Elder Palmer (back row, 6th from left) is serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa mission for
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Eric returned home on August 27th, 2011!!!!!

He was transferred to Yaounde, Cameroon on August 13th, 2010.

Links listed on the left are from the senior couples and Mission President!

Comments in italics are clarifications from Mom.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Eric's email of December 23rd, 2010

Joyeux Noel !

I can't really believe its Christmas again already .  It just crept up on  me.  And before I forget, we need to get the phone call set up.  So as I’m looking at my program, I’m thinking Saturday evening, which is Christmas, would be good in my schedule.  I think it could be around 7 or 8 PM, and I believe that you are 6 hours behind me?  Tell me what you think about that.  I can be flexible.  And also we have the option of using Skype to call you at the Thomspons’, what about that?  But I'm thinking the best would be Christmas evening (here)  I'll call you real quick with my phone and then you could call me back.

So first, I’ll tell you about my new comp.  His name is Elder Tingey, he is from Kaysville, Utah, he started his mission back in the beginning of May this year.  He already did 4 transfers in Pointe-Noire, and he arrived last Friday night.  He already speaks French really well, and is confident and such when we contact and when we teach.  He is also the first companion that I have had that is taller than me, I believe.  So yeah, things are going really good.  I'll send a picture next week.  Oh yeah, and Elder Buck also came up from Pointe-Noire.  He's the one who went to SUU as well.

Last Friday I didn’t have a comp, because Acorda was gone Thursday morning and Tingey came Friday night, so I worked with Patrick from Bastos 2.  I had worked with him when Acorda was sick one time.  And a miracle happened that day!  We had a rendezvous with Blaise at the church, and while Patrick and I were waiting for Blaise, Adam showed up!  Adam is the the one from Sudan who you got the Arabic Book of Mormon for.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have it that day, and Adam still doesn’t have a phone and is working a lot outside of town.  But I was glad to see he is still alive.  I just got to make sure I get that Book of Mormon to him.

Also last week we played American football and basketball.  We will be playing football again tonight, but last week there was a pretty bad injury.  I was guarding this one guy, and he was playing really hard.  I thought he was playing too hard.  But then at the end of the first drive, he caught a touchdown over me, but then the second he turned around there was a stone wall.  And he hit it with his face.  I thought football was over, I was surprised that he wasn’t bleeding.  It looked really bad.  He tried to play a few more plays, but then he left, which was probably the right thing to do.  He had a fat black eye.  But, its good to play some sports again, because now we have more people that want to.  I stink, though.

We had a second rendezvousu with all of Blaise’s family.  We even brought them a 2nd Book of Mormon because they didn’t all have time to read it.  One of his younger brothers already finished 1st Nephi, and the dad takes in to work each day.  This Sunday the dad will get off work, so the family told us they will be at church Sunday, as well.  They are doing great.  Its much better to teach a whole family than just random people.

Jacques is also doing very well.  We are getting ready for his interview soon.  And luckily he is only having to work a half day on Christmas Eve, so he will attend the activity Friday at 16h00.

We have also done lots of contacting recently, and yesterday we did something that I had never done before.  We got rid of all of our French brochures.  We had to stop and reload before doing anything else.  It was a good and a bad thing.

Everyone in Bastos 1 and Bastos 2 has now found out that I play the piano, so I have now been recruited to play piano in the choir that will perform this weekend and the next weekend and church activities.  Its good I guess.  By the end of my mission I will be able to play probably over 95% of the cantiques well enough.  I think Ive decided the hardest one is page 41, its called “Pour Tous Les Saints”, its in English too.  (For All the Saints, Hymn #82)

As for my studies, I think I may have found out who my favourite Book of Mormon prophet person is.  They would ask us that in seminary and stuff, I would probably just say “Nephi” or “Moroni”, I don’t know.  But right now, I think my favorite guy in the Book of Mormon is Jacob.  I just finished reading his book, and I found a lot of stuff that I have never really noticed before.  And I really like the story in Jacob 7, where he destroys Sherem.  Pretty awesome.

Alright, I think that’s about it for me.  Et je dois souhaiter des bonnes anniversaires à Dad et à Scott ! (And I need to wish Dad and Scott Happy Birthday)  I can't believe Scotts gonna be 18 and Dads gonna be, well, yeah.  Have a Happy (Anglophones say that rather than “Merry” here) Christmas, and let me know about that phone call.

Je vous aime,
-         Elder Eric Palmer

Hey Dad,

So if you text me there would be no problem, and that would cost me nothing to receive.  But I think a safe time to say would be 7:30 my time, which will be 1:30 chez vous, because we will go see some people Christmas afternoon/evening.
But would it be ok if I just call you real quick when I'm ready, and then you call me back?  That's what we did on Mothers' Day last time.

For Christmas Eve, we will actually be going au champing-ing, with Maman Natalie.  Then we will get back and have a couple rendezvous, and then the Elders Quorum will be doing an activity about the birth of Christ at 4, and then we are going over to the Thompsons.  And the elders from Ekounou (other side of Yaoundé) will sleep at our apartement, wake up, open some presents, eat breakfast at the Thomspons', go play basketball, go to the Cleverly's, and then visit some people.  I think that is our Christmas plan.
Will I buy myself a Christmas gift... maybe.  It might well come in the form of food.

Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric

Hey Mom,

(Mom knows some Tingey's from High School)  So I just asked Elder Tingey, and he said he thinks Craig Tingey is his second cousin or something, but he knows hims probably.  He said his whole family is from Bountiful and Kaysville and such places.
Alright, I don't see many questions either.  I'm excited to talk to you too, I said that Sunday evening here would be best for me.  I'll plan on calling you between 7 and 8 my time and then you can call me right back.
Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric

Eric's email of December 16th, 2010

          I know I usually have lots of typos, but today I'm on an English keyboard, so I apologize in advance because I've gotten used to the French one.
            First off is transfers, which have already started to happen!  This morning Elder Acorda was shipped off to Bonaberi, so I've spent the day with Elder Lamb, because his comp (Elder Kesler) is flying home this weekend with 3 others, including Elder Parsons who I served with in Pointe-Noire.  Our comps will arrive tomorrow at 19h00, and we will work with branch members during the day.  I’ll be working with Patrick again, I think I already sent a picture of him a few weeks ago.  But my new comp will be Elder Tingey, who I knew for 1 transfer in Pointe-Noire.  He is from Kaysville, Utah.  He is tall and good at basketball.  I can't remember anything else right now, but we got along great before, and he likes the Jazz too, so we just have to not talk about sports together all the time.  Me and Elder Lee had that problem at first, but then we made some companionship rules, and there were no problems, so I imagine we will have to do the same kind of thing.
            As for our amis de l’eglise, Blaise and Jacques are still the 2 most progressing ones.  One Tuesday we were able to meet Blaise’s family, they were really nice and fed us ero.  Ero is basically grass clippings cooked in oil and pima, and is actually very good.  His family was very welcoming, understood well and accepted to pray.  The father has a rough work schedule, he works 7 days and then gets 1 day off, so normally its only 1 of every 7 Sundays that he is free.  So well see.  Blaise is still progressing well, and he had talked a lot about the Book of Mormon to his family.
            Jacques is still progressing, still preparing for the 8th of January.  He always does his reading assignments, and usually has a really profound question each time that I don’t have an answer to, which ends with him saying, “ca, ce n’est plus le religion, c’est la science", (it's not religion anymore, it's science) and then we move on.  We should be doing his interview next week.  We are about to finish the 3rd lesson, so yeah.  He’s good.
            Acorda and I also contacted a famille from Kinshasa on Sunday.  We just had a short lesson about the 1st vision, I only think 1 or 2 people really understood or payed attention.  But I was able to use my Lingala skills, which are limited to one or two words.  I said “mbote”, which is like bonjour.  I’m glad I remember that at least.
            I also received some wonderful news on Monday when Fred from Bonaberi called me.  He informed me that Robert got baptized last weekend!  Robert is someone that I had worked a lot with with both Elder Ternieden and Elder Lee. (First area on his mission)  I looked in an old planner, and it was almost 1 year ago that we had our first rendezvous with Robert.  I wrote and sent a letter with Acorda for him.  So that made me happy.
            Last Friday we also held our mission conference.  Sister Headlee gave a great lesson on how music effects us and what kind we should be listening too.  President Headlee taught us about “Teaching People, Not Lessons”.  Embarrassingly, I can't really remember that many details, so its a good thing I wrote those down in my study journal.  But I also did get an interview with him on Saturday morning, my first one in 5 transfers.  I did talk to him a bit about some goals that Acorda and I had set, and then pretty much fail at achieving this last transfer.  He talked to me about expectations, the expectations that missionaries have for their sector and those they teach.  I guess it was pretty related to his lesson, focusing on people and not numbers and such.  I don’t know, but I did feel better after it.
            Elder Acorda and I did meet a guy from Greece the other day.  He was on the other side of the road, and yelled, “etes-vous les mormons?”  So we talked a little, he said he lived in Salt Lake City for a year, he works with the Orthodox church, and he said he knows everything about theology.  I asked if he would want to talk to us, and he said no and told me the same thing again.  And then today Elder Lamb and I ran into him again in DOVV, the supermarche.  His accent is different from what I'm used to, so I only understood about ¾ of what he said, but something about polygamy.  I told him that it ended 120 years ago.  I don’t know if he believed me.
            So now that my 3 transfers with Elder Acorda are up, I think the biggest thing I learned from him is charity.  He is always ready to help or serve someone.  Even if I  had made him upset or things like that, he was even charitable to me.  So that's what I learned, even though we had some challenges together, he taught me a lot.
            Recently in the Book of Mormon I've been reading Jacob.  Tomorrow I will start chapter 5, so we will see if I still like it after tomorrow, but this time I've seen a lot that I never really noticed before.  I think the favorite passage I've found is Jacob 1:17-19, its about the priesthood, and how to get the authority and then the power.  ("Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errandfrom the Lord.  For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been consecrated priests and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi.  And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.") There were lots of really good ones too, though.
            Today at 17h00 we are going to go play American football at the embassy.  Hopefully.  We called Bro. Clerverly who works there, and he said he would get us on the list.  And this will also help fellowship a couple marines who have started to be a little interested in the Church.  They came to church last Sunday with the Cleverly family.
            And yesterday I bought 2 soccer jerseys for 5000 CFA.  That's $5 a jersey.  And today, when Elder Lamb and I went to develop photos, we saw the same one in this guy's shop, and he told me he sells them at 20,000 CFA each.  So he's trying to sell at $40 what I bought at $5 off the side of the road.  (The cheap gene rears it's head.)
            I assume everyone is finishing school tomorrow, luckies.  I cant believe Christmas and the end of the year is coming up so fast.  Ah, dang it, and I forgot to talk about the Christmas phone call.  So, tell me when it would be good for you.  I assume the evening one day will work best for me.  And the evening here is I think 6 hours ahead of you.  President says it doesn’t even have to be on Christmas, so if Dad and Scott’s birthday or another day is better, just let me know.

Je vous aime,
-         Elder Eric Palmer

Dear Mom,

(How many missionaries are going home this transfer?)
  So in our town we only had 2 going home, but 4 total from North America.  We have heard that in 6 weeks we will get 1 new missionary named Elder Prince.  Thats all I know about that right now.

(Will the branch do anything to celebrate Christmas?)  I know our elders quorum is having some Christmas thing on the 24th at 4 oclock.  Thats about it, I think.  (Have you noticed any Christmas songs that are different than ours?)  And in the French hymn book there are a few that aren't in the English book.  Like, "il est ne le divin enfant" (He is born the divine Christ Child) or "Noel Nouvelet" (typo?), that Dad might know.  And theres others like "Angels We Have Heard on High", which in French has 5 verses and the first half of the song's melody is a bit different.

Je t'aime,
- Eric
Dear Dad,
I actually did backup my whole memory card this morning to the Wolverine.  There will be much organizing to do when I get back, though.

I'm completely fine cash wise.  Too much cash.

Yes, rainy season has been over for a few weeks now.  Here dry season get pretty hot during the day, not like Douala though.  I still think in Cameroon I prefer rainy over dry season, just because I don't like that heat.  Pointe-Noire had the best weather, though, because during dry season its cool.  But I've heard, because luckily I wasn't there, that in Pointe-Noire during rainy season its very hot and like enfer. (Hades)

Je t'aime,
- Eric

p.s.  no Andrea email this week?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eric's email of December 10, 2010

Good Morning !  Thats what all the francophone kids say to us.  Apparently they don't teach them when to say good afternoon and such.  And even sometimes anglophones say good morning in the afternoon.
So recently we have found some new amis, and some are progressing quit well.  One is named Soeur Jeanne.  We contacted her 2 Saturdays ago, and most of all she was very interested in the Book of Mormon.  We weren't able to see her again until last Friday, but we lent her a copy of the Book of Mormon, and committed her to come to church.  Unfortunately, she fell through on her church commitment, but yesterday we saw her and asked about her reading.  And she showed us that she was already to Alma 3!  At first I was kind of skeptical, but after asking a few questions, I realize she actually did read all that in under a week!  I think she read kind of quickly and didn't get every detail, but that's still amazing.  And because of her Book of Mormon progress, I forgot to be devasted that she didn't come to church, but she's been recommited to come this Sunday.
Also, our anglophone investigator Blaise is progressing very well.  On Sunday we watched a Stake Conference that was done for the whole south eastern-ish Africa area, in the which Elder Oaks and Elder Packer spoke.  Blaise enjoyed it very much, and asked if he could get a copy of it.  In his Book of Mormon he is going much slower, but is understanding very well.  Sunday was also fast and testimony meeting, and after Blaise asked Elder Acorda if he could have bore his testimony.  So he says he’ll probably do it next month.  And he's lucky, because the missionaries and the Thompsons go to DOVV, his store, often, and ask him about his Book of Mormon reading and such almost daily.
Elder Acorda and I also fixed a baptism date this week !  And its a baptism date that I am actually very confident will go through.  I say that, because recently we have made a few, but they kept falling through or being pushed back because the necessary preperations aren't being made.  Anyways, its a baptismal date for the 8th of January with Frère Jacques.  I think I told you about the guy we contacted who looks like Parker Froelich, right ?  Well that's him !  He has been to church every Sunday for over a month now (and even gets to church on time !), keeps all his commitments, and from the beginning has been discussing baptism.  And I can also tell that he pays attention in church, because he wasn't very happy when we informed him that there is not yet a temple in Cameroon.  But its people like Jacques, or Soeur Therèse (did I tell you about her ?  coordonnée that Elder Kesler and Elder Lamb baptized last month) that motivate me to do door to door contacting, or go see coordonnées no matter who they come from, because you never can know how the Lord is going to prepare someone for the Restored Gospel.
We also went « au-champing » again this week, again with Sister Ndongo.  We went to her farm about a month ago and just did a bunch of weeding.  This time we did a little bit more weeding, but mostly harvested corn.  Actually here in English corn is called « maize », but we kept forgetting, and Sister Ndongo didn't know what we meant by « corn ».  I wore my hat, just so Mom knows.  Didn't get nearly as many red spots as I did last time.
So about the Stake Conference we watched last Sunday, it was something they recorded in Salt Lake City and sent DVDs to us.  Along with Elders Oaks and Packer, someone from the 70 spoke and someone from the General Young Womens Presidency spoke.  But my favorite thing was said by both Elder Oaks and Elder Packer.  They talked a bit about African traditions.  That there are good things, and that there are bad things.  They stated simply, that if there is any part of one’s culture that helps one practice the Gospel, they should keep it in one’s family.  But, if there is any part of culture or tradition that is in any way contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, one must get rid of it.  Sometimes I don't think that is completely understood, so I’m glad 2 apostles said it.
Finally, President Headlee came to Yaoundé today, and tomorrow we will have a mission conference.  I think I will have an interview with President for the first time in 5 transfers !  We are also anxious to hear about transfers.  That will happen sometime at the end of next week, and I don't know if we'll get the info this week or next, but because no one in all of Cameroon and Pointe-Noire go transferred last time, President told us that there will be big changes this time, especially because 4 elders will go home next week, including our current zone and district leaders.
And so if my calculations are correct, next week will be the last week of school before Christmas break ?  I hope everyone’s concerts and end of year shpeels are going well.  Also Elder Thompson dropped off some mail today and told me I have a good amount.  I haven't been back to the apartement yet, but he did tell me there was an Arab Book of Mormon.  But thanks for everything you do, and I love you very much !
-          Elder Eric
Hey Mom,

How did I know you were going to tell me to where my hat when I go "au-champing"?  (I always tell him to wear his hat....)

Beignets are basically small doughnuts with no hole.  Just fried dough.  (See picture)

 This is me with the lady that sells beans & beignets each morning.   
I eat there 5 or 6 mornings a week, and only spend 40 cents!

And now I've actually worn the long-sleeved shirt 2 times, and each because it was kind of "cold".  Its not anything like what you are having now, but it actually was kind of chilly.  I felt weird wearing it, but unusually comfy at the same time.  (See below)

And the red soda did actually come out of my shirt.  (Spilled on his shirt by a child at the orphanage.)  I left it on the back porch for about a week (because I forgot about it) in a bucket full of soapy water, then I put it in the washing machine, and now I can't even tell which one was stained.  C'est un miracle!  Malgré que je n'aie pas eu de foi. (It's a miracle.  Even though I didn't have faith.)   But when he spilled it on me, he was just standing in front of me, and I asked him, "est-ce que tu va cracher dans mon jus?"  (Are you going to spit in my drink?)  Then he said no, and punched my drink.

(I told Eric a young man from our ward just arrived in the Mozambique mission where they have AC units in their bedrooms.) Yeah, we don't have any ACs.  But we don't really need them.  They would be really nice in Douala, but we just get by with fans.

(Describe the supermarket.)  DOVV, Blaise's supermarché, is more like a Food Lion than a 7-11.  Its pretty nice, actually.

(How do you study the Book of Mormon?)  So when I study, things that stand our to me are commandements and blessings.  I underline commandments in blue and blessings in red.  And then anything in a missionary lesson sticks out, because nearly every gospel principle in my mind fits into missionary lesson 1 to 5, or a Christlike Virtue. (Do you read your scriptures in English or French?)   And I just study in French now, but I have a dictionary close by.  Especially when I was reading the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi.

Je t'aime,
- Eric
Hey Dad,

I don't know the details about the call yet, (Christmas Day call) but just in case, send me the calling card info, and I'll look in my stache.  And last time, I called you on the cell phone and you called me right back.  Can you tell me how much that cost, just so I could know if that may have been a little bit cheaper?

And thanks for the Wolverine reminder, I'll backup up my card tonight because it has been a while.

Je t'aime,
- Eric

p.s.  go D-Will (Utah Jazz)
p.s.s.  and there is an elder in my apartement from Idaho who is a cocky sports fan.  So I hope he won't have a reason to talk trash to me.  (Boise State will play the University of Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.)

Eric's email of December 2nd, 2010

La zone de Yaoundé

I don’t know if I’m going to be able to live a normal American life again, because I usually get a little headache just from looking at this computer screen once a week.  And its a good thing I love you guys so much, or I probably would just stop doing emails.  And also Mom and Dad would probably get upset if I sent nothing. 
                Well this morning we went to the Gorilla Park in Yaoundé.  Actually its outside of Yaoundé, took us about an hour and a half to get there, it was pretty similar to the one I went to in Limbé with the Willis’.  But here, the monkeys throw more stuff at you.  I got a few videos.  Some of the stuff gets through the fence, too.  But we saw gorillas, chimpanzees and all that.  Some of them are really athletic.  Also, Sister Thompson brought us all lunches, and she brought Shasta Root Beer from the American store !  That was the first time I think I had had that on my mission.  It made me burp a lot.  I’ll send some pictures.

Eric and Bobo a 12 year old gorilla
                Last week for Thanksgiving, we ended up eating chicken, mashed potatoes, pie (Sister Thompson used squash to make something like pumpkin pie), veggies, things like that.  I ate a lot of mashed potatoes.  And then on Saturday we went again to this orphanage that the missionaries have known long before I got here, and they invited us to go there.  We couldn't stay very long, and they hadn't finished preparing the food before we left, but one of the kids did spill Top Grenadine all over my shirt.  That is a red soda.  I don't know if I’m going to get that out.  You couldn't really tell from a distance so I ended up wearing that stained shirt the rest of the day.  It was kind of weird, because there were several non-Cameroonians, so I just felt out of place, and never knew whether the speak French or English.  I just ended up playing this scripture golf game with Elder Kesler.
                Last Friday Elder Acorda and I went on splits.  It ended up being a bigger headache than I was expecting.  The member I was to work with showed up about 30 minutes late at the church, and he came with no tie, and I barely convinced him to tuck in his darn shirt.  I think it stayed tucked until for 1 lesson, then he took it out.  And then at our second lesson, we taught a referral given by another member, so the member friend was there.  And after that appointment, the person I was supposed to work with all day said he had to be somewhere at 3, and needed to leave.  Good thing the other member said he could work with me the rest of the day, or I would have been in trouble.  After that, it was a pretty smooth day, but I was getting kind of frustrated at first.  We did it because we have found lots of inactives lately, and I thought that would be the most effective way to handle it, but that wasn't completely true.
                But, Elder Acorda and I have received one new, really good investigator.  His name is Blaise.  He works at the new supermarché called « DOVV » that is near our apartement, so all the missionaries go there often.  But we met him the first time we went to Dovv, he works at the veggie section, and was really interested in who we were.  We have only met with him twice so far, but he is progressing really well.  And all the missionaries know him, so they can remind him frequently to read his Book of Mormon and come to church.  He has committed to come to church this Sunday, and if he is as sincere as he really is, he should know sooner rather than later the truth of the Restoration.  And he's an anglophone !
                Last Saturday we were supposed to go au champ-ing again, but we didn't realize the rain would stop all work.  It was kind of raining when we left, and Maman Natalie doesn't have a phone, so we decided to go anyway.  When we got there, she was very surprised we had come in the rain, and was even more upset that we were wet.  She thought we were going to get malaria.  I think people here have less tolerance for rain, because if it rains long enough or hard enough, life stops.  So, we ended up just singing a few hymns with Maman Natalie and her family, then went back home.  All well.
                Something weird, and kind of random, but an investigator called us on Sunday, and told me that her family thinks that I’m her husband.  Awkward.
                I don't know if you’ll believe this, but I weigh 80 kg right now.  The cell phone told me that is about 176 lbs.  I remember in Pointe-Noire, the least I ever weighed was 155, after I had thrown up a few times one week.  But now, Cameroon is making me fatter.  At this rate, I’ll weigh more at the end of my mission than at the beginning. (We think his calculations are incorrect.)  Embarassing.
                Also, President Headlee is coming a week from today, and a week from tomorrow we will have a mission conference !  Maybe I’ll get an interview with President for the first time since I was with Elder Parsons in Congo !
                Also, I received a package from you this week.  I haven't opened it yet, because I don't know if its for Christmas or not.  (It is!  We are so happy he got it in time!)  It said there is a t-shirt and letters in it.  So let me know when I’m supposed to open it.  Also, there are 3 other packages that arrived in Douala, and due to what the post office does around this time or year, they charged 11,000 CFA extra to get them out, so I’ll pay that with the American money I have.  I assume those are Christmas packages, too ? 
                And so to finish, this transfer my appreciation for the Book of Mormon has grown and grown.  I realize why PMG says to use it as our main source for teaching the restored Gospel.And right now as I go through it, I’m underlining all the commandments in blue and all the blessings in red, and I’m understanding it better than ever.  I know that it is the most correct book of any book on the earth.  And I’m sad when investigators are incrédule about the Book of Mormon, because they have no idea what huge blessing they are missing.
Je vous aime,
-          Elder Eric

      The new apartment is fine, except the water issue.  I think it may be resolved now, but seriously the plumber guys were there every morning, and then every evening a pipe would bust in a different spot.  Its not that far from the old one, and we hired someone with a big truck to move us.  With just the Thompson's truck, that would've been a pain.  And yes, my shower time has greatly decreased, but when I do have warm water I am more likely to take my time.

      (How many missionaries are in your apartment?)  And actually right now there a 6 missionaries, but after this transfer we think there will only be 4 due to missionaries going home.  The missionaries right now are me, Elders Acorda, Kesler, Lamb, Wilkins, and Hancock.

      Of course I remember Scott in that primary program.  (Eric played the piano for their ward primary program.  I reminded him of a funny story about his brother, Scott.)

J     Je t'aime,
-     Eric

      Holy cow... (sports reaction)  (BYU v Utah game)   

      So as for college, I've realized one thing I really miss is science.  So I'm almost completely sure that I want to do something science related.  Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of my counselor at SUU.  Did you ever try to get on the my SUU account?  But yeah, I love science.

     Je t'aime,
-    Eric

Friday, November 26, 2010

Eric's email of November 25th, 2010-Thanksgiving!

BON….  THANKSGIVING !  I don’t know what to say in french.

So this past week was an eventful one.  Oh, and before I forget, we got an email from the senior couple in Douala today.  And they said, since it is the holidays, the postal service people in Douala charge a whole lot of money for customs, and they even said they put armed gaurds there and such, so they said right now they charge too much for packages.  They said it would be a good idea if no one sent anymore packages until after the holidays.  So I forgot if you said you already sent a Christmas package or something, so don’t send it if you already haven’t.  And when any package gets sent make sure not to put it in a box, but those big envelope things, just a reminder.

But in lieu (honor) of the holiday, we played football this morning!  I am happy Thanksgiving is on pday.  We played American football this morning.  Personally I didn’t do too much on offense, but I did have 2 interceptions, ran 1 back for a touchdown.  And my team, the Bastos district, won in the college football style overtime.  One of my interceptions was while I was guarding Elder Lamb, who was a running back at BYU.  It was mostly the quarterback’s fault, but still.

I forgot to tell you last week, but we moved apartements.  I didn’t really want to, because we lost our whole Friday moving stuff, and we still have to go back on Monday to finish it.  I think we moved because the apartement had become more expensive and our water kept going out and such.  But then, our new apartement barely had any water until yesterday we they came and fixed a bunch of things.  I took a warm shower for the first time in 2 months maybe.  Our new apartement is nice, but a little bit smaller.  It feels like a hotel, though.  And for some reason the washing machine is leaking all over.  And there is a school right next door, and also a café resto (restaurant) that plays annoying music during the day, but thankfully we usually aren’t there.  But its nice, I’m just glad we got all the moving junk out of the way.  (For pictures of the move, see Elder and Sister Thompson's blog listed on the left sidebar.)

On Sunday I played piano during the sacrament meetings for Bastos 1 and Bastos 2.  During Bastos 1 I played for the primary program, which actually went very well.  During the sacrament meeting it went better than any of the times we practiced it.  And then during Bastos 2 we came back so that I could play the piano for Elder Thomspon and a young man while they sang “Beautiful Zion”, pg. 44 in English.  I’ve gotten pretty good at sight reading hymns.

Elder Acorda and I did have a nice lesson with a recent convert named Brigitte.  We had been struggling what to teach her this week, because she knows everything already.  But Elder Acorda decided to share something in D&C 137 or somewhere around there, and then Soeur Brigitte told us she found an answer to a question she had had for a long time.  It was about what happens to small children who die before being baptized and such?  Where would they go?  And she told us how happy she was to get that answer.  Blessings of the Restoration!

On Sunday we were invited by a new investigator named Samuel to go to this prayer-group-church-thing that he attends on Sunday evenings.  So we went, and it was people of different churches and such, but they all spoke the same language.  We got there late, but they still let us say a few words.  But the most interesting thing, was the one person shared a dream he had had.  In this dream, he saw a white hand, then a less white hand, then a black hand all reach and out touch each other.  But he said that that evening was the accomplishment of the that dream, when Elder Acorda (the less white hand) and me (the white hand) came to their meeting.  So it was cool to go to their meeting, and we did get 2 coordonnées, which was our goal.  1 of the guys we took contact with was the one who had the dream.  On Tuesday we even saw him again and taught him the Restoration.  We won't be able to go back this Sunday, (to the prayer meeting) but if we do, we plan on presenting the Book of Mormon.  I’m interested to see how they would react.

So we found about 5 more inactive members to see this week.   Seriously, if a good chunk of the inactives that are in Yaoundé got reactivated, Bastos 1 could have a fully functioning branch and then create a whole new branch.  Its kind of sad how many people have gone inactive, and also frustrating.  Our teaching pool has gotten so filled up, that I think for at least once a week from now on we will have to go on splits.  Tomorrow we will be doing so to increase the number of people we can see.  One person will be Frère Patrick, who I worked with last week.  I don’t want to say that we shouldn’t contact any new people, but we have to just be very selective on how many new people we begin to teach regularly.

One of the inactive members is an Anglophone named Gillorine.  I have never met any one else in the world like Gillorine.  The first question he asked me, is what is the Urim and Thummin, and then what is a breastplate?  He got baptized and taught by Elder Ternieden and Elder Parsons when they were together here in Yaoundé.  But according to Gillorine, he got discouraged and such and stopped paying tithing.  But he came to church last week, also with a friend, and we went and saw him on Tuesday.  Lets just say that he is very challenging to work with.  He sometimes has really good questions, then has really off topic questions, mostly about where to get “the breastplate”.  I think that the best thing he will be able to do to get answers to his questions is to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover.  Tuesday night, I literally thought my head was about to explode.

Yesterday we also had our zone conference.  We played scripture golf, where each person takes a turn reading a chapter heading, and everyone else has to guess which chapter they read from.  I don’t know why its called golf, because the highest score wins.  10 points if you get the book and chapter, 5 points if you got the book and are within 5 chapters, and 1 point if you just get the book.  And it was only from the Book of Mormon.  We went around twice, and I got 2nd both times, 65 points then 67.  But anyways, we actually learned about the Book of Mormon.  I have learned about that a lot recently, because Elder Kesler gave a lesson on it a few weeks back, Elder Acorda and I have been reading about it in PMG (Preach My Gospel) Ch. 5 in comp study, and then that was our subject for Zone Conference.  Basically, the Book of Mormon is the key to everything.  Part of me wants to just carry around a Book of Mormon all day and nothing else.

I hope your Thanksgiving goes wonderfully, and if no one besides Dad eats the yams, you can send me some!  And know that I am thankful for this Church, this mission, and of course for all of you!
Je vous aime,
-          Eric

(To Mom)
Hey Mom,

So for dinner tonight we are actually going to eat at our new apartement.  So thankfully we got the water issue fixed.  I really don't know what we are going to eat, but I do know that Sister Thompson is going to do chicken and some kind of pie.  Elder Acorda knows lots of food kitchen stuff, so I'll probably just go and help him with whatever he decided.  But they told me candy yams would be too hard...

So when you go au champ-ing, you use your hands or a machete type thing.  That's about it.  Or a shovel thing.  And I think we were planting manioc, or cassava.

And just so you know, I have been wearing my hat a lot more, and we will be going au champ-ing with Maman Natalie again Saturday, so I'll be sure to bring it.

(Can we send some money to help with the customs?)  And don't worry about the package thing, but it might just get left in the post office for a while.

Je t'aime,
- Eric
(To Dad)
Yeah, I told Mom the Thanksgiving plans.  Which was, I don't really know, except there will be chicken and pie by Sister Thompson.  Next year I want to eat a whole pan of candied yams by myself.

I'll ask the Thomspsons if they have a blog at dinner tonight.

I also remember that I suggested cranberry, but no one said they knew where to get it.  So I don't know how this dinner will be.

Just so you know, I might have cried if the Utes lost again, so thank goodness.

Je t'aime,
- Eric
(This one was to Scott who felt compelled to tell him that Katelyn, who Eric traveled to Provo to date while attending SUU, had turned in her mission papers.)
Hey nut, I knew Katelyn was going to turn in her mission papers ever since we dated in college.  So sorry, but no shock to me there.  The mission is seriously the best thing ever, and I hope to death that you are preparing to go on one yourself!

Je t'aime,
- Eric

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eric's email of November 18th, 2010

Alright, so this computer was not letting me get on myldsmail.net, so I at least wanted to send you the email I wrote. We'll see if later I can login on and see what people sent me.

We have been doing a lot of service lately, since that's what the Thompsons told us what President Headlee wants us to do. And I think the past few weeks we have done more service hours than the missionary
handbook really asks to you do. But each time we have done service so far, it seems to be the same thing: going au champ or to the field and pulling up weeds or planting and stuff like that. We did it again today
with la Soeur Therese, who is a recent convert. She was a coordonnée (referral) that got given to Elder Acorda and me by another investigator. But she got introduced to us because she had won the American lottery to go live in the United States.  She had everything except the money. Due to some recent problems of some kind she had to use the money she had saved. And she told her friend, who introduced her to a couple of Americans. So when we talked to her, we said we can't directly help her with her American lottery problem, but that the Gospel would help her both spiritually and temporally. So she lived over in Elder Kesler and Elder Lamb’s sector, they went and taught her, and about 6 weeks later she was baptized! So that makes me happy, because I realized that anyone, even if they are a coordonnée from a weird person or looking to go to America or whatever, has the potential to receive and accept and practice this Gospel.

Anyways, today we went to her house at 9 AM to clear out plants and weeds in front of her house. I’m not sure exactly why, but we chopped up everything with machetes, and they will let it dry up and then they will burn it. So I guess that’s not a bad way to get rid of weeds, especially when you have as many as she had. And then after, she fed us “indolay”, which is one of my favorite Cameroonian dishes. I also went on a comp exchange twice this week. Tuesday I worked with a member of Bastos 2 named Patrick. I worked with him because Elder Acorda wasn’t feeling well, and ended up sleeping at the Thompsons’ all day. But Patrick has been a member for 4 years now, he was the first from his family to join, but now there are many relatives of his in the church. He speaks really good English, but he prefers to speak French to the missionaries to make them learn their mission language, which is a good thing. It was nice to have a francophone companion for 1 day again. But during the day, we were all over the place. We took a 20 minutes bus ride, and I only had to pay 100 francs for each of us, so that came out to be about 40 cents, if you can believe that. But the lessons we taught ended up being just so-so. With one investigator we had been talking about baptism a lot, even from the first appointment. He did an ok job of keeping commitments, even had a baptismal date. But
on Tuesday at the end of our Plan of Salvation lesson, I asked if he had been praying about baptism at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or at his other church. And then he told me that last week he got baptized in his other church. Ha, I didn’t really know what to say, it was kind of weird. And I felt like he felt awkward telling me that or something. It was interesting.

I also went on a exchange yesterday with Elder Lamb. First off, he let me borrow this blue Hawaiian tie that matched perfectly my pants. It was nice. (The first indication that Eric is paying attention to his wardrobe.)   But I went into his sector. We ended up having over have of our appointement fall through, which led to a lot of contacting, and still got 8 lessons in during the day, as well as district meeting and eating lunch during the day, which does not happen that often. But Elder Lamb has been out a bit over 6 months now, his French and everything is coming along. But I really liked teaching with him, and learned how if
these principles are taught simply and if we bear testimony sincerely and talk of blessings and such, and just smile and get along with the people, missionary life seems to go very well. We did a lot of contacting, but I do not remember one single person telling us to go away or be unhappy to see us.

Elder Acorda and I will also be planning a priesthood lesson with a less-active member for the first Sunday of December. His name is Frère Ndzana. Ever since we got in contact with him he has been at church and such. But one thing that seems to frustrate him a bit is a lack of training for priesthood holders. He suggested to us to make little pocket-size things with instructions for blessings and such to give to holders of the priesthood. And so we thought about it in weekly planning, and we proposed to Frère Ndzana and then the elders quorum president to do a priesthood training. That way we would give something to do to Frère Ndzana. So Elder Acorda and FrèreNdzana and I will plan it, and also make some pocket-size thingies like he suggested. And so I hope most of all that this gets him actively active in the Church.

Last big event, is from last Saturday. With our new branch missions plan (did I ever send you a copy of that?), we wanted to start having more activities that would help people make friends with other members. So on Saturday we did les Jeux Olympiques, (Olympic games) like we did in Bonabéri. We didn’t get the same
turnout, it basically turned into a youth activity because they were pretty much the only ones there. But we did stuff like egg-on-the-spoon race, musical chairs, water balloon toss, water balloon volleyball, and a few other things. So Sister Thompson will put up pictures from that activity in the church building so that everyone can see how much fun they missed. But we are still trying to think of better activites that will get people to come and make friends.

Elder Kesler and I have gotten back into the groove of running in the mornings. Tuesday and today it rained on us. Today when we got to our half check point, it was raining so hard that it kind of hurt, especially on the face. People had been telling me that rainy season was almost over, but I think the rain just switched from the afternoon or evening to the early mornings when Kesler and I run. But I prefer that over heat.

That’s about it, except I seem to be getting really tired lately. It seems like the last 3 nights, after coming home I just crash even before dinner is ready. So today I have some area book and journal catching up to do. Oh, and I also got 2 letters from Bishop Carter and one set of letters from the youth in our ward, so make sure to thank them for me! I hope everyone in school is surviving and even enjoying it a bit, and that Scott and Jacob and Andrea aren’t giving Mom and Dad too many headaches. I love you all and thanks for everything!

Je vous aime,

Dear Mom,

The the Cleverlys, the embassy couple are American, but brother Cleverly is actually Finnish turned American.  His wife served a mission in Finland, so they speak Finnish some times.  I'm glad that isn't my mission language.

(How are the red dots on your arms?)  So today I can barely see a couple faint red dots on my arms, so its pretty much gone.  I don't know what it was, but it didn't do anything really.

And so you can still send the Arabic Book of Mormon, but Adam, the investigator from Sudan, has moved to a different neighborhood.  And because he doesn't have a telephone and he's kind of far away, we haven't seen him for a bit.  And the neighborhood has lots of Muslisms, it isn't something that we are going to go walk around by ourself doing whatever.  He is supposed to call us sometime soon, so I hope I'll be able to give him it.

Thanks for everything!

Je t'aime,

- Eric

Dear Dad,

So, Felicitations!  (Congratulations!)  That was no way a waste of my pday time, thanks for telling me that.  (Mark's email was a review of the half marathon he ran last Saturday!)  As I've been doing these little whimpy runs I've thought about you every time, and its motivated me.  And I have been thinking about the same thing this week. (Do you want to run the half marathon next fall with me?)  And I've decided that I do want to do the half marathon with you next year.  I know right now I'm a long way away, and I might need to stop drinking so much Nesquik, but I'll do it with you.  (Mark is excited-yet not?)

(Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving?)  We actually talked about Thanksgiving in district affairs yesterday.  Thankfully it will fall on a pday, so we will play football in the morning, and make some kind of special dinner in the evening.  Those are the most important things to me.

(How are you doing with "stuff?"  Do you have everything you need?  Is anything wearing out that needs to be replaced?)  As for "stuff", I can't think of anything that I really need to be sent here... clothes are fine.  I don't really know what else to worry about.  My camera is not stolen.  I'll let you know if I think of anything.

Oh, and one other thing.  Have you thought about my post-mission stuff or college or anything?  Anything notable?  (First real sign that he is on the back side of his mission.)

Je t'aime,

- Eric

Eric's email of November 11th, 2010

Well, today was an unusual pday.  Today our proselyting time was supposed to be service with one investigator, Maman Créscence.  We met her about a month ago when we did service for Soeur Christine when we set up for the funeral for her mother.  Maman Créscence was the lady in charge of the decorating.  We have taught her a few times, mostly she has one daughter who is interested, so that’s why we keep going back.  But she asked us if we could help her set up for a funeral again today.  At first we were supposed to show up at her place at 10 AM.  Then this morning, she called and told us to come at 12.  So we got there around 12, and we ended up waiting another hour because the guy with some stuff wasn’t yet there, so we talked with her daughter on their porch.  Then finally around 1:30 we started working, and there were more hands then jobs to do.  We ended up being a little bit of help, I put lots of staples in the walls to hang up drape type things.  But then we didn’t get out of there until around 5.  Then we waited for a taxi for about 30 minutes, barely any taxis and no one took us.  We walked for about 20 minutes, saw and talked to an old ami de l’Eglise, then by 6 we finally got a taxi.  Then we sat in a traffic jam, got home around 6:30, changed and now we got here.  Thankfully one of the other companionships did our shopping when we asked them or we would’ve been in trouble.  So that was my pday today.

One really good thing is that Elder Acorda and I have started seeing Christine again.  She had a baptismal date, even back for early October, but when her mom passed away, it wasn’t easy for her.  And for a while after the funeral, I honestly thought something had turned her away from the Church.  Each time we would pass, she said next week she would be free.  But we finally saw her with Frère Simplice (member of the branch presidency who originally presented her the missionaries), and she said she wanted to re-prepare for baptism.  So we have seen her a few times, even helped her kids with English class.  And on Tuesday we went and gave her a copy of the Liahona, and that was probably the happiest I had ever since her since I met her.  So I’m happy she didn’t loose her testimony and is ready to get back into the groove of it.

We also started teaching a guy named Frère Jacques.  We contacted him one time when we were walking to church, and he called us Jehovah’s Witnesses when we passed by, so we corrected him and gave him a brochure and an invitation to church.  One time he came to church when we weren’t there, but Elder Wilkins (my MTC comp) and Elder Hancock were there.  They taught him, and he's been back to church twice and watched general conference with us 2 Sundays ago.  But the funny thing, is he looks like how Parker Froelich would look if Parker was a 30 year old Cameroonian.  That’s who I think of every time I look at him.

We have also been seeing Douglas and his family.  Last time we had just a lesson alone with Elder Acorda and me and him.  The 2 times before we taught the whole family, and it was mostly his mom, Leonie, who was involved and such in the lesson (this past fast Sunday we even fasted with Leonie to get help with her problems).  But Douglas wasn’t really into the lesson and seemed kind of upset.  But he had just been having a hard time at home due to recent issues, and he hasn’t even been able to go to school or study.  But we had a good lesson, talked about some specific commandments and their blessings.  He was a lot happier after the lesson than he was before.

Also during our weekly planning on Monday, Elder Acorda set some transfer goals.  This is the first time we did it together, and I know we should have been doing that always.  But I will now do that from now on, because Elder Acorda and I set a goal to have 5 baptisms this transfer.  So we read in Preach My Gospel Ch. 8 and talked about who specifically we could and what we need to do.  And then our first lesson of the day was with a new-ish investigator named Vivienne.  We have now been teaching her about 2 weeks, and that day we came with a Livre de Mormon to lend her.  And, she asked about baptism!  It was just a really good lesson, and I think she is sincere in her search for the truth.  So I just saw the difference in how the Lord, I believe, trusted us more when we made goals and discussed what we had to do to accomplish them.  So, now we just got to do everything we said.

Also, on Saturday we had a baptismal service.  Acorda and I didn’t have any convert baptisms unfortunately, but I did baptized a recent convert's child.  His name is Ivan.  It was actually his 2nd time to get baptized in the church, because they accidentally baptized him about 2 months before his 8th birthday and no one caught it.  So yeah, that’s kind of weird.

We also had family night chez the family who works at the American embassy.  They are the Clerverly’s.  They have 3 kids, Asher, Jesse, and Gabriel, all very young.  Asher is the only one going to school.  But they just invited us over, we had dinner, had a little family night and played “red light, green light”.

Oh, and yesterday we also did service, too.  And we went “au champ”, or to the farm with another member of the branch.  This time we mostly just pulled weeds out of the side of a hill.  It was lightly raining, so thankfully it wasn’t hot like last time.  But I did wear my hat, just so Mom knows.  We worked for about 2 hours, it wasn’t too hard.  But, all of us missionaries got red polka dots on our arms.  I still have mine, and they are kind of itchy, I hope they go away soon

So that’s about it.  I’m pretty sure I have this realization each month, but I’m always surprised when the 10th or 11th of a month rolls around, because that means the month is already one third gone.  The time is going by really quickly right now.

Je vous aime,

(Letter to Mom)
So the young man we met at Conference, Franc, is doing pretty good.  But we have met almost all his family who is still in Cameroon.  We had a miscommunication on one rendezvous, and missed everyone except one of his brothers.  But they are doing well, most of them already know the Bible really well and stuff.  And Franc and his twin brother are both english teachers, and so the lessons end up being in English and French which messes with my head sometimes.  But they are doing well.

(Can you buy peanut butter?)  I think you can find peanut butter at the American store, but it is probably pretty expensive.  There are people that sell peanuts and la pate d'arachid (peanut paste) everywhere, but that is basically peanut butter without sugar, I think.  So it doesn't taste good by itself.  Its basically mashed up peanuts with oil.  You use if for la sauce d'arachid.

(How many e-mails/letters do you get?)  So most of my emails are from the family, and from Elders Aldridge and Lee and sometimes a few other random friends on missions or a couple at college.  And I actually did get one letter in the mail last month, from Elder Hansen that I know from SUU.  He is serving in Brazil, and his letter got here after forever.  I still need to write back, though..

Je t'aime,

(Letter to Dad)
(Do parents "pick up" missionaries in Cameroon?)  I have not heard of any missionaries' parents ever coming to pick them us from this mission.  I don't even know if it would be possible.  And I don't know what we would do, honestly.  There's not that much, except for probably super expensive hotels, a golf course, things like that.  I'l try to think of what one would do here on a trip, something that one couldn't do anywhere else.  But I'm having trouble.
Good luck on not getting injured on your half marathon!
Je t'aime,
- Eric

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Eric's email of November 4th, 2010

So here is what happened to me this past week.

First off, is an unfortunate piece of news.  It doesn't look like 
Douglas will be getting baptized this weekend.
Also, last p-day we missed playing basketball again.  First off, Elders
Kesler and Lamb got home 1 hour later than they were supposed to in
order to go play basketball at the American School.  And then, 2
missionaries from the other side of town called us and said they got
in, but there was no ball.  So we ended up playing this card game
called Monopoly Deal. I lost every time.

We did get to watch all of General Conference this past weekend,
though!  And I watched all 10 hours of it in French.  It did get kind
of hard to pay attention, because I was kind of tired, and just listening to frenchy 
french is not something easy.  I understand it,
but it takes more effort than English.  I still think that Elder
Nelson's talk from the priesthood session is my favorite one this
time.  But I also got an awesome coordonnée (referral) because I sat in on the
French section!  When I came in Sunday morning, it was still kind of
empty, and I sat on an empty bench.  And right when I sat down 2 other
gentlemen came and sat next to me.  We soon started talking, and I
learned that the older man sitting next to me is a member who lives in
Léon, France, and that he goes by "Papa Daniel".  He had come back
down to Cameroon for his wife's funeral.  He left Sunday evening, but
he came to church in the morning.  And he told me when he woke up, he
felt like he should bring one of his sons, named Franc, to church.
And he was very pleased that the first time his son came to church
he would get to watch General Conference.  And he told me that when I
walked in, he felt prompted to come sit by me and exchange contact information 
with me and his son.  He said he was very surprised to see
American missionaries in his country too.  But when he left, we took
some pictures, and he took my email and said he would send it to me,
so I'll check soon and see if its there.  But briefly he told me his
story, and when he lived in Cameroon he used to be a pastor.  But
when he found the missionaries in France, he changed and gave up his
old job.  He also was telling his son a lot about temples and
sealings. So we will see his son tomorrow, because he has
been busy this week.  And missionaries talk about "golden
coordonnées", and if I ever received one, this is it.  He took my pen
to take notes during conference, so I'll be really excited to
start teaching him with Elder Acorda.

This week in weekly planning, Elder Acorda and I dropped a lot of
investigators, and did a lot of contacting, especially Sunday night.
So we have a few people who have progressed and kept some commitments,
and a lot of new people.  And we have started seeing a good number of
less actives, and I think that might be our biggest focus this next
transfer.  We contacted one who came to conference on Sunday named
Frère Ndzana.  He has been a member since 2007.  But when we visited
him, he told us after he joined the church the missionaries left.  He used the word, 
"relachement", I don't know how to use it in English.  But I basically decided that it
came down to him not getting home taught.  And that unfortunately
seems to be a common thing here.  But it looks like he will be back,
was happy when we talked about the branch mission plan, and
has children and some family members we could help too.  So it seems
that people haven't gone inactive because they don't like the church,
but because they weren't involved enough or had enough friends.

One really good thing, is that Elder Acorda and I finally had a lesson
with Soeur Christine.  We had a lesson with Frère Simplice, who is in
the branch presidency, who introduced her to the church.  I think it
had been over a month since she let us sit down and talk with her.
She told us that with the passing of her mother, and trying
to keep her children in school she has become quiet stressed and
overwhelmed.  Frère Simplice talked about eternal families
and the temple, and then Acorda and I talked about obedience
and the blessings and help it gives us.  So we really want to get her
back to church this Sunday.  She said she still wants to be baptized, 
so we just need to get her back doing the things she was
before her trials came along.

Also, the investigator we found by doing service at Christine's
funeral told us on Tuesday evening that she would be willing to find
and choose a wife for Elder Acorda and me.  And then she asked if she
should come pick one at our church.  Elder Acorda said she could
pick one but that he wouldn't promise to marry her.

And about transfers, no one in Yaoundé is getting moved, and we don't
think anyone in Douala is getting moved either.  That was a surprise,
because there is one companionship in Douala who has already done 4
transfers together, which is basically 6 months.  I don't care who my
companion is, 4 transfers is too much, not to mention 5.

So that's that.  Elder Acorda and I will be together 6 more weeks, but
there is a transfer right before Christmas when 4 of the 19 north
Americans go home.  So chances are Acorda and I will split up to be
with younger elders.  So you can send a Christmas package according to
what you think is best. 
Je vous aime,
- Eric
(Mom's email) 
So Adam (an investigator) is well, but he has moved to a farther quartier, also highly
populated with non-Christians.  We are waiting for his phone call,
because we don't know exactly where he is, so he is supposed to call us
or bip us.  (bip?)
Dennis is ok, he still isnt understanding 1 church, but says he wants
to get baptized.  I don't think we'll make it on his date we set, but
he is progressing slowly.

(Do you know who the freemasons are?)  Yes, I know now a lot about the freemasons. 
But some people here buy random DVDs off the side of the road about who knows what
made by no one knows who and such.  But at least Tchobang has been reading her
Book of Mormon a lot.

(Did you go to the Halloween party at the Embassy?)  We didn't go to the Halloween party. 
Nor did we play basketball.  But, I really want to play American football on Thanksgiving.

Je t'aime,
(Dad's email)
Um, I don't think any one here in Yaoundé is from Arizona, but I'll ask around.

There is no Halloween here, unless you are at the American embassy.
(You mentioned that you run for about 30 minutes… that would be about 5k 
or 3 miles, right? (Or perhaps a little more since you have young legs!)) And this 
morning my thighs really hurt during the run.  That's probably
what I get for eating a Snickers bar for the first time in forever the
night before.

(What are the education experiences/opportunities for the African 
missionaries in your mission? Do they have education opportunities? Do 
you know what they do when the return home from their missions?)  So in
Cameroon they still don't have some church organizations and
such.  But I know in several places they have the Perpetual Education Fund. 
I don't know too much, here there are 2 RMs I know.
One is in a branch presidency.  Lots get married, maybe even faster
than most RMs chez nous.

Je t'aime,
- Eric

Jacob's Halloween Costume 2010

Eric's 14 year old brother, Jacob, went to the ward Trunk-or-Treat as "Elder Eric Palmer"

Notice the French name badge, the sandals, and the signature Eric thumbs-up pose!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Eric's email of October 28th, 2010

So I'm going to write again my highlights of the week and then respond to your questions in your emails.

First thing from the week is that last p-day in the evening, me and Elders Kesler, Lamb, and Hancock went to play basketball at the USA embassy.  Elder Hancock said someone told him that we could get in with our US Passports.  Well, that turned out to not be true.  We went around 4:30, and the guy behind the window said we could come in at 5.  We sat on a bench until 5, went back, the guy called someone, and told us we couldn't come in today, but that there would be a Halloween party on the 30th that we could come to.  The funny thing, is that we got kept out of our own embassy by a Cameroonian.  Ironic.  Today we are going to try to play basketball again, at the American School.  I hope it works this time.

Also on Tuesday I went on a split with Elder Kesler, our district leader so he could do a baptismal interview for us.  But we did have one notable lesson, with an ami named Dennis.  Acorda and I found him about 3 weeks ago.  He came to church his first Sunday but hadn't been back since.  Dennis' thing is, that he doesn't really get why he needs to know that the Book of Mormon is true.  So Kesler and I spent at least 20 minutes talking about Moroni 10:3-5 and the last 2 paragraphs of the Introduction.  He didn't get the difference between "je pense que..." and "je sais que...".  And so, to show him the consequences (if I can call it that) of knowing that the Book of Mormon is true, we read 3 Nephi 27:19-21, and I invited him to be baptized.  He accepted easily, but I know he does not understand yet the importance of 1 true church, because he still goes to his other church during the week.  But technically, he has a baptismal date for the 20th of November.  But something cool happened, because he walked with us after the lesson, and no one talked.  It might have been a little awkward, but right after that awkward silence, he said, "Le Livre de Mormon est la parole de l'Eternel".  So maybe something miraculous happened, we'll see.

At the end of that day Kesler did his interview with Douglas, who should now be a go for the 6th of November.  His step-dad, who found the church 20-ish years ago in DC will baptize him.  Douglas is blessed because he has some family members that are already strong in the church.  But during the interview, I got to talk to his grandpa, also named Douglas.  Mostly he talked to me again about how he believes in the Plan of Salvation more than his own church's doctrine.

This weekend we will also be watching all of General Conference on Saturday and Sunday!  And in our building they should be showing it in French and English, for our anglophones.  I hope I'll get to watch in English, because its better than listening to a translator.

I also started running again this week!  I convinced Elder Kesler to go with me, and we run to this place called Round Point Bastos, take a short walk to breathe, and then run back.  I think it takes about 30 minutes.  Its not as far as I was running in Congo, but I'm just glad I finally got someone to run with me again.  Elder Kesler said he would only do it if we could still get back in the morning for apartement prayer at 6:35, so we wake up early Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  We've only done it 2 times so far, but I think the 2nd time is always the hardest.  I feel a lot less sore than I did after Tuesday.

Also Elder Acorda and I had a really good lesson last Friday or Saturday with la Soeur Hélene Tchobang.  She is really involved with her current church, and also thinks that a lot of the people in the world today are involved in cults and sects and such, and always complains to us how "la peau blanche" brought Freemasonry to Cameroon.  Anyways, we can also tell that she is someone really looking for the truth, and during our second rendezvous while talking about the apostasy or something, she told us that the Bible doesn't have everything.  That surprised me a lot.  I don't know if I have heard even 5 people say that before.  So, she was very interested when we talked about the Book of Mormon.  She plans on coming to watch General Conference this Saturday.  And she also speaks Douala!  So I can use a few of the words from what I learned when I lived in Bonabéri.

I hope everyone enjoys Halloween this weekend, and I want to hear what everyone is going to dress as.  Just so you know, the picture in the family calendar of Jacob and Dad as Luigi and Mario is one of my favorite Halloween pictures ever.  Especially because Dad is making the face when Mario dies in a Super Mario World.

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Hey Mom,

(See pictures on October 21st post )So when Kesler and I put on those shirts, we realized why so many people in Africa look jacked.  Turns out they are just wearing tiny shirts, and unfortunetly there are no Ding Dongs and such...(I made a comment about no Ding Dongs, no obesity problem....)

(You should work to get back to just Mormon-time-10 minutes late.)  So that you can get an understanding of how late people are here, this weekend we will be watching Conference, and the branches announced that it would start at 9 AM.  But then the Thompsons, the senior couple, told us it will really start at 10 AM.  So african time is worse than Mormon time.

(When is the next transfer?)  So actually this time next week, we should have transfer news.  It should take place on the 8th of November, but they usually will tell us before the last pday, so that we don't buy a bunch of food that we can't take with us.

Well, I just saw that I started everyone on of those paragraphs with "so", donc (so) I'm not going to do it this time.  (Why are you the bad missionary in "good missionary/bad missionary?)  But I'm not going to be literally a "bad" missionary, but I'm just not going to let people get away with it if they don't keep there commitments.  And Elder Acorda is way too nice to be the bad missionary, so we had no choice.

(What hymn is "Souviens-Toi?)  So "Souviens-Toi" is a hymn that is only in the French hymn book on page 179.  Every French missionary learns that one and sings it a billion times in the MTC.  And the story behind it is pretty cool.  Briefly, when the french members were making their hymn book, one lady on the commitee had a dream, and in this dream she received the lyrics to this hymn, and woke up and wrote them down.  Then they put it to some tune written by Antonin Dvorak, and they got the ok to put it in the french hymn book.  Thats about all the info I can give you, though.

(Are there any pending elections in Cameroon?  I have heard of some in other African missions and the missionaries are transferred to the mission home until after the elections.)  Elder Acorda told me that sometime early next year, 2011, there should be an election, he thinks.  I don't know what will happen.

Je t'aime,
- Eric

(Dad's email:)

Ah, first of thanks for the blog post, but I doubt I'll have time to read it right now, so I'll answer your questions first and look later, sorry.  ( Vai Sikahema's blog of mission experiences.)

(Are the cent-cent buses city/government buses or are these just private people making a living by driving people around? How big are these vehicles?)  So the cent-cents, I don't think they are really city sanctioned or anything.  For taxis you are supposed to have some kind of license, almost all the legal taxis, which are yellow, have those.  I don't know about buses, and there are some people who just get a car and start taxiing people.  And here there is one BIG bus, that you only have to pay normally 150, rather than the normal 200, that gets packed like a can of sardines.  But I don't really know how many are legit and aren't.  I try to not take illegal taxis, though.

If you are going to send me a recipe, send one for...I can't think of anything, and I'm panicking because I'm running out of time.

(What did you do for Elder Acorda in return for the shoe shine?)  Gosh, I don't know if I've done anything for Acorda yet for the shoe shine.  Why are you guilt tripping me into doing things?

(So when you ran out of time on the computer last week was that a money issue or did you need to run to some other P-Day activity or have you just made a choice that you need to spend less time on emails so as to maintain your focus on missionary work? In either case, for the many emails you send, you might want to try writing one generic email that you can cut-and-paste and send to multiple people, perhaps with a few individual tweaks to make them personal. (Or maybe you already do that.))
  So we reduced or email time for 2 reasons that you said, to stay more focused on p-day, and to have more time to do other stuff.

(Are there any stories about the Willis’ or other senior couples that would be good for me to share in my High Councilor talk? Inspirational or even humorous anecdotes?)
  So, what kind of stories are you looking for exactly for you talks?  I can't really think of any right now.

Je t'aime,
- Eric

ps, Scott is grounded again!  no email!  (Scott has been sending emails to the wrong address.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eric's email of October 21st, 2010

Three separate e-mails this week.  The"farming" pictures he sent today have been added to last week's email.

(Last week Eric got a sunburn when he didn't wear a hat while working outside.)  So first thing Mom, as soon as I got to the field last week, I knew I should have taken my hat.  I'll wear it more often now.

(What is the soil like in Yaounde?)  So the ground here in Yaounde is not sandy at all actually.  That seems to be the case in cities next to the ocean, like Douala and Pointe-Noire (especially Pointe Noire...), but here the ground is red.  There are green plants everywhere and red dirt everywhere.  When I first got to Yaounde, it was like when I flew home for Christmas break after my first college semester, because I was shocked how green it was.  (In Virginia)

I wished Andrea a happy birthday last week, but Ill do it again anyways.  (11 yesterday.)

Oh yeah, and the reason why I remembered to wish Andrea a happy birthday was because of the calendar of the family that Aunt LeeAnn sent, so I hope to get another one of those for 2011, just so you know.

(Were you being hassled on the bus last week?)  On that bus last week, we weren't getting hassled, or I'm just used to getting hassled and I don't care anymore.  Probably the latter.  I don't think anyone in the world could ever make me upset anymore by verbally abusing me after all that I have heard in the past year.

(Would you like a Tab choir Christmas CD for an activity?)  So yeah, a Christmas CD would be nice.  I don't really have anything specific to ask for right now, though.

Je t'aime,
- Eric
Dear Civilian Dad, (He was released as bishop last Sunday)

Yes, cent-cent means 100 francs each person. (Cent-cent is what they call the bus)
gosh dang it, i dont got enough time to respond to all your questions.  Sorry, send them again next week and I'll do my best to reply.

Je t'aime,
- Eric

ps Scott is grounded for not writing this week.

Ok, well we have decided to do less internet time from now on, so that our p-days will be better, and so right now I am going to write down my highlights of the week and also send some photos.

So Elder Acorda and I just came from an aims house where we just spent 4 hours.  That may sound like a lot, and well, it was.  We got there at 9 AM to help him wash his clothes.  At our zone conference we just had yesterday, Elder Thompson said President Headlee wants us to do service 4 hours a week, like our handbook says.  Or we can do a full day every 2 weeks.  But anyways, I learned how to wash clothes by hand,  and now my hands hurt, mostly from squeezing the soap and water out of the clothes afterwards.  I might have a blister on my right hand.  Oh, our amis name is Dako, btw.  He works a lot, and goes on voyages 3 or 4 days a week, then comes back and has a lot to do at the house.  We thought we would help him out.  Then we had a lesson, where we watched the Restoration video.  We wanted to set a baptismal date in November, but he says he was already thinking about December or January because his work schedule will allow him to do so then.  So, we'll go for December.  And after our lesson and service, he made us wait because his aunt, Anne-Marie who is a member of the Church from Douala, was making us food.  So we watched the Restoration again while waiting, and then watched half of it in Tagalog.

So like I said, we had zone conference yesterday.  It wasn't very long, from 9 at 12.  But all of us missionaries have gotten on African time, so it started almost an hour late.  President Headlee now only comes about every 3 months, so our zone leader Elder Coburn gave us a lesson on the Holy Ghost, we played scripture jeopardy (my team won, I think it was the first time ever that I have won some kind of scripture knowledge game), and I gave a 5 minutes lesson on diligence, (see Moroni 9:6, D&C 127:4).

We also got to watch the Priesthood session chez Les Thompsons Sunday evening.  I really like Elder Nelson's talk, probably because it was targeted to missionaries.  Especially when he talked about the time he gave his Book of Mormon to his friends, they didn't really read it, he got a little bit upset if I may say so, then they actually read it and realized the importance of it.  So, I've tried to do that ever since.  Elder Acorda and I are going to start doing something like "good cop, bad cop", except as missionaries.  I will be the bad one.
Saturday we also held our activity on the Plan du Salut.  (Plan of Salvation)  We started at 4 PM by watching "To This End Was I Born" about the Atonement.  Then we had two returned missionaries, Frere Olinga and Soeur Gwet, present the plan and such, answer a few questions.  We had a slide show that Elder Acorda and I had made.  At the end President Balla of Bastos 2, who presided over the activity, bore his testimony on the eternal family and such, and the missionaries closed by singing "Souviens-Toi", pg 179 in the French hymn book (I played the piano to get out of singing).  It was good.

Also, Acorda and I finally set a baptismal date.  And I think I will do a lot better after what I learned at the priesthood session  Seriously, Elder Nelson's talk was awesome and made for me.  We set Douglas for November 6th.  Douglas has been going to church for nearly 2 months now.  His new step dad, Brother Ben, has been a member for a bit over 20 years.  He found the church when he lived in Washington D.C.  He said he helped organize the francophone branch in D.C. and was a bishop.  But he recently got remarried and such, and his step son Douglas, who is 19, started coming to church.  Recently he has had some problems at school, and I don't know if he is back at school yet.  But he is lucky because his dad is there, and also his step sister Zaline, who really helped us Monday when she explained how the Gift of the Holy Ghost has blessed her.  Zaline was taught and baptized when Elder Lee was in Yaounde.  But anyways, he is having some little problems at school and at home, but I believe if he works towards this goal, that will help him.

Je vous aime,
 - Elder Palmer
 Me and Elder Kesler in the shirts we bought in Congo.
"Now we know why people here look so ripped,
its because the shirts are just so small.
The tags say they are adult large."