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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Baptismal Date!

Hey guys!

This week was really pretty good.

We found a cool investigator, so Elder Weber helps us out on Skype teaching him since he speaks a different language. I got to go on exchange with Elder Oliphant one last time, which was fun. That exchange though, I was just pooped. I went to bed at 8. I could barely keep my eyes open. Exhaustion is coming more and more frequently, which is great! That means I’m still workin’!

We had Zone Conference with Elder Adler, an area seventy, which was great. I really liked it.

I’ve been trying to make a new plan of consecration for before and after the mission, so I’ve been studying that a lot. And that was roughly the topic of ZoCo as well.

Also, a missionary had been really struggling with feelings of worthiness about things he had already repented off and as far as I know, weren’t actually that big of a deal anyway, but he was just really beating himself up about it. We had been trying to help him. And then Elder Adler started his talk by saying “I hadn’t planned to say this, but I feel I need to tell you all that..” and then went on to explain that we just need to move on when we’ve made a mistake, and not dwell on it anymore, and the only one that wants us to do that is the adversary. It was crazy how fitting what he said was. That missionary really needed to hear that. I thought that was really neat, and I want to be that in tune with the Spirit in the future so that I can help people more.

Probably the most exciting news of the week is that we put R on baptismal date! He is this Chinese guy that came to church with some BYU students a few weeks ago. I haven’t talked much about him, because we always taught him when I was on exchanges, so I didn’t really know him that well. But we had a fantastic lesson with him, and he is just the nicest guy. He doesn’t have much of a Christian background, which means we have to clarify everything. We set the date for June 19, which is really soon. We decided to do it that soon because we have to do a tough balancing act. He is going back to China in 4-5 months. You are not allowed to get baptized in China. So his only chance to be a member is here. They have wards there, you just can’t join them unless you come back to China a member. So, that means that we want to give him as much experience being a member here as possible, so he is as strong as possible when he goes back. So of course, we want to make sure he understands his covenants as well, but we are going a little faster than usual. Hopefully it works out. He already is socially converted, because he loves the BYU students, who are really awesome. They all live in the same building, and they pray with him and read the scriptures with him, and have him over for dinner and everything, so he’s really solid that way.

Sorry, I have no more time… 😦

Love you guys!

Elder Greaves


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This week almost killed me.

Hey guys!

This week almost killed me. It was full of good things, with the emphasis on full. That’s a good problem to have, don’t get me wrong – but yeah, I almost died.

By the end of the week, my tongue was too tired to testify, and my eyes were better glazed than any 6th grade pottery project.

But maybe the best way to describe how tired I was would be to describe the recovery.

This morning, I told my companion in grunts that I was going to take a nap, and it would be for as long as I wanted, and if he woke me up, I would kill him on the spot and go back to sleep. Or something to that effect.

I left my whimpering companion in the corner and belly flopped onto the bed, already asleep midair. And I dreamed. All the normal dream stuff started happening, upside-down stairs, giving people Books of Mormon (gotta stay in practice), and watching a silverfish turn into a trashcan when I sprayed it with water. The yoosh.

But then, only a few minutes into my dream, I started feeling sleepy. And I fell asleep. In my dream. So I experienced literal inception. Then in that dream, I felt sleepy, and went to bed. This continued, on and on, down the ever-spiraling dream well, until my companion WOKE ME UP. I’m not sure if I killed him, but I was so tired, when I tried to open my eyes, the inside of my eyelids stuck to my eyeballs and I was blind. After squirting them with contact solution, I realized the fact that I wasn’t really panicking about this meant it was a dream, and I woke up. I got up, walked around, and noticed the stairs were upside down, and woke up again. Eventually, I had to wake up FIVE TIMES before I triumphantly burst through all those dream layers.

Who knows? Maybe I’m still dreaming. But I think it’s great that even in my dreams my brain was like, “Yeah, let’s use this time to sleep extra.” For all I know, if you add up all my sleep in that 2 hour nap, I maybe actually slept like 15 hours. Pretty nifty, brain.

A couple highlights of this week – We are teaching this Chinese girl named M. She’s dating a Chinese member named G. A couple of weeks ago, we focused on her more, because she said she didn’t believe in God yet. She’s met with the missionaries (only ever with G, and throughout his whole conversion) for about 8 months. We asked her what she knew about baptism. Chagrined, she admitted she had actually never listened to what the missionaries were saying… sigh. Classic. But the more she started paying attention, the more intensely she’s been looking into the church. This last week we talked about the Plan of Salvation. She loved it. We asked her at the end to summarize what she now thought the Plan of Salvation was, and she said all primly “To follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized and repent so we can go the celestial kingdom.”

That is. What. I. Am. Talking about!

Plus, we had this sister missionary there helping us who can speak Chinese, so told us later all the times than M was making fun of us in Chinese. I’ve never in met another sarcastic Asian person, but she’s hilarious. We have a lot of fun together, and she volunteered to be my big sister a couple weeks ago. 🙂

A, the 18 year old, is also seriously considering getting baptized, which is awesome. Everyone wants to baptize a kid who can go on a mission (it’ll happen).

I also wanted to show you guys a text I sent out to the zone. Every week, missionaries do weekly planning, in which they discuss all of their friends and how they can help them. They also set goals. We asked them to specifically pray about who to invite to baptism in the upcoming week. We send out a weekly reminder, and in our ongoing crusade against blah, and because missionaries should stop feeling guilty and assuming that everything that is fun is also disobedient, we always have a punny theme.

This is really tiring, honestly, but everyone loves it. Some classics we had was a Pokemon one (cake), a star wars one, which I didn’t think was that good, but everyone loved it because my companion at the time was named Weber – pronounced Vayber in German, and we signed it Darth Weber and General Grevious.

Ha.

This time we did a pretty extensive one – Princess Bride. I’d like to dedicate it to my cousins, who have watched this movie a lot more than I have. (A few explanations would be helpful: The first word is Errettung, which is German for salvation. The word tauschbag refers to the bag you use to go on exchanges overnight. Using a suitcase and overpacking is a total noob move, and usually only happens your first one. Totally did it myself. 🙂 DDR stands for Deutsche Demoktratische Repubublik – so East Germany behind the iron curtain. And, Elder Wiersdorf is my companion’s name. Okay, that should cover all the gaps.)

 

Here it is:

PB1

Ewwettung. Ewwettung is what bwings us togever tooday. And wuv, twue
wuv, nevew faiwif, and suffeweth wong, and is kind.

pb2

If you haven’t prayed yet about who to put on baptismal date this
week, you’ve just fell for one of the classic missionary blunders!
First is never use a suitcase as a tauschbag. The second, only
slightly less known, is never forget to seek for inspiration when
salvation is on the line! AHA! AHAHAHA! *dies*.

pb4

You may think that is “disrespectful” to invite people quickly to
baptism. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you
think it means. What could be more respectful than recognizing the
divine potential in your investigator, and then helping them see
the first step? Why wait?

There are prepared people! As we traverse the DDR swamp I ask you
about the R.O.U.S.’s.

pb5
Don’t say, “The Righteous Of Unusual Spirituality? I don’t think they
exist.” Or they’ll end up biting you in the shoulder and you’ll get
burned. Metaphorically of course. Usually.

Listen up Buttercup: it’s time to tell God “as you wish” and start
bringing Miracles to the Max!

pb6

Some of your investigators are not yet
completely converted, they’re only mostly converted. For All-bI-know, we
just need to give a little more, stop fighting with our left hand, and
make the forces of evil fear the name of the dread Elder/Sister YOU!
Believe in miracles! Set ridiculous goals, then go out and get them!
Be unreasonable, unstoppable, unwavering! Be INCONCEIVABLE! pb3
There’s no room for fear!
remember why you are here!
Missionaries! Are the baptisms ahead?
Yes – if we work until we’re dead!
You’re here for more than to just nab ties!
Anybody wanna baptize?!

Elder Wiersley and the Dread Pirate Greaves
P.S. Don’t dream of large women

pb7 pb8

Another cool thing that happened this week is the first BYU exchange students just arrived! That’s gonna be fun. There’s a BYU exchange program with the Uni here. These ones will all be back in school when I go, and some of them I’ll beat back to America. Yuck.

I’ll email later about Sunday Skype. When do you have church?

Have a great week!

Elder Greaves


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This week was really good.

Hey guys!

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

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

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

Tuesday, I mean.

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

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

Well I almost did.

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

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

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

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

Moroni_10_4_Plates-aMjY0

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

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

Not like fancy squid.

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

Like this maybe?

Like this maybe?

 

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

Have a good week!


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I hope you had a great week!

Hey guys!  I’m so glad my package finally arrived. The Pyramide should also come soon. This week was OK.  I’m still learning the ropes of being a Zone Leader.

I’ll try to describe what it’s like. Once a month, you go to Berlin. President tells you what he wants to tell the missionaries. You hold a zone training meeting where you pass on that info. Being a district leader is like being a bishop. You plan weekly district meetings, which are like the sacrament meeting. Being a zone leader is like being a stake president.  You work with the district leaders mostly. Zone training meeting is like stake conference. As a district leader, you work mostly with missionaries directly. A zone leader has less opportunity to do that, and does a lot of paperwork and a bunch of other tiny little things. Usually a companionship has one phone to share, but because we make and receive so many calls, we each have our own. We set some goals once a month, which everyone ignores 🙂

It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. There’s always just a bunch of inconsequential little things or emails or forms or planning sessions that you have to do that just makes every day super short.

I. JUST. WANT. TO. GO. FINDING!

I finally got to meet the ward. Like I said, they are all young college students, mostly getting masters or Ph.D’s. We have an investigator from Zambia getting his Ph.D in photonics, which is just about the craziest witchcraft I’ve ever heard of.

Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons, which are particles of light. Photonics underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. Who knew?

Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons, which are particles of light. Photonics underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. Who knew?

For example, computers read binary. LED lights constantly blink, faster than our eyes can see. Apparently, they are working on being able to get wifi just by having your computer read binary from a lightbulb.

Heh?

No idea how that works. But anyway, he was on baptismal date, but wasn’t ready at all and kinda freaked out and wasn’t answering his phone, so we decided to do like annoyingly persistent missionaries do and stop by. He was home, and it soon came out that I was studying Physics. He flipped out and got African-excited (it’s a thing) and almost shouted

“I found a brotheh!”

And we talked for the next twenty minutes about all that jazz. Pretty sweet. Hopefully we’ll be meeting with him again now.

On Sunday, I led our Gospel principles class. There were a few nonmember visitors that I wasn’t planning on (they’ve never had contact to the church before) so I had to basically change the whole lesson plan in the bathroom 5 minutes before  (I guess you could say I was stalling HA).

Then of course over excited, over intelligent members brought it immediately to “we can become Gods”, so that had to be controlled and made more normal. But it was super fun.

Tomorrow we have zone training meeting, which is zone leader game day.

I’m excited for this week – we finally will have some time to work, though I’ll be on exchanges in Erfurt for 3 days straight.

Love you guys!

Elder Greaves

P.S. About the classes, don’t worry about it. Elder Weber and I are going home at the same time, and it’s expected that you get permission and then register for classes yourself. We are both going to BYU too, so it will be all good in the hood. 🙂

He's in there! Just hard to see.  This was taken at Mission Leadership Council for December.

He’s in there! Just hard to see. This was taken at Mission Leadership Council for December.


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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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Pretty European Street

2015 8 31 Pretty European Street

First, Mom, your blog post was awesome! I really liked it a lot. I don’t know why this text is red or how to change it.

This week has been really good – and pretty strange. It all started on Monday, when we found out that we had interviews with President on Tuesday in Berlin, which is 1 hour 45 minutes away. And our interview ended at 8. So we had to stay the night with the Marzahn elders, the elders in our district. So we had to cancel a few appointments and we headed on over there. We got there reeeeaaaallyy early, and we just happened to run into Elder Allen’s old MTC companion.

After talking for a while, we thought it would be fun for all three of us to go finding in Berlin. We did a few minutes of that, then went back to the mission home. Due to some problems, some missionaries right before us had really long interviews, and so Elder Allen and Germann and I jumped on the trampoline in the dark, which was way too much fun. Then Elder Allen interviewed sweatily with President, by which time it was about 11:30 p.m.. Don’t forget, missionaries are supposed to be home between 9:00 and 9:30, and should be in bed by 10:30. But it was honestly pretty fun to talk to Sister Fingerle and other missionaries. Then, to sweeten the deal, the office elders drove us home. At this point in my mission, I feel like I know just about everyone. This decreases over time, so that by the end, you knew less people than when you got here. But for that night, Elder Short, former Bernburg district leader, Elder Draper, my trainer, Elder Germann, former district buddy in Bernburg with Elder Short and I, and Elder Allen, my trainee, we’re all in one care driving through the dirtiest scariest parts of Berlin at midnight.

SO.

MUCH.

FUN.

goofy smile

So we stayed the night in Marzahn, and slept for 8 hours, under strict orders from President Fingerle (sir yes SIR).

Then we had district meeting, and then I stayed in Berlin for the second night on exchanges with elder Germann, which was also super fun. Finding in Berlin is a blast.

Then, we exchanged back, and Elder Allen and I tried to go get my broken iPad fixed, but we couldn’t find the place. We decided to head home, but I don’t know Berlin that well, and we took a very slow way back, so we missed a train, and we were sitting in the train station in Berlin at 9:30, so basically worse off than earlier in the week. So we had to stay the night in Marzahn AGAIN, and by that time it had lost its fun.

So we got up early Friday and went back to Frankfurt Oder, where I got to put on that change of clothes I forgot to bring.

Blech.

icky

In the mean time, Elder Allen and Elder Williams found a few people, so we met with a few of them the rest of the week.

One of them is super awesome! His name is Jacob, and he’s from Chad.

Chad

The first time we met with him, we tried teaching the Restoration, but w didn’t make it super clear and he didn’t get it. But we did get to know him. He ha a tough past, but he’s actually a civil engineer!

Of sorts.

I don’t think that’s quite the same in Africa as it is here or in America, but he did do drafting and built houses. Then on Sunday, we got up super early to get him to church, and he really liked it. The first hour is Sunday School, so we held an investigator class, and taught a much better Restoration lesson. He LOVED it!

He started reading the Book of Mormon as soon as I gave it to him, and every free minute during church and afterwards, he was reading it. We we’re with him this morning (he was helping us move furniture for a member) and he had read all of the book of Jacob and thought he was a pretty cool guy, considering they have the same name and all. 🙂

So anyway, we will definitely put him on baptismal date this week. If he had come to Germany 2 weeks earlier, I probably would have seen his baptism, but no joke, there would have to be some monumental screw up for him not to be baptized by the end of next transfer.

We also met with Frau F, the butt-kicking 87-year-old. We planned to teach her the Restoration, but only a part of it. She was so engaged and understood it all so clearly, we ended up teaching the whole thing. When we leave her house, we always just have the biggest smiles on our faces, because she’s probably the cutest old lady I’ve ever met. Sometimes, she just breaks down into giggles about some things and it’s so awesome. We invited her to church for example, which is a half hour away. She said she really wished she could, and then, barely able to get the words out she was laughing so hard, she said

“I can’t ride my bike all the way there!”

She was somewhat relieved to find out we could get her a ride. 🙂

We also met with a convinced Jehovah’s Witness, which was… Interesting. It’s kind of fun to meet with other people who are well-versed in their church, because you learn what things you have just taken for granted as truth, and at least for me, it just strengthens my testimony.

A few differences they have:

1. If it’s not in the Bible it is not true.

2. We aren’t a body and a spirit but just a body.

That may not sound like a big deal, but think about all the other doctrines that screws up: No premortal existence, they believe Jehovah to be Heavenly Father (Christ didn’t exist before his birth), the Holy Ghost is not a being but something like electricity, after we die, we are just sleeping until we are resurrected, so no spirit world and no salvation for the dead. All from one difference!

3. They have no concept of “receiving an answer”.

People are converted to their religion when they agree that their religion is the only religion that matches the Bible exactly. when we asked him how he knew the Bible was true, he said “Because it talks about Jesus.” If we asked him why he believed in Jesus, he would probably say “because he’s in the Bible.” I don’t want to attack any other religion, but that idea was so foreign to me that we barely even knew how to answer. Isn’t a spiritual confirmation the goal? Doesn’t the Holy Ghost support truth? How can you assume such things without just asking God? But I’m sure they have things about our religion that don’t make sense either.

We felt really good about this last week. I’m pretty bummed that i’ll almost definitely be leaving in about 2 weeks, right when things are looking awesome, but I’m excited that Elder Allen has another transfer to finish things up!

I hope everything is going well at home! I hope school went well.

I love you guys!

Elder Greaves