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.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eric's email of August 26th, 2010

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Dang it, p-days keep getting over booked, don't have a whole lot of time so I have to write all this as fast as I can. Sorry in advance for typos, feel free to correct. And this is an English/Arabic keyboard, and I'm used to French. We'll see how this goes.

I don't really have any plans to celebrate my one years old day, partly because I have barely enough money to eat this week and because our p-day got over booked. Next week, and from now on, I need to write in my agenda some rest time and study time. I don't like doing a whole bunch of junk every darn p-day. But Elder Acorda says we will celebrate my 1 year mark next week.

(From Mark- Do the sports updates that I send to you detract from the spirit or are they a good (and appropriate) diversion for you)? I don't have any problems with the sports updates, and I don't think they distract me. Can't believe college football is starting already, and that this is the last one ill miss.

Alright, so the questions about Pointe-Noire. First is the 3 most memorable people or whatever Dad called it (in no particular order):

- Frere Dieudonne Matsinga and family. He was a coordonnee we got, and was pretty much ready before we even talked to him. He fasted every day for 2 weeks before his baptism, only eating each evening. Pretty darn impressive. He is currently leading his family into the church, who had been Catholics since forever. I wasn't in his sector the last transfer, but his wife and 2 oldest kids came the last 4 or 5 weeks I was there.

- Frere Fabirce. We always say that coordonnees are a lot more successful than normal contacts taken by the missionaries. But Fabrice was easily one of the best and most ready people that was not a coordonnee (he pretty much contacted Elder Parsons and I), and just one of the best people I've met on my mission. Before his baptism he stopped smoking 10 times a day to nothing in 3 weeks. His scripture marking and underlining is the most beautiful I have ever seen. The suits and ties he wears to church on Sunday are legit. One time he gave us a commentary on his reading of Jacob chapter 7 that was incredible. He taught me at each one of our rendezvous.

- Frere Boris. He was an ami before I got there, but soon after we lost contact with him. Then one day while Parsons and I were in a taxi, I saw him, and yelled out to him "Boris, viens a l'eglise!" That Sunday he came back, and has been back ever since, and got baptized at the end of July. He told me after I said that, he prayed and asked if he should really be at this church. He told me he had a dream where he saw me and Elder Parsons and the church. Before he was kind of iffy, but now he is the man. He even came to the airport the day I left Pointe Noire and gave me a free pair of shoes (right now his job is selling shoes), and even helped me when they wouldn't let my by the security because of some dumb passport excuse.

Sorry, not enough time, but Dad remind me one more time next week and Ill give you my top 3 experiences from Pointe Noire.

This past week was better, last week in my email Pres Headlee told me about 'abundant thought', and to write one in our agenda each day. So I tried it, and I've seen a difference, especially in being sensitive to the Spirit. Yesterday we also had an English lesson, and I forgot how to say the word "apostasy" in English. But this anglophone we were teaching, we had left him a brochure last week, and he gave one of the best, simplest, easiest to understand explanations of prophets, Christ's ministry, the apostasy, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. He also said after he was done reading he just started praying. The man.

Like Jacob said, Ill see you in 365 days-ish. Crazy to think it has been a year. Kind of scary, actually. Today, this morning, I wasn't "trunky", but I was just thinking about what it will be like to get home, and it felt really close. Decided that I just need to focus and work my hardest so I can get every single blessing possible out of the rest of my time. Scott and Jacob and Andrea, even, seriously a mission is the best possible thing.

Je vous aime beaucoup!
- Eric

Eric and Elder Wilkins-his MTC companion
on their halfway day!!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eric's email of August 18, 2010


Just so you know, next week I'll respond to those 2 questions Dad asked me about Pointe Noire. Put that in the email again next week to remind me, but I will stew over that a bit during the week. I wrote it in my agenda, so that I won't forget.

(Where did you get the Virginia T-shirt you are wearing on the golf course?) So first thing about that Virginia shirt. I bought that in the MTC. At first Elder Wilkins and I went there to see if there was a Congo shirt or something, so we put in an order, and then we got the paper back saying that the item we ordered does not exist. And for some reason at that point, I thought I needed another t-shirt, so I got a Virginia shirt. Now, I have toooo many t-shirts. So that's how I got that.

(Did you get your last package before you left Pointe-Noire?) Also I did not get that package before I left, but I'll get it eventually. Whenever the Headlees come, they can take stuff in their baggage between Cameroon and Congo and such, so Elder Bally and I will probably get our stuff from the Headlees at some point. I just hope that Elder Lee or other missionaries in Pointe Noire don't eat the food if there is any.

(What is Yaounde like?) So yeah, pretty much Yaoundé is green and beautiful. It reminds me of Virginia. There are trees all over like at home, but here here all the dirt is red. I will be sending some pictures. Elder Lee told me this before I left, and its definitely true, that Yaoundé is the most well off and eye appealing place in the mission. So green...

The climate is a lot like the climate I experienced at Pointe Noire, but a little bit hotter. Also it should be rainy season sometime soon, and I'm not looking forward to that. Especially after rain stops and then the sun is out, that is the worst. But right now its ok, and I did just yesterday finally buy a jacket (for $5) when I'm a little bit chilly in the morning or evening.

(How is the food with Elder Acorda? Do you do extra chores for him since he seems to be the cook?) So food with Elder Acorda is really good, but I do help him so I don't have to do extra chores. And I actually have some kitchen skills now, if that's hard to believe. But in our apartement, which is our district of 3 companionships, we have a new dinner program. 6 nights a week, we do community, which means we pay for everything together and stuff, and each companionship will have 2 nights where they cook and everything. Elder Acorda and I are doing it tonight. We will be making Nbongo Tchobi, which is this black sauce that we will have with meat and rice, I assume. I'll send a picture later. And the other night, we are on our own. Elder Acorda and I will go get poisson bresé from a fish lady.

(How many elders are in Yaoude?) So in Yaoundé there are 12 missionaries plus the senior couple. The couple is called the Thompsons, they are from Canada, but Sister Thompson was born in Panama. They have been in Yaoundé for 3 months I believe. They are a great couple too, they picked up me and Elder Kesler in Douala, took us to a pizza place for lunch, and then drove us to Yaoundé. There are 2 districts, Ekonou and Bastos. My sector is Bastos C, and I am part of the Bastos 1 branch. There is also the Bastos 2 branch and the Ekonou branch, soon there should be 2 Ekonou branches. Elder Wilkins is in my apartement, so we are together again. Our apartement is nicknamed "the fortress", because it is pretty big.

So I'm excited to work with Elder Acorda, but we have a lot of work to do. Especially because the week before I got here Elder Acorda was pretty much sick the whole time and had malaria. We don't have many amis right now, so we are contacting and figuring out the best ways to get quality amis. Also our sector is pretty darn big, I've never had a sector this large, so I'm trying to figure out how to best schedule and not spend for darn ever traveling.

So that's pretty much Yaoundé right now. But we have found a couple new good amis, Rosaline and Joseph. We just started teaching them Monday, and a couple days ago we were talking about the Book of Mormon, and Joseph asked us one of the funniest questions I heard. Since the Book of Mormon deals with the people of the American continent, he asked if that's where the phrase "God bless America" comes from. They are French speakers, so he asked all that in French, except he said "God bless America" in English. It made me laugh.

Well enjoy the last moments of summer, next time I email you I will be 1 years old. Weird that it happened so fast.

Je vous aime,
- Elder Palmer

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eric's email of August 12th, 2010

Alright, I apologize, I don't know if I will respond to all of your questions today, I don't have very much computer time, but I have a few important things I need to tell you about.

First one, is that I got transferred! To Yaoundé! I leave tomorrow at 11 AM! I actually got the news last Friday, because our zone leader Elder Chirwa called Elder Bally to tell him that he has been transferred to Kinshasa, and he told Elder Bally that I was transferred to Yaoundé. I was kind of surprised, I've only done 3 transfers here, feels like I got here just yesterday. I am going to miss people here, most of all the recent converts I worked with, and the nice church building and things like that. But I'm also really excited to go to Yaoundé. And one big reason is because I'm going to be with Elder Acorda. Elder Acorda would have been my MTC companion if I had got to the MTC in July like it was at first. He told me how he showed up in the MTC and was sad because he had no companion for about a day. But he is 5 ft 3, max. But he is a short Filipino, was born in the Philippines but moved to Canada sometime when he was young. But he cooks darn good food, and always takes care of other missionaries. So, pretty much its going to be sweet.

So that's the biggest news. I'll tell you what Yaoundé is like next week. But last weekend we also had our baptismal service, and Elder Bally and I had 3 people baptized, Frère Marley, Frère Omarice, and Souer Aud. Also I baptized someone from my old sector that Elder Lee and Elder Lamm finished with, Souer Charline. Next week I'll send the baptism picture. But next week when I send the picture I'll talk a bit about each one of them, but maybe the coolest thing is about la Souer Aud. She is a 12 year old niece or daughter of a member. Its hard to figure that out with these huge African families. And also her brother is a member. But before her baptism, we would have her dad or her brother translate into Mounoukoutouba, because she doesn't speak French that well. But, I tell you this so that you know that the gift of tongues does exist. Her first lesson, Monday, the day after she was confirmed, we had a lesson at her house. And her brother didn't have to translate anything. She was even understanding my fat English accent! So it was either the gift of tongues or the gift of interpretation of tongues, or probably both.

(The senior couple in Pointe-Noire is Elder and Souer Gates. Their family in the US found Eric's blog and added some comments.) So I actually heard that the Gates' family got a hold of my blog a couple weeks ago. The Gates told me that all their kids found it and loved it, especially when I talked about their family. So, since the Gates family is going to read this, I will tell them that this morning that when we played basketball, Elder Gates stuffed some kid's shot. But I was glad to meet the Gates, they will be great missionaries here, and I know that a good missionary couple always makes our lives a lot better. And their French is also coming along well. Elder Gates finally learned how to say "soutien", which is the money we get each 2 weeks, and Soeur Gates can already go shopping by herself. Above all, she has the phrase "ça coute combien?" (it costs how much?) mastered.

So to answer one of Dad's questions, yes Congolais people are very religious. The other day someone told me that nearly 90 percent of the Republic of Congo is Christian, the other 10 percent is Muslim. But people here are a lot more religious overall than people chez nous, I think. Especially a large chunk of youth. I can think of only a handful of kids from high school who gave a darn about the Bible. But here, nearly anyone Christian has some kind of biblical knowledge. But often times, they just like to use it to Bible bash. Bible bashing gives me a headache...

So that's about all the time I have tonight, sorry its a bit shorter. We are going to dinner with the Gates' and all the missionaries at some Chinese restaurant tonight, and the Gates will be here soon to pick us up. And a free ride is always a lot better than paying 300 CFA to sit on a crowded as heck bus. Enjoy the end of summer while you can, kids, because I know Mom is excited for some peace and quiet.

Je vouse aime bien,
- Eric

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eric's email of August 5th, 2010

Alright, so first thing before I forget, is that a few weeks ago I asked about the brother of Elder Lamm, who is a new missionary here. Elder Lamm's brother goes to VCU and is a dental student, is married with 3 kids, probably in his 4th year, and his name is Brent Lamm. So he's probably somewhere out there in our ward or Gayton. Dad can check that.

Alright, quick questions:

So if I'm getting a 526 FCFA to American $$$, that is a lot better rate than what I can get with my cash. The best I found was 450 to the dollar. So, I'll probably do that from now on if I need some moola. They didn't with hold anything, I got the whole 20,000.

(Do you need to replace the white shirts and/or gray pants?) I don't think I'll need to replace the shirts or pants right now. If I lose and/or destroy anymore clothes, then maybe I might have to find something, and I should be able to find them here. But if I make these shirts and pants and everything last to the end, that'll be fine. And I think I will be able to.

(Do you have addresses for your apartments? Not for mailing things, but so that I can try to find your apartment on Google maps or some other mapping website.) Addresses for the apartements? Ha, il n'y en a pas. (They don't exist) At least nothing close to like it is in the US. Usually there is a number outside of each house or apartement thing, but I don't know the names of any roads or anything like that. And actually we are not moved into our new apartement yet, I'll tell you about that in a sec. But where we will be moving is in a neighborhood called "Lussala". I don't know if I spelled it right, but that's how it sounds. So its somewhere in Lussala, Pointe-Noire. If you happen to find "Fond Tie-Tie" on google world or whatever, its close to there.

So now I'll explain this whole apartement thing. At the end of last transfer, there were 10 missionaries living in basically a double apartement. And at the new transfer, it became 12 missionaries plus the Gates in Pointe-Noire, but 4 moved into a new apartement. So then we had 10 again in this double apartement. But this transfer they found 2 other new apartements. But 1 is still not ready today. The one that is still not ready, they thought it was going to take a long time, so Elder Bally and I were going to go to a new apartement that was ready, because it was closer to our sector, and then in a couple months move again. But now, that other one is supposed to be done soon. So 4 other elders moved to that new apartement that was ready, and Elder Bally and I are staying with Elder Lee and Elder Lamm and the Gates', and we evacuated half of the double apartement, so we only have one side now. And now, we are going to move to our new apartement in Lussala before the end of this transfer, hopefully. There is about a week and a half left in this transfer. And Elder Bally and I actually ran into the guy who is in charge of that apartement. He says everything should be done next week down there, except the wall they are supposed to put up that will separate our apartement from the neighboring one that is kind of connected. He told us it is hard to find cement, I don't know how true that is. So yeah, if all goes according to plan, we 4 should head out there soon. And we also want to find a different apartement for the Gates as well. So that's that right now.

(You mentioned that milk can be bought but it’s expensive and “different.” By any chance is it sterilized milk that comes in a box?) So as for milk, right now I use powdered milk if I drink it. If found this brand called Kerrygolds, and its the best of the powder milks. Doesn't clump, tastes ok. Not much more you can ask for here. There is also instant milk like that, but in goopy sugar concentrate form. I don't really like that one. But you can also buy actual milk, well I think its actual milk, at the real grocery stores. I actually plan on doing that tonight, because last week Sister Gates made us brownies and she gave us a little bit of that milk with it, and it was so much better than my powder milk. There probably is sterilized milk that comes in a box, but I've never had it. And Dad, I almost bought Nutella last week, but then I realized I didn't even have enough money on me to pay for the Nutella. And peanut butter is darn expensive here. I can't wait to go to Walmart again one day.

(Has "Divine" called you again?) Ha, so first off about the "Divine" that was calling. She hasn't called back ever since she talked to Elder Lee. So no worries there, haha.

(Grandpa Bob did not think the picture of rice and fries looked very appetizing.) So about the fries and rice mixture, I don't really know why we did that. The best reason I can give, is because then it is easier to eat. It was pretty good though, maybe Grandpa Bob could try that dish. Peanut sauce is still going well, I actually had left the meal group I was in with Elder Lee and Elder Lamm, because we thought that we were moving to different apartements. So last week I had bought food just for myself, and to make life easy, I had made a lot of peanut sauce and heated up in our microwave at the end of the day. So, I've eaten a lot of peanut sauce recently. But now that Elders Lee and Lamm and I are staying together, I'm back in their group. But I can't think of any new dishes I've had lately, I haven't actually had a "mangez-vous" in a long time either. I should fix that.

I don't think mangez-vous is a real word, but I'll tell you what it means to missionaries. So normally we say rendezvous, but if you have an appointement where you are going to eat food, it is a mangez-vous. And that word got created because "manger" means "to eat". So its just a rendezvous where you get fed.

So in Elder Bally and mine's sector, missionary work seems to be doing a bit better as of late. This weekend there will be a baptism, and we have 3 people who should get baptized. There are also a few others who are ready, but they need to wait for President Headlee to come first, because unfortunately a lot of people need that special interview deal.

But yesterday Elder Bally and I had a really good rendezvous with one amie de l'église, la Souer Grace. There are sooooo many Graces, both male and female, in this country that it is not even funny. But we have been teaching Grace for a little over 2 weeks now I think, and she came to church for the first time this past Sunday. But I usually enjoy her rendezvous for 2 reasons: one is because I can tell she is really sincere and wants to know where the truth is, and the other reason is because she usually asks us questions that I find humorous. But anyways, we saw her yesterday, and she told us about a dream she had the night before. In this dream, I don't know where she was, but there was this guy that came up and talked to her. And this guy was like a giant, because she said she never looked up so see his face, but he was just huge. But she asked him where she should go to church, and the giant guy replied by saying she should stay at the church she went to the past Sunday. Also, this giant guy read her a verse from the Book of Mormon. But she says she forgot what the verse talked about, or the reference. The only thing she remembers is that is was from the book of Nephi. So hopefully she finds that verse one day. And most of all I hope she realizes that dream was an answer to her prayers. This is just another example of how people and cultures that give more credit to their dreams and take them seriously, seem to receive items of significance through dreams. I hope that last sentence made sense.

Also today we had a lesson that was not in French. Elder Bally and I had a first rendezvous with someone, started talking, and we recognized that he didn't speak French too well. Then Elder Bally just went into Lingala, which is one of the 4 national languages here. He knows it, because he spent 6 months in Kinshasa, and all they speak there pretty much is Lingala. I was able to follow the lesson though, because they mix in French words.

So that's about that right now. We also played basketball again this morning. I still am not playing very well. I hope we play soccer soon, because I'm better at that. I hope everyone at home enjoys these last weeks of summer, that was the fastest summer ever. Scott, Jacob, and Andrea, don't be in denial. (about school)

Je vous aime,
- Eric