elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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This week was pretty mixed.

We had a lot of good things happen, but quite a few setback as well.

Most of the people that we found last week are super awesome! The two highlights are definitely a Chinese girl named Y and F, a German girl. Y has heard almost nothing about God, so it was really interesting teaching her and breaking it down to really simple concepts. We just explained to her who God is. We broke it down like this:

  • God is our Father.
  • This means we are His children and he loves us.
  • He has plan for us.
  • This plan is how we can be most happy here and after this life also.

F came to Institute on Thursday, because we ran out of time to meet with her at another time. We were talking about the Restoration. I’m not exaggerating when I say that in the first 20 minutes, such things as golden plates, Urim and Thummim, how Joseph Smith translated by putting his face in a hat a using a seerstone he found, which we have today in our church history vault, and angelic visitations. We counted how many times Joseph Smith saw angels. You know, to make it sound more nuts.

Elder Weber and I were freaking out, because this was F’s first ever exposure to the church, and she wasn’t even religious. So we (pretty artfully, honestly) moved the conversation from “what do we believe that would make someone new freak out” to “how can faith help me?”

It was hands down the best Institute class I have ever had after that.

The teacher asked the question “What are the benefits of faith over knowledge?” Pretty much stumped all of us.

So he gave the example of Christopher Columbus. He couldn’t have know there was something on the other side. He put his life on the line, and those of his crew, because he believed something. And that brought him to action. Then he compared that with traffic laws and speed cameras, and also smoking. We know that smoking is bad , but how many people still do it? Clearly a perfect knowledge has no power to move to action. It was really cool, especially considering it wasn’t at all planned. F was loving it, connected well with the members, and participated a ton.

The bad news is, both of those people are out of town for the next month. GRRR.

Another great thing that happened this week though:

There is this really sweet Romanian lady that begs in front of our church. The senior couple missionaries here started inviting her to activities. Sometimes we walk in, and they are all sitting together doing water colors. It’s the cutest thing. Anyway, all the members talk to her through Google translate whenever they see her, and she will use the bathroom and stuff when we are in the church, etc. This Sunday, she brought her husband and 2 kids to church! She said she felt like God had led her to this church and to the senior couple, and it proved to her that He loves her! They loved church, and were super happy to be there.

One of my new favorite scriptures to finish off:

Isaiah 59:17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.

I love that last part. I think I always want to be clad with a cloak of zeal.

I love my mission so much. I make mistakes, but I keep trying. Thanks for everything guys! Have a great week! I love you!

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Inspired Sushi and Other Miracles

Hey guys!

So I told you last week that we were starting WonderWeek, one word, WonderWeek, that day, and it would finish this last Sunday.

It. was. awesome.

So many crazy things, awesome things, and dare I say it, even a few crazy awesome things were experienced.

I’ll start with Monday evening. This is not a miracle at all, but it was somewhat entertaining. Family Home Evening – which is actually a super ironic name because the young single adults go to it and it’s at the church, so if we ever had to hold it in the morning it would be the most contradictory term ever – was over.

Note: The following story may have been slightly embellished.

All of a sudden, I felt horrible zombie breath on the back of my neck. I whip around, and there sways this lifeless, pale form, eyes sightlessly staring right through me. I coolly assessed the situation, right after Elder Weber gave me the Heimlich because I was choking on my bitten off tongue.

“I think he’s drunk,” I coolly and nonchalantly told Elder Weber.

“I can’t understand you when your hyperventilating,” he nervously fidgeted.

Okay, the way he looked was accurate. He was freaky, guys. The most drunk person still standing I have ever seen. I have no idea how he even walked up the stairs to our church. But anyway, our Mormon peeps were pretty freaked out, but the funny thing about being a missionary is you work a lot of the time with the underbelly of society, so this was nothing. We just kinda calmly led him out of the church so he didn’t throw up on the carpets and then asked him if there was anything we could do to help him as the rest of the ward walked away, wondering if they would ever see us whole again.

But anyway, there are way more important stories to tell.

Tuesday, we were on exchanges. We found 3 new people. Elder B and I found a chinese girl named XQ and a German girl named F. We met with them both later in the week and they are both super awesome!

Wednesday we met with a guy who called us and asked to meet. Unfortunately, we probably won’t be meeting with him. He lives in a psych ward in the hospital. He’s really fun to be with though, and we kept him company that afternoon. He even came to church on Sunday!

Thursday we had zone conference.

Friday was great!

We met with a part member family that morning, and the wife is officially an investigator! She’s been coming to church for the last couple months, and I don’t think anyone even knew she wasn’t a member. Then we met with M, a super genius of a refugee. He has his Ph.D in microbiology and is the published author of 2 books on the science of Arabic poetry, and he’s writing his 3rd. We got super in depth about the Atonement, and he’s loving it, and I can’t wait to get O and A, the members from an earlier area I served in, in on that. He’s great, but a tough nut to crack for sure. Then we met with T, a man from Eritrea. He speaks Tigrinya, and there is no language translation to work with him.

Saturday

to save time, I quote Elder Weber:

Highlight definitely had to be on Saturday night. We were just wrapping up our awesome week, our day hadn’t gone as well as others-mostly due to weekly planning putting a damper on things. We left the church after a fallen out appointment to go to the sausage stand outside of our apartment. It turns out that the stand had already closed so we needed to find something else to eat because we were out of food. We finally settled on sushi, the Vietnamese guy who brought us our food was very excited to be talking to some Americans, he asked us about the super bowl etc. Elder Greaves note: We were basically so focused on our sushi at this point we didn’t really even think about talking to him until later. Then he came back and asked how long we had been in Germany, and I mentioned in passing that we were volunteering for a Christian Church. He became very animated and started talking about how he was Christian, but German considers his baptism in Vietnam invalid. He said he loved Jesus Christ and said it was too bad but he will just have to be rebaptized somehow! Haha we pretty much just had to ask for an appointment. He said well you guys the problem is that this is my last day in the job so we are going to have to exchange numbers if we want to stay in touch! What a blessing to find him on the last day of him working right outside our apartment!

Sunday we finally met with the girlfriend of a new convert. I wish I had more time to elaborate, but I’m out of time.

Just know that this week was so awesome, and I really felt the hand of the Lord in the work. I know this Gospel is true, and God wants His children to be helped.

Elder Greaves

2016-02-11 Leipzig Zone Conference ZoKo2016-02-05 Berlin LTM

 


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Hey guys!
Sorry, I don’t have a ton of time to write this week, because I spent a lot of time answering Sawyer’s questions (because they were fun).

[Sidenote:

MY BRAIN ITCHES:

Ok wait wait wait. I have a serious question. Imagine a line in the 3D Cartesian coordinate system, which is 45 degrees from all the lines. Or is y=X only on three axes, eh? What is the equation of that line??? Also can there be a triangular prism with 3 right triangles? Also how do you turn a circle inside out? AHHHH!
Love, Sawyer

These aren’t real questions. These are your homework questions or something you watched on Youtube… But I had fun answering them, so:

1. A line that is has a 45 degree angle from all other lines on a 3D plane would have the equation 2Z=X+Y, or perhaps more revealing, Z=X=Y. You can check this by checking the slope of the line. (I have forgotten all equations, so I had to derive this one myself) but (y2-y1)/(x2-x1)=m, with m being slope. When the m=1, the slope of the line must have a 45 degree angle to the 2 axes. (y=x makes a square triangle with 45 degree angles where the hypotenuse connects to the legs.) So. When x=1, y=1 and z=1. Same when x=-1=y=z. So (1–1)/(1–1) = 1. The ones on the left side of the equation could represent x and y, x and z, or z and y, but no matter what, the slope is 1 and therefore the line has a 45 degree angle with the axes involved. There are 3 other lines that meet the requirements as well. Their equations are: -2y=x+z, -2x=y+z, and -2z=y+x.

2. Triangular prisms only have 2 triangles in them, and the rest are rectangles. So no. However, if you meant a pyramid, yes, I think if you had 2 identical right triangles with the similar legs forming one edge, both faces making a right angle from each other, then the base would also be a right triangle.

3. I don’t even know what that is referring to, but instinctual, that sounds like something some mathematician would say is impossible.

That was fun! I’m jealous that you get to go to school!

Actually these were my own questions. Also you answered my questions better than anyone else. Thanks!]

Thanks for letting me know about registration dates [for school].

Aspen: Make sure as you pray about where to go, you don’t wait too long for an answer before answering! The most revelation happens when we pray about it, think about it, and try our best to make the best decision we can, God helps us to make the right decision. We usually notice it later, though.

This last week we were gone for 3 and a half days, so with church and p day thrown in there, we had really almost no time to work.

The reason we were gone so much is we we had a leadership training meeting in Berlin, and the day before we went on exchanges with the AP’s. I like both of them. I’ve known them both for a long time. But that was actually what has to be the WORST EXCHANGE of my life. It wasn’t their fault. They are ridiculously busy. They basically don’t live in the apartment they have in Berlin, since they travel almost the entire week every week. So they were excited to go on exchanges with us, because then we could work to try to get them a program going.

We planned an awesome day, but then during comp study, they found out there was an emergency (There’s always an emergency) and they had to leave Sunday night, which long story short meant Elder Weber and I ended up doing crafts for several hours as they planned the upcoming zone conference.

SO BORING.

Then it was really awkward, because when they asked what they could do better, I explained that although I didn’t blame them at all for what happened, because it was completely out of control, we all knew that that happens all the time. Rather forcefully, I gave my opinion that I thought it would really be a lot better of an idea for them to go on exchanges to other areas, to escape the grasp of the mission office. (it sucks you in with little projects and you never escape). They kind of awkwardly avoided that subject, and I couldn’t figure out why.

But then the next day, there was this great big leadership training meeting, and the biggest climax of the meeting was announcing that the missionary department has just changed some policy, and all zone leaders and AP’s should bring missionaries to their areas to work, so they have enough time to have a model program. This is really quite different, and there were a lot of skeptics. And of course, they had just given us a big whopper of a reason why that would be a really bad idea. But actually, I think the positives outweigh the negatives.

Zone leaders have too much to do to work, so their areas suffer, and are constantly on the brink of collapse (they are usually better than most areas, because they are in the best cities and have the best wards – usually – but well below where they should be). This gives leaders [the resources] to make their programs awesome and hopefully inspire other missionaries to follow the example and do the same. So it actually switches the focus from developing areas to developing missionaries, which I really like.

This Sunday, we had church. And our one piano player wasn’t there. Which means we were singing a capella. And one of the branch counselors is morally opposed to hymn accompaniment playing from a phone. And also our music conductor was gone. So guess who had to bravely step forward?

This Elder.

And that same counselor decided to pick a song that

  • no.
  • one.
  • knew.

I can honestly say it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I have never heard such a caterwauling. It was like having my soul threshed publicly. I have never sweat so much in my life. I could pick out the tune later, but everyone was so panicked that I didn’t have time to figure it out, so we torturedly made our painful way through 4 verses.

badmusic

Anyway. That was awful.

This week Elder Weber and I are doing something we are calling Wonder Week. That means that we are showing the Lord how desperate we are for miracles (see Becoming the Person You Were Born to Be, by Wendy Watson Nelson) https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/worldwide-devotionals/2016/01/becoming-the-person-you-were-born-to-be?lang=eng by doing lots of really crazy things for a week. We have a lot of different rules, and we kinda feel like Nazarites, but here are some of the big ones:

We shower for 5 minutes max
We pray only on our knees
We take half time on lunch and dinner
We get up half an hour earlier
We speak only German with each other from 9 am to 9 pm.
We don’t use the elevator. And we live on the 9th floor.

We are expecting a big miracle this upcoming week!

Love you guys!

Elder Greaves


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This week was really good.

Hey guys!

Tuesday, we went on exchanges. I went to Zwickau with Elder Pinyon. He’s from Australia.

We had a good time. Man. I can barely remember details.

The beginning of this week seems to be about 40 years in the past. It’s kinda like looking down this big long tunnel to see what happened way back then in the good ole days.

Tuesday, I mean.

I think the mission does a weird thing to your biological clock. It’s like, the weeks are about 3 times as long, but time is moving 12 times as fast. So it just blazes by without you even noticing the days, but then trying to remember 2 weeks ago is like trying to remember the womb.

Anyway, I vaguely remember playing soccer on Tuesday. It was actually super awesome. We were playing indoor. I was pretty nervous, because I haven’t played in so long, and I was pretty sure I’d be destroyed. But I actually didn’t die!

Well I almost did.

This last weekend I got super sick, fever and stuff. One night towards the end of the ordeal, I ended up sweating what had to have been literally a gallon or so of water. I had to change my clothes literally 4 times in the night. I had to actually put a couple towels on my bed because the mattress got so soaked. So that was weird. But anyway, 2 days later I was playing some pretty intense soccer, so I was getting a little fuzzy headed, but it was fun nonetheless… I held my own against some pretty decent Germans, so that was cool.

Wednesday we visited Zwickau’s district meeting. Then we had a lesson with a guy named M*. He is a refugee here, which must really stink, because he has a Ph.D in microbiology, and is the published author of 2 books (and is working on his 3rd) all about the science, yes, the science, of Arabic poetry. So he is pretty wicked smart. He was really excited to hear about the Book of Mormon, and he is definitely a thinker. He was asking some very philisophical questions, and was expecting pretty astounding answers back, but we did the best we could. He is super cool, and I’m excited to meet with him in the future.

Thursday, we went to Werdau’s district meeting (which is our district meeting too). For lunch that day, due to weird train stuff, we ended up being stranded in this mall for an hour, so we bought this roasted ham thing, kind of like a turkey leg but ham. Super good, then, reveling in our culinary expertise, we combined that with a couple rolls of sushi, also delicious.

Saturday, we met with a new investigator from Eritrea. We also met with a new member from China, and one of our main investigators named M. He has been on baptismal date like 3 times, just hasn’t made it. So we talked to him about repentance last time. This time, he brought up baptism himself and wanted to know how that worked with repentance. That was good. As Elder Weber put it, it felt very “real intent-y”.

Moroni_10_4_Plates-aMjY0

By far the best part of the week also happened on Saturday. I got to skype in to the baptism of O, the Hungarian lady from Neumünster. I am so happy for her! She is great.

Sunday, we got to meet another new member who had been in China for the last month. She is the happiest girl ever. She is so awesome. We met with her and her boyfriend. She brought back several Chinese “snacks” and had us try them, ranging from dried fruit leather to….. squid.

Not like fancy squid.

The best way I could describe it is gas station squid. Imagine the body of the squid, about 3 inches long and an inch thick, packed in plastic packaging like a slim jim. And on the inside is fish eggs. That wins the award for weirdest thing I’ve tried on my mission, and I hope it keeps that.

Like this maybe?

Like this maybe?

 

I am so grateful to be on a mission. I hope everything is going well for you guys!

Have a good week!