Monday, June 24, 2013

"Old things are done away, and all things have become new."

Dear somebody,

First off, we'll have 5 baptisms on the 29th and I'm so excited for
all of them!  They grew so much.  Armando will follow in a month or
so.  I'm proud of these fledgling saints and their already-powerful

I'm just going to share a little scripture, bear my testimony, and
leave.  I'll see you all in a few short days.

"Old things are done away, and all things have become new."

This is my mission motto.  This is how I feel about my service and
about my life.  I can scarcely imagine what I would be doing had I not
served a mission.  I love this experience.  I love the Gospel.  I have
a secret to tell you all:  A mission is no sacrifice.  Living the
Gospel is no sacrifice.  We receive far too much in return for what we
give to call this a sacrifice.  I didn't lose a thing--no opportunity,
nobody, no blessing--by being here and doing this work.  I sure gained
a lot, though.  I love the Lord and I love serving His children.  I
believe that they can quote the above scripture and apply it to their
lives as well.  =)

So...  If you have any doubts about serving, don't.  It's all going to
work out.  Do it and you'll love it.  You'll love the Savior more.
You'll learn more than you could ever have guessed.

I solemnly bear my testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth.
And I love being a part of it.

'Til next time,

Elder Cody R. Eckman

Friday, June 21, 2013

I've hit single digits and people won't let me forget it.

Dear (insert your name here.  This is to you!  =)),

I've hit single digits and people won't let me forget it.  Goodness
me...  It doesn't feel like I'm about to leave.  I'll just be
transferred, right?  I'll go on to Viana or Lubango or Huambo, of
course.  Maybe I'll be training?  But no.  Not for me.  I'll be
"leaving on a jet plane."  And the worst part is that I don't know
when I'll be back again.

But, oh well!  It doesn't matter.  I've served.  I had my allotted
time and I tried my best with it.  I suppose that wishing for more
time is to be a tad ungrateful.  I've had a few deep realizations this
past week and I want to share them with you all.  Send them out to
other missionaries who have more time than I do--they just so happen
to be some of the greatest lessons I've learned about missionary work
on my mission.

Had I been more skilled earlier on my mission, I would have done more,
been more effective, and helped more people.  This is not to excuse
any lack of work or ability on my part, but to say that I would that I
had gained more skills earlier.  I believe that the quicker we become
skilled workers in any work or task the better we'll do.  So,
missionaries, take advantage of your training!  Learn every aspect of
the work.  Do the hardest things.  Don't let your trainer do them for

Had I learned to trust more in the Lord than in myself from the
get-go, I'd have had less headaches on my mission and in my life.  I'm
still trying to master this one.  I suppose we all are.  Regardless of
our struggles with it, I know that when we give ourselves to Him, we
become more truly who we are.  Does that make sense?  I hope so.

Love your companion and seek to serve him/her.  No one is as perfect
as we might wish them to be.  Magnify the good, forget the bad, grow
with them, and help them to be the best person they can be.  This
would have changed the first 6 months of my mission and maybe helped a
few people going through some hard times.  Seek to love.  Never have a
reason to dislike.

As I move into my last week, I'm striving to help the people that
we've prepared for the 29th.  All 6 of them are looking promising!  If
all goes well in Cassequel we'll have 9 baptisms in our branch alone.

I love you all and I may or may not be crazy excited to see you guys
in just a couple of weeks.  Keep on praying for me.  I'm trying to
keep up the best work I've ever done.

Stay the course,

Elder Eckman

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Another One Bites The Dust"

                          Cody with the other Elders that have or are soon to leave Angola 
                                                       and start on a new path in life.
Dear Everyone,
My Mom started her weekly e-mail to me with the line "Another One Bites The Dust" and told me that my Dad would quote the Queen song whenever someone in their friend group got engaged.  I thought it sort of ironic that I'm coming to the close of my mission and another week has bitten the dust.  So, my friends, another week bites the dust and here we are.
Congrats to everyone getting married, having kids, going on missions, or succeeding in any other significant way.  I'm excited for y'all!
My week was incredible.  I had what I consider to be the "best" day of my mission.  I saw the most immediate success of one day on my mission on Wednesday.  We taught 8 incredible, spirit-filled, and inspired lessons (5 of which were with a member present), extended 3 baptismal dates for the 29th of June (which were accepted) and helped a few people who hadn't been progressing well start progressing.  It was simply a miraculous day.  Really, the whole week was incredible!  The 29th will be an incredible Saturday!  Our companionship will have at least 5 baptisms and they're all such cool people.  We're very excited.
I had a real witness that we can work effectively until the very end.  I won't quit.
I love this work and I love the Lord.  I love y'all and I hope that life is treating you right.  See you guys in a few weeks!
Elder Eckman

Monday, June 3, 2013

Don't worry--I'm working my tail off.

Cody Eckman
11:39 AM (1 hour ago)

to me
Dear everyone under the sun, 
Our week went a bit slowly, but the coming week looks quite promising.  Cesarina was baptized and received The Gift of the Holy Ghost!  She and Augusto are doing great and we're working with their kids so that they can be baptized on the 29th of June.  I'm very excited for them.  Armando and Micha are both doing really well and should be baptized on the 15th and 29th, respectively. 
We had a Zone Conference with President Kretly and I enjoyed it.  I'm sad to say that I feel just a titch disconnected from it all because most of the trainings, ideas, and changes can only be brought about so much in 3 weeks.  Don't worry--I'm working my tail off.  I refuse to quit and I won't make any excuses for poor work simply because I'm just about on an airplane.  I'm going home on a stretcher.  Still, it's hard to be super inspired by the Zone Conference that only kind of affects me.
Speaking of going home a stretcher, my back has started acting up again.  =)  It's been fun.  Still, I haven't been bed-ridden and I won't be.
My last fast Sunday came and went.  Elder Arrington and I fought our way to the front of the testimony line so we could give a good send-off.  It was nice to be able to tell the people I know and love why I care about this Gospel.  I've realized that my mission has taught me to love and that that's become the most valuable thing that I have.  I don't know where life will take me, but I have love--love for my fellow man, love for myself, and love for Jesus Christ.  That's enough to get me started down any worthwhile path, I think. 
I feel strongly that these last few weeks of my mission are to be some of the richest, most emotional weeks of my life up to this point and I would that I could share those feelings with you all in a way that made sense.  I can't, however, and that's what makes it all the more personal and beautiful to me.  I love my mission.  I'm of the firm opinion that you're never well-enough prepared to come on one nor well-enough prepared to leave the one you're on.  I can't believe that it's coming to an end.  It feels false.  
The devil is really working on trying to make me feel like a failure in the last few weeks of my mission and I spent a few days feeling pretty down in this last week because I was remembering the regrets I have from my mission--silly things that sound really pertinent in the moment like not having found as many people as I could have, not having helped as many families as I'd have liked to, etc.  It got me feeling down because I know that I haven't been the best servant ever or anything like that and that fed my self-pity and self-loathing for a few moments.  But, I prayed a lot and asked a lot of forgiveness and kept keeping on and I finally realized that it was all a lie.  I know now that my service has been acceptable to the Lord and that I should leave my regrets behind.  I tried and I worked and I grew and I helped others.  That's enough for Him and I know that now.  That helped me feel a lot better.  In spite of wishing that I had understood the things I know now before I came out here and started helping people, I feel successful and have realized that my mission is just like my or any other life--a process.  I don't think we can ever measure ourselves by what we don't or didn't know.  We simply work as well as we can with what we've got.
I love you all.  I'm feeling really good.  I'm not ready to leave Angola but I am ready to see you all. Get ready for great adventures and long talks.
I love you and the church is true! 
Elder Eckman