Monday, December 24, 2012

This last week was a hair-puller!

Dear everyone,

This last week was a hair-puller!  Many things fell, many people avoided us, and we lost many investigators.  Still, I have hope for the next week and I know that the Lord will provide.  Minor setbacks are nothing!  =)

Merry Christmas!  I hope the joy of the season is bright in your hearts and faces.  I love Christmas!  Admittedly, growing up I didn't comprehend the reason for the season--I was selfish!  I liked presents.  Sure, I understood the story of Christmas and Christ's birth, but it was secondary to the joy I received from presents.  How silly that thought is!  The "Christmas Story" is so much more than simply that--a story.  It's surpassed in importance by only one other event in the history of the world--and that's the Resurrection of Christ.  What a blessing it is to have a time of the year devoted to the birth of our Savior and King.  So, to me, the question comes:  How can we remember Him correctly?  I think it comes from doing what he would do were He here.  Charity and Christmas go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly.  I invite everyone to look around for the next week and find some little, charitable act that everyone else is neglecting and to do it!  The Christmas Spirit is the Spirit of Christ--and that's charity and love.

Hipólito will be baptized for sure on the 29th and we're all ecstatic for him!  He's such a changed man and I'm so impressed with him.  Alex and Adilson (two young men who we've been sitting with) have accepted a baptismal date for the 26th of January.  Please keep them in your prayers--they're worried about "the responsibility of baptism" even though they're already keeping all of the commandments!  I think they're just worried about taking such a large step.  Still, I trust that they'll make it and that the Lord will bless them immensely.

Mom, Elder Wilhelm and I have enjoyed watching the Christmas scripture chain wind down.  Thanks!

I love you all and wish you the best for the end of this year.  Tomorrow, I'll speak to a great portion of you!

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, December 17, 2012

"White Christmas" set for the 29th!!!

Dear everyone,

This week has been so good to me.  Hipólito returned from Namibia,
we've changed his baptismal date to the 29th (it'll be the closest
thing we get to a "White Christmas") and we found many new and
exciting investigators.  The Lord's hand has been really noticeable

I want to tell you all about 2 women we're teaching named Junia and
Alexandra.  They're sisters, strong Methodists, and really like The
Book of Mormon.  Junia likes to argue a bit and tries to challenge us
on anything that doesn't jive with the way she already believes.
We're patient and try to truly open up the scriptures to her so that
she understands what the Lord wants.  Until now, she still has refused
to pray about these things.  She claims that it states a lack of faith
on her part if she were to pray about The Book of Mormon as she "has
no doubts" (but still refuses a new baptism and coming to church with
us any more times than she already has).  Alexandra, on the other
hand, is likely the most prepared person I've ever taught.  She LOVES
The Book of Mormon, asks brilliant questions, understands the Gospel
and what we teach, and even encourages her sister to do what we ask
them to do.  Her only handicap is that she's being influenced by her
sister to only go to the Methodist church.  I love this family and I
really enjoy sitting with them as they are so sweet and so kind.  That
said, if something doesn't change within the next while, we'll have to
drop them and that really hurts me.  I hate dropping
investigators--even though I know that it's sometimes what they need.
And I hate dropping ones that I consider to be friends.  I've had to
do that a few too many times to love the experience.  Please pray for

I've been focusing on humility this past week and I'm stunned by how
humble my leaders in the church are.  These men are men of high
position and honor and they still treat the lowliest janitor as they
would treat the highest king.  I'm really trying to seek such humility
and charity and to put everything into the hands of the Lord.  I'm
beginning to understand how we simply do what we can do and trust that
He'll do the rest.

I'm excited for Hipólito.  He's changed so much since the first day
that I sat with him.  He's happier, more at peace, and more capable at
dealing with stress and pain.  He's more fun.  He bore his testimony
at a ward party on Saturday and it was so cool to see.  He's probably
a better Christian than I am and I'm grateful that I get to be a part
of his life during this milepost change.

This week we'll be doing lots of contacting and finding.  Merry
Christmas and wish us luck!

Elder Eckman

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Merry Christmas! I love and miss you all.

Dear everyone,

Merry Christmas!  I love and miss you all.  This week was a slow one
but a good one.  We did a lot of waiting and lost a lot of what I
would call "missionary time" to improvements on our new house.  It's
coming along.  I'm hoping to not repeat it this week.  =)

We met some really fun new people this week and haven't yet had the
chance to sit with them a second time.  This weekend was crazy.  That
said, some new things are in the works and we're hoping to see some
great progression in the coming weeks.  I had an epiphany earlier:
Since my very first area, I've been in brand new areas.  Since I left
Luanda 2B, I opened the office (we started from scratch), Luanda 2C
(also from scratch) and Luanda 1C (it opened 2 transfers before
me--halfway through my first we redivided it and lost just about
everyone).  It's an interesting pattern.  I'm STILL learning how to
start from nothing.  I'm STILL learning how to find, teach, and
baptize.  I suppose I always will be.  It's very rewarding, however.

On Christmas Day, President is encouraging us to go caroling with our
districts and any members who would like to come along.  I'm excited
for it.

A word on President Thompson:  I have never met a man so patient,
humble, intelligent, and wise in all my life.  He's an awesome man
with so much to offer our mission.  I love working with him.  He is
definitely worthy to be looked up to.

My focus this last week was the Christlike attribute of charity.  What
a cool study I had about charity!  It seems to me to be the source and
base of all other things.  Who we are, what we think, how we view
things, and how we love all stems from how charitable we are.  If we
strive to be truly charitable we strive to be truly Christlike.  Next
week I'll be studying about humility--a trait I'm still desperately
trying to develop in my life and mission.

I also finished The Book of Mormon this past week.  Wow...  It's so
true.  I cannot express in word or work my love for that book and the
many blessings it has brought my life.  If people really read it,
ponder its message, and follow its precepts they will be happy and
fulfilled.  They will have more light and truth in their lives and
countenances.  The Book of Mormon will change this world.  Has changed

I am impressed by the new teaching program being implemented for the
youth.  I wish that I had had such a program as I was growing up.
Just watch--the effects of this program will be far-reaching.
Something big is coming I think--the mission age has changed, the
class experience has changed, we have Preach My Gospel...  I don't
know what it will be, but I feel like something big is coming.  I'm

I sure love you all!  I hope life is so wonderful.

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Monday, December 3, 2012

great but frustrating week !!!!!

Dear everyone,

We had a great but frustrating week.  We moved from the chapel--a huge
blessing for us, but a hindrance to our work with all the cleaning,
organizing, waiting for repairmen, etc.  So, unfortunately, the work
week didn't go quite as well as planned.  Sadly, Our new house kind
of...  Sucks.  Sorry Mom--it does.  It's not as bad as the chapel, but
it wasn't wasn't well thought out nor well-checked by the missionary
who decided to buy it.  President Thompson wasn't impressed/happy.
But, we're making the best of it and are doing some personal
repairs/renovations.  He's helping us out a lot and feels very
noticeably bad for us.  The sympathy is nice, I suppose.  =)

We recently re-made the boundary lines for the areas within our
district and lost many investigators.  We're hoping to change that
within the coming weeks and I personally hope to encounter many new
families and potential priesthood holders.  We've got some good goals
and a good vision of how we'll do it.  All that said, I'm not terribly
picky about who I teach so long as they're ready.  I'm trying to learn
how to sift through people better and still give them all a fair
chance to progress.  If I find a ready 21 year old woman, I'll teach
her.  I hope my vision's not incorrect, but I don't think it is.  The
gospel's not only for men and families, after all.  I say this because
of a new mission goal that was recently made to focus on families and
priesthood holders--a great goal and one worthy of a fledgling country
like Angola who needs to be established the right way.  My only
problem with said goal is the ideas of a few missionaries who think
that this means that we can no longer teach anyone else--obviously not
true nor of the spirit of missionary work.  Maybe I'm a bit harsh.

This week was a good one, overall.  Hard for obvious reasons, but I
feel like I'm growing.  I'm trying to focus more on Preach My Gospel
and adopt more and more principles of effective and extraordinary
missionaries into my mission and my life.  I'm also making a targeted
effort each week to study and apply a Christlike attribute.  This week
I'll study Charity.

Transfer calls came.  I'm staying with Elder Wilhelm!  I'm super
excited.  I love this guy.  He's a great companion, super easy to work
with, and very willing to do the hard things when they're necessary
(hours of proselyting, etc.).  We're going to rock this transfer.

I had some crazy cool experiences this week.  I started in to 3 Nephi
and was just blown away (again) by Christ's coming and His words to
the Nephites.  If you ever need a spiritual shot in the arm, read
those chapters.  The Book of Mormon is becoming an increasingly large
part of my life.  I love it!  I hope to make this habit a lifelong
one--a lasting love that causes me to ever-increasingly seek
inspiration, solace, counsel, desire, and excitement in The Book of
Mormon.  I'm trying to create that atmosphere in my life so that I can
create it one day in my home.  I feel that it's so important.  By the
way...  How's that challenge I left with you guys to finish The Book
of Mormon before the end of the year?  I hope we're still together on
that.  =)

On Sunday we sang in the district choir.  It was so cool!  We sang a
song in Kikongo (a native dialect from here) and I loved it.  Africans
have soul.

We had a Christmas party at the Reedy's house today and it was very
nice.  We all enjoyed American food and a good-old-fashioned white
elephant exchange.

Mom, I can skype on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and I figure it'd
be easier at about 10 AM your time.  Would that work?  On Christmas

I love you guys!  I hope all is well.

Elder Cody R. Eckman