elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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Hey guys!

I’m not going to write much today, because we will talk in a few days, but we had a great week. I got to go on exchanges to Flensburg with Elder Bretzing, and it is a gorgeous city. We had lots of success too, which was cool. They are super focused on finding people, so we did some of that and found 3 new people. While we were doing that, Elder Allen found an entire African family at the train station. The wife and son are already baptized, and the husband isn’t yet, as well as the 8 year old daughter, but they came to church and the kids especially loooooved it. They are super cool, and we are excited to meet with them in the future.

We met with Herr G, that man that asks the super hard questions. We just went LeGrand Richards style and started with baptism by immersion, gift of the Holy Ghost, etc. He had a big problem, because he thought that apostasy not only didn’t happen, but couldn’t happen. He showed us the scripture where Christ was talking to Peter and told him he was the rock, and gave him the keys, and then told him that the church would never be prevailed against. That stumped us for a second – I’ve never thought of it that way – but then we talked about Christ dying. We asked him if Christ being killed was in any way a failure. He said, of course, no. And of course, we know that in a way, Christ died to be resurrected. We compared that with the church, and said that it was no failure that the church collapsed. It needed to happen, to prove the power of God. He LOVED that. He finally agreed to read in the Book of Mormon (He has only read in D&C in the past) so he’s starting to make progress.

We had a couple other cool things happen to us, like the man that called us and told us he wanted to be Christian, but that story is better saved for face to face! 🙂

Speaking of which. We will have to remain flexible, because we don’t really know what is happening. Because of the time difference, and the fact that we are skyping at the church, we can’t do it on Christmas itself. We were going to do it on the day after Chirstmas, if that’s alright. It would be about 6 am for you. Does that sound alright? Let me know – like I said, it can be changed.

Everything is going great here. The ward is starting to pick up, Christmas in Germany is beautiful, and I’m loving it.

To answer your question, Mom, yeah, just email the applications to me. I should get them. Attached are the pictures of my first serious souvenir, something called a Pyramide (pronounced Pyrameedeh). It is from this part of Germany called the Erzgeberge (Ore mountains) where Christmas was basically invented. They do handmade wood work. For example, they made the original nutcracker. That’s them. This pyramide is from the 1950’s, and also plays music. This is probably my favorite thing in Germany. The blades spin when you light the candles, and then the little figures spin too. I think it is so beautiful. How I’m getting that home is an entirely different story.

pyramide 1 pyramide 2 pyramide 3 pyramide 4 pyramide 5
I love you guys! See ya Friday!

Elder Greaves

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Hey guys!

This week was decent. We found a lot of people.

This week was transfer week which is always exciting. And a lot of
things changed in our district! Elder Allen and I are both staying in Neumünster still, but every other companionship changed. Elder
Bretzieng, a good friend to the MTC, and one of the elders in our
district last transfer, got transferred to the other area in our
district! He’s super excited to not be zone leader anymore. He and
sister Cady are training. Another elder from my MTC group is coming to
be the new zone leader. Obviously the Flensburg sisters got
transferred to America, where one of them already knows who her new
companion is going to be ;-).

Two new trainees and one district though! That’s going to be way too
much fun. It will be good too, because this was just about the oldest
district ever. And all anyone ever talks about is going home, not
necessarily that they’re excited for that, sometimes like “I hate that
I only have this long left”, but still talked about all the time.

We still weren’t able to meet with O this week, because she had work. Grr.
We went on exchanges this week, and I was with Elder Bretzieng. We had
way too much to talk about, so I was really tired after that one. But
Elder Allen and the other Elder found a family for us! I’m excited to
meet with them this Wednesday.

Gosh guys I’m really tired and I can’t think of anything to write about.

Elder Ballard challenged us to start talking to people in buses and
grocery stores and stuff. At first of course you’re a little nervous
about that, but I’ve actually learned to really enjoy it. It’s
surprisingly easy to start conversations. This doesn’t always lead to
the gospel, but the other person always comes away thinking they were
happy to talk to us, and I think that makes a difference too.

Also, Dad I think that’s so awesome that you invited someone to the
nativity play. I’ll bet that’s really hard. One idea for you is just
to let the missionaries know that you’re bringing him. Maybe
afterwards, with all the cookies and stuff, they can just strike up a
conversation with him. Doesn’t have to be anything huge. But I think
that’s awesome, that’s a good example to me for when I come back from
my mission.

It’s funny what you said about “being an example” and how
we need to move beyond that. This week we got permission to use the
last hour of church as a “missionary class”.

We separated everyone into groups and have them discuss how they
personally could do missionary work better. Of course as expected,
lots of people just talked about being a good example.

Don’t get me wrong actually lots of people talked about how they could just open  their mouths, just invite people, etc. but a lot of it was about being  a good example. We knew that was going to happen, but it’s still kind of frustrating. I’m not really sure when the phrase “being a good
example” became a synonym for NOT DOING ANYTHING. That’s a terrible
example!

If we talk about football or soccer or a cake recipe, and say
it’s “the greatest thing ever”, and never talk about where we spend a
massive chunk of our time, namely the church, what is that saying to
others about we think about our church? To me being a good example
means showing them what these things mean to you. Sure that’s way
easier said than done, but we don’t have to go in blind.

There’s a pretty simple formula for anyone that wants to do some heavy duty missionary work. We accidentally tricked our members into agreeing to do it with us. 🙂

Pray for inspiration, then set a goal for when you want to have someone prepared to be taught by the missionaries, or someone to bring to church, etc. then, if you’re really feeling bold, share the date with the missionaries. Ask them to also pray for you that you’ll be able to find someone by that time, and then pray yourself. Allow the gospel to come up naturally in conversation. Don’t force it, don’t ram it down peoples throats, but lead conversations towards the deep end, if you know what I mean. Instead of just talking about the weather, talk about how awesome it is to be together with your family during Christmas. Ask what they love about Christmas. If someone is a close friend, share a hard time you went through/are going through, ask them how they would deal with something like that, and then explain how the Gospels help to you. The Lord will open up paths to you if you have a goal in mind and you were praying for it.

As for why someone would be scared to talk about the gospel, they
don’t want to get rejected. If you believe this gospel is true, then
your testimony is one of your most precious possessions. Having
someone you care about, or someone you have to see every day, reject
something so near and dear to your heart is painful and embarrassing.
But in my opinion, as I’ve said before, I really don’t think you have
to teach your friends the restoration or something like that. You just
say hey, this thing that I’ve learned is helped me. If you’re looking
for answers, come to church. So for me, I think a big part of not
feeling awkward about it, is just to make it a natural part of your
life. Everyone HATES talking to people on the street when they are a
new missionary. But eventually, you can actually learn to love it.
Everybody knows that running sucks. But ask someone who’s gone running every day for six months to skip running one day, and he won’t do it because he likes the feeling it gives him. That’s how it is with most
of the good, difficult things. You just have to keep doing them until
you have a testimony they make you happy, and then it’s easy.

I love you guys!

Have a good week!

Elder Greaves

P.S. Hey Mom! I just wanted to write you a quick note and tell you I love you. You’re just awesome. I read your blog post today, [thatwhichbringsjoy.com] and it is my favorite so far. It made me laugh. That’s right, I literally lol’ed. I brag about you like I’m a grandpa. I think you’re example more than anything else has taught me what it means to be a woman of God. I’ve always been so impressed with the equality in your marriage. I love that you are just as smart and capable as Dad, and just as hardworking. I just think that’s something very unique and special about you that really sets a high bar for my future marriage! I love you, and I’m thinking about you. I hope you have an awesome birthday. I’m sending pictures too.  (hover on a picture and the caption appears).


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This week was really great!

Hey guys!

We met with K, the nonmember husband, on Monday. It was a somewhat difficult lesson, since he had a ton of questions about all of the commandments. Having lived with a Mormon for 30 years, he’s experienced all the inconvenience and has felt none of the blessings of all of those “rules”. I can totally understand that. From the outside looking in, it just seems to be problems. And the only way you can find out if something actually blesses you or not is just to do it.

Then Wednesday, we were supposed to meet with our miracle Frau, O, but she was sick. That was super disappointing, but she agreed to come to church.

Thursday we had zone conference. That’s always fun, but most people that I know are home already. All the sisters I know from the MTC, Elder Weaver, and Elder Garrett are all going home next week. A year ago, going to zone conference was this big exciting chance to talk to people about crazy stories and stuff, but eventually, you’ve collected so many crazy stories and everyone else you know has too, that when all the little whippersnappers are jabbering on about all those things you’ve lived through about 4 times already, you see a friend across the room and just kind of give grim nod and move on.

Then, we made the TERRIBLE mistake of agreeing to ride with the 4 sisters in our district on the way back, because group tickets are way cheaper, and also because we are buds, but I swear, we were literally the last missionaries out of the church. I stood at the door with my scarf and gloves on for about 20 minutes, begging, pleading, cajoling, praying, and singing at one point, and all the while they just blissfully floated from group to group, squealing like they’ve never even seen another sister before, and moving their mouths remarkably fast, probably chattering about makeup or purses or chocolate, or whatever it is sisters talk about these days.

So we missed our train. “And the voice of one crying in the wilderness…”

Then, like champs, we planned alternatively. So the Kiel sisters got out with us in Neumünster, and then we thought they would wait a few minutes and then get another train, only when we showed up, their train was already there, and they hadn’t bought a ticket yet. So as they hysterically tried to figure out which ticket to buy, then panicked because they didn’t have small bills, then, freaked out getting change at McDonald’s, I thought idly to myself that this is what they are probably like ever single transfer day. Then, ironically, the only time they relaxed and slowed down was after they bought the ticket, assuming they had already missed the train anyway.

But they didn’t.

So Elder Allen grabs literally 6 bags himself and throws them in the train, with me making that windmilling motion baseball coaches do on 3rd base, and they slide in right as the doors close.

Safe!

I’ve been teasing them about that all week.

This week will be the Flensburg sisters’ last week. I’m sure going to miss them. They are the perfect examples of having been changed by their missions. I asked them both what the the single most important thing was that they learned on their missions. Their answers just blew me away.

Sister Hahn didn’t even have to think about it. Her answer was that she learned how to be a Mormon. She learned what it meant to fulfill a calling by learning from both good and bad examples. She knew what she expected from the members here and now sees what the missions would want from her in Utah. She learned what it meant to live her faith.

Then Sister Demke, who personifies the phrase “still waters run deep”, said she has learned and gained a testimony of the perfection of the Plan of Salvation. She knows God has made a perfect plan for her and everyone else, and the more she learns about all the parts, the more impressed she is by the flawlessness of it.

Both very different answers, but proof that they both spent their missions becoming true disciples.

But the coolest thing that happened last week was in the culmination of what we affectionately dubbed “D-day”. As a missionary, you get excited for activities, because if it is a “special” Sunday, it helps investigators make time.

This Sunday was a Primary program (gold), and a child’s baptism, with a ward potluck afterwards. We have been working hard with the little German munchkins to get them to bring friends. The zone leaders did this thing where they asked every companionship to pick a day this month when the rest of the zone could pray for you. They’ve been getting on my case about picking a day, but we kept putting them off, because we wanted to save it for a special day. We asked everyone to pray for us on Sunday, the last work day of the month, that our investigators would come, and ward would bring friends.

As church started, we were disappointed to see that there were no visitors there. Our investigator was coming for the last hour, but 2 others had cancelled on us. But as the lady hour and the primary program started, we were amazed to count about 9 nonmembers and 5 less active members there, only one of which was our O “the Wonderwoman”. The rest were from members. I saw at least one full family with 3 kids and a mom. The little buggers brouhgt down the house with a rousing – and more than a little brainwashy – 9 verses of “follow  the prophet”. That song gives me the heebie jeebies. But the rest was great. We didn’t have time to talk to everyone, but we did talk to one couple named B and S. They are from Canada actually. They were super friendly. The girlfriend is inactive, and the boyfriend is a nonmember.

But the cool part is, we are meeting with them this week!

Booyah.

Then, those two and O stayed for the baptism. It was super awesome.
N (the 8 year old) it’s just about the cutest little button ever.  Then her 10 year old sister, V, sang some baptism song, and man, I almost cried. O told us right after the baptism that she wanted to get baptized and become Christian someday too.

We told her we think we could help with that. That day was really cool, because then we felt like not only was our faith strengthened, but the other missionaries in our zone were hopefully strengthened as well!

To answer some other questions, yes, I have bought a coat, and I look
pretty stellar, and no, I still have not gotten anything about my birthday package. As for the Christmas package, did you send it to Berlin? I have no idea what the game plan there is, but no, I won’t be going to Berlin to get it. They could just ship it if they need to.

I love you guys a lot!

I wanted to tell you, Dad, that I thought your talk was awesome.

I brag about you guys as if you were my grandkids.

Also, what you said a few weeks ago about set ridiculously high goals and then working to achieve them anyway totally inspired me, and really helped me these last few weeks. I’ve thought about it often.

Elder Greaves