elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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Baptism!

Hey guys! How are you? This week has been pretty great. The majority of our time was taken preparing ourselves, R and everything else for the baptism. There are just a ton of details that you don’t even think about. It so interesting with new converts, because you’re like a proud mother hen whenever they do anything right. So if R ever answers a question at church or in a lesson, I just end up beaming because his answers are so great.

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Have I mentioned how awesome it is, being with the BYU students? I love it, because they help us so much. So Saturday R was baptized, and it was awesome. Afterwards we played ping pong, and I held my own. This weekend was just great. After the baptism, we taught M from China too. I shared my personal story, and we had a fantastic lesson. She was really pumped to pray on her own.

On Sunday we met with Sis. S. After 90 minutes, she finally agreed to give up smoking!!! I promised to give up bad posture at the same time, which is just about the best thing I ever could have said to an older German lady. 🙂 I also got to confirm R on Sunday, which was super awesome and spiritual. And now I’m in Frankfurt Oder. It’s great! I am missing normal missionary work a lot, and by the end
of the week I’ll be going nuts, but it’s great. Sorry I don’t have more time…. I have to go study the other language!

Elder Greaves


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Hey guys!

Hey guys!

This week was also pretty good. I can’t complain.

First off, R is still doing awesome. We taught him the Word of Wisdom, and we were slightly nervous, since tea is such a big thing in China, but he is probably the only Chinese person ever that thinks tea is gross. So he was already living the Word of Wisdom. Now he can do it on purpose! 🙂

Probably the biggest news, besides R of course, is what I’ll be doing next week. I’ve been asked to help teach at an intensive language learning week in Frankfurt Oder. Since Elder Weber and I are going home, only one other missionary is left that knows the language really at all. So we need to train up the next generation. I was pretty shocked when President told me about it because it is one of the last weeks of my mission. I really didn’t want to go. There are a lot of positives about it, but some negatives too. I prayed a lot this week that I could know what I needed to do. Of course, part of me was excited to go back to Frankfurt Oder, but sacrificing one whole week at this point is a lot to ask.

So I wanted to make sure this was right for me, and that this was the way I could help the most people. After pondering and praying, I came to the conclusion that I should do it, as long as I was still able to help out my area, as in, another missionary will replace me for that week, and I stay in good contact with the zone. I’m a little sad, honestly. I think it will be an amazing experience, and I really feel like I’m supposed to do it, but it’s not how I wanted to end my mission. We’ll be teaching or being taught the language from 9 in the morning to 8:30 at night, so it will definitely be intense. Anyway. More on that next week.

We had Zone Training Meeting this week, which was suuuper hectic. We were planning it still the night before. Since it was my last one, I really wanted to give it everything I had, and it was quite the little brainchild.

Just about everything we did was a “new thing”. Which I always enjoy. We had some members come and help out. One half of the PowerCouple, as we call them, named K, was apparently an awesome missionary in Hong Kong, so we asked her to give a training on finding. I came, a super awesome member, and shared his conversion story, which is very impressive. He is a great storyteller too. That was to help the missionaries, but also to help these to members (sneaky sneaky). We mixed things up by having a testimony meeting at the beginning of the meeting, and we started off by splitting into halves. Then a DL and I gave Training to one half, and the Elder Wiesrdorf gave one with the other DL. That was also to help the district leaders out, show ’em how it’s done, etc. 🙂

Our subject was: Christ.

Pretty powerful stuff. I was with Elder Halbleib, who is one of my favorite missionaries ever. Rock solid testimony, cares about others, just all around really great. And if I may say, we absolutely killed it. We wrote a story about a personal encounter of Christ, to make it all seem real, and I think it got the missionaries pretty fired up. We also did a round robin type deal. So one big problem is, you teach missionaries something and then they don’t apply it. And missionaries get bored, so moving elements are useful. Some ZL’s before have done this thing where you have three trainings being taught at once, and three groups, and they rotate, so they get all three trainings. The downside of this is the missionaries that have to teach everything 3 times are then pooped, and they didn’t get to hear the rest of the trainings. And the missionaries ignore things.

So, we made a system where Companionship A teaches Companionship B about using members or something, and then Comp A leaves to go the next station, and Comp B takes over as teachers and teach the same subject to Comp C. Then you learn about and teach every topic. It was really interesting, and I think it will make the ideas stick more. We also gave a hardcore pump up presentation. The idea was based on a story Elder Groburg (author of The Other Side of Heaven) shared in GC. The story is really long, but if you are interested, the talk is called “The Lord’s Wind”. Anyway, I wrote a poem about it and shared it with the missionaries (with the very strict rule that if my companion told anyone I wrote it, I would string him up by his pinky toes). Here it is below:

God’s wind
(Inspired by the conference talk entitled “the Lord’s wind” by John H. Groberg)

I sail on a boat.
Yahoo! I shout, with the sun in my face and the wind tousling my hair
It’s good to be free and it’s good to be young and it’s good to be on my way there
Forward, onward and outward I gaze
Thoughts of success and glory ablaze
I glance proud at those sails, full, taut and strong
When God is with you what could ever go wrong?
And then –
a stumbling thudding shudder.
It began on the deck, then the soles of my feet,
Moved up my back, but wasn’t complete

And the sails
went
slack.

A shaky laugh, a little shrug,
I give a sail a tiny tug –

And

I

Wait

An angry puff escapes my lips
“Where’s the wind?” With hands on my hips
“I need a good strong gusty gale
“Without Your help I’m just gonna fail
“How will I get where I need to be
“If You do nothing and refuse to help me?
And then in my heart, like a voice from on high
I hear “Don’t you ever forget that for you I did die.
“There is nothing, no nothing, I would not do for you.”
The words lit up my soul and I knew they were true
Humbled, timid, a little ashamed
My next question I more carefully framed
“My Lord and my God, I’ll do what You ask – I’m now prepared”
And I knew that He’d answer, because I knew that He cared
I thought and mulled about getting to shore –
When my eye fell upon that little old oar.

Hours pass, my boat slides up onto the sand
Success at last! I’ve finally reached land.

My back truly ached and my arms really burned
But I’ll always remember this lesson I learned
Sometimes in life we wait and wait
And and all is still and we blame fate
And when winds don’t come our sails to fill
It may not be against God’s will
It’s not because God isn’t there
Nor because He doesn’t care
It’s just a chance – now don’t get mad
It’s just the strongest feeling I had
As on the boat my oars I pinned –
sometimes you get to be God’s wind!
And when you really want to go
Well – you’ve got to row and row.

And then we talked about how in missionary work, if we just wait for success to come, we’ll be waiting a long time. And when there are no “winds”, we may start to wonder if God is powerful enough, or if he cares, or whatever excuse we can think of. But I truly think that sometimes, God lets us sit long enough to figure out that we control our fate. If success isn’t coming in missionary work, all I can tell you is grab your area with two hands and squeeze every last ounce of success stored up in there. Go out and actively take what you want, and if your desires are pure, God will bless you for it.

If success isn’t coming in other spiritual aspects of your life, remember the old adage “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” If you are struggling, good! It’s better than surrendering. If you feel like your testimony is weak, pray hard, study seriously, and try different things to make coming to church a revelatory experience. Remember the words of King Limhi to his people after having their bids for freedom rebuffed three times.

“O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”  Mosiah 7:33

I trust, and give testimony, that there always remains an effectual struggle to be made. We can always improve our situation with the help of the Lord.

I love you guys!

Have a great week!


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Life has been pretty good this last week.

Hi guys!

Life has been pretty good this last week.

We continue to meet with our Chinese philosopher named L. He is handful. We have to be pretty quick on the draw in explaining doctrine, because he has his own philosophical system and he does his best to fit what we are saying into that. So really have to get fundamental with him. He agrees that the Book of Mormon comes from God, Joseph Smith was a prophet, different from normal religious reformers like Martin Luther, and that a sincere heart is completely necessary to receive revelation.

But he doesn’t believe God is real.

He is something that exists outside of reality, lives in our hearts, and would cease to exist if we stopped believing in him. He is the sum total of all the ideologies of the world, but is 100% good, powerful, etc.

And the body is the source of all evil.

And meat is bad.

And so forth. So there is a lot to do there, but it is certainly interesting.

Contrast that with another Chinese investigator, R, the one that will be baptized. He asks us what the commandments are because he is so anxious to live them. He prays every night, and tells us he feels himself changing. He prayed at the end of our last lesson, and he thanked God for sending angels to him, meaning us. That was a little tearjerker. It reminds me of a story from LeGrand Richards:

“Now I like a little story that President Grant used to tell about the love that converts have for their missionaries. He told about a couple who came here from one of the Scandinavian countries. They hadn’t been taught much about the gospel. All they knew was that it was true. And so the bishop went to this couple and taught them the law of tithing. They paid their tithing. Then later the bishop went to them and taught them about the fast offering. They paid their fast offering. And then the bishop went to them again to get a donation to help build a ward meetinghouse. They thought that ought to come out of the tithing, but before the bishop got through with them, they paid their donation on the meetinghouse.
Then the bishop went to the father to get his son to go on a mission. Now I can hear President Grant standing here, saying, “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The man said, “He’s our only child. His mother will miss him. We can’t let him go.” Then the bishop countered, “Brother So-and-So, who do you love in this world more than anyone else outside of your own relatives?” And he thought for a few minutes. He said, “I guess I love that young man who came up to the land of the midnight sun and taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Then the bishop countered, “Brother So-and-So, how would you like someone to love your boy just like that?” The man said, “Bishop, you win again; take him. I’ll pay for his mission.”

This week we are doing a zone training meeting. I’m really excited. I think it’s gonna be good. Our very first thing we are doing is splitting off and and each taking a district leader and their district and bearing testimony of Christ until they cry. 🙂 I’m getting fired up just thinking about it. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

This week we had MLC. It was Elder Germann’s last one. He was in my Distrikt when I was in Bernburg. We’ve stayed pretty good friends on the mission. He got to give a finisher’s testimony – which is when a missionary who is going home gives his final hoorah, which is usually pretty powerful. He killed it. It was super spiritual. What a way to go out!

I love you guys, and I love my mission too. I’m really excited for the next few weeks. I think they are going to be good.

You have a great week!

Elder Greaves