Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Catching Up: Part 2 - Little Rock

I pick up where the last post left off, November 17, 2014. At this point, Elder Sommerfeldt is just finishing up his first week in Littlerock, California:

So yes, I was sort of right about my prediction. I ended up in the same branch I was born (mission term for started) except this time I am in the little town just outside of Palmdale called Littlerock, so now i like to think of myself as the Guardian of the edge because my area is literaly all of Littlerock and it's the last town in the Bakersfield mission. Probably one of these days I will drive all the way to to border and take a picture of it, it's just a road. At least I get to come into Palmdale to do fun things. I'm now in Acton at the libary. My new comp is pretty cool, he's from El Salvador and suprisingly speaks decent english despite being in El Salvador his whole life. His name is Elder Hidalgo. There's 4 hispanics and 2 white guys (including me) that are serving here in Littlerock branch. The other ones cover the Palmdale parts of the Littlerock branch and one of them was one of my comps in Bakersfield (the one who likes Pokemon  so that's pretty funny. Oh and word of advice for everybody, don't move to a little town in the middle of nowhere, there's some crazies here. Oh and P.S. I ran over a dog last week. Yah kinda sad. Oh well what can you do. I don't know if it was a pet or a stray, lots of dogs don't have collars here in Cali. My area goes all the way in the mountains and there are places to hike. I did hikes last time I was in this branch. Oh and yesterday I ran into a missionary that I served with around a year ago cause he came down - he lives in LA so I just talked to him at church. It was pretty cool, he also sent me a friend request on Facebook. I'm at the Acton library because it's the best place to email. Everybody is rich out here so nobody uses the computers here so we get to instead. We have nothing really planned today, but don't worry Mom, the month is full of suppers. The Littlerock branch has practically 6 missionaries and 20 actives. Sad, there are more less actives here than actives. 

So this week I got a taste, or rather a smell, of farm life. Went to a part-member/less active house and cleaned out pigeon cages and chicken cages. Like those big ones. It stunk like poop (no doubt there). (BTW this is for Joshy) Picked up some Pokemon cards and guess what? I got a Mega GengarEX card, sweet. I played Pokemon last night against my old comp, it's tied 3-3. Thursday my comp and I were super bored so we went up exploring our area. I took some nice scenery shots. There is a road you can take to get up into the mountains and take a picture of the lights of LA. Yes they're that bright and yes, I live near the mountains, sort of. I also found out the San Andres fault line is in my area so if there's an earthquake, I'll probably feel it. Ummmm.... for Christmas I have no idea what I want Mom, so far just a tie, but if I come up with any more ideas of something I want I'll let you know. Until then I guess just guess, I guess. I haven't picked up a Cali accent yet. And I have been trying to make my comp say quotes from Nacho Libre because he has a hispanic accent but he won't do it. Sigh, oh well.

This week was alright. Not much happened this week, just taught a few people. However Thanksgiving was interesting, we were tracking and knocked on this door and the people inside told us to come in, so we were like, "what?" We came in and sat down and they gave us some food (so that's a first on my mission). Usually people here slam the door on you on holidays, so now I can say there is at least some nice people in Cali. After that went to our Thanksgiving supper with a member family, that was good. We also went up to the mountains Saturday night after some other Latino Elders had a baptism and ended up getting a flat tire there. It was cold, we used the phone and we were with some other elders who had their own car so they switched out the tire. It was super windy. It sucked at the time but now I'm laughing about it. So that was interesting, driving down a mountain on a spare tire. Hence why I am late writing emails. I had to go to a shop to get a new tire, fun. Thanksgiving was a mix of turkey and Hispanic food. We ate at a member's house. With all the food we eat, I'm getting fatter :( Although my belly looks bigger, I'm still the same weight I've been for the past 2 years, how does that work? It's been kinda cold here, but not cold enough for a coat so I tuff it out.  I brought my bike with me so it's here in Littlerock, but it's best to not leave your bike in the car of other elders. My bike is broken so I have to replace a back brake. I already removed the brakes myself and just have to buy new ones. My branch is in an english stake, the stake centre is in Palmdale. BTW, the members I served around when I was in Palmdale go to the church in Littlerock so I see them every Sunday. Well less than that cause a lot of them are less active now. I sent some photos of me on a Ducati motorbike. It's a less active's, I wish it was mine.

So there was a lot of rain this week, like a lot. The streets in Littlerock are mostly dirt so there are tons of puddles  and mud. Tthat was fun, driving through the mud like a mad man. Almost slipped out in the mud and almost tipped the car while driving, but yah, that's life here in Littlerock. We also watched the Christmas devotional so that was good. Got a new investigator and then got sick. On the plus side, I have a testimony that Pepto Bismal really works hehe. Oh and I accomplished my goal of writing one random girl on my mission, just did it, nice! It's a girl that Hidalgo knows from El Salvador. This week was alright. I was just knocking around on houses'  doors trying to find a tool to fix my bike and this family gave me a tool, but then they just started to Bible bash with me. I was like, "come on, I just wanted to get a tool not Bible bash!" So yah, kinda sucked. A part member family left their daughter at school and we were going to teach the non member. But then she remembered she forgot her at school, pretty funny. So we waited for a bit until she came back with her. Also found out riding in the dark in the sand in Littlerock is not really a good idea. I got some of your packages and some I haven't but I'll get them this week. They held mail at the office because of transfers this week (I'm staying in Littlerock with the same comp, yah fun fun). A lot and yes I did get the things from the Walters family, tell them thanks. 

This week was somewhat eventful, while I was biking I almost had to kick a dog. It came right up to me and tried to bite me, luckily I got away. Also while biking, a random dog ran out in front of me we both got scared cause the dog didn't see me. It ran out from beside a car and I got freaked out cause it was a big German Shepherd, so I biked around it as it attempting to chase and bite me. Luckily it was lazy so it stopped, but man was that scary. Also both times people were driving by in cars and laughing at me. This week we had this special Christmas fireside, one the councillors in the mission presidency shared a spiritual thought then we watched Mr. Krugers Christmas. The fireside was with just the missionaries here in Palmdale and Lancaster, pretty much the whole Antelope Valley missionaries. It was pretty fun seeing a lot of old friends. An investigator we had to pass on to the YSA elders asked my comp to baptise her this Saturday, yah sweet! Thanks for the Bobba Fett Jumpin' Jammerz Mom, the house gets cold at night so it helps. I'll probably send a quick email on Christmas just to let you know to turn on your electronics at noon. I suspect I might be eating lots of spanglish food then, just guessing.

Not much happened this week since we talked on Wednesday. The only really exciting thing that happened this week was we got two new investigators. They are formers; we found them while we were walking, they gave us a ride. Hidalgo knew them cause he was teaching them before, but they then had to go to LA because of the wife's pregnancy. And when I was walking to church I found some ice on the sidewalk. Elder Hidalgo and me grabbed this table that was outside and brought it home (it said free on it so I didn't steal it in case you were worried). That was pretty much the only exciting thing that happened. Haha I'm kinda surprised how cold it is here. I haven't worked out for awhile, and no, I don't use weights when working out, just body weight. Shelli, I sort of have looked back on 2014 but that's a "no" on the goal setting for 2015. I did make contact with Orion on Christmas too Mom. To answer Karen's question, the farmers here raise usually horses. That's about all, oh and cats and dogs. There's not enough space to farm anything out here.

This week was alright, not too much happened minus the snow. Yes, it snowed here finally! I thought I would never be able to be around it while I was here in Cali, wow what a surprise  Hidalgo hates the cold and snow though. Other than that not much else happened. We taught people, oh but for New Year's Eve just hanged with the other elders inside, so yeah that was fun. Funny story: while we were walking around we stopped to talk to these old ladies and while my comp was talking to one of them, the other one was staring at me with a creepy smile, woah old people! Yikes, I think I understand why David has a fear of old people - it's not an irrational fear anymore David, it's a rational one. Maryn, that Yoda joke that you sent was pretty funny! It took my comp forever to figure it out though haha. This week I picked up some moccasin boots from a native shop, they're pretty nice. PS Feliz an(y)o! 

So not too much happened last week. Got really sick, I think it was food poisoning yah. "Do you not realize I've had diarrheas since Easters??" I let my comp drive this week, never again. He's a crazy driver cause he's from El Salvador. People over there drive crazy. We helped move a pine tree (their Christmas tree) from inside somebody's house outside. I  found out it's a good idea to wear a long sleeve when moving a pine tree cause my arms after looked like I got some weird skin desiease, pretty much looked like a rash. Anyways, after putting the tree in the back, one dog came over and tried to bite me in the heel, luckily I was walking so I hit it with my back heel, woah luckily. Elder Hidalgo was not so lucky, a dog's teeth got through his shoe but luckily it didn't break skin. Also we went over to the Native store in Littlerock, and Hidalgo bought an ocarina, unfortunaly it didn't work really well, haaha I laughed at that. For our ZTM we watched the Hastening The Work broadcast, it was pretty good. Some recent converts gave talks yesterday, you could tell they were pretty nervous, but good talks nonetheless. The Buckeye/Ducks game is this next week. Josh keep cheering for the Ducks, they are better anyways. Just kidding, go Buckeyes go.

Ok so first off I am emailing right now in a makeshift Family History Center which is in the office of a branch president's office. Not my Branch President, another one. That one's closed here in Littlerock for the holiday which is why i'm doing this at 6 in the morning. I'm up at 6 cause that's when the member was going to be here. And the english elders who might use this as well never answered my text last night so I decided to get here first so that they would have to wait until i'm done, the proactive always win. So yah sorry if you won't be up for this conversation. As a missionary I don't like holidays especially on Mondays, I love Mondays too much. And yes I have had trunky dreams Maryn. For all of you who do not know missionary slang, "trunky" refers to, in a sense, somebody getting ready to go because they are packing up their "trunk", or suitcase in modern terms, early. Anyways, it was a rather boring week, we met a JW (Jehovah's Witness) who thought we were JW's. I probably said we were LDS 3 or 4 or more times but apparently it didn't get into her head very well. Hay, at least later we were able to get a new investigator yah. Other than that no other interesting stories, just taught some people. Oh yes, before I forget, my comp did get Dear John'd a few weeks ago, haahha. To Karen, some advice for giving a talk on gospel discussions, don't use deep doctrine. And yes I am surprised to hear some of you are  waking up at 730! I never woke up that early minus the few times for work, and don't worry, after the mission I probably won't ever wake up at 630 - probably closer to 10. Since it's a holiday hike we possibly might go on a hike. I don't think the parks would be closed. It's cold right now but it's the morning. Ok got to go but love y'all. And don't worry, things will be back to normal next week hopefully. Man, I really don't like holidays as a missionary."

Monday, 19 January 2015

Catching Up! Area Three: Bakersfield

It has been a long time coming since I have updated this blog. (THAT'S MY FAULT!) But everything has a silver lining, and this is no different. If you know Elder Sommerfeldt, you'll know he really isn't one for elaborate sentences, detailed paragraphs - any kind of wording actually. His emails home are more so a run-on sentence stream of consciousness than anything.

So, (with a little editing to make it legible!) here are photos from James' last few months of his mission. For some context, since the last blog post, he was transferred to Bakersfield, and then to Little Rock, where he currently serves. This post will cover his time in Bakersfield. HE STILL CLAIMS PALMDALE IS HIS FAVOURITE. Without further delay, here is a look back at James' mission, from Summer 2014 to now:


"Ok so last week was rather a disappointing week. We had a lot of less active visits but let me tell you those were the longest lessons of my life. All they did was talk, they just wouldn't be quiet. Oh well. Most Latino youth here prefer to speak in english to everybody except older Latinos cause they don't know english. I sort of understood the less actives, Elder Gomez did most of the talking. On the plus side I am sending some pictures although some of them are from my time in Lancaster. 
Elder Gomez drew me has a pokemon, but I need some help coming up with a name, he's a Rock/Ice type that's a T-Rex. BTW, Elder Gomez's pokemon is Fire/Steel. We hear stuff about the World Cup right now, but Elder Gomez hates Argentina; he's Mexican. But yes I was cheering for Germany, after all I was wearing the jersey. 

So this week I threw up after working out, sigh, there goes 20$ of protein down the sink drain. Other then that not much happened. No investigators at church, all of them are avoiding us but whatever. On the plus side I have a fighting pokemon team planned for when I get home, I think I will call this team Royal Rumble. We have one of those door pull-up bar things and I was doing all sorts of exercises with it. I was at home when I got sick, and I believe the brand of protein powder is Whey-Protein; tastes bad by itself but throw into a blender with a banana, choc milk, and peanut butter and it tastes great. I'm not really buff, just started this routine. But make sure it's well blended or else you will be eating protein chunks and that just tastes gross.

Luckily I am in car this area so I can avoid getting into any bike crashes like in the past.  

Hello Everybody,

Ok to answer some questions my favourite colours are purple, green, blue. 
We used to, for service, go help out at the food bank but we don't do that anymore. Too many people and not enough things to do. Also my comp is leaving and I am getting another mexican companion. Still a JR. comp and I'm not DL. Wow, avoided leadership again. I have a goal to avoid any leadership throughout my mission, fingers crossed. My new comp is from Mexico but lives in New York now, Elder Gomez is from Mexico but lives in Texas. I have to move apartments even though i'm not leaving though, so I'm packing like a mad man. Elder Lopez its happening tomorrow. As for Elder Gomez, he's going to Lancaster.

This new apartment is way nicer than the one before and we have a giant couch that even I can lay down comfortably on. Plus, it's also a hide-a-bed; my bed sucks, it feels like I'm sleeping on bricks. The reason we moved was because a new english area opened up and a senior couple was moving out, so now we live in the senior couples old apartment and english missionaries live in my old one. Also last night my car battery died so we got a new car today. It's just as bad as the last one.

I spend a lot of time driving around, just to put into retrospect I drove about 300 miles in one week. So yah, I think I will go over my miles limit this month oh well. I kinda hope they take away my driving privileges so I don't have to deal with driving here. On the plus side this week was a good week lots of new investigators, yah. It's still hot and not looking forward to the winter here cause then all the smog gets thicker and it still stays hot. Its ok though, I'll get transferred to Ridgecrest where Death Valley is just cause Pres. loves to see me suffer in the Californian desert. Oh that's life I guess. Or I am hoping I will get sent up to the Mountains where there is actually snow and I can have a white Christmas and where its cold :). 

Hello Ya'll, so this week was a really good week yah! 9 new investigators and a baptism, yah (not mine but cool anyways). Some of them are in the same family, some of them spanish, some english. Also went to Burger King, paid using coins and coupons - now I feel what it's like to be poor. Also just bought some sweet paisley ties, I guess that means I am not poor, I kinda contradicted myself there, oops. And happy birthday Josh! Just 2 more years until you can go on your pokemon adventure, haha. Oh and those pictures of the receipt are what happens when a Star Wars nerd gets a receipt (or in this case his companion's receipt). Who gets it? :) 

So this week was pretty funny cause my comp got racial profiled, I will explain. We were doing service for a member and we are cleaning their windows. Elder Lopez took off a screen and then a cop pulled around to check out what he was doing. And when he looked over at me, I said, "oh we're cleaning windows." The cop then said, "oh, I thought you were breaking in." Haha, pretty funny. Also we went to a Swap Meet on Friday and set up a booth, I felt like I was in Mexico. No white people, no english, just Mexicans everywhere. Oh, a Swap Meet is pretty much a flee market, you buy things for cheap, knockoffs, that kinda thing. We were giving stuff for free like Book of Mormons, pass-along cards with our numbers on it, pamphlets, stuff like that. So yah, that was pretty fun minus the sandstorm after we got there. Luckily I was still in the car. Other than that, a pretty standard week, some new investigators, one at church. The mission's goal is to have members present for every lesson and our Bishop's goal is to re-activate less-actives, although the problem with less actives in the spanish mission is that they are muy flojo (very lazy) so they are not really our priority right now. 

So this week kinda sucked. I crashed the car (sort of) and now I am busy filling reports right now. This sucks. We hit the curb, and yes I was driving. "Meet the Mormons" is coming out soon, but we don't get to see the movie in theatres. We will be able to watch it when it comes out on dvd. 

So this weekend was alright, went and watched General Conference at the Stake Center, met a crazy man, had a baptismal interview for a deaf person and his mom. Unfortunately nobody in this whole entire stake knows how to sign, just his mother and brother. He speaks ASL, his brother does not know spanish and his mom is still learning ASL. She's the one getting baptized, but I don't know much about them cause they're not my investigators. Basically we need to find somebody that speaks english, spanish and ASL cause it will have to be translated into 3 different languages. Fun right? My comp's the DL so he had to do the interview while I waited outside. The son's 8 years old, I believe. Also found out kids are vicious cause his little brother bit my leg while I was waiting outside. When the kid bit me I yelled "argh!" To get him off I shook me leg a bit but he wouldn't let go of his death grip. Children, right? Anyways, the crazy guy was a huge conspiracy theorist, so that was a waste of time. And to answer your question, the best fast food place right now Carl's Jr.

So this week was pretty disappointing at least for the Sisters. For me there is no such thing as good or bad weeks, just another week in the mission (EDITOR'S NOTE: I KIND OF DOUBT THIS CLAIM.). So the Sisters had a baptism but a few hours before it, it got cancelled. Their investigator found some anti-Mormon stuff which caused doubts for her. On the plus side I discovered that my camera had a few special effects on it so that will be the pictures to follow.
Oh! It is not safe in Bakersfield right now, Sisters almost got kidnapped and there is a crazy clown running around at night with a knife. Oh well, what can you do? Must be the air. But don't worry about that, an Elder taught me a little Jujitsu so if I get in trouble I know what to do. Anyways enjoy the pictures.

Well to answer the question of last week no, that's not my comp's baseball, its the Buena Vista missionaries' baseball where Elders have singed their names on it, including me. It stays behind for the next Elders to sign. I forgot to to mention but a few weeks ago I went and watched "Meet The Mormons" before it came out in a Stake Center. The whole mission watched it in various chapels around the mission. The Candy Bomber was pretty cool as well as the football coach. We don't really play football here because I am a spanish Elder, so it's soccer. 
Oh, and haven't heard anything about the crazy clown, maybe because they have the Police helicopter up every night flashing the search light around. Just once I want it to land upon me, I'm still wishing for that. Also, got in a bible bash with a Pastor's wife (or rather my comp), that was interesting. So yah, my crazy life. Oh! You should ask missionaries over there in your Wards what they do for Halloween, usually they switch their name tags around with their comp. =)

So not much happened this weekend, but I did go to a lot of parties. Friday was the Ward's Trunk-o-Treat and it was funny trying to listen to the Bishop trying to speak english during the costume contest. For example when a kid said he was an angry bird, he -on the microphone- said, "nin(y)o bird," aka "kid bird". Pretty funny. We also crashed a wedding too, pretty fun. I'm sure Matt knows what happens when Hispanics have a party (it becomes a dance party). No parties on Sunday, after all gotta keep it holy, but on the plus side had a confirmation, baptismal interview and investigator at church, nice. Oh, and Halloween for missionaries means go home early and sleep. And ask the missionaries if they switch name tags on Halloween, apparently its a thing. I did it for awhile at the Trunk-or-Treat. There I got a little bit of chocolate, and a lollipop thingy, but missionaries play tricks all the time. For example yesterday I saw english sister missionaries sitting in their car, and it was dark out so I decided I would scare them. So I walked up to their car (still didn't notice me), went over to the passenger side (still didn't notice me), and then I banged the passengers window! I freaked out the Sister sitting in the passenger seat and she freaked. Like jumped and looked very scared, pretty funny. We have a pranking war going on with those Sisters since they live in the same apartment complex as us, so we'll see if they get us back. It's pretty even right now, a lot of TP'd doors and silly stringed doors. Oh, and since it's my One Year mark, burning a white shirt is what you do.

NOV 2014
Last week was pretty uneventful, I had to deal with a cold for 3 days, fun. Spent Halloween just sitting inside, it's cold here, and I haven't ridden a bike in a long time. You mentioned Christmas lights, interesting that you would say that, because as a spanish missionary I always look for houses with Christmas lights. I will explain why. Hispanics never take down Christmas lights here so you always look for houses that say "Mi Casa es su Casa," have a Hispanic name, suns hanging on the walls, beat up truck, or those icicle looking Christmas lights. 
We had Stake Conference, a 70 came, pretty cool. My comp had to translate one of the sessions, glad I didn't have to do it. To Mom, I already got my flu shot, the mission covered it.

So quick update: I am getting transfered. I am kinda sad, but glad at the same time; it's a bitter taste. On the plus side, 2 investigators came to church. Yah, still fighting this cold I have had for a week, it sucks. Oh well, what can I do, I am just glad I am leaving just as the smog is coming in. I ain't kidding when I say Bakersfield is one of the dirtiest cities I have ever seen. You know a city is dirty when you can see the pollution in the air 5 feet in front of you, maybe that's why I am still sick. Oh btw, yes I did get some packages, so thanks! In fact I am wearing those socks right now. Sweet p-day tie and sock day, nice. I am getting transferred tomorrow, but I'm not exactly sure where. However, through my spanish mission connection, I think I might end up back in Palmdale, quite a few spots opened up there recently. I call this transfer Operation Banishment because when your mission is the largest geographically in California, everyplace outside of Bakersfield feels like banishment. To answer Dad's question, north of Bakersfield, there are spanish missionaries in Taft, Ridgecrest, and Mammoth. Got to go, talk to y'all later somewhere else I guess. Love y'all."

Stay tuned for part two - Little Rock!