Monday, November 26, 2012

I am, for the eighth time, a proud uncle. I miss those kids!!!!

Dear everyone under the sun (or the snow, if you're so lucky),                  November 26, 2012

Congrats to everyone who has decided to go on a mission whether you've
received a call yet or not.  How exciting that so many of my wonderful
friends are leaving to serve the Lord!  I'm honored to be your friends
and so grateful to have your influences in my life.  Anna, I got your
letter.  Expect a reply as soon as I can get one out.  =)  Everyone
else...  Well, write me!  I'm hoping my last batch of letters got out.

Is anyone new getting married/having kids?  I'd love to hear about it!
 Aubs, I'm SO excited for you and your now-larger family.  I am, for
the eighth time, a proud uncle.  I miss those kids, but I know they're
in good hands.  I'll ruin them for you all when I return.  I was
reminded today that after next week I only have 5 transfers left!
Gosh.  I don't know how to react to that.  I'm not ready to be
"unplaqued" yet!  Transfers are next week.  Some people say that I'll
train.  Others think that Elder Wilhelm will be staying for at least
one more.  Whatever happens, I'm excited for the opportunity to keep
on working here and growing every day.

In other news, we've redivided our areas and, though the division is
good and smart, it hurts.  We lost about 13 investigators (5 with a
baptismal date and more that were progressing toward one).  We gained
very little in return.  But, we got a good area with some potential
that just needs to be tracked and conquered!  A conquering we go.  =)

This last week was an incredible numbers week.  Well, compared to what
we've been seeing at least.  We had 22 lessons!  It was great.  And 9
people came to church.  The numbers don't matter in and of themselves,
but the people behind them do and I love that these people grew so
much this week.

We are teaching two sisters who are polar opposites.  The older sister
is loud, knows her bible well, likes us for no particular reason, but
is iffy on the idea of re-baptism.  The younger sister is quiet, but
very accepting.  When the older sister said that she wouldn't pray to
find out if God wanted her to be baptized again, her younger sister
was shocked.  She said, "You're not even going to pray!?  What have
you got to lose?"  They both came to church and seem really genuine.

We also had the opportunity to teach a missionary from The Jehovah's
Witness church.  It was surprising.  I don't want to talk poorly about
other churches...  But suffice it to say that I'd never met a
Jehovah's Witness that wasn't looking to fight with us and bible bash
us into insensibility.  Edmilson wasn't looking for that.  We talked
very calmly, explained our beliefs very basically, and he even let us
end with a prayer.  He invited us back next Saturday to bring him a
Book of Mormon.  I get the feeling he thinks that we're kind of his
"pet project" as he's also a missionary, but we'll see how Saturday
goes.  I liked him a lot.

I had a great Thanksgiving, by the way.  =)  We had it as a special
event on Thursday.  At 4 we went to President's and played a little
bit, talked, and ate.  We talked about what we were thankful for.  I'm
thankful for the loving support of my friends and family.  I'm
thankful for my mission and the many great things it's shown me.  I'm
grateful for conversation.  I'm grateful for the true church.  I'm
grateful for my Savior.  I'm grateful for The Book of Mormon (I've
recently started Helaman again and I can't get enough!).  Most of all,
I'm grateful to be a child of God, to know that I am, and to feel His
love every day.

I've made a concrete decision that I've shared with very few people.
After my mission, I'm joining the Air Force.  It might not be right
away.  I might do some school first.  I might decide to get married
first.  I'm not sure on the specifics.  I still want to try for the
choir, but if I don't get in I'll do something else.  I need to look
more into it, but I'm certain that this is the right choice and the
path that I need to take for my family and my life.  I will join up.
I feel more right about it than I ever have.

Hey, I love you guys and I wish you all the best.  Merry Christmas!
We're loving Christmas music in our house right now.  =)


Elder Cody R. Eckman

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

  Sorry for this posting a week late, Too much happened last week and I just didn't get to posting, and then I got sick just before Thanksgiving and am just starting to feel human again. 

  Cody's Mom

Dear family, friends, and random strangers,                        November 19, 2012

Happy early Thanksgiving!  Also, Reed, Nikki, and Jeff:  Happy Birthday this week!  I sure love you guys.  I hope life is treating you as it should.  Life on my end is brilliant!  We had a great week with lots of great insight and learning.  It went by FAST.

First off, I learned the importance of planning, effective study, and communication this week.  Little things lead to big ones.  We had a successful week, but I know that it could've gone better.  The Spirit could have been stronger.  The study could have been deeper, more insightful, more delicious.  And well, we've learned.  So we'll do.  As a wise man once said:  To know but not do is to not know.

Secondly, I learned more about the importance of focus this week.  I've been a bit unfocused as of late and it shines through onto the work.  The more I focus on what the Lord wants, the happier I feel.  This is certainly a key to success in life.  At times, it's easy to forget whom you represent.  I'm really striving to not forget.

As I read Ammon's words in Alma 26, I was touched by the way he "boasts in his God".  How do we boast in our God?  Do we live as He would live?  Do we do what He would want?  Do we believe in Him more than in ourselves or in man?  Someone once asked, "How do I love thee?"  Indeed, how do we love our Lord?  This is a question that has really touched me.  How do we show Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that we are truly theirs and that we want nothing else?  By living nothing else.  99% correct is still 1% wrong.  God is not a God of almost or good intentions--He's a God of action, repentance, love, and growth.  If we strive for 100%, He will help.  That's my testimony and my goal.  I will strive to be 100% obedient in all things.

Hipólito (one of our coolest investigators) came to the District Conference that we had this week and loved it!  He's excited to become a Mormon (as he told us) and seems really content with his new choice of religion.  He's a really good guy and I'm excited for him.

I'm excited for Thanksgiving on Thursday (we're going to the Thompson's and having a real Thanksgiving dinner!) and for Christmas some time after that.  Calling home will be nice.  =)  I'll let you all know more about that when I do.  I'm already listening to Christmas music.  I love it!

I love you all and thank you so much for your continued support, love, and prayers.  It helps more than you know.

All my love,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, November 12, 2012

Elder Wilhelm and I were robbed at gunpoint--really, a pretty normal week. =)

Dear Everyone,

Hey!  I had a really cool week, but nothing huge happened.  We had a Zone Conference, I got to talk with the psychiatrist that created the famous "color code personality profile" (I am, as always, VERY blue and VERY red), and Elder Wilhelm and I were robbed at gunpoint--really, a pretty normal week.  =)

We were only able to get 1 of our 3 new baptismal dates last week.  I'm hoping that next week we'll see more and even more progression from our investigators.  They're incredible people.  Hugo is the one I'm most worried about right now.  He was going very strong, progressing very rapidly...  And then he started to fall off the face of the map.  We weren't able to sit with him last week.  He hasn't been to church in 2 weeks now and he's hard to get a hold of.  Please keep him in your prayers.  We're trying extra hard with him.

I won't leave you all hanging any longer--it's true, I received a training from Elder Hartman (Dr. Taylor Hartman) who is the Mental Health professional for all of Africa.  He's really cool!  I enjoyed the training a lot and learned a ton from him.  I was also able to sit with him one on one for a while.  It was really insightful and taught me a lot.  I'm excited to apply what he taught us to my life and mission.  Just a little tidbit:  100% Responsibility brings options.  Blaming others has the opposite effect--everything shuts down.  4 Steps to Success in Life:  1.  Get yourself.  2.  Get truth.  (As in eternal, pure truth.  Truth never changes.)  3.  Get over yourself.  4.  Get others.  It was a really fun, interesting experience.

The downside?  All my notes are gone.  And my scriptures.  And my backpack.  I also lost chapstick, about 4 dollars, my empty wallet, and our cellphone.  Oh, I was robbed on Saturday, by the way.  We were walking down a fairly normal street and some young guys started following us.  I had the spiritual prompting to stop and start talking to a few people as we walked, but I ignored it.  We were in a bit of a hurry.  If we had, we probably would have been fine.  As it stands, one of the guys came up behind me, grabbed the strap of my bag, pointed a gun and said, "Dá tudo."  (Give everything.)  He was acting all sorts of tough.  We didn't care much, really.  I dropped my bag and they went through my pockets.  They took everything but my White Handbook (I keep it in my breast pocket--it's always filled with money).  They took all of our stuff, ran off, and Elder Wilhelm and I started walking.  We were super annoyed.  We weren't scared; we hadn't been in any danger.  We had been completely calm as the guys robbed us.  As we walked away we started complaining a bit to each other, however.  We lost our scriptures!  That's the worst part.  I've been marking those up like crazy!  But, hey.  We're fine.  Nothing happened.  We got home just fine.  Mom, don't worry.

By the way, if any of you are thinking about missions but aren't sure yet--go.  Go.  I'm telling you, it's the best thing you can do with your time.  It's been the best time of my life up 'til now.  I promise you that you won't be missing out on anything.

Well, I love you guys.  I'm learning tons.  I'm becoming a much more organized person.  And a finisher.  And disciplined.  The change is becoming more noticeable to me.

My best,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Missionary work is pure service!!!

Dear people,

What a cool week I had!  I loved my lessons, the opportunities that we had to serve and help many people, and the love that I've felt coming from the Lord.  He's truly got a soft spot for missionary work, and I had a sort of revelation:  Pure missionary work is pure service.  It's how Christ did it and it's how we should too.  With that in mind, missionary work becomes almost more... tangible to me.  It's not just teaching and finding and baptizing (all good things, to be sure)--it's living what we know, transmitting the love of God, and doing what He would do were He here.  It was a cool little epiphany.  Also, this is to say that the work won't end in 8 months (the time that I have left according to my wonderful and annoying friend, Elder Wilhelm) but will continue throughout my life.  I love Elder Wilhelm.  He's a wonderful missionary with a lot of talent, diligence, and love.  He truly looks on the Angolan people with a heart full of desire to help.  I'm learning so much with him.  We got out there this week, knocked doors, did street contacts and found a ton of people.  This area needs to grow and has so much potential.  I'm loving it.

Another highlight of the week:  We went to an orphanage and taught some kids English, played with them, and showed them a little love.  It was really sweet, but kind of sad.  It showed me that kids are SO resilient.  They take any hit that life throws at them with a smile.  They don't know how to be sad.  They just play, smile, and don't notice things like a lack of clean clothes, a parental figure, etc.  It was really touching and kind of hard to see.  Heather, you would have loved it.  The idea of being a philanthropist is growing on me.

4 people have now accepted baptismal dates and we're hoping to see a total of 8 by the end of next week.  These people are truly preparing themselves.  We talked with two younger guys this week named Alex and Adilson and they just...  Got it.  They understood why a Restoration was so necessary.  They came to church, have been reading, and really enjoy sitting with us.  It was really cool.  I explained the Gospel of Jesus Christ as being the best possible thing we could have in our lives to be happy.  They seemed to really like that idea and are excited to take the necessary steps to fill their lives with good things and blessings in place of things that don't last, that aren't real, and that leave them feeling empty.

What else?  Halloween came and went.  No one here really cares much.  I heard something about a hurricane in New York?  What happened?  And the Presidential Race...  What's up?  Mom, you said you'd send a package with the Reedys.  I would love some Root Beer.  =)  (Or Mountain Dew...)  I'm kidding (mostly) but I would really like another tape, maybe.  To listen to in my mini-tape player.  If it's not too much trouble.  Other than that, I think I'm fine.  I'm content with what I have.

I sure love you guys.  I'm happy to be doing this work and hope that you're all finding fulfillment in your lives.  =)

Elder Cody R. Eckman