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, April 16, 2010

Eric's email of April 15th, 2010

Hello everybody, so I'm gonna start by answering Mom's questions, then I'll go get Dad's darn questions.

(I reminded Eric that he opened his mission call a year ago on April 16th and asked if it seemed like a long time ago.) So I got my mission call a year ago Friday, dang. That does not feel like a long time ago at all, to me at least. Weird, I guess that means I am becoming an old geezer.

(I asked him how his clothing was holding up.) So my shoes are still comfy and fine, especially the brown ones. The only thing is that, on the brown shoes, the sole started to come off, but I bought some super super glue stuff and managed to close it back up for now. If not, there are people all over who fix shoes for cheap. Last week Elder Lee got the whole bottom of his basketball shoes put back on for less than 500 CFA. And I wear my sandals not a whole lot, but often on pdays and such. Maybe I will start to wear them more often when it rains, though. As for shirts, um, maybe I might need some more. For some reason, today I found that I only have 6 white short sleeves shirts. (He went with 7.) I was finishing my packing, and I couldn't find any other one. The supplies that are in the worst condition though, I think, are my ties. Holy cow, I have a couple of ties that are filthy. They get kind of dirty on the big end, and some are disgusting looking where the knot is. And it is worst on the lighter colored ones, like the one I got from Bro. Edmunds. So ties are the only thing in not good condition.

So yeah, the Willis (Senior couple who take care of the Elders in Bonaberi) residence is comparable to an American one, and is much much better than any other house I've been in in Cameroon. Never met anyone else with a pool. So that picture of me and 3 others by the pool, if I can remember correctly it goes like this: very left is Fred, then me, then Ebanezar, then Emmanuel, who are all studs.

Ok, I think I got all Mom's questions, now I got to go to Dad's email. Tout à l'heure. (Later)

Ok Dad, here I go.

So the Willis' finish their mission at the end of May, which will make 18 months for them. They are from Montana, and Sister Willis lived in Wyoming when she was younger, if I remember correctly. But now they live in Provo. But mainly, they are from Billings, Montana.

(Are you flying to Pointe-Noire?) Yeah, I'm flying from Douala to Pointe-Noire, and I have no idea what airlines. All I know is that I will sleep at the Willis' tonight, and that we need to get to the airport before 11 to get me all checked in. And then my flight is supposed to be leaving at 12:30 or 1:00, but, the Willis' said that ever since they have come, this Douala-Pointe-Noire flight has never been on time. And today, our friend Robert, who works at the airport, says that's because every African airline except Air Gabon doesn't get it or care about being on time. Its called African time. Ca veut dire, people are late in Africa. When people say "j'arrive", they could arrive between 10 minutes and 3 hours. So yeah, just a little side note there. And if you want my airplane tickets just tell me, and go take another vacation with them.

Alright, so now I'll answer Dad's next 2 questions, and it will probably be the biggest chunk of my email, cuz I've got to think about it. And Dad would ask these questions. So anyways, some of my 3 most meaningful or striking experiences in Bonabéri (not necessarily in order):

1) One I just thought of is about Stanley. Stanley has been a member for over a year now, and he was great and everything, but he had one issue (which is somewhat common I've found), which is tithing. We would explain the law of tithing and such, but he would never really commit. He would say, he isn't financially stable, and so doesn't know if you would pay it always. We would even explain the financial blessings and such, but its wasn't getting to him. Then, with Elder Lee, about a month ago, we taught tithing again, same result. Then the next week, we talked about the Melchizedek Priesthood, and at the end, he asked if he needs to pay tithing to get the Melchizedek Priesthood. Then the next lesson we talked about temples, which Stanley really liked. And he asked again, if he needs to pay tithing to go to the temple. So we were feeling good about that, and then a couple days later, just in passing by, he told us he wants to start paying his tithing. So I chose this because I saw how Stanley was hard to get to for so long, and we never knew if he would ever pay his tithing, but he saw the blessings, especially the temple, that pushed him to act and live the principles of the Gospel, specifically tithing.

2) The baptismal service at the beginning of this month. I loved that, because I got to see all 3 of those people, Fred & Emmanuel & Eb, all progress from the beginning to baptism & receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and further. And at the beginning, they were are just simply there, not anything extraordinary happening, and then gradually they got testimonies, came to church despite some difficulties, and preparing themselves now to get the Aaronic Priesthood soon.

3) The day we had the "Bonabéri Olympics" activity. Again, it was just great to simply have fun with some of the members, and a whole bunch of the cartier (neighborhood) kids. It was cool to see Mam Laura coach people and tell them how to play football. It was fun teaching people how to play frisbee. Missionary discussions are important and good and all, but to show them an activity where you do not just sit in a chair and listen to people was something great I think.

Ok, now the 3 most memorable people from Bonabéri (also, not necessarily in order):

1) Emmanuel. When I got here, Emmanuel was just someone we saw once or twice a week and invited to church. He works at his soya stand down by where Tumasang, another member works. And he would always say its toooooooo hot, toooooooo much rain, tooooooooo much tired and such things. But then one Sunday he came, said he actually liked it, and then the next Sunday bore his testimony. And we had never taught him yet! And so it took a little bit longer to get him at church consistently and to read the Book of Mormon, but now he does that and many other great things. I saw him yesterday, and we talked about the Priesthood, and he promised to do all the work necessary to get the Priesthood. So for him, basically it shows how the Gospel can change someone and motivate them to do good, who didn't really care much at first. And he is also the best testimony bearer, according to me. I think I've described it already, but he does it simply on what he knows is true, but I believe him when he says it, and feel the Holy Ghost.

2) Grant, the branch missionary. Grant became a member before I got here, but what I love about him is he is willing to share the Gospel with anyone, and help us out whenever we need it. Also, when people call us "les blancs!", Grant calls them "les noirs!", which keeps me from gettin annoyed by that. He also taught me a lot of Douala. Tuesday evening we walked with him for about an hour, and we got 4 cordonées, which I think are called referrals in English. Also he is a cartier chief, which basically means he knows everywhere and everyone in Bonabéri. He is also preparing for a mission, and wants to leave by the end of this year. When he finally embraced the Gospel, he changed and is actually happy to keep the commandments now.

3) Andrew & Phillip. 2 hilarious studs. Andrew has been a member nearly a year, and Phillip got baptized in January. Even though they can say some weird things at times that anglophones say, they are awesome, and have some of the strongest testimonies. Sometimes they get a little over excited when talking about the church, and they are learning and learning, but they are 2 people who will do whatever you ask them to serve in the church. Andrew's wife also moved in with him recently. Last night they fed me and the the 3 other missionaries, with food prepared by Andrew's wife, Germen. Phillip taught me how to open a bottle of soda with my teeth. (So why did I pay for braces?) They have also known the church just since it got to Bonabéri, and would barely have 10 people at church, and now they've seen it grow, get a new building, and they might be 2 of the most excited people for Elder Runland, the member of the 70, to come. (To dedicate the new building.)

And so I don't have nearly enough time to write about everyone, but there is also Fred & Robert & Omega, Mama Laura, Eb, Passie, Tumasang, Stanley, Florent, Jules, Totto, Léonel (aka Mr. Perfect), Danielle, Valére, Nelson (Emmanuel's son), the Motto family, Lawson, President Njampou and his family, Felix, and lots of other people as well.

Au Cameroon et à Point-Noire, il y a huit missionaires à Yaoundé, huit missionaries à Douala, et six missionaries à Pointe-Noire. Il y a vingt deux missionaries, alors. Mais, en toute la mission entiere, il y a plus que cent missionaries. J'ai vu une fiche avec tous les missionaries la semaine passée, et beaucoup des missionaires servent au Congo. (In Cameroon and Pointe-Noire, there are eight missionaries in Yaounde, eight missionaries in Douala, and six missionaries in Pointe-Noire. Therefore, there are twenty-two missionaries. But, in the entire mission, there are over one hundred missionaries. I saw a picture with all the missionaries last week, and many missionaries serve in Democratic Republic of Congo.)

Sorry, I thought I would write one paragraph in French. Dad and Scott or whoever can critique me. (No critique from either.) So that's about all the time, thanks for the thought provoking questions Dad. Andrea & Jacob, kick behind in soccer. Scott, don't die. (from studying so hard) Mom, make sure Dad & Scott don't go too crazy during the playoffs. (NBA)

Je vous aime bien,
- Eric

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Eric's email of April 8th, 2010

Hey Mom, I'm sending you this short email real quick, so that you don't send any packages to Douala, or Cameroon actually. The reason is, I'm getting transferred to Point-Noire! I leave on Monday, so yeah. (He later told us it would be Friday, April 16th.) I don't really know much more about that, but its kinda a bummer, because the following week is when they will move into the new building, but all well. If you want good pictures of the church when its finished, I think you will have to ask Sister Willis. But I have been told that in Congo they have a real, actual LDS church building, so that will be good. But yeah, just thought I'd get y'all the big news first.

Je vous aime,
- Eric

"J'ai été muté!"

I think I spelled that last word wrong in the title, I just guessed. Dad can correct me on that. But that means I got transferred! To Pointe-Noire! But here are Dad's questions from last week, that I am required by law to answer:

(When you go out for fish or whatever to eat, what are the names of the "restaurant's" that you get the food at? Do you usually go to the same places or do you try all sorts of places?) So when we go out to eat, which is normally fish, there aren't restaurants with names and such. The only times we've gone to restaurants with names is at Zone Conferences when President Headlee takes us. But we have 2 fish ladies that just post up on the side of the road. We just call them "fish ladies". And sometimes every so often, we go the other places, one we get beans & benyais (spelling...?). Benyais are just doughnut ball type things, except with no frosting or sugar, just fried. So pretty much, its all just from some lady on some road somewhere.

So there's not really too much in common about the members' jobs, except I noticed that the higher class and such usually don't give a hoot about what we the missionaries have. But there are lots of different jobs, one is a hair-cutter, one works at this place called "OK Foods" that just packages little snack things and such, one drives trucks around and hauls stuff, one sells soya which is meat on a stick, one is a teacher, one works at the docks, and some don't/are looking for a job. And I don't really know too much about education, but most people didn't go to college or anything.

Dad, why do you ask random questions all the time? (This was Mark's question):If you had the resources, what "store" would you open in Cameroon that would do really well? What kind of stuff would you sell, maybe stuff that the Cameroonians would love to have but just don't get much?If I would open up a store here, its would be...ugh...I dunno, if I had the resources I would open my store up somewhere else. I guess if I had to, I'd just sell candy from America, because lots of the candy from here is not really good at all. Like last week I gave the bag of Skittles you sent me to Fred & Omega because it was their birthdays during the week, and they loved that stuff. So I would open up a candy store with actual good candy.

So about Limbé, it will be best described with some pictures I took, which I shall send later today. But one great thing about it, is that it is an anglophone area! So Elder Wilkins and I said one day near the end of our missions we will go open up Limbé or some other English place and be companions again. But we saw a whole bunch of monkeys and such at the Gorilla Wildlife Reserve or something like that. I also bought a hat. Its called a "traditional hat" or "nature cap", but I just call it the "anglophone hat", because if you see anyone wearing it, they are an anglophone. After the monkey zoo, we went to another beach, had some fries and a soda, and played sports. We had to pay this guy darn 2000 CFA for a volley ball and a soccer ball for 1 hour, but it was worth it. It was sweet because we played football down on the beach, and I scored.

So I think I got them all Dad. Now I'll talk about the baptism, which was great. On Saturday, Eb, Emmanuel, and Fred were all baptized. But we did have a small problem because the water at the church in Bonapriso was off, so we did the program and such at the church, then relocated to the Willis'. They have a pool in their backyard, so that saved us thankfully. We had to take taxis from the church to the Willis', and probably got about 7 or 8 of them, that took a good chunk out of our soutien. (Money allocated for the week.) And then one person forgot baptism clothes at the church so we had to wait for him to go back and get them. And we didn't have the Willis' car because it got hit by a truck last Thursday.

But we eventually got everything together, and it went fine. But I'm glad I got to see them all baptized before I left, because I started teaching all of them from the beginning, and it was great to see how they changed from beginning until now. Especially Emmanuel, who used to never go to church, because it was toooo hot, or tooooo much sun, or tooooo much rain, or toooooo much tired. But now he comes each week, and is ready to keep "the 10 commandments, and the commandments in the Book of Mormon". That is a direct quote from his testimony, which was awesome btw. Emmanual bore his testimony at the baptism Saturday and at church Sunday, and he is the best. All he does is keep it simple, and says what he knows is true, and its great. One problem is some people give long as could be testimonies with a billion ideas and stories, which wastes time and messes up other peoples opportunities. Sunday only 3 people got time because the 1st person took for ever... But I was just especially glad Emmanuel got to share his, everyone should take his testimonies as the perfect example.

This week we finally started cleaning the new church as well. We started Tuesday, spent all day cleaning and preparing everything to do painting on Wednesday. And also a good number of members and amis (friends) showed up, so that made me happy to see. Then Tuesday night I got the call from Sister Willis that I'm getting transferred to Congo, so that's kinda a bummer. I don't get to see the building all finished, the General Authority, Elder Runland, and Pres Headlee coming all the way out to Bonabéri itself for the new building, so that stinks. All well. But yesterday we did a good chunk of the painting, everything except the main room. So Friday we have to do the big room and some 2nd coats if necessary. They might have to do some more things next week, but it should be ready for the 18th. Also last night we played soccer and football. I caught 3 touchdown passes, and got closelined (literally, by a closeline that got me on the neck) right after I caught a full field touchdown pass in stride from Elder Lee, and scored once in soccer. And we won both games, which is always fun.

But yeah, its sad to go. One member, Andrew, is always upset when missionaries get transferred. Yesterday he told me and Elder Lee that they should keep missionaries in an area for 1 or 2 years, haha. Oh, and this transfer is also surprising, because Elder Lee is getting transferred as well! He is going back into Bonapriso though, so we both are getting taken away from the new building. I am excited to go to Congo, but it will be a bummer leaving Bonabéri. Getting transferred is a small bit of what its like to get your mission call, or going home from your mission, its weird.

So that's that. I've been informed there are no anglophones down there, so that stinks, because they are hilarious. But I think it will be good. So I hope everyone enjoys their spring break, Jacob don't get too bored. And enjoy going to Puerto Rico Mom and Dad, now I know why you wanted the frequent flier miles!

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eric's email of April 1st, 2010

Hey family,
Sorry I didn't write today. We ended up going on another trip, this time to Limbe. So maybe this week I'll get a little bit of time to write home, but we'll see. I just wanted to let Mom know I'm OK. But that's unfortunate to hear about Sister Moore, I'll keep her family in my prayers. And if Dad or whoever got me Tyler's email, that would be great. But thanks for the emails and such, and thanks for all the questions Dad, I'll try to answer them later. One thing though, is that this is the last week of transfers, and that would be a bummer to leave Bonaberi before the building is done, but whatever.

Je vous aime,
- Eric