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.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Eric's email of May 27th, 2010

Alright, so I'm gonna do my question answering for each email, then tell you about my, um, interesting week I had.

First off, yes time definitely does move faster when I'm busy, and it just seems like each transfer I have goes by faster. Like I still feel new to Pointe-Noire, but I've already been here a transfer. Just compared to when I think of my first transfer back in Bonabéri with Elder T, compared to the one I just finished with Elder Parsons, that does not feel like the same amount of time.

(His saxophone teacher, Mr. Gates sent us an email this week.) Yes, I saw the email from Mr. Gates, and I already sent him one. That's lucky that he sent you one, I'll bet he's surprised to hear what I'm doing.

So for that youth class I taught last Sunday, there is a teacher called and such. But I think just every 3rd Sunday or something, they ask a missionary to teach that class. I don't know why, and the manual they gave me is called "Se Preparer pour l'Exaltation", which means "To Prepare Oneself for Exaltation", something like that. And I don't know why I'm using that manual. I felt like I should have been using some primary book, something to get their darn attention. But I think its an all youth class, from 12 and up. But I do know that often the older kids go to a different class so they can actually learn, probably.

Yeah, I still have my little notebook where I write down my (French) words I don't know. And today I actually gave the district meeting lesson, which we do in French, and one other missionary said he could tell I was looking in the dictionary, so I guess its helping. (Do any of the elders in your apartment speak English?) So of the elders here, there are 3 missionaries not from an English speaking place, one speaks pretty good-ish English, and the other 2 not really. So we speak most often French in the apartement. As for Elder Buck, (The new elder who is bringing Eric's camera) he's not here yet. I have been told he will get here tomorrow.

(Are you writing in your journal regularly?) My journal writing is better. I don't write daily because sometimes at night I'm too tired or lazy, but I would say I write a little more often than every other night. But I make sure I don't skip more than 2 nights, because then I might miss too much. But that's still something I can get better on. Also, I try to use good handwriting, but sometimes that doesn't happen, especially if its just before I go to bed. And I've had 4 comps: Elder Wilkins (MTC), Elder Terneiden and Elder Lee (Bonabéri), and now Elder Parsons (Pointe-Noire).

(We sent you a package-but shipped it to Cameroon.) I'll keep an eye out for the package that's coming, but I won't be surprised if I won't get it for a while. I say that, because President says he won't be coming back here until July, and he went to Cameroon at the beginning of the week. So unless he goes to Cameroon again before he comes to Pointe-Noire, I'll have to wait at least 2 months. But as long as it gets here, without stuff getting stolen, that will be good. And yes, I'm taking vitamins, using sunscreen, I got enough contact solution, all that kind of stuff is fine I would say. (Typical mom questions.)

(I am teaching a lesson about becoming a teacher. What helped you prepare to be a teacher?) So, what helped me the most in preparing to teach on my mission... I would say is studying the scriptures, most of all the Book of Mormon. What happens when you do that often, daily preferably, is that you are often reminded of Christ and what he has done for us. And then you learn the teachings and doctrines of the Church, and how it is unique from every other church on the Earth.

(Tell us more about the security at your apartment.) So the security for the house isn't really security, we just have a guy we call a guardien, who waters plants and sweeps up and stuff outside. And he usually comes in the morning around 8:30 and finishes before noon. So its not really security, but maintenance. But the complex in surrounded by a wall, with barbed wired stuff on top. I'll just send some pictures of it when I get a camera, I think that would be the best way to explain it. But its just our building, which are two apartements together, its not a neighborhood liked that. We are in a neighborhood, or a quartier, if tha'ts the same thing, but every house has its own walls around it.

(Tell us about the chapel you meet in.) So the chapel here is really, nice, but soon they are going to run out of space. The chapel probably fits 130, maybe, but each branch is getting filled up nearly to the max each Sunday. Its probably the same size as your chapel, if you do not open up the gym area. But it actually was built so that they could build more as the Church got bigger here. There isn't a gym or basketball hoop yet, but I actually think they do plan on having a cultural hall, even with a basketball hoop, at some point.

Since I've gotten my cleats, I think I've only used them twice, both times in Bonabéri, playing football once and American football. But now there are more missionaries, and so we will be playing soccer more often here, maybe even later today.

So about my flight from Douala, there was something that was very unusual that happened: it was on time. Basically every time before, it late. But both the Willis' and the Baxters were surprised it was on time. I think the name of the airlines was Trans Air Congo, something like that.

Alright, I think that was all the questions. So the first thing, was something I thought about this week, when we got the new elders. Its just about the diversity of the missionaries here, but all with the same purpose to share the Gospel. We have 4 missionaries from USA (all different states), 1 from Canada, 2 from Congo Kinshasa, 1 from the Ivory Coast, and 1 from Zambia. Plus we are all serving here in Congo Brazza, that makes 6 different countries. So that just shows how the Church really is true and the same everywhere. Just something interesting I thought about this week.

This week I also taught another lesson at church. In the branches here they have a class during Sunday school especially for amis de l'église and recent converts, and its usually a missionary or branch missionary who teaches it. And so it was just my turn this past Sunday, I taught on the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was pretty easy, at least compared to the lesson from the previous Sunday.

But one unfortunate thing was this week I got sick. Twice actually, on Friday and yesterday. It was only really that bad yesterday. We ended up staying in all day. But lets just say I weigh less than I did at the beginning of the week This morning I weighed 159.6 lbs, which is basically minus 20 lbs since the end of my MTC stay.

So that's pretty much things here, we also had to move rooms to make everything work with the Baxters leaving and the new missionaries. President also said there will be a new couple coming in July, so we only have to survive one transfer without a senior couple. And at the next transfer, we will be getting 10 new north American missionaires, not 20. But that's still kind of a lot. But it'll be good, lots of new areas opening up or getting split. I hope you guys have a good week, thanks all for writing me and everything you do!

Je vous aime,
- Elder Palmer

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eric's email of May 20th, 2010

Today I was able to catch Eric online and we were able to send a couple emails back and forth. It makes me feel like I am talking to him! We also had a short phone call from the Baxter's about replacing his camera-and they handed the phone to Eric for a very quick "Hello"

Alright Dad, I'll do my best to get these 6 questions from above answered:

1) So to go look for a camera, I'll be able to schedule time next pday to go looking and figure out what stores there are.
2) Right now in American dollars I have $146 I believe. I actually tried to go change some today, but they were only going to give me 400 CFA to the dollar, but if I brought $100 or more I could get 525 CFA for the dollar. And I think if I need more you can just make sure there is money on my debit card, because last week my companion used that to get money at an ATM thing.
3) I'm pretty sure I can use my debit card, but I don't know about the American Express. I'll try to find out.
4) I think that if I need more money, the best way would be through my debit card.
5) If you send me money, just send it in US dollars.
6) Ok, I don't see there being a need to send actually money in a package, so don't worry about that.

Alright, I found more than 6 questions up there. Wait never mind, that last one is too general, so I'll answer that in the email to mom probably after I answer the other quick questions.

(Eric was supposed to get himself soccer cleats right after Christmas. We questioned him several times about it, but never got an affirmative answer, until today!) Yes, I have already bought soccer cleats, I bought those back in Douala.

(What do you know about the new missionaries coming to Pointe Noire?)
For the new missionaries, I have been told by many people, including the mission president, that at the beginning of July there will be 20 North American missionaries entering this mission. So that does not include the African missionaries that could come. But, we actually just got transfer news because the end of this week is the end of the transfer. And so I will be staying will Elder Parsons, but there will be 5 missionaries getting transferred here, and we will go from 3 companionships to 5 companionships. One of the 5 coming will also be a brand new missionary from North America, and there is one other brand new one going to Cameroon. But I don't know the exact day of the new missionaries' arrival.

Alright, I think those are all Dad's stuff, now I'll go make sure I look at all of Mom's.

(Do you have bugs in Pointe Noire and what are they?)
So yeah, there are lots of bugs in Pointe-Noire, and the most annoying one is the mosquitos. Here I have to sleep under at least one sheet, because if I don't I'll just get bit all night, especially on the ankles. Its weird. There's also lots of flies, and some weird looking wasp things. And in the apartement we find the occasional cockroach.

Alright, I think that's all the ones I found in Mom's email. (His cousin Jeff just reached Argentina to start his mission.) That's really cool about Jeff, I have his email so I'll try to send him one again.

So things here are going well, like I said we got transfer news. That kind of stuff always keeps me from getting bored, I don't know why. Just the anticipation of a transfer is fun. And this transfer also went by really fast, I still kind of feel really new to Pointe-Noire.

But one new goal thing I started this week to help my french, is now I carry a petit cahier(small notebook) around in my pocket, and write down the words I want to say but don't know in french. At the end of the day I look them all up and write them down. And then I can go back and look at the words and not forget them so easily. I just started this yesterday, but here are the words I've written down and looked up so far:

to insult = insulter
to lactate = not found in our dictionary
a goat = une chèvre
a germ = un germe
extra = supplémentaire, de plus
a shot, injection = une piqure
a grill = un gril
a garlic = un ail
an amount = une quantité
to exchange = échanger

So yeah, I need to look in another dictionary to find "to lactate" in french, but I think this will help.

Also, last Sunday I taught the youth Sunday school last week. Elder Parsons warned me how hard it would be, but I didn't really understand til I actually taught the class. Its mostly because there is a group of 5 or 6 girls who just like to talk amongst themselves the whole darn time. (Girls are girls no matter where in the world they live!) And I also used really bad french one time, because I wrote on the board "qui est-moi", trying to say "who am I". But they let me know, and helped me change it to "qui suis-je". Dumb. The lesson was on testimonies, and we were reading in Matthew 16 when Christ asks his apostles who he is. And later we read a little in Alma 32, but I gave up on the reading and just drew a seed growing to a tree with fruit on the board. And when we got to the point when the tree had grown and producing fruit, I asked one kid what his favorite fruit was, and someone responded by saying "poulet!". Then the whole class started laughing, because poulet is chicken. (Once again, kids are kids no matter where they live.)

My food preparing skills have also gotten better. I can make oatmeal, spaghetti, rice, something with chicken,(something?) and hamburgers. And I keep asking one of the branch missionaries to give me his mom's recipe for saka-saka, which is something literally everyone eats here a lot. (Saka-saka is made from Cassava leaves, veggies and fish.) But he keeps forgetting, but I plan on adding that to my repertoire too

So as far as the missionary work and proselyting and such, this was more of a quiet week. But Elder Parsons and I have a new idea so that we get more cordonnées (referrals) and higher quality amis. We are going to work a bit more with the recent converts and finish up all their after baptism lessons in a timely manner, and let them invite family or friends or whoever to the lessons. Just the success rate with cordonnées compared to contacts made by missionaries is a lot better. And its makes our work easier. So hopefully that will work how I've thought it out.

Um, yeah. I think that's about everything notable. I just wrote to look for cameras in my agenda, so I won't forget. I hope everyone is still doing well, enjoying the end of school. I know Scott is enjoying the lighter work load after all his exams. Congratulations Andrea on bus safety, and Jacob at Busch Gardens! Also, I speak horrible English now.

Je vous aime,

My email to Eric:
So, about the mosquitos-use repellent and do you have a mosquito net to sleep under?

Dad pulled a tick from behind Andrea's ear this morning-she has been "exploring" in the back yard a lot lately.

To lactate is- allaiter. (to nurse) Can also be a noun. Produire du lait means to make milk. And why did you need that verb?


Hey Mom, thanks for the french help. I wanted to know that word, because Elder Parsons and I were waiting for an ami to show up, and there were goats in their yard thing. And one was feeding the other, and so that's why I thought of goat and lactate.

There are no nets to sleep under, but as long as I have a fan on, the sheet works just fine. Thanks.

Je t'aime,
- Eric

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eric's email of May 13, 2010

So from Jacob's email, I understood almost everything, except the last sentence didn't make sense to me. So besides a few grammar errors, that was actually an ok translation.

So responses to (not so) quick questions from Dad:

So the church organization in Pointe-Noire: Here there are only 2 branches. I don't think we are part of any stake or district or anything, just the Pointe-Noire branch and the Aéroport branch. There are 3 missionary companionships, and Elder Parsons and I are the one that work in some of both. But today during district meeting, we actually spent time looking at the map and dividing the city in 6 secteurs. So it looks like that will happen and the end of next transfer, 3 companionships in each branch. And President has also said he is going to put another branch here soon, and also find another building or two. So things will start to grow a lot faster, from all that. I would say there are between 100 to 120 people that show up to each branch Sunday.

(Mark asked if they speak French French or African French.) So Congolese French, just uses France French. Also the same with Cameroon. We just say numbers in the normal France french way. But something I've kinda heard more about, is that France is still kinda in control of the french speaking African countries down here. Apparently the English speaking and Portuguese speaking countries of Africa are able to develop better and stuff, because England and Portugal and all those countries are out, completely. But from what I've heard, from many sources, is that France still influences a lot of stuff in Congo, and take a lot of the profit of things from these countries. Which explains a bit why Congo and other french speaking African countries are behind the others. That's just what some Congolese people and other missionaries told me.

Anyways, so about the camera. We actually didn't have time to go anywhere today, because we had to spend time getting a new phone. It fell out of Elder Parsons' pocket when we were getting out of a taxi. That was Tuesday, so Wednesday we went to the MTN (the big phone company here) store to get a new phone and our old number. But the line was over a 3 hour wait yesterday. We went today again, and got lucky because its some holiday that I forgot the name of, so there weren't very many people there. But to answer the question, no I didn't look at cameras.

(What is the weather like?)
Right now in Pointe-Noire it is dry season. Here it is opposite of Cameroon, I think because we are on the other side of the equator. But dry season here isn't as harsh as in Douala. Here there is often a nice breeze and its just not as hot, thankfully. But I left Douala at the end of its dry season, and got to Pointe-Noire for the beginning of its dry season. And I'm told that dry season is much better here than rainy season, because during rainy season it is also hot and muggy.

Unfortunately, I cannot get the pamplemousse soda here. That was a brand called "Top", who had topamplemousse, topgrenadine, topanana and stuff. But that's a Cameroon brand, done by "les Brasseries du Cameroon". But here they still have Coca Cola, Sprite, and Fanta, so its fine. They do have more Fanta flavors here though, like strawberry, citron, and grenadine. I really like the strawberry one. One time I did see a few Mountain Dews in a boutique somewhere. Oh, and I forgot to tell Dad this. A couple p-days ago, in a "Park 'n' Shop", one of the two real kinda grocery stores, I found Perrier. And I got one. Still don't like it. Guess I'm still not old enough to like soda water.

So there's the questions. Lets see, what has happened since I talked to you all on the phone... On Mardi (Tuesdays) we did set a baptismal date with the mom and dad of a family. They are called Ruston and Ordre. Ruston, the father, we just saw on the road at the Poudrierre one day with his friend. Elder Parsons and I had no rendezvous scheduled, so we were looking, and they let us share our message with them. Ruston's wife Ordre, and about 4 other people ended up joining us. And that was about 2 and a half weeks ago. Then 2 Sundays ago, they came to church, I didn't see them there, because I was busy doing something else, but Elder Parsons saw and talked to them, but didn't recognize them exactly. But he did set up a rendezvous, and later that evening had an epiphany and remembered. So we taught them all about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and last week, they came to church again. And the past Sunday their branch watched a session of conference, and they both liked it, especially Ordre. But last week Souer Ordre had asked us "qu'est-ce que nous devons faire pour etre sauvé?". (What must we do to be saved?) Good question. So we started teaching the Gospel, taught faith and repentance at the end of last week. Then on Tuesday we talked about baptism. They both had many questions already about it. Talked about the restoration of the Priesthood and such, we had left them 2 Nephi 31 to read. And so at the end of the lesson we set a date for the 5th of June, yay! So they are awesome. The only problem, is that they are not actually married, which is a common thing here. The process to get married traditionally is complicated and expensive, and its not good to the family to skip traditional marriage and get civilly married. But the church (thanks to modern revelation, I assume) has said people in this situation can get baptized if the traditional marriage process has been started. And to do that, they have to do "la premiere presentation". This includes some food and drinks, unfortunately a good amount of wine, and things that the husband must present to the family of the wife. But once this first presentation has been done, the Church has said they can become members. So we will have to make sure Ruston and Ordre get going on that.

One other cool story. There is this one ami de l'église named Dieudonné Matinga. He is a cordonnée from some member, and he also has been at church the past 2 weeks. He already has a really strong testimony, kind of amazingly. But also on Tuesday, we had a lesson with him, just our second time, but we brought a Book of Mormon for him. And after we had explained the Book of Mormon, he told us about this dream he had had. Its a reoccurring dream every so often since '87, he said. And in the dream, and voice or person or something tells him to "read in the Gospel of Jesus", chapter 10 verse 16. The first time he had this dream, he woke up, and didn't really know what to do. He thought to read somewhere in the New Testament, but didn't know where. But then he had a friend, who told him, "well, which apostle was the beloved apostle of Christ?" or something like that. But that would be, John. So John, 10:16. That is the verse about "I have sheep not of this fold, but that will hear my voice", something like that. And so when Dieudonné told us in John, me and Elder Parsons looked at each other, because we knew. So after he was done explaining, we told him the real meaning of that verse, and read in 3 Nephi 15:21-24, where Christ explains exactly what he meant in John 10:16. So that was pretty amazing. And Frere Matinga was pretty excited about the Book of Mormon.

Well, I hope this week goes well for everyone. Oh, and one thing I forgot: so the Willis' leave at the end of the month, and so do the Baxters. From what I know, there will be another couple in Douala, but not here in Pointe-Noire. So that'll be a little bit of a bummer. So yeah, just wanted to mention that before I forgot. Enjoy the week, and thanks again for the emails, I really appreciate them. And I expect one from Andrea next week, because even Scott wrote me today, ha.

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Eric's email of May 6th, 2010

Alright family, so the camera thing is not too bad. I did backup a good amount of my photos, but I did lose some more recent ones because I hadn't backed up that recently. But yes I do still have the Wolverine, (small backup device) that just stays at the apartment. But I did send home the most important ones my last p-day in Douala, so ça va. And so from your suggestions, the first one could work. (Should we mail one, should we send one with a new missionary, can you buy one from a missionary that is leaving or can you get one there?) There is a way to ship stuff here, through DHL. I'm sure Dad has heard of it. DHL. I am told that its completely reliable, stuff doesn't get stolen. And it takes just about a week, only 1 week. But, as you would expect, it would be expensive. So that's one option. Another is one day I could go to a store and see how much cameras here are. There are some real stores, I don't know how expensive one would be, but maybe one p-day I could go check it out, see how much it would cost, and tell you. So I think those would be the best 2.

And I don't think there are any missionaries heading here in May. I have been informed that there will be 20 North American missionaries coming at the beginning of July. And right now there are 6 missionaries in Pointe-Noire, and President said he wants to put 12 here at that time. The Baxters will also be home at that point, so they will just keep the whole apartment and fit 6 more in like that. The Baxters live just next door, in the same little complex. So that's what I heard the plan is. And we calculated it and that should mean the new missionaries just entered the MTC yesterday.

And to get a camera from a missionary going home, there is only one here, Elder Ritchie. He goes home in July when the new wave comes, and his camera can't hold a charge. So that's my thoughts, and the Wolverine will be fine for a while.

So we will be calling home this Sunday, that came fast... Anyways, I will call you Sunday, around 19h30 or 7:30 PM, which is 2:30 PM chez-vous, si je ne me trompe pas. So I think that should work, right? Hopefully Dad can get home in time for that. But we couldn't call much later. Its a good thing you have morning church though. So that's that, I'll be calling with the stuff I used back at Christmas. Sunday 7:30 here, 2:30 there.

So "Afasso" means "bonjour", basically, but its a little different. Its like "bonjour" and "ça va?" squished into 1 word. So you say "afasso", and you respond by saying "ka bien", which is like "ça va bien". And the name of the language is called Mounoukoutouba, I think I spelled that right. Here in Congo things are a bit less complicated than in Cameroon. First off in Cameroon, there are 2 national languages, French and English. And so that kind of separates some people, even more when you add 200+ patuas. (Local languages) Here in Congo there are 4 national languages, but its less confusing, and I'll explain why. First there is French, which nearly everyone speaks, usually at least one person in each household. Also, Mounoukoutouba is one, which is a patua here, but it is also spoken by everybody (except the missionaries...). And 2 other languages whose name I don't know.

So this week I had one experience that stuck out, probably one of the best of my mission. Or at least one I doubt I will forget. So this took place Wednesday just around noon. Elder Parsons and I were at La Base, which is the cartier (neighborhood) around the church. We had some rendezvous planned, but most of them fell through. So we contacted a little and taught a couple lessons there. And we planned (holy cow, they just showed NBA highlights on the TV here in the internet café...) Ok, anyways, so we were planning on just contacting there for a couple more hours, but we were walking and we saw this guy with a pousse-pousse with a bunch of wood planks in it, taller than me. A pousse-pousse is just a cart people use to haul stuff with. Like the verb "pousser", to push. And so this guy was stuck trying to get over a curb thing, being helped by one other guy, and girl about my age, and a lady with her baby on her back. And so Elder Parsons and I went to help, because there was no way for them. So we eventually get it over the curb, and we continued to help him up a hill. And we keep going. One of the guys and the lady with a baby drop off. We continue. Then we take a little break, the guy who this belongs to asks us if we are Jehovah's Witnesses, we say no and explain who we are. And he tells us we are going to La Poudrierre, which is a little far. We normally take a 15 minute bus ride there. So we continue, and then the girl drops off, so its just me, Elder Parsons and him. And we get it all the way to his house, we are pretty darn tired and we sit down. And I see his foot, and he is bleeding, pretty bad. Turns out, he wasn't wearing shoes, geez. So it was right between his big toe, and he's still walking trying to get us chairs, but we are trying to get him to wash it and sit down. And then, he takes one step, and blood just squirts up out of his foot. And the other day Elder Parsons told me he doesn't like blood and that he has fainted before. So I'm there with a guy with a bleeding foot, and I'm hoping my companion doesn't pass out. But he finally washes it and wraps it, sits down, and we get him to prop it up on a chair. And then his wife gets us some water, which was heavenly. And then we teach him. It was kinda weird and I don't know if we were speaking the best French, because we were tired. So we just taught a short lesson with him and his wife. His name is Fifa, and her name is Jouria. And they seem really nice and such. But that was just a weird experience to contact a family.

So that is easily the most notable experience of the week. Today we also went with one of the branch presidents to the beach and stuff. We saw some historical spots of old slave places and stuff, not good. And by the name of this city, you can tell what those old slave traders thought. Anyways, it also made me really tired, I slept in the car ride home. Next week I'll try to send come pictures one of the other missionaries took. The internet café we go to is really nice, so yeah. I can't wait to talk to you guys on Sunday, try to enjoy the week back together at the house after vacation with friends and Puerto Rico.

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Eric's email of April 28th, 2010

Sorry this posting is late.

Afasso! (and then you say "ka bien")

So first off, this email will be kind of difficult, because I am using an English keyboard for some reason. I don't know why this computer has it, but its weird because I got pretty good on the French one. But so first, I want to respond to the question from Mom's email before I forget, about the mailing address. (No PO Box in Pointe Noire, still send packages/letters to Cameroon) If that is what the Willis' suggest, I think that would make sense. One elder here had recently received mail right before I came, that was dated in November. So I would say, the Willis' idea would work fine.

And so I'm glad that Mom and Dad are enjoying Puerto Rico, and actually I know plantains well! They aren't eaten that often here, but in Cameroon I ate them every time with fish and such, and I liked to dip them in pima (a very spicy pepper) sauce. At first I didn't like them, but I soon learned to. And rapelling that waterfall sounds sweet.

Wow, Père ne m'a que demandé deux quèstions! (Wow, Dad only asked me 2 questions!) So for the first one about the Mother's Day call, I don't know exactly yet, but I am pretty sure we will be doing it on Mother's Day, May 9th. And I plan on using the calling card. I will make sure I still have the info, and I'll let you know better next week.

The Zone Conference was awesome actually, and I will proceed to give the detailed review that Dad asked for. So, like I said, here we wake up at 5:30 AM, one hour earlier than normal. And so we woke up and then just got ready to leave, because the Baxters (Senior couple) said we were to leave at 6:30. (So I just stepped away from the computer for 10 minutes because someone came up and said he left his work on this computer. But then he figured out I speak English, no idea how he figured that out, but so I found out he is from Kentucky, and he knows of the Church. So that was random, but cool I thought.) But about zone conference, we got to the airport at 7:00 AM, and our flight left around 8 I think. But when we got to security, Elder Mbuyi and Elder Mafiya weren't let through. They are both from Kinshasa, but the guy didn't like their passport for some reason, even though they had gotten here fine. So we had to figure that out and decided to buy the necessary visa when we return, and got on our flight just before it left. So the flight only took about 40 minutes, just enough time for me to do a 3 star difficulty Sudoku, and then we landed.

When we arrived, there were already 2 people from the Church there with cars to pick us up. Oh, and I forgot to say, we flew to Brazzaville. And we held the zone conference in the stake center of Brazzaville, which was only about a 15 minute drive away from the airport on a bumpy unpaved road. So we get there, and there was about an hour before President and Elder Runland arrived, so we were talking and got to know all the missionaries of Brazzaville. And the conference consisted of the missionaries from Pointe-Noire, Brazzaville, and the assistants to the President. So there were us 6 elders from Pointe-Noire plus the Baxters, and 20 to 25 missionaries from Brazza. In Brazzaville the church is much bigger, they have a stake with 8 wards and 4 branches. In Pointe-Noire there are only 2 branches. But that's a big difference from Cameroon, in all of Cameroon there are 0 wards and 3 branches. Dang.

Anyways, the conference was great, even Elder Runland, who went on a Swedish speaking mission did it in French himself, and he got by. He did need a little help, but I was impressed with it, rather than having a translator. And also his wife did some, also in French. She said she had studied in school but forgot a lot, but she rarely needed our help. She did a lot better with French in school than I did. (Eric hated French in school.) But so we had our conference, and everyone was on a short schedule. The Headlees and Runlands had to leave pretty much immediately to catch the boat to get back to Kinshasa, and we had to leave to catch our flight. Side note, so Brazzaville and Kinshasa are right next to each other, its just the river (Congo) that divides the countries. But I was told if you took an airplane from Brazza to Kinshasa, it would take 15 minutes or less. But by using that ferry system, it took the Headlees and Runlands 2 and a half hours to cross. But one good thing, I caught President right before he left so I could get a missionary handbook in French, which made me happy.

So then we left immediatly for the airport at about 3:30, got there and had the same problem with Elder Mbuyi and Mafiya. Elder Ritchie told me it's because Brazzaville and Kinshasa don't like each other. Anyways, we eventually got past that again, and got to our flight. Another 40 minutes, another 3 star Sudoku puzzle, and we landed in Pointe-Noire at around 4:30. So we landed, and as planned we got the visa things for Mafiya and Mbuyi, and Elder Parsons and Elder Kessler and I talked about 90s music. Then we got their visas in about half an hour, got in the Baxters' truck, and went for ice cream. I got an ice cream cone with chocolate flavor and cheesecake flavor. It was richer than anything I had eaten in a while. Also the power went out twice while we were at the ice cream place. And I think that's about it.

So yeah, that was zone conference. I wrote down a lot of stuff I can't remember now, but the main thing I got from Elder Runland was the importance of having a good attitude. He talked about 2 parts of missionary work: the attitude & the work ethic. And you need to work hard and also have a positive attitude. You need both. If you only have one, or worse neither, good luck. But those 2 characteristics will make life better and missionary work progress well. So I gots to remember that.

Also today we got news that President Headlee is coming on Monday. I don't know exactly why, but that's cool. We didn't have time for interviews but hopefully we will Monday. Also, the beginning of July will be the end of a transfer, about a transfer and a half from now. And at that day, 2 North American missionaries will be going home plus the Baxters, and 20 (twenty) will be coming. So holy cow. And right now in Pointe-Noire there are 3 companionships, 6 elders (4 from the states and 2 from Kinshasa). And President also told the Baxters that he wants to put 12 missionaries in Pointe-Noire at that time. So that will be exciting, but also that means there will be a lot to do, and a lot of new missionaries. So yeah.

I think that's all the exciting news, maybe President will tell us more cool stuff on Monday. Mais, Mom et Dad, jouissez le reste de la voyage au Puerto Rico, et Scott et Jacob et Andrea, ne mourrez pas à l'école. (Mom and Dad, enjoy the rest of your trip to Puerto Rico, and Scott, Jacob and Andrea, don't die in school.)

And also, I am going to write this last thing in french, so that only one person gets upset or mad at a time: Mon appareil de photo a été volé. Pardonnez-moi. Vous pouvez me donner vos idées cette semaine, et nous pouvons mieur discuter cela le jour des mères. (This was to keep mom from getting upset, I guess. My camera was stolen. I'm sorry. You can tell me your ideas next week and we can discuss it on Mother's Day.)

Je vous aime,
- Eric