elder caleb greaves

Holding to the Iron Rod in Germany


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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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Package arrived!

March 2016 Jena Zone Hike 2

The Zone Conference hike from last week. Elder Oliphant “sustaining” Elder Greaves [in this mom’s favorite picture ever].

Hey guys!

Before I forget, I got the package! It was awesome! I ate all the Reese’s [from Grandma and Grandpa] in a week. You guys are not appreciative enough of Reese’s.

Also, the 2 ties are like my two favorites.  Thank you!

This week has been pretty great! I think I told you last Monday this week was a zone-wide WunderWoche®. We prayed a lot that everyone would have a really inspiring week, a kick-start of sorts. And it was just that!

A lot of missionaries had some great ideas. Some studied on hard chairs and made sure all the dishes are done every day, some gave up cola, some prayed only on their knees, and one program gave up meat!

We did lots of crazy things – we have up cereal and the couch, and we swallowed a raw egg every day. That was the worst thing ever. I remember trying to do it once with Dad, and I remembered it was hard to swallow, but apparently I spit it out too fast to even notice the taste.

Well the report is in:

it’s the worst thing I’ve ever had in my mouth.

I’m sure you can pretty easily I imagine the texture. Now add to that the taste of bile and floor. That was a daily crucible.

What did we as a zone get out of it?

1. Right off the bat, a program that had been having a really difficult time finding new people to work with texted us. In the first 10 minutes of the day, they walked to the church and found 3 new investigators! This was on Pday!

2. Another program found 5 investigators in one day.

3. On Wednesday, we were trying to get back to Jena after visiting a district meeting, only to learn that there was an electric problem and all of the trains for the next 5 hours were cancelled. So we rode to a nearby city where we could hopefully get a better connection. We had an extra hour, so we went on a power split with the Zwickau Elders. I was with Elder Giles (side note: we talked about yu-gi-oh the whole time, since he played too.) We were talking to people, and we couldn’t even seem to get a conversation. Then, we only had time to talk to one more person. We stopped him, and got talking. He’s from Iran, and is now a Christian. He loves religion, and was super excited to get a Book Of Mormon. He was almost a new investigator (when a person has been taught a few gospel principles and set a return appointment) but we could only grab contact info and run to catch our train, which wemissed by a mile. So we had to wait even longer. All in all, we had left home at 8 and got back at 8, a trip that was about 6 hours longer than usual. So our whole day was shot to pieces. But then, latest in the week, the Elders went by and taught the Iranian man and all of his friends, and got 4 new investigators out if it!

4. Normally in this zone, finding numbers are an average of 7-8 per week, all together. Recently, we started setting a weekly goal with the zone, which means a good week is now 9-10, and 12 is an amazing week. We set a goal of 17 this week. And we found 20. It was awesome to see some missionaries gain some confidence.

One cool little blessing we saw happened Sunday night. We had been focusing more on others’ weeks, so we hadn’t really seen a ton of stuff personally. We prayed to have a blessing Sunday. The problem is, we had absolutely zero time to teach or find. We had to plan for the next week, and then we had a 3 hour language class.

Learning the other language is going okay. Of course, it takes a lot longer to learn than German, since it’s a tough language for an English speaker to learn, and we can’t devote 6 hours a day for six weeks to it like we did in the MTC. I really, really like it as a language. We can hold basic small talk conversations, read, say simple prayers, and bear short testimonies. One cool thing is, because it’s our 3rd language, or brains already know the drill when it comes to listening to someone speaking. It’s super easy to pick out words we know. With German, that was the hardest part for me – it was just a stream of noise whenever anyone talked, even if I already knew the words they were saying. But it’s super interesting to see how often we can use it.

After that language class, or brains were absolutely fried. We kind of stumbled on home, but I was praying in my heart that in the 2 minute walk home we would get to talk to someone at least. We talked to the only guy on the street, an 18 year old college student studying law. We asked if he’d heard of the Book of Mormon – he said yes, he’d heard about Joseph Smith from South Park. 🙂

We told him what we do, we’d love to give him a Book of Mormon, etc., and he said yes. We met with him yesterday. He’s super awesome! He knows about our church since he researched us Sunday night, and there are some things he disagrees with, but he thinks it’s interesting, and he is looking for the right way right now. He was literally the only person we had time to talk to that day.

I love you guys! Have a good week!
Elder Greaves

March 2016 Jena Zone Hike

March 2016 Jena Zone Hike

Elder Oliphant-Elder Greaves getting shoes from the double decker parking garage

The joys of the double decker parking garage!


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I hope you’ve had an awesome week!

Hey guys!  Our week here has been really good! We have a big goal that we sent personally to baptize someone before Christmas. Then the mission also set that as a goal, and then you guys said you were praying for that too, so we decided we better make it happen! 🙂

I personally have been trying to focus on saying really sincere prayers, and asking for very specific blessings.  So this week that’s what I’ve been praying for. Chances are, we need to find somebody either last week or this week or the week after that if we have any chance of baptizing them before Christmas. It’s really made a difference in me as a missionary. I felt like I’ve started working harder and praying harder and having more faith that when I do everything I can, and have righteous desires, the Lord does the rest.

But this week we were also super busy and had very little time to work in our area. . .

Monday with P-day, Tuesday we had to go to Flensburg to do a baptismal interview, Wednesday we had to go to Kiel for a district meeting, and Thursday we were in Hamburg for a leadership training meeting.

ScoutingOutdoor-773092

The baptismal interview was a super cool experience. The Flensburg sisters have an investigator named M. He actually found out about the church through scouting believe it or not. He was in America for I don’t know how long being an assistant scoutmaster for a troop back in Arizona right around where we lived! He talked about Indian school Road and knew where Litchfield Park was, but I couldn’t quite figure out what ward he went to. But he went to church there several times, and then when he came to Germany, he continued to meet with missionaries. He is so cool! It’s taken him a long time to get here,but he truly understands the Gospel. He said the turning point for him was when he prayed about the book of Mormon, and felt for the first time that it was true. All he could talk about was how baptism was his greatest desire, and how it’s so precious to him that he feels closer to and understands the Savior. Such an amazing guy. We are going to his baptism on Friday.

Thursday was the leadership training meeting. It was pretty fun. It was six hours long though, so I was pretty done at the end. I really like president Fingerle. You can tell he has lots of ideas and really wants to shake things up, but is having a hard time with missionaries that don’t like change. That’s kind of ironic that the missionaries find it difficult to change things like how often we speak German, or how we work with members, but then we expect the people we talk to to completely change their lifestyles, way of thinking, general attitude towards life, probably circle of friends, and give up everything they’ve considered fun up until this point. I’m going to try and support him as much as I can.

time for change

So we got home from that meeting, and basically just walked straight home. Well at least that was the plan, but then some doofus took us in the complete opposite direction like three times in a row.

That doofus was me.

But we ended up finding two investigators, so we’ll just go ahead and chalk that one up to the spirit!

We met with one of them Saturday. I honestly wasn’t super excited to meet with her, because she was a Jehovah’s Witness. I figured we both try to convert each other, and it would end with us walking out, refusing to fight. Well turns out I was completely wrong. She was one of the most open awesome investigators ever! Unfortunately, she doesn’t actually live here – she was only visiting, so we are not able to meet with her in the future. But anything we said that we disagreed on, if we explained it clearly, she had no problem with it. She had a ton of questions and we used a lot of the Bible, and we ended up teaching both the restoration and the plan of salvation, as well as Christ is Jehovah and we have both a body and a spirit. We finished with introducing the Book of Mormon – three hours later. She was so excited, she asked us if she could have the book of Mormon, before we even could offer it! The weird thing is, I actually know for a fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t allowed to read other religious texts. So she was a pretty cool one. I hope it all works out for her.

No, I haven’t gotten my package yet. [mom editorial, because it showed back up on our doorstep].  I also ordered a book online, and that hasn’t arrived yet, so I wondered if maybe I somehow gave you a false address. But no, I checked, it should be fine.

Weird.

Anyway, I accidentally took out my monthly money from my personal money again. Sorry about that. I will put some back and use the rest for Christmas. I love you guys!

 
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