elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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Finally productive again…

I just want to thank my amazing home ward for all the Christmas cards and well wishes, even though I was there for like 3 weeks ever. It makes me so happy. Thanks so much for thinking of the missionaries!

Nothing much has changed yet again. It did snow, so that was cool. Just slipping and sliding all over the place. NO don’t panic I don’t need new shoes. We have not found very much lately, and by that I mean we haven’t gone finding, and also not-too-surprisingly, we haven’t found people. But today – a P-day, no less – we found 2 people and a few really good contacts (that just means they couldn’t make an appointment on the street, but we can still call and stop by). So that was a good little booster.

We announced that John would be baptized a week from yesterday, and the ward was SUPER stressed. Because they’re German. It was actually kinda cute. I felt guilty for a while, because they said we didn’t give them enough notice, but then I remembered that we told our ward mission leader (who is awesome and wasn’t freaking out) and a family in ward council and a member of the branch presidency, but just no one had actually believed he would actually progress and keep commitments and come to church and stuff, so they didn’t really pay attention to the excited little missionaries. So now I just think it’s funny. Besides. We already planned EVERYTHING. Like, we still had to pick out songs by the end of church and that was it. Germans’ number one concern every time there’s a baptism is clothing. In Germany they wear white pants, white shirt, white tie, even when you’re the one getting baptized, so you can’t just pull a onesie out of the closet. (We ended up just pulling out those things out of the closet anyway, so I don’t know what the big deal was.) And I’m not exaggerating when I say they were freaking out. These are normally logical, stoic germans, but I’m not joking, a few of the Relief Society were close to tears because they couldn’t make food in time. On the plus side, this ward has been ridiculously nice to John, considering they speak different languages and the never thought he was going to get baptized anyway. He’d just been to church twice (three times this last Sunday) and a few older ladies got him little Christmas gifts to match the missionaries’ gifts. I loved that.

Another little thing I noticed today about humility and how it relates to confidence in the example of Jesus Christ, the most humble being ever to walk the Earth.

In John 16:33, shortly before He begins to suffer in Gethsemane, He tells the apostles–who were surely troubled because Christ kept telling them of what was to come–He tells them to be of good cheer, He has overcome the world. He speaks of the creation of the Atonement in the past tense, a done deal. He still had to suffer more than anyone ever has multiplied by the billions of people on Earth, and He already knows he’s going to do it, and do it perfectly. Sometimes we feel that would be arrogant, but He knew he could do it, because that is why He was here, so He would do it, because He loves us. I’m convinced that if He even considered the possibility of failure, He would have been overcome. But He didn’t consider it. He single-handedly won he battle against Satan, and made it possible for us to win our own personal battles, as long as we turn to Him.

I love you guys!
Elder Greaves


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Well, not much has changed since yesterday . . .

[received on December 26.  Mom recently realized she never posted it to the blog.  Whoops.]

Not really. Actually we just had a little abendbrot (evening bread – Germans eat very small dinners) and then we cleaned our apartment this morning. And all the members tease Elder P. for acting like a child and talking all the time at the top of his lungs (true American, he is) and they tease me for not wearing coats and being skinny, but I think I get the better end of that deal. 🙂

It was so awesome to be able to see you guys, and to talk as long as we wanted. It was definitely the best part of Christmas. It was great to see the cousins too, even if we couldn’t think of anything to say. 🙂 I feel like I didn’t get to ask enough questions about you guys. Please let me know what’s going on in your lives, especially you, Aspen and Sawyer! Anyway, thanks for the mp3 player and speakers, and Sawyer, thanks for the jaw harp, I’m really excited about it, and of course, thank you mom for the blanket. Although seriously, I do need help to figure out which side is the top side on it.

Of course I’ll buy a coat and camera, now that I’ve waited as long as I wanted to anyways. 🙂

I’ll just share a quick little story from 1 Kings 19. I have more time to talk about spiritual stuff!

Background: Elijah just did his altar miracle, where he gathered the Priests of Baal together and had them build and altar and pray, etc., and then he soaked the altar in water and it still lit on fire. That must have been a high point for him. Surely he thought he had destroyed any opposition, he had won, Baal was finished. He even killed all the priests of Baal. But no.

Actually, a lot of powerful people wanted him dead now.

So he fled into the wilderness, and in despair, he requested for himself that he might die; and said,

It is enough; now, O Lord,take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
(v. 4). And then he laid down to sleep. Then, an angel came and fed him meal and water. The second time, the angel did the same thing, this time saying a little bit more.
7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.

He still had to flee Jezebel, but Elijah had nothing left to give. He really had used all of his strength, and it still wasn’t good enough. So the Lord sent him something that may have seemed like a slight. The Lord, the all powerful Lord, sent him in his time of hunger and starvation – a meal cake and water. No grand feast, no meat, nothing that would sustain him for very long at all, really.

But, as he ate, I wonder if a flicker of a memory stirred, of a time and place not too far removed. I wonder if he thought of the barrel of meal, how you had to scrape along the bottom for the last spoonful. I wonder if he recalled the cruse of oil, held upside down, the trail of oil long since turning to a slow drip. I wonder if he remembered the widowed, starving woman, who, in great faith, gave him the last meal cake. I wonder if saw in his mind’s eye, those last drops of oil, those final crumbs, roasting over a fire, as a hungry, miserable, passionate, faithful woman cradling her child in her arms, looked on, watching what would have been their last mouthful of sustenance go to a stranger. I wonder if he saw himself in that barrel, with nothing left to scrape from the bottom, or in the oil cruse, having spent his last drops, or in the woman, having put God before himself every step of the way.

And I hope he then recalled the barrel, never empty, the cruse, running over, and the mother, cared for by a loving and knowing and understanding and empathizing God.

And I know he did, because of what happened next.

8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

I know that God loves us, and Christ knows exactly how we feel. After all, He felt it. He suffered for every pain and every hurt, every sin and every trial, down to the last tear. He did it. He did it for me, and he did it for you. Because he loves us.

And I know that when you have no strength left, when you have given everything else to the Lord and can’t imagine going further, the Lord can and will carry you. In whatever means necessary.

I love you guys. Remember the meaning of Christmas, that it means the perfect, precious Son was given for us, so that we would always, always, have a shoulder to lean on.

Have a great week!

Elder Greaves

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-03-071-elijah-and-the-widow-of-zarephath?lang=eng


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Wow! 6 months!

I forgot to tell you guys that Thursday of last week was my 6 month mark, but I guess you figured it out!

I probably don’t even have to say this anymore, but I don’t have much time, because today’s not even technically P-day. We are just supposed to write our families and President today. Which is usually like all I do anyway. I’m just not writing Elder Garrett and Hanna today.

Speaking of writing, I want Glendene Wilson’s email. This Sunday I was translating for John, and I was focusing on other things, trying to figure out what to do for the Christmas devotional broadcast we were watching in German for Sacrament, the names of members around me, etc., and just distracted and thinking a lot. And without even thinking about it, I was able to tell John the Sacrament prayers in English without thinking about it.  I didn’t think about the significance of that til a few minutes later when I realized that although it wasn’t his first time at church, it was his first time taking the Sacrament, and it was a big deal for him. And I remembered Sister Wilson telling me how she knew that me saying the prayers for here every week would somehow serve me later in life. I just wanted to let her know.

I’ll talk more about him later.

So those German postal workers told me my package should arrive before or on Christmas Eve, and they better because I sent some good stuff and I want them to be there for Christmas. But make sure Sawyer has checked his email; I left special instructions for him.

I’ll Skype at 5 o’clock PM on Christmas day at a member’s house. I think that should be 9 AM for you. Just a forewarning, President Kosak made a rule that Skype calls have to be 30-40 minutes, which makes me pretty darn sad.

So, about this miracle named John. I’ll list some cool things that happened with him, and I’ll tell the rest during Skype.

  • Invited himself to be baptized 5 minutes into the first lesson.
  • Came to the church for a church tour before Sunday. He got a call, and his friend asked where he was. He replied – and we had never said anything about this – “Oh hey, I’m in the House of the Lord.”
  • When he prays, he usually says something along the lines of – and remember, he’s from Africa – “Oh God, Lord uh Lords, King uh Kings, bless this day, bless this hour, I need your strength Lord, your almighty strength. We worship you” and then starts talking about how he’s so grateful to know God better now and Elder Pilling and I just open our eyes and mouth “wow”.

He’s a stud, we love him. Elder Pilling might actually romantically love him, I’m not sure yet. (haha!)

But now to… this week…. meh…

This week was just absolutely no fun at all. I didn’t like it.The first two weeks, I felt like I gave it my all, and I was constantly exhausted and constantly happy and we were constantly successful. Bernburg exploded. It was exciting. But we were sooo tired. And this week, we worked as usual, talking to everyone, not wasting time anywhere, but we found only 1 person. (As opposed to the 18 of the last 2 weeks). I was not at all happy with that, but we knew we hadn’t wasted any time. In fact, the only thing that really changed is we learned how to teach together better. But I also noticed I wasn’t as tired. I think what happened was I saw that I had 4 weeks still in the transfer, and I looked at how tired I was, I thought there was no way I was ever going to make it. So minutely, imperceptibly, and ever-so-faintly, I slowed down. Just a bit. Just to make sure I would finish the race, so to speak. Most missionaries have the goal of giving 100% their entire missions. And for me, I think I was afraid that if I gave 110% for too long, I wouldn’t even be able to give 100% later on. But that, that is completely faithless – presumptuously prideful. To think even for a second that the Lord would let me drop, let the work slow, because I was working TOO hard? Absolutely ridiculous. To consider even for a moment that it was my efforts making ANYTHING happen, that were putting prepared people in our path, that were causing investigators to know the Book of Mormon was true, that were leading Elder Pilling and me to say what needed to be said, to think that was directly because I was working hard is to completely ignore the hand of Lord.

So the hand of the Lord needed to slap me across the face.

Proverbially, because that would be pretty brutal literally.

So I can now give my testimony that it is when you give everything you have, regardless of whether you’re skills are measured by the teaspoon or a tonne (metric), that the Lord fills you to overflowing with blessings. I mean, statistically, for how hard we worked, and for how many people we talked to, and for how much success we had had with similar efforts, we should have done a lot better this week. But it has nothing to do with me, or Elder Pilling, or any missionary. It is really how worthy we are of divine deliverance.

And I know the Lord will send all you can handle your way, when you are humble enough and heartfelt enough to receive it.

Elder Greaves

See ya Thursday!

THE FOLLOWING IS A CHRISTMAS LETTER FROM PRESIDENT AND SISTER KOSAK

2014 Christmas President and Sister Kosak

Merry Christmas to Missionaries in the field, waiting in MTC, and still back home. Merry Christmas to all parents and grandparents!

Dear Missionaries,

What is Christmas about? There have been many great and wonderful people, even religious teachers who have taught men how to live, but there has been but ONE Messiah, ONE Christ, the ONE Annointed, even Jesus Christ.
I testify of Him, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is the Savior, the Messiah. He made the Atonement for our sins and opened the Resurrection.

This is what Christmas is about.

Those of us who know the plan of happiness, know what Christmas really is all about!
When we were children we were more “Believing is Seeing”. Then, unfortunately, we leave often the Christmas of childhood disillusioned. It is easy thereafter to feel that “Seeing is believing.”
When we’re fixed on that, we do not have the hope of ever again finding Christmas as it once was and as it ought to be, because it works the other way around: “Believing is seeing.”
See in Moroni 7:41-48.

President Boyd K. Packer taught, “If you would see what you get in exchange for giving up the childish illusion of Christmas, you could look forward to the greatest of all discoveries. No matter what your age, you can find and can keep that “little-kid” feeling about Christmas.”

(Hence, we don’t need toys in the mission field – we’re disciples and find joy in helping others to come unto Christ and in sports and in Germany chocolate :))

Therefore I would like to suggest that we all read the Christmas story in the second chapter of Luke EVERY DAY this WEEK. It will take a minute and a half to read. It might take a minute more to ponder on it – but FIND YOURSELF IN THE STORY as Angels who proclaim, as Shepherds who take care, as Wise Men who seek after the true meaning of happiness, as Sheep who follow the Master, as … FIND YOURSELF.

The Christmas story does not end there. It is only the beginning. With Christmas and because of it we have Easter. When we, as adults, accept a new status as children of our God, our Father, we may humble ourselves and believe again and in so doing begin to see that in exchange for the fanciful poetry of The Night Before Christmas comes the miracle of the first Christmas that grows in every season.

The whole account—from Bethlehem to Calvary—is the Christmas story, and it takes simple, childlike faith to find that out.
Missionaries, use your time wisely. Show it to investigators and members whose errand you’re.
If there is no finding time, WATCH the “Work of Salvation” DVD you have in your apartment, PREPARE your “My Family” pamphlet for further usage in finding and teaching, MASTER scriptures we want in the mission, etc.
This is a time of preparation, this is a time of listening and teaching, this is a time in CRESCENDO.

We love you and wish you a Merry Christmas!! He is the Gift!


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2nd week

No clever email name, sorry. I’m feeling really nauseous right now, and I also spelled naseous wrong, but this is a German computer. But anyway, I’ll just power through it. 🙂

Emails: Christmas day. No idea what time. Probably in evening here, so that it isn’t so bad for you. But yeah, I’ll let you know next week what time. I did receive the Christmas package, thank you! It was awesome. I haven’t opened anything I wasn’t supposed to. I’m sending my package tomorrow, so we’ll probably be paying through the nose to get it there on time. Also, you can see that I kinda had to… get thrifty with the wrapping paper. You’ll see what I mean for sure. But they are all wrapped, so open that sucker up when it gets there. Sawyer has one for the gift draw and for Christmas day (Do we do it that way? I got the first one a while ago along with Aspen’s, and couldn’t resist the second one the other day, because it so darn awesome. That’s the gift draw one.) I didn’t get a chance to write letters yet, so those might come a little after Christmas, we’ll see. Suitcases: Yes, ordering me new ones would be great. Don’t worry about getting super indestructible ones, but the bigger the better for sure.

If there was one piece of advice I had for missionaries going to somewhere in Europe, it would be don’t take so much darn stuff because most Elders just burn their missionary mall or Mr. Mac suits or whatever and buy super cheap super slim European suits, shoes, ties, coats, and everything else anyway. But don’t worry. I’m too cheap for that. But will be stepping in puddles and kicking curbs until these black shoes die. 🙂 The first Christmas concert went well, there were about 200 there. We do have bikes, but against a little resistance from the comp, we are now walking basically everywhere so we can talk to everyone. It’s helped a lot, and it didn’t hurt that my bike had bad gears, either. 🙂 Happy Birthday, Mom! Phew. I think that’s everything.

Example of a Heele-Christ-Markt (Christmas market) in Bernburg.

Example of a Heele-Christ-Markt (Christmas market) in Bernburg.

So about Christmas in Germany: They have little Christmas fairs in just about every city, including Bernburg. They sell traditional German Christmas food, and then a bunch of middle eastern people sell belts and wallets and handbags and candles. The usual. But they are very very very serious about advent calendars here.They’re serious about everything Chirstmas. It is three days long: Holy evening (Christmas Eve), The day, and the next day too. If we went finding, we would be shot, ya know, in the Spirit of Christmas. But seriously, our German mission president has made it a rule: NO working the three days of Christmas. I absolutely hate it. I’ll feel guilty the whole time, not even joking. It just feels wrong, even if I’m doing what I’m told. But Germans will not ever talk to you during Christmas. Also, the song Silent Night cannot be sung except on Christmas Eve. It’s a big deal here, but Americans could get away with it. In Austria, however, I’ve heard it is actually against the law, and you pay a fine. They absolutely love Christmas here though.

silent night

So this last week:

And bear with me if my enthusiasm seems a bit curbed, I still feel a little queasy, and I have lost the ability and desire to use proper grammar, partly due to the fact that I’m doing this at the very, very end of the day and I’m super tired. But it was a great great week and Bernburg is – and there’s no other word for it – bumpin’. (That means good, Grandma Ann and Cathy. Also thank you for the book Grandma Ann, it’s awesome. And thanks Grandma Cathy for the birthday money.)

This week, we found 6 more people, which for all you Brazilian RM’s is super good here. We ended up inviting John, the guy that asked if baptism is important, to baptism on the 4th of January, and he is just about the coolest guy I’ve ever met. He traveled from Benin (by Nigeria) to Germany over the space of several years, with a 3 year stop in Morocco to earn enough money to travel more. He grew up on the streets, never got to go to school, and in some ways seems a little haunted. He says he’s honestly just grateful he’s alive, and that things in Africa “are just broken”. He is so amazing. Only 25. We had a lesson with him and his friend on Tuesday. Their other roommate was there, and he was trying to Bible bash with me, which was really fun (I swear, I never Bible bashed). He laid in his bed and would say stuff like

“Church on Sunday? Wrong. Sabbath day is Saturday”.

Answer: Basically, Prophet said. Read the BOM to see if he is a prophet.

Or we’d say, “…. prophets in the Bible like Moses, Abraham, Noah, Adam…”

“What! Abraham was not a prophet! He as a friend of God, it says so in the Bible. How can you say he was a prophet? Moses! Moses….. Okay. I’ll let you have Moses. But Abraham!” or “Í’ll bet you don’t know what it says in John 3:16!”

Thank goodness, that is like the only scripture I know in English. That surprised him. So I answered all his questions while Elder Pilling kept asking John and his friend Mark in a whisper if Ama (the guy) was drunk,so they were trying not to bust out laughing. My personal favorite,

“Church only once a week? WRONG! We should go to church every day if we really love Jesus!”

To which I replied, “Oh really Ama? When was the last time you’ve come to church?”

And then we all died laughing.

It was all in good fun, actually, and Ama still likes us, but he was doing his best to derail the lesson. We got through it though, and it was actually one of the best lessons we’ve ever taught, even with the distraction! They ended up both coming to church too, which meant more translating. The hardest part is that you have to translate from German to English to English without Gospel slang so they understand it. Sacrament meeting is fine, but Priesthood is awful. It’s kinda funny actually, because when you are translating into the simplest terms possible, you realize that all those old guys are saying EXACTLY THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER. They just use different words and scriptures and phrases. So your investigator is looking at you like you’re crazy, but you’re like, no really, they did just say”work hard for yourself” and “Jesus helps you when things are hard” 43 times in a row. Sorry. But anyway, we had a good investigator lesson with those two.

Fitz, the Asian guy that came to church last week, couldn’t come this time because he has midterms that he was really stressed about. Sad. But he is reading the BOM, so at least there’s that.

Albert, who was going to get baptized on the 28th, could not come to church because he needed to pick up his sister or something else REALLY DUMB MAN COME ON! I feel like we shouldn’t baptize him until he honestly is in the habit of coming to church every single week. We have done a good job explaining why, and he has told us why he should come, but it still isn’t happening. I’M feeling kind of alone in this though. Most other missionaries have been advising us to baptize him after he comes to church twice, the lowest “legal” amount. But we’ll see. He knows everything, but something is holding him back.

We have been inviting people to baptism on the first lesson lately. It’s something Preach My Gospel tells you to do, but no one does it ever because it just sounds crazy for Germany. But we have invited so many people and have seen so much success for little ole’ Bernburg that our zone is making it a new “key indicator”, so everyone will keep track of baptismal invites. Pretty cool! But it has been a testimony builder for me. Sometimes, you actually don’t know better than the Church leaders, and you need to go on faith.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “giving it your all” lately, and of course, I don’t have time to really go into it today, but I’ll do a little more next time. It was something Elder Garrett and I figured out together during personal and comp study over a few weeks, actually, and I’ll talk about it next time.

For now, I want to talk about following the Spirit. It’s a topic pretty dear to missionary’s heart, because it’s just about all you do. I’ve really seen a difference in the days I “seek after the Spirit” and those days I just hope it’s there. When I work for it, I have felt my mouth answering questions that I hadn’t even had time to register yet. I have seen the Spirit guide me (almsot unconciously, becuase I’m a stubborn little brat sometimes) to ask questions that have led to me understanding the investigator in a completely different way. The other day, I was on an exchange with a newish elder (still being trained). We were setting a goal for how many people we would find the next day. We decided to pray to ask Heavenly Father to give us a number that we could accomplish that would push us as hard as we could. I was feeling three, and he was thinking two. We prayed, and the first thing he said was “dang it”. What?

“Well, I really wanted to say two, because three is really high, and I was telling myself to say 2, but 3… it was like it was being stamped in my head. 3. 3. 3. It’s three. I know it.”

That’s following the Spirit. What an example to me! The next day, we found 2, which was more than had been found in the last week. We could have found three, but we didn’t know our phone number! He wasn’t discouraged. He said he still knew 3 was the right number, because we had worked all day, talking to every single person, and if we had been a little more ready, we would have found three. That’s faith! And faith and the Spirit are what should and someday will guide my every missionary footstep. I want to learn to recognize it more. Something I think I’m going to try is something I heard from a companion of a companion. He prayed to know what a “yes” felt like and what a “no” felt like for over an hour, so that he could recognize it more readily. I love that. The Spirit is incredibly more tangible than we sometimes think! He is there, ready to share God’s love and proof of our Savior. It comes through prayer! Sorry, that thought was a little discombobulated, but so it is.

Love ya, Elder Greaves

P.S. Also, you should know that today I got maybe the worst hair cut of my life. It is like a sideways mullet. VEEEERRYYY. European. One side says “I’m a missionary!” The other side, the one with the part, says “WW2 nazi soldier”. Look up pictures. It’s very accurate. I’m wearing a beanie for the next two weeks.

Hitler Youth haircut


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Bernburg: Week one.

As always, I don’t have a ton of time. Please fix the grammar, mom, I’m having a really hard time thinking in English today. The important stuff:

Monday/Tuesday: Said goodbye to Lauenburg and Elder Garrett, both of whom I miss a ton. A TON. Tuesday I had to take trains to get to Leipzig. Here is a summary of probably the worst morning of my life.

today has been ruff

After staying up til 2 to finish packing and cleaning for the new elder, I fell asleep. My alarm clock broke, so we slept in for an hour and a half. Then, I duct-taped my two big suit cases together (not to each other, just to hold them together).

Because they both broke that morning.

Broken shells, zippers ruined, etc. I was in survival mode at this point.

Put my shoes on, and my laces broke.

My other shoes were packed. I did the rest of my morning with a shoelaceless shoe, remember that.

Went to the Greek family’s house to get a last second picture with the dad before I left. He was sick, so no picture.

We parked really far away from the train station, because there were no spots.

Ransacked the car, looking for the 120 dollar ticket that fell under my seat.

Ran to the train I needed to get the the big train station in Hamburg. I was clearly late, so I called to reschedule, which involved multiple elders begging a train station worker to let me get on another train.

I step off the train, into Hamburg. The handle of my 3rd suitcase broke off. I put it over my shoulder with a strap, got a new ticket, and grabbed breakfast. I pick up the third broken suitcase. The straps snap off. It is now a cube of nothing to hold onto.

I catch my train, which was late. Which means I miss my next train. And then I was in Leipzig, five or so hours late. Where my companion thought I was idiot for missing 2 trains.

chasing a train

When I got here, I found out Bernburg has a teaching pool of 4. (Lauenburg, a very small place, had a teaching pool of 21 when I left.) They found 1-2 people a week. Nothing had happened in a really long time.

Then things got crazy.

Wednesday: We found 3 people. Both previously made appointments fell out.

Thursday: We went to a college campus. About 95% of students there were Chinese. We found 6 people. We had our first appointment with Fitz, also Asian. We taught him lesson 1 using a Chinese “Restoration pamphlet” to teach him the gospel words.

We invited him to baptism, and he said yes! Not bad. We invited him to come to church. Then he asked us where the church was. We told him, and he said

“Oh, so like an hour and a half walk?”

We said, yes, but we could get him a ride.  He said it was no problem, he could just walk it. Wow! That’s sincerity!

So we were excited to make out our first baptismal date. Then we stopped by on more Asian contacts back in the actual city of Bernburg. Turns out is was an entire home full of Chinese 20-year-olds.

One girl was in the bathroom, but all the people were so excited, they kept yelling at her to get off of the toilet.

Her friend kept telling her two handsome boys wanted to talk to her, so not the best start.

But we started teaching her and her friends, and all of her friends piled into the room, coming in and out. They were so excited to see real live Americans. They were coming in so fast that Elder Pilling just started asking every single one

“Do you believe in God?” Most of them said no, but one was recent Christian convert. We talked to a core group of 4 or so people as the other ones came in and out, using like 6 different Apple products to translate everything. They made us chinese dumplings, so that was cool, and fried liver, so that was not.(The dumplings made me very sick later…)

But then told us they just couldn’t really believe in God, but “still wanted to be friends”.  We invited about 20 of them to our English class (which they could actually come to) and left, a little bewildered at was definitely the craziest night of my mission. So we found a total of 6 people that day.

Friday: District meeting day, which was sooooo long. It was really good though. Elder S. will be an awesome district leader. Then afterwards we did “district finding”, which means everyone found for Magdeburg for 30 minutes. That was interesting, because I got to go with Elder G., and it was his first time finding in Magdeburg, or any other time except for “Golden finding”. (When they take you finding for your first time ever after you get off the plane.) Then we had lunch all together, which meant it was a huge chunk of our day. But the elders in this district are truly amazing. I can learn a lot from them. Magdeburg was famous for being a horrible area. It shouldn’t have been, it’s a huge city, but even when President sent in former zone leaders and everything nothing changed. What did change it were a few brand new elders with a lot of enthusiasm. They are really great, and are both training now. We got home and did a little finding, and found 2 more people. Then we met with the new convert, who was going into the hospital soon and was worried about it. So we helped her with that.

Saturday: We met with Albert, the baptismal candidate they had before I came. He has had a broken foot, so he has had a hard time coming to church. Plus, I guess this weird guy came by and took away his Book of Mormon at one point, and tried to make the hausmeister (house master) of the auslanderheim (Really poor apartments where everyone from Africa lives) disallow us, but a few weeks later everything was sorted out, and we gave him a Book of Mormon again, recommitted him to baptism, and invited him to read and pray every night. At this point, I was still leery, just because he’d only been to church once before, and I don’t want to just baptize a bunch of Africans that go inactive immediately afterward. But he seemed sincere, and I really like him. We handed out alot of cards for the Christmas concert. (This branch puts on a huge Christmas concert. It is literally the most important thing in the world to them.

Sunday: Met the ward, translated for Fitz (that is so so so tiring), who actually did come the hour and a half here. Taught him Plan of Salvation. Then we ran to the Christmas Concert practice, where everyone was very very annoyed to find out I sing bass, not tenor. I don’t think anyone in the ward DIDN’T ask me if I sang tenor.i sing tenor

“Hallo Elder Greaves (Gree-fiss), Where are you from? Do you sing tenor? I don’t really care where you are from. Do you sing tenor, though?”

But that went well.

Then we met with Albert again, who told us he really wanted to be baptized still, but he might go back to Africa in a year, and there are no churches anywhere near him. He told us he doesn’t want to get baptized and then just not come to church. So that was sad, because we don’t kow how to help him, or even if we should still baptize him, but happy, because now we know he has made the connection between baptism and coming to church every week.

Then we stopped by another African contact, and, as a theme of the week, people were coming in and out so fast, that we just asked everyone if they believed in God. One guy named John said he did. We said we could stop by some time to talk about it, and he said to just do it now. So we taught him the first lesson up to priesthood, when I said that that power can be used to baptize and bless people. He stopped us and asked

“Is baptism important?” We told him it was, and he said,

“Okay. I want you to baptize me then.” I had to stop Elder Pilling from making a baptismal date out for like 3 weeks from now!   Seriously though, we have to know that he will stay active first. We’ll see if he comes to church this Sunday. So all in all, we had 3 baptismal invitations, 2 dates, and 12 found people to bring our teaching pool up to 15. Not bad for one week!

My new companion is Elder Pilling. He has a lot of enthusiasm. He’s a great guy, and he’s excited to work hard. I love you guys, and I think I can finally send my Christmas package now.

It is very very cold here, and I have a coat that will work (it just looks dumb because it doesn’t fit). There are some crazy after Christmas sales here, so I’m holding off until then, so that I can get one I like.

Oh! The new Address: Karlstrasse 31, Bernburg, 06406. I’m probably forgetting something. Next time I’ll slow down and use better grammar!

Love ya,

Elder Greaves


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No time at all!

I’m already over time. Because I’m getting transferred, I have a lot to do! I’m getting sent to the glorious, bustling city of Bernburg.

Bernburg

Just kidding, there’s like 10,000 people total. At first, I was a little upset. I really wanted to stay, not the least of which because there could conceivably be 3 baptisms this next transfer. But Elder Garrett is just like me and would do all the things I would do, so Lauenburg will be great. But it will always be important to me. Plus, Bernburg was super unknown, and it was like the boring city in boring zone in boring part of Germany, but then Elder Lee from my district told me it had a bear pit.

So I’m good.

But also, it is super tiny, in East Germany, with a super, super old ward of 20 people, with an 80 year old ward mission leader who used to be a German mission president, and no one has had success in years!!! That’s what I’m talking about! Plus my companion is newer than I am.

SO I GET TO USE ALL CRAZY IDEAS I CAN THINK OF HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Really, I’m super excited, and have lots of pictures next week.

So here’s what I wrote President this week.

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Hello President!

This week has been a very productive week in some ways. I don’t feel like we wasted any time. We only found 3 people, and we had a goal for 5. In that way, we didn’t do as well as we would have liked. But starting with Monday…

Monday: We had a lesson with Arnold., a less active that we finally got back to church and is starting to get active again. He recently set a goal to prepare for the temple. He is now quitting smoking.

Tuesday: Tuesday Elder Garrett was “sick”. Just kidding. But he really didn’t feel well. He slept for a few hours, which was the BEST THING EVER. I finally got to write in my journal, and a scrubbed and organized all the cupboards. I also scrubbed down the entire bathroom, and I think now it may be the cleanest elder apartment ever to grace this mission. Then Elder Garrett got really bored with being sick and dragged himself all over town talking to people, even though he really just felt crummy. He’s a hard worker.

Wednesday: I woke up at 6, (we do that most every day to clean or organize bookshelves or write in journals… just to stay on top of it all), and started to clean out the very last disorganized thing, a closet of left over elders’ unwanteds that had been slowly and menacingly accumulating for years. Of course, it was at that moment, as all the stuff was spread across the entire apartment, that Elder and Sister C. knocked on our door. We were told by the office they were coming Thursday. It took a little work to convince them we were not actually gigantic slobs, but after they saw that I had actually cleaned the range hood grate the day before, they forgave us and figured it really was just a misunderstanding. Then we had a quick lesson with an AWESOME investigator named Franz, but he was really stressed from work and had stopped progressing. Hopefully he is better next week. We then tausched with the Bergedorf elders, and I was off to Bergedorf. I was on a roll already, so I organized their apartment too. It was obvious that Elder S. had been having problems with obedience, really with sleeping, and was pretty down about it. Elder Garrett had said something interesting to me – that he was so cunfused last time he was on tausch. Elder S. seemed to be working so hard to stay on top of things and stay awake, but he didn’t seem to be able to do it. So we decided I should get to the bottom of it.

Psssh. Wasn’t even hard. Turns out Elder S. had a problem with this his whole life. His father and grandfather suffered from…

drumroll…………………………………………….

sleep apnea.

Put that together with his awful snoring, stuffy nose, and the fact that Elder L. had noticed how he moved in his sleep too much, and now we have a pretty good guess as to why Elder S. has this problem. He’s literally sleep deprived. He was pretty scared he might get sent home or something dumb like that, or that you would be mad at him for making excuses, but I assured him you would see this as a problem to be solved, and would understand that he really has been trying. I told him that you cared about him, and would never jump to conclusions about the source of the problem stemming from lack of of desire. He is excited now to get to the bottom of it, once I told him it would help him be a better missionary. It’s sad it’s taken a year for this to come out, but I think he can have an even better second half.

Thursday: This was the rest of the tausch. We went finding. It was TERRIBLE. I HATE doing purposeless doors. I need a reason, like a referral in the area. Then dooring is awesome.

Friday: Lüneburg day! Best day of the week. This was like the first time ever that we didn’t find someone in Lüneburg, but we worked more effectively than ever, and as hard as we could. We felt tired and happy when we got home.

Saturday: Scared out of my mind for transfers. I really wanted to stay in Lauenburg, because Elder Garrett and I have been able to work together so effectively from the very beginning of the transfer, and we have 4-5 super solid baptismal candidates for the next transfer. So I was sad when I got called to Bernburg. At first, everyone I asked had never even heard of it, and it seemed like it was going to be a super average, super boring area. Then Elder Lee told me (and I found out from my new companion) that it was one tiny town, one tiny ward, and awesome former mission president GML, a teaching pool of 8, and a companion even younger than I was. Then I got excited. I wanted hard areas, and it sounds like I’ve got one. I know that Elder Pilling and I can get some serious success there.

Sunday: We stopped by people in the deep deep south. Of our area. Because we had the kilometers for once.

I’m gonna miss Elder Garrett, and I learned a lot from him, but I’m excited to go on to bigger and better (or more like smaller and equally as good) things. We’ll see each other around, and we have secret plans to be companions in Magdeburg or Neubrandenburg anyway. But that manipulation will come later. 🙂

Thanks for your service,

Elder Greaves

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Love you all! See ya next week, from Bernburg!

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