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.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Eric's email of January 28th, 2010

Nous ne sommes pas les temoins! (We are not The Witnesses!)

Yes Jacob, I agree, Andrea's email is waaaaay too long.

So yeah, the sickness is pretty much completely over. It lasted a little bit longer for my companion, but we are good now. And for skittles, I have not heard of such as a thing as anyone getting skittles in Bonabéri or Bonapriso or anywhere here, but that was a random question.

But this past week went well, but its also good that it is over I think. I would say that it was the most difficult week of my mission so far. Just between the being sick, and in the process of sort of purging our teaching pool so that we work more effectively and also having a weird schedule because of some things. But it wasn't really that bad.

So our new teaching method is going well-ish, but we did expect some difficulties at the beginning. Because we aren't really seeing that many fruits yet, its kinda discouraging, but I do think that we are working more effectively. We have our goal to contact one new family each day, which we are a little behind just because we were sick, so we had one whole day doing nothing and a couple other pretty slow days. And then we also had zone conference yesterday, so we only got about 3 hours to work at the end of the day. But we have stopped seeing some people who never come to church or keep their commitments, so that is good. And we have also made some goals for the members, to improve the situation of the branch (actually, its technically not even a branch, its a group, and groups don't exist in the church. So the congregation I'm working in doesn't actually exist to the church.) But here are the 4 goals:
- show up to church on-time (or early, really)
- priesthood holders to wear a white shirt and tie
- learn the cantiques, or hymns (the singing here is horrible, and no one knows barely any songs, so at each lesson with members we will sing with them. This week we have been doing mostly "I Stand All Amazed".)
- magnify (or fulfill at all) their calling. This one is probably the biggest issue. For example, last Sunday I taught the English Sunday school because the teacher just didn't show up, and didn't tell anyone, so what the heck. Same thing happened with a primary teacher, ugh...

So those were my ideas, I think, and we will see how they go. But some more details about the week... So, there is this guy, who we have taught for the past 2 months about, but not very consistently. But, he actually came to church the past 3 Sundays, which surprised us. And so we thought he was coming along pretty good, finally got him his Book of Mormon, but then on Tuesday he told us he will be in his Catholic church on Sunday, crud. But he said the reason he began coming to our church was because he prayed and felt like he should. So we told him to do that again this week, and pray about where he should go to church. So we will see. We are currently looking for a real building, that is probably our biggest need right now.

We also gave this other lady the commitment to pray about baptism. She has already done all that about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the church. But she didn't come to our church on Sunday, so we went by her place after, and she told us she went to her other church. Now she had missed a few times, but we thought it was for good reasons, but she says she goes to her other church every so often. And then we asked her if she thought the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the true church, and she said yes. Then we asked her why she went to the other one, and I don't really remember what she said exactly, but didn't really have a good reason, so she kinda got the point. And then we gave her commitment to pray about baptism. And she is someone who has already received and recognized answers to prayers, so I think this will be good.

What else... oh yeah, zone conference! Zone conference is always good because it is a way to get some extra relaxation in the Willis' air conditioned apartment, and then also recharge spiritually because President Headlee is just the man. There were lots of good things talked about, that is where I actually learned that our group in Bonaberi doesn't exist to the church. There were a couple good talks on hope by one of the other missionaries and Elder Willis. Elder Willis talked about how he goes and looks in the obituaries to see his friends that are dead, but it doesn't really bother him, because he has hope he will see them again, so that is cool. Then also during President's main talk, he started by talking about how much of the truth, and plain and simple things, are missing from the Bible. He compared James 1:5 and 1 Nephi 15:11 I think. And the difference, was that the Bible verse just says ask and receive basically, but the Book of Mormon verse talks about how we pray and the qualifications for receiving an answer. So he talked a lot about the Book of Mormon and modern day revelation. And it made me think of this guy we talked to the other day, who said he reads only from the Bible, nothing more, nothing less, and he believes everything one needs is the Bible. It was frustrating.

But so that was the week pretty much. I've started being the piano player for Sacrament Meeting. We have an electric piano we carry there from the apartment and set it on a church organ sound. Oh, and also we are going to change the boundaries for us and the other 2 missionaries in Bonaberi, to work closer to the church, and where we hope it will be. Oh, and we also played basketball this morning with a couple people from the Bonaberi branch. My team won 2 of the 3 games, and I also realized I am out of shape as junk, and need to start eating a real breakfast. And I also think I might start running in the morning, because each morning I lift weights we have in the apartment and stuff there, but I got tired fast while playing, so yeah.

So that's all that, things are good as usual. You better keep that Jazz game recorded until I get back, enjoy the Superbowl for me, and tell Scott to write.

Je vous aime,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Eric's email of January 23rd, 2010

Hey family,

I am writing you so that you know I am not dead. On Thursday there was no internet connection, so that's why you didn't hear from me. But we are doing it right now at the end of our day.

And things are going good. Like I told you, I've got a new companion. His name is Elder Lee, he is from Federal Way, Washington, which is pretty much Seattle. But he is legit, and he also loves sports. He is the new district leader also, and basically, everything is going good so far. I am the more experienced in the area now, so that's cool that I show him everywhere to go. But also the past couple weeks I've seen how much work there is to do down here, and now I'm not a junior companion just wandering around, I have some ideas and things to get things going here. Because, the church is pretty darn young/inexperienced here. And we want it to not be a missionary church. You guys and other people back home would probably be way surprised about how much responsibility we have, like running nearly everything for the Sunday program, trying to get people to wear a white shirt, and to show up on time. Its ridiculous. And also often times a missionary presides or conducts sacrament meeting.

But besides that stuff, things are going well. Except yesterday Elder Lee and I were sick the whole day and stayed inside. We were throwing up all day. So we pretty much just stayed in bed, and we listened to almost an entire conference session, including the priesthood meeting. But today we are pretty much fine, so its not that bad. We think it was this water we drank at an investigator's house. So I learned my lesson.

Well I don't have very much time, sorry I can't answer the questions for the week. I haven't read the emails yet, I just wanted to make sure I get an email off. But I hope you all are doing well and I miss you.

Je vous aime,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eric's two emails of January 14th, 2010

I will be there unfailingly...

...and then he didn't show up. That is what one of our amis de l'église, who is an anglophone said to us about church last week, but then he wasn't there. And so for this week, he said, "I will be there live." So we'll see, but anglophones say funny things.

So sorry about the short email about from last week, so I'll try to make this one better. And as far as that humidity or temperature difference, honestly I can't tell, its just always hot, and being able to shower at the end of the day is the best feeling ever.

That's great to hear about everyone's basketball games (except Scott's). I want to see that video of Jacob, and then when I get back I'll see Andrea beastin' up church ball.

So the folks in Cameroon and America... Almost everyone here loves Barack Obama. There is this thing called the American lottery, to get a visa or something so you can move to the United States. And lots of people play it, and its kind of frustrating when you go to a rendez-vous with someone, and they ask if we can help them with the American lottery. And the Canadian lottery is also very popular.

So Cameroonian New Year, I don't know exactly what went on. But I would say that a lot of people went somewhere to drink, and dance, and probably said "Bonne Année" or "Happy happy happy happy...". The anglophones just say happy a bunch of times, instead of saying happy new year. But I don't really know exactly what events there were, but other missionaries have told me that people will say bonne année well into February.

I haven't gotten the package from Grandma and Grandpa yet. I am willing to bet that someone else has it, especially if it said "shirt" on the package, and especially if they found it was a football jersey. So, that's why its best to just write "missionary supplies", but that's ok. And I will send the airstubs next week, because we give stuff to Sister Willis to send in the mail, but the Willis' and the couple in Yaoundé went to the north of Cameroon for the week, so they aren't here today. (Later in the day Carlene called to say she had received an email from Eric indicating he had in fact received the package. It had a SLC REAL soccer jersey in it.)

And also no, I haven't gotten my cleats yet, because the Willis' are the ones who exchange money for us, and again they have "voyaged" (people always say they have voyaged to their village here).

Ok, lets see, what could I write about...oh, so last night we found out about transfers! And I will be getting a new companion. But its kind of interesting, because President Headlee just did a switch between two companionships here in Douala. And I will be with Elder Lee, who has been with Elder Wilkins (Elder Wilkins was my MTC companion). And now Elder Wilkins will be with my companion, Elder Ternieden. So they are just doing a switch like that, and we will still see each other on p-days. But now the interesting things is that we are waiting to see who will be zone leader and district leader, because the zone leader is getting transferred to Yaoundé.

Its weird to think that I've already been here 2 transfers, and that I will officially not be getting trained anymore, and am now upgraded to junior companion!

Oh, and I forgot if I mentioned this last week, but we have made some new goals for 2010 for the missionary work in Douala. At the last district meeting, the zone leader proposed 192 baptisms in Douala for this year, which is an average of 12 families of 4 per companionship. We have also decided to put a huge emphasis on families now, because the family is the foundation of the church. And right now, we pretty much have mostly single people in the church, at least here in Bonaberi. But that might seem like a lot because this last year I think they had something between 60 and 70. But, the (former) zone leader, Elder Wiggington and Elder Lee calculated this. And here is the formula (I bet Dad will like this):

(1/5 contacts) x (1/3 rendez-vous') x (1/2 progressing) = 1/30 baptism

So, that formula means 1 in every 5 contacts leads to a rendez-vous, and 1 in every 3 rendez-vous' leads to 1 person progressing, which means 1 in every 30 contacts leads to a baptism. And these 2 elders did this from what they noticed and their experience, and they also said these are very conservative estimates. And now, they also showed us the formula for how many family contacts we need each day:

(1 baptism/30 contacts) x (12/12) = 12 baptisms/360 families contacted

Basically, if we contact 1 family each day, this should work out. Its actually gone pretty well so far. We have dropped a few investigators who haven't come to church and weren't really progressing, and that gives us time to look for families and then teach them in our schedules. And we actually did door knocking for the first time on my mission yesterday. And it was pretty intense, because you get real nervous when you see the person walking to the door, but once I just start talking its usually fine.

So yeah, that's our new plan for Douala. One other interesting thing. That is, that it stinks trying to do missionary work during football games, especially when Cameroon is playing! Yesterday we got 2 "rattez-vous'" in a row because they would rather watch the match. But I can't really blame them, because I would be the same way. But we are going to have to try to find ways to be productive during Cameroon's games, and it is only the Nation Cup for Africa. I can only imagine what the World Cup will be like. But something that might be good from these games, is that if Cameroon looses, people will come to church. Yesterday, Cameroon lost 1-0 to Gabon, and we heard some people say stuff like, "God wanted Gabon to win, so they won." Things like that (which is not true), but it could get people to come to church.

So yeah, that's pretty much what is happening here. And with this new finding family focus thing, our numbers have gone down a little bit, but I actually think we are being more productive, and not staying with some people who probably just invite us back to talk. But I hope you all are enjoying 2010 so far, and enjoy watching the NFL playoffs...lucky...

Je vous aime,

Oh yeah, one more thing I wanted to add. So I thought I would tell you some of the ways they say hello, and how are you and stuff. Dad will probably find some of this French strange.

- So of course, you have the normal "bonjour", "bonsoir", and "salut".

- Pretty much no one says the whole "comment ça va?" Maybe they will just say "ça va", but usually they say "C'est comment?" or just "Comment?" And they do that in English too, sometimes instead of saying "how are you", they just say "how".

- Then there is "on dit quoi". This is basically, "whats up".

- I'll also give you some of the Douala I can remember. So the equivalent of bonjour in Douala is "owindolay". Now I am sure that is spelled horribly, but that is how it sounds. And then to reply, you say "nowindolay buam". Or, you can just say "Ay", which is like oui or yes. I have found that if I reply to pretty much any question I get asked in Douala, if I say "ay", that works.

- To say merci in Douala, you would say "na soum", something like that. And to say, demain or tomorrow, it is "kialay".

So yeah, I just thought you would find that interesting. And you will probably read this when you wake up this morning, so I will say good morning in Douala, but I don't know how.

Je vous aime,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Eric's email of January 7th, 2010

"I have become a happy somebody"

So, that subject line is something one of the members here said this week during a lesson, and I found it amusing. Anglophones say some funny things.

Anyways, so I was in the process of writing your email, then the stupid mouse stopped working. And then I tried shutting the computer down and everything got messed up. But I don't have a lot of time, and I don't have much patience for this computer right now, so I'll just talk about some highlights, mainly the baptism.

So yeah, the baptism went great. We were planning on having 4 people, but only Phillip and Laura got baptized. And I actually got to baptize Phillip, so that was cool. And this was the third time that Phillip had a baptism date, and he had some problems before, but now he actually made it, so hooray! And in his testimony after the baptism, he said, "I am here today to tell you that the devil is a liar!" Ha, more funny things said by anglophones.

But it was a good baptism, oh yeah, except Phillip wasn't at church when it was time for Sacrament meeting to start, and he was supposed to get confirmed. So Elder Ternieden and I were running through Bissekey, his neighborhood, and then right before we got to his place, he was walking out. He was late because he was bringing 8 or so people with him. So we can't be mad since he was bringing people to church. Then after church we had a lesson with all of them. But, we had to run and find Phillip for his confirmation.

Well, if technology wasn't stupid, I would write more, but I'm almost out of time. So I hope everyone is doing well, and I'm sure everyone is enjoying going back to school. And Scott, don't break the car. (Scott took the rear view mirror off the "Scooter" on Wednesday.)

Je vous aime,