Dear various peoples,
Well, I'm starting this letter with boldness because... I feel like I should. =)
Prayer is INCREDIBLE. Use it every day! Glory in it. And, if you don't right now, that's okay. Fix it. It's simple as that. Just... DO it. We have within our grasp the opportunity to speak with (not to, WITH) the Almighty God. ...Why wouldn't you want to do that often? Prayer is pure joy. It's... Well, it's something beyond ordinary. It's a language of light and has a power beyond this world. I testify to you of the power of prayer by telling you that without having it in my life I would be not only unfaithful, but likely downright Atheistic. Prayer has changed my life because I can feel Him there, speaking to me, encouraging me, holding me up when I need it, listening patiently when I need to talk, and bringing edification to the truths around me. Prayer is beautiful. PLEASE, do not be afraid of it. PLEASE, do not think for one second that He wouldn't like to hear from you. And, to those out there who might not believe in Him, before making such a sad and despondent claim, why don't you try talking to Him? What in the world do you have to lose? Precious ignorance? Or are you too close-minded to consider the possibility of someone greater than you? Think on it. I witness that He's there, that He cares, and that He expects us to pray. Don't let Him down.
The next step is reading. God has not put the scriptures in our lives to sit on a shelf and collect dust. Pick them up, put them to use, and don't make excuses. You need them--whether you think you do or not. Hold them close, study them ravenously, and share them with your loved ones. The Book of Mormon especially has changed my life. As was recently related in conference, that book is one of two things: Pure truth or blasphemous lie. It CANNOT be any other thing. It's not stories that have good morals but have no foundation in truth. It's not just a "good book". It's salvation. And if you don't KNOW this, find it out. Don't take my word for it--the word of man is weak. Read it. Prove it. Test it. I solemnly promise, with all the authority of my calling, that that book is not only true, but that you will NEVER read something more important to the eternal salvation of your soul. Why should you cry out against MORE of God's words you believers of the bible? He's given you another witness; what you do with it is entirely up to you, but it's of gravest importance to Him that you find it, read it, and live it.
Jesus was and is the Christ. He is the only path to salvation and the only way to true, lasting happiness. This is our grandest message: Jesus Christ atoned for the wrongs of mankind. He was not merely a good man--He was and is the Son of the Most High God. He is our Advocate. He is our Light. And He will make you free from all things if you will but turn to Him and seek His paths. I implore you to find Him and stay in His narrow way. Thank you for reading this and I close in the holy name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Angola is grand, as always. Today is Halloween, I suppose, but that's not a celebrated Holiday here. Go figure. However, the Reedies (I sure hope that's spelled right) had us (16 elders!) over for a little party today as it's P-day and they are the sweetest people on the face of the planet. They're a family from the US (Santa Clara, actually... Small world, right?) and they take good care of us missionaries.
Let's see... Stories. Umm... This week was District Conference. It was really good and I was able to sing with the choir (what a blessing! I miss singing fiercely). Tomorrow we find out about our first transfer. I'm assuming that I'll stay in Luanda 2 (my branch) but really, anything could happen. Sorry that pictures haven't been posted yet... The computers here are so slow that it's nearly impossible to send pictures home. I'll keep trying.
Well, I'd better head. I love you all. May the Lord keep you and bless you.
Elder Cody R. Eckman