Monday, December 26, 2011

Testimony of Christ

Dear friends, family, and those somewhere in between,

Merry Christmas, Feliz Natal, and all that jazz. Christmas was
wonderful! Skypeing (now a word) home was fun and very fulfilling. I
hope the family enjoyed it as much as I did--I mean... I'm so boring!
All I want to talk about is Angola (yeah... It's flippin' awesome,
but still) and missionary work. Thanks for being patient though.

On Saturday we partied at Panchita's, I got a slick green tie, cuff
links, and a pocket handkerchief. We ate A LOT of food, talked a lot,
and just had a roaring time. It was fun. Portuguese is going very
well and I'm excited to say that I keep receiving compliments on my
accent. I can understand the world around me very easily and, most
days, have no real trouble talkng. I definitely need to focus more on
my studies, however.

I realize that I promised you one of the pieces that I have been
working on, but I never got it quite where I wanted to... Maybe next
week, maybe never. We'll see. Sorry (I know you all REALLY want to
read my awful poetry, after all).

It sounds as though my family is doing well and had a great Christmas.
To the rest of you out there (yes, all 2 of you): How was Christmas?
I hope you all felt the Holy Spirit this year and thought back on the
life of Christ a bit. A miracle such as His birth has never been
replicated. And a life such as His was never before and never shall
be lived again. He truly realized the Atonement and saved every
single person from the bonds and depths of hell. That's done. It's a
free gift. Then, he told us all how we could rise even higher than
just salvation from physical death--If we will but take up our
crosses, follow His way, and become who we truly are (note that--it's
important), His grace is sufficient to save every soul eternally and
offer us all that the Father hath. Truly, we are indebted to Him in
all ways. We should follow and serve just because we EXIST... And
yet, still, we are receive incentive. Blessings--more than you can
possible count or imagine--come from His path. It also happens to be
the one path to surefire happiness in this life. Sounds like a good
deal, no? I hereby testify that the Gospel of Jesus Christ (or "His
way") is the greatest gift ever given to man for all other blessings
flow from its most base principles. There is NO other path, way,
course, or road to Eternal Salvation. The holy name of Jesus Christ
is the only name under which we can be saved and receive what we were
always meant to have. The Father loves us. We praise Him eternally.
And if we do it correctly--that is, in the name of Christ--He will
bless us with His Holy Spirit which will be for a guide to us in all
things, in all ways, and in all places so long as we are worthy and
diligent. Do not be casual. Do not be complacent. And, please, my
brothers and sisters, do not turn away from the light of truth. Yes,
it is bright. And yes, at times it appears glaring and difficult to
take... But it's not. We quickly become accustomed to the light and
it becomes a comfort and a protection. If we maintain our course with
all heed to that light, we will not err. Find it, keep it, and love
it. It will truly change your entire being into someone whom you are
more familiar with. I leave these words with you in the name of Him
whom is mighty to save, even the Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Your brother in the Lord,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, December 19, 2011

Feliz Natal

Dearest folks I know,

I apologize in advance for this keyboard... It´s sort of awful.

Transfers... Nothing changed in Luanda 2. All four of us (Schioser, Kelsey, Sande, and I) are all still here. President said that almost surely we´ll be changed around next time. Today, Elder Kelsey and I are on a split to learn new techniques, etc. It´s been good thus far. We actually received a special mission from Sister to try a pizza place near our house (she wants to know if it´s good enough for Zone Conferences, etc.). So, we did. It was good. And she said she´d reimburse us for the ridiculously expensive pizza. Double score!

This week we have been teaching Domingas, Ivonaldo, and Zidane a lot. They´re getting close to baptism. They´re a lot of fun and I really enjoy our lesons. Also, Barbra came to church yesterday for the first time since her father Farao passed away. We have been working with her a lot. She´s 18 and has a hard time with wanting to read and pray.

In the teeny tiny bit of spare time I have, I write. I have been working on something for Christmas, so after I knock a few kinks out of it, I´ll send it next week.

Please take some time to ponder the Savior this week. However you think of Him--a tiny baby or a majestic man, take the time to acknowledge His effect on your lives. To me, Christ is everything. He´s given me a chance. We live in a sin-doomed world, but don´t have to succumb to it. We can walk in His love and protection. I invite you all to do so.

Merry Christmas. I love you guys.


Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, December 12, 2011

I won't be home for Christmas

Dear family and friends,

I love you all dearly. =) I'm sorry to say, but I really don't miss you. Not in the conventional sense, at least... Sure, I miss our times and smiles and laughs. I miss your words and voices and personalities. But really... I'm on a mission. I just don't miss anything too much. I love this. I've been receiving so much here... It's just better. So, sorry, but I won't be home for Christmas.

Mom, I get to Skype home. What time is best for you guys? I'm going to aim for 8 A.M. there... But honestly, I don't know when that is here. I think it's 3 PM, but I'm not sure. So if y'all could do a little research for me, that'd be perfect. Let me know? Also, if that time doesn't work, let me know. I have church here from 9-12. A card is also on its way with Sister Reedy. She is SUCH a saint. Please, thank her for me.

This week has been good! Lots of lessons, lots of spiritual moments, etc. We're teaching lots of people right now, but I'll just highlight one for you guys: His name is Lusala. Lusala is SO cool. We visit and HE shares thoughts from The Book of Mormon with US. He, like so many others, is waiting on marriage.

We just got done at the Reedy's (she wanted to throw the missionaries a big Christmas party before they left for the states for Christmas) and it was just perfect! The meal was so very Mormon... Gosh, we had funeral potatoes, broccoli salad (you know the kind... Bacon bits, etc.), frog eye salad, Jello salad, a big ham, and sweets after sweets. This won't mean anything to most of you, but Mabel Reedy makes better cookies than Nancy Langston. I know, Aubs; it's a tad unbelievable. Then she gave us all homemade stockings filled with candy. If there's an award for sweetest woman in the world, she might win it.

Tomorrow we receive word about transfers again. Already? Life here just flies. I have a feeling that I'll be with Elder Rainbolt and that I'll stay in Luanda 2... That said, it's mostly just a guess. We'll see. =)

Next week, we have Christmas with President and Sister Walton. I'm excited! It'll be fun and super spiritual, I'm sure.

Portuguese is awesome. I'm not fluent, but I'm definitely on that road. I can understand everything around me and can say what's on my mind and get my point across. That said, I've got plenty that needs improvement. It's an ongoing road and a dang fun one at that.

Well, have a truly Merry Christmas my beloved family and friends. I wish you all a Christ-centered experience this year. I'll close with my personal testimony of the importance of the birth of Christ. Without Christ in my life, I'd be lost, miserable, and sunken deep into the world. But... I have Christ. I have His love and companionship. I know that He knows me and that He's taking care of me. I know that above all else, He wants me to take His path and bear His gospel. I know that by doing this, I'll receive all that He can give me. Please, consider the simple birth of a child in a cave surrounded by beasts of burden while being praised by the Hosts of Heaven for they knew what His birth would bring to pass: The Great and Infinite Atonement of All. All existence held its breath for that moment and found relief only through that little boy-child. And now, we have a hope. Find that hope in His life. I leave these words with you in my Savior's Holy Name, that is, Jesus Christ. Amen.

'Tis the season,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Christmas Season

Dearest friends and family,

Happy Christmas season! It´s...not like that here. I wouldn´t even know that Natal was close if it weren´t for the date. It´s just...different in the States. I can´t explain it well. Something about the people´s expectations of Christmas.

Some of you have asked about how to send me small packages. There isn´t really a good way... I have an address and we get UPS and FedEx... But it´s SO expensive. So, sorry, but I´ll go without. =)

This season just isn´t Christmas for me without The Forgotten Carols. Good thing I have the CD! =) Seriously though, go to it. It... Makes my Christmas. Celebrate it for me while I can´t.

I just realized that I´ve yet to explain the wonders of Funge to you guys. Hahahahaha... Funge is hot glue soup. It´s flour mixed with boiling water to make something that looks like mashed potatoes, has the consistency of rubber, the taste of evil, and the smell of FUNGE... Lets just say the name explains it well. Everyone here eats it. It´s filling, easy, and cheap. Elder Kelsey and I have a running contest to see who can dodge it the longest. He´s winning, but I have hope.

My investigators are just so dang cool. Joice is 14, has an 8 month old daughter (she´s SO cute), and wants to make a lot of changes in her life. Yesterday, she asked us when she could be baptized! Wow!

Alberto is in his 30s and just loves the church. He never misses a Sunday. He devours the Gospel Principles manual. And, when we teach him, he alredy knows the stuff! He´ll be baptized shortly.

Overall, life is so, so cool. I love this place. I love the dust. I love the pollution. Heck, I love the drunken taxi drivers. This city is so special to me. As far as Christmas goes, we´ll be partying at President´s. I don´t know what that entails, but we´ll be eating a lot and playing games, for sure. I´m stoked. No, mom, I still don´t know about calling home. I´m sorry. I think we´ll Skype, but I´ll let you know when I do.

I want to share with you my two favorite Christmas songs: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day and O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Read the lyrics. Listen to the songs... They´re powerful.

I love you all. I´ll close with my testimony that Jesus is the Christ. I know that only through Him can we find true peace and true comfort. We are far from home. But, when we find Him, we grow closer to it. His way is light and joyous. His love is real and palpable and so, so important. Chase Him. Chase after His love and His counsels. It´s the only way.

I love you and I love this church. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Elder Cody R. Eckman