Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There's no Winter here, just "menos calor", as they say in Portuguese.

Cara Família, amigos, e outras pessoas que amam-me,

I am hopelessly, madly, and wonderfully in love with Missionary Work.  I'm sure that this comes as quite a shock to all, but I must confess it from the rooftops:  I love this work!  In fact, I'm engaged--anxiously.  Life this week has been hard, but great!  Honestly, we suffered some great disappointments in the area of "progression", but I have faith in these great people.  Mission life isn't easy, but it's right.

How's life in your corner of the world?  Weather here has officially become what I would call "beautiful"--in other words, it's "less hot".  There's no Winter here, just "menos calor", as they say in Portuguese.  However, with some overcast weather and a little breeze, life here isn't half bad.  We still haven't moved out of Cassequel.  Supposedly, we'll be moving in the next few days.  The contract has been signed!  However (yes, there IS always a catch), the first payment has not yet been made.  We're waiting on money from South Africa.  I do think everything will come through by Wednesday, however.  Then, we move to Paradise!  (Until the Office Couple comes to kick us out.)

We will soon receive 2 more missionaries (their Visas had a few minor problems(A.K.A. The printing machine in the embassy broke and no one has fixed it yet...)) and that's exciting!  Transfer's did not affect Elder Borden and I, but that's okay and not surprising.  Likely, I'll be in the office at least one more transfer after this one.  We'll see.

Umm, in other news, if you have ever sent me packages through the Reedy family, please never do so again.  There have been so many packages going through them that it's attracted a bit of attention and they've asked us to stop it.  So, we'll live just fine without (or you could try the new P.O. Box we have.  I'm hoping my mom put the instructions from Sister on here.  Thanks, Mom!)  But really, I don't need much.  We get on just fine here.

We're a very blessed people in these days.  I believe that we need to recognize that more, really.  The Lord has shed forth His mighty power on us in so many ways.  I can scarcely count a hundredth part of them.  He's so active in our lives, so present.  He loves us so much.  I invite you all to seek the blessings in the trials and to recognize His hand as it slowly guides our lives down the right courses.  He's there, I promise.  Find Him.

Well, I love you all.  Keep up the good work!

Fiquem bem,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hooray, There is a Post Office in Luanda!!!!

The following is a letter that we received from the Mission about a Post Office in Angola opening up, I wanted to share with all family and friends so that if you wanted to send any thing to Cody you would know that it is now possible, at least I think, I am not sure of cost of packages but I will be looking into that in the next day or two.
  Thanks for all the support to Cody, I know that it means a lot to hear from Friends and family.

Great news!  A post office has finally opened in Luanda, and the “Angola Luanda Mission” has opened a post office box.  Now our missionaries can send and receive regular letters.  To send a letter use the following address:
(Missionary name)
Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos S.U.D.
Caixa Postal 18404
Luanda, Angola

It currently costs $1.05 to send a letter from the United States to Angola.  However, it will cost about $3 (US) to send a normal letter from Angola to the U.S. It should arrive in less than 2 weeks in either direction.  We have already received 2 letters from California, so we know that it works.

If you want to send a package via the US Post Office please follow these instructions exactly:

If the package weighs less than 1 kilo (2.2 lbs.) it will arrive at the Post Office where we have a post office box with no problems.  If the package is over 2.2 lbs it must be sent “Express” so that it will be delivered to our Post Office. 

If you send a package please DO NOT put the missionaries name in the address.  This will make it very difficult for us to claim the package unless the recipient missionary actually goes to the Post Office.  PLEASE NOTE: If you are sending a package put the missionaries name at the beginning of the return address.  Then we will know who it is for.  For example, the package should be addressed as follows:

Elder Smith
Smith Family
123 Elm Street
SLC, UT  12345

                                                Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos S.U.D.
                                                Caixa Postal 18404
                                                Luanda, Angola

We have not yet received packages so this is an experiment for us all, so please don’t send anything of value yet.  We would be interested in knowing how much it costs to send packages to Angola via the U.S. Post Office.  If there are any customs fees, they will be the responsibility of the missionary.

Incredible investigator, & life here is wild!!!


I'm afraid that my time is starting to run out already!  I'm super sorry.  You're all just such faithful writers that I can't keep up with y'all.  I'm trying.

We have an incredible investigator named Lizette who will be baptized as soon as she's married.  The only reason that the marriage is taking any time at all is because her husband lives in Portugal.  However, she'll be traveling in August and plans on taking care of it while she's there.  He's perfectly happy with the idea of marriage.  Anyhow, Lizette is INCREDIBLE.  She reads twice a day, prays a lot, listens to the spirit in a way I've never seen, and is just SO ready.  I'm very excited to see her join the church.  She believes in The Book of Mormon, accepted the Restoration as fact the first time she heard about it, and has SO many miracles happening around her.  I learn every time we teach her.

Life here is running wild!  The Cassequel Elders have all left Cassequel's Chapel for their own apartment which leaves Elder Borden and I alone in the chapel.  We have no water (some should be coming today), are missing many useful items (like a water filter, dishes, etc.), have weak energy, and are waiting on a contract to be signed before we can leave.  I'm not sure when that will be...  But it's super awesome.  The house actually echoes.  Who knew?  The Lord will see us through just fine.  We are still officially working in Nova Vida (on the other side of town) and I'm loving it!

This last week was crazy busy with office work and more should be coming in.  In just 2 weeks, President leaves and we have to wait about 10 days for President Thompson to get here.  Then, we'll train him, the new office couple (who supposedly should be coming around the same time), and probably our replacements.  We'll see how it all works.

Even though I'm still a young missionary, I'm one of the oldest on the mission!  It's super strange.  I'm just trying to set the best example that I can.  When speaking of missions, people talk a lot about the "urgency" that comes toward the middle/end of the mission.  I'm starting to feel it.  In just a month, I'll hit a year!  That's...  Weird.  Wrong.  I haven't done enough!  I haven't helped enough.  The Kingdom hasn't been edified enough.  I haven't been the missionary that the Lord deserves enough.  None of that is good enough for what I want.  But...  All I can do is live the rest even better because of these realizations.  So, I simply will.  I'm changing bit by bit.

Well, I love you all.  Happy late Father's Day!

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, June 11, 2012

Carlos, a professor of medicine contact

Dear friends, family, and various canines who have wandered in from the interwebs,

Well, this week has been wild, fun, rewarding, a lot of work, and oh-so-incredible.  Expecting to be moving into our "house-sitting" opportunity this week, Elder Borden and I started to "officially" work in Nova Vida.  It's essentially a new area (there's not a single old investigator) but there are a few members (most of them inactive), so that's been a blessing.  Working with members, if you didn't know, is the absolute best way to do missionary work.  We get references from them, they sit in on lessons with us, invite friends, etc.  Plus, we're doing some good reactivation work.  This week was great!  For being a fresh area, we still got 4-5 (possibly more if their families all work out) new investigators.  We met a lot of really great, sweet people, taught some powerful lessons, and contacted like crazy.  We're going to build it up well!

One of the coolest stories from this week came about because of contacting.  As we were walking down one of the main roads in Nova Vida, a man drove up, asked us who we were, where we were from, and what we were doing.  We told  him that we were missionaries, Americans, and that we were looking for people to share a message with.  He said that that sounded very interesting, asked us to get in his car, and told us that he lived just a few blocks away; he wanted to hear about our message!  His name is Carlos.  He's 55 years old, a professor of medicine, a very funny kind, intelligent, and wealthy man who just so happens to speak English.  (We tried to teach most everything in Portuguese, but he insisted on speaking English.)  We sat with him for a while, told him a bit more about the church and taught him about the Book of Mormon, he introduced us to his family, and we talked a bit about Angolan history.  Ultimately, he's open-minded, but not super interested.  We were able to go back and leave a Book of Mormon with him and his wife (who is very religious) and have decided to leave it there for a week or two.  If he accepts the gospel, it'll be slow.  It was, however, a very interesting experience and I enjoyed it a lot.  What a nice guy!

We'd been praying that day to have the right people put into our path.  I believe that he definitely was.  It might be slow, but I have faith that even if this is just "seed-planting", it's the start of a long path.  I'm excited for Carlos.

We also found out that "our" apartment fell through.  We won't be moving in to the "Celestial Mansion" of the mission.  However, we will be moving to Nova Vida with 4 other elders who work in other parts of Luanda 2.  Yes, another 6 man house.  The upside is that they're all very pleasant people and the house we're moving into is actually built to house 6 people.  We're very blessed!

This Saturday, we went to an island (technically a peninsula) and had a blast.  We were able to see Luanda from a different perspective, talk about our mission goals, unity, etc.  It was a lot of fun and we definitely enjoyed it.  Elders Walker, Borden, Hobbs and I built a sand castle.  I was buried in the sand by Elder Kelsey.  We avoided the temptation to go swimming.  It was just... Right.  It was good to spend a day out with the Elders.

My life is so wonderful.  Missions are such miracles!  And, more than that, so is prayer.  Prayer is the first and possibly most important tool in life's toolbox.  We should always turn to prayer.  It helps in every possible way--quiets the whisperings of the devil, tunes us in to the Spirit, and brings us ever-closer to our Father in Heaven.  Prayer is our first and final recourse.  Use it every day and you'll see the difference in your life.

I love you all!

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Let the Gospel in and our lives can change!!!

Dear friends, family, and various others (though, in retrospect, if you aren't of the first two groups...  Who are you?),

Hello all!  How is everything on your side of the planet?  Life in Angola is grand, thanks for asking (you were wondering, I'm sure).  This week (almost certainly) we will move into our new house and begin serious work in Nova Vida (an offshoot of Luanda 2--my old area, actually).  Today we spent P-day at the Reedy's because they will be returning to the states tomorrow and Sister Reedy loves the missionaries far too much.  Mom, a picture card and a voice recording are with her.  The picture card is broken, but I think it's probably reparable/something.  So, if it's not too much trouble, please try.  It's got some great pictures on it.  The voice recording is a little goofy...  But the first part is just me and it's pretty normal.  After that...  Well, get ready to meet the Angolan Missionaries.  =)

Last week we had Zone Conference and Elder Borden was sick for 3 days with a nasty bug, so our work sort of dropped off.  I was getting a little stir crazy, but I got a lot of study done!  =)  It's nice to be back out and about.  I'm really just glad that he's feeling better.

I'm so impressed with what I've seen here lately.  People are growing SO quickly and making SO many changes to their lives.  It's simply touching.  When people are willing to let it in, the Gospel has a huge effect on their lives.  It makes me wonder how much I've let it in.  Just something to think on:  What little things keep you from letting The Gospel of Jesus Christ into your life?  I have a list in my journal and I'm working on them.  I invite y'all to do the same.

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately.  And service.  The two go together, I think.  When we're grateful, we serve.  And we're grateful for the service of others.  It's an awesome chain and an endless opportunity to do good.  I like the idea of serving without agenda and without reason; I like service because of the love we feel from Christ.

The Lord has touched me a lot this week and shown me so many important things.  I'm really excited to start doing the things that He's made known to me and to start becoming all the more close to Him.  He has a huge purpose here in Angola for the church.  We're starting to catch a glimpse of His vision and it's staggering.  I expect a stake within the next 3 years, but I'm working to make it happen before the end of 2013.  It's doable.  It'll take a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and work, but it's feasible.  Mark my words here:  The Lord wants Angola to grow and He wants it to grow now.  This last Zone Conference was all about what we need to do in order to see that blessing as quickly as we can.  We can see the goal.  We're at the starting line.  Finishing is a certainty.  The speed depends on every one of us.

Daniele Almeida (a representative of the church from South Africa who handles land procuration) has been  here for a while.  A plot has already been chosen for the new Stake/District Building and will be bought soon.  He's also looking for land for chapels.  Soon, we'll have real chapels!  The chruch has set aside roughly $7-8 Million for the purchase of land here.  Things are moving and it's really inspiring.

Well, I love y'all.  I'm loving the mission and I miss the things we used to do together.  That said...  Sorry if I'm less-than-willing to come how right now.  =)

Elder Cody R. Eckman