elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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Hello everyone!

Well. This week was definitely an upturn in little ol’ Frankfurt Oder.

There’s been this wonderful feeling lately that everything is going to just get nuts here in a week or two. Weird things are happening. These 2 members, (2 of 9) named O and A, are some of the coolest people I have ever met. They have been working with us like crazy. It has been a testimony-builder to me to see that member missionary work is starting to explode. They are incredibly spiritual, and they can feel the building excitement too.

As far as material, numbers progress, it’s just been kind of “meh” lately. Nothing exciting.

But there’s this incredible sense of building energy. It’s like everything we are doing is just setting the golf ball on the tee. Sometimes, I get really impatient, and just want to smack the ball, but the Lord knows what he’s doing, and He wants us to be able to go the whole distance. So we are taking time to put the ball on the tee. I’m excited to harvest. This week, we have seen some really great people come out of the wood works. We met with 2 referrals from members this week, both of whom are so prepared.

We basically spend all day yesterday at O and A’s, because they are friends with most of our investigators, and we just taught everyone all day. It was exhausting and kind of weird, but a ton of fun and it helped a lot of people. I think one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever gotten is when O said we remind her of “their missionaries.” Their missionaries baptized upwards of 6 people here, and those people are the foundation of this ward. I don’t know if we deserve that high of praise, but I’m willing to work to be worthy of it.

Elder Allen is so wonderful. Our teaching unity is off the charts. He is doing so great and he is exactly what I prayed for.

There are a few things that have really spiritually hit me this week.

Firstly, prayer.

Don’t worry, I knew prayer was a thing, but this week, I’ve felt my relationship deepen with my Heavenly Father as I took the time each night to do a kneeling, out-loud prayer. I’ve tried my best to make a solid conversation out of it.

Second is a lesson I’ve had reconfirmed to me.

Maybe because I’m stubborn and prideful and bull-headed. We had a lesson with one of my favorite investigators ever named J. He is 24, Brazilian, and absolutely is just the life of the party. But J has a problem. He is a Baptist born again Chirstian, a lawyer, and a Bible School graduate. In other words, he has been born, raised, and trained to bible bash. And it is SUCH AN EASY TRAP TO FALL INTO. I’m no expert, but I love the Bible, and I think it is honestly amazing to study through the lens of the Restoration. There is so much truth, and so many traces of the original teachings of the early Christian church in it. And there is just a balance between answering questions with scriptures and trying to shove the Gospel down someone’s unwilling throat. About 30 minutes into the lesson, I realized that no one was being edified in any way. The Spirit was not present. And so I did what I have had to do with J a dozen times. I apologized for being arrogant enough to try and “win” with the Bible. I assured him that the Bible is not our main source of truth – it is only a manifestation of it. Truth comes from God through the Holy Ghost. The rest of the time, we just bore pure testimony. It touched his heart. Our joint teach, a convert, pointed out to us that he is starting to care more. He is starting to get scared it’s true. In a weird way that’s progress. I repented, and I hope I have truly just learned my lesson this time.

Third, I learned that a mission is most fun when you think you can’t possibly do it all.

I love the feeling of everything just getting crazy, running around, weird stories, tons of energy, collapsing after 9:30, and starting all over again the next day. It is a blast. I think if I take a step back and realize that the Lord is just working through me, it is kind of a form of arrogance to try and save my strength. I’m not needed. I don’t need to make my self last. The faster I try everything and do everything I can, the faster the Lord can take over. What a wonderful gift.

Guys, I know this church is true. I love it. I love Christ. He is exactly what I want to be. I have big goals! 🙂 I know that He lived, suffered, died, and lived and ministered again all out of love. I know He felt our individual pain and suffering, weakness and frustration, for the express purpose of loving and nurturing us later. I know He accomplished the greatest missionary task this universe has ever seen, namely the Atonement. He braved scourging, smiting, and spitting, stripes and nails and spears – I know He rose above feelings of doubt and pain, heartache and even abandonment, because He knew EXACTLY why He came. And He did it. “This is the testimony that is in me.” (Alma 7:13)

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I hope this week is awesome for you, and I will be praying for you.

Love,

Elder Greaves

pictures-of-jesus-1138494-gallery


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Hey guys!

This week has been… strange.

Minus the weekend, it was probably one of my least favorite weeks on the mission. We were doing so many good things – tons of service, helping members, English classes and district meetings – but the whole week we were just frustrated because there was no time to meet with anyone, no time to find… it just felt like a waste.

Something I think is really great about this companionship is that we love to find. We really enjoy it. We will see the fruits of that willingness. By Friday, it felt like we hadn’t done anything to help anyone use the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

But that all turned around Saturday. We got a referral from one of our members. Come to find out, that whole “member missionary work” thing actually works.

Who knew?

We met them both in a ice cream parlor and had an awesome lesson. D is amazingly spiritual, and she came to church the next day. I really think she has the ability to be baptized this next transfer. She is very ready, and very open. The members, all 10 of them, brought friends to church to start off the Monat der Einladung [Month of Invitation]. This ward is so awesome!

This week, I celebrated my “hump day”, or my half-way mark. So I’ve tried to spend a little time in self-evaluation. Every single day, I am so grateful for my mission. Honestly, I don’t often feel disappointed or let down or sad. I don’t ever feel homesick, or even that distracted. I feel my mission being the absolute focus of my life. I’m so grateful for the changes that it has made in my life. I really see the Gospel as the life-long process of growth that I see it meant to be. I’ve learned how important scriptures can be, I’ve become more sensitive to the Spirit, and I feel my weaknesses falling away when I need to grow to do more.

That being said, I want more success. It’s not that I felt my mission has been unsuccessful, but I do feel that there is a lot left to do, and I think there is more I need to learn and more I need to become, and if I do that, miracles will start to flow.

I just wanted to thank you guys for your help in that process. I’m becoming who I want to become. Actually, I’m becoming who Heavenly Father wants me to be, and I’ve decided that that’s who I want to be, too. Your guidance, your example, has been crucial for that. I am so grateful for that. I’m excited to see you again and continue to learn.

This is President Kosak’s last day in the mission. Really weird. I’m going to miss him a lot. He is so great.

I know it’s all true.

I know Christ is there, I know that he understands us completely. I know that families are forever, and we are with them for a reason. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, as is the Bible. Thank you for helping me know that more strongly. Because I know it, I will follow it, because that’s what faith is.

You are awesome. Thanks for your package. I got it today! Please remember how much you mean to me.

Love Elder Greaves

Thanks to http://www.burlapanddenim.com/2012/10/im-a-mormon-printable/#prettyPhoto/1/ for the free printable!

Thanks to http://www.burlapanddenim.com for the free and awesome printable!


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(Two emails for the price of one!)

This week was a blessing in some ways. We started finding again, basically right after I figured out why it stopped. I really have been confused for the last few weeks because I had no idea why it had all of a sudden gotten difficult to find. It was incredibly frustrating to deal with such a problem of working hard with skill and faith and not finding anyone right as soon as I started training. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

I am strongly convinced that as long as you are using the right techniques and are obedient and diligent and faithful, it is literally impossible not to find. The Lord naturally wants us to succeed, so we will. That is what has made these last few weeks so irritating.

But I have figured it out.

I think the Lord needed to test me a little more. I realized that basically all of my faith was based on the fact that I knew I would have success. And that is true, but you have to trust in the Lord, even when things aren’t going right.

Not only that, but I pray almost every night to find out what I can do better, and I was starting to run out of big things to improve on – I was getting comfortable. So the Lord needed to mix things up. He needed to keep me on my toes, keep me antsy and uncomfortable. And it totally worked.

During this time, I really rededicated myself to the work. I grew. I learned. I was frustrated and had to re-trust in the Lord.

I’ve always said that I’ve learned the most from trials, and here is just another. Now this is not to say that when someone isn’t having success it’s just a trial and they need to be patient. Quite the opposite. If success isn’t happening, there is a reason, because the Lord can do all things.

So it’s a trial, or you aren’t doing enough.

If you aren’t getting better, trying new things, getting more faith and figuring out what is wrong, then it’s you.

And I think as soon as you realize this is a trial to endure, and keep moving forward, the Lord can bless you again, because you have learned your lesson. Your resolve has deepened, your humility has been cleansed. You know without a doubt that, as it says in Job, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and you really have nothing to do with the success, no matter how great you are, or how good looking you may be. (Side note, just got a haircut. Coincidence? I think NOT.)

So the next crucible is the fallen-out-appointments gauntlet we have been running through lately. Hopefully that will be over with soon, and we can just get back to work. I’ve been panicking lately because this transfer has been going so quickly, and I feel like not enough work has been done this transfer to set us up for a baptizing second transfer. And then I remember that this one is only 5 weeks and I calm down.  I’ve never done this before, but I would LOVE to stay here another transfer after training Elder Allen. He doesn’t need that, but I would be so grateful. I pray for it all the time, as long as it is the will of God, of course, but I really want to harvest here, and I am not even close to done. Anyway.

Since being on a mission and being cut off from all forms of studying and learning and Google, all of my procrastination and lameness and boredom has been completely swept away. I can’t WAIT to start learning again.

I’m gonna read every classic book, watch every classic movie, and play every classic game. I will memorize Wikipedia and treat Google like the holy shrine of knowledge it has the potential to be. I’m gonna paint and sculpt and invent and make my own equations and write my own books. I want to bring myself to such a level of activity that those around me don’t see anything but a tornado, a kind of smudge moving along the landscape, radiating with awesomeness.

Oh my gosh, I miss learning so much, I can’t stand it.

On the other hand, you obviously have a ridiculously long time to study the scriptures, and I have been so excited to discover that Yes, the Gospel is true, and Yes, I don’t know everything about it.

Like, deep doctrine is terrible. As far as I’m concerned, there is no reason to study Kolob or its appendages, excluding boredom.

But did you know, the Bible is actually a thing? Believe it or not, there is some real doctrine in that first half of my quad. Blew my mind.

Nobutseriously, I’ve been amazed and the breadth of doctrine contained in the Bible. Without critiquing or in any way losing respect for the Book of Mormon, it has been so exciting to see such awesome amounts of support this restored Gospel has in the first book of our canon. Things like apostasy, restoration, degrees of glory, exaltation and deification, temple work, priesthood authority, the original organization of the church, and more – it’s all in there. And it would be IMPOSSIBLE to put all together by myself. By studying the Bible through the lens of the Restoration, muddled, confusing, ambiguous scriptures Bible scholars have dubbed outliers for centuries suddenly unfold into clear, simple doctrine. It is evident that the Bible is not in its purest form, but that God really did preserve this record to bear testimony of Christ and his Church.

Last time we taught J, we were able to clarify that it’s not that Joseph Smith just pulled together all of the scriptures from the weirdest parts of the Bible to make some conspiracy theory, but that a simple, unlearned boy was tutored by angels, saints and the Christ himself, and only through the link of direct revelation can we truly be connected with our Father in Heaven. The scriptures are printed proof of revelation, answers to thousands of prayers. They are not, and should never be, the narrow wedge of our human understanding, in which we stuff God, his works and creations, and all possible truth.

To say such a thing is to deny the infinite wisdom of God, to put limits or boundaries im what he would give his children! He will give when we ask, and He will answer when we knock. I know it, I know it, I know it!

scriptures meme

Elder Allen is doing very well. I already see him getting more serious and focusing more, (not that he had a problem before! It’s just part of sinking into it), which I think is an important aspect of the first 2 transfers. Now that he has a feel for the mission, I think we will start setting some super awesome goals to help him grow into his best self. I’m excited for him. I have no idea what normal German for this long out is, so I don’t know what level he is at, but we will focus on that in the coming weeks. We have a lot of plans to help our numbers improve, and this month is invitation month for the ward, so we are pumped.

Thanks for all of your help with everything. You rock. And that package was the coolest package ever. Thanks so much, even if those dumb shirt thingies broke within hours…. 🙂

EMAIL 2:

Happy birthday to Dad, Aspen, Hayley, Grandma Cathy, Daniel, and Dave.  And a happy Father’s Day! Phew. Pretend that was at the beginning of my first email. 🙂

happy birthdayHappy Father's Day

Elder Greaves


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Funny picture week.

Hey guys! This week has been meh. Great things have still happened, though! We had really great lessons with J and M They are both making a lot of progress. It’s been fun working with them.

We had a Zone Conference last week, and it was so much fun. At about the year mark in your mission, you know absolutely everyone, and most everyone knows you, so big group gatherings are a blast. You can just talk to everyone. Six months from now, I won’t know anyone because they will all be home.  That’s how it works….

But this time was a ton of fun. I got to see Elder Garrett and Elder Riddle, which is obviously great. It was probably the last time I will see President Kosak, because the new president comes at the end of June. It was pretty sad. I’m going to miss him a ton and I’m really grateful to have met and learned from him.

So this week, I’ll use the time I have to talk a little about J. I don’t think I told you, but we had a REALLY good lesson with him before Elder Casperson left. Like, maybe the best lesson of my mission so far. I started off by apologizing, because the lesson before we weren’t really focused on the Spirit at all and we didn’t really work on getting there. We were more interested in what we had to say.

So we said we were going to do it differently. We read in the Book of Mormon together, and spent the whole lesson just bearing testimony. It was so awesome, and the Spirit was so strong. He was really affected by it, and we ended with answering maybe his biggest question:

“Why should I get baptized, since this church doesn’t seem much different from mine.”

We bore testimony about eternal families and decided to introduce the idea of temples, because he really saw no blessings that would come from changing religions.

Then, we didn’t see him for 2!!! weeks.

I hate that.

He was out of town. We finally met again last night, and it was another really good lesson. He is finally starting to catch on to what we are saying. We started talking about the Plan of Salvation, and he was surprised to find out that if someone were to actually study Christianity, they actually have very similar beliefs. He had no problem believing in the 3 kingdoms of Heaven, for example. It was also very interesting when we would talk about things like the Godhead. You would expect someone who graduated bible school to have a very strong opinion on the Trinity, but when we asked him if he believed God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were 3 beings or one, who was stumped. He was like,

“All I know is 3 in 1!”

So that was kinda funny. The one thing that was completely different was premortal-existence, which was actually great because from that, I think he finally understood the role of prophets and revelation. He asked us for our biblical support of that, which we gave, but then explained that there are only traces in the scriptures, and that the plan come from direct revelation to a prophet of God just as it has in times past, and it wasn’t just Joseph Smith pulling together all these random scriptures to make this crazy theory. We asked him if he actually wanted to find out if it was true, and he said yes, which just by admitting that, shows how far J has come. He’s so great, and I’m excited to keep working with him.

You have a great week!

Fun with Ipad

Fun with cameras!

Frankfurt Oder from Caleb

Frankfurt Oder

Elder Allen

Elder Allen enjoying every German missionary’s favorite-a doner! Best street food ever.

Elder Allen big head

Elder Allen has a big head. 🙂

Elder Greaves


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Week 2 of the transfer

Hey guys!

As for things I need, I’m fine, except for those shirt thingies.
As for Skype, they are still working out bugs with Ipads, so nothing cool with them yet, including Skype.

This week was a good one. It was Elder Allen’s first full week in the mission field, and it started off a little rough. We were really struggling to find people, and I was sick, etc. I was getting frustrated, honestly, because I hate when you are really giving it your all, being obedient really putting everything on the Lord’s hands, and not only that but you are doing as much has you can skills-wise too, and just nothing is happening.

I felt that we were working as hard as we could physically, and that we were getting very good conversations and getting people the best possible chance they would get on the street to accept the Gospel, and just no one was ready.

And that happens.

ALL THE TIME.

“Finding” slumps happen. All the time.

But one goal I set when I started training Elder Allen is to honestly have a lot of success.

I have a testimony that success always comes when you are really giving your all, because the Lord wants it more badly than we even do, so he’ll put his prepared people in your way if you are a prepared missionary.

I just got impatient because I was worried that It would be harder to show that if NOTHING WAS HAPPENING.

But then on Thursday I fasted, and things have started turning around. We found 2 families this week, both awesome, super excited to teach them.

We had another lesson with J from China.  She is really is super cool. She’s getting her MBA, and even though she has exams on Tuesday, she still found time to meet with us. She is really curious, and she is also just really fun to talk to. I love that, when it is easy to become friends with investigators.

I don’t have a ton of time today because Elder Allen and I are going to frolick in the woods, and we need at least 2.5 hours of frolicking or you come up out of your REM (relatively eccentric movement) cycle too early and then your whole day is shot.

Or maybe I’m mixing that up with something else.

But anyway, funny story of the week, two people needed blessings after church, so they asked us to stay, and they were like the longest blessings ever and I was really hungry. And don’t get me wrong, that’s fine, but I started feeling a little dizzy during the first one and then during the second one a little queasy, and then I had to sit down, and then a third member asked for a blessing and I started screaming in my head, and during it I started praying that the man giving it would just not give a long one at all, and then I passed out.

passed out     Overcome by the Spirit, I think, or maybe also having to do with the fact that I was sick earlier that week and skipped breakfast, but that was pretty dramatic and at least a few of the members think my time in this life is coming to an end.

I mean, I couldn’t really have picked a more dramatic moment, except for like bearing my testimony or something. But basically it was just like how it occasionally happened before my mission, so no big deal, drinking water still, I’m not dying.

I love you all, and I can’t wait to get your letters! (especially now I can read them during the week!)

Elder Greaves

Old Postcard showing Frankfurt/Oder

Old Postcard showing Frankfurt/Oder

Autobahn bridge near Frankfurt/Oder

Autobahn bridge near Frankfurt/Oder

Woods near Frankfurt/Oder, for frolicking purposes

Woods near Frankfurt/Oder, for frolicking purposes

Frolicking Woods near Frankfurt/Oder

Frolicking Woods near Frankfurt/Oder