Monday, August 27, 2012

Election week in Luanda

My beloved family and friends,

Firstly, I'm not sure who reads this anymore but I have a request:
Someone get my dear friend Heather to get me her address in some way
shape or form.  I miss her dearly and would love to write to her.
Slash...  She owes me a letter.  Just saying.  =)

We'll be having elections this week, so our schedule a little wonky.
2 days before the 31st we have to be home by 6 PM, on the 31st we
don't go outside, and 2 days after the 31st we'll be home at 6 PM
again.  It'll be interesting.  =)

This week was great!  The upcoming elections made our lesson load a
bit lighter and our investigators in church a bit lacking, but I'm
confident that it's just a blip on the radar and that next Sunday
we'll see some more growth.  I learned a lot this week about humility,
joy, and focus.  The Lord has been very present and I feel unspeakably
blessed by His power.  Little by little He truly changes us into so
much more than what we are.  I've got cubic tons of work to do, but I
feel like I'm on the right track.  It's a good feeling.

I've decided that I'm going to start focusing on an attribute of
Christ every week for the rest of my mission/life.  It seems like a
good way to develop them more fully, right?  For this next week, I'm
focusing on the attribute of diligence.  I believe that we can always
do just a bit more, so I want to focus on going that extra mile... and
then some.  We can always do our jobs better.

Mom asked me a bit about my new companion.  Elder Clifford is 19, from
Mesa, Arizona, a little shy, an athlete, really smart, and really
willing to get out there and do things.  He's a funny guy and we goof
around in the apartment a lot.

The Thompsons have not yet arrived.  There is surely a wise purpose in
their rather long delay, but please keep their VISAs in your prayers.

We are going fishing next week for P-day!  I'm more excited than I can
express.  It's been SO long.  It still won't be quite like fishing
with Dad...  But, then, nothing is.

Life is great and I have no complaints.  The Lord is really good to
us--to His children.  He really just wants us to follow His course
because He knows that it's the only way to happiness.  It's true, you
know; There's no true happiness outside of the true gospel.  There's
strength here.  Passion.  Power.  Joy.  Serenity and peace.  When we
live it, we're greater than ourselves.  I testify of this truth.  The
Lord wants a powerful people, so it's all within our reach.

I'm probably going off on a strange tangent, but have you ever thought
about the measure of your creation?  Why are you here and what are you
here to do?  How are you fulfilling it?  Could you be doing more?  We
have guides to help us in the scriptures, the words of the prophets,
personal revelation, and our Patriarchal Blessing.  I think
understanding these questions requires a lot of temple attendance.  I
also think that it's infinitely worthwhile to think on it.  What more
can I do to fulfill my measure of creation?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my measure of creation and I'm
still filling in lots of blanks.  I do know this much though:  Right
now is incredibly important to it all.  My mission is a definitive
time in my life--as it should be in anyone's life--and I need to do it

I know this all sounds sort of strange, but I think it's important to
find our reason for being here aside from just the general get a body,
experience and grow, find an eternal partner, and have an eternal
family part.  That stuff is huge.  Bigger than anything.  But...  I
think there's an individual and personal reason too.  One that we
can't ignore.  Just food for thought, I guess.

Well, I've talked your ear off.  Happiness is found in the true
gospel.  Christ made it possible through the Atonement.  We shouldn't
let that go unnoticed or set it as naught.  I love you guys!

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, August 20, 2012

We taught about 16 lessons this week, have 1 baptismal date (many potentials), had 9 investigators in church, and marked 13 new investigators this week

I am so sorry about the back up of letters from the missionary field, we have been having internet problems for the past 3 weeks, so I am doing my best to get these posted while it is up and going right now. Please forgive my lateness in getting these posted, but please enjoy them. 

Lori Eckman

Dear Everyone,

I'm writing letters this week--I'm sorry for the delay.  Expect them
in a few weeks.  I love you all, I'm just crazy busy here.  The good
news?  Life is incredible!  We started the week with NO investigators.
 So, we got to WORK.  Elder Clifford has like 2 blisters from all the
walking we did.  And we saw fruit!  We taught about 16 lessons this
week, have 1 baptismal date (many potentials), had 9 investigators in
church, and marked 13 new investigators this week.  The Lord blesses
hard work and I have a firm testimony of that.

Elder Clifford is awesome!  I'm really enjoying working with him and
we get along pretty well.  I'm afraid that I'm working him a bit too
hard...  But he's a champion and eating it up.  We've resolved to be
the best missionaries we can be together.  Training is cool, but no
big deal.  Some people take it too seriously.  He's already been
through an intense 2 month program and learned a lot.  We learn
together--I'm NOT that much more experienced.  We're equals and that's

I'm really redoubling my efforts to be EXACTLY obedient lately.
That's not to say that I've been gravely disobedient or anything like
that, only that we can always strive to do more, to follow better,
have a bigger smile, a whiter shirt, to get in one more lesson, leave
a member's house just a few minutes earlier, etc.  I'm starting to see
the blessings.  The Lord will bless us when we follow His will.  I'm
trying to make my new life motto:  I do the Lord's will.  With this
phrase in mind, who could sin, disobey, or walk along erred paths?  I
echo Nephi's words:
O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his
condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much
mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of
sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of
mine afflictions?
Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give
place no more for the enemy of my soul.
Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength
because of mine afflictions.

My call to you all is the same promise that I've made to myself this
past week:  Let's do the will of the Lord.  Nothing else is worthwhile
and nothing else brings the promises of happiness, life eternal, and
strength that He's promised us.  O then, if we have see so great
things, if the Lord in His condescension unto the children of men hath
visited us in so much mercy...  Why should we droop in half-obedience
and incomplete dilligence?  This world is tough.  There are
temptations everywhere.  We can't live a half-mormon life.  We can't
leave it for others to do.  We have to be examples of the believers.
We have to go forward in faith trusting in His mighty hand and use His
power to change our surroundings.  As members of the true church...
Don't you think signs should follow us?  I testify that they will if
we live a 100% existence instead of a 99% one.  What kind of member
are you?  Are you a walking testament to the truth that you know and
love?  We are not to be apologists for our faith.

Well.  That ended up being a lot longer than I wanted it to be.  I
trust that all of you are already that incredible member that I wish
to be.  If you find fault in yourself, change.  The Lord doesn't worry
too much about our past selves--He's concerned with what our present
is allowing our future to be.  Think on that.

I love you guys.  I hope everything is perfect.  I've found that
shouting the gospel from rooftops is quite satisfying and invite you
to do the same.

Love and blessings,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

New companion and new area

Dear friends and family,                                                August 13, 2012

Well, I have some great news:  Elder Clifford (my new companion)
arrived on Saturday!  We're working in the new Luanda 2C area (we're
opening it, essentially).  He's really nice, ready to work, and
excited to be here.  He's from Mesa, AZ.

This week Elder Rainbolt and I were sort of mean to his new companion,
Elder Castleton.  I say mean because we pulled a few pranks on him...
Let's just say that he thought Elder Arrington was Brazilian and that
I was Australian.  We also might've had a good friend "arrest" Elder
Rainbolt in front of him for having bad papers.  It was sort of
hilarious.  Don't worry--we've already repented and won't do it again.
 Probably.  Elder Castleton is a champ, though, as he took it all in

The Abdos arrived Saturday as well and, after a few trainings this
week, I'll be officially done with the office!  I don't want to sound
whiny or complainy (now a word), but it'll be really nice to be a
normal missionary again.  My only worries are the Lord, the people,
and my new companion.  We're going to do great!

I want to just bear a quick testimony to you all of missionary work.
I know that the Lord has called me to be exactly where I am to do
exactly what I'm doing and I know that He wouldn't have it any other
way.  Saying that, we can't forget that as members of this church,
we're all missionaries.  A wise man once said, "Always preach the
gospel--When necessary, use words."  What we do is noticed.  What we
say--and what we don't--is also noticed.  Never have an excuse.  Never
have a reason.  Just...  Live the gospel and be happy.  That's why
we're here!  To be happy.  And the only way to find happiness is
through The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know that now in a way that I'd
never have understood before.  When we truly live the gospel--not 99%,
but 100%--we can't NOT smile.  Also, the way we live affects those who
are around us.  Do you love your friends and family?  Then share
salvation with them!  I suppose what I'm trying to say is that if
we're living the gospel 100%, we're also doing our fair share of
missionary work.  So, think on this:  Who do I need to introduce to
the full-time missionaries this month?

I bear solemn witness of our Father's love for every one of His
children.  What more can we do to show our love for Him than to bring
His children back into His arms?

Well, I love you all.  The work here is just getting started and my
time is already running out!  That said, I'll put my head down, square
my shoulders, and do my part.

Stay Golden,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Back to Luanda 2

Dear Everyone,                                                 August 5, 2012

Well, hey!  How's life going on the other side?  Life here is rolling
on.  Honestly, I'm loving teaching more, I'm loving being in my old
area, and I'm learning more and patience every day.  The area has
exploded!  We have 14 baptismal dates within the next month and a
half.  We are working hard and have made goals to teach over 25
lessons this week.  It's going to be wild!  My companion is a really
nice guy, but sometimes hard to work with.  That said, we're doing
well, being super-obedient, and learning how each other work.

This week has been very bittersweet as I miss Elder Borden but have
had the opportunity to teach many elect and meet (and re-meet) many
wonderful people in Luanda 2B.  With the 3 1/2 transfers that Elder
Borden and I stayed together, he truly became my best friend and I
miss him terribly.  That said, I'm happy for him, happy to be working
in the vineyard even more, and am excited to see the growth of my 1st
area take off.

Honestly, I've felt more down this last week than I can remember
feeling in a very long time.  I distinctly remember one night when I
knelt down to pray and just felt a huge weight on my shoulders.  I
remember wishing to be asleep so that I could just forget and dream.
It was very surreal, so I prayed for help.  It came--not quite as I
had expected it to--in the form of more patience in enduring the
weight and sorrow.  I'm not sure where it all comes from, but I'm
working on it.  I know that the Lord will help me to understand,
overcome, and become stronger.

I hope I don't sound terribly sad, hurt, or any other such thing--I'm
not.  I'm in good company, I'm working through the hardship, and I
know that the Lord will give me what's necessary.  Come what may and
love it!

Elder Cafferty has arrived!  I got the opportunity to speak with him
today while everyone joined up to play soccer and it was really cool.
He's going to be an incredible missionary!  We're waiting on 3 others
who should already be here but who have been delayed due to VISAs and
injuries and on the Thompsons.  Hopefully, we'll be getting some great
news this week.

Well, I love you all and just want to express my gratitude for your
prayers.  I feel them strengthening me a lot and would be hopeless
without all of your help.

Thanks all!

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Pres. Thompson letter about transfers

Dear everyone,                                                            July 30, 2012

I had the great experience of being able to hear about transfers this morning!  So, I'm going back to Luanda 2.  The office position is being dissolved.  Elder Borden's off to Lubango.  I'll only be in Luanda 2 temporarily...  Here, I'll quote the e-mail I received from Pres. Thompson as it explains it quite nicely and is really touching to me.
Hello Elder Eckman,
I was hoping to be able to inform you of a significant change of assignment.  After your long and hard work in blazing new trails as the first Office Elders, I have felt to move both you and Elder Borden on to other assignments.  In fact, I had planned to have you to open a new area and train a new missionary.  I felt strongly that you were up to that assignment, even to the extent that I was going to ask you (in addition to these two weighty assignments) to spend part of your time in training the new office couple, and perhaps even Sister Thompson and myself, in the office programs and procedures that have been put in place to date.  However, I have just learned at the last minute that one of our new missionaries will not be arriving as scheduled, which has forced me to revise the transfer assignments. 
Accordingly, I am assigning you to work with Elder Rainbolt, at least on a temporary basis.  He is waiting for his companion to arrive from New Jersey and we are not exactly sure when that will happen, but every indication is that it may be soon. 
Once Elder Rainbolt's new companion arrives, I am not sure exactly where we will place you, but if you will bear with me in being willing to be a bit of a "floater" while you complete your training assignment, we will be able to work something out.  I know that this is a lot to ask of you, but I have every confidence that you can do it.  Elder Borden will not be available to assist you in any of the office training, as he is being transferred to Lubango.  I am sorry that you will not be training a new missionary just yet, as I felt certain that it would be a wonderful, growing experience for you, but sometimes (as I am still discovering) the Lord has other plans for us and other things that He wants us to learn.
Please know of my love for and confidence in you and please feel of my appreciation for all that you do.  I look forward to meeting with you in person very soon.

President Thompson

I was very touched by his trust in me though he's yet to actually meet me.  We still don't know when he's coming, but we assume that it will be within the next 2 weeks. I'll keep you all posted.

So, I'm going home!  To my first area, at least.  I don't imagine it will last terribly long, but one never knows.  I've already spent pretty much all of my mission in Luanda 2, so I figure I just haven't yet completed my whole purpose there.  We'll see how it goes!  =)

I'll miss Elder Borden.  He's been a true friend and my longest companion thus far.  I bet he'll love Lubango.  Working with Elder Rainbolt will be really fun, though.  He's a great missionary, a fun guy, and will help me make the most of my time on the mission.

I'm stoked for the opportunity to train, if it comes.  I'd really like that, in fact.  I'm also glad that I won't be in the office full time anymore.  It's a hard calling for me to love.

Have you ever thought on our purpose here on earth as members of the church?  It's to build the kingdom.  Simply put, we are here to edify the Lord, give Him all, and never give up.  Sacrifice simply is not enough...  We must consecrate our lives to Him.  It's the only true path to happiness.  I love you all.  I hope that life continues to treat you all well and that this week is a blessed one.

Elder Cody R. Eckman