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, February 24, 2014

Keeping us accountable is just an awesome blessing on the side.

Yet again we have finished another great week! My companion got sick at the begining of the week and we had to stay in on Tuesday. Then Tuesday night I made a masterful plan that was successful because the Lord really blessed us. I called a member family (basicly the Maxwell family of the ward) and asked them if my companion could sleep on their couch all day because the father was also sick so my companion would have priesthood protection all day. They said that would be fine so I set that in place. Then I called all the splits eligible men in the ward and got four different people to take me around to the appointments all day!

It was a crazy day, it is very difficult to do missionary work without a missionary companion. Don't get me wrong, the members that were with me were amazing members but missionaries are actually called by God to be representitives of Jesus Christ and there are deffinately blessings that are associated with that. Needless to say, I am very greatful that my companion was feeling up to doing work again on Thursday. It was quite interesting how it all worked out. I can remember telling my companion on Monday how one of the hardest parts about being a missionary for me is always having to have a companion with me. Then the Lord decided to teach me why I always need to have a companion with me. It is easier for me to understand now that it's more than just making sure that we are keeping the rules. It is important to have a companion because thats the way that it has been set up. The gospel is ment to be taught two-by-two. The keeping us accountable is just an awesome blessing on the side. I can now say that I am glad to have a companion.

    I got to meet with "Tina" on Wednesday and taught her the restoration. The whole time she was agreeing with everything that was said and she was saying it was answering a lot of the questions she had that the Catholic church wouldn't answer for her. She really is the "Golden Investigator" as Opa said in his letter. As we taught the Atonement to her she started to cry and told us of an experiance that she had. She said that when she was first reading up about the church she read a passage about the Atonement and the spirit filled her and confirmed to her that her Heavenly Father really did love her and that Jesus Christ really is her Savior. She said that she had read similar accounts in the Catholic church but the spirit had never touched her as it did when she read it for the first time in an LDS publication. It was an amazing lesson and the spirit was so strong. I invited her to be baptized and she said that yes she would love to be baptized and then she said that she is moving out to Colorado to live with an LDS family that she had grown really close to and she said that she wanted the father of that family to baptize her. It was really cool and I am glad that she is so prepared and willing. Some missionaries in Colorado are being very good because they have an amazing blessing coming there way. I am so happy that I was able to see that the Lord really is preparing people and that as we are worthy they we be led to us or we will be led to them.
    I have been reading a lot in the book of Alma recently and I have been reading through the battle chapters at the end this week and it is so cool to see the Gospel messages that are in those battle strategies. I can see how the Nephites and Lamanites are like Satan and us and it really teaches us ways that we can avoid Satan all together. It also teaches about how when we build up our fortifications we can catch Satan off gaurd and we can show him that we will be an unpenitrable fortress in these days. Satan honestly had no power over us, and I have come to learn that its not beause we are all powerful and all knowing because we are not. Its because we have God on our side and he is all powerful and all knowing. Let us all put up the good fight and not let Satan get past out outer walls. Keep close to those good friends and good influences. Avoid any apearance of evil. When there is a crack in the wall that is where Satan will strike.
    I love all of you and I am so happy to hear of all the wonderful experiances and missionary moments that you are all having. Continue to live worthily and recieve the blessings that Heavenly Father has promised!
Take care and be safe.
Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, February 17, 2014

I need to put my tie on and get to work!

This week was full of non-stop miracles. It has been so amazing stepping back and looking at everything that the Lord has done to prepare this area. Such an amazing experience being on a mission, but I am still new enough that it feels like two years is going to take forever. For me that is just a sign that I need to put my tie on and get to work! ha-ha

   To start off, we had a district meeting that was focused on talking to everyone last Wednesday and on our way home from district meeting we decided that we really did need to stop and talk to everyone. So we did and the usual ten minute bike ride home turned into an hour! We got two people who were really interested in learning more but neither of them were in our area so we decided that there were other missionaries in those areas that were being obedient and doing what they needed to do to receive blessings and because we were doing what we were supposed to be doing the Lord was letting us be the tools in which the Lord gave them those blessings. An interesting way of looking at it but it really made me think. The Lord really does have a purpose for everything.
   Second, we got a referral on Friday morning and we had a pretty busy day ahead of us so we decided that we would wait until Saturday to contact her. Then later in the day one of our appointments fell through and we were close by to where the referral was so we decided that the Lord probably wanted us to go and visit her. So we went to the address and when the door opened a young man opened the door and we asked him if Tina (changed the name just in case) was home.  He said that she was at work and she wouldn't be home until six. We explained to him who we were and said that we would try back later. His mom then comes to the door and tells us that she works at the GNC in the shopping center down the street. We said okay, but we will probably just try back another time. Then we leave. Once we have started biking we realize that we have about 30 minutes until our next appointment. So we decide that we would go over to GNC and just browse around the store to see if we could spot her and maybe start up a conversation while she was working. So we head over to GNC, we lock up our bikes outside and we walk up to the doors and once we open the doors we see a girl that worked there standing right there. She looks at us and we look back at her and then she says, "Are you looking for me?" Completely caught off guard I stumble to say a contemplative, "Yes? Are you Tina?" She says yes that she is Tina and takes us to the side and explains that she had requested that we come and visit her on mormon.org and then she had been waiting for two days for us to show up. She really loves the church and has always felt like the catholic church (the church she grew up in) was missing something. We taught her a quick lesson about the Book of Mormon and set up an appointment to meet with her later on. The whole time she is on the clock and her co-worker is listening to the whole thing. We then ask her if we can say a prayer with her before we go and she was super welcoming to that as well. After we left we just looked at each other and we were both shocked and didn't quite know what had happened. We said another prayer together and thanked the Lord for sending someone so prepared and so ready. We are really excited to continue meeting with her and I am sure you will all hear a lot more about her.
   The Lord loves each and every one of us. He really is watching out for all of you and He knows your struggles. Never be afraid to turn to Him in a time of need. I know that the Atonement can heal any mistake or problem that we may have. I love you all and I keep you all in my prayers every night. Keep up the amazing member missionary work.

Love Elder Maxwell

Monday, February 10, 2014

This work is not easy, and that's a fact!

What an amazing week, once again.

 I am going to get right into all the miracles. First, this week started off very interestingly. All of our investigators seemed to have something go terribly wrong. At first I got very down on myself because I felt like we were doing something wrong that was making them all fall away, but my companion told me something very important. He said that Satan will come at us with everything he's got when we are doing everything right and making those important steps in the right direction. I realized that this is very true. I realized that even though we were doing what we knew was right, doesn't make it easy for our investigators. Through a lot of prayer and study for our investigators, by the end of the week I feel like all of them have made a lot of progress and have grown in ways that we couldn't have helped them grow. Just like it says in Ether 12:27... God gives us weakness so that we can become strong. As Jonathan would say, Pain is weakness leaving the body! The same concept, as we struggle and overcome those struggles we become something more, through the Atonement and the help of God. His plan for us includes struggles and strengths but we can't have one without the other. I know that the struggles that we go through are for our benefit. I was studying in Doctrine and Covenants today and I read section 122:1-10. This goes into detail about all the things that Satan will come at us with and how he will never stop. But in the end it promises us that if we hold strong and endure, that God will always be with us and that as we lay down our life for Him and serve Him, we will find our life. This is so true. How can we really know who our Savior is if we are not willing to serve Him. King Benjamin says the same thing in Mosiah 5. I received so much strength from these passages over this last week and I wanted to share that with all of you.
   Second, we had the amazing opportunity of having Quentin L. Cook come and speak to our mission on Saturday. He spoke to us about the relationships that are vital as a missionary.
  • One, Love the people. As we love the people we can know how to help them and we can know what their needs are. It is also a lot easier to lose yourself in serving when you love the people you serve.
  • Two, Love the Mission President. I had never thought of this but Elder Cook explained the process of assigning mission calls and he said the most common feeling he get when doing it is that certain people need to be with a certain mission president. It give a whole new understanding to why I am here in California.
  • Three, Love your Companion. He went into detail about how a companionship that is able to work together will be able to accomplish so much more and will be the most effective tool in the Lords hands. I have learned that sometimes it is hard to love your companion but I can agree that the work is much more effective when a companionship is working together in harmony and unity. This can and will apply to marriage as well.
  • Fourth, and very important, is to Love the Lord. God loves us no matter what. He loves us through our trials and He loves us through our high times. I know that as I have learned to love Him, I have been blessed so much and guided by the spirit in all that I do. This work is not easy, and that's a fact, but with the help of the Lord it is very possible and it is essential. The joy that the gospel has brought me in my life is incredible. I can honestly say that it has changed who I am. As I have loved the Lord, He has guided me on a path that will change who I am and where I am going.
  I invite everyone to heed these words of an apostle of the Lord. He is a special witness of Jesus Christ and he speaks what the Lord would have us know. Find a way to apply this to yourself now and I can promise it will change you and help you.

   I love all of you so much and I know that the spirit is watching over all of you. Pray for missionary opportunities everyday and then go and look for them. The work that you do as members makes the work that we do as missionaries more successful. Be safe and have an amazing week. Let me know if there is anything that I can do to help any of you.

Elder Maxwell in California

Monday, February 3, 2014

Another amazing week here in California!

Another amazing week here in California!

Before I forget we changed apartments today. My new address is the same except we are in #209 now instead of #130. So hopefully everyone can get that change. We got moved into a two bedroom apartment and now we are sharing with two other elders that cover the neighboring area.
Some very amazing things happened this week. First off we got two new investigators. We met them about a week ago at the mall and we met with them three times this week and one of them is super excited and has a baptism date for March 1st. It has been amazing. We taught them the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. Those both went super well and the spirit was so strong. The one guy has a kid and we were worried that there might be some law of chastity issues so we decided that we needed to cover that as soon as possible so the third meeting we brought that up and it turns out that the problem that we thought was there, wasn't actually there, so that was good but at the end when we asked him to live the law of chastity he asked us if he had to stop smoking. We told him that the law of chastity didn't cover that. Then we taught the Word of Wisdom and invited him to live that as well and he said that he was willing to try. Super awesome, super solid, super funny. He is a very solid investigator right now and we have a lot of hope and faith in him.
Another amazing miracle for the week. On Thursday all of our plans in the afternoon cancelled. We took out our list of less active members in the area and decided to try and see some of them. Everyone was not home. We biked around for a bit and then got a very distinct feeling that we needed to go and visit a very active family. So we went over to their house and only the father was home. He has been unemployed for about three months and his family was completely out of money. We shared a very good message about the Atonement by Quentin L. Cook and bore testimony to him. The spirit was so strong and I knew that the spirit had guided us there to share with him in a time of need. On Sunday in testimony meeting he got up and shared how much a visit from the missionaries had helped him to regain hope through the Atonement and spirit of our Heavenly Father. It truly was an amazing experience for me to see how miracles can happen when we are doing what the spirit is guiding us to do.
One last crazy thing that happened this week, also happened during testimony meeting. At the very beginning of the meeting Elder Irvine and I got up to share our testimonies and while Elder Irvine was in the middle of his an older brother in the ward had a heart attack and was nearly dead on the back row. None of the congregation could really know what was happening but then the bishop noticed because some other men in the ward were calling 911 and trying to help him in the very back. This whole time my companion is standing at the pulpit not sure what to do. He is then told by the 1st councilor to continue with his testimony. So while all of this is going on my companion finishes his testimony. Then it is my turn to get up! By this point pretty much everyone knows that something isn't right and nobody is really paying attention to me anymore and I wasn't really sure what to say anymore. I had never really thought of "what would be a good testimony while someone is dying" so I tried to just say things that would pull the congregations attention back towards the front. Really a very interesting situation. Once we finished and went back to our seats, we helped them carry this man out into the foyer and closed the side doors in an attempt to bring the attention back to testimony meeting. They ended up giving him a priesthood blessing and he came back as soon as they anointed his head. That really goes to show the true power of the priesthood. He ended up being fine but being taken to the hospital just in case. What an amazing miracle. The hand of the Lord truly is in this church. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the true church and that this is the Lords gospel.
I know this not because I have seen miracles in the work that we are doing but because I have prayed and studied and acted. It is through the power of prayer and study and action that we really come to know that this is true.
I love you all and I am so glad that everyone is alright. Nate, you don't need to be embarrassed because I did the same exact thing on my first snow campout. I couldn't find my sleeping bag because it had got left in the car which was several miles away. So I spent half of the night in my wet snow clothes on top of a pad. No blankets or nothing. It really does show that God loves you and cares about you Nate. Stay safe and never be afraid to ask for help. It is with others that we learn and grow. Best thing is you will always use your sleeping bag from now on. Even if you need someone to help you open it.
Have an amazing week everyone and I will keep you all in my prayers. 

Love, Elder Maxwell