Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MTC Week Ten

Question Time: (I probably don't have all of them but I didn't have a ton of time to go through all my dear elders this week. Sorry)

1. Am I writing in my journal regularly?
-Every day. I think I have missed maybe one day.

2. Have these 11 weeks gone fast or slow?
- ha. I don't know exactly how to explain it. Every day is the longest day of my life, but the weeks fly by. And when I say the days are the longest days of my life, It's not a bad thing. I am just always doing so much work.

3. Would a Conference call work?
- Yes. I think that would be an awesome Idea. The only rules on the calling thing is that I shouldn't call my girlfriend haha. So it would be all good if Evan was able to talk. I would enjoy that.

4. Am I still interested in Med. School?
-It is still an option for me. I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do and I have a few ideas. I'm not going to tell you though (mom) haha because you will get all worried or something haha

5. What songs are we singing at general Conf.?
- Hark All Ye Nations
-Go Ye Messengers of Heaven
-Called to Serve

6. What part am I singing in the choir?
- I am singing Baritone and the baritones sit right behind the conductor in the middle so I should be on camera a lot haha

7. How was Concecration week?
- It was very hard haha. I got a lot better at Albanian though. A lot of things clicked this past week. I am still far from fluent but I can teach the Lessons and talk about gospel things very well which is the only important thing. I will pick up the rest of the random misc. words when I get there. I will still have an hour of language study every day in Albania.


Alrighty. It has been a good week here in the MTC. Today we finished the names (guy names) for sister Miller. I will be sending those back as soon as I can. This week was pretty hard as far as speaking all Albanian. It was very stressful at times but I was able to see that The Lord would answer my prayers when I asked for a little extra help. It is incredible to see how willing God is to bless us with things when we are doing everything we can to learn and to be good. I foudn out that unless I am in Tirana, I will only be getting physical mail once every 3-4 weeks. If I'm in Tirana, I will be getting my mail once a week. So Email will probably be best. I think that it will work out good. I Can't believe that I am going to be in Albania a week from today. I'm a little freaked out haha. Oh well. I think I decided that thursdays are my favorite for mail because I feel like we are communicating directly. I write to you all, and then I get dear elders on thursday with a responce from what I wrote. Pretty cool stuff. I get my shot tomorrow afternoon. I messed up my knee pretty bad this past week and it hurts way bad but I refuse to go the doctors for it because I am not staying at the MTC any longer than needful. I will just suck it up. I am going to Albania haha. So I just want to take some time to tell you (Mom and Dad) how awesome you are. I have been thinking a lot about family lately and how we get to be together for Eternity since we have been sealed together as a family. I have been so blessed to have parents like you. You both have been so supportive with everything I have ever done. I have heard stories from people in my District about their familes and stuff and how they can distinctly remember times their parents said that they were bad at something or were put down by them. It's so true. When we are put down by someone we love, we always remember it. Even if the person who said it didn't mean it that way. I have been so blessed to have parents like you. I can honestly say that I can't think of a single time that you have ever put me down or wasn't supportive of something I wanted to do. You always came to my sporting events, involved with my schooling, allowed me to have fun with friends throughout highschool, opened our house to any/all of my friends and treated them like family, and so many more. This summer, you put up with blasting loud music in the basement while our band practiced and then would treat us all to pizza. Then you came to both concerts we had even though they weren't cheap. You are such good examples to me. If i can turn out half as good as a parent as either of you, I will be an awesome parent. You led by example all the time. You were always doing things that God was pleased with. Having scripture study with us every night, saying prayers as a family, and so many other things that allowed us to grow and love eachother more as a family. I couldn't ask for better parents. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without you.

Alrighty, Ashley. I talked to Alison again last night. I think she said she was going to call you? I don't know if she did but I want the Red Blue and Black band gold's gym thing. I guess you can get it at Target. Sorry for such late notice. You will have to ship it quickly because I leave tuesday at 5 in the morning. Thanks Motra. (sister) Also, can you send me your address again? I might need to send all of my extra stuff to you that I can't take to Albania. You can either send it home or throw it out, or keep it, or give it to kendy or something haha. Thanks again. You rock

Alexis, You best be being awesome. THat's awesome that you are on Homecoming court again! That's way lucky that you got to be on it 2 years in a row!? Nice! I guess I just didn't have what it took to be as awesome as the girls in the Eckel Family. I never even made it to the first round haha. Probably cause all of my friends were in your grade instead of mine. Oh well haha. Well good luck on your college essays and stuff. Don't worry about getting into BYU. I will give you my spot if you don't get in cause you deserve it more than I do haha

Aunt Donna- You are hilarious! haha I got your dear elder. It was so funny with the whole p90x thing at the end! You are a hoot!

McMurdie Family- THanks for the package! I loved it. The fudge covered pretzels were delicious! Thanks for thinking of me!

Evan Baker/Baker Family- Thanks for sending me the constant updates on the family! Mrs. Baker, you can continue to email me while I'm in ALbania if that is easier for you than sending letters. I love them. Evan, I just sent you a 5 page letter like 30 minutes ago! You will probably get it friday or saturday. Don't worry about writing me back via letter. I will be in Albania. Write an email!

Steve Sobanski- I love you man. You are one of my best friends after this summer. I am so glad I got to know you better. I loved the letter you sent me and wish yuo the best at Miami this year. I will try to write you a letter soon. Keep on Keepin On.

Peace out everyone! I love you all! Keep praying for me!

From Ashley:

You can continue to write to Austin with the Dear Elder until Monday 2:00 eastern standard time. That will be the last delivery he will receive there in Utah. After that – you may email him at the following email address:

Austin will be able to access these emails once a week on his p-day (his day off.) We will not know what day that is until he gets to Albania and we hear from him!

If you wanted to send a package, it would need to be sent to the following address:
Elder Paul Austin Eckel
Albania Tirana Mission
PO Box 2984
Rr. Qemal Stafa, Vila 1
Perballe Postes Nr. 22
Phone: 355-68-201-6570

You must include the phone number of the mission office (the address and phone number above is the Mission Office info), when you send a package. When the Mission office receives his package – they forward it to him. His address will be changing about every 12 weeks – so it is easier to send packages directly to the Mission office.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MTC Week Nine

Hello everyone! I'm just living it up here in provo!

Alright. Let's begin with some questions?!

1. Do we have a new sister in our district?
- Nope ha. I don't know how that rumor got started? We have always had Motra Leit in our district. We don't have anyone new in our district. We are the only 5 albanian speakers here at the MTC. The new albanian missionaries won't be here until 2 weeks after we leave.

2. "Unt Dua"?
- So close! Dad, it is Unë të dua. So close though! Valiant effort haha

3. Am I tired by the time I go to bed?
- It's funny how this works. During the day, I'm so so so tired. But as soon as I lay in bed, I can't sleep for like an hour. For the first 6 weeks I was doing good and I could fall asleep pretty quickly but now, it takes me about an hour to fall asleep. Not cool haha

4. Do I remember reqading Preach My Gospel with the family?
- Of course! haha There are things that I read in it and just laugh because of how Alexis would read it or just remember you (mom) asking us "what do you think the commitment questions would be?" haha.

5. How was the pumpkin bread?
- haha I actually don't know. I gave it to this Elder named Elder Bunn. He was an english elder who had some medical problems and had to stay an extra 2 weeks. I felt really bad for him so I wrote his name on the box and gave it to him haha. He said it was WAY good though. I'll be honest. I don't need food here haha. I have far more food than I can possibly eat before I leave. So please, Don't send anymore food haha. Sour candy is always allowed. But I really don't have any use for more food.

6. Was it weird seeing Ashley and JD?
- Umm. I wouldn't say it was weird. It was fun though haha. I came running up from behind them and then JD saw me. It was great. It's kinda funny though cause we really didn't talk about ANYTHING. I think I might have said like a few sentences to them and then just said bye. I think my district talked to them more than I did. It was good to see them though. I was on cloud 9 for the rest of the night.

7. Did elder Holmes get Alexis's letter?
- Yes haha He liked it.

8. Have i gotten my shot yet?
- Nope. I am going to the doctor tomorrow to check up with that. They said they were going to mail me a thing telling me to come to the doctor but I haven't gotten anything yet. I think i remember them saying I would be getting one telling me to come the 27th of September. I might be making that up though. I will go check tomorrow. Don't worry about me! haha

9. Have I played Piano?
- Yeah. I get to play piano once ever day or two. It's pretty fun. I have given piano up for consecration week though. I would normally only play for 10 minutes anyways but I figure I can use that time to study and stuff.

10. How is school for Kendra Lou?
- It is going good. She is loving Cross Country and has classes with a lot of her friends. She has had some awesome spiritual experiences and is pretty much loving life now that we aren't hanging out anymore haha. Just kidding. But seriously, she is doing great.

11. Have I heard from Brian?
- Sure have! He is LOVING BYU. I am so happy for him. I know exactly how that was hah. It's weird to think it was a year ago that I was in his place.

12. What do our teachers think of how we speak the language?
- Vellai (brother) Ellingson tells us we are doing great and stuff but Vellai Herd basically told us that we need to be way better haha. We are doing good though. I love both of our teachers. They help us out so much and have great spiritual lessons with us too.

13. Will I get scabies?
- Hahaha. I have as good of a chance of getting scabies as you do. So will you get scabies? ha It's not a concern.

14. Can I ask my teachers questions about the emailing in Albania and stuff?
- Both of my teachers did serve their missions in Albania but they served 4 years ago. The rules change with every mission president so they don't really know how things work there anymore. So, not really. But they do give us a lot of helpful information. They say that Albania basically sells their electricity to greece so sometimes the electricity will randomly go out for hours at a time because the country decided to make money from greece hahah. Classy? Totally Albania for you.


Where do I start... Well I am for sure singing in the priesthood session choir at Priesthood session of General Conf. I am so excited. We had our first practice this morning. IT was awesome! The spirit is so strong when we sing! You should definitely get Evan to come and see me on TV! haha. But yeah maybe invite the Philibaums? I bet she would love that.. Even though the meeting is for men ha. But anyways, Consecration week started today so It is a week starting from today. It's weird sending this email english because I have only been thinking in Albanian all day. Crazy stuff. It is going well though. THank you for you prayers. I need them! I have had so many oppertunities to see my prayers being answered since I have been here. Sometimes it is something as small as "I am tired and I need to focus" and as soon as I say Amen, I find myself with 200% more focus and some sort of sugar high haha. It's incredible. I love it here. I am so excited to get to Albania and start teaching people but at the same time, I am going to miss the MTC. There is a very special spirit here.


Mom/Dad- Thank you so much for being awesome. I love reading your letters to me. They always make my days so much more awesome. Thank you for the Plan of Salvation things in Albanian. I actually had to use my inheritated trait from dad the other day haha. When I got the things, there was only 1 in the bag. The reciept was in there and i saw that you had purchased 5 of them. I basically pulled a Cory Eckel and after much persuasion, I got the lady in the mail room to call Missionary Mall and fix the problem. They were not making it easy haha. But yes, thank you so much. The district was so so happy when they saw that you bought them some. Everyone in the our district has some hard home life things. Most of them aren't the most financially stable families. I know that our family has been so so so blessed and I'm so glad that you were able to use what we have been blessed with to help us teach the Gospel. Thank you so much. I love you both.

Ashley- Ash, Thanks for being the best big sister ever. I know that you probably don't take that as a compliment since you are my only big sister but my relationship with you and Alexis are far more different. I always looked up to you and had that good example to follow. You gave our family a good last name and I tried not to ruin it too bad for Alexis haha. You really did help me so much throughout childhood and I appreciate it more than you can imagine. I looked up to you so much and still do. You are an incredible example and so many people look up to you. I can't tell you how many girls in my grade in high school envied you. You are such a good example to Alexis and I and you definitely set the bar high for the Eckel kids. Thank you so so so much for everything. My thoughts turn to my first efy. You gave me a letter which I still have and brought with me on my mission. You bore you testimony in it and told me how much you loved and cared about me. You told me that I would get out of EFY whatever I put into it. That has been true with everything in my life. I love you so much Ash.

Alexis- Don't think I have forgotten about you. I love you so so so much too. The relationship I had with you was far different than ashleys but so awesome. You were always my best friend. From when we were little kids to now. I always wanted to be with you. You would always hate how I wanted to hang out with you and your friends but I just loved being around you. I loved playing all of those little games we would play together when we were growing up and all of the fun times we have had throughout highschool and basically all of life. We have been so blessed to have the relationship we have. You will always be one of my best friends ever. Thanks for being so nice to me and always caring so much about me. I love you little sister. Don't you dare change or I will smack you in the face with a Chicken Wang!

Evan Baker- You are the man. I'm sorry I couldn't write to you lately. I love you though. So much. I have actually been thinking about you a lot. Good luck with school and everything else. I will try to write you soon. Tell you family I love them. Mrs. Baker. I love your letters so so much. You are my second Family in the burg!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Missionary Sightings!

JD and I volunteer at the TRC for our FHE on Monday nights. WELLLL, tonight when we were leaving we heard someone running up behind us. Guess who it was!? Our very own Elder Eckel! Helloooo! I was so excited! We got to walk with him to the parking lot (he was on his way to the soccer field). It was so fun to see him! He was so happy and smiley (and so was I!). Anyway, we snagged a couple quick pictures and here they are!

As I was walking away, I shouted..."Welp! See ya in 2 years!!!" Haha...funniest goodbye ever!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

MTC Week Eight

Alrighty! What the heck is up!?
I will start with the usual.

1. Am I good on supplies and clothes and stuffffff?
- Yes! I am doing great. I have more than enough ha. Thank you!

2. Has my Visa come yet?
- My visa debit card? Yes haha. My visa to albania? Nope. We were actually really worried about that and then we found out this week that you don't need a Visa to get into Albania. I guess they will take anyone to come to the country ha. It is good for their economy so they don't care who goes in and out.

3. Do I want a calling card for the airport?
-That would be awesome. I think that would probably be the best idea for that. I get my flight plans in 9 days!!!!!! WOOOOT!

4.Am I allowed to print emails in Albania?
- I am not sure. We don't really get to talk to the people who served there after we teach them. We leave and they talk to our teacher about how bad we speak Albanian haha

5. How did the German person get my dear elder thing?
- I am not sure haha. Maybe Ashley's blog? It was pretty cool though. I'm so glad that you are doing that for me (Ashley). You are the bomb digity!

6. Any food for the next package?
- I'm actually pretty good on food haha. We have more than enough to last us the rest of our stay here. Thanks! Maybe some WarHeads or CryBaby's. Those are the only candy that i have been craving ha.

7. Do I set goals for the language (vocab)?
-Of course! I set goals every day for the language. I have been trying to memorize at least 25 words a day. It is a lot harder than it seems. It's going well though

8. Does the district have contests (language)?
- We sometimes play games where we have verb conjugation races or races on writing sentences and stuff. Is that what you mean?

9. Do we have sticky notes labeling everything?
- No haha. Although the sticky notes at home actually helped me. I remember those words more than other words. And to make it even better, I know how dad pronounces all of them hahaha.


Alrightyyyy! So, this week has been pretty awesome. I have been getting better at the language every day. I actually have a really cool experience to share. So one of the people who works here at the MTC asked my district to help him with a teachers meeting. He is over all of the teachers at the MTC. He told us he would be teaching us in Albanian and all we would have to do is bring our scriptures and our selves. We were all really confused because this guy only knows Greek. We had no idea how he was going to teach us in Albanian. I guess he looked up like 10 words in Albanian about an hour before the meeting. We were all thinking to ourselves that this was going to be a disaster. We showed up to the meeting where there were probably 20-30 teachers. The man in charge had us sit in the front so he could teach us in Albanian. He started to teach us. His Albanian was awful haha. He only knew about 10 words. And the words that he "knew", he didn't really know well ha. He said most of the words he didn't know in Albanian, in Greek. Greek is NOTHING like Albanian. He was teaching us about the Plan of Happiness that God has given us. He used lots of hand motions to help us understand what he was trying to say. With the language and hand signals together, it was not very clear what he was trying to say to us but what was clear was that he was teaching us things of God. The spirit was so strong. By the end of the lesson, I was in shock. I had not a clue what he was saying but at the same time felt as if he was speaking in english. He taught with the holy ghost, the spirit of God. It became very evident to me that it's not about how well I can speak Albanian. I will probably sound to the Albanians the way he sounded to us. But that isn't what matters. If the Spirit is there, The language isn't what matters. It was very comforting to know that and to experience it first hand. I am so lucky to be in the work of the Lord. I know without a doubt that The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in these days. We have God's power on the earth and have a living Prophet. I always knew that the Church was important and that it was good but I have gained much much much more of an understanding of how important it really is.

Just a couple more things: So I signed up to sing in the priesthood session of conference. I don't know if it will actually end up happening because the place where the choir practices is closed until a week before conference so no one really knows if it will really take place. I hope it works out though! Dad, you will not only know in your head that I am watching the priesthood session of conference but you will get to see me! haha Cool stuff. Yeah, I don't really know what else to say about my week. All my days pretty much blend together here ha. Next week is concecration week which means we speak NO ENGLISH for the whole week. ALL ALBANIAN! AHHHHHH SHOOT ME! haha just kidding. but seriously. it's going to kill me.

Ashley: That is SOOO cool that you were on the same plane as L Tom Perry! I am jealous. Ash thanks for the quotes/notes you gave me. Those are awesome. Also, I was going to gym monday night about 6:45 and what do I see? I see your freaking car parked on the side of the road haha. I sat there with my comp and waited for a few minutes to see if you were gonna come back and then I was like "eh she is probably at class at BYU or something and isn't coming back for a while." I then played soccer for like 10 minutes and then went back to see if you were there and NO! you had already left! I was so mad haha. I wanted to yell to you in Albanian.

Alexis- I think it's way funny that you and Alec are going to Homecoming together. He has always had a strange love for you hahaa. I'm sorry that your animal bracelet broke. I will send you a new one. I hope you did well on the ACT. We need to go to BYU together. End of story!

Mom- Thanks for all the times you write me! It soudns like you did an awesome job at stake conf. Sarrah Pratt said you did way good! It sounds like Elder Maynes had some awesome things to say. Oh, I bought a new tape recorder here. It's much smaller and works way better. I bought it today. Do you wante me to send the other one to you guys?

Dad- I am glad blizzard is still doing well haha. Thanks for writing me everyday. I can always count on at least one dear elder! It's the best. Sorry I can't say much. I'm running out of time! Sorry. If you could get me some more Albanian "Plan of Salvation" puzzle things that we got at missionary mall. THat would be great! I guess those are much needed in the field. I'm glad you found moms car keys haha. I Accept your apology and don't blame you for blaming me!

Well I gotta go! Goodbye! I love you all! Keep writing!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

MTC Week Seven

Hello! What does life say? (that is how you would say it in albanian haha)

I will start with the usual questions.

1. How is the Language
- The language is coming along. Last week we had 2 days in a row where all we spoke was Albanian. It is SO hard. I'm getting better though. I just need to memorize more vocab. It's kinda hard that we only have 4 weeks left, now that we know the grammar, and we are expected to know the whole langauge. There are a lot of words in a language ha. There is no way I will know it all by the time i get there, But i will know enough to teach people about the Gospel. I will definitely have to rely on the Spirit to teach people since my language won't be sharp.

2. Am I teaching people who know Albanian?
-Yes, People who served there missions there come every thursday to be taught by us. It's great. We also have been teaching our teachers.

3. Are we to the point where we only speak Albanian?
-Hahaha. No. it's funny because the Elders who speak spanish are speaking only spanish by week 3 or 4. We have just started learning vocab. We have days set aside where that is all we speak but we can't do it every day.

4. Do I see a lot of guys from BYU?
-Yeah it's starting to wind down. They have either already left or they came before me. THere are a few people who are still here. I have watched many of them come and go. It makes me feel old or something haha. It's very strange. We are already on our 4th group of english speaking missionaries in our zone.

5. Do we have our flight plans?
-Nope. We won't be getting those until the week before we leave.

6. When will I call?
- I will call on my layover whenever that is. I will let you know when I get my flight plans. We are allowed to talk for as much money as we pay to call haha. I should probably just get a calling card.

7. How am I on cash?
- I will probably need to take more out before I leave but for now I'm doing alright. I need a card though.

8. Have I gotten my shot yet?
-No not yet. They put a slip in my mail when I'm supposed to come get it.

9. Have I written brent?
-Yes! I am waiting for his reply! I sent many messages with the missionaries who just left for pocatello this week to give to him (along with the picture of his family) haha. I loved the story about the bird poop. That is so funny.

10. Do we use Preach My Gospel in english or albanian?
-We use both. It's still really hard to comprehend everything in Albanian. I can read it like a pro though :) !

11. When I get to Albania, will I have more time to email?
- I will have an hour, but i will also be reading emails from you all too. So it will probably be about the same.


Alright So, The MTc is great. I'm loving it here. I really have not ever been this happy. I understand exactly what Brent was saying in his emails. It is incredible to see what God does when you put all of your trust in him. I came across a scripture this week and when I read it, I had a feeling that I should include it in my Email so here you go! It is in 2nd Nephi 25:23 "...We know that is is by grace that we are saved, AFTER ALL WE CAN DO." I think this is something we all need to think about. Most people believe that we are saved by the Grace of God. Which is true. I think people often times don't realize that we can't be saved by His grace if we don't do our part. Have you really done ALL that you can do? That is just a good question to think about every day. Sometimes it is easy to let little things get in the way of doing what God would want us to do but we need to understand that we wouldn't even be here if it weren't for God. We need to litterally do ALL that we can do. Nothing less of that. We need to be able to say that we have done EVERYTHING we could possibly do. Sure we will all make mistakes, but it is important that we fix those mistakes and move on being a better person than before. Anyways, That is my little message for you all today haha. Hopefully that made sense. I feel like someone needed to hear that. Maybe it's not even someone who get's the email forwarded to them but someone who comes across Ashley's blog (Which I'm so glad she is doing :) )

So this is pretty cool, I got a dear elder this week from some random person from Germany. They somehow found me and just expressed their grattitude of me serving the people in Albania and the Lord.

I loved my Halfway package! haha It had some sparkling grape juice in it. We are going to drink it the night before we leave for a celebration! haha. Alexis, I am happy that you enjoyed the T-shirt! IT's pretty awesome if i do say so myself -- which i do. I think it's hilarious that you are taking an ACT class via skype! hahaha. That is so creepy/funny. Is it any good? Lex, you should "dear elder" elder holmes. HE doesn't get mail very often and it's always so sad when he doesn't. Just talk about class president and stuff. He is not a creeper haha I was the one that told him that he should write you. I am sending a Tape home for you sometime this week. It's not any good ha but maybe it will be cool to hear my voice? If I sent a memory card home (from the camera) would you put it all on the computer and then send it back (without deleting the stuff on it?) That would be awesome! Ashely, I think it would be cool if you did TRC. You wouldn't be able to do Albanian though cause we are only speaking Albanian now so you would not know what to do ha. It would be cool if we bumped into eachother though ha. I want that picture of me and evan that you were talking about from your wedding! Also, I can send a pic of the rubber bands. They basically have red, black, and blue, all together in one set of handles for the bands to go to. hahaha I was dying at the quote that i said about the ray bans. I also want to thank you for your cookies you made with meg and kend. They were AMAZING! Everyone in my district became addicted to them right away. I'm glad to hear that Blizzard is doing well. He is the man. He is such a trooper! I'm also glad to hear that Ohio State is still the best. I would expect nothing less! Mrs. Baker, Thanks for the puppy chow!!! ahh it was so good! and the cookies! They reminded me of being at the baker home! Madison, thanks for the letter! It was great to hear from you! I will write you as soon as i Can! Evan, I got your letter and will be writing you as well. I love you brother! Mom and Dad, I love you both so much. You have been such great parents and such great examples. I wouldn't be where I am today without you. Dad- I loved your marriot and iPhone story. I was laughing so hard through both of those. I hope soccer is going well haha. I'm also pumped for perrysburg football! I love the seniors this year. I hope they take states! Well my time is slowly but surely running out haha. I just want to once again say that I love you all and am so thankful for the letters I get from you. Especially mom dad and ash for sending them basically daily. It really makes my days SOOOO much better. Lex, your letters are great too ha. Just not as frequent as the rest of the family. I understand though. Facebook comes before your brother ;) haha. Bye! I love you!

-Elder Ekël

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

MTC Week 6

Hello world! How is it going?

I'll start with the questions portions:

1. Is the MTC a lot tougher than school?
- haha Yes it is. It is a lot harder than school. I can't believe how much harder it is. But it is way more rewarding than school (for now) haha. I know big Cory will probably give me a talk about how school is going to be very important and stuff. I understand that but for now, I feel like studying in this area (the Gospel) is the most important/benifical thing for anyone.

2. How did I write my letter from the Laundry room?
- There are computers down here. I am in the laundry room right now as I type!

3. Is Scabies like chicken pox?
-haha Sure.. It is itchy, leaves a rash, and no one is happy when they have it.

4. What time do I get dear elders?
-They come about 3 pm but I normally don't pick them up tiil after dinner. I LOVE dear elders. Please keep sending them! Well I mean, letters are way better than dear elders but dear elders are awesome too.

5. What is my estimated MTC departure date?
-October 5th. I don't know why everyone keeps saying the 11th. It better not be the 11th. I want to get to Albania ASAP!!!

6. How is the food/ am I eating it?
- The food is alright haha. It is getting older with every meal but it's pretty good. Yes I do eat it haha.

7. Have I gained weight?
- I have gained about 5-10 pounds but I think a lot of it is muscle. I am in way good shape right now and I have been eating pretty healthy (weird huh?) I work out every night and run every day. I have been doing pushups and abwork and then shoulder and chest and biceps and back with "the bands". I really want to get some of my own bands before I leave. I think you can get them at Golds Gym. That's where Elder Holmes got his. I just use his for now. I'm not trying to boast or anything ha but I'm getting pretty ripped. This is the first time I have ever worked out every day for 6 weeks straight. It's pretty crazy

8. Have I gotten a package from Kend/ how often does she write me?
- She hasn't written me yet.. I am still waiting to hear from her...... Just kidding haha. She writes me every week and I have gotten two things of cookies from her! She's the bestttttt! ha Yeah I am being treated well here haha.

9. Did I get a letter from Jackson/ Donna?
- I never got the letter from Jackson. I was so dissapointed cause I was looking forward to hearing from him when you told me he wrote me but I haven't gotten anything yet. And from Donna, I did get 1 email from her a week or two ago and then I got a dear elder from her this week! Thanks Donna!

10. How is the language coming?
- Well, Albanian is a crazy language. I wish I could explain the grammar rules to you. It's pretty wild. Let's say I was going to say "I pray to God." In Albanian, It would be "I (to him) get prayed to God" It's hard to explain. But it's crazy. It is coming along. We taught for the first time in all albanian last thursday. It went surprisingly well. I could understand pretty much everything that they were saying to me, but I felt like a bird with clipped wings trying to fly. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn't know how to say it. I am getting better every day. It is in no way easy and from what the teachers have told us, it can take up to a year to become fluent once you get to Albania. It doesn't always take that long for everyone though. I hope I am one that will be ahead of the game.


So it has been another week here in the MTC! I'm still learning sooo much. I already have a love for the Albanian people. It's awesome. I feel like I'm ready to get out there and start teaching. I know i'm not actually ready but it's all good. I am just really excited. The letters are becoming fewer and fewer. I expected that to happen but it's all good. Hopefully I will get some random letters from people at some points during the remainder of my Mission. IT's so good to hear from people. Last night we heard from Richard G. Hinckley from the quorum of the 70. It was awesome. It's easy to see that the phrase "like father like son" is so true. Hopefully I can be like Big Cory someday! I know if I can even get close, I'll be in good shape. Yeah, I have some great stories to tell. I will send a tape to the fam soon so you can hear some of the stories from me. Oh, I get to call you guys before Christmas! We get to call from the airport when we leave. Remind me to tell you my flight plans so i can tell you when to wake up in the middle of the night to get the call from me! haha. I decided to do this paragraph last this week so I could do the personal parts longer. I am almost out of time now though. I have 50 seconds. Goodbye everyone! I love you! Keep writing. God loves you. Every single one of you. More than you can imagine.

-Elder Eckel.


Mom- I'm glad you have started to work out! How long do you think you will go this time? Keep it up! When you asked if I think people read the dear elders before they are sent, I know that they dont haha. There is no way they could read the thousands of letters that are sent here every day. I think you could send me the pin if you wanted through it. IT might be safer in a letter though. Who knows. That's awesome that Blake left today for Ft. Lauderdale! I hope he has an awesome time! Hopefully he can teach in Portugese a little bit! I loved how you bore your testimony to the people from work. It is so awesome that we have the blessing of knowing that we can be with our families for longer than just this life. We can be together forever! It makes life much happier and gives us a greater understanding for things. Thanks for getting my letter to Steve! I love you mom!

Dad- Hel. 5:6= Epic. THat's way cool. I am glad you told me about that. Thanks Dad. hahaha I was laughing so hard about the Marriott thing. That is totally somehting you would do. I can't believe Marriott wouldn't tend to your wishes haha. I think i got that stuborn quality from you with stuff like that. I love it. That's way sad that your iPhone had to go like that but way awesome that you got the iPhone4. I am obviously jelaous. Sounds like Perrysburg is sweet this year! That's awesome. I really like the seniors this year. I hope they go way far into states. How is Lucas and Brandon doing? Ohio State plays tomorrow!!!! GO BUCKS! I can't wait to hear the recap of the game. It's sad that Church boy is going to miss a lot of the games this year! Oh well, you are doing what you are supposed to do. Make sure you find a way to record the games for me! I gotta see TP in his prime! Brent and I have a lot of catching up to do.

Alexis- I'm glad you like the t shirt lex! Albanias flag is pretty sweet haha. The ultimate terrorist looking flag. I love it. Hey you, send me more pictures! Try and find a good football picture of me! How is senior year going!? Seems like you are having fun so far. Now that seminary started you are probably way tired all day haha. Well good luck with everything and Keep your grades up to Austin Eckel's standards (Aka- do what you want, and you will get into BYU!) :) haha

Ashley- I am jealous of you. PERIOD. YOu saw John Mayer! AHHH I'm so mad haha. Yeah I saw Alison yesterday! She tried to hug me haha. It was super weird to have a girl come at me like that but it's all good haha she stopped herself. It was good to see a familiar face. SHe said she was going to call you! That's awesome that you hung out with Kendy! Become best friends with her! actually don't. I'm her best friend. You can be second best haha.

Evan Baker- You are the man. Period! I can't wait for your letter!

Mrs. Baker- I sent you your lettter already. I don't know when you will get it!

Betsy- Thanks for the letter! I am going to try and write you something when I get a chance!

Sister Fowler- Thanks again for thinking of me! Tell the family I say Hello!

Sarah Pratt, Abi Tucker- Thanks for the encouraging dear elders's! You guys rock. Keep being awesome.