Dearest friends, family, Romans, countrymen (and anyone else who is lending me their ears),
This will be my last letter to you all as a teenager. Not to announce it from the rooftops or anything, but I will soon leave the dreaded years for the supposed "fresh life" of the 20's. Honestly, I feel no different. That said, it's a milestone. =) How are you all? For me, all is well. I love this phrase, "All is well". I love the way it sounds and its connotation. I love it when All is Well. Life will be hard, winds will blow, friends will desert, foes will win, happiness may seem a dream, but All is Well. Why? Because we know better.
Perspective is so cool. I live in Luanda, Angola. My house is without energy, water, etc. It's, frankly, dirty. The "comforts of life" are a roof over our head and a mattress to sleep on. But it just doesn't matter. Yeah, I wish Air Conditioners worked, that refrigerators ran, that mosquitoes didn't bite, etc. But I have my scriptures. I have the truth. I have great company. I have a smile. One day, this will all be just an incredibly eye-opening experience.
Easter sort of came and went for me (work is the same day in and day out for missionaries), but we did get to go to the Weggelands and talk about the Easter message. Can I share my testimony with you all? First, let me recount a story.
Last P-day we found two little birds in a pot of used oil near our home. We acted quickly, got water, dish soap, etc. and began to clean them. I had a realization as Elder Borden and I were scrubbing at the birds: This is like the Atonement. When we fall in oil, someone has to clean us up because we're incapable of saving ourselves. And what do we do? We fight. We bite. We struggle. We cry. And we're impossible to clean like that. It's a hard enough process as it is. But when we submit to the power of the one with the soap, we are cleaned. It is, however, impossible to stay clean if we go back to play in the oil. If those little birds had done so, we couldn't have done anything for them. It was an interesting thought for me: Stay away from the oil after you've been washed. We can't touch filth and not be affected. That's my thought today.
I want you all to know that I love my Savior with all of my heart. He has changed everything for me. Every possibility is better. Every movement has more purpose. Every day is happier, fuller. And I know it's because of His Atonement. He changed my life by saving it. He took me from gaping jaws of hell to Heaven's Straight Path. He knows how to succor you. He's done all you've done, experienced more than you can imagine, and knows you better than anyone. And guess what? He still loves you. He loves us all so much that it startles me to catch a glimpse of it now and again. It's so beautiful.
Well, I love you all. The office work is going well. I'm learning bunches. Elder Borden is convinced (and is starting to convince me) that I'm the right guy for this job. He says that there is no one else in all of Angola that can do what he's seeing me do. It's hard to love the job, but I'm starting to. I love you all. I'm grateful to be here. I hope you all had a wonderful, spiritual Easter Holiday.
Elder Cody R. Eckman