elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany

I’m happy. I like being where I am. But…


Hey guys!

Really quick: did Cupcake [beloved car] ever get sold? Just curious, I haven’t heard anything. Also thanks for your package, it was awesome. I especially loved your letter, mom. Also, you had a question about sacrament for the dead [and why we don’t do it, even once for someone who has died]. I thought that was a really good question! I never found a direct answer, but it somehow kind of made sense when I read it was a replacement for the sacrificial altar stuff. So it is there to help us always remember Christ, but in itself, it isn’t a covenant or promise that brings us closer to the celestial kingdom, except of course through repentance. I dunno maybe repentance is different after this life?

Speaking of gospel stuff, I’ve been working on an outline of the Plan of Salvation using only scriptures and a few headings. I thought I show it to you. It has been really cool to work on! I’ll attach it at the bottom. As for Sawyer, I wrote him advice last week [about trying out for soccer], so I’ll just say that I know you are going to do awesome, and no matter what happens, hard work will make you even better.

I’m going to preface this with saying I’m fine, we’re fine, it’s all fine. I’m happy. I like being where I am. But…

In all honesty, this week was rough. We didn’t find anyone, and we taught very few people. We struggled just to get people to answer their phones. We have investigators, but they are all on vacation or busy with school. It was painful, it was annoying, and it is okay.

I’m not accepting defeat if I say we worked hard, right?

Honestly, I haven’t struggled to find or teach my whole mission until this area, which is admittedly tiny, but is actually my biggest area so far. I’ve always had a strong testimony that if you work hard and you are obedient, you will have success, and if you work hard, obey, and you work skillfully you will have a lot of success. (That part is left out too often).

But I feel that we are working extremely hard, and we try every day to be obedient, and if anything, I’m more skillful when it comes to finding and teaching and planning now than I ever have been. And I would be lying if I denied that I have been getting frustrated.

At first a few transfers ago, I was sure it was a test, so I just pushed through it. But it never got consistently better. So I thought maybe I had let up, that I needed to work harder, but no change was seen. If anything, it got worse.

Then, I decided it must be me, that I was making mistakes. So I threw myself into scripture study, my comp and I planned lessons more intensely than ever to make every moment packed with the Spirit (and we did see a huge difference), we switched up finding techniques, my prayers were more sincere than ever, I worked to purge any little bit of desire for “numbers” out of me, we worked through the members to get referrals, (and got them, but then nothing happened with them), I prayed and prayed and prayed for charity, until I came to love my investigators and the ward like I never have before, and we looked for any shred of service we could do all day long.

We weren’t perfect, but we were growing. And the outcome was exactly the same.

Now, I was left with a conundrum, and a few options. Either:

1. It was my fault,

2. The Lord couldn’t help us, or

3. The Lord was helping us as far as he could, but Frankfurt Oder is doomed to not be successful.


1. I will continue to grow, but I feel I am doing my best and that is good enough.

2. That’s ridiculous, the Lord has all power.

3. I will never ever give up on my area like that.

We briefly considered that we were just “planting seeds”, but I intensely hate that phrase. I feel like it’s used too often as an excuse. I think it is an important skill to recognize how much good you can do, but success is finding, teaching, baptizing, and keeping, which includes getting people to the temple.

So I’m confused.

This whole time, I felt like this was just supposed to be a growing experience for me, which was terrible. One thing I’m pretty sure of, because of some spiritual temple experiences I’ve had, is that the Lord and I are on the same page about this whole mission thing, and He will never let my personal growth get in the way of the fact that I am here to help people. In other words, I know he wouldn’t just briefly stop the missionary work so little ol’ Elder Greaves can be toughened up. I just know that.

One thought I had was that this time is not set up to be productive here at this very moment. It seems like outside circumstances are stacking against us, what with vacationing, including our two best member friends, who were our main connection to our investigators. Maybe this is a time that is just going to be tough. So this isn’t a test or trial, the Lord just sent 2 buttkicking missionaries here to ride the bull, so to speak, and He is helping us in ways we don’t yet know, and he needs us to keep working hard, because I still get the feeling that Frankfurt Oder is on the brink of something big. Every investigator has potential, they just need a little push into investing more time. It all feels like it’s building to something – I just don’t know if I will personally be here or not. This thought is, in a way, inspiring.

One experience we had illuminated this.

We decided Saturday to really try and follow the Spirit to know where to go. We decided to pray (quickly) at every single turn to know which direction to go. Then we would announce which direction we felt inspired to go, and if we matched, we would go that way. We probably took about 35 turns, and every single one, we always chose the same direction separately. The chances of that, even very conservatively calculated, are between 0.00000009% and .000003%. At the end, there was no super prepared investigator, just a good conversation with someone that is not interested right now. It’s evident that the Spirit is working with us, and that we can feel it.


One investigator we did meet with is named Bruder J. He is new. He is a really old guy with lots of health problems, but underneath the German is a really sweet, honest old guy who just needs some lovin’, which just happens to be an Elder Allen/Elder Greaves specialty. Really, I like him a lot.

This week I studied the Plan of Salvation from the scriptures. It is amazing how well the scriptures teach it. You could honestly teach the whole plan of salvation just by pointing out scriptures and saying nothing. I love the scriptures.

Have a good week!
Elder Greaves

[Elder Greaves sent two videos this week.  Mom watched one and one only.  Send an email if you would like to see the videos and we will forward to you.]

Video 1:  “This guy’s name is Member Missionary Machine. He’s a stud, and he and Elder Allen like teaching each other stupid German and English words.”

Video 2:  “This video involves a mouse mom. Be warned. But I think it’s funny.”



3 thoughts on “I’m happy. I like being where I am. But…

  1. Hang in there. It is easy for me to say, Germans are probably tougher than Illinoisans….Illini….illinoisites….people from Illinois. There are rough times. Most times if you stay tough and prove the Lord, miracles happen in ways you don’t expect.

    We are proud of you. Stick with it, trust the process. I think everybody who has been on a mission knows how you feel…except maybe those guys who go to South America and baptize whole villages while barely raiding a finger while being taken care of by maids and housekeepers while being fanned and fed grapes.

    I’m sure that is a thing.

  2. That would be raising…not raiding. That is a whole different thing. Sigh.

  3. I agree with Russ. Almost everyone seems to think that a missionary’s job is to baptize, and if they are not doing that, they must be doing something wrong. But I do not think that is true. Obviously we always hope that will happen, but your job is simply to do everything that you can to teach people the gospel and give them a choice. Whether they decide to get baptized and be active is really not up to the missionary; all that he or she can do is try their best to teach by the spirit and give that person the best opportunity that they can give them. Even if nobody ever listened to you, you would still be doing important work, because you are helping the Lord to provide that choice to those people. I do not think that most people realize that this is also an important role of a missionary. Samuel the Lamanite had people shooting arrows at him to try and kill him. Do you think that means that he was not teaching by the spirit, or that he was doing something wrong? Even though most of the people did not listen, what he did to advance the Lord’s work was just as important as what the sons of Mosiah did. Just as the Lord will not blame President Monson if you choose not to listen to him, so also he will not blame you if those you try to teach choose not to listen to you. So, just try not to put too much pressure on yourself. As long as you are doing all that you can do, the Lord is pleased with you, and that is all that really matters.

    I remember feeling much the same way when I was a missionary. I served in the Bible Belt, and sometimes it was very discouraging. Missions are hard. However, I don’t think it would be as hard or discouraging if we realized the true role of a missionary (or a parent, or bishop. or prophet, etc.) which is simply to teach and warn those that you are supposed to lead and be a good shepherd for them. I wish that I had realized that back when I served. We tend to be very results-oriented as a people, and we only see something as a success when it produces the results that we desire, but I think the Lord has a different standard of success for missionaries than we do. The interesting thing, though, is that sometimes when we take the correct approach we occasionally do end up having some remarkable experiences. Those are not guaranteed, but if we approach it in the right way, it makes them possible.

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