Monday, January 30, 2012


Font before cleaning!!!!

Font after!!!

Dearest friends, family, and countrymen (don't lend me your ears...
Just your eyes today),

Well, transfers happened. =) I am now with Elder Guente and still in
Luanda 2. I love it here! And Elder Guente is a blast to work with.
He's very intelligent, funny, and experienced. I'm learning a lot and
am excited to continue to do so. Elder Sande went off to Cassequel,
Elder Kelsey went to Terra Nova, and Elder Tolman came to Luanda 2 to
be Elder Schioser's companion. Lots of change, all of it exciting.

On the 4th, Samuel and Antonica will be baptized! Antonica was
married this week and it was quite an event! African receptions
are... loud. And big on the show of it all. It's... interesting.
But hey, it was fun. The food was good. Antonica was as happy as
could be and now she can be baptized! What a perfect thing. Sefa
will likely be baptized this month. We haven't set a date yet as
she's traveling because of a death in the family, but we want to this
week. We're still working with the others. =)

I still love it here. Missionary work is still true. Life is still
incredible. And, basically, all is well--no, better than well; I'm a
missionary. Life doesn't get better than that. What a blessing and a
privilege it is to serve here and do the work of the Lord. What an
awesome life it is to live to bring people to a knowledge of their
God, their sins, and a plan to free them from the bondage of the
world. 'Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love, truly. The atonement
is real. It has power. It can take effect. Our job is to let it.
I've found that living in the world is a bit like being a bird trapped
in a cage. If we get used to being in the cage, when we're finally
set free again we may never fly as high as we once did. But if we
work in the cage to keep our wings, one day we'll taste the clouds
again. Our goal is to fly again. Don't forget your wings.

I want to talk a little more about the wonder of The Atonement of
Christ. It's not just about our sins. The atonement is not only for
sinners! How wonderful is that? The atonement is for every time
you've felt sad, burdened, hurt, empty, lonely, angry, unfit,
unworthy, unwanted, unloved, and broken. The atonement not only saves
our lives, but gives them to us. Please think about what that means.
The atonement allows our lives to be rich--the atonement allows our
lives to be more. And, through faith in Jesus Christ, it gives us
hope of an even better life than the best possible life we can live
here--which consequently can only be gained through the atonement.
Understand The Atonement of Jesus Christ and find the hidden treasures
of the world. Nothing else is sufficient to save. Nothing else will
give life. Every other way is death, misery, anguish, and darkness.
When He said that He is the light of the world, He meant it. He is
the light shining in darkness and throwing off rays to bring us home.
Please, follow Him. Please, love Him. And please, find the light.

I love you guys. I love you because of the love I can feel from you
and because I know that we are all brothers and sisters (literally and
through our faith). I implore you all the name of Jesus Christ to not
turn away from these words. Amen.

With love,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, January 23, 2012

New week and transfers coming

Dear various friends and family,

Well, I just got back from an African Safari. Yeah... It was
awesome. Truthfully, we didn't see a lot (because of the war here a
lot of animals left and are just starting to migrate back), but we did
catch sight of Zebras, Elephants, Monkeys, Wildebeasts, something they
call deer but that look like small antelope, Palancas Negras, and just
beautiful African countryside. As we drove up, we saw a big fence and
President said what we were all thinking: "Is anyone else reminded of
Jurassic Park?" The next four hours were taken up by raptor jokes.
Ken would've been proud. We rode in a giant Jeep-like-truck-thing.
More Jurassic Park jokes. Overall, it was a blast.

We find out about transfers tomorrow and transfer on Thursday. I
should be staying in Luanda 2 and Elder Sande should be moving, but
that's just the logical decision, not the spiritual one. We'll see
what happens. =)

I've been reading a lot in The D & C lately and I recommend it. Words
straight from the mouth of Christ are pretty powerful.

This week we should set 2 more baptismal dates. We tried last week,
but ran into complications with feelings of unreadiness, etc.
Everyone's doing well and learning quickly. We had 140 people at
sacrament meeting on Sunday.

Mom, I got my care package from the Reedys. Thank you! The gummy
stuff was perfect! All the elders were really grateful. The jerky
was a hit, too.

To everyone, I'm thankful for the dearth of fat jokes because of my
defective bed. =)

Well, I don't have much to say today. Life's trucking along and I
love you guys. I know that Christ lives and loves us. I know that
our Father in Heaven is guiding things for our ultimate good. I can
see His hand from very early moments in my life and I'm SO grateful
for Him.

Keep on being examples of the believers,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Falling missionaries and bunk beds!!!

Dear friends and family,

The safari was delayed for another week. So... I can't tell you how it went, yet. Next time. =) Antonica will be baptized on the 4th of February, Samuel is praying about his date of the 28th of January, and Alberto is praying as well. Joice moved to another branch, but I hear that she's doing really well!

I have an awesome story to relate. So, our bunk beds have never really been all that sturdy. Since day 1 they've wobbled and made noises, etc. On Tuesday of last week at 3 in the morning, I woke up to a snapping sound and was suddenly on the ground. Yep, our bed fell. Elder Sande and I were both fine, but it was hilarious. So, I took to sleeping on the ground for a bit until we get a replacement. On Thursday, Elder Kelsey and Elder Schioser's bed did the exact same thing. The blessing is that it did it before we went to sleep. (I've been sleeping where it fell, so that would've been... painful.) Anyhow, it was just really surreal and super funny. We took pictures. You'll all see them someday... I promise. =)

Life here is life here. Transfers will happen on the 26th, we'll get a new missionary (Elder Kearney, I think) the following Saturday, and we'll continue with life here yet again. All is well, I'm happy, fulfilled, and dreaming of baptisms.

Really, I don't have much to tell here this week... Umm, I'm learning a lot lately. One of my goals is to finish the entire standard works this year. My progress is going well, and thus far it seems like it won't be a problem. Wish me luck, yeah?

Portuguese and I are getting on well. She's stopped playing hard to get so much, and now we're happy with each other pretty much all the time. ;) Seriously, though, I love this country, language, and people.

To close, know how much I love this work. I know the Lord is directing us with His might and that angels attend to us SO much. Sister Reedy says that the angels in Angola are overworked... Maybe so, but I'm grateful. I love you guys.

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, January 9, 2012

More to enter the Waters of Baptism

Dear Friends and Family,
Within the next six weeks we should see about four more people enter the waters of baptism from my part of Luanda. I'm SO excited for them! Samuel, Antonica, Alberto, and Joice have all progressed so well and so rapidly. Marriages, soul searches, life changes, studying, studying, studying, and here we are. I'm so impossibly grateful for these incredible people.
Next week we'll be visiting a park (it's a safari, essentially--I'll take cool pictures) on Segunda (Monday), so expect e-mails on probably Terça (Tuesday). Just so you know.
How's life in... All the various places you are? (To be honest, I'm not even sure who reads this.) I hope all is well. Life in Luanda is awesome! How do I explain? Hm... It's hot, humid, polluted, crowded, and filled with so much opportunity. Yeah, yeah, it doesn't sound fun... But man, I love this place! Every day is an adventure (and filled with lessons). I don't know when or how it happened, but I even like Funge! It's really not so bad. The trick is to never eat it alone. Mix it with something and it's not half bad. It's filling and kind of interesting.
Well, today I wanted to share my favorite parable with you all, but I can't remember where in Matthew it is--or its exact name. I'll call it The Parable of The Wedding Feast (that's close, I think). You know how it goes--The King's son is getting married and he sends out his invitations. They get forcibly denied, so he invites EVERYONE. Feast time comes around, the King sees a man without the wedding garb, questions him, then has him tied up and thrown out. There's wailing and gnashing of teeth, etc. I love this parable because of the idea that preparation is still required regardless of the fact that we were all invited. As Talmage expounds in Jesus The Christ, it's even likely that this wedding garment would have been provided for anyone who came in by the right way. This man, however, did not. This is our warning. Having our names on the records isn't enough. We can't just send back the invite and say, "Yeah, sounds good. I'll attend." And then do nothing to prepare. So how do we do it? Where do we get the wedding garment? The right path is The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Have faith in Him, Repent, be Baptized by immersion by one with the proper authority, receive the Holy Ghost by the Laying on of Hands, and endure in this path until the end. Some of you reading may have taken the first four steps and fallen a little short along the way. Allow me to remind of something that you once learned: It's never too late. The way is available through prayer, the scriptures, and the help of leaders. Not to belabor an issue that is no longer an issue or to confess to an audience a foolish past, I'll speak from the perspective of a recovered addict (or rather one still in recovery as it will be until the end of my days), and say that the only way is the scriptures and prayer. I tried for years to kick an addiction that held me in its vile grasp and found no release. When I turned it over the the "little stuff" (i.e. daily scripture study, fervent prayer, etc.) it ended faster than I could believe. What I couldn't do alone in years I found I could do with Him in just months. The desire to do evil can be taken from you and the desire to love the Lord with all you have can be given. I know that this is the truth. Thanks for reading, I leave this with you all in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I love you guys,
Elder Cody R. Eckman

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year

To all the people I've loved before,
Happy New Year! Supposedly we won't see 2013, so make this year a good one! ;) How's life on your collective ends? Life here is... Well, like it always is. I've realized how truly impossible it is to explain well. Suffice it to say that it's different and wonderful and filled with little moments that mean grand things. Life is about those little moments, I think. Savor them. Find them first, then savor them. Don't let 'em go.
We met two new investigators this week and they are both just so, so awesome! Samuel is living with a member (his brother) and really wants to join the church. He's been reading, praying, etc. It'll be a short process for him. Louis is non-practicing catholic who is very interested in learning about other churches. He says that he just wants to do God's will. He wants to read The Book of Mormon and learn more about the church. He's a nice guy with really interesting questions and I have high hopes for him.
New Year's was interesting. People here party for New Year's. I was... surprised? Surprised is a good way to put it. Streets closed, people dancing, drinking, music, etc. It wasn't a very good night for lessons. We tried.
Yesterday night, I met a really interesting woman. We call her Avó Manuela. She knows the Bible. She loves The Book of Mormon. Her only real hangup with the church is that we claim to be the only true church. She thinks that all the others that do good works can't be false, etc. It's something she has to work out on her own. Reagardless, I loved talking with her. Everyone was very surprised that I've only been here about 3 months. They all said that my Portuguese is very good. I receive compliments on my accent a lot as well. My goal for this year? Become truly fluent.
I have other goals, really. Little things, but things that'll make a difference. I've realized that this is the only year of my life (unless I serve when I'm older (I DO want to, by the way)) when I will only be on a mission. That's cool! I need to make it awesome. So, I have a few goals. I'm working on creating more. I invite all to do the same. Without goals... Well, you don't have much to work toward.
Well, I'd better go. This work is awesome! This church is true. If you love Christ and God, then keep their commandments. Read. Really show your dedication. Your life will never be the same.
2012, here we come,
Elder Cody R. Eckman