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, July 17, 2017

Agency and Anchors

Hey everyone!!!

Man I forgot how busy summer is at our house, glad everyone is safe and happy! I have so many fond memories of the many activities that I did during summer throughout the years. When Dad told me I did that beach hike five years ago, I literally could not believe that... way too long ago!!! I really miss hiking in the northwest, but the Lord is making it up as he blessed me with many learning experiences and miracles this week.

Bucharest is a really special place. The work here is thriving, some may say it is because there are so many people in this immense and complex, communist-feeling city, others say because we have members and two chapels, cool places to meet people, etc. I think those points all have their place, but the biggest reason and factor is our dedication and faith in the Lord that we WILL find people. 
I love Romania!!!!

We were blessed with finding a lot of interested people, whether it be through our contacting efforts, calling area book contacts, or referrals from already investigator friends! We had the opportunity to have many lessons with our investigators with some of our awesome members from the Mihai Bravu branch, which was a huge blessing. When I see a Romanian testify of the truthfulness of the gospel to another Romanian, my heart melts a little. Christ is truly the head of his church and is strengthening his children in Romania to help others. I am reminded that it is not just my efforts that matter, but the collective effort between missionaries, members, and even friends of the church. Every action counts! People notice how members of the church behave! 
Coming home after a visit at a member's house

Chilling at the piata in Universitate

Some kendama slayers near our apartment... they were pretty impressed that I could play!

This week I learned a lot about myself through analyzing how I choose to act each day. To be honest, I was a grouchy-pants a couple of days this week. I was doing work, but I was letting some really small things get in the way of my attitude. 

Practicing my photography

Crazy how elaborate these churches are!

Some saints in the orthodox church

The church is designed like a cross

Where the priest chants scriptures from the bible

Witnessing painters paint some orthodox saints in a cathedral

In the beginning, Adam and Eve had the opportunity to stay in the Garden of Eden forever and have all of their needs taken care of. They were warned that if they partook of the forbidden fruit, they would "surely die." They weighed their two choices and used their agency to choose to partake of the fruit. This meant that they would be thrown out of the Garden of Eden and would become subject to temptation of the flesh. BUT this also meant that they would have the opportunity to overcome these temptations and PROGRESS. They fell that they, and everyone after them, might have joy. 
Me and my friend Lee from Korea

As I reflected on this over the past couple of days, I realized that I have the opportunity to choose for myself every day if I want to take part in this joy that will surely come if I progress, if I overcome the "natural man." 

2 Nephi 2:27 "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."

Where does this joy come from? Another scripture that I really loved this week has the answer...

Ether 12:4 "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."

I know that this joy come from anchoring yourself to Jesus Christ. When we get a little shaken up on the surface, we can always re-direct ourselves if our anchor is our Savior. I know that joy comes from following the Savior and doing as he did and still does. I am grateful that I have the knowledge of the fullness of His gospel to help guide me in paths of righteousness in the midst of great darkness that surrounds us each day. 

This is what I learned as I taught others about this same principle. What a blessing it is to be on the errand of the Lord, and seeing His gospel give people the peace, the hope, the purpose that they are so desperate to find!

I love you all, and am thankful that I have such a wonderful family to be anchored to!

All my love,
Soccer on Pday!

Lunch with the Elders

Incredibly delicious dessert

Elder Bontempo and I... bros for life!
Elder Green and I on exchanges

Monday, July 10, 2017

God is Good, He Will Tell You!

Hey everyone! 

I am going to lightning write this letter because time is limited this week... just know that I am still 156 pounds, eating really healthy, I do my push-ups, and am 100% ALL IN. I love my mission.
Learning the trade of photography

Our 4th of July Feast.... the brownies weren't too shabby!

This week was actually really incredible. Number wise, we did not succeed, but that is a result of the agency of others- we spent our time preaching the gospel and receiving great training from the wonderful mission president and his wife. 
We love President Hettinger!

I have really enjoyed having this new opportunity to lead the masses, as it means special training. On Tuesday we had an incredible seminar with the leaders of the mission as to how we can move the work forward with more urgency and spiritually. Then on Thursday we had the Bucharest Zone Conference. 
Bucharest Zone... We are looking sharp!

Elder Giron and I enjoying the Leadership Conference and the 4th of July!

Elder Trottier and I... buddies for life

Elder Bontempo and I put it on and turned out to not only be a success food wise (KFC, veggies, and smoothies for all), but also spiritually. It is a great blessing to be apart of this great work and have no worries but for the welfare of others and my own relationship with my Savior. 

Elder Bontempo and I really used these two experiences to fuel our work the rest of the week- and we saw the Lord guide us to people who needed to hear our message daily. It is interesting to look at the two sides of being a missionary- 1) what regular people see and 2) what I see. I am positive (because of awkward experiences happen all the time) that most people think we are crazy, brain-washed dudes who never take off their suit and tie even when we shower. 
Everyday is a blast with this guy!

13 kilo watermelon... worth it!

The other side is what I see- this message that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the fullest has been an incredible source of peace and happiness and my life and I know that it can do this for not just me and my family, but for everyone! The catch is that we all have our own agency whether or not to accept.
Awesome Architecture

Which means, there is a third party of people... those who listen and choose to learn and apply. This is when my role as a missionary becomes very important and this is when I experience the most joy.
My brother

I have learned that sharing my testimony with others is a very essential part to this work. When people choose to listen to the message, they let go of the weirdness of the external situation, and turn inwards, even to their own relationship with their Father in Heaven. I spoke to some people who (thought) they weren't interested in religion, to then have a slight desire to know more, to hear the word of God. 

My favorite experience was having a conversation with an English student after class (we teach English classes weekly for service) about Jesus Christ. I pointed to the picture on the wall (Christ washing the Apostle's feet), and asked him if he could do what the King of Kings did... after all, the apostle's feet must have been pretty smelly!
Jesus washing disciples feet

A half hour later, we concluded our conversation that was truly lead by the spirit and pricked the heart of the man, to perhaps take action to the things we had talked about. I found it so incredible that someone who seemingly wasn't interested at first, could become so curious and open up his heart to the point where he asked his questions that his soul yearned to know. 

Moroni 7:16
 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man,that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

I know that all good things come from God, and he wants us to have happiness in our lives. He has provided EACH OF US a way to obtain this, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this is REAL... try it- if it is not of God, God will tell you!

I love each one of you, be safe this week with all of your travels!




Mirela suprised me at church today... She woke up at 5am and took a 4 hour journey to come to church her with me! It was amazing to catch up with her and see how the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed her... this work is real, and how grateful I am for her and her desire to come closer to her Savior!

Mirela Minunata!!!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mustering Courage, Strengthened by the Lord!

Was up fam bam!

Well I don't know how it is in Yakima, but I would assume it is about the same as Bucharest... IN THE HUNDREDS. 
Elder BonDitto
It was crazy hot this week, up until today where we are being blessed by a ginormous rain storm. 
Lightning from the apartment!

The difference between Bucharest and Yakima is that it is 100 degrees and HUMID. This makes for a sweaty missionary! Amidst the crazy heatwave, Elder Bontempo and I were anxiously engaged in trying to bring the wonderful people of Bucharest closer to Christ. Whether it be helping an old lady with her giant bags that contain who knows what to her bus after a hot afternoon of her not selling anything, helping a lady get to her work to deliver important documents with our umbrella, or having the Lord guide us in our words and paths as we strove to share our message with many, we were truly on His errand. 
A multi cultural parade

Coolest motorcyclist I have seen!

I will be honest, the first week and a half of being in Bucharest was pretty difficult for me. I missed being with all of my friends in Craiova, and how well the work is going over there, I felt so uncomfortable going up and talking to people, and I even felt like I couldn't even speak Romanian! That might sound like an exaggeration, but I was struggling pretty bad. I guess I was going through a little identity and confidence crisis. 
A metro station in the heart of Bucharest

I did a lot of thinking, praying, and discussing over the course of that week and a half. I remember one day in particular where I was completely discouraged, and felt like the weakest missionary ever. AND THEN .....

I saw a man on a bench. 

My heart did a double beat which is the way the Holy Ghost communicates with me sometimes. I knew I had to talk to him.

Then a mental battle commenced, and the natural man one. I had nothing to say to him, and I decided to pass by.

Thirty minutes later we were walking back the same direction that we came from, and THE MAN WAS STILL THERE. I told Elder Bontempo that we need to talk to him, but I still had nothing to say, so we sat on the bench right next to him while I was thinking of what to say of course! Two minutes went by and a random dude walked up to us and started talking to us about his "American corner" in the Romanian National Library and wanted us to come. When we finished talking to him, I knewww I had to go up to the man on the bench, but I still had nothing to say. Knowing that I had already denied a prompting from the Holy Ghost once, I knew that I couldn't deny it again.

I went up to the man with my Book of Mormon in hand and opened my mouth. That was when the Lord made my weakness into a strength.

I am pretty sure my words were horribly put together and very awkward, but the man listened, and told me to have a seat. We proceeded to get to know him, and found out a little bit about his life and turns out he has been trying to reconnect with God... we taught him about the restoration of Christ's church and how he can know the truth for himself. Thirty minutes later, we parted ways, with both parties being uplifted and ready to take on the world! 

WHAT A MIRACLE. Amidst all of my uncertainties, weaknesses, and awkwardness, the Lord used me as his tool to help this man. This little experience truly changed the course of the WEEK for me. From that point on, my confidence and courage has increased ten fold. God helped me remember that it is not my work, but His, yet he needs and wants my help. 

The rest of the week was so much more enjoyable as I was led by the spirit to people many times, and I was constantly looking for ways to serve and use my own talents and abilities to bless others. 

Alma 17:11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

I think this scripture really gives a great depiction of what the Lord is doing for me. I have seen many miracles and much success, but I MUST constantly live in a state of humility, have patience, and serve others continually in order to qualify for his help. 
One of the views from my apartment

View from my bathroom window

How grateful am I that the Lord is teaching me these lessons, as well as making me an instrument in his hands. There is no greater blessing right now than being in Romania on his errand, for the benefit of His children. I know that God needs me, as well as each one of us to be beacons of light to those around us!
George and I

This guy is a hoot!
In other news, the new mission president and his wife arrived on Friday! We had a great ceremony with them at Cismigiu park that morning. I have already got to chat with President Hettinger and his wife many times, and I am their biggest fan! They are so friendly, loving, and have a deep love and concern for everyone around them. I am so excited to work with them and see how they make this mission even greater!

President Hettinger... incredible man!

Pineapple in Romania!

Potato on a stick or something...

Honing in on my viola skilz

Well, I need to write the siblings, I feel bad I didn't write last week. I am so glad that you are doing well. Thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts. I know that I have a huge fan club back at home- I'm a lucky  boy!
A yummy stir-fry we made!

I love each one of you a whole heap!

Love, Elder Ditto

Sora Gorzo-  a mission legend!

She cooks with love and it shows!

With one arm!