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, May 30, 2017

The Week That Made My Year

Was up familii!!

It didn't even occur to me that today is Memorial Day... probably because I am absorbed in the Romanian life style. True to my American heritage though, Happy Memorial Day!!

Celebrating Mirela's (investigator) daughter's graduation!

My Romanian pride increased 10-fold this week as I had the most wonderful experience to explore and see some of Romania's finest scenery it has to offer. Every time I think about what I did, I can't help but smile!!! We got a call from this American couple that is staying in Pitesti right now, asking if we wanted to go see the Statue of Decebal... A flashback to a year ago, when I got my call, struck me. YES! One of the fist things I saw as I looked up Romania was this statue, and I remember putting it on my bucket list. I while ago I learned that it wasn't really close to anything, which would make it almost impossible to go and see... unless an incredibly thoughtful couple invites you, that is!!!

After getting permission from the Mission President, we eagerly awaited our adventure. Friday rolled around and I was so giddy as I put on my favorite pair of hiking pants, shirt, and shoes. We began our journey by stopping at a nearby city along the Danube River, where we saw the remains of a footbridge that the Roman's used to get across Serbia into Dacia (old Romania)... this bad boy was 2000 years old!!! The craziest part of it all was the fact that I could literally throw a rock (well almost) into SERBIA!!! How cool is that!?!?! 
Roman footbridge! 2000 years old. Now just imagine these things going all the way to Serbia across the Danube!

Next, we started driving into the mountains through the city of Orsova. The Romanian wilderness (from what I have seen) is somewhat similar to the PNW, but has a lot of differences as well. If you look at the pictures, the mountains are much more forested with not evergreens, but some other sort of tree. I literally was sticking my head out of the window, catching as much fresh Romanian air as I could. 
This is my happy place!!!

We finally made it to our destination, and I was honestly taken back. I haven't been in a forest for almost a year, and I forgot how much I missed it! I am so thankful for Dad and his love for the outdoors, because it has definitely been implanted in my soul. For  me, being in nature is where I relax and feel closest to God. 
Adventure gang on the Danube!

Far awayyy in the mistyy mountainssss 

Ditto Pose in front of Decebal

The statue was incredible, but what really made the adventure memorable was our boat excursion up the fortile de fier, or "the Iron Gates" of the Danube. The Columbia River Gorge is cool, but there is just something about steep granite faces being sliced away by one of the biggest rivers in the world! To make the adventure even cooler is the fact that we probably crossed into Serbia. The river is divided, half to Romania, and the other to Serbia, so we at some point had to have crossed over... With the cool waters of the Danube, the sharpness of the cliffs, and a calm feel to the area... Ya. I was in my happy place. 

Dreams really do come true!

In some parts of this river, you can find the water swirling around because of how narrow the Danube gets!

How cool would it be to go to church here!

Paradise in Romania

Romania on the left, Serbia on the right
The adventure gang - so much fun

Of course I had to share this story first because this literally made my life. This was my dream- to hike in Romania!!!! This opportunity was truly a tender mercy, because I have been anxiously awaiting for an opportunity to see the true beauty of Romania. Not only was this a dream come true, but it was a time where I got to reflect on how I am doing, what I can do better, and even relax a tiny bit. 
Inside a fortress

We went into this cave!

Something I learn every single week is that I am not perfect, and this is why I come out with learning so much every week. When Christ tells us that through our weaknesses we are made strong, he is really not kidding! There were many ups and downs to this week, and I have come to a better understanding of how much divine help we can receive, even in every moment. 

A scripture that has been in my mind all week is one that Mom shared with us and made us all memorize a couple of years ago (it was an incredible lesson!!)

Doctrine and Covenants 6:3636 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

Funny because I just looked it up and it wasn't the exact scripture I memorized... eh, it works!

There were a couple times this week where I felt very stressed, sometimes lonely, and even a little helpless. Thankfully, all of those moments were washed away because I remembered to look unto Christ. 

These feelings of stress and despair can come for a lot of reasons, but they are not meant to stay. Sometimes it feels like we just can't get them to leave! True, it takes a mental paradigm shift to change your attitude, but this "shift" can be much richer and permanent, that is, through our faith in Jesus Christ. A big quote that is going around the mission is "Faith is the power that causes the things that need to happen, happen." This is mainly used for our investigators, but reaches so much farther. I have struggled at times learning how to truly exercise my faith. I pray, read the scriptures, do good works, etc, but I always feel like I could do a little more!
Mirela... makes me remember to laugh at the little things

Our beautiful eggs... Romanians celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ- 40 days after he was resurrected!

Helping color the eggs (photo courtesy of Mirela)

Then it hit me, I was not putting as much emphasis on the most important part of faith... BELIEVING. Do I truly believe my words as I testify? Do I pray with all of the energy of my heart? Am I doing my works with belief that what needs to happen, will happen? This was the answer that I received from God. As soon as I began to practice this, I saw a clear change in the results of those three things mentioned above. 

As I testified this week the spirit was more abundant because I truly believed, and reflected on personal experiences that I have had. This happened on three specific occasions- two as I testified of the reality that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, and the other as I spoke in sacrament meeting about prayer. The witness I bore were without doubt or concern as to what others might think. I doubted not, and I feared not.
Make me more goat cheese!!

Elder Krieger is a great example of fervent prayers, and as we prayed this week, we had faith that our prayers would be answered. We have the opportunity to teach five English classes each week, and almost every time it is daunting to come up with a lesson plan that is engaging. Each time we were completely stumped. And that was when we looked unto Christ. We prayed and decided to not fear. Each time we did this, our minds were enlightened and we came up with, might I say, incredible lesson plans. Each one was thoroughly enjoyed by each of our students, and we had so much fun teaching. We recognized that it was because of our faith and prayers, that God blessed us with more understanding and added knowledge. Indeed, our faith was what caused the things that needed to happen, happen!
Love this guy

Amidst all of the goodness that was around me, sometimes it was just plain hard to have a positive attitude as I went through the days! This affected some of my works. I tried to have a paradigm shift, but I would eventually slip back into a grump state. That is, until I tried to make my actions more in harmony with Christ's. Even doing things as simple as coming up with compliments for others helped me have a better, more sustainable attitude. 
Selfie with Serbia in the back

These things that I learned are not just good principles, but they are the laws upon which, if followed, will cause the things that need to happen, happen. Our lives will be richer and filled with more love for ourselves, and those around us. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this is what I am helping others learn, as well as myself. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that through his grace and pure love for us, we might summit any each and every mountain that God has prepared for us to climb.

I love my little adventures in Romania, it's just the best!

I also love all of you, and am thankful for your prayers, as well as everyone's prayers. Prayer is dang real and God really does hear and answer every single one!

All my love,


P.S. I hope you google the Iron Gates of the Danube, this is a place that we need to go visit!!!!
A soviet graveyard

"Pastorul" The Shepard

Trying to feed the goats but didn't have any luck
Drobeta Turnu Severin
My name is Elder Ditto and I love nature.
The iconic Elder Ditto hiking picture
Decebalus Rex (King Decebal in latin)

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