elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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This week was good in a lot of ways!

Elder Weaver and I are getting along well. He’s almost done with his mission, actually. He’s finishing when Elder Garrett does in December. We are working hard here!

Monday we had a lesson with L, the 17 yo kid. We taught him the Restoration, and he was excited to read the Book of Mormon. His friend promised him a Döner (turkish Gyro, basically what tacos or hamburgers are to America) if he reads it in 12 weeks. 🙂

Then Tuesday, we had a member appointment with some awesome members named the L’s, who may or may not have a friend for us to teach in the future, which is cool. We also help with a football team on Tuesday, since Elder Weaver is really into football.

Thursday we had district meeting, which turned out really good. We focused on helping investigators keep commitments. We also had ward council, which is usually pretty lame, because missionary gears turn a lot faster then member gears. 🙂 And it was, but we are working on it.

Friday we met with L again and taught the Plan of Salvation, then we went on exchanges, and I went to Kiel with Elder Morton. Elder Morton and I were in the same district in Bernburg, so we are already good friends. We had an AWESOME exchange. I respect that guy a lot, and we had a ton of fun together. We had a full day of appointments planned, and were kind of bummed that we wouldn’t be able to do much finding. By next morning, all the appointments fell out, so we had nothing but finding! So we just walked down the street and talked to everyone for like 6 hours, just cracking up the entire way in between conversations with people. It was awesome.

Sunday we had church, which was okay, and then we went to a Born Again Christian church we got invited to that night. We were told it was a Pentacostal church, so we were pumped to see people talking in tongues and stuff, but there was none of that. It was just this Christian folk band and crazy lights and people getting waaaay to into it. It was wierd. Elder Weaver and I made a list of positives and negatives afterwards:

Positives:
1. Everyone was way into it. Like, no one fell asleep. Something our church could improve on!
2. The members seemed to genuinely like each other. Everyone liked everyone, and they all seemed really happy to be there. Sometimes I feel like our church puts us all together so much, we completely take for granted how close we are to everyone around us, exactly like we treat our family. It was like they were all friends, and we are sometimes like a family but we are all grumpy teenagers, who secretly love each other but don’t show it.
3. They really focused on Jesus Christ.

Negatives:
1. It was basically a party. The scripture about the voice of the spirit being not in the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but as a still small voice came to mind. It was not at all still or small, but our sacrament service is very simple and quiet. I like that.
2. It was somehow apparent to me that this was all completely the thoughts of men. It was men reaching out to Christ, not Christ reaching out to men, if that makes sense. Instead of Christ being at the helm, the Elder guy was at the helm, and they were all trying to get to Christ.
3. It was missing the “genius of our church”, as Gordon B. Hinckley put it, which is activity. No members had any jobs really. I love that in our church, they entire congregation is the priest. Everyone has a role. It asks a lot, but it makes everyone grow a little more.

Something cool I learned in personal study this week:

We were talking about the ten virgins parable in Priesthood on Sunday, and this super old guy raised his hand and said,

“You need a wick for the lamp to work.”

Turns out he’s actually just completely senile and that wasn’t a gospel related comment at all, but then the more I thought about it, the cooler it was.

The topic was on being a light. Everyone knows that the oil in that story is a testimony, and everyone knows how we can’t give people their testimonies. They have to find out for themselves if it’s true. But it mentions that when the bridegroom came, the virgins trimmed their lamps. So why do we need wicks?

Wicks turn oil into light. That’s our works.

oil lamp

That’s how we turn the passive testimony represented by the oil into a burning light. We use our testimony to be light to others, which is sharing our testimony but in a different way. I really like this not-really-scripturally-based-analogy because it totally talks about member missionary work.

I dunno. I have to go, that was a little rough, 🙂 but I love you guys!

Elder Greaves


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This week was really cool!

Hey guys!

First off, I missed Frankfurt Oder sooooooo bad it was ridiculous. It was physically painful leaving. But I’m mostly over that now.

Neumünster is really cool! Most missionaries say it’s super ugly, but I kinda dig it.

It’s like an overstuffed flowery grandma couch that looks terrible but you keep it anyway.

ugly couch

The ward is going to be interesting. I really like them. They’ve had a string of a lack of missionary work but things have been getting better recently. I kind of like hearing things like that, because it’s like you know that there are all these blessings that have been put on hold until someone willing to work hard gets there! And we are ready to work!

This last week I met this member named F, who is a 19 year old orphan, baptized into the church a few years ago. Then he was isolated from the church for a while do to his home circumstances, so on his own he read the Book of Mormon, D&C, and Preach my Gospel. He really took the last one to heart. He has referred 2 of his friends in the last 2 weeks. Both came to church on Sunday, and we are meeting with one tonight!

We’ve just been doing our best to find people, but it’s no secret that the secret is member missionary work.

One cool thing I found out about this ward is 25 years ago, Elder Hales was here (not yet as an Apostle) and he got up in the middle of a meeting and said he felt that this ward would someday be an example to the whole stake about how member missionary work should be done, and this stake will be an example to all of Germany. That’s really cool!

robert-d-hales-large

I did my best to be really energetic on Sunday to get them pumped for when I work them over for the next 6 months 😉 It seemed to work, and I got to give a little talk on charity.

As for being district leader, it’s not hard. It’s exactly as I expected. Just to clarify, I know sisters can be awesome, but I also know if they aren’t awesome, I can’t help them as easily as Elders. That was the frustration. One companionship actually ROCKS. They were both in the MTC with me. They are doing really well. One of them I didn’t know very well, but it sounds like she is just ridiculously bold, which I think is funny.

But I’m doing well. I’m sorry for the recent influx in spending. All of my clothes kind of got to the breaking point all at once, so I had to buy a few pairs of pants and sweaters (all super cheap though), but then I also had to buy the 100 dollar ticket to get here as well has about 100 dollars in tickets this week alone just to get around (I get that money back eventually) I’m trying harder to budget and at least know where the money is going though. Just so you know.

So everything is going well!

Love you!

Elder Greaves


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NO time!

Hey guys! I’ll do my best to write as much as I can, but I really have almost no time for emails today. We have people to say goodbye too, and I’ll probably be up til the wee hours cleaning and packing.

Oh. So I got transferred.

I’m going to Neumünster, which is a somewhat small City (but still my biggest!) in the north, kind of near Denmark!

Look for the yellow marker!

Look for the yellow marker!

I also got called to be a district leader, which is causing me unneeded stress, honestly.  But I’m excited. My new companion’s name is Elder Weaver, and all I know about him is that he’s tall. So that’s good!

I’m feeling fine now, but I was really sick this weekend.

Germans are strangely into eating raw meat on sandwiches.

I had raw salmon the other day (smoked) and it was really good, but on Saturday I ate what was essentially raw bacon and yes, it absolutely killed me. It kind of felt like some little bacon wrestlers were using my intestines as the ropes around their WWE wresting ring, and they were definitely throwing down what I will – in polite society – describe as some wicked wrestling moves.

bacon wrestling

We kicked off the Family history class on Sunday with the members, leaving them all thoroughly confused, which was basically as expected, since middle-aged Germans are so completely inept with computers its embarrassing. We had a woman in her 40’s ask us how to turn off her computer, so that should be a fun little playhouse for Elder Allen in the future! But our plan was just to introduce the idea so they have time to invite their friends over the next 2 weeks to the first class. I think it will go really well. The members are excited. I think I’kll do the same thing in Neumünster when the time is right.

All in all, I’ve really, really sad to leave Frankfurt Oder. It’s the right time, but it hurts, too. Every transfer hurts, but this town is very special to me. I think I’ve learned the most here of any city on my mission. I’ve learned charity, and I’ve come to really love both the members and investigators in a very special way that I think only missionaries and parents can understand, in that this person has become someone you pray for constantly and think about daily and desire more than anything to help. I’m sure it’s more extreme for parents, but it’s an interesting dynamic with complete strangers who are older and more experienced than you are.

I’ve learned to love the scriptures even more, and I’ve come to really appreciate them as the Word of God. I’ve been delighted and astounded to see just how much you can get out of every verse. It is so deeply layered and meaningful, and so completely beyond the capability of any human to reproduce. It’s almost like you can feel the imperfect human language and understanding straining and stretching under the rich immensity of meaning. It really can only be conveyed through the Holy Ghost.

And I’ve come to be extremely comfortable talking to people and being around them.

I’m excited to see what type of missionary I will be in Neumünster – I feel like every area I become a different one with new strengths and weaknesses!

I love you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Greaves

New Address is: (also updated on the contact me page)

Elder Caleb Greaves
Geibelstrasse 21
24536 Neumünster
GERMANY


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We had a ton of fun this week!

All the fun things:

1.  We had burritos (my first in 14 months)

2.  Went on a forest hike with Uwe our adventure pal (and had an awesome lesson) (pictures about this below)

Silk Road 1

This nondescript little road through the forest IS NONE OTHER THAN THE FREAKING SILK ROAD! This thing was the largest connecting road between Europe and Asia back in the day. As in, Napoleon the Great, who was truly dynamite, [HAHA] actually walked on this road, right here, according to Uwe, who is a hard core traveler and worked in this forest as a guide for like 15 years!

Silk Road 2

3. Talked to a violent Nazi, who’s a big fan (more on that later).

4.  We went to a second hand store in Poland, which is approximately 1.7 billion times cheaper than Germany. 6 very cool ties, an 80’s windbreaker, and 3 sweaters, one of which is cashmere that when worn, basically feels like being hugged by capitalism, for a whopping 23 Euro. In contrast, I bought a pack of socks in Germany today for 8 Euro.

5.  And all that other spiritual stuff.

We met more with Jacob, the guy from Chad. He rocks. But he talks a lot. 🙂 We invited him to pray about he Book of Mormon, and he did, and he believes it’s the word of God!

I know the Lord works in mysterious ways, because we were were talking to a guy on the street when this guy I will nickname Gigantor stepped out of his car, all 6 feet 6 inches of him, and bellowed,

“Ya wanna talk about God, ya do it with me!”

The guy we were talking to hurriedly left, and Gigantor earthquaked over to us, which is when we recognized him as the violent Nazi we talked to a month ago.

Promising.

(When someone says they are a Nazi these days, they are veeeeeeerrrrryyy radical. Like, Germany has no national pride or culture because of fear of becoming too nationalistic. They no longer sing their national anthem or fly their flag. But a Nazi is someone who is very about white pride and hates immigrants. (Which we also are, but whatever).  I tried listening to what he was saying, but I was really distracted by the gigantic scar across his face. Could he be more stereotypical?

He talked to us for a long time about how he loves God and all, but there are so many Muslims coming to Europe, we have to get “militant” back or we will never survive. He proudly told us he was “militant”, and I shudder to think what that means. We just spent the whole time being really neutral.

“Don’t you think your church should get violent?”

Mmm.

“Don’t you think Muslims worship satan?”

Mmm.

“Isn’t the Aryan race wonderful?”

MmmMMm.

Apparently everyone knows this guy, and he’s surreally friendly. At one point he grabbed a lady’s baby and said,

“Yeees! This is the future of Germany! Blue hair and blond eyes!”

But the point is, this is when things got weird. He called this guy over, who is this history wizard, and knew everything about Mormons. Turns out he’s a real-life, true-blue, I-even-poked-him-to-make-sure FREEMASON.

There’s a Freemason TEMPLE in Frankfurt Oder I’ve walked past a bajillion times and never even knew it. And he’s down to meet with us.

Cool.

I’m gonna wrap this up with what I learned in personal study this week, which is, and this is only my opinion, but what I think is the relationship between faith and doubt. I think sometimes we assume that we need to smother all doubt to make room for faith.

But I consider questioning our faith a crucial part of testimony building.

Unfortunately, I talk to people every day that have never asked themselves any question with any real seriousness. We always ask questions such as

“What brings you joy?”

Or

“What is your purpose in life?”

And it is always the saddest thing when the answer is

“I’ve never even thought about that”.

Or as another example, so many people consider the existence of a God as an opinion. I really cannot understand that. Either He’s there or He’s not. There’s not really any room for bias.

I sincerely hope that no Latter Day Saint ever just “goes with the flow”.

I hope we are constantly questioning, testing, and doing our best to find answers to life’s biggest questions.

One of my old companions and I talked about this, and we discussed how it actually takes faith to allow yourself to it knowledge the doubt you do have, and thereby look for answers.

I give my testimony that I know any question in life can be answered through the Scriptures, the words of the prophets, or by personal revelation. Finding these answers can only make us stronger. I actually wrote a poem about this, which is kind of embarrassing, but it was also kind of fun. Don’t judge it too harshly!

paddleboatIt’s an infinite battle
For the soul
Day and night
Light and dark
Pushing shoving squeezing
Faith in, doubt out
Right?
Wrong.
All aboard PaddleboatBelief
Gracing UncertainPond
Always trundling on
Keeping you dry
But it’s no perfect craft
Riddled with cracks, seams, and holes
QuestionWater seeps in
So you mend, seal, and patch
And bail with your AnswerBucket
That’s hard work
But no flaws could be found
Laying lazily on land
Not in denial but by the voyage
Is the vessel perfected.

Anyway, I love all of you guys very much. Thanks so much for everything. Special things to Grandma Ann and Grandpa What’s-His-Name for sending me a letter. It helped me. Also, I’ve never said this, but I want to thank you, mom, for the letter you sent me a few weeks ago. It is really special to me and it really really helped me a lot. I think about the words you wrote a lot. Have an awesome week!

Elder Greaves


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Pretty European Street

2015 8 31 Pretty European Street

First, Mom, your blog post was awesome! I really liked it a lot. I don’t know why this text is red or how to change it.

This week has been really good – and pretty strange. It all started on Monday, when we found out that we had interviews with President on Tuesday in Berlin, which is 1 hour 45 minutes away. And our interview ended at 8. So we had to stay the night with the Marzahn elders, the elders in our district. So we had to cancel a few appointments and we headed on over there. We got there reeeeaaaallyy early, and we just happened to run into Elder Allen’s old MTC companion.

After talking for a while, we thought it would be fun for all three of us to go finding in Berlin. We did a few minutes of that, then went back to the mission home. Due to some problems, some missionaries right before us had really long interviews, and so Elder Allen and Germann and I jumped on the trampoline in the dark, which was way too much fun. Then Elder Allen interviewed sweatily with President, by which time it was about 11:30 p.m.. Don’t forget, missionaries are supposed to be home between 9:00 and 9:30, and should be in bed by 10:30. But it was honestly pretty fun to talk to Sister Fingerle and other missionaries. Then, to sweeten the deal, the office elders drove us home. At this point in my mission, I feel like I know just about everyone. This decreases over time, so that by the end, you knew less people than when you got here. But for that night, Elder Short, former Bernburg district leader, Elder Draper, my trainer, Elder Germann, former district buddy in Bernburg with Elder Short and I, and Elder Allen, my trainee, we’re all in one care driving through the dirtiest scariest parts of Berlin at midnight.

SO.

MUCH.

FUN.

goofy smile

So we stayed the night in Marzahn, and slept for 8 hours, under strict orders from President Fingerle (sir yes SIR).

Then we had district meeting, and then I stayed in Berlin for the second night on exchanges with elder Germann, which was also super fun. Finding in Berlin is a blast.

Then, we exchanged back, and Elder Allen and I tried to go get my broken iPad fixed, but we couldn’t find the place. We decided to head home, but I don’t know Berlin that well, and we took a very slow way back, so we missed a train, and we were sitting in the train station in Berlin at 9:30, so basically worse off than earlier in the week. So we had to stay the night in Marzahn AGAIN, and by that time it had lost its fun.

So we got up early Friday and went back to Frankfurt Oder, where I got to put on that change of clothes I forgot to bring.

Blech.

icky

In the mean time, Elder Allen and Elder Williams found a few people, so we met with a few of them the rest of the week.

One of them is super awesome! His name is Jacob, and he’s from Chad.

Chad

The first time we met with him, we tried teaching the Restoration, but w didn’t make it super clear and he didn’t get it. But we did get to know him. He ha a tough past, but he’s actually a civil engineer!

Of sorts.

I don’t think that’s quite the same in Africa as it is here or in America, but he did do drafting and built houses. Then on Sunday, we got up super early to get him to church, and he really liked it. The first hour is Sunday School, so we held an investigator class, and taught a much better Restoration lesson. He LOVED it!

He started reading the Book of Mormon as soon as I gave it to him, and every free minute during church and afterwards, he was reading it. We we’re with him this morning (he was helping us move furniture for a member) and he had read all of the book of Jacob and thought he was a pretty cool guy, considering they have the same name and all. 🙂

So anyway, we will definitely put him on baptismal date this week. If he had come to Germany 2 weeks earlier, I probably would have seen his baptism, but no joke, there would have to be some monumental screw up for him not to be baptized by the end of next transfer.

We also met with Frau F, the butt-kicking 87-year-old. We planned to teach her the Restoration, but only a part of it. She was so engaged and understood it all so clearly, we ended up teaching the whole thing. When we leave her house, we always just have the biggest smiles on our faces, because she’s probably the cutest old lady I’ve ever met. Sometimes, she just breaks down into giggles about some things and it’s so awesome. We invited her to church for example, which is a half hour away. She said she really wished she could, and then, barely able to get the words out she was laughing so hard, she said

“I can’t ride my bike all the way there!”

She was somewhat relieved to find out we could get her a ride. 🙂

We also met with a convinced Jehovah’s Witness, which was… Interesting. It’s kind of fun to meet with other people who are well-versed in their church, because you learn what things you have just taken for granted as truth, and at least for me, it just strengthens my testimony.

A few differences they have:

1. If it’s not in the Bible it is not true.

2. We aren’t a body and a spirit but just a body.

That may not sound like a big deal, but think about all the other doctrines that screws up: No premortal existence, they believe Jehovah to be Heavenly Father (Christ didn’t exist before his birth), the Holy Ghost is not a being but something like electricity, after we die, we are just sleeping until we are resurrected, so no spirit world and no salvation for the dead. All from one difference!

3. They have no concept of “receiving an answer”.

People are converted to their religion when they agree that their religion is the only religion that matches the Bible exactly. when we asked him how he knew the Bible was true, he said “Because it talks about Jesus.” If we asked him why he believed in Jesus, he would probably say “because he’s in the Bible.” I don’t want to attack any other religion, but that idea was so foreign to me that we barely even knew how to answer. Isn’t a spiritual confirmation the goal? Doesn’t the Holy Ghost support truth? How can you assume such things without just asking God? But I’m sure they have things about our religion that don’t make sense either.

We felt really good about this last week. I’m pretty bummed that i’ll almost definitely be leaving in about 2 weeks, right when things are looking awesome, but I’m excited that Elder Allen has another transfer to finish things up!

I hope everything is going well at home! I hope school went well.

I love you guys!

Elder Greaves