Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ema was baptized on Saturday with 12 others

Dear everyone,
I don't really know how to explain how I'm feeling at this very moment.  I feel very...  Strange.  Life has changed lately.  I don't how to explain it.  Y'all seem very distant to me and, though you're all so very important to my life, I just feel this strange disconnect--as if we had separated.  It's surreal, but I think it's ultimately a good thing.  The mission has truly become the reality and the dream.  It's life.  And I love it.
I'm learning a lot about being a smarter worker and a more effective one.  I've spent a lot of my mission working hard but not always working smart.  A lack of plaaning or a minimal use of the area book is not smart work.  It's just another form of laziness.  I'm learning that hard work is not always a good measure of our dilligence.
I had a really cool experience this week and I wanted to share it with you all.  We were walking down a road that we frequent (it's in a neighborhood that we're building up) looking for someone to teach as many appointments had just fallen through.  Suddenyl we hear, "Élderes!"  We turn around and see a woman waving at us and calling us over.  Frankly, no one in Angola uses the name "Elder" without knowing exactly who we are.  Confused (but excited) we walked over to her and greeted her.  She told us that her name is Beatriz, that she was a Mormon, and that her brothers had served missions.  She wasvery nice and asked us if we'd eaten lunch.  We had...  But I felt like we needed to get in that door and talk to her more and help her out a bit.  We said that we had and she asked if we could eat more.  Score!  We ate a bit, spoke with her and her husband, Bruno (a non-member), and set up a time to go back.  The lesson was really cool.  She had all sorts of good things to say about the church.  Her husband said that he was on the search for the true church and would love to talk with us.  We'll be going back on Saturday and I'm really excited for it.  She also told us that she's looking or guidance in her life and she's not sure exactly where to find it.  Pray for her?  Please?
My mind is everywhere.  I'm in a really strange mood and I apologize for the poor construction of this letter.  Ema was baptized on Saturday (with 12 other folks--7 in our branch) and confirmed on Sunday.  It was really special.  She was very happy and is going to be an awesome missionary.
To anyone waiting on letters (specifically Heather, Anna, Jessi, Krista, Shayna, and Terynn) I should have them in the mail by the end of the week.  There's been a little problem with the post office, but it's being fixed.  I'm super sorry for the delay.  Mom, I got the package.  Thanks a ton!  It's just what I needed/wanted and I couldn't be happier.
To all of you have offered your love, support, and kindness I offer my thanks and let you know of my love for you.  It's more appreciated than you all can know.
I love you tons,
Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, September 17, 2012

Taught over 20 lessons last week!!!

Dear loved ones,

This week was a successful and joyful one.  I'm loving the opportunity
that I have to see these folks grow and change so much.  Admittedly,
many people haven't been progressing super well, but I'm prayerful
that we'll start to see a change in that soon.  We had over 20 lessons
this week.  =)  I'm trying to focus on the mission more than anything
else these days and I've started to see the miracles from it.  The
Lord is with us and He's so willing and able to bless His children.

Personally, I'm super happy right now and loving my mission.  Elder
Clifford has seemed pretty down lately and I haven't had much success
in cheering him up.  I'll redouble my efforts on that and have faith
that I'll see some more spark and fire in his eyes.  One thing that
I've been trying is being positive.  At times, Elder Clifford
complains about Africa, energy, water, the people, etc. but I've been
trying really hard to change the subject and talk about the good
things.  It's...  Not working great.  I think he gets the impression
that I'm treating him like a child which hasn't been my intention.
I'm not too worried--I'll keep trying and I know that it'll all work
out.  We both want to serve the Lord and I think that's bigger than
any other pettiness that exists between us.

I'm trying to help my District get along as best possible and no one
seems to be having any real problems--we all have the same goal in
mind and I think that helps a lot.  Our house is a lot of fun and gets
a lot work done.

This upcoming week I want to focus more on teaching with members and
doing service.

My life is so good, guys.  I don't have a good way to explain it...
The Lord loves this work.  I that's the way to explain it and I'll
leave it there.  He loves what I'm doing and that makes me
indescribably happy.  We're happy when we do what makes Him happy.
That sounds way more meta than it actually is.

I'm still in Luanda 2, I'm now the District Leader, and I'm liking my
house.  I get the feeling that I'll be leaving Luanda this upcoming
transfer.  Huambo, maybe?  Who knows?  This week, Ema gets baptized!
She's a great girl who has grown a lot.  She's the niece of a very
strong member and has truly converted herself to the gospel.  I'm
excited for her future.

Heather, I finally got your letter.  I love you!  I'm sorry that I was
annoying about hearing from you--I'm just not willing to let go of
some friends.  The rest of you...  Write, too.  =)  And yes, Heather,
that does mean that you're extremely special.  You're the best.  (No
offense anyone else.  I love you all.  Some of you have already
written me and therefore were exempt from my annoyance--or I at least
already have your addresses.)  Letters to all will go out soon.  Sorry
for the delay; there's not enough time in the day.

Guys...  there is not enough time for me to express my feelings well.
I am so grateful to the Lord for the project that He's making out of
my life here.  I feel different lately.  Older.  Better.  Happier, to
be certain.  And...  I just want to do the right stuff more than I
want to do the wrong stuff.  It's lovely.  Someone recently asked me
what I'd been learning in my studies.  You all know what it is?  It's
all true, it's all important, and it's worth all we've got to get it.
I've said it before, but obedience to our Father is the greatest
blessing of this life.

If you ever have any doubts about any of this, go back to that
beautiful grove in the springtime of 1820.  It's where our thoughts
should always go--straight to the reason that we KNOW that these
things are true.  A boy just wanted to know the will of the Lord.

Welcome to His will.

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, September 10, 2012

I've FINALLY realized a grand truth: I know nothing.

Dear Everyone,

Well, hey.  This week taught me a lot and was really great.  We're
starting to see more success and are working more and more with new
folks.  Seraiva (a man who had been trying to give up drinking) got
really sick with a stomach problem recently and has given up drinking
under doctor's orders!  What an interesting blessing the Lord has
given him.

I'm learning a ton lately and I've FINALLY realized a grand truth:  I
know nothing.  What have I got to pride myself on?  So very little.
So why do I puff myself up so much?  The thought is helping me to
humble myself.  I've found that pride is the first great stumbling
block of Satan and that he wants us to rely on ourselves and not on
God because he knows that, with time, we can be overcome.  God can't.
It's a simple but powerful truth that says, "If we rely on our own
arms, we'll only ever get as far as our own strength can get us."  I,
personally, am trying to give everything over to the Lord so that I
can use His strength.  I think this is the formula for sure success.

Tomorrow are transfers--who knows what'll happen?  I'm thinking (and
hoping) that I'll stay one more transfer in Luanda 2C with Elder
Clifford.  We're learning a lot together.  He's pretty good at calling
me for being too prideful in any given moment and it's helped a lot.

This last week we met with Elder Renlund of the Quorum of the 1st 70.
 He and his wife are such awesome people!  The training was great, the
interview was short but powerful, and the Spirit was fantastic.  Elder
Wilhelm and I performed a duet of "Mais Vontade Dá-me" (More Holiness
Give Me) and he thanked us for it and told us a bit about how the hymn
came about--it just so happens to be his favorite.  He says that as
far as hymns go it's the one that goes along the best with the temple.
 Read it and think about why.  Also, look into its history--it's
really cool.

Anna, I got your letter.  Thanks!  I'll have a reply out soon.  Mom
and Dad, good luck in your new calling.  Mom, I'm grateful to have you
as a mother and know that I couldn't have ever asked for a better one.
 Heather, get me your address!  My family, I love you and wish you all
the best of things and the best of times.  Thanks for all you all do
to support me and all the patience you have for my silliness.

With much love,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, September 3, 2012

Life is Awesome, Angola is so prepared for the gospel.

Dear various folks,

I explained it well to another elder recently, so I'll just copy and
past over what I told him.

Life is awesome.  I love the mission so much more than I know how to
express and I wish that I were a better representative of Christ.
Nevertheless, as Nephi said, I know in whom I have trusted and am
trusting.  The blessings are breathtaking.  Angola is so prepared for
the gospel.  The people here are my family.  I love seeing people GET
it.  When they take off the shades and see the light, their lives
change.  I love it, man.  It's my favorite part.  Comps were hard but
have been great lately, the language is under control but I'm still
learning a bunch, and the church is growing. Who could ask for more?

Is it a bad thing to not want the next 10 months to pass too quickly?
I want to savor it.  This last week was a little lame due to
elections, but it's had its high points.  We've all had a really great
time getting to each other better at Luanda 2.  My house is great.

My mother shared a really cool thought with me today and I wanted to
share it back:  The word remember is SO important.  What was the house
of Israel's problem?  Remembering what the Lord had done for their
forefathers.  For the Nephites/Lamanites?  Remembering the Lord in all
things.  How do we remember the Lord in our lives?  A great way is
prayer.  And the scriptures.  The Lord has given us the tools.  I've
found more and more that it's the simple steps and the little things
that save us.

Humility is so important.  I would that I had been more humble up to
this point in my life!  I'm kind of jerk.  I don't mean to be.  I have
a big head.  I'm rash.  I'm a know-it-all.  But...  I dunno.  Bit by
bit I'm starting to see a difference.  I'm really actively seeking
humility and it's been a big blessing.  The Lord knows how to lay us
just low enough to appreciate Him.  I'm loving it and the power is
palpable.  When we trust Him more than ourselves He takes care of the

This coming week, I'll see some miracles with investigators.  More on
that next time.


Elder Cody R. Eckman