elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany

First Week in the MTC

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Hey! So today (Wednesday) is my P-day in the MTC, just so you know. Anyway, I’m having a great time. I’ll just go day by day. Just know that all my journal entries (which I’m looking at to write these) were written after 10:30, with a flashlight, so they might be a little hurried.

Wednesday: They pretty much just whisked us away, had us fill out a form on the computer, and sent us to the classroom, where I was dismayed to find that they speak 100% Deutsch. Then later that night we had a class where they brought something like 50 missionaries together and had us watch as an actor playing some investigator talking to some missionaries. Then we had to raise our hands and say something to them to answer their specific needs.

There was Sarah May, a southern woman who was a strong Christian but doesn’t go to church anymore because her father abused her as a child, and she doesn’t get why that had to happen. Then she kept marrying abusive husbands because it messed her up psychologically. So she was saying that she knew she hadn’t done anything wrong, but she was messed up and dirty, and so Heavenly Father wouldn’t answer her prayers.

The next was this intellectual guy who lost his 6 yr old son in a car accident, and although he believed in God because of all the amazing things he had seen, hated Him and couldn’t see how he could possibly care and let that happen.

The last one was this talkative Jewish woman from New Jersey whose father was in the Holocaust. Her main challenge was seeing why she needed the Gospel, and she was really good at leading people off track. The actors were actually really talented. This one poor Elder was trying really hard, but just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. He said “Sarah May, I think Christ is awesome” and Sarah May tore into him for his non-reverent language. And then he talked to the Jewish woman for a solid 10 minutes about chocolate and Australia, while the rest of us sat and watched and judged.

Something really cool that I learned that day was how to explain the Godhead. One of the investigators said it after someone talked to them about it. She said “So it’s like God is a coach, Christ is the quarterback, and the Holy Ghost is the wide receiver?” Wow. Best explanation I’ve ever heard.

Everyone in my room had a hard time falling asleep. It took me about an hour of staring at the back of my eyelids.

Thursday: I got called to be district leader.

Friday: Hard day, felt like I was doing bad at German. My teacher isn’t super friendly, so we don’t know how we are doing.

Saturday: Started noticing my District’s flaws.

Sunday: Started wanting to kill my people in my District.

But then, we had what may have been the most Spiritual few hours of my life. Janice Kapp Perry spoke (she wrote A Child’s Prayer, I Belong to the Church, the EFY medley, etc.). It was extremely laid back. She told a story about how she met her husband. They are 75ish now. They were in the same clarinet class. Before she had to perform her final test, he nudged her and said “You know, those lips look like they were made for better things than the clarinet.” Then this old man just leaps out of his seat, RUNS to the podium, and kisses her right on the mouth in front of 1000′s of missionaries. Everyone went nuts. There was lots of singing, and afterwards, I dragged my companion down to her to shake her hand. I told her that her songs are where my testimony started, and I think it meant a lot to her. After that, we all stayed and watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. It was just wave after wave of the Spirit. Everyone was crying.

Monday: My companion and I had to teach an investigator. (We had to teach him every day). They changed the times on us, so we had to basically just pray for help. Plus we don’t speak German well. It was our best lesson yet, as we taught by the Spirit.

Tuesday: The next day, however, we didn’t prepare enough, and it was awful. The Lord won’t help you unless you put the time in first. Also on Tuesday, I sang in the choir at a devotional where D. Todd Christoffersen spoke, and Bednar, Nelson, Oaks, Ballard, and Anderson were on the stand. Interestingly, while it was awesome, it was not nearly as spiritual as Sunday. And that’s not just me that seemed to feel that, but everyone.

All this week, the new Mission Presidents were here, and so were all the Apostles and the Prophet. We saw Dieter F. Uchtdorf once in his car, and I was able to shake the hand of Gifford Nielson and a Berlin Mission President from 10 years ago.

So….My district is just awesome.

I’m district leader (AKA mail carrier). I check the mail twice a day. My companion is Elder L. He graduated 3 weeks ago. He’s quiet, but nice. He has the least amount of German experience, so he’s really struggling. That means that I basically talk the entire time to our investigator, Horst. And I’m not good either. My companion is just a little afraid, I think. Elder A. and P. are the Zone leaders. They are my favorite people here, completely different than me, but super fun to talk with. We all went to BYU, and Elder A. lived 2 floors below me. He’s incredibly nice, and is just one of those super loyal people. Plus he laughs at my jokes. Elder P. appears a little austere, and I was worried that we wouldn’t get along, but after talking to him more, we are actually a lot alike. We have a ton of fun together. All three of them (Elder L. too) are going to Frankfurt. The other companionship in my room and District is Elder P2. and Elder B. Elder P2 left the MTC early a year ago because of stuff. He’s having a hard time with homesickness and anxiety. He is so excited to serve a mission though. He just wants to get to Berlin. He’s also one of my closest friends, and we have a hard time going to bed on time because we have so much fun cracking jokes. Elder B. is the one I’m struggling with the most. He just graduated from high school, really nice, maybe just a little arrogant, and corrects everyone all the time about anything ever.

“I wish I could fly.”

“We CAN fly!”

“I meant using my arms, Elder, not in a freaking plane!”

That conversation happened this morning.

He’s just fine, but I may have threatened him that . . . never mind. Maybe leave this part out of the blog post. 🙂

German is going well, I think, but the hardest part is knowing when a word is similar to the English one. Half the time I just add an -en to the end, speak in an approximation of a German accent, and hope for the best.


I’m pretty sure that the MTC is designed to break you. To say there are a lot rules here is the understatement of THIS DISPENSATION. Someone counted (a high up person) and there are 230 rules here.

Also, probably about 160 of those are contradictory.

I know like, 6 total.

Basically every 15 minutes or so, someone walks in and tells us we are breaking a rule.
Okay, thank you. We’ll get right on that.

It can feel incredibly disorganized too. They want us to be 10 minutes early to everything except lunch, to which you should show after they stop serving food. Also, you can’t leave a class until 5 minutes after the next class starts, so I guess I just need to have more faith and time travel. I guess it’s the only way.

Seriously though, it is physically impossible to succeed, which I think they do on purpose so that you pray for help or go into a coma, whatever comes first.
It’s like, “Laundry is broken this week.” “You will get in trouble for having dirty clothes, so wash them in the sink.” “Also, you can’t wash clothes in the sink.”

That being said, I love it here, and my testimony grows each day. I love the Gospel, and I know that Christ lives. I know that Joseph Smith restored this Church as a prophet of God. I love you guys.



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