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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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