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, July 31, 2010

Eric's email of July 28th, 2010

Les Questions Vites: (Quick questions)

Well, maybe I just forgot to say this, but yes, the new couple has already arrived in Pointe-Noire. I thought I already talked about them because Mom asked me to ask them something last week. But I'll do it again for Dad, who may now be showing signs of aging (just kidding). The new couple is Elder and Soeur Gates qui vienent de Orange County, Californie. What to say... they are awesome, Elder Gates drives us to basketball and plays with us, Sister Gates is full of energy and makes delicious food. Elder Gates also talks lots of smack during basketball. I don't know really what to say, but they will be great missionaries.

Elder and Souer Gates

Yes, my glued together shoes are holding up perfectly fine. No need to send any of those things. I can't really think of anything I need to have replaced that you will have to send. As long as I don't lose or misplace anymore white short sleeve shirts (I only have 6 now somehow, I thought I started with 7 or 8, and I also lost my grey pants a long time ago, no idea.) But I have also accumulated a lot of ties, plus the 2 new ones I just got. One thing I will recommend to every missionary coming to Africa or somewhere like this, or maybe just anywhere it would be good, buy dark ties, that will not look too gross or disgusting if they get dusty. Because I have a few that are.

No, we don't really have movie night that often here. Every so often we may watch a church movie, but last zone conference Pres Headlee said that he thinks movie viewing should not become a weekly thing anymore. So once or twice on p-day we could watch a nice church move. I want to watch those "Work and the Glory" movies, cuz Ive never seen them.

I will be sending many pictures in a separate email.

Today we had a cool experience, we got to go see what an African funeral is like. There was a member of the church, who was actually baptized by Elder Parsons just in April, that past away 2 Tuesdays ago. He was about 30 years old I would say, I noticed most that he studied the Book of Mormon a lot, and even had created his own tabs for the books. He is the only member of his family right now. But when he was younger, he had to get a shot for something. Unfortunatly here, many times they do not do the shot correctly, and do some pretty big damage. That had happened to him, and he pretty much walked on his hands, his legs were pretty much unusable. But about a month ago, he went to the hospital, and they were pretty sure he had a hernia. He was in and out of the hospital 3 or 4 times, had surgery once. But 2 weekends ago, after he had stayed in the hospital for about 10 days after surgery, he went home. He actually seemed to be doing better, making improvement. But then on Tuesday, we went back to the hospital, and later that day he passed away.

So today was l'enterrement, but before they took him to the village. They had a service thing, I don't know the name. But funerals are interesting and different here. We got there a little late, but the Gates' told me the branch president said some things, and some other of his relatives. But when we got there, there was music and dancing, people caring the coffin around in circles and chanting stuff. Sister Gates told me to get a video of the music and dancing, so I did. But those kinds of things are always good to go to I think, to see what other cultures do. For me, I'm just thankful to have a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, and I wish that all those other people there could have it too.

Also things with Elder Bally and I are going a lot better as of late. We were having some difficulties, mostly with what manner to go about doing missionary work. But now its better, I think he has realized that I am not going to completely change and teach how he likes, and I don't expect him to do the same thing. Its still kind of hard to find middle ground, but its going a lot better. Et ça ira.

Elder Palmer and Elder Bally

Oh, we will also be moving apartements this Monday. President wanted to have more missionary apartements in the areas that we work, and we have one that we cleaned today and Elder Bally and I will move there with Elder Tingey and Elder Kesler. But then there is another one, and we may have to wait up to 2 months to go there, but Elder Bally and I (assuming we are both still here) will move down there again later. I don't like moving.

All the Elders and Souer Gates while cleaning the new apartment.

Just so you know, I've eaten all the candy you guys sent me, thanks for everything again, except I still have the cookies. I didn't realize until this morning that I have to make them, so that's pretty much the only reason why I haven't eaten them yet.

Eric's dinner of rice, french fries, ketchup and mayo.

So I just sent the pictures, I hope they got there successfully. Enjoy the hot humid weather. I wouldn't actually be surprised if its hotter chez vous than it is ici.

Je vous aime bien,
- Eric

A "green" at a local golf course.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Eric's email of July 22nd, 2010

Two emails put together-the first to Mom and siblings and the second to Mark.

Hey Kid! (His sister always starts her letter with "Hey Kid")

Well I got your guys' package this week! The one you sent to Douala. President Headlee brought it back down on his flight. So yeah, that was pretty sweet. I am going slowly through the candy, though, today is p=day though so I might have a feast, and if lots of other missionaries get into it, something bad could happen. And I also got the New Era Mom sent, thanks for that one also. Mom, you said you might try to send something to the Pointe-Noire PO Box, but you sent that here, didn't you? I think stuff like that in those envelopes should be fine. But yeah, merci beaucoup. I haven't read the soccer article. I started reading the other Ensign before the New Era, so I haven't read the soccer one yet, but I'll get there.

So food prep is going ok, I think I'm gonna start making peanut sauce more often, one because its delish, and two so I'll be able to prepare it bien myself soon. But it is possible to make fajitas, and there are actually 2 grocery store places here, and last week we baught Lebanese bread, which works. The 2 grocery stores are called "Park 'n' Shop" and "Casino's". They are pretty expensive, so we don't buy very much there. And as for milk, you can find some kind of real from-a-cow milk, but its weird and expensive. So one of the first things I eat when I get home is a fat bowl of sugary cereal with real, super cold milk.

Oh, and also thanks for the birthday card and the ties, I'm wearing the light blue one right now. And again I apologize, I didn't bring my camera today, because I went straight from the sector to the cyber café, so sorry. But Grandma did tell me about a hilarious picture of Dad trying to stack golf balls. (Family game night.) That would be nice to see. Oh, and also tell all the young men thanks for the stuff, I read all their letters, and I was going to write down the names of who wrote me so I could tell you to specifically thank them, but I forgot to do that. So I'll write it in my agenda to do it next week.

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Les Réponses Rapides:

So, for Pioneer Day, I don't really know what's happenning. I don't know if anyone even knows that its going to be Pioneer Day. Here, unlike Bonabéri, we the missionaries are out of the loop as for planning church lessons or activities, besides baptisms or "une activité missionaire", so I don't know if either of the branches is planning on doing anything pioneery.

So my shoes are fine, they don't look nearly as nice as they used to, but the brown shoes' sole started peeling, but back in Bonabéri I bought some super heavy duty super sticky super glue, squished it in between the shoe and the sole, and its held up so far. Speaking of those brown shoes, Elder Gates told me he has the same ones.

Socks are holding up pretty good-ish. I started with 2 pairs of each color, now it seems like I'm down to 1 and 1/2 of each color, but I got some for Christmas, and I steal them from other missionaries sometimes.

Alright, I'll think about what could be could to send that would be small, I'll get back to you on that. Elder Lee suggested an i-Pod or Sports Illustrated. I don't know.

So Elder Bally is from Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. That's the capital. He also has his village somewhere, but I forgot the name. But Elder Bally is the only member in his family. He found the church when he was 12, and got baptized when he was 13. He told me he had neighbors that were members of the church, and he started hanging out with them for family night. Then from that, went to church and said he just liked how that family and the church prays (here, or maybe just in french "to pray" or "prier" can mean more than just say a pray, but just like how you worship or whatever). He said at first his parents would not give him permission to get baptized, but eventually they did. And so to this day he is still the only member of his family, and his parents weren't the biggest fans of him going on a mission, but obviously they came around again.

So that's pretty much his conversion story. He really likes deep doctrine and stuff like that, he loves reading "Doctrine du Salut" by Joseph Fielding Smith. So he knows more stuff like that than me. On Sunday night we had a weekly planning that basically turned into companionship inventory. I told President Headlee in my email to him this week that this will most likely be the most learning-filled transfer of my mission so far. So yeah, progress to be made there. But I don't know if I said this last week, but I have learned how to contact a lot better from Elder Bally.

Anyways, the funniest thing that someone said to me this week... so this is going to be a pretty weird something that I'll tell you. So for about the past couple weeks, some chick kept calling mine and Elder Bally's phone, and she would always ask for Elder Palmer. She would call and make her number unknown, to trick us or something. I remember at first I thought she said her name was Grace. I didn't know who she was, she would always tell us we have a rendezvous. But we don't, so I just told her to come to church if she wants to talk with the missionaries. But it was the worst Monday and Tuesday morning. Now this lady said she is called Divine, kept calling for Elder Palmer and said we had a rendezvous. But Tuesday morning she was calling like crazy, and Elder Bally just turned the phone off. But I turned it on, and told Elder Lee to answer it for me, and tell her to stop calling. So Elder Lee answers, she says its Divine, but she thinks its Elder Palmer. Elder Lee asks why she is calling and stuff like that. Then I don't here what she said, but in English Elder Lee said, "oh! well that's a big problem." and then he started laughing. He said he is not Elder Palmer, but Elder Palmer is not allowed to have friends like that, and than she didn't really say anything and hung up. After the call, Elder Lee said she was saying some stuff in french, but didn't understand her and told her he didn't understand, and then in English she said "I love you!". So yeah, after that she didn't call since, I think. Weird. It was pretty funny, though.

So this morning at 5:30 AM, we did something I hadn't done in a while. We played basketball! And on an awesome court that looks like NBA Street. I'm gonna take a picture of it for you, but its next to a little bar and a graffiti-ed wall and burning pile of garbage. And its euro-style. Ah, it was awesome. I shot horribly, I blame it on the slightly bent forward rim, but I literally missed 25 layups probably. I don't have any motor skills anymore. But we played 4 on 4 and Elder Gates even played with us. I'll just get you a picture so you can see its awesomeness.

Elder Gates shooting over all the younger Elders while wearing the same 1998 U of U champion T-shirt as Eric. No wonder Eric likes him so much.

We also had a mini zone conference Monday evening. One interesting thing, is that President says they are going to open up Gabon and the Central African Republic soon, as in this year! And that President could send North American missionaries to both of those places! So that would be cool beans.

So what could you send that would be small and nice... gosh, I don't know. I can't think of anything I don't have that I want or would be able to use. Sour Patch Kids are small and nice.

Well have fun adjusting back into Virginia. I can't believe its the end of July almost! Time to get ready for school soon for Andrea and Jacob and Scott!

Je vous aime,
- Elder Palme

Eric's email of July 15th, 2010

Well first off, all the dumb computers in this cyber café are dumb, so my usb thing doesn't fit in any computer. So next week I will just bring my chord to connect to the computer, so sorry I can't send any photos again today. I did take a lot of good ones. With the Gates' and the branch president of la branche d'Aéroport, Pres Caillet, we went up north somewhere for the first part of p-day. I had already gone there once with the Baxter's, but I didn't have a camera then, and we planned on playing American football. But like I said, next week I'll have some good pictures.

Oh, and I already told you that Elder Buck went the SUU, and lived on my same hall. And today we found out that we have a 3rd Thunderbird here! Elder Gates went to school at SUU as well!

So now on to Dad's questions. I don't really know what holidays people celebrate here. I know where the was the huge "enterrement" after the train accident, a whole lot of shops and boutiques and such were closed. That's not really a holiday, but people didn't work. Ah, I can't remember, but I feel like there was one since I got here. I bet wikipedia could help you, I know they do have an Independence Day. The World Cup is kind of like a holiday, you can always here the buzzing of the crowd.

So now that the World Cup is over, not that much has changed actually. We don't have to worry about scheduling rendezvous during matches anymore, but besides that not much else. I think after the last Africa team, Ghana, went down, so did some of the peoples' interest. Like Elder Bally, he told me he supported nobody, because there were no African countries left.

Thanks for reminding me about Pioneer day. I don't know if people at church have planned on teaching about that yet, but that would be something great for them. It just shows how many sacrifices some people made to have the church become the blessing it is today. But I bet they would relate to those stories, and it would also give them a little push, too.

So yeah, I still run in the mornings, but its harder to get some one to run with me. I started with Elder Ritchie and Elder Parsons, but Ritchie finished his mission and Parsons is in Bonabéri. Now I've gotten Elder Buck and Elder Lee. But I remember Elder Lee and I tried to do this in Bonabéri, and after 2 weeks we failed. I'm already used to this, but I don't know how long Elder Lee will last. He is a bit sick, so he's not going tomorrow, and Elder Buck needs to buy longer socks, because the back of his heel was bleeding at the end of Wednesday's run. But yeah, I still run. And I'll be ready for that 10k. When is the Ukrops 10k?

So the reason I took out some money, was for things to buy, that I don't buy with the missionary money, because they were basically souvenir type things, that will remain undisclosed at this time so you will be surprised later. But yeah, I got the 20,000 FCFA, and I don't think I got a service fee or anything.

So actually yeah, about Elder Leake's mission call. (A newly called missionary from our ward going to Mozambique.) I've pretty much told everyone in my apartement that I'll have another kid from my ward on the same continent as me. And I also know he'll love it. But I don't know much about it, I just asked Elder Chirwa, who is from Zambia, and he said right now "it's cold" there. I don't know how cold you Americans would think that is, but for me, one thing I wished I brought was a jacket, and I want to find a blanket or something for my bed, cuz I'm getting darn cold at night sometimes. But I should be able to find a jacket for cheap. But anyways, I was surprised but happy that Spencer got called to Africa too.

So yeah, Mom asked more about what I have been making. This week I got in a food group thing with Elder Lee and his comp, Elder Lamm, and Elder Tingey. I'll tell you what the food menu is for this week. Thursday: la sauce d'arachid (peanut sauce, and Elder Mbuyi is teaching us how to make it well tonight), Friday: mangezvous with "la maman des missionaries", a member at church, Saturday: burgers and fries, Sunday: Pizza (Elder Lee's specialty), Monday: Pres Headlee is taking us out because we will have a mini-zone conference, Tuesday: Spaghetti, Wednesday: Taco Goodness. So there's the diner menu. For breakfast, we plan on making pancakes, french toast (the Gates' found a really good bread place), or sandwiches from the guy by the round point by the apartement, or corn flakes with powder milk. So we are pretty much set. But thanks for the suggestions Mom, I plan on putting that fruit syrup suggestion into practice.

Elder Lee just said Dora the Explorer "is so fine". Don't worry, it was a joke. Dora the explorer was on the TV here, and Elder Lee has done 21 months on his mission, so he is starting to loose his marbles. Its good to be in the same apartement with him again, because we have fun, but are also missionaries when we need to. We always tell each other what NBA or NFL jerseys we saw during the day.

Anyways, life with Elder Bally is getting better. There are 2 Christlike attributes that I am working on, and will have to improve or I will go crazy. They are humility and patience. Humility, because Elder Bally has told me more than once basically that I'm not good at contacting, and that I don't retain scriptures well. He told me if I eat more chocolate, I will remember scripture references better. And patience, because he likes to teach his way, which is taking forever on one principal. Yesterday, we taught the ministry of Christ 4 times, and I was not enjoying it very much. Elder Bally knows a lot, and he knows a lot of Bible verses. It is taking us too long to get to the good stuff, like the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. And, he doesn't like companionship study very much, but this past week I got him to read with me in Prechez Mon Evangile (Preach my Gospel) after we planned the day. We started in chapter one, and hopefully I can help him and he can help me. He already knows pretty much every thing and every verse necessary, but I hope to help him learn to teach the ministry of Christ in 5 minutes. Normally, we spend 25 - 30 minutes on that. If I start, I teach it simply, talk about apostles and Christ giving power to them, and I like Ephesians 2:19-20, and then briefly the Atonement. But when I finish, he likes to talk about Luke 10:1 which talks of the 70 disciples and explain everything he knows. And I don't say this to sound like I know how to teach perfectly and stuff like that, but we need to get to the Restoration sooner, and not waste time on the seventy, or show every verse that God is not a spirit. So that's my big goal for Elder Bally and I. I know yours prayers would help.

But we do have a couple people progressing well. One is Frère Marley, he was a cordonnée from Salvy (a recent convert). He is progressing well, is programmed for the 7e of August to get baptized. And everything is good, we've almost taught everything, but there is one thing that I have also seen happen with several other people on my mission. Frère Marley lives with his brother, his older brother, I believe. And, his old brother has an unnecessary poster on his wall, no details needed, just know that it is something that does not invite the spirit. And so the day we fixed his baptism date, he asked what he needed to do to completely prepare himself. So we talked about faith, repentance, scripture study, church attendance, all that. And specifically, I told him he needs to take that poster off the wall. Then he informed me that it is his brother's. So I said ok, well why don't you ask your brother to take it down. He said, that would be very difficult. So I said, explain to him why he doesn't want that poster and even share your testimony a little bit. Then, Frère Marley, whom I love, went into "well, in Africa" mode. "Well, in Africa" is when people tell me that they don't know how things are done in America in my culture, but here that is not acceptable. He said, that that kind of stuff gives his brother and other people who choose that kind of stuff, and feeling of "orgeuil", which is like bad pride. And if he was to approach his brother about that, it would cause problems. After the lesson, I wrote in my agenda that "I'm sick of people fearing African culture more than God". Not to diss African culture, because that probably happens in New Zealand or Russia or Argentina or California or anywhere, but I hate that excuse. That makes me just think or the scripture that say "God is no respecter of persons", something like that. The commandments don't change according to what continent you live on.

But yeah, besides a few new challenges I'm having life is actually good. I'm actually happy right now. I've almost finished reading the Liahona general conference issue in french. I can pretty much read and understand everything now, unless its simply just a word I don't know. But yeah, the mission is the best.

Je vous aime,
- Eric

p.s. Jacob, I'll take you up on that (new speed slides at Lava Hot Springs, Idaho) and we are going off the top platform together at Lava Hot Springs when I get back.

p.p.s. Enjoy the vacation and tell everyone I love them!

Eric email of July 7, 2010

Hey Kids!

So before I forget, because I forgot last week. 2 weeks ago, I took out 20,000 FCFA from the bank with my debit card. I had been looking around other places to find out how much they would give me for my just normal American money. I thought I had found this one place that would give me about 525 CFA per dollar if I brought in $100 or more. But it turns out they want it only in the form of $100 bills, so for my five $20 bills they were only going to give me 400 CFA per dollar. Later I found one other place for 450 CFA per dollar. But yeah, I know I took that money out without telling you, but Dad you could check to see how much money that was in dollars and stuff. Dumb banks.

Well I'm glad everyone is enjoying vacation time, especially the Big J Ranch thing, (Bar J Ranch in Jackson Hole, WY) I remember that. And the food there. (Big chuck wagon dinner) Right now its 3 in the afternoon and I haven't eaten since this morning my bowl of corn flakes with powder milk and water. So that makes my stomach hurt to think about.

But things here are good, life with my new companion is going well. But there are differences than with other companions I've had before. But amazingly, I have been able to understand pretty much everything Elder Bally says the first or second time. I would have to definitely say that Mom's and everyone's prayers have helped with that. But sometimes the Congolese people have trouble understanding him, and Elder Bally also knows it himself, so he usually slows down a bit if he has to.

But I expect that Elder Bally and I will be able to learn a lot from each other too.

So yeah, things are going well and will improve I believe, just got to make sure those amis keep their commitments above all. Oh, and so you call someone from the Ivory Coast, or la Cote d'Ivoir, an "Ivoirian". Elder Bally has already served in both Kinshasa and Brazzaville, and this is now his second transfer here in Pointe-Noire. So yeah, that's that right now.

Oh yeah, and some other big news that I'm sure you will love to hear: the new couple arrived yesterday! At 5 AM! It is Elder and Soeur Gates. They are from Orange County, California. I haven't talked too much with them yet, but last night we went out to dinner at this place called "La Citronelle" (I got a cheeseburger and fries for 4,500) and I learned they grew up in Salt Lake City, both of them, and Elder Gates is a general contractor. But they will do great, and Sister Gates especially is excited it be here. And I apologize, cuw I wont be able to send photos this week, and I don't even have one with the Gates' yet, but this stupid computer I'm on was build weird so I can't plug in my USB thing. But next week I'll have pics of Elder Bally and the Gates' and cool choses (things) like that.

And so for the rest of this transfer: tomorrow, Elder Parsons is going up to Cameroon, to work in Bonabéri, my old place. At first we thought everyone was staying in Pointe-Noire, but that turned out not to be the case. And coming down to replace Elder Parsons is Elder Lee, my old comp! Elder Lee goes home in 2 transfers, so it will just be like the past 2 transfers I had with Elder Ritchie, living with a missionary who goes home soon, ugh. And tomorrow we also will get 3 brand new missionaries that land at 5 AM. I hear most are from Utah and Idaho. So yeah, that's the transfer. Exciting.

So with the mission split, (The Democratic Republic of Congo mission is now two missions) I don't know a lot about Louboumbashi because I never went there are knew anyone that went there. So I don't know about those cities at all. But our mission is still Douala (5 companionships), Yaoundé (6 companionships), Pointe-Noire (6 companionships), and Brazzaville and Kinshasa and others that I don't know. But I have heard from Elder Bally that President started having people look in Brazza for an area and apartement where North American elders could serve, so we could hear about that and some future mutation. (Right now North American Elders only serve in the cities of Douala, Yaounde and Pointe-Noire. African missionaries serve in the other cities in the DRC.)

Ok, Dad, so that spinach-like, grass-like thing you are talking about, I'm pretty sure its what they call, "saka saka", here (correct spelling). And I just got confirmation from Elder Mbuyi that "manioc" is spelled like that. But I think Dad is talking about "saka saka", which is called other things in different parts of Congo. But yeah, that stuff is good on rice. Its basically grass, when you look at it. I have a picture I'll send next week with both "saka saka" and "manioc". And Dad, you should go to that African food store and ask for manioc, I think that is a pretty universal term in Congo, at least.

But yeah, speaking of food, I'm not a good chef. I tried to make peanut sauce this week, but it was tooooo watery. It tasted ok, but toooooooo watery. Elder Mbuyi is going to make it tomorrow for the new elders and the Gates, so I'll watch a master at work. I also need to add some more things to my repertoire. I don't know how long I can go on pancakes and spaghetti and cereal and not good peanut sauce.

Well that's my life right now pretty much. I do wish that I could be out with all the family in Utah and Idaho and Wyoming with everyone. Tell everyone I say "mboté" (bonjour in Lingala) to everyone and that I love them.

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Eric's email of July 1, 2010

Hey, whats up?

(Do you know anyting about transfers?) So yeah, I've got transfer news. I'm staying in Pointe-Noire, but I'm changing sectors. Actually, I'm just going back to part that used to be in my sector my first transfer here, but we split it and gave it to a new companionship. But now I'll just be going on the other side of the grand avenue, and I'll have a new companion. His name is Elder Bally, he's from the Ivory Coast. He's already been in Pointe-Noire for a transfer, so I kind of know him, he's cool. The only potential issue, is that his French is hard to understand sometimes. I've heard that Ivory Coast French is different anyways, but that Elder Bally's accent is pretty heavy. But I bet I'll get used to it. And those transfers are in effect tomorrow. (Is your new companion in a past picture?) Yeah, I think I remember the picture, it is indoors, right? If it is that one, he is the African elder to the left of me. (See June 22nd posting.)

Alright, I'm gonna make a phone call real quick and get the mailing address for here:

Elder Eric Palmer
Eglise de Jésus-Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours
P.O. Box 1052
Pointe-Noire, Republique du Congo

So there you go. And I would probably follow the same rules for packages you would send to Douala, nothing too big. And make sure the name of the Church is on anything.

(Do you get The New Era? There is an article in June's edition about a soccer team.) No, we do not get the New Era, I don't think that is in French. I think the Liahona is the only thing translated into all these languages. But now inside the Liahona they have sections like the Friend and the New Era. But we pretty much only get the General Conference Liahonas, and they come a couple months late. So you can send me that article if you want, Mom.

(Mark's email)

So Congo, and pretty much anyone in Africa, is supporting Ghana. They will give you trash talk like they play on the Ghana national team themselves. Not everyone, but some people. I was hoping the USA would beat Ghana, so that no one could make fun of us, but that didn't happen, unfortunately. But if people here can cheer for anyone from Africa like that, I guess the American continent still has (or did have at least) Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.

What is the weather like these days? And is it much different than what is going on in Cameroon? Does being on the other side of the equator make much of a difference?)The weather is actually kind of nice here. In the mornings when we run, its actually cold. Cold that I even want to wear a jacket sometimes. I might buy a light jacket sometime soon, by the way. Right now its cooler than Douala, but Yaoundé can still get cooler. I think mainly the other side of the equator just switches rainy season and dry season. Here its dry season, up in Cameroon its rainy season. (Speaking of other side of the equator, what direction does the water swirl when it goes down the drain? Clockwise or counter clockwise?) And I checked that water swirling thing, and I thought it was going to spin the other way. If you tell me in the next email what direction it spins up there, I'll check. One time I checked that by flushing the toilet, but it just looked like it flushed straight down to me.

(What side of the road do people drive on? I assume right… and that it’s the same across Africa.) In Africa, almost everyone drives on the right side of the road, like here in Congo and in Cameroon. But South Africa drives on the left, because England settled them, I guess, and I think Madagascar drives on the left. Might be others, but the most part is the right side of the road.

What are the three most common brands/models of cars in the Congo? Any makes that we wouldn’t recognize here in the states? Ah, Dad, you are asking car questions, and I have little to no knowledge on that. I do know that the taxis are all Toyota Corolla. Not the exact same as the scooter at home, (the teenager mobile) but they all say Toyota Corolla on them. I asked Elder Ritchie who is sitting next to me, and he says Toyota is the most common. One time I saw a Ford I think. But I haven't seen any brands that I've never heard of. Maybe some of the models are different, but I think all the brands here se trouvent aux Etats-Unis.

So biggest news is about the baptism from Saturday. Elder Parsons and I had 4 amis de l'église get baptized: Frère Matsinga, Frère Fabrice, Souer Berline, and Frère Boris. We were expecting two other people, but they were out of town for the weekend, because of a funeral, so hopefully they'll be there for the next service. But these new converts are going to be really strong members, I think. First off, Frère Matsinga could seriously be like Elders Quorum President if they needed him. Frère Fabrice is also just someone we found on the road one day who asked us who we were, and was pretty much already prepared by the Lord to change his life and keep all the commandments. I believe I have already recounted his story of smoking 10 times a day to nothing in 2 weeks. Those 2, Frère Matsinga and Frère Fabrice just need to lead their families into the church now. Since they are the cheifs of the family, they can help us talk to the whole family and lead them to church and stuff. Souer Berline is a yong womens age girl, who doesn't have a whole lot of facts and info from the Bible, but I think she basically just felt the Spirit at church and received a confirmation to her prayers that the Church is true. And then she followed it. It also helped that she has cousins and a grandma who are members of the church. And then Frère Boris, he's one who took some time and some exhorting to get his life in order, but it finally happened. We actually lost contact with him a couple months ago, but about 4 weeks ago, I saw him while we were in a taxi, he saw us, and I yelled out to him to be at church. He's been back at church ever since, he actually made a bunch of changes by himself since we lost contact, and we progressed smoothly to his baptism thankfully. The best thing all they can do now is be examples for their families.

Also for the baptism, the pump wasn't working. We had to fill up the indoor font by buckets. When we finally got more missionaries and people there to help us it wasn't bad, but at first things looked not so good. It would've been cool to have a beach baptism, maybe one day. But we got the font filled up even though we started about an hour late, then we had English class immediately after. This week I taught in English class numbers and date and time.

Well, I'll be a little bit sad to leave this sector. But the blessing is that I will see all the people who progress and that I like the best at church each Sunday at least. We have another family who is progressing nicely, and on Tuesday the father, Falvin, asked us "Qu'est-ce qu'on doit faire pour se faire baptiser?" That's always a question I like to be asked.

I also learned a couple good life skills this week. I learned how to make pancakes, and I learned how to make peanut sauce. For the pancakes I also learned how to make syrup, but its too runny (I don't know if Mom would have any idea how to made syrup more thick maybe?) And peanut sauce is a very African something. You buy this stuff that is basically peanut butter without sugar, and just make it like tomato sauce. Its really good just on rice. Oh, and Dad if you still know that African food store, you can go there and ask if they have stuff for peanut sauce. And one other thing that would be interesting if they had, is called "manioc". Not sure on spelling. But I don't know of a real African meal without manioc.

Well I hope you lucky dogs enjoy this family vacation dealio. I wish I could be there, and eat Oreos off my forehead. (Minute to Win It game with cousins) But thanks for all you do for me, and pray that I will receive the gift of interpretation of tongues.

Je vous aime,
- Eric