elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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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.

HOW COOL IS THAT?

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

In Neumünster , 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


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Hey guys!

I’m not going to write much today, because we will talk in a few days, but we had a great week. I got to go on exchanges to Flensburg with Elder Bretzing, and it is a gorgeous city. We had lots of success too, which was cool. They are super focused on finding people, so we did some of that and found 3 new people. While we were doing that, Elder Allen found an entire African family at the train station. The wife and son are already baptized, and the husband isn’t yet, as well as the 8 year old daughter, but they came to church and the kids especially loooooved it. They are super cool, and we are excited to meet with them in the future.

We met with Herr G, that man that asks the super hard questions. We just went LeGrand Richards style and started with baptism by immersion, gift of the Holy Ghost, etc. He had a big problem, because he thought that apostasy not only didn’t happen, but couldn’t happen. He showed us the scripture where Christ was talking to Peter and told him he was the rock, and gave him the keys, and then told him that the church would never be prevailed against. That stumped us for a second – I’ve never thought of it that way – but then we talked about Christ dying. We asked him if Christ being killed was in any way a failure. He said, of course, no. And of course, we know that in a way, Christ died to be resurrected. We compared that with the church, and said that it was no failure that the church collapsed. It needed to happen, to prove the power of God. He LOVED that. He finally agreed to read in the Book of Mormon (He has only read in D&C in the past) so he’s starting to make progress.

We had a couple other cool things happen to us, like the man that called us and told us he wanted to be Christian, but that story is better saved for face to face! 🙂

Speaking of which. We will have to remain flexible, because we don’t really know what is happening. Because of the time difference, and the fact that we are skyping at the church, we can’t do it on Christmas itself. We were going to do it on the day after Chirstmas, if that’s alright. It would be about 6 am for you. Does that sound alright? Let me know – like I said, it can be changed.

Everything is going great here. The ward is starting to pick up, Christmas in Germany is beautiful, and I’m loving it.

To answer your question, Mom, yeah, just email the applications to me. I should get them. Attached are the pictures of my first serious souvenir, something called a Pyramide (pronounced Pyrameedeh). It is from this part of Germany called the Erzgeberge (Ore mountains) where Christmas was basically invented. They do handmade wood work. For example, they made the original nutcracker. That’s them. This pyramide is from the 1950’s, and also plays music. This is probably my favorite thing in Germany. The blades spin when you light the candles, and then the little figures spin too. I think it is so beautiful. How I’m getting that home is an entirely different story.

pyramide 1 pyramide 2 pyramide 3 pyramide 4 pyramide 5
I love you guys! See ya Friday!

Elder Greaves


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Hey guys!

This week was decent. We found a lot of people.

This week was transfer week which is always exciting. And a lot of
things changed in our district! Elder Allen and I are both staying in Neumünster still, but every other companionship changed. Elder
Bretzieng, a good friend to the MTC, and one of the elders in our
district last transfer, got transferred to the other area in our
district! He’s super excited to not be zone leader anymore. He and
sister Cady are training. Another elder from my MTC group is coming to
be the new zone leader. Obviously the Flensburg sisters got
transferred to America, where one of them already knows who her new
companion is going to be ;-).

Two new trainees and one district though! That’s going to be way too
much fun. It will be good too, because this was just about the oldest
district ever. And all anyone ever talks about is going home, not
necessarily that they’re excited for that, sometimes like “I hate that
I only have this long left”, but still talked about all the time.

We still weren’t able to meet with O this week, because she had work. Grr.
We went on exchanges this week, and I was with Elder Bretzieng. We had
way too much to talk about, so I was really tired after that one. But
Elder Allen and the other Elder found a family for us! I’m excited to
meet with them this Wednesday.

Gosh guys I’m really tired and I can’t think of anything to write about.

Elder Ballard challenged us to start talking to people in buses and
grocery stores and stuff. At first of course you’re a little nervous
about that, but I’ve actually learned to really enjoy it. It’s
surprisingly easy to start conversations. This doesn’t always lead to
the gospel, but the other person always comes away thinking they were
happy to talk to us, and I think that makes a difference too.

Also, Dad I think that’s so awesome that you invited someone to the
nativity play. I’ll bet that’s really hard. One idea for you is just
to let the missionaries know that you’re bringing him. Maybe
afterwards, with all the cookies and stuff, they can just strike up a
conversation with him. Doesn’t have to be anything huge. But I think
that’s awesome, that’s a good example to me for when I come back from
my mission.

It’s funny what you said about “being an example” and how
we need to move beyond that. This week we got permission to use the
last hour of church as a “missionary class”.

We separated everyone into groups and have them discuss how they
personally could do missionary work better. Of course as expected,
lots of people just talked about being a good example.

Don’t get me wrong actually lots of people talked about how they could just open  their mouths, just invite people, etc. but a lot of it was about being  a good example. We knew that was going to happen, but it’s still kind of frustrating. I’m not really sure when the phrase “being a good
example” became a synonym for NOT DOING ANYTHING. That’s a terrible
example!

If we talk about football or soccer or a cake recipe, and say
it’s “the greatest thing ever”, and never talk about where we spend a
massive chunk of our time, namely the church, what is that saying to
others about we think about our church? To me being a good example
means showing them what these things mean to you. Sure that’s way
easier said than done, but we don’t have to go in blind.

There’s a pretty simple formula for anyone that wants to do some heavy duty missionary work. We accidentally tricked our members into agreeing to do it with us. 🙂

Pray for inspiration, then set a goal for when you want to have someone prepared to be taught by the missionaries, or someone to bring to church, etc. then, if you’re really feeling bold, share the date with the missionaries. Ask them to also pray for you that you’ll be able to find someone by that time, and then pray yourself. Allow the gospel to come up naturally in conversation. Don’t force it, don’t ram it down peoples throats, but lead conversations towards the deep end, if you know what I mean. Instead of just talking about the weather, talk about how awesome it is to be together with your family during Christmas. Ask what they love about Christmas. If someone is a close friend, share a hard time you went through/are going through, ask them how they would deal with something like that, and then explain how the Gospels help to you. The Lord will open up paths to you if you have a goal in mind and you were praying for it.

As for why someone would be scared to talk about the gospel, they
don’t want to get rejected. If you believe this gospel is true, then
your testimony is one of your most precious possessions. Having
someone you care about, or someone you have to see every day, reject
something so near and dear to your heart is painful and embarrassing.
But in my opinion, as I’ve said before, I really don’t think you have
to teach your friends the restoration or something like that. You just
say hey, this thing that I’ve learned is helped me. If you’re looking
for answers, come to church. So for me, I think a big part of not
feeling awkward about it, is just to make it a natural part of your
life. Everyone HATES talking to people on the street when they are a
new missionary. But eventually, you can actually learn to love it.
Everybody knows that running sucks. But ask someone who’s gone running every day for six months to skip running one day, and he won’t do it because he likes the feeling it gives him. That’s how it is with most
of the good, difficult things. You just have to keep doing them until
you have a testimony they make you happy, and then it’s easy.

I love you guys!

Have a good week!

Elder Greaves

P.S. Hey Mom! I just wanted to write you a quick note and tell you I love you. You’re just awesome. I read your blog post today, [thatwhichbringsjoy.com] and it is my favorite so far. It made me laugh. That’s right, I literally lol’ed. I brag about you like I’m a grandpa. I think you’re example more than anything else has taught me what it means to be a woman of God. I’ve always been so impressed with the equality in your marriage. I love that you are just as smart and capable as Dad, and just as hardworking. I just think that’s something very unique and special about you that really sets a high bar for my future marriage! I love you, and I’m thinking about you. I hope you have an awesome birthday. I’m sending pictures too.  (hover on a picture and the caption appears).


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This week was really great!

Hey guys!

We met with K, the nonmember husband, on Monday. It was a somewhat difficult lesson, since he had a ton of questions about all of the commandments. Having lived with a Mormon for 30 years, he’s experienced all the inconvenience and has felt none of the blessings of all of those “rules”. I can totally understand that. From the outside looking in, it just seems to be problems. And the only way you can find out if something actually blesses you or not is just to do it.

Then Wednesday, we were supposed to meet with our miracle Frau, O, but she was sick. That was super disappointing, but she agreed to come to church.

Thursday we had zone conference. That’s always fun, but most people that I know are home already. All the sisters I know from the MTC, Elder Weaver, and Elder Garrett are all going home next week. A year ago, going to zone conference was this big exciting chance to talk to people about crazy stories and stuff, but eventually, you’ve collected so many crazy stories and everyone else you know has too, that when all the little whippersnappers are jabbering on about all those things you’ve lived through about 4 times already, you see a friend across the room and just kind of give grim nod and move on.

Then, we made the TERRIBLE mistake of agreeing to ride with the 4 sisters in our district on the way back, because group tickets are way cheaper, and also because we are buds, but I swear, we were literally the last missionaries out of the church. I stood at the door with my scarf and gloves on for about 20 minutes, begging, pleading, cajoling, praying, and singing at one point, and all the while they just blissfully floated from group to group, squealing like they’ve never even seen another sister before, and moving their mouths remarkably fast, probably chattering about makeup or purses or chocolate, or whatever it is sisters talk about these days.

So we missed our train. “And the voice of one crying in the wilderness…”

Then, like champs, we planned alternatively. So the Kiel sisters got out with us in Neumünster, and then we thought they would wait a few minutes and then get another train, only when we showed up, their train was already there, and they hadn’t bought a ticket yet. So as they hysterically tried to figure out which ticket to buy, then panicked because they didn’t have small bills, then, freaked out getting change at McDonald’s, I thought idly to myself that this is what they are probably like ever single transfer day. Then, ironically, the only time they relaxed and slowed down was after they bought the ticket, assuming they had already missed the train anyway.

But they didn’t.

So Elder Allen grabs literally 6 bags himself and throws them in the train, with me making that windmilling motion baseball coaches do on 3rd base, and they slide in right as the doors close.

Safe!

I’ve been teasing them about that all week.

This week will be the Flensburg sisters’ last week. I’m sure going to miss them. They are the perfect examples of having been changed by their missions. I asked them both what the the single most important thing was that they learned on their missions. Their answers just blew me away.

Sister Hahn didn’t even have to think about it. Her answer was that she learned how to be a Mormon. She learned what it meant to fulfill a calling by learning from both good and bad examples. She knew what she expected from the members here and now sees what the missions would want from her in Utah. She learned what it meant to live her faith.

Then Sister Demke, who personifies the phrase “still waters run deep”, said she has learned and gained a testimony of the perfection of the Plan of Salvation. She knows God has made a perfect plan for her and everyone else, and the more she learns about all the parts, the more impressed she is by the flawlessness of it.

Both very different answers, but proof that they both spent their missions becoming true disciples.

But the coolest thing that happened last week was in the culmination of what we affectionately dubbed “D-day”. As a missionary, you get excited for activities, because if it is a “special” Sunday, it helps investigators make time.

This Sunday was a Primary program (gold), and a child’s baptism, with a ward potluck afterwards. We have been working hard with the little German munchkins to get them to bring friends. The zone leaders did this thing where they asked every companionship to pick a day this month when the rest of the zone could pray for you. They’ve been getting on my case about picking a day, but we kept putting them off, because we wanted to save it for a special day. We asked everyone to pray for us on Sunday, the last work day of the month, that our investigators would come, and ward would bring friends.

As church started, we were disappointed to see that there were no visitors there. Our investigator was coming for the last hour, but 2 others had cancelled on us. But as the lady hour and the primary program started, we were amazed to count about 9 nonmembers and 5 less active members there, only one of which was our O “the Wonderwoman”. The rest were from members. I saw at least one full family with 3 kids and a mom. The little buggers brouhgt down the house with a rousing – and more than a little brainwashy – 9 verses of “follow  the prophet”. That song gives me the heebie jeebies. But the rest was great. We didn’t have time to talk to everyone, but we did talk to one couple named B and S. They are from Canada actually. They were super friendly. The girlfriend is inactive, and the boyfriend is a nonmember.

But the cool part is, we are meeting with them this week!

Booyah.

Then, those two and O stayed for the baptism. It was super awesome.
N (the 8 year old) it’s just about the cutest little button ever.  Then her 10 year old sister, V, sang some baptism song, and man, I almost cried. O told us right after the baptism that she wanted to get baptized and become Christian someday too.

We told her we think we could help with that. That day was really cool, because then we felt like not only was our faith strengthened, but the other missionaries in our zone were hopefully strengthened as well!

To answer some other questions, yes, I have bought a coat, and I look
pretty stellar, and no, I still have not gotten anything about my birthday package. As for the Christmas package, did you send it to Berlin? I have no idea what the game plan there is, but no, I won’t be going to Berlin to get it. They could just ship it if they need to.

I love you guys a lot!

I wanted to tell you, Dad, that I thought your talk was awesome.

I brag about you guys as if you were my grandkids.

Also, what you said a few weeks ago about set ridiculously high goals and then working to achieve them anyway totally inspired me, and really helped me these last few weeks. I’ve thought about it often.

Elder Greaves


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This week was pretty productive.

Hey guys!

These last three weeks before this one have just been a blur of train rides and meetings and exceptional circumstances, so it’s been really nice to have a chance to hit the pavement! Every area seems to have its challenges, and Neumünster is no exception. (By the way, it’s pronounced noy-moon-stir).

Here we’ve been able to find a ton of people, like “miraculous” a lot, and they all seem more interested than I’m used to. In other words, they seem to be more solid –

But that’s the catch.

Just about every single first appointment falls out, and as every missionary knows, if the first appointment falls out, you have like a 3% chance of ever seeing them again. That is, I can assure you, incredibly annoying. And it debunks
one of the myths of a mission in Germany.

German(/Europe) mission myths

1. You can’t baptize in Germany.

It’s really not bad. I’m reminded of a story I heard the other day about this missionary who was sent to a really tough mission. Everyone told him he couldn’t baptize, that the people there were uninterested, would hate him, hated religion, and would always ignore him. I don’t know the exact numbers, but he baptized a lot. You might’ve heard of
him – His name was Ammon.

Did you know that when some Mormons see a group of missionaries headed to Germany in the airport, they actually
– this has happened to multiple missionaries I know – they actually go up to them just to tell them to not be upset but they weren’t going to baptize anyone? I just want to give those people a hug. Tightly. With my hands around their necks. Maybe if people stopped doing REALLY DUMB THINGS LIKE THAT, some missionaries around here would have a little more faith in the all powerful neighbor upstairs and start baptizing like we should be.

2. Once you get a German to meet with you, they will be super solid and will never miss an appointment.

Oh my gosh, I wish! I think a real problem is, the people of this country are as dependent on their daily planners as normal people are on their cell phones, and so if you make an appointment on the street, they completely forgot about it. Plus, if anything is remotely stressful, like they have a cold, or they have to go grocery shopping in the next couple days, it’s all too much and they need a breather, and they cancel. Or just aren’t there. So you have to wade through those ones.

3. Once a German gets baptized he never goes inactive.

Shortly said, retention rates are just as bad here as they are anywhere else. Germans are just as easily offended (or more so) as anyone else.

I know Numbers two and three seem to completely conflict with number one, but the thing is, the Lord prepares prepared people for prepared missionaries, whether they be members or full-time missionaries. And there are prepared people everywhere.

Case in point – on Tuesday I was on exchanges with the zone leaders. We were walking to the church, talking to people along the way, as we do, and we met this really nice Hungarian lady. She spoke some German but not a ton, but we were able to use the pictures in the front of the book of Mormon to explain what it was, and offered to give her one in Hungarian. She gladly accepted. Saturday, we had a Hungarian joint teach lined up using Skype. But our appointment fell out, since she was in Hamburg. She rescheduled for Saturday night, though. Again, there was a misunderstanding, and she thought we only wanted to give her the book that night, and then we would meet later. But we talked for a few minutes before parting ways, and I am super excited to meet with her. It was difficult to understand, and she was struggling to express yourself, so I’m not positive, but here’s a summation of what I think I heard. A few days before she met us on the street, she had some sort of dream, and she somehow knew that she would talk to two men on the street, and that she should listen to them. She told us that she was atheist, but somehow everything we said, she believed. That’s pretty amazing! We’ll see what happens there.

As for me personally, I’m in a very good place right now. I really good place. I love becoming who I want to become. I’m excited to see the differences even more sharply when I see you guys next year. I was telling some sisters in my district the other day that I was pretty shy before my mission, and they were shocked, mostly because now I can’t shut up! 🙂 It’s just about my favorite thing ever now to get some time to talk to someone – about anything. I was thinking about how about 20 months ago, the idea of having to talk to several missionaries in the phone every night for about 20 minutes each would literally be the most terrifying thing ever, but now it’s a highlight
of my day.

I wanted to share a spiritual thought with you. This was what I wrote for my (abnormally good) personal study one day, and it was really an answer to prayer.

Endure to the end

Sometimes, we feel like aren’t making any difference. We keep going and going and going, but nothing changes.

It’s like a flashlight. Turn on a flashlight in a dark room. Where do actually see the light? On the wall. Between the flashlight and the wall, you see nothing. Sometimes, that’s how God works with us. We are expected to make it all the way to the wall, even if up until that point, we are convinced we are not being a light unto the world at all. True success comes as we make it to the end.

This is consistent with the scriptures. In the story of the fishermen, we see this important principle.

Luke 5:2-8 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen
were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed
him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down,
and taught the people out of the ship.
4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into
the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the
night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let
down the net.
6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of
fishes: and their net brake.
7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship,
that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both
the ships, so that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees.

They were washing their nets – they were done for the day. But when the Lord commanded them to do it just one more time, Peter responded with

“Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing:
nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.”

And then they had more success than they could handle. What an example of hope – of thinking, this time it will work. Notice this important principle as well – the Lord seems always eager to bless beyond our capabilities to
receive, if we wait.

The other instance of miraculous fishing help further explains:

John 21:3-6 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto
him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship
immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the
disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship,
and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to
draw it for the multitude of fishes.

Imagine that – Peter, the powerful fisherman, must have tried everything in his power, must have used every trick he knew, must have called upon every bit of knowledge he had, and then nothing happened. Then the Lord comes, and tells them to do something so obvious, so unoriginal, so painfully simple as to try the other side of he boat, but they did. And it worked. Sometimes in missionary work, we need to listen to that still small voice that says something like “talk about the Book of Mormon” or “pray you’ll find an investigator”. Sometimes we just need to listen and obey and have hope.

Now, why do you think it is that the Lord works in this pattern of absolutely nothing all the night long, and then bam. Right at sunrise more than you can take? Why not spread it out across the whole night to avoid those feelings of discomfort?

Without being too harsh, I’m not convinced that God is overly concerned with us being comfortable. Quite to the contrary – sometimes, he seems to desire just the opposite! He seems pretty determined to take us out of our comfort zone, to push us, and pull us, and twist us until we have finally worked all night, and then He can send us the miracle, because a few things have now become clear:

1. We can’t possibly do it alone – we easily recognize the hand of the Lord.
2. We truly only desire success.
3. We deserve success.
4. We will be grateful for it.
5. We will take care of the people we are blessed to be helping.
6. We held to our hope that the Lord would bless us.

I think this principle applies to all aspects of life, but I think the Lord meant to make it a very specific parable of missionary work.

Luke 5:10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which
were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from
henceforth thou shalt catch men.

John 21: Feed my sheep.

In other words, the Lord tends to kind of ignore any patterns we try to impose. We think of gradual increase, of slow gains, of progressing continually. We try to predict what will happen in the future based on what has happened in the past, but when it comes to being on the Lord’s errand, it just doesn’t work like that. That only works when we are relying on humans. But this work is more than just us. The Lord is with us, and we can never forget that.

Like 19th century English reformer John Ruskin once said (found in general conference talk 😉

“I believe the test of a great man is humility. I do not mean by humility the doubt in one’s own personal power; but really, truly great men have the curious feeling that greatness is not in them but through them and they see the divine in every other human soul and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.”

If you are given a tough challenge, if you have been working for a while but nothing seems to be working, if, in missionary terms, you are sent to an area where nothing good has ever happened, if you have sweat and prayed and fasted and tried new things, and it’s still the same, the Lord is not just working somewhere else right now.

He is with you, watching, buoying you up, keeping you going, until you have proven that you are a constant he can count on, then, all at once, we can pull up our nets and be blessed beyond imagination.

After all, as PGA golfer Arnold Palmer once said (also found in a GC talk, please, I don’t watch golf),

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to is.”

I love that quote.

I can’t tell you, nor myself, how long that night might drag on, (and depending on the challenge, it might be until the next life) or how choppily the sea might jostle your boat, or how heavy your arms will get throwing the net over and over in the water, but through that night of darkness, know that God is always, always there. You will have too much success to handle, if you continue on in hope. Know that the sunrise always, always comes.

Phew. Sermon over.

Love you guys.

Elder Greaves

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This week was another weird one.

Hey guys!

Friday, the Zone Leaders, Elder Allen and I went to Flensburg for their baptism. It was so awesome. M. is just a great guy. He’s one of those converts that make you inspired to keep working, because you want to find someone just like him.

But then, a train fell out going back, so we had to take like a 3 hour bus ride instead. That was pretty annoying. But that day was just weird all the way around. We got a conference call that morning, which means the whole mission was on one phone call.

M-Russell-Ballard

Elder Ballard was heading through Germany to do a video conference about how ward councils should be done. THANK YOU. But he realized he had a little tiny hole in his schedule, so he asked President to call over a few missionaries to talk with Elder Ballard. President Fingerle decided instead to get all the missionaries to Berlin by Sunday evening to have an hour long conference. That took a massive amount of coordination, but it worked!

So we got to shake Elder Ballard’s hand. This is my second apostle now. I’m thinking about turning it into a game, like Pokemon, to see how many apostles I can get. Got to catch them all!

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Anyway, he talked to us about, of course, missionary work. It was super awesome. He said a lot of cool things, one of my favorites, as he was talking about getting a passion for missionary work, being,

“You’ll get to the point where it’s cold and wet and you look out the
window and it’s raining, and you say, ‘Ah, I get to be persecuted all
day!'”

He has perfected old man charm.

Actually though, one of the most meaningful things I learned was not really what he said, but his attitude towards missionary work. I had forgotten how missionary work could be. His view of missionary work is finding people that are interested in learning more about families, or just interested in your message, and you get invited to their nice clean home and have a wonderful evening with their family. And then you come back the next night and do it again. I think I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking all missionary work could be is meeting with lots of kinda strange people in their dirty little apartment, and then trying to come back next week, if the appointment doesn’t fall out.

But he reminded everyone, I think, that it could be a lot better. I liked that.

One thing I’ve learned on my mission is, there are a few things I hate a lot in this world. One of them is not having a garbage disposal, but that’s beside the point.

I hate complacency. It is terrible.

I never want to ever use the phrase “good enough” again. I think being a go getter means trying to do everything you have to do the absolute best that you can, whether that’s a talk, a calling, setting the table, or filling out paperwork. I don’t like it when I or someone else assumes that, although there is room for improvement, it’s a passable effort.  That’s dumb. I hope I and all other missionaries can take that to
heart, and not be satisfied with where we are now.

I also have a particular hatred of cynicism. I can’t stand it.

Cynicism is the justification of the apathetic, the anesthetic of the
lazy, and the addiction of our society.

Waxed poetic there for a second, sorry. I’ve thought a lot about it. 🙂

In other news, I’ve been really enjoying taking all this time on trains to just think. I realized I haven’t done that in forever. Back at home, if I had nothing to do, I would be playing some stupid phone game I didn’t even want to be playing, or listening to some music I didn’t care about, or watching some show that bored me, because I thought that is what you did. But man, thinking is a blast! I just like letting my thoughts wander and go where they want, and usually that involves some really great brainstorms, if I do say so myself.

Lately I’ve been on a real flying kick, so I realized the other day that no one has ever gone to the moon as a solo pilot and as an independent space program. I’d be an astronaut. So I thought about all of those things and all the problems.

Also, I’m sure I could break the record for longest fall without a parachute if I jumped out of a plane into a stadium filled with styrofoam peanuts, which would take some funding, but hey. Sounds like a plan.

This week was too crazy to have almost anytime to do real missionary work, but we found a really cool lady that hopefully we will be teaching soon.

I love you guys!

Elder Greaves