On October 16th, Benjamin Maxwell, left his home and family for two years to serve a mission in San Jose, California.

As a missionary: He will teach of Jesus Christ and His gospel. He will have doors slammed in his face and be yelled at. He will meet people from all walks of life. He will stretch himself. He will learn about himself. He will learn of his Heavenly Father's love for him and for all His children. He will learn to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. He will serve the people of San Jose. And he will LOVE more than he though possible.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The spirit has no language.

Wow, a lot has gone on at home since I last wrote! Snowing... that's too bad for you guys, I'm not going to lie the mornings have been a little bit brisk (like 55) and then it warms up to a nice 70 degree day. Its not so bad out here :)
I have had a lot of cool experiences starting with Spanish. We were at a less active Spanish members home and we were teaching her and her kids a lesson about the Book of Mormon. During the lesson' me and my companion have worked it out so I will share a portion of the lesson in English and he will translate for me. Its rough but at least it gets me a little bit involved. I have been working really hard on getting my testimony down in Spanish and at the end of the lesson I really felt like I needed to share it so I stumbled through it. (It was very "not fluent" and I forgot some words but I got through it) As I was bearing my testimony though, I could feel the spirit filling the room. I learned a very valuable lesson that night. One, the spirit has no language. It will reach people perfectly no matter how good or how bad you speak. Whenever you are testifying you will be touching them more than anything else can. I remember someone saying something like "the spirit is bilingual", but really its super-lingual. Another thing I learned is that I have a lot of work to do on my Spanish...

Second cool thing of the week was a service project that we went to on Monday instead of our p-day. We drove up to Monterrey and helped the Baptist church put together 1009 thanksgiving baskets to give out to the community today. It was super cool serving right along side all these other people. At the end I had a really cool talk about seeing the gospel change peoples lives with this very Baptist lady. She was super nice and really liked what I said to her. She worked in a prison teaching the inmates for several years so she knew what she was talking about. It was a really cool service project and LDS church news was there taking pictures and interviews on the whole thing. So look for me on LDS.org I was wearing a blue and gray hoodie that I got while I was here. That would be super cool if they had a picture of me up there. I didn't get interviewed though. Super cool experience. 

Video link:  http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormons-monterey-interfaith-thanksgiving?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LDSNewsRoomTop15+%28RSS%3A+LDS+Newsroom%29  (you can see Elder Maxwell at :30 and 1:50 in the video, I couldn't find him in any of the photos)

We drove all the way down to Bradly this week also, it is the very last town in the mission. The very bottom. It was super small and the referral that we were trying to visit wasn't even home so we will have to drive down some other time. It was a really cool drive though. About 45min south of Greenfield and it was all covered in vineyards. I'm serious, just vineyards as far as you can see. We also stopped in one other really small town just to see what it was but there was nothing. The windows on the public library were all boarded up and everyone was living in shacks. It was super sketchy, I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if I saw a dead person, that's how sketchy it was. But it was a fun time seeing the rest of our area. That was the first time anyone had been south of King City.

Last cool story for the week happened this morning. We went to a Spanish members home after working out this morning, which by the way I'm getting super strong. No Joke. But anyways we go over there for breakfast/lunch. They served us Menudo,
Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made with beef stomach (tripe) in broth with a red chili pepper base.
it is literally cow intestines in cow intestine broth. Super chewy, like chewing on fat and it had little spikes on the inside of the intestines so it had a really strange texture. I ate the whole bowl and broke Hispanic manners and declined the second bowl but I sure am glad I did. Its one of those things that you eat to say that you ate it I guess. Supposedly its really good for curing hangovers though. Not something I would really want to try again and I wouldn't recommend any of you trying it. Probably wouldn't go over well with the chillins.

That is pretty much the best of my week so hopefully next week can top that!
Love you all and I'll hear and write more next week.

Love, Elder Maxwell

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I learned what it really means to love the people.

Where to start? Oh that's easy, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JONATHAN!!!!! AND DAD!

This week has been a missionary week for sure! We started off getting a lot of rejection on Thursday. We went to about 15 houses and only had three people let us in. That was dinner and two members... But then the next day we had some more rejection for the first half of the day but ended up getting in to some non-member homes and having some really great lessons. (That's what my companion told me, they were all in Spanish)

We also contacted this group of religious people who were on speakerphones on the corner of the street and I met this guy who grew up LDS but joined the other church instead of going on a mission. We had a really good conversation and I could tell that I gave him some things to think about but he didn't want to meet with us so it will be one of those seeds that I planted.

We got a referral for this really nice English family and we haven't been able to get in and talk with them yet but I feel like that's the family that I am here in Greenfield for so, even thought they aren't even our investigators yet, we have been praying for them every night.

Lets see, we went to this birthday party for a member who is turning 24 and she is Hispanic so they fed us pig foot soup. It has some Hispanic name and is only for really special occasions. There was a legit pig foot in my bowl! Skin and all... So I ate all the soup and meat that was around it and then ate the skin and meat off of it like they showed me. It didn't taste bad but I think I still prefer eating my meat when its not attached to the animal. It was a good experience though. Then we went to dinner after the birthday dinner and had some amazing ham. Like I said, the meat is better off of the animal.

During our p-day yesterday we baked a cake and frosted it for this girl because her birthday isn't until today just like Jono. She has two little kids and they are super fun. Her son is four and is convinced that he is Iron Man and her daughter is 3 and everyone calls her princess so that's what she thinks her name is. I learned this past week what it really means to love the people. I can honestly say that I love the people here in Greenfield and the surrounding two hour radius of towns and cities that we cover :)

The work is going super well Me and Elder Olenslager are still doing a lot of finding but hopefully it starts to turn into a lot more teaching. It is way nice hearing about everyone at home every week!

Love you all and pray for everyone every night!
Elder Maxwell

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I have seen lots of miracles in the work.

What a week it has been, I think that the emailing here in Greenfield is going to be a little bit precarious. We had Zone Conference yesterday so we didn't have time to email. That's why my letter is a second day late.
This week has gone by really fast. We taught a total of 24 lessons this week and we contacted 138 people on the street. We got two new investigators from those contacts and we also got a less active family to come to church! Its super awesome.
I have seen lots of miracles in the work down here. Yesterday our mission President told us that in 2010 all of the missions in California started to drop because of prop 8 or something about gay marriage being legalized. He then told us that the San Jose mission is the only mission that has been coming back from that. Over the past six months this mission has seen more than double the amount of baptisms and everything else! Its super cool seeing how the work is growing so much in this area.
Elder Olenslager and I have been working on getting a lot more investigators. We are trying to get a baptism before the end of the year. We have four baptism dates right now but we don't know how many of them will hold through. We hope they all will.
We have taught the first lesson to both of our new investigators but they are both Spanish so I didn't really say anything which kind of bummed me out. But then we went and talked to a less active family and they all spoke English!!!! So I got to feel like a real missionary! Me and Elder Olenslager are really good at teaching together. We helped the family out a lot and I left that home feeling like I had done my part in a lesson. It was a good feeling.
During my personal study this week, I have been doing a lot of studying about Faith, Hope, and Charity. It has been really cool. In Ether 12:6 it says that with faith we can do anything. That is true but in order to have enough faith to do anything we have to have hope and charity also. It says this in Ether 12:28, Alma 7:24, and D&C 4:5. There are a lot more scriptures that I can't remember off the top of my head but it has been really cool seeing faith hope and charity pop up everywhere in the scriptures as I study. I finished the Book of Mormon this week! I started it in the MTC so it has been really fast but that happens when you study for hours each day. Its very enlightening.
This week I couldn't hold out any longer so I went and bought some chocolate milk... Ha-ha, that's the only thing I have bought all week! I sent home my SD card. It has the address of my apartment on it. Everyone can mail things directly to the apartment but when transfers get close I wouldn't send anything there because it would probably get taken by the other elders if I left. Transfers are every six weeks here also.
I'm super glad I got to write to you all today! Hope all is well at home. Everyone tell mom and dad that I love them for me. You guys are the best family anyone could ever ask for! Love you all!
Love, Elder Maxwell

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I don't know what is being said ...

I am in the Greenfield Area of the San Jose mission. It is the farthest south area in the mission so I am about a two hour drive from the mission office. Its super chill down here and everyone is really cool. This is a Spanish area so, in most of the lessons, I don't know what is being said but my companion speaks Spanish very well so he will translate for me if anyone asks me a question. He does most of the teaching though.
 My companions name is Elder Olenslager. He is from Utah and is a really cool guy. He has been out for about ten months and I am his first trainee so we are both learning. We have two other elders that live with us in our area. Elder Johnson (he is new and came out with me) and Elder Aranda. Elder Aranda is a native Spanish speaker so he is really the pro out of us all. He has six months left in the field.
I am loving this area! The people are all very nice. We do have a lot of Spanish investigators but the members are still mostly English so dinners are about 50/50. The Spanish members are a lot more loving. I have eaten lunch and dinner at a members house pretty much every day so far. On Saturday we were at a Spanish members house for dinner and were eating a bean soup with cactus and peppers in it. It was very good and I ate everything. Then they got me another big bowl of it and I got about halfway through that and I was stuffed so I left it there and tried to pick up on some of the Spanish that was being spoken. The mother saw that I wasn't eating anymore and turned to Elder Aranda and asked him if I didn't like the food so he turns to me and translates and says she wants to know if you don't like her cooking. I started to respond, "No, it is very good, I am just full." But I got cut off after the word no, the mother clearly understands no, so she starts to go off in Spanish about how I don't like her cooking. Then everyone is laughing at me as I am trying to explain that I did like it and finally the mother goes to the freezer and brings back some Ice cream and says to me that I get Ice Cream because I was honest with her and told her I didn't like her cooking. So I just let it go because she didn't seem too upset. Then the rest of the night she was worried because I was going to be hungry in the morning and it was fast Sunday in the morning so she is asking me if I want a sandwich or something and I'm like no thank you I am full. But anyways it was a long night of not understanding anything.
Then Sunday night we had three different families feed us dinner and another family that wanted us to come over for dessert so I think we ended up with a late lunch, an early dinner, a normal dinner and dessert and then a dessert. I was so full by the end of the night.
I love the members down here and we do a ton of work with the less active members. Its all about working with the ward down here, it is great! We have a super awesome ward mission leader, his name is Josh and his wife Sarah. They are both super helpful and will do anything for us.  There is a lot of great work going on down here and it is super exciting! I am loving it.
It got down to 60 last night and I felt cold... That's really bad. But its so beautiful here! I did get the bedding and the greenie package. It was super awesome! I love all the food! I can't seem to get away from food here.
I didn't get to write until today because the libraries are closed on Mondays in this county but my p-day is on Monday. So when I get transferred it will go to emails on Monday. I think that is everything if I think of anything else it will have to wait till next week!
I love you all and pray for everyone everynight!
Love ya lots, Elder Maxwell

Monday, November 4, 2013

Updates and photos from Sister Tucker in Greenfield, CA!

This is Sister Tucker from the Greenfield Ward where your new missionary just arrived, in the San Jose Mission!  We had the missionaries over for dinner tonight, and I took some pictures to send you!
They just arrived yesterday.  There are 4 elders here.  The Spanish elders were the only pair here, and now they've been split and become trainers to the two new elders, Elder Maxwell and Elder Johnson.  The Greenfield Ward encompasses a huge area, so it's good that there are 4 elders here.  They do a lot of traveling!  It's a very good ward, and I think your son will be happy while he's here.
Their trainers are good missionaries.  We enjoy them.  There's lots of work here for them to do!
Elder Maxwell's companion is Elder Olenslager.  We call him Elder O (or Elder Ogre Slayer . . . Haha!)  He's a good guy.
Enjoy the pictures!
~ Shelley
So good to hear back from you!!  Yes, I know how much it means for moms to get pictures of their missionaries!!  Yes, I asked all the questions and Elder Maxwell told me all about his family.  It sounds like he has a great family!  He bore his testimony today in Sacrament Meeting, and he was funny!  I don't know if you've gotten a letter from him yet or not, but as you know, he is English speaking, but he got put in a Spanish area!  Haha!  So in his testimony he was saying, "I don't really know why I'm here, since 99% of the people are Spanish speaking, but there must be that one person out there who I am meant for!"  All the missionaries we joking about how they've been in these teaching appointments and they've all been Spanish.  Although Friday night I think they were going to teach someone who spoke English.  Haha!  So maybe he'll learn Spanish after all!!
Yes, my oldest son served a mission in India.  My second son served in New Zealand.  My third son is on his mission on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona.  And my fourth son JUST left this past week for his mission in Botswana/Namibia Africa.  He flew to the South Africa MTC and just arrived on Wednesday.  So, like your sons, they will overlap 8 months also.  My second and third sons overlapped 8 months, too.  Then I have one daughter and another son who are both planning on going on missions.  So we missionary moms need to stick together!
And my daughter's name is Emma, too!  She's 14.  Elder Maxwell told us about his sisters!
You should be getting a letter from your missionary soon!  I think P-Day is tomorrow!
Talk to you later!
~ Shelley Tucker