elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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Hey guys!

Hey guys!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our subject was: Christ.

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

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

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

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

And the sails
went
slack.

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

And

I

Wait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you guys!

Have a great week!


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This week was… eh. Not terrible.

Hey Guys! I hope everyone is doing well, including Ginger!

This week was… eh. Not terrible. Actually, good things happened, but just not enough to be satisfied.

I’ve talked before about how we are working really hard to collaborate our efforts with the Neumünster ward.

We’ve started meeting with this awesome retired guy named K, who is the husband of a member. He’s been married to her for 30 years. It’s so interesting to see how he learns. His wife is super awesome, and is not afraid to talk about the church, but I think the phrase “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house” applies here. 🙂

We met him during an eating appointment, where our ability to talk soccer and 60’s music came in handy.

(Sidenote, one of the best things you can do to prepare for your mission, after you have read your scriptures, is learn how to talk to people and develop your interests. I can’t tell you how many times I wished I knew more about music or movies or professional soccer so that I could have a good conversation with someone.)

interests

We gave a “quick” spiritual thought, which lasted about an hour, because he started asking a ton of questions. He was super frustrated because he hasn’t been able to understand anything his wife has been saying about the church for the last 30 years. But as we explained it, it clicked, and he got really excited. He said he didn’t want the lessons, but we asked later at church if we could come by for another spiritual thought, thinking we were being sneaky, but the member wife just said,

“Hmm. Sure. You might be able to help him.”

Busted.

But we came over, had a super awesome talk, and then offered to build some Ikea furniture for them on Saturday. Then we had another spiritual thought. You get the drift. He’s so great. He’s this super German crotchety old man that likes his soccer, but he has a best friend and when his wife is out of the house, they put on records, blast he music, and start jumping around playing air guitar. O love that image. 🙂

He’s super happy whenever something makes sense to him. We shared Alma 32 with him, where it talks about faith being like a seed and not being a perfect knowledge, which he didn’t get.

So we compared it to love. You can’t see love, but you can feel it. No one can prove that you love someone, but you know it just the same, and it really can’t be explained away as merely chemicals in your body causing you to feel that way.

Another good teaching moment is when we were with this less active couple. He used to be in he Bishopric, but eventually fell away. He makes lots of excuses, but it basically just comes down to pride and laziness.

That sounds really harsh, but what I mean is, it could happen to anyone. He missed one week, then two, then before you know it, he was gone.

They brought up this time how they could come back to church, but then it is just one meeting after another and before you know it you are drowning. That is legitimate. I think we can all agree we are strangely addicted to meetings in this church, considering no one likes them anyway. We empathized and asked how difficult it must have been when they had 4 kids at home. The wife spoke up for the first time, and for the next 20 minutes they detailed their schedules, how they were always tired, how she had had to run kids everywhere and it was all too much, it was super stressful, on and on, all real feelings they had. Then, when they finished, we just asked,

“But was it worth it?”

It got quiet. They slowly nodded their heads. We moved on.

This church asks a lot of its members. In the form of showing faith and obedience, that is a very good thing. In the form of keeping families apart, it is a necessary but potentially dangerous trait. Apostles and prophets have warned us about this. One said we needed to remember not to ask for too much time. Another reminded us that it wasn’t about Mutual, or campouts, scouts or Relief Society activities. It’s about Christ. The rest is just an appendage, a tool to help us come closer and stay near to Him. Let’s not forget the order of things.

David A. Bednar asked us missionaries when he was here, how we would respond if the church started building church buildings without a gym, without pews, if it got rid of the youth program, Primary, etc. It’s weird to think about it, and I don’t think it will ever happen, considering that they are too useful, but if it were to happen, the church would still be true.

Let’s not forget that.

All in all, I’m a little disappointed so far with the progress of Neumünster. It’s going better than it has in a long time, but I honestly expect more. I can see the Lord helping us, I just hope I’m not somehow slowing Him down. I feel mostly good, but I want to feel all the way good. Neumünster is a good area with a bad reputation, so we need to see a lllooot of success so that missionaries stop knowing it as a hard area. That’s actually a problem in our whole zone, which the zone leaders are working on. It’s fun working together with them, and I really like them both a lot. It’s fun taking them on exchanges and trying to kill them with work. 🙂 I think Elder Bretzieng had to walk about 10 miles with me on Thursday, not exaggerating (at a very missionary-like pace, of course). Not something that happens in big cities, or so I heard through the snail mail we just got from the pony express out here in BOONIES. 🙂

I love you guys.

Mom, that’s so cool about your law firm. I hope everything goes well.

Love you!

Elder Greaves


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We are still moving forward.

This week saw a high point on Thursday, when we were able to meet with several people and found an investigator in our 20 minutes of finding time. We’ve had to start getting creative to meet with people often. Everyone in our teaching pool is very busy, and because of that, it is difficult for them to make appointments, no matter how bad they want to. Since several of them are masters and Ph.D students, we’ve started to say a prayer before we go out the door that we will be able to just run into them at the library, and so far it has worked 100% of the time. I guess the Lord wants it too! It just feels like everyone is still getting really excited and our investigators are starting to change inside. We are truly watching repentance happen before our eyes!

One investigator we are really excited about is M, a young polish doctor who is best friends with one of our favorite (not that we have favorites) members. He is intensely interested in the Plan of Salvation, and wants literally all of the facts. It felt a little strange at first to be outlining complex principles we don’t usually give investigators so early, but he loves it and as long as it is logically presented, he has no problem with it. What makes it extra fun is he wants scriptures for everything we say, not really to bash or anything, but just so we can outline it. It has been a testimony-builder to me to see how well the scriptures work together to explain and support the Plan of Salvation – if and only if you study it with the lens of the Restoration. Our member is also really enjoying it, and the Spirit is always very strong. It’s a very cerebral-type meeting , but a big development we have seen in M is he is willing to recognize now that it doesn’t have to be proved with science, that spiritual things are just a different area of truth. It has been fun, because he has a lot of the same questions I would have if I was investigating.

Tension is still mounting, and hopefully we will be getting some baptismal dates in the next few weeks with some of these awesome people.

Elder Allen is still progressing a lot – we have become very close. I really enjoy working with him. We make a good team.

It’s still annoying how difficult it is to have appointments, but every situation has it’s problems, and I’d rather have awesome investigators with very little time than the opposite.

This week in personal study, I really have found out for myself that the Plan of Salvation is true. (Okay, I’ve only studied the first half, but I’m just going on faith for the second half. 😉 ) It’s just amazing to see all the doctrine supporting exaltation, deification, a premortal existence, and the beautiful relationship between grace and works. Especially this last point has struck me lately as very poignant.

2 scriptures:

This one most Mormons know of:

James 2: 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith‍ by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils‍ also believe, and tremble.

And this one:

2 Nephi 25: 23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

Here is a less-known and apparently contradicting scripture:

Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace‍ are ye saved‍ through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is‍ the gift‍ of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Interesting. But actually, I think these scriptures work together beautifully when we look closely. We can unequivocally state that it is impossible to be saved on our own. We could not even make it to the telestial kingdom without the grace of Jesus Christ. (“Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:16–18). After suffering for their sins, they will be allowed, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom. (Gospel Principles))

Sometimes, I think we see the scripture in 2nd Nephi and think of grace like a booster rocket. But we know that Christ is actually with us always.

We can imagine it like riding a bike. Those who would believe that through works we are saved are comparable to someone claiming the ability to ride a bike up Mount Everest. It is impossible, will never happen, and is basically hopeless at the very beginning.

Those who believe works aren’t necessary are like those who just ride in a car everywhere. Sure, you’ll get there, but you’re gonna get fat along the way. Talk about terrestrial glory!

But if we truly want to become the best we can be, that is, equal to our Father, we need something of both.

Like… a hybrid bike. Something where you are still pedaling, but when the hill gets steep, the engine makes sure you get there.

One of my favorite talks about the Atonement says

“Sometimes Christians get so excited about being saved by grace that we forget to ask if we have been changed by grace.”

Sometimes, Mormons get so excited about doing works that we forget why. It’s not to earn a spot into heaven by collecting enough gold stars, it’s helping us better ourselves, which is the whole point of life.

Phew. Got that off my chest.

You have a good week!

Elder Greaves

mountain


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Hello everyone!

Well. This week was definitely an upturn in little ol’ Frankfurt Oder.

There’s been this wonderful feeling lately that everything is going to just get nuts here in a week or two. Weird things are happening. These 2 members, (2 of 9) named O and A, are some of the coolest people I have ever met. They have been working with us like crazy. It has been a testimony-builder to me to see that member missionary work is starting to explode. They are incredibly spiritual, and they can feel the building excitement too.

As far as material, numbers progress, it’s just been kind of “meh” lately. Nothing exciting.

But there’s this incredible sense of building energy. It’s like everything we are doing is just setting the golf ball on the tee. Sometimes, I get really impatient, and just want to smack the ball, but the Lord knows what he’s doing, and He wants us to be able to go the whole distance. So we are taking time to put the ball on the tee. I’m excited to harvest. This week, we have seen some really great people come out of the wood works. We met with 2 referrals from members this week, both of whom are so prepared.

We basically spend all day yesterday at O and A’s, because they are friends with most of our investigators, and we just taught everyone all day. It was exhausting and kind of weird, but a ton of fun and it helped a lot of people. I think one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever gotten is when O said we remind her of “their missionaries.” Their missionaries baptized upwards of 6 people here, and those people are the foundation of this ward. I don’t know if we deserve that high of praise, but I’m willing to work to be worthy of it.

Elder Allen is so wonderful. Our teaching unity is off the charts. He is doing so great and he is exactly what I prayed for.

There are a few things that have really spiritually hit me this week.

Firstly, prayer.

Don’t worry, I knew prayer was a thing, but this week, I’ve felt my relationship deepen with my Heavenly Father as I took the time each night to do a kneeling, out-loud prayer. I’ve tried my best to make a solid conversation out of it.

Second is a lesson I’ve had reconfirmed to me.

Maybe because I’m stubborn and prideful and bull-headed. We had a lesson with one of my favorite investigators ever named J. He is 24, Brazilian, and absolutely is just the life of the party. But J has a problem. He is a Baptist born again Chirstian, a lawyer, and a Bible School graduate. In other words, he has been born, raised, and trained to bible bash. And it is SUCH AN EASY TRAP TO FALL INTO. I’m no expert, but I love the Bible, and I think it is honestly amazing to study through the lens of the Restoration. There is so much truth, and so many traces of the original teachings of the early Christian church in it. And there is just a balance between answering questions with scriptures and trying to shove the Gospel down someone’s unwilling throat. About 30 minutes into the lesson, I realized that no one was being edified in any way. The Spirit was not present. And so I did what I have had to do with J a dozen times. I apologized for being arrogant enough to try and “win” with the Bible. I assured him that the Bible is not our main source of truth – it is only a manifestation of it. Truth comes from God through the Holy Ghost. The rest of the time, we just bore pure testimony. It touched his heart. Our joint teach, a convert, pointed out to us that he is starting to care more. He is starting to get scared it’s true. In a weird way that’s progress. I repented, and I hope I have truly just learned my lesson this time.

Third, I learned that a mission is most fun when you think you can’t possibly do it all.

I love the feeling of everything just getting crazy, running around, weird stories, tons of energy, collapsing after 9:30, and starting all over again the next day. It is a blast. I think if I take a step back and realize that the Lord is just working through me, it is kind of a form of arrogance to try and save my strength. I’m not needed. I don’t need to make my self last. The faster I try everything and do everything I can, the faster the Lord can take over. What a wonderful gift.

Guys, I know this church is true. I love it. I love Christ. He is exactly what I want to be. I have big goals! 🙂 I know that He lived, suffered, died, and lived and ministered again all out of love. I know He felt our individual pain and suffering, weakness and frustration, for the express purpose of loving and nurturing us later. I know He accomplished the greatest missionary task this universe has ever seen, namely the Atonement. He braved scourging, smiting, and spitting, stripes and nails and spears – I know He rose above feelings of doubt and pain, heartache and even abandonment, because He knew EXACTLY why He came. And He did it. “This is the testimony that is in me.” (Alma 7:13)

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I hope this week is awesome for you, and I will be praying for you.

Love,

Elder Greaves

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