Monday, April 1, 2013

This past week has been wild.

Dear Everyone,

So, after a lame letter last week, I'm repenting with what I hope will be a better one.  =)
I'm being transferred from Cassequel!  Elder Arrington and I are being sent to open up Benguela--a very exciting, very new opportunity that has us both freaking out.  We have 2 transfers to get it ready for other missionaries to come in and take over the work.
This past week has been wild.  We saw a riot, heard gunfire, avoided a car accident by just a few feet, and pulled a "Alma-and-Amulek-street-preaching-moment".  We got 5 phone numbers out of it and we're excited to see where they go. 
I have glasses now.  I've been getting pretty bad headaches, so I went in for an eye test and they prescribed a fairly low-prescription pair of glasses.  I'm still getting used to them.
So, yeah.  My week was pretty great.  Want to hear what actually happened?
April Fool's!  None of what I just said is happening.  None of it.  I'm staying in Cassequel and Elder Stewart is coming in to be my companion.  I'm excited.  Augusto and João Batista are getting baptized on the 6th and we're very excited for them.  We're going to spend some great time finding this week.
While there were no riots, we had some great lessons.  I really enjoyed this past week.  I felt the Spirit a lot.  I was also able to go an exchange with Elder Tolman (who leaves on Wednesday) which was great.  I love and will miss him.  It's super surreal to be saying goodbye to all these missionaries with whom I came in.  Time's a-ticking and I'm a-working.  =)
Happy late Easter, by the way.  I hope you all felt the special spirit of Christ's sacrifice as you contemplated His eternal and infinite love for all of us.  I add my testimony to that of many that He loves us and cares about us.  He knows us all and He knows what we need.  He paid for our pains, hurts, anguishes, sins, and heartaches.  He understands.  I promise you that.  And, knowing all of our parts (even the deepest, darkest ones)...  He still loves us perfectly.  He knows.  And He loves.  That, to me, is greater than any gift that I could imagine.
Many of God's children have wandered from His fold.  I think we all know someone (or have been someone) who has walked the paths of Satan's unsatisfying lies and drawn water from the glittering pools of pain that he offers us.  But, you know what?  Who cares?  We don't have to stay in the fields of flattering words and near the wells of misery.  We don't have to keep on climbing the mountains of despair that seem so tall, so formidable, and so impossible to scale.  We can come down.  Much more importantly than what we've done, the Atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to focus on what we're doing, what we will do and, most importantly, who we are and what we're becoming.  Our Heavenly Father beckons us to come back to the sheepfold of security, love, and peace.  Christ has left the sheepfold, walked the fields, drawn water from the wells and pools, scaled every despairing and terrible peak, and mapped out every corner of the kingdom of the devil to show us the way back.  He calls, He seeks, and He loves.  He truly descended below all things so that the Atonement covers anything that we have done or will do.  If we accept and follow Christ, He will help us repent, turn to Him, and come home.  I testify of these eternal truths.
Easter is such a beautiful holiday that I know I haven't thought enough about.  I invite all to consider what we truly commemorated yesterday.
I love you all and I'm adoring my mission.  I'm learning so much about who I am and what the Lord wants for me.  I feel so much closer to my Savior than I ever thought I could.  I feel at home.  I feel at peace.  I never want to leave these things.  When I come home (I have finally accepted that this will all come to an end), I hope to be able to always keep in remembrance the lessons I have learned here.  I hope to continue to grow, to continue to be teachable and rebukable.  I hope to truly become a humble disciple of Jesus Christ.
Thanks for all of your support, care and prayers.  I feel them.

Elder Eckman

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