elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany

Bernburg: Week one.

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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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