Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Accidentally wandered down the rabbit hole!!!!

Dear Adoring Fans,

Well, I've made a fairly large decision and you should all know:  I'll be coming home three weeks earlier than expected.  We recently changed our transfer schedule (we're currently in the middle of a 9 week transfer to reflect the change) so that we could more easily receive missionaries from Portugal.  This means that every missionary in the mission has to choose to stay an extra 3 weeks or come home 3 weeks earlier.  I was more inclined to choose to stay (why leave?), but after a lot of prayer, the Lord's made it pretty clear that He's got something else in mind.  I don't really even know why, but I do know that it's right.  So, expect to see me home nearer to the 4th of July.  =)

This week was adventure-filled.  We drove a lot, learned a lot, went to a part of Luanda I didn't even know existed, and got horribly lost for a few hours.  (Don't worry, Mom--we were completely safe.  We had the truck and everything.)  We found a fair during our "lost voyage" and it was Christmas-themed.  Don't worry--we didn't partake.  We've decided that we must've accidentally wandered down the rabbit hole for a little while there.

We started doing some legwork for President Walton with some of the other apartments to finalize the move of some other elders.  We should move in to our new place on June 1st.  =)  We are very excited.

Today we visited Celso and Sara Valdez for lunch.  They're an awesome Portuguese family with 3 kids who live near the chapel in Cassequel.  Celso said something to me that really got me thinking and I'd like to share it with you all.  He told me, "It seems easier to not go on a mission than to go on one at ages 19-26.  But at 40, it seems that it would've been much easier to have gone than to have avoided it."  He told us how he converted to the church at 24 and got married soon after and explained that his life has been through many ups and downs since.  Celso is an incredible member.  Still, he says that he believes that many of the downs would have been avoided by the deeper level of conversion, spirituality, and love obtained by missionary service.  It really got me thinking:  Do we change so much?  I...  Haven't.  Not yet.  Not to the level that I want.  But, I've started actively working toward it.  Maybe someday I'll reach the man that I envision.

I've noted some really cool things lately with help from the Spirit and just need to share them:  We are meant to live the Gospel, not survive it.  We should enjoy it!  We should love the doctrine, the friendships, the scriptures, prayer, etc.  Yes, we'll have trials and hardships, but so what?  It's nothing when we realize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ provides a way to rise above all things.  I'm not trying to sound insensitive...  But we can't afford to get too wrapped up in ourselves.  That's when the devil takes the opportunity to sow doubt, contention, pride, and so much more.  When we live the Gospel correctly, we don't have time to think too deeply on our problems.  We're out serving, loving, and taking care of other people.  Our duty to God is to love not just His Church, but this life, too.  He gave it to us to be happy and find fulfillment.  So... Let's do it.  Let's live this with all we are and stop being survivalists of the church.  We aren't to apologize for, feel discouraged about, or turn away from the truth.  We are to live it in every step.  And I invite all of you to do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Cody R. Eckman

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