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