elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany

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Hey Family and Friends!

Aspen: Congrats on getting in to BYU-ID!

So this week was pretty decent… OR SO I THOUGHT!!!!

I’ll explain that.

So this week, we had a super awesome conference from the missionary department. It was so good. It was kind of like General Conference, in that it was rare that something completely new was said, but the repeated things really hit me and invited me to change.

For example, they invited us to teach people how to repent, because that is our purpose: to teach repentance, and baptize converts. So we tried that with M this week, and worked really hard to teach him how to repent. It is super uncommon, at least in my mission, to commit people to repent. Which seems really silly, so we tried that with M. We’ll have to follow up with him about that this week, but we are really excited. I mean, it sounds so simple, but it’s just not done!

Anyway, I’m super behind today, so I’ll just go on a rant real quick. 🙂

Elder Weber said he read one of his old emails from the beginning of his mission, and how it was really funny to see how weird it was for him now. So I did that, and man did I pick a zinger.  [See posting from November 18, 2014].

In one week, this is what happened:

  • I went on exchanges with someone that was also new, so neither of us could speak German, but we found 7 contacts in 2 hours.
  • A new investigator read in the Book of Mormon, and told us in his 2nd lesson that he believed it to be true, and believed in the Restoration.
  • A contact had a dream about 2 German speakers knocking on his door, and he felt that was a sign from God that we were his messengers.
  • We recontacted a former investigator, who had been reading in the Book of Mormon, loved it, and wanted to get baptized.
  • We contacted a media referral. He had referred himself after reading the Book of Mormon online, and believed it was true.
  • We got a second media referral, who ended up later being on baptismal date and driving 2.5 hours to church.
  • We baptized D.
  • The Piano guys gave a concert to the missionaries in Hamburg.


Really, this isn’t even a joke. I feel like I’ve been led down a grassy, rolling, slope with a flaxen cord around my neck, slowly making my way to the hell that is mediocrity.

It probably sounds to you guys like I freak out about every 6 weeks and have a “realization” and then rant and get angry and then rededicate myself.

Yeah… That’s pretty accurate.

This was just a great reminder of the potential that I have. That’s something I want to achieve.

I don’t have any more time, but I love you guys!

Elder Greaves




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Hey guys!

I haven’t gotten the [family picture] calendar yet.

Make sure to thank Grandma and Grandpa and Grandma Cathy for me! I just took their money out to buy a suit, but they didn’t have any in my size, so I’m ordering it online. So when a bunch of money comes out, just know I’m gonna deposit the 200 back or something.

That temple experience sounds super awesome, Mom!

You said you are running out of names. I’ve been doing a little family history too, since our mission is focused on that. I’ve found several names. Just go on my account to get them. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just send them to you separately. Just let me know.

You asked about keeping the Sabbath day holy and if I’ve had any experiences in teaching that concept or thoughts that have come to me about why the brethren might be
emphasizing it more?

There is a newish Mormon message about the 10 commandments that talks in part about keeping the Sabbath day holy. There are 3 things we tell investigators they have to do to get an answer – read, pray and come to church. Interestingly, as important as the first two are, neither are in the 10 commandments. The most basic of all commandments are the ones that are basically all about just how to be a decent person, and keeping the Sabbath say holy is on that list.

Many churches today, in claiming the law of Moses to be fulfilled, also seek to render the 10 commandments obsolete. Obviously, that doesn’t mean they advocate stealing, murder, or adultery. Actually, any mainstream church or belief system that says the 10 commandments are annulled follow 9 of them – they don’t have any other Gods, stay away from graven images, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, honor their parents, don’t kill, commit adultery, steal, lie or covet. All of those things are still considered guidelines. However, the only one that these churches do ignore is keeping the Sabbath day holy. I think that’s interesting.

That’s an example to me of doubting God’s wisdom. We doubt that such a thing could actually help us, or actually affects our spirituality. But I don’t think God put it in here just for fun. I think that is one reason we are focusing on it. There are more blessings connected with it than we probably understand, for it to be on God’s original top 10 list.

Dad, you asked about the greatest compliment I have ever received.  It’s probably a tie between two on my mission: one time, a companion looked over to me at the end of
a looooong day outside. We had sore feet and tired legs from all the walking, and he said

“Elder Greaves, I’ve never been so tired in my entire life.”

That was awesome. Another one was meant more as a statement than a compliment, but it carries with it both negative and positive. Another companion told me

“Yeah, your kinda just like a whirlwind, you know?”

That made me really happy.

Yeah Dad, I’m glad you liked the story last week. It was even worse this week. An 18 year old girl started coming to church last week, so first she heard that we can be Gods. Then she asked for next class to be about the three kingdoms of glory, since someone had given a talk on that. I was excited, because there is some really pretty doctrine there. But then, we ended up mostly just talking about hell and outer darkness. WHY? It was confusing for me, and I’m living the darn Gospel.

Dad, you were talking about birth being like a baptism. Elder Bednar said something really cool at our conference a year or so ago. He said that real birth combines water, blood and the spirit, and baptism is done with water, sealed with Christ’s blood, and finished by receiving the Spirit. I thought that was really cool.

You also said being a zone leader is awesome. Were you one your mission? How did that work there?

Anyway, that’s all I have time for, but I love you guys! I hope you have an awesome week!
Elder Greaves

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I hope you had a great week!

Hey guys!  I’m so glad my package finally arrived. The Pyramide should also come soon. This week was OK.  I’m still learning the ropes of being a Zone Leader.

I’ll try to describe what it’s like. Once a month, you go to Berlin. President tells you what he wants to tell the missionaries. You hold a zone training meeting where you pass on that info. Being a district leader is like being a bishop. You plan weekly district meetings, which are like the sacrament meeting. Being a zone leader is like being a stake president.  You work with the district leaders mostly. Zone training meeting is like stake conference. As a district leader, you work mostly with missionaries directly. A zone leader has less opportunity to do that, and does a lot of paperwork and a bunch of other tiny little things. Usually a companionship has one phone to share, but because we make and receive so many calls, we each have our own. We set some goals once a month, which everyone ignores 🙂

It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. There’s always just a bunch of inconsequential little things or emails or forms or planning sessions that you have to do that just makes every day super short.


I finally got to meet the ward. Like I said, they are all young college students, mostly getting masters or Ph.D’s. We have an investigator from Zambia getting his Ph.D in photonics, which is just about the craziest witchcraft I’ve ever heard of.

Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons, which are particles of light. Photonics underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. Who knew?

Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons, which are particles of light. Photonics underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. Who knew?

For example, computers read binary. LED lights constantly blink, faster than our eyes can see. Apparently, they are working on being able to get wifi just by having your computer read binary from a lightbulb.


No idea how that works. But anyway, he was on baptismal date, but wasn’t ready at all and kinda freaked out and wasn’t answering his phone, so we decided to do like annoyingly persistent missionaries do and stop by. He was home, and it soon came out that I was studying Physics. He flipped out and got African-excited (it’s a thing) and almost shouted

“I found a brotheh!”

And we talked for the next twenty minutes about all that jazz. Pretty sweet. Hopefully we’ll be meeting with him again now.

On Sunday, I led our Gospel principles class. There were a few nonmember visitors that I wasn’t planning on (they’ve never had contact to the church before) so I had to basically change the whole lesson plan in the bathroom 5 minutes before  (I guess you could say I was stalling HA).

Then of course over excited, over intelligent members brought it immediately to “we can become Gods”, so that had to be controlled and made more normal. But it was super fun.

Tomorrow we have zone training meeting, which is zone leader game day.

I’m excited for this week – we finally will have some time to work, though I’ll be on exchanges in Erfurt for 3 days straight.

Love you guys!

Elder Greaves

P.S. About the classes, don’t worry about it. Elder Weber and I are going home at the same time, and it’s expected that you get permission and then register for classes yourself. We are both going to BYU too, so it will be all good in the hood. 🙂

He's in there! Just hard to see.  This was taken at Mission Leadership Council for December.

He’s in there! Just hard to see. This was taken at Mission Leadership Council for December.

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Hey guys!

Tell me when my Christmas package arrives! I also just sent the Pyramide [wooden nativity]. So that should come soon.

[Family played “Where in the World is Caleb Sandiego” since we had no idea where Elder Greaves was for a week.  Dad chose Hanover, Mom chose Hamburg, Sister chose Madgeburg, and Brother chose Salzwedel.  And the winner was????]

Well, to cut it short, you were all wrong. 🙂

I went to Jena.

Salzwedel, though, was in my first area in Lauenburg – it’s pretty small. It was 2 1/2 hours away from our church! (That area was huge). That’s where I assumed I’d be going, because that was where Elder Anderson just came from.

My companion’s name is Elder Weber. He is super awesome! We are in the same MTC group. Actually, I’m the 4th missionary in a row to serve here from our MTC group. Elder Weber and I, Elder Anderson, and Elder Peterson before that. Elder Weber wants to study computer science. It is kind of spooky how similar to Chuck he is (from the TV show).

Jena is absolutely gorgeous. By far the prettiest town I’ve served in. The scary thing is, there is a good chance this is my last city. It has about 100,000 people, which in terms of missionary work is medium-small, but on the Elder Greaves scale is huge.

About 60,000 of those are college students, which means it’s a lot of fun. Jena has an extremely high level research center for light, so most people we meet are either getting their Ph.D’s in optics or photonics. This one guy in our branch named SR is studying optics, and wants to develop virtual and augmented reality stuff.


I’ll put a cool experience that happened this week through google translate.

In NeumĂĽnster , we were completely packed with appointments. We have R met. Last week I wrote about R also. A brief summary: We did find the whole day . Did not do anything. All people were especially grumpy , so we were even. But we have given a Book of Mormon to Rudy, written with our number in it. He called us and said that he has noticed how happy we were, and he knew that this was so, because we were both Christians. He has asked us to teach him how to become a Christian, because he wanted to be as happy as we are. We talked about prayer. He meant that he could not pray , but asked us to say a. We made it , and he wept. He said that he already so find it and he was praying alone.

Also, the day before we were leaving, we got to finally put O on baptismal date. She was really excited, and as long as things go according to plan, I’ll be skyping her baptism on January 29th! She is so amazing. It was definitely a bummer to have to go after that. But she is super prepared, and she will make it.

I hope you guys have a great week!

Love you!

Elder Greaves

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Hey guys, you basically know how my week went!

Wait actually that’s not true at all, because there was a huge change Sunday. I got emergency transferred to be a zone leader. I’m leaving tomorrow. No, I don’t know where. I’m packing all of my suitcases and heading to Berlin, then I sit through a 6 hour long meeting, and then I will find out where I’ll be.  Ahh.

I’m really really bummed to be leaving, especially since there is a ton of stuff going on right now. But adventures to come and all that.

I’m excited for a new challenge.

I really enjoyed skyping with you guys – I hope it wasn’t super boring for you guys…

But I love you guys a lot. It was super great for me, at least. I also wanted to thank you guys for Christmas. I was really impressed with how thoughtful you were with your gifts. For example, those little magnet shirt stays are AWESOME. They work perfectly. I’m excited for the banjo lessons, and the bracelet means a lot to me. Also the jam is cool. It’s perfect, because some less active hippie people gave us homemade peanut butter. Also, Grandma Cathy sent me a few cards, and they were so sweet. I’m super excited to read the talks too – it looks like you guys picked some doozies.

I love you guys, and I hope you get my Christmas package soon!

I’ll give you my new address when I get it. Also, thank your friend for the email, please. It was super funny.

Again, you are so awesome! Thanks for being my family!

Have a great week!

Elder Greaves