elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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Staying in Bernburg!

It’s official! Elder Riddle and I will stay 6 weeks longer together in Bernburg. Then, I will almost definitely go.

…But that’s enough time to get a few more people soaking wet, Gospel style!!!

Just so you know, because I’m super jealous, Elder Garrett has had a pretty wild few transfers. The transfer after I left Lauenburg, He got blitzed (transferred mid-transfer) to go close down an area for a week (a lot of work) and then whitewashed (both companions are new and have no idea what is going on in the area), where he was Zone leader for 1 transfer (usually you are there for 4 transfers) because President combined their zone with someone else’s, and then he got sent to the area of areas, all I ever wanted in the world, my favorite ward, everything I could dream of . . .  A little tiny town bordering Poland that barely ever sees success, so that is exciting enough, but then the branch President has gone completely rogue, kind of hates every missionary that gets sent there, and refuses to let anyone get baptized unless they’ve read the whole Book of Mormon and come to church for 6 months. Which is ridiculous. President came to the town once just to sign a baptismal form that the Branch President refused to because they hadn’t read the whole Book of Mormon yet. In short, he is a CHALLENGE! Grr. I’m super, super jealous. It could be so much fun.

This week has been pretty great. We set TWO baptismal dates, for a total of 3, all for March 21st. One of them is the wife of Bo Petro. Her name is Rana. She’s only 20. It’s definitely harder to teach her because she only speaks Serbian. For example, we went by on Saturday for our lesson, but Bo wasn’t there. One of his friends has a child that got very sick and has to have like a 6000 Euro surgery, but they can’t talk to the doctors because they only speak Serbian, so Bo is at the hospital all day every day translating as best he can. That means they weren’t able to come to church again, which is scary because we don’t have much extra time left. If something else happens, we’ll probably have to move the date back. But, that is a fairly decent excuse, ya know?

The other one is a super funny old German guy named Bruder Mark. I talked a little about him last time. He is 79. When he doesn’t understand, and also when he agrees, and also when he needs to fill space while he’s thinking of the right word, he just says ja (said ya, means yes) over and over and over and over super fast, so it’s like:

“Bruder Mark, have you read in the BOM?”

“yayayayayayayayayayayayayayaya…..yayaya…”

“What did I just ask?

“I…. didn’t understand?…ayayaya..”

“DID. YOU. READ?!”

“Yyayayayayayayayaya! 10 chapters!”

“Cool! What did you read about?”

“ayayayayayayayayayayayayaya…..yayayaya.a…a.yay.ay.ay.ayayaya….”

It’s great. But he’s come to church twice now and is just loving it. He leaves halfway through Sunday school after sacrament because lunch time at the senior center is like 10:30. Love him. It’s looking really good for him. I think he’ll make it to baptism. He’s really enthusiastic about everything. We gave him a church tour, so it was like:

“Here’s a picture of Thomas S. Monson, he’s a prophet!”

“Really? Wow!” and then he walks past a book shelf and he’s like “OMIGOSH. THIS A SHELF. A SHELF FOR BOOKS. Very practical. I love this bookshelf. Nicely placed.”

Not much time, but I would like to share a short testimony of the Holy Ghost. He is there with us, teaching.

Bo had a cool experience with the Book of Mormon already. He’s read about 70 pages so far. He reads during the night when one of the babies need to fall back asleep. He says sometimes, he’ll be angry or frustrated at his two kids (1 year old, and 0 year old) for crying or screaming or not sleeping, so he’ll go to the other room and read a few chapters. And he feels this peace come over him, and the anger is gone, and he appreciates his kids more.

That’s the beginnings of a testimony! He didn’t even recognize it as the Spirit until we talked about it. But He was there, testifying. The Book of Mormon, as it says in Preach My Gospel, is the most powerful tool for conversion.

Also, Dad, I absolutely love the talks. Keep ’em coming. This last one was super interesting. I’d always felt slightly uncomfortable, because I felt like we (and I) didn’t focus on God enough, and were giving all the glory to Jesus, which is exactly what Jesus DIDN’T want in the premortal existence. It has helped me a lot, and I’ll probably read it a few more times. Thanks for your testimony and for seeking after gospel knowledge.

I hope you all have a great week! Love you!

Elder Greaves

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Round Two

Hey guys, I got special permission to email you one more time today because I felt like I didn’t have enough time yesterday. I just wanted to say I’m so grateful for my family, extended included. I really miss you. Of course, that includes Brett. I have some good memories with him, going down to the park to play football, watching him wrestle those T-rexes he tried to pass off as Rottweilers, learning how to do the signature bicep kiss (TM), and of course the pec pop. Who could forget the pec pop?

But one of my favorite memories with him is my last day in the real world, AKA the day I went into the MTC. I was really grateful I was able to see him. We talked a little, and he said something about a “glow”, how he could tell I was really happy to serve a mission. That helped me to realize that what he was saying was really true. I was happy to serve a mission. Only 15 minutes later, I got back in the car and we drove away. It was a short visit, but I’ll always be grateful for it – for the chance I had to just talk to him a little.

I hope and I think that he realized he was always welcome with us. I hope and I think that he realized there are a lot of people that love him. If he didn’t know the full extent of it before, he certainly knows it now.

I was praying the other night that he would be safe and happy and well-cared for, and I got the distinct impression that he was. I was reminded that not only is Brett my uncle, but he is a son of God, someone that God knows personally and loves more fully than we can even comprehend. I know that Brett is being well taken care of. I especially believe that Brett understands now better than we probably can the love his and our Heavenly Father has for him. He knows how special he is now.

I just want to give my testimony that Heavenly Father only ever wants what is absolutely best for us. We had eternities before this life and we will have eternities after, always learning and growing. This part of earthly life is only a small part, just a tiny blip, of what we will fully experience. Every single thing that happens to us here is for our eternal progression. I know that. I know that Jesus Christ died for us. He knew we couldn’t do it alone, and he wouldn’t let anyone fail without reaching out to him first.

Mosiah 15: 5-8

5 (He) suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.
6 And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.
7 Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.
8 And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men.

Christ suffered and felt all the pains you have felt so that we could all be together again someday.

Mosiah 16:

7 And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.
8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
10 Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption.

There is a resurrection, there is a Christ, there is a hope. I really love you. Thank you for being such good examples to me and for helping me learn about myself.

I hope you keep your thoughts on Christ today.

Thank you for being my rocks, and for helping me when things are hard. One more time, I love you. I hope you have a great week!

Elder Greaves

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DO IT IN ONE SENTENCE!

Feb 2015 Meeting

This week has been one of those weeks that seems like they approximately two-and-a-half celestial marriages long. After this week, I feel so old, I make Methuselah look like a spring chicken.

But that’s not because it was bad. Quite the opposite. It was a pretty darn good week. But so much has happened between P-days, it’s like trying to remember what I wore to the first day of kindergarten when I try to remember who it was we found then. (Frau Weiß. I’m no dummy.)

So I’ll try to make it quick. Maybe I could…. DO IT IN ONE SENTENCE!

We found 3 investigators, 1 whose appointment fell out because of miscommunication, 1 who already believes in foreordination and pre-earth existence (is that the sweet sweet gurgling of a half-filled baptismal font?), and 1 of whom a member brought to church after basically street contacting him the week before, and who is very old, just like our other investigator at church who is progressing but also has a hard time understanding everything, unlike the investigator with whom we just set a baptismal date; he is the father of a family of four, and hopefully this week we can set another one with his wife – both of them live in the same city as another man, who we will Tchüss next week unless or until he magically comes to church meetings – and speaking of meetings, we got to go to Leipzig, where I was very sweaty because I had to wear my coat to disguise the fact I forgot my suit jacket, and where I had an interview with the Mission President, of course, and got to say hello to other missionaries.

Well that wasn’t so hard, was it.

Elder Riddle and I are doing fine. I’m interested to see what will happen with transfers. I could stay, I could go. (As always, it’s just slightly less predictable this transfer). Anyway. Hopefully we can start baptizing some people around here soon. One baptismal date isn’t fun enough yet. And by “fun”, I mean I’m happy they are coming unto Christ. I can say “fun”. Don’t judge me.

Really though. The family with whom we set a baptismal date is named Petro (as always, names are changed). They are gypsies from Serbia. They had problems with people because of their heritage, and had to seek asylum in Germany. They have two kids, one a year old, and one 4 weeks old. I can’t even describe how cute those two are. I hope it works out for them!

We now have 2 really old Germans as investigators, a Herr Mark and a Herr Fen. They are both old, have a mentioned that? We found Herr Mark on the street, met with him a few times, and he came to church! He is old. It’s hard to teach him. But not as hard as Herr Fenzl, who is very old. A member started to talking to him and invited him to come on Sunday, and he did. He’s super, super old. We had 2 very old (have I mentioned that?) Germans and our new convert Brd. John at church, and they each needed specific things (translator, to be in Sunday School, to have a investigator class) so Elder Riddle translated for John and sat next to Herr Mark (who is, in fact, old) while Brd. Schütze (the big cheese or Ward Mission Leader) and I took Herr Fen into another room to explain to him about how, like, we wanted to baptize him. He’s old.

Well, an hour later, we all three stumbled out into the daylight.

Herr Fen had learned in an hour that there are 3 people in the Godhead, something about families, and prophets are a thing.

Brd. Shütze (who is also old, coincidentally) and I learned that he used to be Catholic, he had had a stroke, lost some money a while ago at the grocery store, had three sons, now only has one son, had a son with diabetes, can’t write very well anymore, likes ham and potatoes, gets off subject easily, and can’t remember that there are 3 people in the Godhead. So that will be a hoot. Because he’s so OLD.

We’re eating ham and potatoes at his place Thursday.

We found a woman the other day who told us all about foreordination and the pre-existence, and how she just feels some sort of almost god-like potential, and can almost but not really remember somehow preparing to come to this Earth, where she thinks we came to learn more and help others as our Brothers and Sisters. So, it was relatively easy to teach her the Plan of Salvation.

Speaking of which, when I teach the Plan of Slavation, I focus on 2 things: the family, and, of course, the Atonement. If I were to give a really short Plan lesson, I would say something like:

At first, I started to just write the entire thing out, but I’m pretty sure you know the Plan of Salvation, so I will just talk about families and the Atonement.

Pre-existence

For me personally, it means a lot to me that I can know that God is my Father in Heaven, the father of my spirit. before we came to this Earth, we lived with him as his spirit children. He loved us all so very much, and, as he was our Dad, he was our absolute hero. There was absolutely no one cooler or stronger or smarter than our Dad. And we wanted to be just like him. He wanted us to grow up like him too. But we couldn’t. To be like our Heavenly Father, we needed a body. Father had a body – a perfect one, a glorified one. Without a body, we couldn’t be like him. He couldn’t really learn or progress any more than we already had. And just like what happens here on Earth, Heavenly Father knew the only way for us to really learn and grow to become like Him would be to go out on our own for a while. So he set up this plan, where we could get bodies and grow and learn. It would be really hard. We would have lots of problems, make lots of mistakes. And Heavenly Father would miss us. Because he loved us.

He needed someone to show us the way. So after a vote, we all chose Jesus Christ, our biggest brother, the one most like Dad, to lead us and help us. It would be impossible to do it alone, but we would never be alone.

Adam and Eve

Like little children, couldn’t choose right and wrong. They had 2 commandments: Have a family, and don’t eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. As God wanted, they chose families, and they were able to learn and progress, but that meant death and sin as well. We can’t live with Heavenly Father unless we are perfect, body and spirit.

Atonement

God knew it wasn’t possible to do it alone. Christ knew it too. He willingly suffered and died for us, out of love for his family, both father and siblings. Because of that, we will all be resurrected, and we can all repent, if we choose to follow him.

Earthlife

We are here in families for a reason. There is no way we could understand the love of God without them. The love we have for our families is the closest we can get on this Earth for the love God and Christ have for us. We can live the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel to repent and be clean.

Spirit World

Christ visited there after he died. It is a place of further learning and growth, where all families will have a chance through Christ to be forever sealed in Temples.

Resurrection

Heavens

Here is where we can live with our families forever, not only physical but also our spiritual families. In the end, death hath no sting in Christ.

Families are an integral part of our growth here on Earth.

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I still remember Brett showing 8 year old me how to pop pecs and how to woo the ladies by kissing my biceps. I miss him, but I’m glad that he is a little closer to God and Christ now.

Elder Greaves


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I am clearly all out of title ideas.

Okay. I have, you guessed it, not very much time. To answer a quick question, this is the 5th week of the transfer now, so not this Saturday but the next I find out what happens. A fun fact of the day Elder Garrett just emailed me: The average rate of baptism in this mission is .9 baptisms per missionary per mission.

A fun fact about Germans I’ve never talked about: They have special work pants. They are canvas colorful overalls, and before they can do manual labor, they must be wearing their work pants. I think that’s pretty adorable.

“Hey come help us pick weeds!”

“Shoot, I left my work pants at home. Better go get them.”

This week, we’ve been noticing that people are markedly less friendly now, compared to 4 weeks ago. I think they may be recognizing me or something. Honestly, when people are rude or yell, it doesn’t really bother me. The two situations that do bother me are:

1. We talk for a while, they tell us something like their wife just died, we tell them they can live forever with their wife, and after a while, they tell us they wish it was true, but it isn’t. That hurts.

2. When we try to talk to them, and they refuse to make eye contact, but just keep walking, even after we try a few times. Just pretend like we don’t exist. That one just really ticks me off. A lot. I’m getting a little twitchy just thinking about it.

This week was very good. We were able to recontact people we had lost contact with. We invited 3 people to baptism. (Just a note, we try to invite on the first or second lesson to help them understand why we are there. We don’t really wait until we are sure they will say yes, or until they are 100% ready or anything. It’s not a marriage proposal.)

So that is really exciting. Those three people are:

Herr Petro: Found on the street. He is a gypsy from Serbia, here on asylum. He is a great guy with the a wife that speaks only Serbian and 2 of the absolute cutest kids I have ever seen. His wife can’t understand us, so her interest level is pretty low, but he said if he finds out it is true and we really do have the Priesthood, then he would be baptized. I really like him a lot.

Benji: This one I’m not so sure about. He’s one of now 3 referrals from John. He has the best English of the 3, but is still very hard to communicate with. Through a combo of pictures and a Tigrinyan dictionary and hand signals, we managed to communicate the Restoration to him. So we will see how that goes. He is a really nice guy.

Peters: Now this is exciting. It is basically every missionary’s dream to baptize someone their own age so they can raise a family in the Gospel and stuff. He’s 22. We talked to him in front of the grocery store, and he offhandedly gave us his address right before he got into a friend’s car and drove off. We barely even talked about religion, so we doubted how much interest he had. Fairly typical college student. But last week, we stopped by (3 weeks afterward). He set up an appointment for Friday, again, one we doubted would go through all things considered. Lo and behold, he was there! We had a great lesson with him. I was actually really nervous the whole time. I really haven’t had that many lessons with a normal German. I was a little . . . off my game, but he still said he would be baptized if he found out it was true. He says he really wants to develop his faith more, because he feels like it gets really hard to believe on God sometimes. I really think we can help him if we can keep meeting with him. Fingers crossed!

I love you guys a lot. I hope you have a great week. I love hearing all of your stories and adventures. Can’t wait to talk to you next week!

Love ya!


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Better week

Maybe you could guess from the the title, but this week has been much better. There are down weeks, ya know.

BUT I HATE THEM!

I’m just getting to the point now where I’m just about ready to be perfect, really.  Mistakes are for THE WEAK.

But… welcome to mortality, Elder Greaves.

A lot of this week was re-contacting all the old investigators whose first appointments fell out. And finally, we did it, so hopefully a few of them will stick this go-round.

We recontacted that Indian family for example. They were the ones whose baby we blessed. He had a heart murmur, or his heart was beating too fast, or something. He was like 20 days old. He is doing great now! But we stopped by like 10 times before they were home.

Something great that happened this week is that John, the brand-spankin’ new convert, brought 2 friends to church on Sunday, so we got 2 referrals! He is so amazing. Bad news: They speak Tigrinya, which, as you may guess, gives us absolutely no way to talk to them. No church materials, not even Google Translate.

Tigrinya is spoken mainly in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

But we will try to get by on German and English and pictures and hand signals. At one point, I turned to John and said this was hard, to which he laughed and said

“Man, you’re a missionary! I got you the work, now do it!”

And then . . .

“Eh. Just show them pictures of baby Jesus. They’ll like that.”

(Totally accurate read on Africans).

He’s a stud. This 85-year old woman is making a pretty good friendship with him, considering she can’t speak English, and he can’t speak German. Pretty impressive. I want them to be best friends. 🙂

At church, a large chunk of the members were gone, so there were only 12 adults in Sacrament, plus the two missionaries and the FOUR black people for whom we were translating. Pretty cool! We are taking over the ward! Pretty soon it will be English speaking. 🙂 (John, his two friends, and this random black guy Elder Pilling knew that just wandered in).

The worst thing this week is that we went on an exchange, so Elder Short came here with Elder Riddle and I went to Köthen for a day with Elder Glissmeyer. AND THEY ATE ALLLLLLL OF MY FOOOD. I’m talking 6 rolls, 2 gallons of ice cream, 2 frozen pizzas, half of my lunch meat, all the juice, 3 liters of milk, my olives (WHAT THE HECK?!!!) and then, to top it all off, they ate ONLY THE MIDDLE PART OF HALF A LOAF OF BREAD. It was stale, so I was going to use it for French toast (stale bread is the best for that).

All in all, a really fun week. Elder Riddle is great. He is going home in 6 months, and very much looking forward to it. He misses the ladies…. 😉 He still works really hard though, and loves his mission. He is REALLLY good at ballroom dance. He could literally go pro if he wanted to. An interest we have in common that we discovered yesterday is that we both still harbor the childhood fantasy of being a:

S is my favorite letter
—-nothing suspicious here
P is my next favorite letter
—-all very boring
Y is only slightly behind in 3rd place
—-don’t check for anything in this message, male sibling of largeness.

spy

I think you guys know, and if you guys don’t you should, that if I ever get a secret message in a book in the library telling me I’ve been recruited to funky branch of some unnamed place of which I won’t say the name of, because you, know, this email might be read for key words which I won’t say, and I would hate for that to ruin my recruitment potential, That was a run on sentence, I would most definitely do that in a heart beat. Just so ya know.
I love you guys

Elder Greaves

The following is a letter sent to Caleb's mission president from a random person experiencing missionaries on a train in 
Germany.


The Impact Of Missionaries
Hello!

I've decided to reach out just because I experienced something incredible Saturday evening 
while sitting on regional train adjacent from two missionaries (in Berlin). I'm from 
California, grew up in a Mormon community and just thought it'd be worth sharing this story,as it left a smile on my face.

The two missionaries were sitting adjacent from me next when an old couple sat down next to them. The two missionaries started talking about Potsdam, what it's like there and 
eventually the conversation turned into how the old couple met. At that moment a group of 
gangster-looking guys tuned in and said that they'd like to hear also how the old couple metalso. Soon enough the whole section of the train is listening to this old couple's love 
story- a question that was sparked by one of the missionaries. 

The missionaries got off the train at HBH, but the conversation didn't end. The two groups 
spent the whole trip to Potsdam talking about courtship today and back in the 50's. 
Both groups had each other shaking with laughter.

In my time in Berlin, I've never seen anyone randomly talk to anyone else on the train and 
I've never seen such an interesting group enjoy each other's company so much.  Normally, a 
story that starts with two missionaries, gangsters and two old people ends with a punchline,but this one just left me stunned, smiling and optimistic about humanity. (Plus, I think 
I'll be more open to talk to Germans on the train!!)
 
Everyone got of the train saying goodbyes (including myself) and smiling ear to ear. Keep ontalking to people! You're leaving a positive impact on people, even when it's not 
immediately apparent. 

If you could please pass this story along to your missionaries, I'd be incredible grateful! 

Cheers from Potsdam!