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, September 30, 2010

Eric's email of September 30, 2010

Hey Mom,
I actually saw a couple suggestions that you had, (for the branch mission plan) so I wanted to tell you about them before I forgot.
Actually I'll just respond to all you questions and such.
(We finally have rain in VA-how is it there?)  So the weather is rainy.  Well today it is.  I think Monday through Wednesday it didn't really rain, so it was hot as Hades.  My least favorite time is in the late afternoon when the sun is starting to set, and it hits me at an angle.  Especially when are in this one quartier, Emana, I feel like half of my face is going to burst into flames.
So we have made some progress on our branch mission plan, and today and Saturday we will take time to finish it all up, and present it to President Gwet (Branch President?) on Sunday after church.  But we have decided to print out the branch mission plan in French and English, because Bastos 1 is the bilingual branch, and also create another plan that will include the missionaries' responsibilites, so that this thing will work even when we leave, rather than just fall apart and be a waste of time.  Not this Sunday, but the following one, the missionaries will be giving the talks, presenting the branch mission plan and such.  And then we will make sure to make at least one visit to each member to present the plan to them and answer questions and such.  So it should be finished next week.   I could even email you guys a copy, but that is pretty much our biggest focus right now.
(Is the branch spread far and wide?)  And the branch is kind of spread out but not too much.  There are now 4 branches in Yaoundé, so its not as bad as when there were only 2.  But still, I think members should be able to go actually do home teaching, rather than visit after church for 5 minutes.  At our mission conference in Douala, Sister Watson shared a story about Sister Sitati (wife of Elder Joseph Sitati of the 70, may have spelled it wrong), about how she walked 45 minutes to an appointement, walked back home 45 minutes, then walked back to give the person she visited some rice because she was hungry another 45 minutes, and then walked back home again.  So I know it can be a bit harder, but still.  I don't want to sound frustrated, but there are just some problems that would get resolved if people fulfilled their callings, and didn't discriminate because people are from different tribes.
We didn't do our day of refreshing, because our program got filled up and now we actually have some decent progressing amis de l'église, with our branch mission plan planning sessions.  And as for the service project day, that got postponed, because the day before, the place where we were supposed to do service said they had not yet approved the service project.  What in the world is there to approve!?  We are doing service for you for free...
Anyways, I don't want to sound too frustrated, but lets just say that we have dealt with lots of "incrédules" this week.  But, I am a little bit.
Sorry, I keep forgetting about the Thompsons' email or blog, and they actually left today, and will be gone for a week in Kinshasa with all the missionary couples  for training with President Headlee.  But I wrote it down in a spot where I will remember this time.
Last week, I asked if we will be able to watch general conference live, and my companion just laughed at me.
(When you come home next fall, do you want to play soccer?)  And about being a soccer ref, that would be great, and I think I even said to Elder Acorda earlier this week that I'll need to join an adult soccer league when I get home.  So I would be very interested in those things.
(Remember to wash your hands....)  And right now I am actually washing my hands a lot and often, so don't worry.  Sister Thompson told us that Cholera or however its spelled, has become a problem in Cameroon recently, so we aren't buying fish anymore and she told us to wash our hands so that we don't die.
Ok, I'm going to jump over to Dad's email...
Je t'aime,
- Eric
Well Dad, sorry to dissapoint, but I have not kept up my running very well here.  I did it a few times, but no one really wanted to do it, and the runs were short, so now I'm just doing other little workout stuff in the morning.  But if someone else moves into my apartement who will be willing to do so, I'm going to pick it back up.
(Occasionally, you hear stories about missionaries being invited to extend their missions by a month. Do you know if that’s ever happened in your mission? (I’m not suggesting you need to do that, just curious if you’ve seen it happen.))  I have "heard", as in a rumor, that missionaries have been asked to extend.  And then the missionary turning down the invitation, if thats what you call it.  Actually I do know that the missionary that trained Elder Lee did get extended one month, I don't know if he really got asked.  But I know that it happens.
So, in Cameroon there are currently 5 branches, 4 in Yaoundé and 1 in Douala.  By the end of the year there should be 2 in Douala when they create the Bonabéri Branch.
(This question was from Mark and shows his Bishop mentality-Do you know how tithing is collected and accounted for in Cameroon? I was thinking that they don’t have a computer system in the branches but maybe that’s a bad assumption. Is there anything like a “Bishop’s Storehouse” in the country?)  I don't really have any idea about how tithing happens here.  I think they do have a computer though, and this week Elder Acorda and I talked a bit to President Balla of Bastos 2, and he had 2 laptops in his office.  So I'm pretty sure they do something with their computers to organize tithing and such, at least I hope so.  And I think there is something like a bishop's storehouse thing.
Well I mentioned this to Jacob, but one thing that I really started to miss this week was my saxophone.  I hope you haven't sold it. (It is still in Utah at Grandma and Grandpa Palmer's.)  Acorda and I walked by a pentacastol church, and there was someone inside practicing the sax.
But Elder Acorda and I had 2 notable successes this past week.  The best was that we finally got some more people to attend church on Sunday.  Like I said last transfer was a little frustrating, full of non-progressing amis, but now we have found some new ones and also received a few good coordonnées.  And the other victory was that we did not have to spend extra money on phone credit.  The phone system is basically pay as you go, and we get 5,000 FCFA each week for phone money.  And you can also choose from a good number of plans, we switched and were also just smarter with the phone (not letting anyone call other missionaries to play patty-cake and junk like that), so I didnt have to pull extra money out of my pocket for phone credit for the first time since I got to Yaoundé.
Well I'm glad you guys are getting some rain, Aunt Karen asked me for some this week, but I think it'll be easier if you send her some rain because you are closer so that California doesn't burn down.  So I think school has been in for almost a month now.  After my year mark, which I did not like because it made me "trunky", time has sped up again, if that was even possible.  Not much else to say, just pray that this branch mission plan works out, because its no use to get people in the church who become inactive 4 months later when the elders have been transferred.
Je t'aime,
- Eric

Bonjour Aunt Karen,
Its great to hear from you!  So first of all, I would love to send some rain your way.  Before coming to the internet café, Elder Acorda and I taught a lesson, and right as we finished, the rain started.  And we are too lazy to carry 2 umbrellas.  So even though Elder Acorda is about a foot shorter than me, its still hard to fit 2 under an umbrella.  I know that people here do not like to be out in the rain, but unfortunately I don't think we have much control over it.  But I do like the rain rather than the heat.
Tonight we are going to a members house on the other side of town, and rumor is that we will be eating crocadile and cat meat.  So if that is true, that will probably be the strangest things I have ever eaten.  And there is one animal that is all over the place here that isn't that common in the USA, and that is lizards.  Here and in Congo they are all over.  I don't know what kind of lizard, but they are about half a foot in length maximum, and are literally everywhere.  They don't bother anyone or do anything useful, though.
Well I hope you and the family are enjoying fall in California.  I don't really know how it is there, but I have decided fall is my favorite season.  And I always hear about the fires in California, do those ever get close to your house?  Say hi to everyone for me. I can't believe its going by so fast either, especially after my year mark, its weird.
- Elder Palmer

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eric's Email of September 23, 2010

Hallo famille,

So first off last night we got transfers and, well, I'm just stayin put, so is Elder Acorda.  But since we lose 3 elders at the end of this transfer, some areas got joined in to others.  But the best news I got today now, is that Bonabéri will become a branch in late October or early December! (Eric's first area!)

So first off I want to make sure to answer all questions. (Are the socks we sent comfy?)  So yes those socks you sent are very nice and very comfortable.  And do keep my feet dryer.  But they don't match that well, but that's no problem to me.

(Do you wear your sandals?)  Yeah, I wear my sandals usually on p-day, or if we are leaving the apartement on a quick errand. (What was the most useful thing you took with you?)   But the most useful thing that I brought would have to be... this is hard.  I am going to say my iPod, because now I have learned to actually like church music.  And just so you know, a couple zone conferences ago President Headlee said to only listen to church music exclusively, because of some other stuff he may have heard in a missionary apartement, so I don't listen to my jazz music or anything anymore.  But, I say my iPod, because its just relaxing I guess.

(What have you made with the seasoning packets?)  Elder Acorda has not yet prepared anything with my seasoning packets, I'll have to remind him to use them.

(What do you hear from Spencer?)  Spencer, now known as Elder Aldridge, is good from what I know.  I think he is a district leader, but I didn't get an email from him this week...boo-hoo...

And that's great about the soon the be Elder Leake! (Missionary from our ward, farewell this Sunday, leaving for MTC)  If you want you could send me a picture with all our plaques up when that happens. (We will have 7 missionaries from our ward!!!!)   And as for my blog picture, I don't have my camera this week, but I'll send you that next week.

Alright, I'm going to jump over to Dad's email now to get his questions.
D'accord, yes I'm north of the equator.  But for us here in Yaoundé, it is getting very rainy.  The rainy season was supposed have already been started a couple weeks ago, but now I think it is getting into full force.  Must bring umbrella each day, my pants get muddy, and I must walk weird because my heal always hits the bottom of my pants.  But I prefer the rain over the heat any day.  I'm sorry it is so hot there.
(Out of all the North Americans (and Euros) in your mission, how many have you met?  Worked with?  Been companions with?  Do you know how many total missionaries there are in the mission now that the mission has been split?)  So in this mission, after 3 go home at the end of this transfer, there will be 23 North American missionaries.  There are no missionaries from Europe here, probably because lots of these countries don't like French people.  The other day Elder Acorda and I were teaching, and some punk came up to us and asked where we were from and stuff in a not very nice manner, and when he made sure we weren't French, he was fine.  He said he was just joking, but still, I don't think Europeans, mainly French people, are the most liked people here.  But I have actually now met all 23 of those missionaries, but have only served with 2 of them that are left: Elder Acorda currently and Elder Parsons.  Elder Ternieden went home last transfer, Elder Lee goes home very soon, and the other is Elder Bally who is from Ivory Coast.  As far as just worked with, as in done a split or something, there are 3 others.  Oh, and I forgot to also say Elder Wilkins, my MTC companion.  So technically I've been companions with 3.

Wow, I think I got all the questions, not too many this week.  So things for Elder Acorda and me are going ok.  We have on person, Frère Franklin who will have his baptism interview tonight, and then he just has to wait for President to come.  I don't know how much I've already talked about him, but Franklin started talking with the missionaries right before I got here, and he had recently come to Cameroon from Bangui, in the Central African Republic.  And as far as his progression, it has been pretty smooth, early on he gained a testimony.  But right now his problem is that he has some friends from work or at his embassy that tell him stuff about the Church.  And also he doesn't have the best job, and lives in very, very humble circumstances with 2 other friends from Bangui.  But he has always been patient and keeps his commitments, and I know he'll be blessed for it, especially when his baptism finally goes through.

There is one other amie de l'église, Souer Christine.  Right now has got to be a rough time for her, because her mother just passed away from diabetic problems.  Surprisingly she seems to be coping well, and was even smiling and such when we saw her the next day.  She is also progressing very well, and she will also be ready for all her baptismal stuff.  I hope she gains a good understanding of the Plan of Salvation and what she can do to see her mother again.  And she also brings her 2 kids to church, and one already asks to be baptized, so I hope that they join the Church together.

But besides that, honestly this transfer has been filled with not-progressing investigators.  After the new transfer Elder Acorda and I plan on having a "day of refreshing", that President Headlee explained to us back when I was in Bonabéri with Elder Lee.  We did it, and basically you don't take a backpack, maybe one elder takes a small bag with brochures, and you go around, do lots of searching, explore the sector a little bit, and he also suggested to buy a soda or something.  And since our current pool isn't doing much, I think that will help.

And what I hope will help even more, is the activity and also the branch mission plan we are working on.  Elder Acorda and I, plus Elder Kesler and Elder Lamb, who are the missionaries in Bastos 1, spent some good time this morning talking about a branch mission plan.  We will present this tomorrow to our branch mission leader, but we want to focus on integrating amis and new converts with the 3 essentials that President Hinckley taught: a friend, a calling, and to be nourished by the Word.  Mainly we need to work on the friend part, because that doesn't happen often enough. To help with that, we want to do some activities that aren't that hard to do, but that are just fun, like show a movie, or something like the Bonabéri Olympics, because every darn lesson doesn't need to be like a missionary lesson.  Also we want to increase the branch's efforts to reach out to non-practicing members.  But, if anyone has any good ideas about what makes up a good branch mission plan, or what kind of fun activities we can do, I will be happy to hear them.

Also tonight we are going over to the Thompsons' for diner, which is good first off because that saves me from paying for a diner.  Each 2 weeks we received our "soutien", which is our money, and I split mine up into 20,000 CFA each week.  And ever since I've been in Yaoundé, this is the first time where I have not had to dip into the 2nd week's money early.  But also it will be good just to be with all of the missionaries of Yaoundé, because I don't get to see half of them very often.

(There was a "Helping Hands" Day in W. Africa on the church website.  Did the members in Yaounde participate?)  Oh, and about the service stuff you have been hearing about, here in Yaoundé we will be doing ours this Saturday.  At 8 AM we will meet at the church and go somewhere to do some kind of service.  I don't know why, but they haven't told us exactly what we will be doing, just to bring tools like machetés.  So I'll let you know how that goes.

I hope everyone will be able to support the heat that y'all are having.  (20 degrees above normal, no rain.)  I hope next fall that it won't be like that, because I will looking forward to a nice, cool autumn season.

Je vouse aime, BEAUCOUP,
- Eric

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eric's email of September 16th, 2010

Alright family, I'm starting to write this email again while I wait for the page to load, hopefully I have good luck like last week. But I'll start with the highlight of the week, which was the weekend in Douala.

So Friday morning we left the apartement at 6:30 to arrive at the bus station at 7 AM. Then we took a 4 hour-ish bus ride from Yaoundé to Douala, with no bathroom on the bus, which became a small challenge. But we made it there without incident. Then 8 of the 12 Yaoundé missionaries went to stay in Bonabéri, and the other 4 went in to Bonapriso. And since I served in Bonabéri and Elder Acorda served in Bonapriso, we split up for the weekend. But Friday consisted of a Douala versus Yaoundé American football game. We lost 5 touchdowns to 8, I think. I'm not gonna name any names, but... I only got 3 catches...

But the mission conference was held on Saturday in the Bonabéri church. There were 20 missionaries (12 from Yaoundé, 8 from Douala), the 2 missionary couples (the Thompsons of Yaoundé, and the Nuttals of Douala), President and Sister Headlee, and Elder F. Michael Watson and Sister Watson of the 70. Something pretty interesting about Elder Watson is that before he was a member of the 70, he was the secretary to the 1st Presidency, and he knew and worked with 7 presidents of the Church, from President Monson and the 6 before him.

The main thing that I retained from what Elder Watson taught as, actually came from the Old Testament, if you can believe that. It came from Exodus chapter 13, I think. I might be wrong. But somewhere in there, il y a (there is) a story about when Moses was judging everyone, and basically having PPIs with everyone in the known world. Then Moses' beau-père (father-in-law) asked him why he was doing that, and told him that he cannot do all that himself. The beau-père said that Moses needs to organize everyone, and basically make stakes and wards and quorums and all that and give callings. I think Elder Watson called this the "Moses _______ Syndrome". I forgot, I must consult my notes, but it was actually Exodus 18. Oh, and we also learned that we will not getting any new North American elders until January. And since we lose 3 this month and 4 more in December, that could be a challenge. And right now in January there is only 1 arriving. Things kind of got messed up with the mission being split, a whole bunch got sent at once which made us increase and create more areas, and now we have less and will lose more. So we'll see. I think this transfer could be an interesting one.

But Saturday after our conference, we didn't really have anything planned, so I went with Elder Kesler (who I replaced when I went to Bonabéri, and lived with in Pointe-Noire and also here in Yaoundé) and Grant (who has been a member a year-ish and is the man) to go visit people. We saw most of the members and people we wanted to, and it was really cool. But, it felt like I had only been gone for 3 days, like I had just been in Bonabéri last week. I guess I wasn't even away that long, but it was different with the new church, and also Ancienne Route has been finished. All the construction is done, you can take a taxi all up and down the road, and they even planted grass and trees on the sides, have a bike lane which will probably just become a sidewalk or another place for motos to take short cuts, and even street lights. It looks really nice and green.

And then Sunday everyone from Bonabéri went in town to Bonapriso for church where Elder Watson gave a talk after the Sacrament. Also during that meeting, President Headlee announced than next month there will be a branch in Bonabéri! So that was awesome to hear, I will be excited to hear who gets which callings and such. But Elder Watson bore a strong testimony on the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ, and left them with a blessing found in Alma 7:27. (And now, may the peace of God rest upon you, and upon your houses and lands, and upon your flocks and herds, and all that you possess, your women and your children, according to your faith and good works, from this time forth and forever.  And thus I have spoken.  Amen.)

So those where the highlights from the trip to Douala.  We left Douala at 9 AM and got back around 12:30. But right now, I am happy to be in normal missionary mode. And I'm also happy because it is cooling down. Even though the rain is coming, the temperature is cooler. I would much rather have rain and coolness, rather than heat and burn and sweat. The only problem is that if it rains, then the clouds go away and the sun comes out, its the worst.

So now that we are back in Yaoundé in normal mode, things are going normally, except we had to cancel our baptismal service for this Saturday. This is actually the second one we had to cancel in a row, which means no baptisms in Yaoundé for the month of September, bummer. The problem is that we have progressing investigators and people ready and everything, but we need special interviews done by the mission president. And well, President Headlee is basically in charge of the church in 5 countries, so he isn't in Cameroon too often. This is something he is already looking in to fixing, but it kind of stinks.

(Why do the kids yell "hee-haw at you?) So kids here say "hee-haw", because thats how they think you say hello in chinese. Really it is pronounced "ni hao", but since they don't give a crud, and honestly lots of people are really ignorant, lots of people just say "hee-haw" to anyone that could possibly look remotly at all Asian. (Eric does not look Asian.)  It was also very common in Congo. I think if Elder Sang Lee (another missionary from our ward) was here, that would drive him to the edge of insantiy, because he actually is Asian.

Oh, and yes I got the package from the Headlee's last weekend, too. (His one-year package!)  I already ate my Sour Patch Kids, yum. As for Elder Bally's cantique, (hymnal) I'll have to send that with the Headlee's next time I see them, but I'll be sure to do that. Also, Elder Acorda was very excited about the seasoning packets we got, because he knows how to make more food than me. I'm still limited to peanut sauce and pancakes, so I should probably learn something new, soon.

And speaking of Elder Acorda, he is better-ish. He did get sick again over the weekend, something that he and 3 other elders in Bonapriso got. He literally was sneezing 50 times an hour. I swear I never heard someone sneeze so much. When we got back from Douala he pretty much just slept while I scheduled our week and studied. Not to be a jerk, but I couldn't stand being in our room so I went and studied in the living room because I couldn't handle all his sneezing. But we called Sister Thompson, she told him what to do.  I injected hydrogen peroxide in his ears, and now he is pretty much better, but still a little bit sneezy.

(What’s the difference between “the village” and the city?)  And the village is something very important in Africa. So like you know the 2 biggest cities of Cameroon are Yaoundé (the political capital) and Douala (the economical capital). And there are other fairly large places of note like Bamenda, Boya, Limbé, and Kribi. But from my knowledge those places are nothing like the cities of Yaoundé and Douala. Then besides those places there are countless number of villages, and each person and family has their own village. Some peoples' village is not far from the city, for example Grant lives in Bonabéri, and that is his family's village. Also there is a place Elder Acorda and I go here called Messassi, that is "the village" for some people. But all over Cameroon there are towns, large and small and super tiny, that are "the village". And most of them each have there own pas-toi,(dialect) many are very similar and can communicate with each other, but that explains why there are 200+ languages in Cameroon. And many of them are very primitive.

(For future sports updates, which NFL teams do you care about?)  As for NFL, most of all I care about the Redskins. You can also add Alex Smith & the 49ers if they do anything of note, and Eric Weddle and the Chargers if they do anything of note. But most of all the Redskins.

Transfers are also coming up, maybe even this time next week I'll know what will happen. Pretty darn sure I'll stay, because last 3 transfers I've been in 3 sectors with 3 different companions, but on ne sait jamais. (one never knows)  I hope everyone is enjoying life, even if school is annoying and not the funnest. But if you can believe this, I actually kind of miss school. And not just "college" and having fun and stuff like that, but actually studying and learning science and such things. So be grateful!

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Friday, September 10, 2010

Eric's email of September 9, 2010

(Since we just started school here, we were wondering what school was like in Cameroon?)  So the first thing you notice here when school is back in, are the kids yelling "le blanc!" or "hee-haw!" from the third story of a school building.  I remember last year in Douala that kind of bugged me, but I don't really care anymore.

So first I'm looking through Mom's questions... Ah, once again, Dad, we have not yet gone down to Douala, (for a mission conference) that will happen tomorrow morning, and we'll come back on Monday morning. (How will you get to Douala for the conference?) The Thompsons just have a truck that can fit normally 3 in the front and 3 in the back.  So since there are 12 elders here in Yaoundé, tomorrow morning around 7 AM we will take a bus down to Douala.  Its about a 4 hour trip, so we should arrive a little bit before noon.

So Elder Acorda and I have some amis coming along, but we are still struggling getting people to church.  Last week we had a record high since I've been in Yaoundé, and it was not a big number.  Coming from Pointe-Noire where for some reason people just progress easier and more often, its kind of frustrating.  But I'll be looking for some good counsel from the mission conference this weekend.  But Sunday evening Elder Acorda and I plus Elder Kesler and Elder Lamb had a nice visit with President Gwet.  (Branch President) One thing Preach My Gospel tells us to do is learn the conversion stories of those members we meet, and President Gwet has a pretty cool one.  He has been a member now for 14 years, he said when he joined the church there we only about 15 members in all of Yaoundé.  And in the house where he currently lives, where we visited with him, at one time housed all 15 of those members.  In the neighborhood where he lives, it used to be packed with houses, but for some reason that no one really understands, the government decided to get rid of those houses, pretty much all of them, except for the Gwets'.  And almost all of the church members lived in that neighborhood, and after their homes were destroyed they stayed in Gwet's house.  So I thought it was kind of cool; I visited probably a very important piece of church history in Cameroon.  But now President Gwet has his family, has been to the temple and everything.  Currently there are 8 church members under his roof, and he has one daughter who has served a mission in Kinshasa.

Last night we had another good visit with a member named Etienne.  He has been a member since June 2009, and last Sunday got called as Sunday School President.  But to get from our apartement to his house, is probably about a 35 to 40 minute taxi ride due to some traffic or construction, where you take 2 taxis, and pay 350 CFA total (about 70 cents).  But I really like his neighborhood, because it is pretty much the village, but he still has electricity and things.  If I lived in Cameroon, that's the kind of place I would like to live in.  But Frère Etienne was invited to church by his cousin, who was a member, and the first time he came it was a baptismal service and the thing that touched him the most was when they watched The Restoration video.  So ever since that day he has been at the church, but of his immediate family he is the only member.  He has 2 daughters, Laura of age 6 and Fabiola of age 13.  They come to church pretty often, but right now his wife is not really interested.  But I think that that would be one very strong family if everyone came to accept the restored gospel, so even though they are out there, I expect to be back there often.

Funny side note about the taxi ride out there, this is the 2nd time I've seen this on my mission.  The first was in Pointe-Noire when Elder Bally and I were out at KM 8, (See pictures from Sept 3,2010) which is also pretty much the village, where the are no police.  So imagine the scooter, (the nickname for our 3rd car)  just the Toyota Corolla that we have.  That is pretty much the size of taxis.  Normally, 3 in the back, and 2 in the front.  Here, in normal taxis, they get 3 in the back and squish 2 in the front seat.  But if there aren't any police to stop them, they get the driver, then 2 in the passenger seat, and 4 in the back.  But last night I saw this event for the second time: 4 in the back, 2 in the passenger seat, and the driver + 1 other person in the drivers seat.  They get 8 people in that car.  So the driver squishes someone in next to him, and is also driving stick.  So yeah, its kind of ridiculous.

Anyways, one other member we saw this week is Souer Charlotte.  Charlotte has been a member for about 3 years now, I believe.  She used to work a callbox (a little stand on the side of the road that sells phone credit and little biscuits and such), and she was not far from the church, so she would see the missionaries walk by often, but just assumed they were Jehovah's Witnesses.  But usually she would bring here Bible up to read during the day, and one of her friends, who happened to be a recent convert, presented her to the missionaries.  She accepted, and began taking the lessons.  She said she would have a rendezvous nearly every day of the week, and before her baptism she read the entire Book of Mormon.  But after studying with the missionaries for a bit, she finally accepted to come to church in the afternoon, after her other church she used to attend finished.  And the Sunday she finally did that, she never went back.  And about 3 months after studying nearly daily with the missionaries, she was baptized.  Now she is a seminary teacher, and this year should finish institute to get her diploma thing.  But she said the thing that got her the most was the Book of Mormon.

We also had a nice lesson with Maman Natalie yesterday.  I think I've already talked a little about her.  She is the Relief Society President, and she is an amazing member.  She is an older lady, but even on the days when she doesn't even have 100 francs to get a taxi, she walks to church.  The taxis ride takes 15 to 20 minutes.  But she also fed us manioc and kwem.  She gave me so much that I didn't eat diner last night, and for breakfast this morning only had a roman noodle packet.  It was really good, but she gave us so much, I barely finished it, and Elder Acorda only ate about half his manioc.

So yeah, there are 4 people that we have seen so far.  Its still early so we haven't really gotten many coordonnées (referrals) yet, but those will come with time.

Alright, now Dad's "quick" questions.

So Monday of this week was "le rentrée scolaire" (going back to school).  Since they don't got Labor Day here, they didn't get an extra day, so be grateful.  But I don't know a whole lot about the school system, but its the same as the system in France.  High school is called lycée.  I know some kids finish before noon and others just get a break to go get something to eat.  I think every school has uniforms.  And like I told Scott, there are usually at least a couple classrooms where kids are either on break or the teacher is out or the teacher just doesn't care, were kids are sticking their heads out the window talking smack to people that walk by.  Tha'ts all I really know about school here, but I'll get some pictures for you.

So yeah, Dad, maybe its my horrible English or you had another "senior moment",(Mark thought the missino conference was last weekend, but it is this weekend) but the voyage to Bonaberi is tomorrow until Monday.  From what I know, is that 8 Yaoundé missionaries will stay in Bonaberi, and 4 in Bonapriso, because the building Elder Lee and I found was so awesome and huge.  But we arrive around noon tomorrow.  Apparently the Douala elders already planned to play some kind of football.  Saturday will be the mission conference with Elder Watson.  Sunday church and a fireside with all the members, and Monday morning we head back home.  I'll tell you next week.

Yeah, the financial boost I just used American dollars.  I don't know why, but here it was much easier to just exchange money, even though I didn't get a super good change.

(Is Elder Acorda better?)
  Yes, Elder Acorda did completely recover from his cold, but Tuesday night he did have an allergic reaction to one ami's chickens who live under their living room table.  The chickens kept flapping their wings and Elder Acorda had to sit by the door so he wouldn't die.  I ended up teaching the whole lesson.  But for me, besides 2 days where I stayed in due to gastro-intestine whatever word Dad used problem, I have been fine.  No malaria.  Yes, I take my anti-malaria meds (nearly) every day.

Alright, I hope I hit all the questions.  And I also hope school is going good for everyone, its weird to hear there is a new middle school and a new high school.  And no, you are not going to receive any pity from me about waking up early, sorry.  But make sure you do your scripture study in the morning, I know that will bless you.  Do everything possible to stay awake during it!

Je vous aime,
- Eric

Friday, September 3, 2010

A few pictures

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Eric and Elder Bally out at Kilometre 8, the farthest place of their old area in Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo.

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Elder Acorda and Eric up where Elder Holland dedicated Cameroon about a year ago. (This is Yaounde, Cameroon.)

Eric's email of Sep 2, 2010

Well, I’m writing this on a word document while I’m waiting for myldsmail to load. Me, Elder Acorda, Elder Kadiata, and Elder Wilkins spent the past half hour going around looking for a place with a connection, this was our 5th one. I probably would have given up if this last one had no connection.

So, I know the first thing I need to write about are the 3 most notable things or events that happened from Pointe-Noire.

1. Getting my stuff stolen. I got stolen from a total of 3 times. First time was my camera out of my backpack when Elder Parsons and I were walking from Fond TieTie to a rendezvous. I just kept my backpack on normally, rather than flipping it around to my front. We walked about 10 or 15 minutes and got where we were supposed to meet the ami de l’église, stopped to buy some peanuts from a callbox lady, and both the little pockets were open. They chose only to steal the camera, and not my little hymn book or anything else. But I was pretty disappointed after that. Then the second one I believe was when I got my badge and cell phone stolen, also at Fond TieTie. Elder Parsons and I were there a little later than usual buying groceries. And as we crossed the round point to get to the buses, some guy bumped me, I thought he was just trying to not get hit by the taxis, then I walk a couple more steps, and the badge and cell phone were gone. (This was only a couple weeks after we had just gotten a new phone because Parsons lost the last one in a taxi.) Then the third a final time, was when I got my triple combination in French lost. One Sunday I left my backpack in church in the hall for a few hours, after I left with Elder Parsons and a branch missionary, my backpack felt a bit light, checked it out and the triple was gone. But from all this, I learned really how unimportant those things are. I did get lucky with the camera getting sent with Elder Buck, and a couple weeks ago Sister Headlee brought me a new triple in French, its nicer than my old one, too. I had been using just one of the normal Book of Mormons we give out. So what I learned there, is that none of those worldly possessions really matter.

2. Getting put with Elder Bally. This was also a big learning experience, because this was the first companionship were we actually disagreed on a number of things and didn't get along all the time. Now when I think about that transfer, its one that I am glad that happened, but I am also glad its over. But by the end I was able to figure out how to make things as least painful as possible and still make an effective missionary companionship. Honestly, if it went on to a second, I don't know what would have happened. But mostly, that transfer I remember funny things Elder Bally did or said, and also what I learned about working with people that don't agree with you very often.

3. So those first 2 I thought of pretty easily earlier in the week, but now I need to think of number 3… alright I think I got one. There was one point when I was with Elder Parsons, and it was the Sunday after a baptismal service. It was a pretty large baptism, but Elder Parsons and I where a little bit disappointed because we didn’t have any one of our amis get baptized. It wasn’t that we were sad because our numbers didn’t look as good, but just more a little let down due to the lack of progression by who we were teaching. And so that Sunday I fasted, mostly just so that Elder Parsons and I would work as effectively as possible and do everything in our power, and be led to those who want and are looking for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this experience gave me a real testimony that fasting actually works when you do it correctly. Soon after, Elder Parsons and I were lead to some really solid people, notably Frère Matsinga and his family, Frère Fabrice, and Souer Clarice and her family.

The biggest news among us missionaries in Cameroon right now is the mission conference we will have next week. There will actually be a member of the 70 coming with President and Sister Headlee, Elder Watson (I think). If you look in the Liahona or Ensign or whatever you have of August, they show a map of all the general authorities’ assignments, Cameroon is in number 22. I saw Elder Runland when we went to Brazzaville, and its not Koelliker or whoever, I’m pretty sure its Elder Watson that is coming this time. But for this mission conference, we will all be going down to Douala! And the Thompsons have said that some missionaries will be staying in Bonaberi, so I told Souer Thompson that I already call a spot there. (Eric's previous area.) We will go down the morning of Friday the 10th, and come back up Monday the 13th. So I hope and think I will have some time to see some people in Bonaberi! And Elder Parsons is there, so that will be cool to see him again.

This internet is being slow, and I don't know why, because both the people next to me are getting it to work fine.

So things are starting to pick up a little bit for Elder Acorda and me, but very slowly. The thing that is bugging me the most is the number of amis at church each week we have, which then effects the number of progressing amis. Coming from Pointe Noire where we have 2 (nearly) fully functioning branches with a nice LDS chapel and all that. But in comp study Elder Acorda and I read something that really hit me in chapter 9 about the importance of members, which is something that I think gets overlooked often. There is a story in there about a missionary who got transferred to a ward that had been struggling in missionary work and baptisms for a while, due to the lack of missionary efforts and other things. But this missionary decided they needed to gain the confidence of members, so he started with the bishops and then the other members. They also talked with everyone possible when they weren’t with members. When the members saw the efforts they put in and that they were willing to serve them, they trusted them and presented them to many of their friends, and said that many baptisms followed. So, I saw that Elder Acorda and I weren’t really doing that, besides a couple members we saw often. So that’s my new big goal. Our branch president is named President Gwet, and hopefully this Sunday evening after church Acorda and I, and the other 2 missionaries of our branch Elder Kesler and Elder Lamb, will be able to go over to President Gwets’, and from there we will do that with as many members as possible. We are still thinking about exactly how we will serve them and what we will teach members, but yeah. Elder Kesler suggested today to make a cake.

Alright, I might be sending this in FastMail, because myldsmail is being a pain. So that means I might not be able to read any of your emails or answer any of your questions, sorry.

Yesterday was kind of a bummer. After we had our district meeting (in which I gave the lesson. I took it from an article that Elder Ballard had in the July Liahona called “Fair connaitre l’Evangile avec assurance”, you should read it if you haven’t), and then we left. We had a good rendezvous with Frère Alexandre on the Plan of Salvation. He's a good ami, but I hope he comes to church this week because he lives really close, we just gave him his Book of Mormon, and I want people to start keeping their commitments because that makes me happy. Anyways, Elder Acorda was pretty much sneezing and sniffling the whole time. He wanted to go to at least our next rendezvous, but I convinced him to go back to the apartment and sleep, because that rendezvous was with a family, and if he got their kids sick they wouldn’t have enough money to take care of them well. So I basically learned how boring it is to sit in your apartment as a missionary and not have much to do. I cleaned the kitchen (what???) and listened to about 3 hours of conference. Then I finished the August Liahona and marked some scriptures. Its was nice to get in a big fat nice study like that, but it was boring. I hope I never have to do that again. And especially after recently having my year mark, I realize I don’t have a lot of time to be a full time missionary, which is another motivation to never be lazy and do as much as possible.

Oh, there might be some hope! I switched from Explorer to Mozilla, and it finally loaded the login screen, so we will see if this one displays myldsmail.

Well, one thing I have become “trunky” for this week is the temple. If you don’t know what trunky means, you can ask cousin Dave. But after reading some Liahona articles and such, I’ve really missed going to the temple. Its another one of those things that is such a huge blessing, but you don’t realize how important it is until you can't go to it for 22 months. But now, going to the temple is something I actually want to do often, rather than just some place we go to once or twice a year as a youth that is kind of fun. Its was good before, but now its one of the biggest things I’ll be looking forward to when I get home.

Alright, I finally just got myldsmail up! I’ll respond to your questions and then send it away!

First off, Dad, I thought you would know what a coordonnée is. But English speaking missionaries call them referrals, however you spell it.

I’ll get the Thompsons’ email this week, and unless I saw otherwise, I’m pretty sure the mailing address to use here is the same one for Douala.

Also Mom, that was Elder Wilkins, not WilkinsON. There is a different missionary named Elder Wilkinson down in Douala, just for reference.

No, I haven’t played very much soccer since Bonaberi, honestly. But next week during the mission conference, I heard the missionaries in Douala want to play some sports, so I’ll be pulling for futbol.

Well, before today I thought Yaoundé was the best. But now that finally myldsmail loaded I’ll save money. In Pointe-Noire I was paying 2000, but here I'm only paying 600.

(When you say you were out of money last week, is that because the area is so big and you need to travel so much? Or was there another reason?) And on the cash situation, I actually already gave my self a little boost last week, but no worries there. It just helped me learn to budget well.

Alright, well I better try to send this off before the internet dies or if it takes a long time. I love you all, sorry though for the kids because they have to go back to school, but happy for Mom because, well, that of course makes Mom happy.

Je vous aime,

- Eric