elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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Hey guys!

This week has been really good. We got a lot done!

We received a special assignment to do an MTC to study our additional language.  More about that just to family . . .

This week probably the most exciting investigator is M. He is a scientist, and just sent his 3rd book on the science of Arabic poetry to the publishers. “It’s only a hobby,” he says. 🙂

He’s a very smart man. It’s a lot of fun teaching him, but a challenge to keep the Spirit there. Not that the lessons aren’t spiritual, but he just asks super logical questions, and we want to answer them, and then it’s never focused on getting the Spirit there. But we are going to change that. He’s super engaged, though, so it’s super fun.

Please pray for him that he will search for and embrace the truth, wherever he finds it.

This week we have a lot going on. We are going to Berlin again, and then we have to plan another Zone Training Meeting.

I am loving my mission!

Have a great week!

Elder Greaves


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Package arrived!

March 2016 Jena Zone Hike 2

The Zone Conference hike from last week. Elder Oliphant “sustaining” Elder Greaves [in this mom’s favorite picture ever].

Hey guys!

Before I forget, I got the package! It was awesome! I ate all the Reese’s [from Grandma and Grandpa] in a week. You guys are not appreciative enough of Reese’s.

Also, the 2 ties are like my two favorites.  Thank you!

This week has been pretty great! I think I told you last Monday this week was a zone-wide WunderWoche®. We prayed a lot that everyone would have a really inspiring week, a kick-start of sorts. And it was just that!

A lot of missionaries had some great ideas. Some studied on hard chairs and made sure all the dishes are done every day, some gave up cola, some prayed only on their knees, and one program gave up meat!

We did lots of crazy things – we have up cereal and the couch, and we swallowed a raw egg every day. That was the worst thing ever. I remember trying to do it once with Dad, and I remembered it was hard to swallow, but apparently I spit it out too fast to even notice the taste.

Well the report is in:

it’s the worst thing I’ve ever had in my mouth.

I’m sure you can pretty easily I imagine the texture. Now add to that the taste of bile and floor. That was a daily crucible.

What did we as a zone get out of it?

1. Right off the bat, a program that had been having a really difficult time finding new people to work with texted us. In the first 10 minutes of the day, they walked to the church and found 3 new investigators! This was on Pday!

2. Another program found 5 investigators in one day.

3. On Wednesday, we were trying to get back to Jena after visiting a district meeting, only to learn that there was an electric problem and all of the trains for the next 5 hours were cancelled. So we rode to a nearby city where we could hopefully get a better connection. We had an extra hour, so we went on a power split with the Zwickau Elders. I was with Elder Giles (side note: we talked about yu-gi-oh the whole time, since he played too.) We were talking to people, and we couldn’t even seem to get a conversation. Then, we only had time to talk to one more person. We stopped him, and got talking. He’s from Iran, and is now a Christian. He loves religion, and was super excited to get a Book Of Mormon. He was almost a new investigator (when a person has been taught a few gospel principles and set a return appointment) but we could only grab contact info and run to catch our train, which wemissed by a mile. So we had to wait even longer. All in all, we had left home at 8 and got back at 8, a trip that was about 6 hours longer than usual. So our whole day was shot to pieces. But then, latest in the week, the Elders went by and taught the Iranian man and all of his friends, and got 4 new investigators out if it!

4. Normally in this zone, finding numbers are an average of 7-8 per week, all together. Recently, we started setting a weekly goal with the zone, which means a good week is now 9-10, and 12 is an amazing week. We set a goal of 17 this week. And we found 20. It was awesome to see some missionaries gain some confidence.

One cool little blessing we saw happened Sunday night. We had been focusing more on others’ weeks, so we hadn’t really seen a ton of stuff personally. We prayed to have a blessing Sunday. The problem is, we had absolutely zero time to teach or find. We had to plan for the next week, and then we had a 3 hour language class.

Learning the other language is going okay. Of course, it takes a lot longer to learn than German, since it’s a tough language for an English speaker to learn, and we can’t devote 6 hours a day for six weeks to it like we did in the MTC. I really, really like it as a language. We can hold basic small talk conversations, read, say simple prayers, and bear short testimonies. One cool thing is, because it’s our 3rd language, or brains already know the drill when it comes to listening to someone speaking. It’s super easy to pick out words we know. With German, that was the hardest part for me – it was just a stream of noise whenever anyone talked, even if I already knew the words they were saying. But it’s super interesting to see how often we can use it.

After that language class, or brains were absolutely fried. We kind of stumbled on home, but I was praying in my heart that in the 2 minute walk home we would get to talk to someone at least. We talked to the only guy on the street, an 18 year old college student studying law. We asked if he’d heard of the Book of Mormon – he said yes, he’d heard about Joseph Smith from South Park. 🙂

We told him what we do, we’d love to give him a Book of Mormon, etc., and he said yes. We met with him yesterday. He’s super awesome! He knows about our church since he researched us Sunday night, and there are some things he disagrees with, but he thinks it’s interesting, and he is looking for the right way right now. He was literally the only person we had time to talk to that day.

I love you guys! Have a good week!
Elder Greaves

March 2016 Jena Zone Hike

March 2016 Jena Zone Hike

Elder Oliphant-Elder Greaves getting shoes from the double decker parking garage

The joys of the double decker parking garage!


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This last week was awesome, though a little strange.

March 2016

                  Mission Leadership Council

Hey guys!

Monday through Thursday, we were super busy just planning for Zone Training Meeting, which is kind of comparable to a stake conference. We had to plan all the different lessons and activities, set goals, etc., etc. The problem is, Elder Weber and are a little nuts, and a little too old – we’ve had approximately a shmillion ztm’s, and we’ve seen it all. They all run together. You show up, opening song, prayer, 3 hours of missionaries talking at you, and then closing prayer. So we did something very different.

They all run together. You show up, opening song, prayer, 3 hours of missionaries talking at you, and then closing prayer. So we did something very different.

You show up, opening song, prayer, 3 hours of missionaries talking at you, and then closing prayer. So we did something very different.

First off, we abandoned the traditional lesson thing for something much cooler: competitions! We had everyone get into teams and compete to see who could use the most scriptures, who could ask the best questions. Names such as Mocab Golf, Scripture Tennis, Question Baseball, were used. Fun was had.

We introduced our zone goals, which usually don’t matter to anyone, so we basically just challenged the whole zone to make and do a WunderWoche®. So we are doing that all together this week! We are super excited – because the other missionaries are super excited. They have a lot of great ideas.

Then we shared with them probably one of my favorite scripture stories EVER. I have no idea how I haven’t shared with you this story yet. It’s actually about a guy named Caleb!

His story starts in Numbers: Moses and the 12 tribes of Israel escape Egypt. They are taken straight to the promise land – they arrive in 40 days. Only, when they get there, they are surprised to find that there are already tribes living there- the Canaanites, for example. They need to go figure out what to do, so each tribe sends a spy – Joshua (who took over for Moses later) and Caleb among them. The 12 spies come back and make their report: The first 10 all say the same thing:

“The land is beautiful, the soil rich, but those guys are HUUGE! There is NO WAY we’re getting this promised land!”

The people start to get angry and scared.

30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. (Numbers 13).

And Joshua and Caleb bear testimony that they can do it with the Lord’s help. But, as we know, the House of Israel was pretty bad most of the time, and they are so afraid, they try to stone Joshua and Caleb.

In response, the Lord promises that they will wander the desert for 40 years. They would not enter the promised land until every single adult died, and their children were the only ones left – that is, except for Caleb and and Joshua. They are the only ones who would get to see it. Also, Caleb was promised a choice piece of land when the time came.

Fast forward to 40 years later, and the Israelites have indeed taken the promised land. Now they are divvying it all up. Forward comes old Caleb:

7 Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.

8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God.

9 And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden (a mountain called Hebron) shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God.

10 And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. (That’s right, 85 years old) (Joshua 14).

And now we see Caleb’s attitude towards hardship:

11 As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.

12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said.

I just love that: Give me this mountain! The man was 85 years old, and the piece of land he was supposed to get was crawling with infidels. It wasn’t safe! But he was given a promise from the Lord that he would get this mountain, this trial, and he would get through it. He didn’t want an easier spot, he didn’t want someone to do the hard work for him, he wanted his mountain, and he trusted in his God.

I think this is a special attitude towards trials, and something everyone can learn from. Sometimes, we try so hard to avoid anything painful, anything difficult, anything trying, that we forget that’s exactly why we are here.

As missionaries (and this is what we talked about) if we try to limit the amount of times someone gets angry at us, there’s a really effective way to do that. It’s a solution a few missionaries turn to – namely, just not talking to anyone. This isn’t because they have less ability, or they are weaker, they were called because they could do it. But they have the wrong perspective. Why do we go to college if it’s hard? Why do we go running if we don’t want to? Why do people climb mountains, if the only thing you really get is sore legs? Because it’s good. Simple – It’s good. We learn. We grow. We gain new knowledge.

Elder Ballard said once,

“When you come to recognize the hand of the Lord in the work, you can look out the window, see the cold, wet rain, and think “YES! I get to be persecuted ALL DAY!”

And that’s what it takes. Elder Eyring gave a talk once on the power of praying for trials. I can’t even tell you how many companions I’ve freaked out by telling them I think that’s a good idea, but it’s true! We get stretched and pulled out of measure, and we come back stronger!

That’s what we told the missionaries, and then we actually climbed a legitimate mountain, which was definitely something no one has ever done in a meeting here before, as far as I’m aware.

It was awesome.

This week is going to be great!

Have fun!

Elder Greaves


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Hello Family!

This week has been insane. I think I suffered at least 3 bouts of burnout. 🙂

It was one of those weeks that you could either be angry about or love it, depending on your perspective.

We had a whopping 13 appointments fall out, which is definitely a record for me.

However, we also had 16 appointments work out, which is also is an amazing outcome.

tired

In other words, we are trying to work with a ridiculous amount of people. It’s been so much fun, but I don’t know how many more people we can work with before we need another companionship here in Jena. That’s a great problem to have!

We went to Berlin Thursday because we had MLC. That was fun, but tiring. It’s a 6 hour meeting.

I’m sorry guys, I have no time today, we  had to use most of p-day to plan our zone training meeting, so I can only write a little more.

We had an awesome surprise this week; Elder Peterson, one of my good friends from the MTC, came and stayed a few nights with us on his way to pick up a trainee. He served in this area too, so we got to meet with a lot of people because they wanted to see him. He goes home in 5 weeks! He has to go early to play football. He’s super awesome. It was cool to see how we both have changed.

A cool new investigator is named A. He is from Nigeria. He is getting his masters in Microbiology. He was found at the street display. He loves asking questions, and he is fascinated by our doctrine. I love it when people like the doctrine, you know, because it doesn’t actually happen that often. Of course, that’s usually why we are in the church, but the church did a study, and most people joined the church because they wanted a new purpose in life and they saw that in the lives of the Mormons they knew.

He is awesome though.

We also taught this super awesome guy named M. He is so logical, I love it. he is super fun to teach, and we use members O and A as joint teaches.

Sorry can’t tell you more, I’m excited to write more next week!

Elder Greaves


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This week was pretty speedy.

Hey guys!

We were super busy being dragged all over Thüringen (the state we are in). On Tuesday, we had a long service project at Berndt’s, a friend of the missionaries. The missionaries have helped in his garden for years.

So far, no progress has been detected.

As far as we can tell, the the stuff we do probably just undoes (that’s a super weird word, by the way) everything that the previous missionaries have done. We mostly just seem to build random structures using the parts of old structures we broke down last time.

So we kind of just redistribute this solid layer of stuff.

Then Wednesday we went to Erfurt for a district meeting.

Thursday we went to Gera to help another branch do a move.

Friday we had our street display. So here’s the rundown: We had a big green tent, like a soccer shade tent thing. A table, with like 10 different languages from the Book of Mormon. Two 15 foot tall flags for Familysearch. A giant pin board with maps of Germany, Europe, and the world, and the phrase “Where are you from?” written in 4 languages: English, German (Wo kommen Sie her?) Arabic (min ayna anta?) and Chinese (No idea).

The board was a Jena-original designed and prototyped by Greaves and Weber Incorporated.

It was definitely the star of the show – it was super easy to talk to people about families and family history as we invited them to tell us where they were from. We had a lot of other missionaries helping us. By the end, we had 9 new appointments for the upcoming week and about 15 numbers to call. It was awesome.

Then Saturday we went to Gera to help the missionaries there with a street display.

We are super excited for this upcoming transfer. We are maybe going to set a goal for the zone that we have a zone WunderWoche ™.  (See post from two weeks ago).

The other language learning is going okay. I’m kind of annoyed with how slow we are taking, but I’m told it’s actually fast.

This week has been really good for me personally. I was thinking a lot about what I need to work on. I want to make sure I don’t leave the mission with any regrets. I was really surprised actually of the answer I came to for how to do that – I needed to change my attitude about myself.

I’ve come to see on my mission that the Gospel is one of moderation. I think as humans, we find it much easier to call things black or white than to recognize how gray something is. We like dealing with extremes. But that’s not usually the right answer. We shouldn’t be lax on obedience, but we shouldn’t put “obedience” above helping others. We shouldn’t be prideful, but we also shouldn’t look down on ourselves.

I realized that I had been going to the extreme with self improvement. I was so disgusted with the idea of complacency that I forfeited satisfaction. It wasn’t actually that I was being too hard on myself. I’m still convinced that being honest with ourselves about strengths and weaknesses is the fastest way to grow. But being happy with not being perfect – that’s a tough balancing act.

So I started praying to feel happy with my efforts at the end of the day. I prayed I would have satisfaction in the work, joy in myself, without losing the desire to improve. I noticed a huge change in my attitude. I went to bed tired and happy and excited for the next day. Even when it was the kind of week I would be annoyed with before. Not only did I feel happier, I also felt like, by releasing my anxieties about not giving it all I had, I was actually able to work harder, because it was more enjoyable.

I think this ranks up there with one of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my mission.
I love you guys, have a great week!#
Elder Greaves