Elder Palmer (back row, 6th from left) is serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa mission for
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Eric returned home on August 27th, 2011!!!!!

He was transferred to Yaounde, Cameroon on August 13th, 2010.

Links listed on the left are from the senior couples and Mission President!

Comments in italics are clarifications from Mom.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Eric's Email of June 23, 2011

Alright, I just barely took a picture with Elder Wagman, so I’ll send the picture maintenant là. (Now.  But he didn't send it.)
            So we just had a good lesson with a Soeur.  Some of her problems or grudges she had again some people I think have been solved, and she isn’t sick right now, so she’s happy and didn’t chew me out too much today.  I think, basically we just need to have to most spiritually possible lessons for a while.  Apparently last week the Relief Society President Soeur Therèse, and Soeur Patricia visited her, and after a long visit, the sister was happy, and she said one day she would be baptized in the Church.  And, Preach My Gospel says to have spiritual lessons, talk and testify about the Restoration beaucoup.  So, I think that’s what we are gonna do.
            We also saw Soeur Christine and her 3 sons before her today.  They are fine, and especially her oldest son, Ignace, seems to be liking Church a lot.  Even a Sunday when Christine didn’t come, Ignace came by himself.  He has been ordained a deacon, wears his shirt and tie to Church, and found a bag for his Book of Mormon.  So that’s cool.
            We also had our last zone conference with President and Sister Headlee.  In less than 2 weeks they should be chez eux.  (Home)  It was a really good zone conference.  President Headlee got a DVD of a talk that Elder Holland gave somewhat recently at the MTC.  My favorite thing is how he applied the last chapter of John to us.  How, after Christ was resurrected and all this stuff, the apostles didn’t really know what to do, and then Peter who was basically chief, said “let’s go fishing”.  So they went fishing all night, didn’t get anything, then a man on the shore yelled out and said to cast their net to the right side I think, and they did, and they caught so many fish they couldn’t pull it in.  Then one of the apostles said, “It’s Him”.  Then Peter jumped over board and swam to the shore to get to Jesus.  Then, Jesus basically told him, that he can’t go back.  Peter can't go back to fishing.  And that’s when Peter became, well, converted I can say.  And so, Elder Holland basically told us all, missionaries, that after our mission, that we can’t go back to fishing.  So, that’s what stuck with me from zone conference.

             We also have a baptismal date for Frère Morris still for July 2nd.  And Elder Wagman corrected me and said that its spelled Maurice in French, but I still like Morris.  I think I talked about him last week.  Out of all the people I’ve met and taught, he is one of the best who have understood the Restoration.  I also believe now that he is receiving a testimony of that, because of the way he talks about it.  But especially about the restoration of the Priesthood.  And he is now in the book of Jacob.
            We also went au-champ-ing again this week.  But it was kind of weird, it was an ami de l’église who lives just behind in the Church.  So we were still in town in the quarter, but there was this random piece of place where they made a champ.  But, it was the same as any other time spent au champ.  I’m grateful for lawn mowers. 
            We have another new good investigator named Frère Pascal.  I like his French.  He has spent time in many European countries, so I guess that’s what influenced the way he talks.  Last Sunday we saw him on the road after Church.  He said he was going to come to Church, but then he didn’t.  Il nous a dit, “J’étais Presque empeché”.  (He said, "I was almost prevented")  I wondered why if he was just “presque” empeché-ed, why didn’t he come?  Yesterday we asked him again, he said the “il meurt d’envie”(he was dying of envy) to come.  If you heard his voice, it probably would be as amusing to you as it is to me.  I imagine that is what a French mob boss would sound like.  And, he is also progressing nicely.
            On Tuesday we also did a split.  Elder Wagman worked with Pierre Bissalla, a 17 year old convert of about 3 or so years.  He is a branch missionary, and knows how to explain the Restoration really well.  I worked with his older brother, Jean Bissalla, whose 19 and Elder Wilkins baptized about 6 months ago.  He doesn’t know as much as Pierre yet, but he has a really good testimony he shares about his family.  And then around 4 o’clock, Jean had to leave, but thankfully our 3 30 rendezvous was with Frère Martial, another member.  So he replaced Jean as my companion for the rest of the day.  Martial is also the man, and gave us about 4 coordonnées since last Monday.  He is also apparently engaged to a member of the Church from Angola, and they plan on getting married in the temple sometime soon.
            So, c’est ça.  And Elder WAgman and I are on diner tonight, so I got to send this and get out of here.
Je vous aime,
            - Elder Eric Palmer
To Mom:
Well, Mom, somebody built this stupid computer dumb, and my thumb drive can't fit into the slot, because the hardware was built dumb.  So, I'll finish emails here and see if there is a different kind of computer in this darn cyber.  (No pictures)
(Do you walk or take taxis more?  Do the taxis ever brake down?)  Here in Yaoundé we take more taxis than any other sector I've seen.  They have never broken down for me.
(Did you get to Morris' house yet?)  We haven't met Morris at his house or with his family yet.  But he wants to be baptized, so we are making progress, and either us or some branch leaders will get to his house soon I believe.
Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric Palmer
To Dad:
Answer to question number 1 about CNU.  Nope, no thought at all.  (School in Newport News)
(Are you serious about training for the half marathon?)  OK, for the half-marathon, I'm in.  I'll plan on starting to do our running again next week, Monday Wednesday and Friday.  I'm now living with Elder Hansen, Elder Tingey's companion.  He did cross country in high school, and Elder Buck once went on a run with him, and told me he wanted to die.  So, I bet Elder Hansen will be willing to do that with me.
(Have you heard about the Book of Mormon musical in NYC?  You may get questions about it on your flight home)  And about the 3rd question, no I don't care at all.  Yes, Grandpa Jerry mentioned one time, so I knew about.  Simplement, je n'en ai rien à dire.  (Simply, I have nothing to say)
Oh, and Scott didn't email, and I wanted to know what reading water meters means.  (Scott's great summer job)
Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric Palmer

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eric's email of June 17th, 2011

Ma vie, oh ma vie.  (My life, oh my life)

                So , I understand that you have my flight plans.  That's weird.
                Elder Wagman and I are still doing good, still very busy.  But I think we are soon going to do an overhaul of our sector, if that is the right word.  We just need to change a few things in our program, and a few people we see in order to work more efficiently.
                Yesterday we did exchanges, I went and worked in Ekounou with Elder Nash, the District Leader out there.  It was my first time to work out there.  It was a pretty good day.  When it rains out there, it gets very muddy.  And I thought some of my sector was far away, but then Elder Nash took me to this quartier called Tropicana.  I have no idea how far off the map we were.  I thought Elder Wagman and I had some far away quartiers, but I’m pretty sure they beat us.  And there is another one even farther where some members live.  And also, it started raining like a monster a little bit before we were getting ready to leave.  We ended up not getting out of there until 6:30, missed our 6 o'clock rendezvous.  Took us at least half an hour to get a taxi to take us, then there was traffic, then we finally got out and had to walk about 15 more minutes home, and got back around 8 30.  Maybe its because we sat in traffic for so long, but I’m still amazed how far away that place was.
                Also, I had to save Elder Nash from getting kissed by some lady.  We were walking to our 1st rendezvous, and some lady shoved us en route and asked where we are going.  I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure she was under the influence of something.  So, we told her we had to go, then she said something that basically meant, “ok, but a kiss first”.  Then she went in for Elder Nash, and almost got him, but then I kind of grabbed her on the arm, Elder Nash started going.  Then she tried to get me, I walked away and she hit me on the back a few times, but thankfully we got away without any smooches.  That would be awkward to have an interview with President Headlee 2 days after a some random lady kissed us.
                Speaking of President, he should now be in Yaoundé.  He missed his 7 AM bus in Douala, but was supposed to leave at 12.  We are getting our last interviews and zone conference from President and Sister Headlee tomorrow, because in July we get the new President and Sister Jameson!  And today Elder Thompson told me that President Jameson is already scheduled to come here on July 9th, before this transfer ends.  2 visits from mission presidents in 1 transfer, hurray!
                Elder Wagman and I also fixed 2 baptismal dates this week!  Well, maybe 1 and 2/3.  The first was Frère Morris.  He got started with Elders Buck and Garner.  So we have learned a lot more about his life in the past few rendezvous.  He lives with his wife and 6 children, but we haven’t met any of them yet because he only likes to see us at the Church.  Before Morris was married, he lived in the United States, I forgot exactly where.  But after a few years, he went home to Cameroon for some reason, but he was very well off.  Then, I believe within the last 5-ish years, he pretty much lost everything.  He was living in Douala in a nice house, even had 2 cars.  But for some reason he lost pretty much everything, sold one car, the other got stolen, sold his house and lost his other belongings and had to move to Yaoundé, and now he is living in very humble conditions.  But, he doesn’t complain.  He reads the Book of Mormon a lot, is now about to start the book of Jacob.  He has been in a lot of churches, most recently in Douala was in a church called “le Combat Spirituel”, and said he has been baptized many times.  So he easily accepted the first invitation to get baptized.  But recently we have talked about the Priesthood and Apostasy and Restoration and now he understands a lot.  There was even another person we were teaching on Tuesday while we were waiting for him, and when Morris came, he started answering his questions perfectly.  So, now he understands a lot, especially the importance of the Priesthood.  He still doesn’t want us to come to his house yet, mainly I think because it’s a very humble home, and we are American, I’m not sure.  But, je crois que ça va aller.  (I believe we will go there.)
                The other one is Soeur Marie-Sylvie, whom I believe I have spoken much about.  She is ready for baptism.  She is more ready than some of the people that are already baptized.  But Elder Tingey and Elder Wagman saw her yesterday when I was in Ekounou.  Elder Wagman said they didn’t do a lot of talking, but they read the last 2 paragraphs of the introduction to the Book of Mormon.  He said that Marie-Sylvie did most of the talking, I’m not sure about what.  But they got to the subject of baptism, and invited her to be baptized on July 3rd (when they should have said July 2nd, but we’ll fix that later).  From what I’ve understood, she accepted, but then at the end said “je vais vous dire si je serai prête”.  (I will tell you when I am ready.) She is ready!
                Oh, and I forgot if I told you, but Soeur Nina, the recent convert and daughter of Salomé, got a calling 2 Sundays ago as a teacher in the Relief Society.
                And last Sunday the missionaries gave talks in Bastos 1.  Mine was based on the “Lift where you stand” talk by Uchtdorf from 2008, with something I found in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, in chapter 27 that I found, that I thought was important for our branch.  And since Elder Nsimba is gone, I replaced him as the last speaker when the missionaries talk, which means I have the most time.  I still had 25 minutes when it got to me, so I bet that was the longest talk I ever gave.
                And Sunday after Church, we went around with an old missionary from here that came back to do some kind of hunting thing in the south of Cameroon.  He was known as Elder Ward, so I guess I should address him now as Brother Ward.  We went to visit some of the old people he taught in Bastos 2.  His French is still pretty good.  I hope I’ll do that one day.  (I know Dad wants to do it with him!!!)
Je vous aime,
-Elder Eric Palmer
To Mark:
Yeah, 2 nights ago when Elder Thompson was taking me out to Ekounou he got a call from President Headlee, and I talked to him and he told me about my flight plans.  So yes, I've decided that I'll go home at the normal time, and yeah, I wanted to ask if there would be a way to get with Scott in early September.

And for the JSarge classes, yes, sign me up for those that we talked about.

(What are you bringing home?)  For what I'm bringing home, I have no idea yet.  I do need to do some more souvenir shopping, but I haven't thought a lot about it yet.  I do have 2 more booboos that I know that I'll be bringing home that I am waiting for Soeur Therèse to finish.  Is there anything that anyone wants?  Even ask the Dajeu family if there is something Cameroonian that they can't get that I could bring home.  Especially anything that concerns Cameroonian food.

Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric Palmer
To Anne
(Pictures?)  So, in advance I will have to apologize.  I don't really have any excuse, but I just don't have my camera.  I already wrote it in very big letters for next Thursday.

Yes, I still have vitamins and take them nearly every day.

(Why do people walk around with their chickens?  Are they going to the butcher or are they worried that someone will steal them if they leave them at home?)  As for chickens and such, I have no idea.  There are some things that happen in this country, and I have no idea how or why.

Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric Palmer

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Eric's email of June 9th, 2011

Well, Elder Wagman (new companion) and I were just au village.  We got a rattezvous (rendezvous that fell through), had a good chunk of time and decided to go see an investigator we hadn’t seen in a while.  Her name is Soeur Marie-Susanne, she was a coordonnée from Soeur Marie-Sylvie.  She loves the Church, and has apparently had visions that the Church is true and that she needs go get baptized there.  But she has some weird ideas, today we spent our whole time explaining the nature of our Heavenly Father.  Also on the taxi ride out, while I was on the phone with Soeur Thompson, a weirdy guy kept buggin’ Elder Wagman for some money so he could get some palm wine.  That stuff looks gross.
            So the transfer happened last Friday, but not without some confusion.  We sent 3 elders down to Douala on Thursday, and expected to get 3 that same day.  But in the afternoon, the Thompsons told us that the Douala elders wouldn’t be coming up until the next day, due to some miscommunication.  So I stayed with Elder Tingey and Elder Prince for that day.  The new ones were supposed to arrive Friday between 1 and 2, so I arranged my program, planned to teach a lesson before with Elder Thompson, get Elder Wagman and the others, then finish the day I had planned.  I should have known that something would go wrong.  Elder Wagman and co. were supposed to leave Douala at 9AM, but didn’t leave until 12:15PM.  Also, my rendezvous Elder Thompson and I had at the church turned out to be a rattezvous.  It seems that the only transfer that happens without a problem, is a transfer where no one gets moved.
            So about Elder Wagman.  He is from Athens, Georgia.  But he lived in a whole bunch of places because his dad worked in the Air Force, but then retired and moved to their homeland of Georgia and got a job at the University of Georgia.  I also learned that they have some foster children, and have taken care of many children since Elder Wagman was born.  We were in Pointe-Noire together for 1 transfer, but he lived in a different apartement so we didn’t talk too much.  He started his mission with Elder Tingey, when we got 10 missionaries in 1 transfer.  He just did 3 transfers in Bonabéri, so he told me a bit about whats happening down there.  (Eric's first area)  From what he told me, it looks like almost all of the people that were baptized when I was there are still active, and Frère Léonel (baptized my second weekend there) has the Melchezidek Priesthood.
            We had a baptism last weekend as well.  Soeur Melanie, she was pretty much taught everything before Elder Tingey and I took over.  She's the one that traveled and we lost contact for almost a month, but came back and immediately asked us about baptism.  She actually came to the last baptism in May, thinking she was going to get baptiszd.  Unfortunately she hadn’t done her interview yet.  But she was baptized and confirmed last weekend.  I blew it and didn’t tell her at the service before she left, so we had to go find her after the service on Saturday, because she had always been attending Bastos 1, but she lives in Bastos 2.  We went right after the baptism, she wasn’t there.  We went and taught the rest of our rendezvous, then came back at the end of the day, thankfully found her there, and explained to her why she should come to Bastos 2.  It ended up being an expensive error.  Then we saw her on Tuesday, and her main problem is she is looking for a new job.  He current one doesn’t pay well and just isn’t a good job, and Monday and Tuesday all day she wasn’t able to get her merchandise.  So Elder Wagman and I taught about la loi de la dîme. (the law of tithing) I hope she understood, because we drilled the blessings of that commandment into her head. In Gospel Principles in the tithing section, there is a quote by President Hinckley, which is my favourite thing to read and teach about tithing.
              We have been informed that President and Sister Headlee will be here next weekend for the last time.  Man, I can't believe they are almost done.  Zone conference will be on the 17th.  I hope they get that darn Bonabéri branch organized.
            Elder Thompsons told me he emailed Dad, right?  He told me that the mission office people say that my release date is August 31st(release date still being discussed)
            Yesterday Elder Wagman and I also had a cruddy situation turn into a good, a really good experience.  We just had had a rendezvous with an investigator, that basically, she chastised us and the Church and I didn’t even know how to answer, and I thought for a moment that was going to be the last time we stepped foot in her house.  Enfin, (however) we will go back, but I was frustrated and dépassé-ed. I think he means depressed)  Then we were supposed to get to church for our missionary coordination meeting, but on the way our DMB called and cancelled.  We had a rendezvous fixed after, but we still had an hour of time, and we literally had no one else to see in the quarter we were in, or anywhere close.  So, Elder Wagman suggested we do what a missionary does when there is nothing left, contacting.  I hadn’t done that in a while since Elder Tingey and I had been so booked, and I was still frustrated from the last rendezvous.  But we went and started contacted, and something amazing happened.  No, we didn’t find a golden investigator, we didn’t even get invited into anyone's house.  But I remember after the second house we rang the door of, I felt a lot better.  I don’t exactly know why, because contacting isn’t always the most exciting or rewarding thing we do.  But after our second house, we had had a conversation briefly about the Restoration, and the lady told me to go read some Bible scriptures when I got home, specifically Revelation 12:7 and the following verses, and 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
            Ok, well Elder Thompson just called me, and he got an email from Sister Headlee saying that my release date is August 26th, and that they have me flying home to Richmond, Virginia.  Je vais voir ce que vous m’avez écrit, d’abord. (I am going to see what you wrote to me, first.)
Je vous aime bien,
-         Elder Eric Palmer
 To Mom:
(Did you do anything special for your birthday-a treat perhaps?)  Um, for my birthday, I think the only extra was that I got Elder Wagman to buy a Sprite with our money.  And that happens from time to time, but this time I could justify it.

But these past 2 birthdays were probably the most uneventful birthdays ever.  Except Elder Tingey and Hansen bought pizza from Pizza Roma, the only pizza place in Yaoundé.  Its pretty good, kind of thin, though.  And today, Elder Tingey bought me a SpongeBob pen that lights up when you write at the supermarché.

(Did you get the package?)  Yes, I got the package.  And I think right now, I have more normal shirts that I would even need in normal life.  With all the shirts that have been sent to me, and some jerseys that I accumulated on my mission, I think I have about 20 normal shirts right now.  Too much.  But thank you for the VCU shirt, (final four) Elder Tingey was jealous.

(Does Elder Wagman speak French with a Georgia accent?)  If I remember correctly, I don't think Elder Wagman has a Georgia accent.  Things are good with him, I'm learning a lot.  It amazes me that I can always learn something new or do something a little different.  Elder Tingey and I were together forever I realized, so its weird to be with someone with a different personality.

Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric Palmer
To Mark: 
In Cameroon, there probably is a drinking age, but no one enforces it.  Or there is none at all.  There are probably a lot of laws I don't know, by they aren't well enforced.

As for age in the branch, I was thinking about that the other day.  In Bastos one, I wouldn't be surprised if all the members of the branch presidency are older than you, I know at least 2 are.  The other branch seems to be a bit younger.  It seems people here die younger, or the ones that don't get old as can be.  (hmmmm, I wonder how old that is?)
Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric Palmer

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eric's email of June 2nd, 2011

Oh, before I forget, I have a very important question to ask you.  Yesterday Elder Thompson told me that the Church Travel people emailed him, and said they need to know which airport I will fly into when I come home.  I don’t know if this whole possibility of going to Salt Lake is still there, so I told them I’ll ask you.  So, if you get this in time you can tell me if you know already.  Or you can tell the Thompsons if its later in the day or sometime soon.  I can't believe these things about going home are starting…
We got transfers !  And guess what, I’m staying !  Guess what else, so is Elder Tingey!  But guess what one more time… we are each getting a new companion.  So Elder Nsimba and Elder Prince both got transferred.  Elder Nsimba is going back to Kinshasa to be a zone leader with Elder Tumba, who lived with me in Pointe-Noire.  And Elder Prince is just going to the other side of Yaoundé, at Ekounou, to be with Elder Roldan.  And Elder Tingey is taking over Nsimba and Prince’s old sector, and he will be with Elder Hansen, who did 3 transfers in Douala, but started his mission in Ekounou.  And me, I’ll be with Elder Wagman.  He was in Pointe-Noire for 1 transfer when I was there, but recently has been in Bonabéri.  He didn’t live with me in Pointe-Noire, so I didn’t get to now him that much.  I know he’s from Georgia.  I hear he speaks French good. (well)  And they were supposed to get here today, but there was some kind of miscommunication, and the Douala Elders aren’t coming up until tomorrow.  So right now Elder Prince and Tingey and I are together until the rest of them get here.  Oh yeah, and Elder Tingey will be district leader for Bastos!
            We got the transfers on Saturday.  We all got together at the Thompson's that evening.  Since Elder Tingey and I are overbooked à la folie, (like crazy) we had our first rendezvous at 8 in the morning and had ones fixed until 5:00, then we had to be at the Thompson's at 6:30.  I’m really interested to talk to other missionaries and see what it was like for them.  Grandma Diane always tells me how lucky I am to be teaching so much.  I know it’s a blessing, but its tiring sometimes, and I wish I could have more study time.  Anyways… Elder Tingey keeps copying my email.
            I finished the Livre de Mormon this past week!  I don’t know if I have anything to say that I already haven’t said.  All I know, is that the quote by Joseph Smith in the book’s introduction is true 100%. (I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.)
            We learned something interesting about one of out investigators last week.  Soeur Fridoline, who is the coordonnée from Maman Natalie, has been progressing a bit, but kind of slowly.  But last week, she asked for a new Book of Mormon, because someone took hers.  She wouldn’t tell us who, she just said someone took it and won't give it back.  But she said she wants to start from page one and “connaitre vraiment ce qu’il y a dedans”. (really know what was inside)   So we gave her another, and from what she said I felt like she had a bigger desire than before to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  Later that weekend, we were at Maman Natalie’s house with her daughter, Mireille.  And Mireille told us really what happened with her first Book of Mormon.  Basically, the “apostle” from her old Church saw her Book of Mormon, and was upset that she had it, and wanted to tear it up, but just took it from her instead.  So, I guess that when the leader at her church did that, it created some interest for her to read it, since there was something in there he didn’t want her to read.  So, that whole ordeal could turn out to be very good for her.
            Today is also a national holiday here.  It’s the Ascension of Christ after his resurrection, so I guess in Cameroon that is a national holiday.
            Man.  Writing an email is difficult…  We have a new group of investigators.  They were a coordonnée from Soeur Ruth, a branch missionary in Bastos 2.  She referred us to her neighbor, Cedric, whose nickname is Chinois.  And the second time we went to see Cedrice, he went and presented us to his soccer team.  And so now we are teaching about 6 of them on a regular basis.  The 2 that are the most interested are Cedric, and Achoo.  I think they keep giving us their football name or nickname.  One day we asked for Cedric, and no one knew who that was, but they all knew who Chinois is.  Another one told us his name is Ballack, who is a German football player.  Anyways, Chinois and Achoo are the most interested, and they both said they want to attend church this weekend.
            And I almost forgot, but we are having a baptism this weekend, and Elder Tingey and I have one candidate.  Its Soeur Melanie, the one that got taught a lot by Elder Buck and Elder Garner.  She finally came back a couple weeks ago, so we are just tying up the loose ends.  She reads the Book of Mormon a lot, though.  We saw her 2 Tuesdays ago, and she was reading about Abinadi in the book of Mosiah.  Then on that Friday, she was already well into Alma.  She told us that one time she had a dream where Nephi appeared to her and told her to keep reading the Book of Mormon.
            Well that’s about it.  And I got news that the (birthday) package got to Douala last week, so I should get it tomorrow.  I can't believe its June.
Je vous aime,
-         Elder Eric Palmer
To Anne:
Well, I dont have much time and I didn't find any questions.  Just remember to figure out which airport I'm coming home to.

(It's been awhile since we have seen pictures!)  I forgot my camera, but next week I'll bring a lot.  If Elder Tingey sends pictures I'll get him to send them to you.

Je t'aime,
- Elder Palmer
To Mark:
I said transfer, right?

(Do Senior Missionaries get transferred?  How much longer do the Thompsons have on their mission?)  I've never heard of any couple missionaries getting transferred.  They have 10 or 11 months left.

(Do you have any plans for your birthday?)  I don't have any big plans.  I'm excited to read to conference Liahona.  Elder Wagman's birthday is allegedly on the 10th of June, so maybe we'll have to do something.

Je t'aime,
- Elder Eric Palmer