elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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My last week in Bernburg . . . :(

The news came on Saturday. Transfer calls come between 8 – 12 on the last Saturday of the transfer.

Unless you’re me, in which case you wait til 1. And you were the last missionary in the the entire mission to get the call. I think they hate me.

But I’m going to…. drumroll please….. Frankfurt! Oooooorrrr…… this little tiny town in Stake Berlin called Frankfurt/Oder.*

Oder means “or” in German. So I’ve heard a lot of wise guys these last couple days as I tell people where I’m going. I don’t know much, except it is on the border of Poland, and the branch is the 2rd or 3rd smallest in the mission with a whopping 10 active members! I’m actually super excited. Bernburg has been too easy. I actually told President I need more challenges.

My new companion’s name is Elder Casperson, don’t stalk him too much mom.  [Mom sidenote:  Busted!  Elder C’s mom and I had already connected before even getting this email.  🙂]

He just got done being trained, which means I’m doing what’s called Golden Busting. New missionaries are called goldens. It refers to the fact that some missionaries just kinda assume their trainer did everything right, so they kinda butt heads with their second companion, who will do things differently and better, and is dashingly good looking, and remarkably funny.

Napolean_Dynamite_just_kidding_meme_

 

This is my 3rd time doing this, so I’m getting pretty good at it by now. But yeah, it is a small area for sure. I’ll leave tomorrow, so wish my suitcases and I good luck, and that we will all arrive together with all of our parts still firmly attached.

This week has been pretty great! We measure this thing called a teaching pool, which is pretty self-explanatory. We’ve been very strict about who is in our teaching pool, because people tend to inflate numbers, and then they have less lessons than people in their teaching pool. But I realllly wanted a teaching pool of 20 here before I left, so we set a goal for that. That meant lots of new investigators this week. Five actually.  This weekend was General Conference, so our whole weekend we would be out of our area watching in Köthen. We had 2 hours of working time on Saturday before we were done for the week, and we’d only found 2. But we kept going, and in the space of 90 minutes, found 3 new investigators! One of them is super awesome, and I’m jealous of Elder Riddle’s new companion.

Speaking of which, he gets to train, the lucky duck! He is super excited, and I’m even more excited for him. No really. It will be a cool way to finish off his mission. He only has 3 transfers left, that trunky son of a gun.

I’m really going to miss Elder Riddle. We became really great friends, so I’m excited to hang out with him at BYU. He’s a great guy.

General Conference was great. I felt like I learned a ton. I absolutely loved Elder Holland’s talk.

My boi J. Holla can throw down some serious spirit.

All the missionaries were writing furiously during all 8 4 sessions we got to watch, but during that one talk, we all just put our pens down and listened. I didn’t want to disturb the awesomeness.

This weekend, Köthen had a baptism, which is always great.  Actually, I was the one that found their investigator for them! I was on exchanges. his name is Tobias, and he is from Nigeria, just like John. He’s not quite as cool, but who is? 😉

Actually, John bore his testimony at the baptism, and it was the coolest thing ever. I actually knew almost all of what he shared of his life story, but he avoided talking about some parts with the ward. He told about how he wasn’t the best person before he met us. He drank and smoked. Alot. He actually was drug smuggler and dealer. He hated it, but he felt like it was the only way out. He decided he didn’t want to do that when he came to Germany, but it was a temptation. It is too easy to make money doing that.

The one thing he said I didn’t know was that he was planning on going back to drinking after his baptism, because it was too hard to stop. But as he went into the water, he knew he would never do that. He just said he was a changed man, and he is so grateful for his deliverence. He is such a stud. I can honestly say he is one of my best friends. Every single person that meets him falls in love with him. Elder Riddle, for example. I’m gonna meet up with him again someday, even if that is in Africa. It’ll happen.

Anyway, thanks for being so awesome. Have a great week!

Elder Greaves

*Elder Greaves might be a little surprised.  The city actually has about 70,000 people!  Lots of opportunity for missionary work. 🙂  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_%28Oder%29


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Hey guys!

 

Real quick, that pagoda sounds awesome! I wish I could have been there. Mom: Good luck on your trial. Dad: That is good advice about the baptizing. It’s true, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game. Elder Riddle has a little diddy for that: “Numbers, numbers matter most, let’s forget the Holy Ghost!”

No-Way

This week has been kinda “meh” overall, but it actually had a few really cool parts. The first is we met with the man who walked into church and said he ‘d been baptized 13 years ago – and had picture evidence!  We contacted global services, and there are no records of him at all.  All we can assume is he didn’t receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and
was never confirmed a member. We met with him this week, and the Spirit witnessed to me for the 2nd time that he is truly truly repenting right now. He reminds me a lot of the Psalm of Nephi in 2 Nephi 4:

27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why
should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my
heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because
of mine enemy?

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and
give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my
strength because of mine afflictions.

30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I
will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God,
and the rock of my salvation.

31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the
hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the
appearance of sin?

33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy
righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before
mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not
place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way
before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.

He is on the road back. He wasn’t at church this Sunday, so it appears it will be a bumpy one, but Elder Riddle pointed out something interesting. He told us about how he had had a really hard life, and how he really hated God for a long time, but then one morning, about 4 months ago, he woke up and felt the Spirit really strongly, and knew
he needed to turn his life around. That included going back to church. He finally did it last week. Elder Riddle noticed that these spiritual promptings came to him almost exactly the time I arrived here, and he came to what will most likely be one of my last Sundays here. He said he thinks for some reason, I can help him in some way. I’m not sure if that is true, but I’ll do my best to help him. I will say that I believe there are certain people that certain missionaries are supposed to meet.

On Wednesday, I had what has to be one of my favorite lessons on my mission. We met with the Petro’s, the Serbian family. They have referred all their extended family, so we taught 7 people over the age of 8, and 2 under. Bo, the first investigator, was awesome. He’s had his up’s and down’s, his doubts, but he was on fire. He was answering everyone’s questions, and it was clear to me that he has made his decision which path he wants to follow. I think he will get baptized, and his aunt too. Her son, Bo’s cousin, age 11, is incredible too. He speaks only Serbian, but he read 59 pages of the Book of Mormon in 2 weeks! What a stud! We even set a baptismal date with them for Serbia, which isn’t real at all, bet keeps them focused on baptism. Some missionaries in Serbia are about to get the miracles of their missions, I think. I hope they send me a picture!

Before I go, I wanted to share a story that is very personal to me. I realized I haven’t shared it with you guys, so I wanted to do that. It is the biggest reason I have a testimony today, and why I went on my mission.

My whole life, I have been very obedient. I’ve read my scriptures almost every night since the age of 8. I’ve prayed almost every day. I’ve always loved church, and I’ve always been excited for a mission, because I’ve always wanted to do what was right, and I knew that is a commandment from God.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. probably starting my senior year in high school, and definitely in my first year of college, I started seriously doubting the existence of a God. I’d studied it out enough in my mind to determine that if there was a true church, it was this one. But the buck stopped at the first point in the first lesson, the first thing we usually say to investigators. “God is our loving Heavenly Father.” It just didn’t make sense to me that there would be such a thing as a being above all of us who created us and the universe but was invisible and not many people have even claimed to have seen Him. Contrary to what some may believe, I did NOT find this opinion freeing. I was miserable.

How was I to continue in this church? How could I ever be happy? The church was such a big part of my life, and my testimony was so much weaker than what I supposed everyone else’s was. I would have given an arm to have real proof to know, to really know, that it was all true. It was such a happy message – a God of love, who wants nothing more than your true and eternal happiness. It sounds wonderful – and naive. I struggled with this for a long time. I never stopped reading my scriptures, but I’d done that my whole life. That was the way, right? Read your scriptures and pray and you will keep your testimony.

Before I knew it, I had sent in my mission papers. I couldn’t even admit to myself, let alone my parents or family, that I just had almost zero testimony. All I could hold on to was that I was happy when I was obedient. I was called to Germany. I was excited, but my stomach hurt every time I thought about it.

It was four weeks before the MTC. I had bought all my suits, my shoes. I had suitcases. And I couldn’t say “I know God loves me” with any real courage or conviction. My thoughts raced constantly, filled with part of the Primary song “A Child’s Prayer”. It reads:

Heavenly Father, are you really there? Do you hear and answer every
child’s prayer? Some say that heaven is a far away, but I feel it
close around me as I pray. Heavenly Father, I remember now, something
that Jesus taught disciples long ago. “Suffer the children, to come to
me,” Father, I come in prayer now to thee.”

Over and over, feverishly, desperately, I thought of these words. I could not remember the last verse, no matter how hard I tried, and the song kept running in my head, mocking me. I felt my heart ache with a desire to actually believe such a thing. Two weeks before I was supposed to go into the MTC, I decided I was going to try one more time, a last
ditch effort. It was 3 a.m. I read my scriptures, searching for meaning. I read my patriarchal blessing, grasping for answers. And I prayed. I told my Heavenly Father that I was stubborn. I needed a real, undeniable answer. I needed to know. I promised with everything I had that if I got an answer right then, I would go on a mission. And I would give absolutely every atom of my being to His service. I promised him I would work until I couldn’t, and then let Him work through me. I promised Him. And in the very moment I said Amen, I felt a peace come over me. Words came into my head that I know for a fact were not my own. I remembered that 3rd verse of “A Child’s Prayer”,
clear and sweet.

Pray, he is there.
Speak, he is listening.  
You are His child.
His love now surrounds you.

My eyes burned, my breathing accelerated. I was going to serve a mission. Not out of habit, but from real conviction.
It was all true, I might have laughed, I don’t know. I felt wonderfully and undeniably GOOD.

I know this gospel is true. I know that the Savior died for me. I know that He is there, always, for everyone, and he felt what we felt so that he could understand us on a level no one else can. I know this is the true church. I know I am in the right place.

Thank you for your wonderful examples, and I’m really sorry this was so long. It was more for me than for you.

Love,

Elder Greaves


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I feel kinda sleepy right now

February 2015 Mission Map

Before I forget, I meant to say it last week, but please wish Grandpa Gerald a happy birthday for me. And I can’t remember if Kyle’s is this week or next week. I think next week. But if it is this week, please
tell him happy birthday too.

A miracle happened this week. Mom and Dad, you were praying for it, maybe even fasted a little, and it finally happened . . .

I bought a camera. True story. Bought it at a pawn shop for 50 Euro.

Booyah.

This week has been really cool. Every Monday, we do service at an retirement home. It is way, way fun. So normally, that means we sweep and mop and clean windows. All the German ladies that work there were a little freaked out about us at first, but now they absolutely love us. They found out we are doing it on our day off, and they freaked out. Now every week, we sweep and mop for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, and then they feed us cake and tell us how great we are. It’s pretty great service. And this old lady saw us washing windows and asked if we would wash her windows in exchange for breakfast. Heck yeah!

The internet connection is super horrible right now, and another computer crashed already, so sorry this is so short.

Friday was a “fun” day. We woke up and took John to the hospital because he is getting surgery on his hand for this weird bump thing we call “Little John”. It was just a prep meeting, but we were there for hours. We got to see the solar eclipse through an x-ray sheet, so that was cool. Then we went home and had lunch. After that, we helped Schw. Mann with her move – with John. Then we walked back to the church and made popcorn and watched The Testaments with John, to celebrate him finishing the Book of Mormon. And we both made fun of Elder Riddle
getting trunky and wanting a wife during the romance parts.  So that was John-filled day.

Sunday, I came down from 2nd hour to go to Priesthood, and there was a nonmember in the chapel. Turns out, he was looking for the email info of the missionary that BAPTIZED him! He was baptized 13 years ago, but was never confirmed, which at this point probably means he would have to be re-baptized. He’s had a really hard life. He’s 32,
and already two of his children died. He said for years, he just hated God and everything else. Then one day, he woke up, and said “I can’t really describe it, but it was like Love, or Hope, or Joy, and it was weird but I didn’t hate anymore, I was just filled with love.” That was 2-3 months ago. he told God he would come to church on this day,
and he did. I’m excited to work with him. He looks pretty rough, and it sounds like he’s fallen really far, but I’ve already felt the Spirit confirm to me that he is honestly looking to come back, and he wants to change. We meet with him on Tuesday.

So I love you guys. I have no more time!

I love my mission!

Elder Greaves


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Harumpf

Hey that pergola thing sounds really cool! Your story about your bad joint teaches made me laugh, dad. I read the emails you write the same week. I’m just slow at responding! I kinda like getting emails, but letters are awesome too. Whatever you feel like. As for P-days, we have some time to go sight seeing, but I’ve seen about every square inch of Bernburg now. So today, all our free time was taken for Elder Riddle registering for classes at BYU. We still work for 2 hours on P-days, (normally after 6, but that’s when we do emails at a member’s house, so we work during the day) so we go and do work at a older person’s home for 2 hours. At first, they were all a little iffy about 2 JW’s cleaning the place, but now they feed us cake and tell us we are wonderful, so it’s a pretty cushy “service”. 🙂

This week has been… pretty yucky. But it got better. Sorry to spoil the ending, but keep that in mind.

Tuesday we didn’t find anyone, which always puts me in a bad mood. We had a lesson with Herr Mark, and taught him tithing.

He was really freaked out.

In fact, when we told him about it, he started to stand up, and said

“Well, that’s a shame. I really loved being here, learning more, but I can’t do that.”

That lesson was the most intense lesson of my mission. It was very spiritually charged. The whole time, we were working really hard to follow the Spirit exactly. At one point, we interrupted explaining tithing and its connection with faith to give him a Priesthood blessing. He said immediately afterwards:

“Ahh. I feel much more peaceful.”

He told us during that lesson that he knew it was all true. He recognized the Spirit and promised to pray about it. Next lesson, we reviewed the Plan of Salvation. He was still praying about tithing, but didn’t think he could afford it. On Saturday, we called him, and he told us he didn’t want to meet anymore, and he wouldn’t be coming to church. I haven’t ever heard from any missionary about someone that fell away so fast so close to baptism. It was really sad. 😦 Really hard. We hadn’t found anyone all week either, which was both unusual and unfortunate, because there was no one for us to be excited about.

Wednesday, I had a really bad headache and threw up, but I’m healed!

The Petro’s are moving back to Serbia. So I was a little grouchy come Saturday.

I was on exchange in Magdeburg, which was way fun. There are a ton of people there, and it was so much fun to serve in a big city for a day. While I was away, Elder Riddle and one of my good friends Elder Gallacher found a really cool 23-year-old. They taught him the next day and invited him to be baptized. He sounds awesome and I’m excited to meet him! Then on Sunday, by far the worst finding day of the week. We found two investigators. One is a petrolchemical engineer from India. The other is a 19-year-old from Albania who has lived here for 10 years. I’m super excited to meet with him too. I know that for those people, meeting with us is a life-changer. but in a small way, it was a blessing for us too. I really needed a little hope, a little growth. And it helped me. This week, I’ve really felt the blessing of prayer. Just in general, I’m amazed at the range of spiritual blessings the Lord will bless you with.

Something that has meant a lot to me is a personal plan I’ve made during my favorite hour of the day, personal study. A big focus in my mission is consecration, which means making yourself a better, more Christ-like missionary. But that is a mountain! I made a plan, and found this scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5.

16 Rejoice evermore.

17 Pray without ceasing.

18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;

It’s a pretty simple plan. But it has brought a lot of ideas. This week, I’m really focusing on meekness. I think my two favorite parts of my mission is seeing growth and conversion in myself, and in others.

I love you guys so much. I love being a missionary. It is so fulfilling, and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned here at home too. Have a good week!

Elder Greaves


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Pretty good week

15-03 ZTM L March 2015

Hey guys!

Last week was kind of a cliff hanger with the Petro’s. This week, we kinda found out what happened. We called again Tuesday, and again they didn’t answer, which meant Elder Riddle and I ran around the apartment covered in blankets moaning

“Theeyyy HHHHAHAAAAATTTTTEEEE usssss….. THEY HATE US! GRR!”

So we went by Wednesday, realllly scared.

And we rang, and they let us in.

Simple.

But they were kinda closed off. We have a great relationship with this family. They feed us lunch, we play with their kids and make funny faces at them when the parents aren’t looking. But they were kinda quiet. Pretty soon, it came out that his brother is a hardcore Jehovah’s Witness, and may have fed him a few half truths (in sincerity, but still). So we were able to answer a few questions.

Then they gave me heart attack, because they showed us these papers that said Bo Petro had to be deported. But then I was resuscitated when they explained that there was paperwork confusion when their newborn, Bo Jr., was born, and he was in Hamburg all weekend figuring that out.

Phew.

Then, right when we tried to set baptismal date: The sequel, they told us that they did have to go back to Serbia on March 17. BUMMER. I’ve just been trying to figure out if I should pray for them to stay or not. I believe they could stay if we told them to pray for it. But I don’t know if that is best for them. So anyway, we are at the very least trying to prepare them for an easy hand off. They can still get baptized.

Another exciting thing that happened is that we taught the lesson of chastity to 79 year old Herr Mark.

And brought a female joint teach.

Really STUPID decision.dumb

 

As a missionary, it’s pretty straightforward. I never have been embarrassed teaching this lesson. It’s all true. But you have to be specific. You gotta give them the details, draw the lines. So usually a lesson on chastity looks like this. Try not to blush, but it needs to be talked about!

The Lord gives us commandments to keep us happy.

The law of chastity:
1. Sex is for a man and a woman in the bonds of marriage. The rest of these are ways to respect that sacred relationship.
2. No adultery.
3. No homosexual relationships.
4. No pornography.
5. No masturbation.
6. Have clean thoughts.

Do that, and you will feel the Spirit more and have a stronger family. If you have problems, that’s why we have the Atonement.

Will you follow the law of Chastity?

Any questions?

It’s really not that bad. But man. I felt bad for the joint teach.

Anyway. We’ll fix that. He’ll still get baptized. 🙂

An Elder T. who served here 2.5 years ago came back to visit and followed us around for 6 hours. He might miss his mission a little. But I learned a lot from him. He is a really great guy. I was thinking about how much I’ve changed on my mission. I used to be so terrified of being alone with anyone, with having to make conversation by myself. But I talked to this guy I’ve never met before and didn’t know was coming for 6 hours and it was way fun. It was actually enjoyable. I didn’t think about being stressed until later. I realized that part of me that found it hard to talk to people is gone, at least for now. I really enjoy talking to people.

On Sunday, we had what I like to call SUUUUPER SUNDAY. We had 5 investigators at church! That was like 20% of the ward!

It was a real bummer though, because the 3 investigators who most needed to come to church didn’t. The Petro’s weren’t there

GGGRGRRRRRRGRGRGRGRGRGRRRRRRRRR. WHY DO THEY LIVE SO FAR AWAY????!!!

And also this african woman named Olee.  John gets people excited about baptisms, because he just so cool. Olee is really cool too, so we’ll be following up.

But at church, we had this Albanian family. I was in charge of helping their children, ages 4 and 2.

Oh man. I am scared to be a dad.

I did figure out that I could do the whole “don’t you dare be quiet and still. I would hate that.” And then crazy 4 year old Dav would do the opposite.

But the ward of course just loved the kids, even if they were wiggly. They were getting candy and toys and hugs and anything to keep them quiet. This older lady gave them super sour candy, which was the funniest thing ever. The mom and I were both in tears laughing as they would eat one, pucker up and get real quiet, and then reach for another one in hopes that that one was real candy this time. So cute.

But I was tired. I don’t know how the mom felt, and I can’t really imagine.

To finish off, I just want to let you know how much I LOVE missionary work. I love being on a mission, but I love the actual work part of it too. It’s like a hobby now. When I get home, I’m going to be a terror for the missionaries in my ward. I’ll be all up in their grills all the time. (WHAT’S YOUR TEACHING POOL? WHY HAVEN’T THEY COME TO CHURCH YET? HAVE YOU INVITED THEM TO BE BAPTIZED???? WHY AREN’T YOU FINDING MORE? LET’S GO STREET CONTACTING. I’M GOING TO EVERY JOINT TEACH. EVERY ONE. NO I DIDN’T ASK YOU WHAT YOU WANTED.) And on and on. But I really love it. The actual finding, the teaching, the awkward moments, the funny times, the strange people, it is all so great. I love serving the Lord, I love improving myself, and above all, I love seeing the change start happening in people, where they start to realize it’s all true, when they find it easier and easier to come to church, when they read their scriptures every day and understand more and more. I love it all. I’m so grateful for what my mission has done for me so far, and for what I’ve been able to see the Lord do through my companion and I for others. I love it.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Elder Greaves


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First Week of the Transfer

March 2015 Brother Schutze

Brd. and Schw. S. got called on an emergency mission to Finland, because he is like the only Sealer in the world who speaks fluent Russian, and because of Ukraine Russia conflict, Russian members are now going to the Helsinki Temple. He’s gone for 6 months. 😦

March 2015 Brother Markgraf

Brd. “Mark”, who is in the middle, and who is ancient, looks even ancienter than he really is in this picture. In the back is our Plan of Salvation drawing. On the right is Brd. Tee, our joint teach. Germans haven’t figured out that we can smile in pictures now because they don’t take 10 minutes to take anymore like in the 1800’s. Gotta love ’em.This is probably the only time I’ve ever seen Brd. Mark NOT smiling or saying “Yayayayayayayayaya.”

This week has been really really decent. Brd. Mark is really solid. He told some members on Sunday,

“I may be 79, but I know this is this place for me!”

He’s almost definitely going to make his baptismal date on March 21st. Plus I think he’s been flirting it up with the ladies at church, so that’s good.

The “Petro’s had a bad week. On Wednesdays they are the best family ever and I just love them. On the weekends, they’re flakier than the croissant I had for breakfast this morning. That is to say, very flaky. For the second time, a lesson fell out that we had brought a joint teach to. We called, and they said

“Oh! We’ll be there in 10.”

Twenty minutes later, we called and they said the same thing. Twenty minutes later, we went home. It just makes my stomach church thinking about it. They are so great. At least Bo knows this Gospel is true. They both accepted the Word of Wisdom no problem. We taught them the whole alcohol, tabacco, coffee, tea thing, and later he was talking about his friend, who he thinks is a bad influence. He said

“He smokes, he drinks, he gambles… he even drinks coffee. He just doesn’t know about this stuff.”

Never had someone accept coffee so easily. But then! The weekends!

Plus, they love us. We got Serbian food on Wednesday.

But the WEEKENDS.

We’ll have to push back their baptismal date, so we fasted for them Sunday, and when I pray about or anything, I feel really good about them, like there was some sort of misunderstanding, but at all other times, I’m pulling out clumps of hair. Pray for them, and I’ll get a picture of them Wednesday.

A few days ago, we found another family with 2 cute kids, again from a strange, (in my mind) unpopulated country. But this time, the father doesn’t speak English.

We just found a family from Albania, here on Asylum because the father got in trouble with the Mafia. They are pretty cool, and he even came to church, but we have no common language. It will be interesting to say the least.

This morning, I read a talk by Elder Bednar called “Becoming a Preach My Gospel” Missionary. One thing really hit me, and I’m going to work on it.

He said, any time we try to manipulate an investigator or anyone into accepting the message, we are taking away their agency, and we need to repent. I haven’t tried to trick anyone or anything, but I think at times, I’ve lost sight of the fact that the real teacher is the Spirit, and my job is just to get the Spirit there.

Sometimes, I feel like I try to hard to artfully word a concept or something to make it more pretty or palatable (never changing doctrine, but still). But we read in the Book of Mormon that we should preach nothing but faith and repentance, and sometimes I’m afraid to preach the repentance part. It can be a little harsh. But that is exactly why I’m here. I say every day that we want to bring people closer to Christ, and that is only through repentance. In fact, that is the definition of repentance. So look for an update next week about how that is going. It’s kind of like being bolder, but more like getting out of the way to let the Atonement and the Spirit do the work.

Anyway, I love you guys. I hope you have a great week!

Elder Greaves


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Staying in Bernburg!

It’s official! Elder Riddle and I will stay 6 weeks longer together in Bernburg. Then, I will almost definitely go.

…But that’s enough time to get a few more people soaking wet, Gospel style!!!

Just so you know, because I’m super jealous, Elder Garrett has had a pretty wild few transfers. The transfer after I left Lauenburg, He got blitzed (transferred mid-transfer) to go close down an area for a week (a lot of work) and then whitewashed (both companions are new and have no idea what is going on in the area), where he was Zone leader for 1 transfer (usually you are there for 4 transfers) because President combined their zone with someone else’s, and then he got sent to the area of areas, all I ever wanted in the world, my favorite ward, everything I could dream of . . .  A little tiny town bordering Poland that barely ever sees success, so that is exciting enough, but then the branch President has gone completely rogue, kind of hates every missionary that gets sent there, and refuses to let anyone get baptized unless they’ve read the whole Book of Mormon and come to church for 6 months. Which is ridiculous. President came to the town once just to sign a baptismal form that the Branch President refused to because they hadn’t read the whole Book of Mormon yet. In short, he is a CHALLENGE! Grr. I’m super, super jealous. It could be so much fun.

This week has been pretty great. We set TWO baptismal dates, for a total of 3, all for March 21st. One of them is the wife of Bo Petro. Her name is Rana. She’s only 20. It’s definitely harder to teach her because she only speaks Serbian. For example, we went by on Saturday for our lesson, but Bo wasn’t there. One of his friends has a child that got very sick and has to have like a 6000 Euro surgery, but they can’t talk to the doctors because they only speak Serbian, so Bo is at the hospital all day every day translating as best he can. That means they weren’t able to come to church again, which is scary because we don’t have much extra time left. If something else happens, we’ll probably have to move the date back. But, that is a fairly decent excuse, ya know?

The other one is a super funny old German guy named Bruder Mark. I talked a little about him last time. He is 79. When he doesn’t understand, and also when he agrees, and also when he needs to fill space while he’s thinking of the right word, he just says ja (said ya, means yes) over and over and over and over super fast, so it’s like:

“Bruder Mark, have you read in the BOM?”

“yayayayayayayayayayayayayayaya…..yayaya…”

“What did I just ask?

“I…. didn’t understand?…ayayaya..”

“DID. YOU. READ?!”

“Yyayayayayayayayaya! 10 chapters!”

“Cool! What did you read about?”

“ayayayayayayayayayayayayaya…..yayayaya.a…a.yay.ay.ay.ayayaya….”

It’s great. But he’s come to church twice now and is just loving it. He leaves halfway through Sunday school after sacrament because lunch time at the senior center is like 10:30. Love him. It’s looking really good for him. I think he’ll make it to baptism. He’s really enthusiastic about everything. We gave him a church tour, so it was like:

“Here’s a picture of Thomas S. Monson, he’s a prophet!”

“Really? Wow!” and then he walks past a book shelf and he’s like “OMIGOSH. THIS A SHELF. A SHELF FOR BOOKS. Very practical. I love this bookshelf. Nicely placed.”

Not much time, but I would like to share a short testimony of the Holy Ghost. He is there with us, teaching.

Bo had a cool experience with the Book of Mormon already. He’s read about 70 pages so far. He reads during the night when one of the babies need to fall back asleep. He says sometimes, he’ll be angry or frustrated at his two kids (1 year old, and 0 year old) for crying or screaming or not sleeping, so he’ll go to the other room and read a few chapters. And he feels this peace come over him, and the anger is gone, and he appreciates his kids more.

That’s the beginnings of a testimony! He didn’t even recognize it as the Spirit until we talked about it. But He was there, testifying. The Book of Mormon, as it says in Preach My Gospel, is the most powerful tool for conversion.

Also, Dad, I absolutely love the talks. Keep ’em coming. This last one was super interesting. I’d always felt slightly uncomfortable, because I felt like we (and I) didn’t focus on God enough, and were giving all the glory to Jesus, which is exactly what Jesus DIDN’T want in the premortal existence. It has helped me a lot, and I’ll probably read it a few more times. Thanks for your testimony and for seeking after gospel knowledge.

I hope you all have a great week! Love you!

Elder Greaves