Monday, May 13, 2013

"sprint to the finish", I'm finishing strong and I'm seeing the blessings!!!!

Dear Everyone,
This week we officially send off the last group to leave before Elder Arrington, Elder Harper, Elder Perry, Elder Richter, and I leave.  Goodbye Elder Rainbolt and Elder Walker!  They're having a dinner tomorrow night and, due to the Thompson's departure on the 22nd, we're all attending it together, having our exit interviews with President Thompson, having a testimony meeting, etc.  Elder Arrington facetiously calls it our "funeral" and I find it curious that we're attending our own funeral.  Still, I suppose that we're "dying" in about a month and a half and it's all in good fun to make the jokes.  I feel for Elder Stewart and Elder Merkley--it's probably not easy to see 2 of the missionaries that you live with go home.  I've been told that it's surreal, at least.  For their sakes, I hope not.
It was weird to talk with the family yesterday.  I just didn't have much to talk about.  That, added onto the ever-increasing reality that I'm going home soon made it just a bit strange.  It was nice to see you all, at least.  =)
We had 11 investigators in church and are seeing some awesome progress in our area.  Between the 3 companionships in Cassequel, we had 25 investigators in church!  What a cool blessing to the branch.
Life here is running faster than I might wish, but I'm trying to take some wise advice I recently received and "sprint to the finish".  I'm finishing strong and I'm seeing the blessings.  I sure love being a full-time servant of the Lord and I hope for the opportunity to do it again someday.  I'll have to plan a mission with my wife.  I hope she's interested in Africa--I certainly am.
Elder Harper reminded me that he, Elder Arrington, and I are the only Elders who served in Angola from beginning to end without it becoming a mission.  We are the poster boys of the mission that never was.  I liked that.
I don't really have all that much to share.  All is well!  The folks we're teaching are taking real steps and making real progress.  The church is still true.  The people here are still teaching me so much.  Being a missionary is still pure joy.  I love my life and I love the gospel.  Thanks so much for sharing these experiences and this belief with me.  It's made my life.  I don't buy into the "best 2 years" ideal of a mission--it's a great chapter and I know that there will be even better--but I do believe in what a mission does for a life.  It just might be the best therapy, boot camp, training field, or what have you for the rest of forever.  I don't think I'll pass many--or any--mortal days without thinking for a moment or two on what I've done here in Angola.  I have so much to learn still.  I feel very strongly that I now have the tools to learn it.  Thanks for this Mom and Dad.  You're indispensable in this process.
I love you all and I wish you happy days.
Elder Eckman

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