Friday, October 19, 2012

New study habits and a BOM challenge

Dearest family and any friends who happen to be tuning in,

How are you all?  I hope life is running well.  I've learned a lot this week.  Those of you who know my study habits know that I hate doing a lot of things when it comes to studying--notes, records, repitition, pneumonic devices, etc--and that I've never been a great "studier".  Well, change is on the horizon!  I'm learning how to study better and smarter.  I've started a study journal and I love it!  It's helping me to remember things better and to remember little bursts of the cool promptings that I have throughout the week.  I want to share one with you all.

In 2 Nephi 24, Isaiah talks about the Lord delivering the House of Israel from the bondage of babylon (the world).  As so many things that Isaiah speaks about, this is not something with just one meaning.  The idea came to my mind of the Savior's invite to take upon us His yoke that is easy and His burden that is light.  This is in obvious contrast with something.  Another yoke and burden must not be easy, must not be light.  Sin is the bondage of Babylon.  The Gospel requires us to cast off those bonds with which we are bound and then gives us the capacity to do it.  The Lord will give us rest from sin.  The world would have us believe the opposite--that sin is freedom and that our "rules" are bondage.  We know that this is simply untrue.  The Lord offers freedom from the bondage of Babylon to all those would take it.

"And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve."

I love Isaiah.  I never thought I'd say that, but I've been so enjoying his words lately.  I have a new and exciting goal!  From January to July (the last 6 months of my mission) I will finish The Book of Mormon 5 times.  15 pages a day.  It's not even hard!  I read books 2-3 times the size of The BoM in a week...  Why was I always so unwilling to read the best book?  Well, I'm making this a new life goal.  I want to finish The BoM 10 times a year.  It's nothing!  And that book is so important.  We need to focus on it.  If other things need to take a bit of a back seat...  Well, what's more important?  I've learned a new way to judge whether something is good for my life.  So often we look at our little vices, the things that just don't quite line up with the teachings of the church, and we justify them or we ignore the truth of them.  We constantly ask ourselves where the line is.  It's a simple test really:  Does this bring me closer to or further from my Savior?  Does this invite or expell the Spirit?  Am I living up to the name I took upon myself at baptism, or am I forgetting Him for a moment?  I really liked this thought when I heard it.

My area is going well, but slow.  We've found some great new people, some old ones have dropped out, and we're trying desperately to save a few others.  We'll see.  Batista has been out of town all week, but he gets back today!  =)  We taught Luceilia the 1st lesson this last week and invited her to baptism.  Her exact words?  "Tem que ser."  Or, "it has to be."  An awesome response!  We also met this incredible family who owns a little restaurant.  They like to feed us and are really interested in the Gospel.  They've accepted baptism but we've yet to give a date and they've still got a lot to learn.  Pray for them!

Elder Clifford and I have started to understand each other a lot more and things have been improving a lot.  That said, it's not been much of a "training" experience.  He doesn't take too well to the idea of being taught by me, so I've backed off a lot and its helped.  We walk blind at times, but I think it's necessary for the peace of things and for him to learn the way he needs to.  The Lord's helping a lot and I'm learning to be much more humble and patient.  It's a long journey.  =)

I love you guys!  I miss you now and then, but I know what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.  As we say in Portuguese, "Vale a pena".

Keep it up,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

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