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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Miracles!

Merry Christmas! 

   The holidays are such and incredible time of the year! My companion was my Christmas miracle for the year. He got out of the hospital on Wednesday at 11:45pm. Home just in time to celebrate Christmas! I haven't had a chance to see him off of pain mess yet. So we haven't really had any normal conversations for a while. ( I don't know if you could tell on Skype or not) He has been a very funny companion for the past week and the week before that he was missing, so hopefully we can get back to normal pretty quickly here. 
 
   It was so good being able to see all of you on Christmas! I had a great time and it went really fast! I really enjoyed the last five minutes of wisdom. That was really cool. As you asked me to give words of wisdom I felt impressions for each and everyone of you. I felt as though I knew exactly what would bless your life and exactly what you needed to hear. I had not thought of any of those things before hand. They came to me instantly as the spirit told me what wisdom to share with all of you. So the wisdom you got on Thursday was not from me, sorry, it was from the spirit. It was a cool experience for me receiving small revelation on behalf of all of you. Sorry Christian, you missed it but I would have had something awesome for you too! Love you man! 
 
    I hope everyone's holiday was filled with joy and miracles just like mine was! Speaking of miracles, I was at a baptism on Wednesday for a guy in our stake and the power in the baptistery went out right as we were getting ready to start. We started the baptism as scheduled and it was really cool because when it was time for him to be baptized, it was very dark in the font, so on either side of the font, hidden from view, we had flashlights pointing at them in the water. The light made both of them glow! It was really cool. Then after the baptism was complete and they were headed into the completely  dark bathroom to change the power came back on and there was light! Then someone said "it's a Christmas miracle!" It was very funny. A very spiritual baptism as well. Very well done.
 
    Yesterday my companion was supposed to give a talk. He had been asked two weeks in advance and he agreed and got his topic. Then with the whole kidney stones and the pain medication and a whole lot of sleeping, he never got around to preparing his talk. So all day Saturday I was on exchanges in another area and when I got home at 10 Saturday night and he is fast asleep because of his drugs and the other missionary that was with his looks at me and said. Elder Kerby doesn't think he will be able to speak tomorrow so he wants you to give his talk for him. So Saturday night as my companion slept I stayed up preparing a talk just in case my companion asked me to give it for him the next day. I wake up the next morning and my companion is feeling great. He feels the best he has in weeks. He never says anything to me about the talk so I assume he was feeling up to giving it himself. He waits until the bishop comes up to us in church and says, "Elder Kerby, you are speaking to us today?" Then in response Elder Kerby says he is on pain medication and can't think straight so elder Maxwell will be speaking for me. I didn't want to cause any contention and I was prepared to speak so I went along with it. I got to speak and it went really well. I just wish my companion had actually asked me to take over for him. I brought it up to him later and it turns out that he had thought he asked me Saturday during lunch. I told him we weren't even together for lunch on Saturday and I figured out that he didn't even realize that I hadn't been his companion for a day. Funny story :) Goes to show why drugs are bad for you. They mess up your head! I guess it is a good thing he didn't speak on Sunday! Who knows what he would have said. I am glad everything worked out and my companion is still here with me and not in the hospital anymore. The miracles of Christmas! 
 
    This week is a happy new year! 2015! This is the year I come home. That seems very strange. Very fast! It's going to be weird as I continue to approach the conclusion of my mission. I am looking forward to all the exciting and amazing experiences that I will have and will be able to share with all of you this coming year! Any HUGE plans for the coming year?

Love, 
   Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 22, 2014

It is the whole "third wheel" kind of a feeling.

  Well I have a ton to write about this week! Some of it is good. Some is bad. Some of it is just weird! I also need to apologize right now for not sending the information about Skype times sooner! I have been slacking off in getting this all finalized! There is a 95% chance that I will be Skyping home at 11am (Cali Time) but if I am not able to Skype then. We have a backup Planned for 2pm (Cali Time). So as long as the world doesn't implode on itself I will be Skyping home this week! I am really excited to see everyone. Will the whole family be there? I guess its kind of pointless to ask that question because I wont read the answer until after I have Skyped. Oh well. I cant wait!

   First big news, my companion is sick and in the hospital. Thursday he started to be in a lot of pain so I took him to the hospital and after a full night of absolutely no sleep. We found out that he has kidney stones! Yay! So much fun! He didn't look like he was having too much fun. He passed them all and is now in recovery. He has to be stationary for a couple weeks because it caused some internal bleeding and any time he moves around its like ripping off a scab. So to conclude all of those thoughts. I have had no companion since Friday afternoon and have been bouncing my way around all the different companionships in the zone. I will have to keep doing things like this for the next two weeks! I don't even know if I will have a companion for Christmas! I celebrated my companions birthday without him yesterday. Some members threw him a party but he wasn't able to make it. He has a stack of birthday presents at our apartment that he still hasn't had a chance to open. Its very strange not having a companion. I feel very alone. Not in a lonely, I have no friends kind of way but in a I have always had someone watching me every second and now its as if I am observing two people that are watching each other but not me. I guess it is the whole "third wheel" kind of a feeling. Its weird. Hopefully I can enjoy it and make the most out of the time I have to spend with all the other missionaries! I am excited to be here serving at this time of year! You are right, there is no greater gift that I could give! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! Eat lots and lots and lots of sweets! Sets us up really nicely for those new year resolutions to lose weight!
​​
    We had a really good week with both of our investigators! They are both very excited for their baptisms at the end of January! We have taught both of them almost all the lessons and they are both very sincere in their questions and are trying to learn and understand everything that they can before their baptisms! We have been doing a lot of planning for Stephens baptism and because he has physical limitations we have been looking for handicap friendly options for his baptism. The coolest option and the simplest option we have found so far is at a Sheraton hotel! They have recently put in a handicap lift for their beautiful outdoor pool! My job for the week is to go and talk with an event planner at the Sheraton to see if we can hold a baptism at the conference room next to the pool and then go out to the pool for the actual ordinance! I am pretty excited to go and talk with them to see if thats an option. It will be a great missionary opportunity within itself! Thats the big news as far as investigators go.

 I did get my Christmas package! Very good thing I didn't get transferred. I was super excited that they came so I almost opened all of them but I didn't because I knew that if I opened them all early it would be super boring come Christmas day. And under our beautiful Christmas tree there would be no presents! That would be no fun.

I can't wait to see you all on Thursday! Merry Christmas! I love you all!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 15, 2014

This week has been great!

Hello everyone,

  This week has been great! Isn't it crazy that we are already half way through the month of December! Before we know it we will be at Christmas time and then BAM! Time flies by so fast! Anyways, I forgot to say last week that transfers are tomorrow. I am staying in Stanford until at least February 1st! Next transfer is on the 2nd of February.

  The week was filled with miracles. This one was not our own but I will share it because it was amazing! Some elders in our zone get a call Saturday morning from their bishop and he says that he needs them to get a baptism ready for 7pm that same night. He had gotten a call from the non-member of a part member family who had been taught before and he said that he wanted to be baptized now. So on Saturday the elders got a baptism. The funniest part is that neither of those elders have ever taught the guy who got baptized! What I learned from this is that we do receive miracles. They are real! This is such an incredible work!

  We had a really great lesson with one of our investigators this past week. We taught him about tithing and fast offerings and it went really well. He is completely willing to pay tithing as soon as he is baptized. He is very supportive of the churches donation and disaster efforts. At the end of the lesson we realized we didn't really need to cover that much more with him before he can be baptized so we invited him to be baptized again and he said yes! We asked him if we could set a date and he said yes! Then we gave him a few dates and his is going to check his schedule and we will set the date next week! Amazing! What a great feeling it is to know that you will get to see someone dressed in white ready to make a covenant with God. We are very excited for him. He has come a very long way from not knowing anything about the gospel or religion in general to being a very interested and understanding individual when it comes to the gospel.

   We also got to help set up a projector screen for a recent convert on Thursday. Which is when the "big" storm hit. I heard one lady even call it "stormaggedon". It really wasn't even that bad. We did get some flooding on the roads, so there were some roads closed, but other than that it was just a normal Oregon rainy day. It did however provide us with an opportunity to spend some quality time helping Sid, the recent convert. We got a super awesome picture from our service!

 
   Our mission won't be getting iPads until March now so don't need to worry about that for a while! 
 
    Love you all! Hope your holidays are splendid! Keep up all the incredible family unity!

Love, 
   Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 8, 2014

So we took it to the Lord!

 
Hello and Merry Christmas to you all!
 
   Yet another great week down! So many spiritual experiences that I am going to jump right in. First off, I am excited to say that our investigator, who we have set the January 10th baptism date with, is doing super well! We had a really cool lesson with him yesterday! A little background, is that over the past three years he has been losing his strength. He used to be a very active guy his whole life, playing basketball and such. Now, he is reduced to weakness and can't walk or lift his arms so he is always in a wheelchair. He really wants to get baptized and last week he brought up some concerns about his fear of water and he has very weak lungs so he can't hold his breath at all. So we were given a couple of challenges to try and figure out how he could be baptized. We were fasting last Sunday, so we took it to the Lord in prayer and asked God for a solution to help his baptism be comfortable and a positive experience. The answer we received was Alma 15. As we read through this we realized that the Lord wants him to be baptized. We don't know if the Lord wants him to be healed 100% so he can be baptized or if he will help him overcome his fears or what will happen but we received an answer as a companionship that The Lord wanted us to give Stephen a blessing of healing. So yesterday when we had another lesson with him we went fasting again. We studied and thought about the priesthood and blessings and miracles all week and when Sunday came we knew that what we were going to do is what God wanted. We went into the lesson and we shared Alma 15 with him, we talked about miracles and the power of God to be able to do all things. Then we offered to give him a blessing of healing. Now you have to understand that he is very sincere and he has every desire to be baptized. He accepted the blessing and what followed was a miraculous experience for myself and my companion. We proceeded to give him a blessing and the spirit was definitely the one talking. He was blessed to have the strength to accomplish all that God had in store for him. A lot of things were said that I feel are very sacred to him and I will not share all of them but at the end of the blessing he looked at us and said that he felt different. He felt during the blessing a wave of something wash over his entire body. He was so grateful for the blessing from God and he knew that he was making the right decision to work towards being baptized. I have no doubt in my mind that over the next few weeks we will continue to see miracles happen to help him continue to prepare for his baptism.

 
     I want to share with all of you my witness of the power of the priesthood. I know that God is real, I know that Christ lives and through his redeeming power all things are possible. God loves all of his children so much and He is willing to do anything he can to help any of his children on their path back towards Him. I don't know all that God has in store for our investigator but I do know that he is going to have a huge impact on a lot of people and that God has amazing things in store for him. 
 
   On another note, we had a Mission Leadership Council (MLC) this week. We got to go down into the mission office with all the other leaders of the mission to council with President Mella. I learned more from this MLC than any of the others that I have been to. Pres. Mella did a great job of presenting topics or ideas and asking all of us for input or things that may help the work and specifically help our individual zones. That is one thing that I love about the church is that the doctrine is the same no matter where you go, but the way the doctrine is applied is open to the leaders in areas to seek revelation as to how it will best bless, lift, and inspire the members of that area. Then once we receive the council from our leaders we can take that and ponder it and see how it applies to us individually. We can all seek our own personal revelation. I love that! This is a very personal relationship between God and each and every one of us. The way we strengthen that connection is through prayer and scripture study. Which I love to do! Its so much fun learning what God has in store for me. I am so very grateful for the habits that I have developed on my mission. I have changed a lot. It is amazing at the things that I have learned that I had no idea I needed to learn!  Steve Young also came and spoke to all of us so I attached that picture just for fun. My companion is front left and I am front right!
 
 
    Everyone have an awesome week! I love you and keep being the best family ever!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 1, 2014

Be doers of the word and the work. Not just listeners and learners.

Hola all my friends,
 
    We had quite the week. I learned the biggest downside to serving in a singles ward this week. On holidays all of the members go home to their families and enjoy Thanksgiving there. Which for us means that the 300 people we would normally work with throughout the week was down to only 4 people. We can just say that missionary work wise the week was pretty slow but that does not mean we didn't have any cool experiences.

 
    Throughout it all though, last night we taught one of the most incredible lessons of my mission. Well, the spirit taught the most incredible lesson of my mission last night. We were meeting with our investigator Stephen and we were going over the gospel of Jesus Christ and we invited him to be baptized and he said that he would love to be baptized! We are super excited for him and have set a date with him for January 10th! The joy that I felt as we were able to be a part of him taking the steps on the path back towards our Heavenly Father. It does not get better than this. I can promise you that. If you want to feel true joy help a friend come back to the fold. It is so incredible. I can promise you that! I am so grateful for this gospel!

 
   Thanksgiving was wonderful, we went to our bishops home along with the sisters and some other family friends that they had invited over. We started off the evening by playing a good old game of Telestrations. That reminded me of home and all the good times that we had inviting people over to our house.  I guess we are the only people that play that game by writing out sentences. They kept telling me to write just a word. Anyways, that's not really important. I had a really good study Thanksgiving morning. I studied in the Book of Mormon about God giving us detailed examples of what we need to do. My study was mostly in D&C 123 and about having faith to move mountains. We will never really need to move a mountain but we can learn from that example that it takes just a tiny bit of faith to make something incredible happen. So for us to do what God is asking us to do, how much faith do we need to have? Not a lot but imaging if we had more faith than a grain of mustard seed. We could do spectacular things that he asks of us. It's a pretty incredible thought. Then after I studied that I read the talk by Elder Uchtdorf titled, "Grateful in any Circumstance" it was the perfect talk to study on Thanksgiving because it tells us the blessings of being grateful in our circumstances rather than being grateful for things. I talked about that with a lot of people throughout the day. I was not the only one that had the idea to read that talk in the morning. :)

 
The church has come out with a new social media holiday video and it is really good. Everyone needs to go to Christmas.Mormon.org and watch the videos and then share it! #sharethegift we have been telling people about it on the street since Thanksgiving and it makes me sad seeing people reject a message about Jesus Christ. We would walk up to people and say, can I share a gift with you today? Everyone stops. They hear the word gift and it catches their attention, then as soon as they find out the gift is Jesus Christ they are no longer interested. How has the world become so corrupt that Christmas is now 100% about getting gifts and giving gifts. There is no more Christ in Christmas these days. It really makes me sad. I love this time of year because generally people are nicer in this month than in the 11 other months.



    Speaking of Christmas, I believe you had a picture sent to you the day after Thanksgiving of my companion and I standing in front of the coolest Christmas tree. It was called the picture tree and it was FULL of pictures. We went to that persons house to help the put up Christmas decorations at 10 in the morning and we finally left at 5 in the afternoon. She had so many Christmas decorations. It was insane! We had a lot of fun though. Nothing to get in the Christmas spirit like seeing a house transform into a winter wonderland. We had a great time and hopefully the picture was good!

 
I loved the Christmas package! We opened it up and were so happy to see the Christmas countdown. I think if someone was to walk into our apartment building they would think we are super into Christmas because we totally are. It's both of our last mission Christmas so we have been going all out! We got lights and a peppermint scented wall outlet thing. I must say our apartment is super seasonal right now. The countdown looks super good on the wall. We are loving our first thought a day. We are loving this Christmas season! It's the best!

 
    In sacrament meeting yesterday a girl got up and shared her testimony about Jesus Christ. She said something that has really stuck with me and has really caused me to ponder. She said that she has developed a relationship with Jesus Christ as she has accessed the atonement and prayed. She said, "If Jesus was to walk in here right now I don't think I would be surprised how he looks because I feel as though I know him. If he was to stand at this pulpit today I wouldn't be surprised with what he said because I already know what he would say." That really hit me. We spend so much time thinking that we need to hear something from God or we need a vision or we need to be visited by an angel but if any of those things were to happen what do we expect would be said? Are we waiting around for someone to tell us we are exempt from this or that? Are we waiting around to receive new revelation when we are struggling to do what we have already been asked to do? As you can see this has caused some interesting thoughts for me. I don't know if all of that made since but I hope that everyone can understand that we have already been given everything that we need to do what God wants us to do. We already know what a heavenly messenger would say to us. We just have to go out now and become agents. Doers of the word and the work. Not just listeners and learners. So that's my challenge to everyone this week. Go out and do something that God has asked you to do, whatever that may be for you. This is a great time of year for service. You are all incredible and wonderful examples to me. Thank you for all the wonderful support and love. Thank you for all the prayers! I love this work! I love you all and hope you have a great week.

Love,
Elder Maxwell

Monday, November 24, 2014

This is what it is all about.

  What! This is not happening! Christian can not be getting married! I don't even know this girl! For all I know she could be completely crazy! (I am sure she is wonderful and amazing) but still I should at least get to know said girl before my brother goes off and gets sealed to her. This is insane. I was sure that I would be at his wedding in a year when I got home or in five years when we finished school. He hasn't even been off of his mission for a year. Just like Austin. :) I am super happy for you though! So I want the whole rundown on how it all happened and how you met and where the first date was and how it all happened so quickly. The proposal? Congrats my brother! You are a great man now! Does she speak Bulgarian with you? How many languages does she know? Does she like playing fun games with all of your siblings? How many times has she made a birthday cake from scratch? Does she doodle on the edge of her paper? Is she organized? How long does she generally like her hair?  I think that should be a good base for all of us to get to know her. Once again I am super excited for you brother! Way to go!  The two of you look great together! I am filled with joy for you right now! You should write me!
 
   Emma, you better not have any intentions of getting married anytime soon. But if you really have to date guys just date the ones that aren't really husband material but are still great guys! One sibling getting married on my mission is enough I think. If some guy starts to get pretty serious you better tell me before you go making any rash decisions! 
 
   ​---​Allegra, don't even think about it! 
 
Elder Kerby and I
 
   The things that I have learned most from my mission is how to love people. I have truly learned how to love anyone and accept them for who they are. We do a lot of street contacting in this mission in place of tracting and I love going out to talk to people with the intention to help them come unto Christ. I love being able to share this gospel every single day. 
​ 
   A habit that I have formed that I would love to keep for the rest of my life but​ will be very difficult is my sleeping schedule. If I can wake up at 6am every single day for the rest of my life, just think of all the extra hours I would have to do things! Its a goal for after the mission but I know it will be hard.
 
​    The baptism this week was so incredible! He is such a spiritual giant. His friend came out from Arizona to baptize him and then his friend was able to confirm him the next day as well. I am so happy to see him finally make this step in his life and to see the joy that he received as he did. During church, right after he got confirmed, he came back and sat down right next to me and he had the biggest smile on his face! He looked at me and said, "Now its official!"
 
   This is what it is all about. It's the joy that people receive that makes being a missionary 100% worth it. The long days, the complete exhaustion, the offensive comments, and the combination of stresses. It is all worth it! It's very difficult but that's okay because it makes me the person that I know I need to become. 

​I love you all. Congrats once again on the engagement! You are all awesome!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, November 17, 2014

Help me to do what I know needs to be done!

    Another incredible week has come and gone. What an amazing experience it is to be a missionary, at this time, in this place! Stanford is the best! So many incredible people that we get to meet and teach! But before I get into all the details of the miracles of the week I have to introduce my new companion to you. 
 
   And coming in at slightly shorter than me, from the town of Orem Utah, is Elder Kerby! Unfortunately for us all he is not related to Kirby, the pink flying marshmallow. I asked him the first day that we met. I figured I always get asked if I am related to THE Elder Maxwell so I wanted to ask him if he was related to THE Kirby. He is not, so we have set that straight! He is a super solid missionary. He has been out for over a year just like me and he has served in a lot of YSA wards on his mission so I call him the YSA Pro. So does our mission president so its all good.
 
    We have had so many amazing things happen this week. First off is that Logan will be getting baptized this weekend. He has been on a very long 7 year journey of learning about the church and now we get to be part of his last 3 months of learning and he is so excited to finally be ready to take this step. I am really excited for him and I absolutely love to see how he loves and understands the gospel. It has changed his life in ways that he could have never imagined that it would change. He is such a personable guy! I should have more on him and how the baptism went next week. I have learned a lot from him about what it means to be diligent in our studies. I don't know if I will ever be 7 years diligent though. He is an incredible guy. 
 
    We had Elder Bednar come and speak to our mission and the Oakland - San Francisco mission this weekend. He came out to speak at the 50th anniversary of the Oakland temple and he had a special meeting with just the missionaries. It was such a cool meeting. He had three hours with us and he opened it up as a question and answer for all of the missionaries. What a rare opportunity to be able to ask an apostle of the Lord a question. He taught us a lot about what it means to be an agent and not an object. He shared the scripture in the Book of Mormon that talks about acting and being acted upon. He told us all to be agents. He treated us as agents and never took our agency away. He would always ask us permission to ask a question. It is so important for us to be someone who is doing and not being acted upon. He mentioned how in the church it is a tradition to talk and talk and talk about what we need to do. We all know what needs to be done. He challenged us to change our prayers from help me to know what I need to do, to: help me to do what I know needs to be done! What great advice. It really makes you want to get up and go. Get to work. Rather than sitting there talking about the blessings we can receive from paying our tithing we should just go out and pay our tithing. I love Elder Bednar. He is such an incredible individual. He is inspired and led by the spirit. I can testify that he is an apostle of the Lord. He has been called of God and is truly a seer for our times!
 
    Last night we got a text. It went as follows: "Hey elders, I have the most incredible referral for you. He is a good friend of mine and he has been reading the Book of Mormon on his iPad and he called me and told me that he wants me to baptize him. Here is his number. Will you please call him right now and set up a time to meet with him?"... What!? We were blown away! We called him right away and as we talked to him he was telling us a little bit about himself. He said that he is playing professional baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and that he just got home from his season and he has the next few months off. He said that he had been reading the Book of Mormon and that it had been answering a lot of his questions. I asked him what he thought of it so far and he said that he loves the connections that he sees between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. We set up a time to meet with him for Wednesday night. What a miracle! He fell right into our lap! Then to top it all off, our mission president gives us a call and says that he is good friends with the father of the guy that sent us the first text and that he wanted to be in on the teaching of him. Whoah! So to conclude it all we now have a new investigator who is a professional baseball player that already wants to be baptized some time in November!
 
  If this is not a miracle I do not know what is. The Lord is hastening his work! The question is are we going to keep up! This could happen to any of you. We have no idea who is prepared by the Lord. All I know is that as we open our mouth we will have the words placed in our mouth. The Lord will place the prepared in our pathway if he knows that we will open our mouth. As members we have the ability to call down the powers of heaven so do it! Find those people for your missionaries to teach. Remember the water did not part for the Israelites until their feet were wet. We have to take that step into the water. Trust in God! He will always provide and he will never let us down.
 
     I love you all and I send blessings of warmth to you all. Probably not from the weather but warmth inside of the home. And a whole lot of love! Be good!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, November 10, 2014

We have had a pretty incredible week.

  We have had a pretty incredible week. Not a lot has happened in our own area but we have been on
a lot of exchanges and working in other's areas.  ​I got to go on exchanges with Elder Harper this week! He is such a cool  missionary! We had a lot of fun and got a lot of really good work done. I also got to go back to Fremont on Saturday. I went back to see the baptism of John. He was one of my investigators from right before I left Fremont. He is so cool and I am so very happy that I got to take some time out of my day to go and see him get baptized. He will always be a good friend of mine. I remember all the good times going over there to teach him and having to wear my John pants because his two giant dogs would get our clothes quite slobbery! What a memory. I don't think I will ever be able to forget him. It was really nice being able to see all of my old friends from back in Fremont. It is always nice knowing that you are missed.

    I also got to go to the outgoing fireside last night. That is the fireside where all of the missionaries who are going home this week get to get up and share their testimony. Its always a super big meeting and usually people from all your areas are able to come and see you off for the last time as a missionary. I got to see some people from greenfield who I love so much. I feel bad because I have forgotten all of the Spanish that I had learned so I really couldn't communicate with them in the way that I wanted to. I miss them a lot. They are such a nice family. She would always make us the best Mexican food. I think we are there at least once of twice a week while I was there.

     What a good group of people! There are so many good people! I love meeting new people and getting to know them and understand where they have come from. That is one of the things that I have learned on my mission is that everyone has come from somewhere and everyone has a story. Member or non-member, good or bad. My mission has taught me how to love everyone. I understand now why it is so vitally important not to judge people. We have to give everyone a chance. Everyone deserves to receive the same wonderful blessings that I have received in my life. So if you are not a member of the church I challenge you to go and talk to some missionaries like myself because I know that they all feel the same way that I do. All missionaries have a different back ground as well. That's because we are normal people behind the white shirts and ties! I have truly come to know who my Savior is and the magnitude of what He has done for me. There is literally nothing that He cannot help me with or help me through. He has often been a source of strength for me as I have gone through trials or challenges in my life and especially on my mission! I have been able to overcome challenges that would have been nearly impossible to overcome on my own. I know that the same can be true with everyone. It all starts with putting a little bit of trust in the Lord. Try it!

   We have transfers tomorrow and my companion is going to be out of here! I am sad to see him go but I know that he is being sent to where he needs to be. The Lord always has a plan for us!

  I am excited to see who my new companion will be. I am going to make a non-educated guess and say that he is from Utah and he is going to have 6 fingers on one of his hands, because that would be sweet! He is going to be the greatest companion in the world. I am thinking about having him think that I am a "germ-a-phobe" by using a ton of hand sanitizer on our first day together but I don't want him to think that I am a weirdo for the rest of our time together.


  Well, he will figure that out eventually, but its will be nice if he thinks I am normal to start things out!

   Things are busy and a lot of fun. Working hard and time sure is flying by! I love you all. Glad to hear you had a great week! Until next time...

Love Elder Maxwell

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

That is the greatest thing that you can become!


   I apologize for the late email day. I hope you got some pictures of what we were out doing all day yesterday. It was a lot of fun. Yet another trip to Santa Cruz! What a good time. I will be sending a lot of pictures this week!


I did enjoy my extra hour of sleep on Sunday! It was a much needed hour of sleep too!  Also, this week I was at a baptism, not Lanes, and they played a Mormon message and I am positive that the one Mathews girl, I am blanking on her name, I feel like I should remember it, she was in it. It was about all the different church history sites. She was in the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra talking about it. Please let me know if I am crazy!

    We had such a great week! Lane got baptized! It was so incredible. He has been on such a long journey with his family not supporting him most of the way.  He has been such an amazing example for me and my companion. His faith is so strong. The baptism went really well. His girlfriend and her family came out to support him and also one of his high school football coaches. There was a really good turnout of people that came and a lot of people who had been part of Lanes journey were able to share their testimony on seeing him and the example he set for those who were around him. I am so proud of Lane for taking this step even in the midst of all the challenges that were in his path. If I can have faith equal to lanes then I know that amazing things can and will happen. The great part is I CAN have faith like Lane so I will do everything I can to trust in the Lord. I sent a photo of the baptism. Be warned we are a very good looking group. :)


  We had another amazing thing happen for us this week. So if you recall in my last letter I talked about a guy that walked into church on Sunday and was super cool and wanted to learn more about our church. So last Monday we invited him to come to our dinner with us. Our dinner just happened to be at Google headquarters which was super cool. I also attached some photos of the Google trip. Unfortunately our new friend is not in any of them.


 
Thanks to Google Map, he visited home!

   So back to the point, our new friends name is Logan and he just moved from Arizona about three weeks ago. We asked him at dinner what led him to the church on Sunday and he proceeded to tell us the story of his journey. He said it all started about two years ago. He was a devout atheist and didn't believe in anything. He had been living his life like that for a long time and one day after a series of events and realizing that he needed something more in his life he decided that he should look into religion more and specifically Christianity. He started to study all on his own and he searched and searched for something that clicked with him. Nothing. So he decided that he needed to change the way that he was looking into religion. He decided one day that maybe he would just believe. He chose to believe that God was real and Jesus Christ really is his savior and with that attitude he began to study once again. A few weeks after this choice he met his first Mormon. He said he talked with him for three hours about religion the first time they met and over the course of the next month or two they would meet periodically. His new friend told him a lot about the church and answered a lot of his questions. Then his friend got the missionaries involved and for an entire summer him and the missionaries went back and forth, back and forth about various views on various topics. At the end of the summer he made plans to move out here to the Bay Area and work at Oracle. He told his friend that he was close to being baptized but it just didn't feel right. His friend replied to him. Don't worry, I know that in Gods time you will make the choice. Three weeks after he moved he calls his friend back in Arizona and said to him that he had been feeling a lot of inspiration and he thought that it was time. He wanted to join the church. His friend got online and found our ward and sent him to church on Sunday and that's where we met and we come into the story! Long story I know but what an incredible journey! I think of all the different people that must have worked with him and planted seeds with him and helped him understand different things that are important to him. Then I look at us, here in Stanford and I think of everything that we are doing and all the work that we do that seems to not bring any real results. But as we look at the bigger picture we are preparing miracles like this one for other missionaries. We met with Logan again on Thursday and set a baptism date for November 22nd. He is really excited and his friend and a past missionary have already purchased plane tickets to come out for the baptism.

  The Lord's hand truly is in the work. I can not deny the incredible blessings that we have seen this week. I only had time to write about those two but I can promise you that if you go to the missionaries and tell them that you want to achieve a goal by the end of the year that the power of heaven will be on your side and that the missionaries will help work with the goal. I love serving out here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. This is Gods work and I am part of it! I am so glad that I have another year left.

   I love you all! Keep being amazing! Stay warm and don't let anything take you away from what God wants you to be, because that is the greatest thing that you can become!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, October 27, 2014

That was definitely the highlight of my week.

   The next transfer date is on November 11th. I most likely will not be transferred but will be getting a new companion.
 
  I am super excited to hear that there is a punching bag at home. For some reason I have really been wanting to work out with a punching bag so now I can do that when I get home and eventually me and Allegra can do some boxing against each other. I will have to practice a bit first because I don't want to get beat! 
 
  I did get to talk with Alan back and forth in emails. Super exciting! Here comes Elder Jordan! Man, a lot sure is happening back home.
 
    Gave my first talk of my mission this Sunday. I made it so long, over a year of never giving a talk. I watched missionaries all around me giving talks but for some reason I was never asked... Until now. It was fun though. I was asked to speak on my favorite talk from conference. I chose the talk by Jörg Klebingat of the 70 titled, "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence." I talked about pole vaulting and how the first time I ever did it I was pretty scared about the idea of running fast with a pole at a metal box. Then I tied that into all the different things I was able to do to become more confident and all of those had a connection to building our spiritual confidence. I think it went really, really well. You should have been there! :) not really though, you have to wait for the homecoming.
 

   I also got my new suit this week. Now I don't want you to think I am crazy for getting a new suit, I have good reasons. As zone leader I get to go to four district meetings every week, I also get to go to all the baptisms in the zone and I go to church every Sunday. ( that last one shouldn't be a surprise) So with all of these meetings I end up spending over half of my week in a suit and I was getting really tired of always having to wear the same thing over and over again. That is why I got the new suit. It is gray and beautiful and very different from the other suits that I have. I love it and it looks really good, but I can let you judge that for yourselves. I put a picture of me and my companion yesterday at church on the email. I think you will all love it. Go ahead and give me your opinions.

   We had a really cool miracle this week. We are at church and this guy walks in. He comes right up to us and says that he is here for the first time checking out the church and wants to know where to sit. We talk to him really quick before sacrament meeting and then he goes and sits down with one of our Ward missionaries. After sacrament meeting we go and talk with him and get to know him a little better. He said that he has talked with missionaries before and he has a really good friend that is a member in Arizona. He had been asked to go to church before but he had never gone. The past week he said that he had been feeling a lot of inspiration to go and visit a Mormon church so he called his friend in Arizona and told him what was going on. His friend found our Ward online and told him to go this Sunday. He came and after sacrament meeting he told us that he felt so blessed that he was able to come to our church and that he enjoyed it a lot. We told him that it wasn't over and he ended up staying all three hours. He took notes during gospel principles and loved priesthood meeting. After church we talked again. We got his information and are meeting up with him for dinner tonight. He is really excited to talk and learn more. So ready, so prepared. Such an amazing blessing being able to see the Lord hastening his work and providing us with such an amazing opportunity. That was definitely the highlight of my week. It has been a wonderful week and next week I will be able to write about Lanes baptism and hopefully more about our new friend!

   You are all awesome! Keep enjoying the cold! It got down to 54 the other evening and I think I almost saw my breath. It was really cold and I did not like it. I am requesting you bring a nice big marshmallow coat to the airport in a year, otherwise I might die...

   Have a great week! I love you all!

Elder Maxwell

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Working twice as hard as I did before!

Hello family and friends!

 Just wanted to start by saying that I am super excited that Dana gets to come out here to San Jose and join me in the mission. It will no longer be Elder Maxwell's mission. It will become Elders Maxwell and Forsgren's mission! I have told a lot of people this week that my friend from my home ward will be coming into the mission in February! People keep asking me if I am going to train him or if I will be in the same zone as him. I have concluded that the most likely result would be that we are in the same zone but I will probably be getting transferred into a new zone at the same time that he enters the field so training is pretty much not an option. I am super stoked for him to be joining me!

  I must say that I feel completely different being on the second half of my mission than I did on my first. Just kidding, it feels completely the same. It is the same feeling when someone asks you the day after your birthday if you feel older, your only reply is that I feel just as much older as I did after any other day. Hopefully that makes sense. It is cool knowing that I have done half of my time and that now I get to do it all again. Working twice as hard as I did before! Thank you for the wonderful hump day package! I got it on my actual hump day so very good planning with the sending of the package. The new garments are also very much appreciated. I can go a whole two weeks without doing laundry now! Just kidding, I do laundry weekly. Don't worry mom.

 The reason I am emailing today and not yesterday is because we had a zone conference yesterday. Elder Pino of the 70 came and spoke to us. He is doing what is called a mission tour. I don't know if Austin or Christian had a mission tour ever but from the people I have talked to it seems pretty common. He came and spoke to us about working with the members as we do our missionary work. He said that any member who prays for the missionaries to find those who are ready to learn and accept the gospel might as well be praying for the missionaries to pay their tithing for them or live the word of wisdom for them. I thought this was very interesting. As members of the church we have a responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. Elder Pino said that members praying for the missionaries to find people is them asking God to give their responsibilities to the missionaries. I was quite taken back by this. I thought, I am sure that members don't pray for this with the intent that they won't have to do anything but then I thought. Well if we have the intent to act on what we are praying for then we should be praying for the Lord to help us find people for the missionaries to teach. It was a very good zone conference and I learned a lot about how to help members and to build their faith and reassure them when their missionary efforts are not yielding the results that they may be desiring. Because if anyone can relate to a lot of hard work and not a lot of results - it's a missionary. We work hard everyday and sometimes it feels like nothing happens. That's just how it is. A farmer that goes out in a field of dirt and plants seeds, all day has worked very hard, but when he gets home at the end of the day and looks out over that field it is still going to be a field of dirt. However in the Lord's time all of those seeds will become stocks of corn or a beautiful golden field of wheat blowing in the wind. It's all about our persistent efforts and putting our trust in the Lord. We can take this one step further and tie in how if we never follow up with the planted seeds or go back and water them. Then they will never grow. Being a fisher of men is all about how long we have our line in the water. Not how long we take to get ready to put our line in the water. Again, it was a wonderful zone conference.

 We also got to set a baptism date for our investigator. He is the football player for Stanford. He is going to get baptized on November 1st! We are super excited for him. His family is not 100% supportive of him getting baptized but he has a ton of faith and is going forward with it. He knows that being a member and having the gift of the Holy Ghost will not only bless his life immensely but it will bless his family as well. He loves his family so much and would do anything for them. He has such a pure heart and is such an amazing guy. I wish all of you could meet him. I am super happy for him and I have learned so much from him over the past few months.

    I wish you all a wonderful week! Hopefully it doesn't snow too much. Enjoy all of the beautiful fall colors for me! It's only slightly changing over here. But I will say I have turned into a California boy. It gets into the high 50's at night and I shiver and put on a jacket. I don't know how I am going to survive getting home to the New York cold! You better meet me at the airport with a giant winter coat. One of the big marshmallow ones :) that way I don't freeze to death.

   I love you all! Be safe! Have fun!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, October 13, 2014

This is my last email home in the first year of my mission!

Aloha family and friends!

    How has the week been? Incredible is right! What a wonderful week full of tender mercies. I have learned so much this week and I have had some of the most amazing and uplifting memories!

  We had another ZTM (zone training meeting) this week. This time we wanted to really inspire the zone and to build them all up and get them excited to close off the year with a bang! We did a lot of praying this past week asking God  what we needed to do to help the zone and we came up with a very inspired plan. We have set a goal as a zone to  help 70 people enter the waters of baptism in this year and our zone year to date is 44. So we have three months to get about 30 baptisms. We thought, how are we ever going to do that? It seems like so much! But then we broke it down. We looked at our zone. We have 15 companionships in our zone. With three months left and only 5 current baptism dates set we saw that if by the end of the month every companionship had one baptism date for November then when November comes and goes each companionship will have gotten 1 baptism and then during the month of November each companionship sets a new baptism date for December. We focused it all on working together as a zone. How we should be building each other up and helping everyone achieve this goal as a team rather than as individuals. Everyone got super excited and super amped to get to work and hit our goal that seemed so far away but when looking at it from a team perspective became very realistic. I am really  excited to see how fast the work picks up here in the stake. We talked with the stake president and had him pass our goal on to all the bishops who will pass it on through ward councils so that not only are we working towards this goal as a zone but the members are all involved and are getting fired up because they are helping active goals! What an incredible plan! I know that it was not by my own inspiration that we came up with this. I am continually amazed at how the Lord will help us in any way we need when it is in line with his will. Miracles can happen today!



    We got to go to the temple again this week and what an amazing day that was. Perfect weather, beautiful drive, and such an amazing spirit. I miss being able to go to the temple all the time. The temple is the best. I am so grateful for the two opportunities that I get each year. They have become very valuable times for me. What an amazing place to have questions answered and the spirit and love of God poured out on you. Just like those good old dryer hugs! I haven't had one of those in a long time. After we went through the temple we went to a place called Fentons. If you have ever seen the movie Up, it is the ice cream place that is in the background at the end of the movie when they are counting reds and blues. So I can say that I have eaten there now. Their ice cream is super good too. Just in case you were wondering. I had a lady tell me on Tuesday that I was too skinny and I needed to eat ice cream more. Every day for the rest of the week I somehow got offered ice cream after every single dinner. I only turned it down once. I still don't think it will be enough to help me put on weight. I eat a ton of food.  And I'm still the skinny missionary that left a year ago. Which reminds me...

   This is my last email home in the first year of my mission! When I write again I will be on the downward slope. The backside of the mountain. Always picking up more speed! That amazes me. 1 year has come and gone. Now we will all just do it one more time and then I'll be on a plane home. It's coming very, very quickly. I am feeling emotions of excitement and nervousness and possibly sadness. It will definitely be a bitter sweet moment when it comes around.

  We also got to see that new movie Meet the Mormons. They had a special showing for just us missionaries on Thursday so we packed the chapel and watched a movie Thursday morning. That was strange but good. I love the movie! Awesome, very well done. I hope that it is a big hit because it would definitely open people's hearts. We got to watch a clip by Elder Holland before we watched it and he explained the churches intentions for it. He said that the movie was not s way for the church to make money. All profit goes to the Red Cross. He also said that it is not a proselyting tool, it is a way for people to understand some of the simple ways of a Mormon lifestyle. Very very good. Go see it of you can. If you can't it will be put on Netflix in a while and it will also be showed in visitor centers for church sites. There are plenty of those around home! 

  We also got an announcement from the president that we will be getting internet proselyting training starting in the beginning of November and we will be getting iPads at the end of November so I will be needing to get $400 to pay for it when the time comes but that will be a good thing for me to get because I need to spend my money more wisely! :) oops! That means the Christmas Skype will probably be from my own iPad and maybe I will even be emailing from it pretty soon here...

  Long email full of goodies and love. I hope you all enjoyed it and maybe learned something as you read. I love you all with the faculty of my whole soul. You are all amazing and I am so glad that I get to spend this time serving the Lord and hopefully sending blessings and experiences your way! Have a great week!

  Happy birthday to mom on Saturday! Hopefully my letter makes it on time. I mailed it today! I send you my love and birthday wishes. Don't turn too old this year! For your next birthday I'll be coming home! Exciting!

With utmost respect, and a whole lot of love!
                       Elder Maxwell

Monday, October 6, 2014

It was a great week of learning!


   What an amazing week. I am so grateful that we have a prophet that lives and guides our church today! It is such a blessing getting revelation that is in our language and for our time! How cool is that?! I am definitely going to continue to do what the prophet asks. He is a man that is in tune with the spirit. I did get to watch all of the sessions. Isn't is interesting how they all had their own theme.

     We had a very busy week this week but I feel like we had hardly any time to do missionary work. We spent a lot of time in meetings. Probably 25 hours of meetings this week. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time to do anything else. We will not be making these meetings a habit. I like it a lot better when we have missionary work to do. Because of that I don't really have very many stories to share.
 
   One of our meetings is called Missionary Leadership Council (MLC). In MLC we get to sit down with all the other leaders in the mission and we all talk about things that the mission can improve on. We talk about our successes and share with others about how they can have the same success. Really pretty cool but nothing really to share from it. 
 
   I did get the conference package but unfortunately it is extremely hard for me to find little kids around. One down side to serving in a singles ward. But I found the next best thing, a whole bunch of missionaries. Its a good thing I found them because I would have died if I had eaten all of that candy on my own. It was pretty impressive when I dumped out all the candy and my desk shook and my companion fell off of his feet and had to sit down to retake his breath. Once he had his bearing again he told me that if I ate all of that we could no longer be companions. I agreed and we quickly found a group of elders who would love to play some Conference bingo as long as that means they get free candy.
 
   Overall it was a great week of learning and taking some time to seek some self guidance! I loved it!

Sorry the letter is so short but that's really all I can think of. We will have a twice as impressive letter next week to make up for it.
 

Sending E-mail to our moms!


Love you all!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pictures!

Baptism Day!





Happy Birthday, Elder Reid!
 
Zone Sunrise Birthday Hike



It still amazes me to see how the gospel is able to change people.

  We had another awesome week! We had a baptism this week! It was the most amazing service I have ever been to. We had a musical number and then I gave a talk on baptism and the Holy Ghost. Then C got baptized! Then we had another musical number and then it was over. Short and sweet. Very simple and the spirit was very strong.

  C has one of the coolest stories. I haven't said anything about him yet so I will start at the very
beginning. C works here in Palo Alto. He was working one weekend and he came up from San Jose a little bit early and decided that he wanted to have a bit more to his life. He didn't know anything about church or the gospel but he knew that religion would help bring him closer to God so he started to search that day. He did what any person would do when looking for something. He got on Yelp and looked up churches in the area. Our YSA congregation showed up and had pretty good reviews so he decided to check it out. He walks into church one day and is met by the missionaries. He enjoys it enough the first time to come back again. He has come every Sunday since! I love what he said about why he came back. He said that the feeling of warmth and the love that was showed by the members was what got him to come back. It just goes to show that people can be brought into the
fold in any way and once they feel the spirit they know that it is true and that is the feeling that will keep them coming back for more. He is such an awesome guy and he is very happy that he decided to get baptized.

   We also had another outgoing fireside last night. That is where all of the missionaries that will be going home get to give a quick two minute testimony about whatever they feel inspired to say. They are really cool firesides and there are always a lot of missionaries at them and the best part is that all of the missionaries bring investigators. A really good missionary opportunity. I know several people who have benefited from going to these firesides. We got to go with one of our recent converts named S. S is super awesome and he was asked to speak at the fireside. He spoke about how he joined the church. He started with absolutely no religious background so it was a lot of learning for him. He went from not believing in God at all to trusting fully in Him. It still amazes me to see how the gospel is able to change people. No matter who you are or what you do. No matter how good or how bad. There is always something in the gospel that can help you.

    I don't have a lot of time today! My companion is 21 today! Because it is his birthday, we have a lot of fun things planned! We went on a Sunrise hike this morning and it was amazing! Pictures attached. We also went golfing today. My companion loves, loves, loves golf. And I sent a
picture of the baptism!

Love you all! I will keep praying for you all!

Love, Elder Maxwell!

Monday, September 22, 2014

We can be so happy when our families are built on the gospel.

 I hope everyone had a fantastic week! I hope it wasn't too cold for all of you. I saw your weather forecast and it looks like rain. Hopefully it stays rain and not snow because that would infer that it isn't super cold.

  We have had a really good week this week. A lot of wonderful experiences and memories. We were contacting on Stanford campus this week and as we are talking to this really nice lady who is sitting on a bench outside a dorm. This other woman walks up and asks us what we are doing. We said that we are talking with our friend. The lady then asks us if we live on campus and we say no we actually live just a block that way right off of campus. She then says that she thinks Stanford has a no soliciting policy on campus and we shouldn't be there. We said that we weren't selling anything and we were having a really nice conversation with our friend. She then says that us being there was making her uncomfortable and we needed to leave. We apologize to her and we start to walk with the woman away from the dorm. The woman then asks us, "Why she was so mean to us when all we were doing was being very friendly to her?" We said that everyone is different and we try to be nice to everyone regardless of the circumstance. She was very impressed by how we handled the whole situation and she said that she would definitely recommend her daughter to come to our church.

  We said goodbye and go our separate ways, as we are walking again, we go past a group of people who are cleaning up from a BBQ and we offer to help them clean up. Then we see the same woman from before and she seemed to be in charge of the BBQ. She said, "no, we are fine thank you." So we were about to continue on our way when one of the other women, who also looked like she was in charge, asked us if we would like something to drink while we were on our way. We said sure and both got a root beer. As we were walking away, we were talking about how the whole situation had played out. We realized how important it was that we were polite and respectful of someone no matter how rude they were to us. We realized how important it was for us to be friendly and offer service to someone who may have been in need of help. I think about that woman and how she was so rude and I automatically assume that she had some kind of animosity towards the LDS church. Then I think of how the way that we were polite and friendly could have changed her entire view on the church. We were definitely guided by the spirit. I am very glad that we chose to be Christ-like in that situation rather than exploding in a huge argument of rude words and negotiable annotations. It is an example to me for how everyone can leave a hostile situation feeling uplifted.

    We had a splendid lesson with one of our investigators this week. We were teaching him the plan of salvation and he has no real religious background so we knew it was going to be hard for him to understand some of the things we were going to talk about so we invited a member of our bishopric to join us for the lesson. He is a professor at Stanford and he is a single cell biologist and has done some incredible research and had some amazing breakthroughs. We knew, that with his background, he would be able to help answer any of the super intellectual questions that where asked. So we went through and taught the plan of salvation and he listened and understood everything that we taught and once we were finished he had a whole lot of those intellectual questions that I mentioned. When the lesson was finished, and we all went home, we felt like we had failed at teaching because he had so many questions and it was as if nothing we said made sense to him. But we got a text from him when we got home that said he really enjoyed the lesson and that we were definitely inspired to bring that specific member to the lesson. He said that the member was able to answer some of the questions that he has had for a very long time. It just goes to show that the spirit will work in any way it can to speak to people. We were guided by the spirit to bring a certain member and that member was able to be an answer and a testifier of the truth. I love to see all the different ways that the spirit can help us understand what God would have us know.

   I have grown a lot this week. In church yesterday one of the members of our bishopric got released because he and his family are moving out to Utah. They had him and his wife both get up and share their testimonies at the end of the meeting. The wife got up and shared how much she loved the ward and her husband and how she knew that her husband loved all of us because of how devoted he was to his calling. She talked about how they had grown closer together as a family because of their service in the church. The husband then got up and shared his love for the ward. His love for his wife and two kids. His love for the gospel and the scriptures. His love for our Savior, Jesus Christ. He shared his love for God and Gods love for us. Then after they were all done and the spirit was incredible and I was full of joy and peace, the other councilor in the bishopric got up and said that he felt prompted to share one impression. He then said to a congregation of young single adults, "I hope this family has given you all a hope of what you want to have in the future. I pray that you will all strive to have the love and joy that this family shares." As he said those words it clicked inside of me. I understood at that moment. I saw right in front of me an example of what the whole purpose of life is where true joy comes from and why our Heavenly Father wants us to all return to live with him. We can be so happy when our families are built on the gospel. My view of missionary work has changed from helping individuals to helping families! The gospel is such an amazing thing. It truly does change people.
   I am so happy to hear that everyone is doing well! Stay smart by going to school! Everyone but me is in school :) I'm so lucky!

I love you all! Have a fantastic week!

Elder Maxwell