Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"the mission that never was"

Dear everyone (and everyone else),
Hey!  This last week was a little uneventful due to an outbreak of Dengue Fever (we think) in my companion.  He was down for about 4 days.  Or, rather, he should have been--we went out to work one of the days and he got really sick.  But that's all in the past and he's doing just fine as of Sunday.  It just so happened (really!) that we had 2 exchanges planned last week, so I was still able to go out and do some things with other elders in their areas.  That was fun and I learned much as I walked with Elder Mariquele and Elder Montgomery.
We didn't, sadly, have any baptisms on Saturday.  We're hoping to see them on the 18th, but it's up to the agency of the folks involved and the dedication they put into growing a deeper testimony of The Book of Mormon.  They have the desire to be baptized, but we're not in a hurry to commit them to such great covenants when their testimonies of the most basic--and important--parts of the Gospel are still fledgling.  We felt better about putting it off.
We saw a miracle today--American food.  =)  We bought Kraft Mac and Cheese, Apple Jacks, Gatorade, Quaker Oatmeal, and other, less healthy food items.  It was a good shopping day.  Elder Arrington and I thought it was kind of sad how excited we got to see all of that stuff.
I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but Elder Arrington and I are living together, going home together, came in to the MTC together, and probably have a million other commonalities.  I love that kid.  Also, due to the fact that we live literally across the street from the airport, we're going to walk there with our luggage when the day comes.  It'll be pretty sweet, we think.
That brings me to some sad--but strangely fitting--news:  The Thompsons will be leaving on the 22nd of May!  We'll be without a Mission President until the 29th of June.  So...  Yeah.  It's a perfect end to "the mission that never was" for all of us who are leaving on the 27th.  We officially become a mission on the 1st of July.  We all thought that it was just...  Right.  Right that we all left just before Angola became fully independent.  We're very content with it.
On May 12th, I'll Skype home.  Mom, I'll be calling at about 8 in the morning your time (15h00 here in Angola).  I hope that works!
I learned such a cool lesson this last week about the Natural Man.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland made a really powerful statement in which he explained that we are not Calvinists--that is, we don't believe that man is inherently evil.  He said that the Natural Man is more like a natural resource.  It's more like a river.  When a river is left to itself and not controlled it just kind of flows.  Worst case scenario, it becomes troublesome, dangerous, etc.  But, when directed or subjugated it becomes a great help and a benefit to all around it.  When we dam up the right parts and encourage the flow in other parts, it becomes a powerful force for good.  That's how we are!  =)  We need not look on ourselves as evil or terrible or what have you.  We needn't be so hard on ourselves.  We're simply here to direct the river and turn it into something useful, practical, and good.  I really liked that idea.
I feel so blessed to be here in Angola doing exactly what I'm doing with the people I'm doing it with.  I love this work and these folks.  I love the Lord and the slow but steadily growing relationship that I've allowed Him to build with me.  I've never felt more at home--and I'm a few thousand miles away, I think.  But, I suppose I'm really not--I'm at home in Angola.  I'll be a bit homesick when the time comes to wake up from this dream.
I love you all.  =)

Elder Eckman

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