Alex's Mission Address:

Elder Alex McLean Ditto

Romania/Moldova Mission
Bdul. Primaveril Nr. 19-21 Et.1 #13
Sector 1
011972 Bucharest

Email -

Monday, June 26, 2017

This work is REAL

Well that was a wrap to another incredible week in Romania!

This was the first full week of being a missionary in Bucharest. I thought I had a grip on the Bucharest life, since I had served in Otopeni (just north of Buc), but boy was I wrong! This city is gargantuan, people everywhere, so many blocks, and you could basically stay on the metro for a whole day and still not make it to every stop! 
New companion - Elder Bontempo


To be honest, the first couple of days were daunting, not really knowing what my role is as a zone leader, trying to get a feel for the members here, and figuring out how in the heck am I going to contact basically all day everyday! Just when my stress level was getting a little out of hand, we ran away to a beautiful city in south Romania called Craiova. 
Taken out the train window on the way to Craiova

Boy was it nice to be back in my home! I felt like a native, seeing people who I know, going to the same covrigi stands, trying to speak in olteneste, etc. I got to spend a whole day with Elder Krieger as we did exchanges. 
My brother, Elder Kreiger

Even though it had only been a couple days from not seeing him, it was so great to be reunited and get into our flow that we  had perfected. The day was spent preparing for one of the biggest days of my mission... Mirela's baptism!!!!

It was kind of surreal that there was going to be a baptism. We got the font all ready, designed some really cute programs, organized a musical number, etc. I was feeling a little nervous, but mostly just in anxiety for Mirela. This was the next step for her and one would change her life forever. It brought me a lot of peace as she told me that she knows she is ready.
The baptism programs we designed

The baptismal service was incredible. The spirit was there and Mirela was glowing. We had a little photoshoot before the service and then it began with a talk that I gave on baptism. 
Portable baptismal font

Mirela entering the waters of baptism

After the talk, we went to the transportable font and preformed the sacred ordinance of baptism by the authority of Jesus Christ. What  a miracle it was to have the opportunity to baptize someone into the church of Jesus Christ... it was a surreal moment, my joy was truly full! 
Right before Mirela got baptized

As I reflected on the actual act of baptism, I realized that the actual act of baptism wasn't what made that experience so amazing, but it was the road that Mirela took to get there that made it so sweet! We spent three months with her preparing her for not just this moment, but her life after baptism. Mirela truly changed from a not-so-confident woman who lacked purpose, to a daughter of God who is coming to understand her purpose in life, and is ready to continue to follow the Savior's example. 

It has truly been a miracle to see how not only this woman has changed so much for the better because of her commitment to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, but how her decision has blessed so many other's lives. Mirela's daugther, Emilia is headed to England at the end of the summer and to see how much their relationship between them has strengthened because of Mirela's new outlook on life is just heart-warming to see. 
Mirela and her daughter

A scripture came to mind as I was pondering about how amazing the past three months were in seeing not only Mirela, but so many others come unto Christ.

Alma 26:31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.

This opportunity to see Mirela enter the waters of baptism is truly a gift from God and I am truly thankful that I could witness seeing the gospel truly change the life of one of His precious children. Truly, my joy is full and what a miracle to look back and see the fruits of my labors! Whether we can or cannot see them all the time, I know that the Lord blesses those who keep his commandments and strive to be witnesses of Him at all time and in all places. 

Fun photoshoot prior to baptism

I am so excited to continue this great work in Bucharest and continue to help others come unto Christ, for this is my joy full!

I love each and everyone of you. Thank you for your prayers and support!

All my love,

Varstincul Ditto

I LOVE Romania!!!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Miracles and Changes, But Always on the Errand of the Lord

Hello, my friends and fam! 

Well you guys will never guess where I am emailing from- Bucharest! That's right- I have been called to serve as a Zone Leader over the Bucharest Zone with my new colleague, Elder Bontempo. Yup, this was quite the shock for Elder Krieger and I and at first an unpleasant one. Let me being you guys up to speed.

This was by far the most productive week that Elder Krieger and I had. We taught many lessons, met tons of new people, taught lots of English courses, planned a branch party, learned a lot, and most importantly, helped many souls come closer to the Savior, Jesus Christ.
My bro and I

My Craiova friends (a mix of the two members from the branch and also English class families)

Cristian, Liviu, and Leonard were masters on the grill

The focus of our week was helping Mirela be prepared for baptism. She had committed to keeping the Word of Wisdom, but we knew it would be difficult! Elder Krieger and I decided to do something special for her each day of the week, to show her our love and support for her. One day we made banana bread, another day we gave her a picture of us for her salon, ate dinner with her, etc. I have really come to love this woman and she has a special place in my heart. We continued to teach her, and she was just absorbing all of the commandments that we taught her. 
Elder Krieger refining his baking skills

Banana Bread... my fav!

As we met with Mirela Minunata, we had some really amazing experiences with her friends as well- they SAW the light that not only we have but also the light that was so new and radiant in Mirela!

I loved sharing with her friends and colleges why we would ever leave our families for two years. They all gained a great respect for "Mirela's boys."
"Mirela's boys"

As I reflected on how funny it is that six adults could be so curious and awestruck at two 18 year-old boys, I realized why this is. They were attracted to LIGHT. So many people have told me over the past couple of months that I have a light and I didn't quite understand why. I realized that day, that it is because of the gift of the Holy Ghost- a gift that is promised to all who are baptized in the true church of God. I received the gift of the Holy Ghost almost 11 years ago and have felt his presence many, many times in my life. Then it hit me- the gift of the Holy Ghost is truly one of the greatest gifts that God could give me in this life because it brings me JOY and helps others feel this JOY when they are around me. Mirela has recognized this and that is why she is so diligent in keeping the commandments of God- so she can qualify for this blessing!

Remember when I promised that I would cut my hair if Mirela didn't receive blessings for keeping the commandments with faith? As expected, I STILL HAVE MY HAIR! We prayed so hard for Mirela this week, but we weren't the only ones who had faith. HER faith began to spring up out of the ground. She had experiences where she RECOGNIZED that God actually listens to her prayers, and that he loves her! It has been absolutely incredible to see this woman who started with little faith at all, to being ready to make the covenant of baptism with her Father in Heaven. This is a miracle. She will be baptized this Saturday!!!
Mirela Minunata

Mirela was by far the center of our week, but we balanced our time with many other activities. One day, as Elder Krieger and I were contacting, we came across an old lady who expressed interest in learning more about our church. I am no respecter of persons, so we made an appointment with her that afternoon! When we returned, this old lady was talking with another grandma. We were introduced to her, and the old grandma left. A second later, we were surrounded by two muscle building dudes who asked us why in the heck we believe in God. It caught me off guard! I did my best to explain the nature of our Heavenly Father but they kept arguing. Soon they tried to get a "pretty girl" into the conversation and it was obvious that they were only here to create raucous. I asked them if they had a desire to maybe find out if God existed and they said "No" and took off after the pretty ladies... it reminded me that where there is good, there are also people trying to destroy the good. The old lady then asked me what the first proof is that God exists... I thought about it and replied. She then said, "breathing!" Wow. I needed to hear that. It made me reflect on the simplicity of life and the gifts that God grants us even in every moment- life!

Our branch party was also incredible. We had two families come and a couple of our friends [note from mom:  I think the extra families are from their English class they teach]! Best party I have ever been to in Romania. Everyone was enjoying themselves, asking questions about the church, we all looked at pictures of my family on Facebook, played soccer, etc. Yup, Craiova is my home!
I am still bad at fotball, but I am getting better!

Sebi... my favorite English student

Ping Pong Masters

Get ready for some domination bros!!

And then... I got a phone call Saturday morning... no more Criaova. Elder Krieger and I honestly could not believe it and we were really taken back. We had been having so much success and amazing experiences; Mirela needed us more than ever and she was to be baptized that very next Saturday! Although it was so sad, I remembered why I am here and what my purpose is here in Romania. "Not my will, but the Lords" I am about HIS errand and that is a marvelous work and a wonder. The Lord needs me in Bucharest for some reason and I need to have the faith to find out. Elder Krieger brought a quote back to our remembrance: "What is the one thing you can give God? Your agency!" It is my duty and pleasure to go forward with a broken heart and contrite spirit, something that the Lord had been preparing me for all along. 
Baietii Mirelei

Elder Krieger and I had the most incredible six weeks together and I would have loved another six but we have no regrets and our paths had been led every step of the way. It is safe to say that I found another brother, someone who I will be friends with for the rest of my life. Elder Krieger and I learned heaps together and now it's time to magnify what we have learned with others. 

Thankfully, I will be returning to Craiova on Saturday to baptize Mirela Minunata and she will begin her new journey as she continues to learn and strengthen her testimony of the restored gospel and God's plan for her. I have been blessed with so many wonderful experiences, all of which I will hold dear to my heart forever. The relationships that I have developed are worth more than any material thing I could ever own! 
Branch Family!


Familia Radulescu [note from mom: I think this is the Branch President and his wife?]



The Lord is truly shaping me into a man of God and I cannot wait to see how he will refine me as I find more of His children that are ready to come to know him at a greater level.

I am so glad for so much support back at home- your prayers and thoughts have truly blessed me so much!

All my love,

Varstnicul Ditto

Always dreaming about the mountains

We are crazy!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Keep the Commandments! In this there is safety and peace...

Buna ziua draga familia!!! 

Aceasta saptamana a fost plina de incercari si miracole datorita credintei noastre... asa e viata!

Life is just full of ups and downs, and this week was no exception. There were some days where it was just plain hard being a missionary. Being a missionary is definitely harder than I imagined. I remember one day walking through the center of down, trying to contact, but having ZERO success, and just feeling a little overwhelmed at the task of finding someone that is truly ready to hear the gospel. It is safe to say that I have often felt "unqualified" for the work, as these past five weeks have been very humbling being a trainer and realizing that most of the time I don't really know what the heck I am doing! The wonderful fact that I try to remember is that "whom the Lord calls, he qualifies." I saw evidence of this during the course of the week. My faith has grown and have seen God's power manifested through two boys and the desire and faith of one who is coming to the fold of Christ.
Selfie with Leonard

I have focused a lot of my studies recently on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Something that I noticed is the pattern of Christ truly blessing the "one," after they perform an act of their faith. There are countless examples, but one that I really loved from this week is found in John 4...

47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
52 Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
Photo by Mark Mabry from "Reflections of Christ"

This man asked Jesus to heal his son, but it wasn't just a request, it was a plead in faith. The man went his way BELIEVING, and as he journeyed, he was greeted with the news that his son was healed. This miracle was not done just because Christ had the power to heal, but also because the man ASKED and WENT with faith. Also, Christ commanded the man to "go his way," which represents a sort of commandment that he gave to the man... remember this!

I had the amazing opportunity to help Mirela learn to exercise her faith so that she can begin to see miracles.
Selfie with Mirela

It started with confusion on Elder Krieger and I's part... we were in a sort of rut as to how we can help Mirela progress towards being ready to be baptized. We got a call from our zone leaders asking if we had taught her the commandments yet, and then it hit me... OF COURSE! She was doing all of these good things like coming to church, praying, and reading the scriptures, but she was missing one of the most important aspects in allowing God to work in her life... keeping His commandments.

All of the sudden, the connection between faith, keeping the commandments, and miracles just clicked. We needed to give Mirela the opportunity to qualify herself for the promised blessings of God to those who keep the commandments.

It was hard to help her see this, as it is in all of our lives. We want results now and without much effort. This, however, does not help us grow, which is why Christ did not work in this way!

How would we help Mirela see that it is through keeping the commandments that she will find this peace and blessings that she so desperately needs!? Simply put, she just needed to commit. And what better way to commit then to promise her that if she does not see the blessings which are PROMISED to her, then I would cut my hair... really short... 
Mirela's commitment to stop smoking... love it!

This is not because I was desperate to have her keep the commandments, but it is because I wanted to help her see that faith coupled with action (in this case, keeping the Word of Wisdom) really will bring blessings. As I testified of the reality that keeping the commandments brings blessings and that she truly will be blessed for her actions, I could feel an overwhelming feeling of love and desire for her to keep these commandments. It was another little taster of the love that God has for this woman. I also reflected on how much God wants ME to do the same because he is anxiously awaiting to pour his blessings on me and Mirela and all of us.

What a blessing it is to be on the front lines of this great work of bringing souls unto Christ. There is nothing happier or more fulfilling to see someone who you have grown to love, make the courageous decision to build their foundation upon the Savior, and see their life and countenance changing for the better every single day. The worth of souls is truly great in the eyes of God and I am starting to realize why.

Mirela has started her journey back to her "house" (I'm referring to the story in the bible again) and is going forward with faith and hope that God will bless her for her courage to keep the commandments. I have no doubt that after Christ commanded the nobleman to "go his way" that Christ prayed for that man. This is my role in the story... to be Mirela's support in her journey and never lose faith that God will truly bless her. 
Andrei and I... found a new tennis buddy!

Still got it!

Playing on clay is heaven... in memory of Roland Garros!

I love this gospel. It is real and blesses lives. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone and has shown us the way to have joy in this life, and prepared for the next.
Leonard is an incredible artist... I now have my own portrait!

I can't wait to email next week- with long hair and all! Let's go forward with faith and stay firm in keeping the commandments of the Lord!


Varstnicul Ditto

Monday, June 5, 2017

Learning To Be A True Christian

Hello again everybody!!!

Man it seems like I just emailed you guys. The weeks just fly by. This was a solid week. We had the opportunity do some service as we picked cherries a couple of times for the branch president, helped strengthen our members through activities and visits, snuck in a little birthday present for one of our members, Leonard, as we went to watch the Harlem Globetrotters, continued to teach our wonderful friend and investigator Mirela, and were probably fed five our of the seven nights of the week... ya I'd say I am a Romanian food-aholic! 
Picking cherries

Picking cherries on a beautiful Saturday morning!

Cirese... sweet cherries!

Leonard and us at the Globetrotters!

Enjoying the game

Selfie with Smiley!

Globy... Apparently the most famous mascot in the world_

Something I love about Romanians is their hospitality. As English teachers, we have many students who we grow close to which lead into great teaching opportunities, as well as eager Romanian women who want to cook for us... and boy I am not complaining! The best meal was... oh man... probably stuffed peppers or the three course meal which included pig fat, cheeses, and veggies for the appetizer, a ciorba for the side, and grape leaf sarmale with homemade bread and a cherry cake for dessert! Is your mouth watering yet??? Romanians take their food very seriously, and are sure to not waste even the intestines of the pig. They adore you when you compliment them, and eat more than anyone else at the table (I know that from experience...) I love the family atmosphere that I feel when I am in a Romanian's home, and I reflect on how blessed my family is because we have the gospel. I share the picture of our family very often, and everyone either says that mom and dad are so young, or that we all look so happy! This isn't because we are perfect, but it is truly because of how blessed we are for keeping the commandments of God. It is hard to share this with these people who have held on to tradition for so long, but I will find those who are truly seeking for the truth and a positive change in their lives!

Thankfully, God has blessed Elder Krieger and I with many wonderful people here in Craiova to help bring unto Christ. I had many learning experiences this week that helped me understand my role as a missionary as well as a christian. First of all, the most rewarding thing to see as a missionary is progression in others. I am here for others, and I have such a desire and concern for those who I meet with to make steps to help them understand their divine potential. The wonderful thing is that I am not just helping them- they are helping me, and God is truly blessing both parties as we learn to turn outwards and follow the perfect example- Jesus Christ!

Let me tell you the parable of the time Elder Ditto was "spat" upon. 

One day Elder Krieger and I had an appointment with our dear friend Mirela. The morning had been a little weird, as a result, our spirits were down and weren't in the right mindset. As we walked to Mirela's we passed a family/group of gypsies. They were laughing and having a good time, but their were two who were a little crazier and were beginning to get a little rowdy. We quickly walked passed them, but I heard a uncomfortable laugh that gradually got closer and closer to me, until I felt a surge of cold liquid all over my back... First thought that went into my mind was alcohol... I quickly snapped around, with my hands out, about to say some mean things in Romanian. Then I saw two things and felt another in the next one second...

1. The dude had a water bottle in his hand... phewf!

2. The embarrassment that was on their faces and most importantly, the spirit asking me, "what would Jesus do in this situation?"

Well, my hands were up so that was kind of an issue, but I quickly composed myself and tried to muster a smile and told them that it was ok. That's all I could do, so I just turned around and walked off. This moment was huge for me. I had an opportunity to turn outwards when the natural man inside was telling me to get big and angry. I am thankful that I didn't, but I felt like Jesus wouldn't have just said it was ok, but even would have took time to talk to them and make a new friend. 
Mirela brought us dinner!!

We laughed it off, though, and went to meet with Mirela. Much to our delight, she had brought us lunch, with a big smile and all. She always makes our day, and takes out any anger or stress that we have and replaces it with love and happiness. I call her "Mirela Minuata" or Wonderful Mirela. Not only is she filled with brightness and love, but she is blossoming into a faithful woman. I remember first meeting with her in April and she didn't even really know that you could have a personal relationship with God. Now, she is an avid reader of The Book of Mormon and prays, with real intent too! This progression is just heart-warming to see. 

Mirela isn't the only one who is learning to come unto Christ, though. 

After our lesson with Mirala Minunata, we walked back the same way we came. Lo and behold, those same gypsy gangstas were there. This time, I came to them with a completely different attitude! They were quick to apologize and instead of staying ticked, I gave them bro hugs, those solve everything! We continued on to have a little conversation and we both parted ways, both being filled with the spirit of God, which is the love of God. 

Ok, so maybe I wasn't "spat" upon, but that sounds a lot more dramatic than being sprayed by a water bottle. I am so thankful for this experience because It shows the power of turning outwards and striving to be like Christ! Regardless whether or not you are a Christian, everyone can follow the example that Christ set. It is so much more fulfilling and powerful, when we follow the example that Christ set with the vision that through His gospel, we can return to live with our loving Heavenly Father again. This is my goal and what better way to come a little close than to be a missionary for Him!
We love Craiova!

A couple times this week I felt like I lacked charity towards my fellow men. Charity is the pure love of Christ and isn't just something that I naturally have. Christ was an incredible example of this as he ministered to anyone who had faith in him, regardless of race or class. Not only did he help those but extended his long-suffering and humility to all those who he met, even ones who judged him. I love the image of the pharisees condemning the woman who had committed adultery. Christ's response to the pharisees was whoever is not guilty of sin, let him cast the first stone. None of them dared to cast the first stone, and Christ told them woman to go and sin no more. He is no respecter of persons, and at times I find myself judging others.

John 811 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
12  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

I decided to really work on this and found myself filled with the "light of life" as I strived to do what Jesus would do- what he has asked me, and all of us, to do!

Miracles and changes within happen as we lose ourselves in the service of others. Whether big or small, these miracles are evidence that God loves us and is ready to pore out his blessings as we strive to do our part in being true Christians- followers of the Master!

I love you all and SUMMER IS HERE!!!


Elder Krieger getting his Aussie game on.

Still got it!

Leonard... the real pool shark