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, June 25, 2010

Eric's email of June 24th, 2010

So the package got there fine actually and they didn't have to pay that much. (Package from YM sent to Cameroon) I emailed Elder Lee in Douala and he says it was fine. Hopefully they just won't eat all my candy. But I don't know my mailing address right now, I'll write down to look it up an I'll tell you that next week. And just make sure that on all stuff anyone sends, they must write "Eglise de Jésus-Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours" after they put my name.

So the Congo and everyone in Africa I think likes the World Cup a lot, and people here pretty much just like any team from Africa, even though there aren't many doing very well. I think Ghana looks like the only African country to move on. But funny thing about la Coupe du Monde, last weekend we had a zone conference, and we were informed of something interesting: Pres Headlee said that we are allowed to watch some matches of the World Cup. I'm not lying, and I was surprised when he said that, too. So yeah, we actually watched Cameroon play Denmark last Saturday when Pres took us to dinner, and yesterday we watched that USA versus Algeria game. (Which the USA won!!!) Go USA! He told us to watch it with our amis de l'eglise or members. I guess Pres Headlee trusts us at least a little bit.

(Do you know exactly when the new senior couple will arrive?)
From what I've heard, the senior couple will get here in the first half of July sometime, and the new batch of 10 North American missionaries will come around July 7th. Also they found a new missionary apartement here, and President is going to add one more equipe missionaire to make 6 total, and 2 of them will move into that new apartement next transfer. And this transfer only has one week left actually. That went by fast.

Alright, this computer is a little bit messed up, sometimes it freezes for a sec, and it flips around what I typed. Like if I try to type "eric", it will put "cire". So sorry for any typos.

So first, yes we are teaching still that lady who asked all those questions about Oliver Cowdery and stuff. And she is progressing great. Now we are teaching the whole family, the only person we are waiting for to come to church is the dad. He was gonna come last week, but then he got called somewhere for work. But that is often our best families we are teaching.

(So about how much did the new cell phone cost?)
So the old fake phone I think cost 16000 FCFA, and the new real one we have cost 25000 FCFA. Parsons and I each ended up paying 2500 FCFA because the zone leader was only allowed to spend 20000, but that's ok, its better than any cell phone I had before. But here everyone uses "credit" to pay their phone calls and such. And that is just how much FCFA your phone has. You can choose to pay by the minute, and then its 99 francs a minute. Or you can pay by the second, I dont know how much that is. And our phone is MTN, thats our company, and we have "MTNZone", and depending on the time or something, its cheaper. If your phone says "MTNZONE 40%" like it does right now, its 40% cheaper, I don't know why.

Actually ,the most part of people in Congo and Cameroon have a cell phone. That's only the people in the cities, I don't know how many villagers have a phone, but almost every adult has a phone, and a good number of teenagers do too.

alright, this keyboard is driving me crazy, sorry for the errors. (I have been doing a lot of editing on this one.)

In French, a person from Congo is "Congolais(e)", and a person from Cameroon is "Camerounais(e)". Its like that with a big chunk of African countries.

(On any given Sunday, how many people are typically at Sacrament Meeting and what percent are members and what percent are amis de l’eglise?)
On Sunday the chapel is pretty much filled, sometimes there are even 3 people squished on 2 seats. I would say 120 to 140, I don' know how accurate that is. I would say 15% percent, maybe more even are amis.*

One interesting thing I learned from the (zone) conference is the first ever missionary from Central African Republic is on his mission in Kinshasa, I believe. In his country, there should be full time missionaries there sometime soon. Also in July the Lubumbashi mission will exist. And this transfer there will be 27 new missionaries. And I did learn some stuff about transfers, that Elder Ritchie (zone leader) told me president told him during his last interview. But, I'll just tell you that stuff next week, when it is officially announced.

The baptism preparation is going well, we are looking at having 6 people. And as always, Frère Matinga is the man. He had his interview with Pres Headlee on Sunday, which he said was amazing. I've decided that after he is baptized, we will just have rendezvous where he teaches us. Also Frère Fabrice looks to be a go. There was some concern, because he had a World of Wisdom issue, smoking up to 10 times a day, but now he has replaced cigarettes with little green candies when he gets an urge to smoke. The first 5 days he smoked twice he said, and since then he ain't smoked nothin'. And all his interviews went well. Elder Parsons and I felt good about it, so why with hold blessings. And being baptized and confirmed will only help him to continue to have the strength to resist these temptations. And these two, Frère Matinga and Frère Fabrice, have also become friends at church. 2 spiritual giants.

Donc, je crois que c'est tout. Aussi, comme étude de langue, j'ai commencé au debut de "Ultimate French Review", et au fur et à mésure je ferrai chaque lécon. Bien que je doive ameliorer toujours, maintenant je peut me debrouiller en français, mais je veut bien parler français. Je n'aime pas le subjunctif.

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pictures from Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo

Eric-first on the left, and his companion
Elder Parsons-third from the right, at a Baptism.

Eric on his 20th Birthday!

Eric's email of June 17th, 2010

Hello tout le monde.

So I'm going to go through and answer questions and what not, and also I'm going to attach some pictures, hopefully I can get a pretty good number. And this computer is confusing me, so we'll see what happens.

So yes, the World Cup is all over the place, one picture I have will show that. Also the internet café I am in right now is showing Nigeria versus Greece. And yeah, I remember the Priors, (family in the ward from South Africa) good for them. Hopefully one day they'll have the World Cup in the US so I can go to it. But that noise of the matches can give you a headache. There is a match on, pretty much everywhere here, unless you are in a peaceful, residential area.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to open the e-card, (for his birthday) but I'm gonna try again this week, because these computers are different-ish this week. They are in "ubuntu" mode or something, I learned about this at that computer class I took at SUU, but its kind of weird.

The English class is going well. Last Saturday we taught them how to pray in English, and since I'm the beginners class we just kept it as simple as possible. But there was a couple times where I forgot how to say something correctly in English. And you already know from my email last week that I don't speak very good English sometimes. When I talk with Elder Parsons or another English speaking missionary, I'm fine. But if we randomly find someone else who tries to speak English with us, I usually just get confused. But, yesterday I did teach someone from Nigeria, therefore the lesson was in English. And we were on splits, I was with Elder Mbuyi, who is from Kinshasa, but he speaks ok English. But at one point I couldn't remember how to say "alors" or "donc" in English, and Elder Mbuyi had to remind me (its "so", embarrassing).

I wrote Mr. Gates a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't heard anything back yet.

Yes, I can still write to Spencer and Sang, (friends on missions) but I have learned that Spencer aint gonna write to me no more. So now its kind of pointless for me to write to him, because he can't really respond to my questions or anything anyways, but I'll probably just copy and paste stuff I send to you at home. But whatever, c'est pas grave.

But that's great about Chris, (a young man from our ward who entered the MTC last week) I guess that means I've been on my mission for a little bit now.

So from what I hear, Bonabéri is going pretty good, but there wasn't anyone baptized this past month. I have heard that one person, Emmanuel, is doing awesome, and that his son Nelson is getting ready to get baptized in July. I do email Elder Lee (former companion) usually each week, he is still in Douala, so I know a little bit.

(Is it hard to get up in the morning or have you adjusted to the mission schedule?) So now I set my alarm for 5:15, because on the mornings when Elder Parsons and Elder Ritchie and I run, we have to start at 5:30, and it gets easier and easier, but there are still some mornings when its pretty darn hard to get up at that time. But once I get up and do something, I'm fine. I am looking forward to the day, though, when I sleep in til 7 or 7:30.

Alright, now I've figured this out a bit, I'll be sending those pictures in another email. Also, I heard that your package came today in Douala. They even called me to tell me not to have packages sent there anymore, because they had to pay 10000 CFA or something to get it. I just told them that's what the Willis' said to do. But they also said to make sure that the Church's name is on the package, because the p.o. box is for the Church, just as a reminder.

Well, thanks for the fat sports email Dad, haha. (Mark sent a detailed timeline of the Ute's invitation to the PAC 10 conference) Also Dad, Happy Fathers' Day! On Sunday! Thanks for the reminder on that Mom, and Elder Ritchie next to me reminded me again. Grandma also told me you have now been a bishop for over 5 years, dang! Do you think you will still be a bishop when I get home?

And thanks for the sports update and analysis of how it happened. I will try to keep my comment short, but I would say I am similarly pleased like Dad. Again, Grandma told me how excited Dad was on the phone about it.

Also, I don't see any "quick questions", (from Mark) so I'll just tell you what stuff is going on. Did splits twice this week. Tuesday I went with Elder Kesler, who is the district leader, and he is supposed to do splits with each missionary. It was a pretty good day. And then the next day I was with Elder Mbuyi, like I said, who is Kesler's companion. Its kind of weird to not be in your sector, because I'm pretty much clueless and don't know where I'm going, but its nice to do that every once in a while.

I taught the amis class for the Pointe-Noire branch on Sunday again. I taught on le jour du sabbat, (Sabbath Day) pretty basic. But now I actually kind of like to do that, because then I learn that principle really well and find cool scriptures on it and stuff. And I've learned its not really that hard to take 40 minutes to talk about one chapter of Principals of the Gospel. And one other plus, it counts as a lesson in the presence of a member!

Also, we have this ami de l'église named Fabrice. I think I've already talked about him, he is the man. So we had gotten through all the normal lessons, and we taught la Parole de Sagesse (Word of Wisdom) on time. His only problem is that he smokes, a lot. He said he picked it up from the military and never got over it, and that he even smokes up to 10 times a day, that's kind of a lot. We had fixed his baptismal date for the 26th of June, but now we'll have to put it in July. But we gave him the commitment to only smoke 5 times in a week, and he reported to us that he only smoked twice! He went from 10 a day to 2 in a week! Seriously, he is the man. He also bought a new Bible with an Apocrypha. He said he bought it because he wanted the stuff that is missing in other Bibles. So then we read D&C 91, to clarify that.

What else...one great success, with our friend Matinga, who is also the man, getting baptized one the 26th. His only problem, is that he likes to bear his testimony too often, and for too long of time. One time, we wanted to teach him la loi de chasteté (Chastity) and la parole de Sagess. (Word of Wisdom) Literally, all Elder Parsons said was the name of the commandment, la loi de chasteté, and then Frére Matinga went off for 40 minutes on some long story, which was good, but we really didn't have time for. So the next rendezvous, in order to get ready for his baptism, we had to teach him la parole de sagess, le jour du sabbat, and la dime, (tithing) in under an hour. It was hard, I seriously had to ask him to not bear his testimony, but we got all through it. That might not sound like much of a challenge, but it is with Frére Matinga. But this guy is probably the most ready-to-get-baptized person I've met.

Well that is pretty much life right now. Also Elder Ritchie is going home in 2 weeks, that's kind of weird, because he is the first missionary I know who I will experience him going home. And we also have zone conference this Saturday with mission president, so those are always good. I bet everyone is getting ready for summer, luckies.If you want, you can root for Boston for me, (NBA) and the USA in the World Cup.

Je vous aime,
- Elder Palmer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eric's email of June 10th, 2010

Sorry I didn't acknowledge you being the first to wish me happy birthday last week Dad. So just for the record, Dad won. (His birthday was the 8th. He is now 20.)

So my birthday was pretty normal, I didn't really do anything. I did drink a Sprite in the morning for breakfast, so that wasn't normal. I think next Thursday we are going to go to a pizza place where there should be World Cup on. But I haven't really done anything yet.

And YES, the Congolese are into the World Cup. Even though their country didn't make it, everyone is going to watch it. Just goes to show how nearly the rest of the world besides the United States loves soccer. Even by the grand marché they are putting up a huge, like almost 3 stories tall big screen where the public can just come watch. That place is going to be packed. And I bet there will be a handful of taxi drivers who get in accidents while they are watching the game as they drive by.

(We asked Eric if he felt he was getting enough support in way of packages from us.) And yes, I saw that question from last week, but I ran out of time and forgot to send it cuz I was rushed. But yes I am definitely getting the support I need from my family. Packages are great and all, but the emails each week are the best I think. So don't worry about that at all.

And just so you know, unfortunately I don't thing that Hallmark card Mom emailed me is going to work because these computers don't have the correct flash player or whatever. I'll see what I can do, but its not looking good.

(Do you cook more in Congo than in Cameroon?) Here I probably do a little bit more cooking, because there were more places in Cameroon that I liked to eat at. But here we cook for ourselves pretty much every night. We usually keep it as easy as possible, like spaghetti or beans and rice and stuff. I'm too lazy to do fancy stuff.

(Was it hard to replace the cell phone that was stolen?) So it's not difficult at all to find a replacement phone. The zone leader got us one at grand marché, but it was a super fake Chinese Nokia, and people told us they had difficulties hearing us. So we got the zone leader go back today and get a real phone.

The baptism on Saturday went well even though it was smaller. But for the one on the 26e we will have a good number getting baptized. Last Saturday, we had one person, Frère Simon get baptized who has been an ami de l'église since forever. And also one other person, Frère Salvie, was someone Elder Parsons and I taught a lot, but lives in the part of our sector that we gave to one of the new companionships. But it was good.

After the baptism we had English class. The missionaries did it before, but stopped it, and now restarted it. We get a lot of people actually, and I got put in charge of the debutants, the beginners, which is the biggest class. I think we had about 30 people. A little bit intimidating. But it wasn't that bad. Elder Ritchie taught the beginners last time and he helped, so now I think I understand how I got to teach it. ("I understand how I got to teach it"-great grammar for an English teacher!) We taught them the basic stuff, greetings and such, next week we will teach them how to pray in English.

Also recently Elder Parsons and I have been really blessed to find good amis, people who have been really prepared by the Lord. One lady read the Joseph Smith testimony brochure so well, she asked us some questions that I had never heard before. I think I was able to answer all of them besides "what town was Oliver Cowdery from?" We taught her early today, and she had read the whole Plan of Salvation brochure, where she basically just taught it back to us.

Also "our main man" Frabrice is still progressing well, he has almost reached Alma in his Book of Mormon reading. Another person who is the husband of an inactive-ish member super analyzed the Joseph Smith brochure. Thank goodness for the Guide des Ecritures (Scripture Guide) after the Book of Mormon, which helped us answer his question about the prophet Elie. (Elijah)

So missionary work is great and getting better, pretty much all the missionaries are healthy now I think. Tonight after internet we are going to the beach to play football and soccer.

One interesting thing I don't know if I've mentioned. So people here, especially who live in the quartiers, don't see that many white people, which is why people just yell "mindelé" when they see us. And its people of all ages, like little kids, their older siblings, their parents, and their grandparents. But we also get called other things besides "mindelé" or "les blancs". (white) Next most often is "les chinoix", (Chinese) even adults call us that sometimes. Also, if they feel like being immature they call us "hee-haw", and the tone they use is, um, not nice. If Sang, or Elder Lee was here, (a friend who is Korean and serving in Oakland, CA) I don't know how he would like that. But today we got called a new one, some one at Fond Tie-Tie called us "egyptiens". (Egyptians) Its kind of interesting to see how many races people have thought I am.

Lets see, what else... oh, if you want to know about a really interesting religious fact here, you can do some research about a guy named William M. Branham. I don't know if I spelled that right, but that guy is suuuuuuper popular. Its interesting.

Well its weird to think I've already missed a whole school year. I'm sure the kids, especially Scott, are excited for it to end. Say hi to Dave and Uncle Mat when they come out. Thanks for the support, love you guys!

Je vous aime,
- Elder Palmer

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Eric's email of June 3, 2010

Salut, la famille.
So today I don't have as much time, cuz Elder Parsons and I got behind schedule, so I got to do this fast if I want to answer everyone. So onto questions:

Do you think you got sick from drinking water or eating some food or were you sick? So the first time I was sick last week I think was just because my stomach didn't like the food that was made because it was too American or something. If that makes sense. And the second time I think I was sick, because I shake too many little kids' hands. So I do not do that anymore. And I do think the weight loss had been gradual-ish. Its probably picked up since I started running constantly, but I probably did lose more than normal with the unfortunate mishaps last week. Just so you know, I've leveled out at 161 lbs. pretty much. But I'm still the fattest in my apartment.

So yes, the Baxters and the Willis are gone by now, plus one elder I knew. Its weird, because they are the first missionaries I've known that have gone home. But for the new couple that comes in July, they will move into the other apartment in our parcel, if that's English. Basically chez-nous is two apartments stuck together. And when the new couple gets here they will stay in an apartment with the zone leader and his comp, and the other apartment will have the other 4 companionships.

(How big is Pointe-Noire compared to Richmond?)
So Pointe-Noire is a pretty good sized city. I've heard the Republic of Congo has about 2 million people total, and there are basically only two big cities, Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville. And not much else. I think Richmond is bigger in population than Pointe-Noire, but you can go on wikipedia to confirm. But I know there's nearly 4x as many people in Virginia than all of the Republic of Congo.

Jacob, stop annoying Andrea. (Andrea was complaining about her brother.)

Alright, I just talked in English with Elder Parsons, and some french guy next to me looked at us really weird.

Anyways, so you know, yes I got the camera. So thanks a whole lot! And its a nice camera. I'll send a couple pictures today, but everything on that is fine, so yeah. Make sure to thank Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Stacey and everyone again. (And cousin Dave for taking it to Provo!)

Eric and Elder Parsons in their kitchen. Looks really clean!
Glad to see his face after hearing he was sick.

Oh, and a random side note. Elder Buck, (the new Elder who took the new camera to Eric) he went to SUU last fall! And, he lived in Juniper C-200, the same hall as me! So that was awesome. Right now he is kind of sick, but I've given him so many hugs, for bringing my camera and going to SUU.

So here there aren't any real movie theatres, from what I've noticed. There are smaller ones in the neighborhoods where people just find the way to get a TV or projector or something, and then some kind a movies. They also show football games often. But they have lots of American movies, maybe the most popular thing from America here is 24, the TV show. Elder Tumba always calls me "President Palmer" now, and a branch missionary calls me "David Palmer". So, they like their 24.

If I need to get cash, first I will use my real cash, because they give you a better exchange rate with the physical bills. They like that for some reason.

(What are the transportation differences between Cameroon and Ponte-Noire?) So there are some transportation differences in Pointe-Noire. In Bonabéri, there were taxis and lots and lots of moto bikes. Here, there are taxis, but zero motos. Here there are lots and lots of buses (and lots and lots of bad, careless drivers). Also in Cameroon all the taxis were yellow. Here the taxis and buses are blue. And in Brazzaville they are all green. I don't know why they are different. Also here I think transportation is a bit cheaper. We just took a bus from one end of Pointe-Noire to the other, that took over 30 minutes, and we paid 300 CFA for 2 people, which is about 60 cents.

So, this past week was good. Didn't get sick. Lots of people starting to progress. The only bad thing, is that I got stolen from. Again. At the same place, Fond Tie-Tie. Its the second biggest market here, and this time it was getting late, already about 7. And we were crossing a round point, trying not to get hit by cars. And this guy going the other way bumped into me, I assumed he was just trying to dodge cars or whatever. But my hands were full with my backpack and the other with bread. I have been carry the cell phone in my chest pocket, because Elder Parsons had lost it a few weeks ago in a taxi because it fell out of his pants pocket. But I walk a few steps after that guy bumped me, and noticed the phone and my badge were gone. So yeah. I think I've learned my lesson now. Pretty much, you can't carry anything in your shirt or pants pocket at Fond-Tie-Tie, and not put yourself at risk. Sow now I keep everything, everything in my bag, and carry it in front of me.

But missionary work is going well. Most of all with one ami, Fabrice. He is a 50+ year old guy, who just came up to us one day, asked us who we are, and we gave him a family brochure. Then a few days later, we walked by his house and he called us over, we taught him, and now he's been at church the past 2 Sundays. He is a stud. Elder Parsons always calls him "our main man" Fabrice. And its true. We gave him a Book of Mormon about a week and a half ago, and he has read from the beginning to Mosiah. He also got one of the new, sleek Principes de l'Evangile (Gospel Principles) books, and has read from the beginning to chapter 11. He's the man. Last rendezvous he explained to us the story and principles in Jacob chapter 7. I don't think I could say much more.

Also this Saturday we will have one person baptized, who has been an ami for at least 8 months now. But he works for the military, so he was sent on missions, worked Sundays and such. But he got a 30 day break, and is finally getting baptized. Most of all for Elder Parsons, that will be a happy day.

There is also another really good ami named Matinga. He's like Fabrice, pretty much already prepared by the Lord. He is now getting ready for baptism on the 26e of June. But right now, he is the only one coming to church. His wife had been at the village since the first rendezvous, when we talked about the Restoration. We had set Matingas baptismal date, but she did not get why she would have to be baptized again. So Matinga, who loves to expound and use scriptures, talked a lot. But we finally got her to not worry, and told her to forget about baptism, or the apostasy, and stuff like that. So we gave her the engagement to actually read the testimony of Joseph Smith, and to pray. And that's it. She was very much lest argumentative after, so hopefully she will just actually pray.

So that's pretty much my life right now. I'm just grateful to be able to be able to meet these people, and watch some of them take the restored Gospel and run with it. Hope everyone at home is doing well, try to stick out the rest of school!

Je vous aime vachement,
- Eric