simple, but for me it was complete evidence that what I am doing is truly the work of the Lord. 
Vali's graduation!

They even do it in Romania!

I realized that because of the life and decisions of mom and dad, of our grandparents, and all those who have come before us are the reason why our family is so awesome. Think about it! We are all happy, have enough for our needs and wants, we love being with our extended family, etc. This is not common with all families! I found the answer! It is because of the choices that each person in our family tree has made... and that is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. What happens when we do this? Well, God promises us more blessings that we can even handle!! I just want to repeat this. THE GOSPEL BLESSES FAMILIES. I now can truly say this and I see evidence of it every day, as I think about you guys, and observe the family life of those here in Romania, who don't have the gospel yet. 
The Craiova Branch - we had eight people including two investigators. Elder Krieger gave his first talk and it was incredible. I had to give an hour long lesson on the Plan of Salvation for Sunday School and boy was it tough! There was a lot of individual opinions that I felt detracted from the spirit.

This letter has been all over the place, but as I have written down my thoughts, I have realized that the Lord was really guiding me all along this week. Sometimes it just takes writing a long email to you guys to realize it! Being a missionary is hard but the blessings and the things that I learn erase all of the tough parts of this experience. All of our experiences are for our good. I know that!

I pray that we will all have the courage to keep to the faith and hold fast to what we know is right! Never forget to do the little things, because that is how we see the bigger results!

Mirela showing me a new delicious snack- ceapa cu branza! Onion with cheese!
Prepping for an AMAZING BBQ with Mirela


I love each one of you and pray for you daily. Also, thank you to all those who read this personal account of my experiences. I hope that we have all been touched and moved to be a little better!

All my love,

Varstnicul Ditto
My buddy Elder  Boud

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your amazing latter. You gave me much to think about. We are at the end of school here so everyone is getting ready for graduation. Can you believe it's been a year since you graduated?
    I would love to meet Mirela in person. She must have an amazing testimony. (I noticed that she is the only woman in your branch.). ...and I love her yard, patio and home. Tell her "Hello!" from a sister in Yakima!

    I pray you and the other elders will be led to the Honest in Heart.
    Sister G