elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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This week

Hey guys! How are you doing? This week has been honestly kinda blah.  Monday was P-day, but we just kept working since we didn’t have time  the rest of the week. Tuesday, I went to Berlin to drop off Elder Casperson, then went back to Frankfurt Oder. Wednesday, I went back to Berlin to pick up Elder Allen, my new companion, then went back to Frankfurt.

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Elder Greaves, Elder Allen, Sister and President Kosak

Thursday, Elder Allen was allowed to sleep in to get over jet lag, and then we had a ton of studies, and that was basically the day. Friday, we went back to Berlin, and then back to Frankfurt to pick up the iPads. So not much got done this week, which is irritating.

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IPADS! Elder Greaves is on the right, in the middle

This week, we had a really good talk with some members about what they needed. They just told us that they are felling really tired, that it is too much pressure, which was great, because I’ve been getting bored over here with nothing to do, so I’m looking forward to taking some of that. Something I really have only just begun to understand is how we as missionaries also have the responsibility to strengthen the members spiritually, and by doing that, not only will they just be better missionaries, but also, the Lord will see that they and we are ready and capable of handling more growth.

As for training, I think I have been gifted with a very good trainee, so training doesn’t really feel all that much different. You still do things exactly the same, you just have to make sure that you prepare your companion to know how to react. To certain situations before they happen. I’m really excited to go back to the basics and work on improving myself as well.

I’m so impressed with Elder Allen. He is already a great missionary. He’s from Houston, and I dunno, maybe it’s the Southern accent, but he has a talent for getting people to trust him. I think that is so great. He is, of course, worried about his German, but he held about an hour long conversation all by himself with A on Saturday, so I think he is doing great.

This week, we were able to teach J for the first time. She is a college student from China, and she is great! It was Elder Allen’s first ever appointment, and I thought it went really well. We taught her the Restoration, and she is excited to learn more. She was raised atheist, but ever since she started living in Europe, she has been wondering if He is really there. Her friends took her to their churches in France, and she really enjoyed them, and she said lately she somehow been feeling that her belief in God is growing, little by little. Elder Allen told me later he had to stop himself from yelling PRECEPT UPON PRECEPT!!!! It’s a good thing he did, but that’s true. That really is how the Spirit works.

I’m so grateful for my mission and for all the things that I have learned here. I know that I can apply the skills after my mission to continue to improve myself and grow in The Gospel.

Something I’ve learned this week is how important it is to be honest with yourself, truly honest. That doesn’t mean be harder on yourself than others, but just recognize the problems you did have so you can improve. I think at lately, I’ve been a little nervous to put people on baptismal date because of bad experiences in the past, where they got really close but then didn’t make it for whatever reason. This is no excuse! I know that I can help people more if they are committing more, so I need to give them the chance to do that. I think this is one area I need to re-improve on.

Thanks for being awesome!


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Great Week!

This has to have been one of my favorite weeks on my entire Mission! We saw some cool miracles, real ones. And I personally grew as a missionary.

The theme of this week was less-active work.

It started, as weeks usually do, on Monday.

We had a Little bit of work time left, so we stopped by one of “those” left actives, the ones that are super famous in the ward. Herr S. went inactive over 20 years ago, after serving a Mission and as branch president (at the Age of 26).

I wanted to meet him – I’m always arrogant enough to think that I’m the one that can help them – and for the 5th time, he wasn’t home.

We were walking back to our apartment when a man on a bench said

“Hey, how are you doing?” in English.

We walked back over to him, and he said,

“Oh, do you not know who I am? I know who you are. I once served a Mission too.”

We both knew who it was then, but with that comp-telepathy thing you get after a transfer, we both played dumb, pretended like it was no big deal.

“Oh cool. where?” etc.

Finally he said,

“Yeah, I’m Herr S.”

In a AHA! kinda voice, expecting a “bomb drop” moment.

I replied, “Hey, nice to meet you. I’m Elder Greaves.”-

Drove him nuts.

Eventually said, “Surely you’ve heard about me!”

“I’ve read it somewhere, but I don’t know much.”

Then, things got weird. Another less active we re-contacted the day before showed up. It turns out they were really good friends.

H, the other one, is middle eastern. He rode away, and Herr S said,

“He’s Christian you know!”

And we said,

“Better than that, he’s a mormon too!”

Haha. I like keeping this guy on his toes. He works in a street market, so we’ll stop by and work through H to get more contact.

Better than that, we tried walking a different way to the Train Station one day. It was longer, but there were different people. We saw this lady and her son struggling up the hill with bags of groceries, so we naturally offered to help. She gratefully agreed, and as we walked up the hill, she admitted that she was a member. She said it was honestly a miracle, because due to injuries, this was the first time in 3 years she had tried to walk up this hill, and with crutches and bags and a son, it was just too much. Her son, 11, was playing up ahead of us, and she mentioned that he had autism, and that for the first 4 years of his life, he would only say 3 words: Light, Book, and Moon. I said that was amazing, and noted how much progress he has made. She said that how that happened was a really cool story, and that we could come in and hear it if we wanted.

Okay, if we have to. 🙂

What followed is one of the most incredible conversion stories I’ve ever heard. It is a little too personal to share over the Internet, but the point is, her son was miraculously blessed with the ability to speak overnight, and then she randomly opened the Book of Mormon and the first verse she read was how “men, yea, and woman also” will prophesy, and children’s mouths will be opened so they can speak.

She was baptized two weeks later, received her endowment, and then was badly injured and unable to come to church, as well as had problems with the members. She felt like a lost sheep, she said. Then we found out later that a member in our ward used to be best friends with her, then when she went inactive she cut off all contact, and then after years of prayer she also miraculously recontacted her – maybe a month ago. This woman was so excited to meet with us, and her son was even more so. They made out an appointment for next week without us even asking. We invited them to church, but she said she wasn’t quite ready yet. Her son piped up “DOCH! Wir kommen!” [Something like “On the contrary! We’re coming!”]

Haha, he’s great. We’ll need permission, but I think a major factor in her return to church will be that her son is almost definitely in need of baptism.

Lots of other great things happened this week, such as getting Mike and Ali AND THEIR KIDS TO CHURCH! As well as Frau R and Rose! but my last thing was a lesson we had with Junior, a law student who went to a year of bible school. He’s been really struggling to progress, and we’ve been struggling to teach, because we inherited a very friendly, almost lackadaisical relationship with the missionaries. This Sunday, we had an INCREDIBLE lesson with him. It was in a member’s home, first of all. that’s always prime. Last time, we used the Bible a lot. He asked me yesterday if I ask my mom the lawyer for tips. 🙂

But I started off the lesson by apologizing, because it isn’t our words at all. they don’t matter. And it doesn’t matter who “wins” with the Bible. Either it is true, or it is not. We talked a little about the Book of Mormon, and then we read Matthew 3 and 2nd Nephi 31 – an example of the book of Mormon supporting and clarifying what is shared in the Bible. Then we asked members O and A the blessings they received from this church. We really wanted to focus on the blessings he would get if this is true.

At the end, Elder Casperson bore an incredibly powerful, personal testimony about eternal families, and then I followed with one of temples. We gave a missionary promise that if he accepted this Gospel, his family would have that chance too. The Spirit was incredibly strong, and by the end, he committed to reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, which is something he has never sincerely done before.

Marion G. Romney once said, “I always know when I’ve spoken under the influence of the Spirit because I learned something I didn’t know.”

That is what I felt last night. I really felt this week that I’ve needed to repent of how I was teaching, which was much too focused on me, and much too lacking in the Spirit. So we tried it differently this weekend, and we’ve seen miracles. I think the Lord was waiting until I figured that out, because we are doing much better with getting appointments too. Something I said in that lesson hit home for me as I said it. If the Lord wanted the most doctrinally sound, charismatic, powerful, learned orators to go on a mission, the mission age would not be 18. We are sent at this age to highlight that this message must come from God, and to make sure that we give the Spirit room to do what he is there to do. The Lord said to Paul, “my glory is in weakness,” and that is true. By allowing all these terribly imperfect people to run this church, he gives a stark contrast to work with. I’m grateful for that, and for the lesson I learned.

I almost forgot – Transfer calls! Elder Casperson is going to Lübeck, and I’m getting a brand new missionary! I’ll be training. That was great, but it also meant problems with appointments with everything since I will be in Berlin for a few days.

Have a great week! Love ya!

Elder Greaves


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Hey!

Believe it or not, not much has changed since yesterday. However, it was super awesome to get to see you guys, bed head and all! I do feel a little bad. I feel I may have cut it a bit short. I’m sorry about that. I also felt like I talked about myself a lot, and I really wanted to know more about what was going on with you guys! So I’m sorry about that. Also, to answer your question mom, I wasn’t upset at all that someone would use that stuff for a sacrament meeting. I was more surprised than anything! Everything is going great right now. O just texted us and told us that her friend M., the Polish guy, talked to her today about he just felt like he was changing inside. So that is really cool! I really love you guys. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Also, for anyone out there listening:

Member missionary is the ONLY way missionary work should happen! You may not believe this, but back in the old days, I used to be a member too, and yeah, I didn’t often share the Gospel. I didn’t really know that was something you actively do. I just thought you sit and wait until someone tells you they want to come to church or something.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that rarely happens. 🙂

But if you think about all the fears you have: that they will be upset or think you are trying to change them, that you won’t be able to answer their question, that they will think you’re some religious freak (that one is probably true, honestly) or that they will just reject something precious to you – those are all super legitimate fears. Those are real. That happens a lot.

To the full time missionaries. That’s OUR Job! We don’t need you standing on street corners, wearing a sign or a fish costume or something telling people the flood 2.0 is coming!

We want you to be friends with the People, People!

There are two types of conversion: spiritual and social. When missionaries try to do both, that’s when people go inactive.

When members try to both, that’s when members get ulcers.

Don’t worry about that!

You know what is a great missionary situation? You bringing your friend to an activity. Would you say no if your Southern Baptist friend invited you to a barbecue? No, you’d go eat their food, then reject their missionary offer.

Okay, bad example.

But picture this.

You bring your friend to a party. That’s cool. You have dinner on the lawn of the church. No biggie. Here’s where it takes some planning. You have previously calllllled the missionaries and told them Jeffy was going to be sitting right next to you wearing that weird “My peeps” shirt with a picture of those sugared marshmallows on it, that shirt he thinks is hilarious, but you think is secretly dumb but also kinda like because Jeffy is your best friend. They walk up, looking all spiffy. One of them (the goofy looking one) says

“Oh hey, I’m new here. I don’t recognize you. What was your Name again?”

Jeffy half-smiles, glances over at you, and says

“I’m Jeffy, and the reason you don’t recognize me is I’m not a member!”

You hope at this point Jeffy doesn’t notice the gleam in the missionaries’ eyes. They sit down and start chatting, explaining what they are doing here, that one’s from California, the other is from Idaho, yes, it’s funny he got sent somewhere else in Idaho, yadayadayada. Then they ask as casually as they can –

“Hey, if you want, we could meet up sometime and talk a little about our church. It helped me to come closer and it could help you!”

You freeze, Crystal Lite half-way to your lips.

“Uh…” he says, looking over at you.

“It’s up to you,” you say calmly. “We could do it at my house, since yours is so gross all the time, ya filthy animal!”

He laughs, says:

“Well, how can I refuse an offer like that?”, and away we go!

Oooorrrrr rewind for scenario #2.

“Uh…” he says, looking over at you.

“It’s up to you,” you say calmly. “We could do it at my house, since yours is so gross all the time, ya filthy animal!”

He laughs, says,

” Yeah, I’m really not interested right now. I’m pretty happy with my church. But thanks!”

The missionaries thank him, wish him a good time, and then leave. He glances over at you, and asks

“What was that all about?”

“Eh. It’s their Job. They’re good kids. Funny looking though. That one on the right’s tie? Amirite?”

“Psshh. that was nothing to the other sack’s hair cut. it was impossibly bad. What did they use, a weed wacker? Or a beaver?”

. . . and you spend the rest of the night making fun of missionaries.

That’s cool, we’re getting transferred. You win either way!

Here’s a member missionary idea that I personally have really seen change people’s hearts: Invite your friends to a Family Home Evening. Think about what it is: A night at home to strengthen your family. What a better way to simultaneously build a better friendship and share the Gospel! The real trick is to invite the missionaries over to give the lesson.

Ha.

Got ’em.
Have fun Kids.

Love, Elder Greaves

missionary-work-fun-4


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Hey!

Hey guys!

I’m super tired right now, so sorry if this email isn’t so energetic, but it’s been a decent week. Nothing crazy cool, but we were able to recontact a lot of old investigators that still want to meet. I’m starting to get the hang of Frankfurt Oder and we are figuring out how to work with these wacky investigators I already love so much.

This last week we were able to meet with M and A twice. He’s kind of like a cross between Russ and Grandpa. The challenge is he grew up in the DDR [East Germany] and has absolutely zero background with religion at all. He honestly barely gets who Jesus is, let alone can understand why we need to be baptized or have priesthood or a prophet.

I love that! It’s so much fun to teach him.

On Monday, we had Family Home Evening with the H family and them. Präsident H had zero background in the church as well when the missionaries visited them. He shared his conversion story, which was really cool. His wife already knew it was true and was just waiting for him. He finally decided to find out once and for all if it was all true or not. Their missionaries told all the other missionaries who had ever taught him over a 2 year period, who contacted all of their friends and family, and all over the world on a certain day everyone fasted, and at the same time they all prayed for him as he knelt with his wife and asked if it was all true. And he found out it was! Pretty neat! Now, that’s against the missionary rules, but at the time it was cool.

Then on Thursday we met with him again. It is always really hard to have a solid lesson, because the pattern is they feed us at least one meal, we do some service, etc, lots of big time things, and one way or another we just run out of time every time. But we were determined to actually teach him this time, and told him that. It didn’t look good, because he had to leave earlier than expected. We had to help him plant trees, which we did in approximately 10 seconds. It actually immediately started to rain, so we ran inside, when he jokingly said exactly what I was thinking

“I think someone up there wants us to talk about the Gospel!”

As soon as we got inside, the rain stopped. He laughed and said,

“Well, we’re here now! Go for it.”

So we started teaching the Plan of Salvation. Thirty minutes later, we had taught basically there was a pre-earth life and Jesus Christ is a person, which was about all he could handle. By the end, he wiped his brow and said

“Dang, this is real WORK!”

Only in German.

He’s great. We’ll get him wet soon.  🙂

We also met with Frau L, who comes from Romania. She’s a referral from Missionary Machine Manfred. He was there for the lesson. She, too, had a hard time understanding, but we worked through the Restoration. Her friend was there randomly, and before I could say anything, Manfred piped up

“Wanna come to church?”

You can’t stop him, you just join him or get out of his way. We are meeting with her now too.

He is a convert of 5, almost 6 years. He has a calling as a ward missionary. Whenever he talks about our Joint teaches, he always says “We three missionaries”. I love that.

As for Skyping this week, we will email on Friday about it, but it will definitely be on Sunday, and will be Skype.

I didn’t get the chips and salsa package, and also I didn’t get the other package. One of them made it, but my name wasn’t on the mailbox so they didn’t leave it. It says it was shipped back to sender, but I don’t know which one it was. There has only been one. As for foods I miss, definitely Reese’s. They have nothing like it here.

That’s it for this week. I’ll email you super shortly on Friday, and then we’ll talk on Sunday! I love you!