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, March 31, 2014

Being a missionary is a good thing!

So I have decided that being a missionary is a good thing, this week. I am happy that this week has flown by. I am not sure if time goes faster with a car or a bike but having a car all week was awesome! But I think it's actually change that makes things go faster! Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that because my companion has a hurt foot and can't bike, our mission president purchased an old police interceptor for us to drive around until he gets better. Our mission president felt this was a easy thing for him to do to help the work continue to press forward here in Central Park. And the work really has pressed forward. It has been an amazing week!
I am so happy for the opportunity to serve with my companion Elder Jensen. He is an amazing missionary! He is very gullible, he will believe anything that I tell him. It has been very tempting to trick him into believing ridiculous things like I did with Jonathan and Nathan and Ian but I have refrained.
We have been able to do a lot of really amazing work this week. We got to meet this one less active member in the ward and when we knocked at his door he welcomed us in happily! Once inside I looked around and he had different artifacts from all around the world around his house. As I talked with him, I learned that he is a really cool guy. He has traveled pretty much everywhere in the world and he does lots of cool outdoor adventures everywhere he goes. I looked at this guys life and I saw that he had done everything that he had ever wanted to do. Then as I looked closer I could see that he had gone through a divorce recently. He had lost his connection with his family and the church and I could tell that he was at a point in his life where even though he had done everything he could have ever wanted to do, he had nothing.
On Sunday we had ward conference,  the stake president gets up and gives a talk focused on knowing the difference between good and evil. He told a story about how there was going to be a wedding in his backyard so for the weeks before the wedding they started to get the backyard ready. There was a row of rose bushes that were just starting to bloom so he thought that it would look really nice if he didn't prune them back. As he let them continue to grow over the next few weeks they got bigger and more full with more roses and they looked amazing when it came time for the wedding! The wedding came and went and the backyard went back to normal so he took his clippers and went to clip back the rose bushes. As he clipped them back he realized that the rose bushes had overpowered the other plants around them. Everything else had died and had not received enough light or water because of the rose bushes.
We can compare this story of the rose bushes with the story of this less active. What are we holding onto that is overpowering the other things in our lives that are important? Are we giving too much time or attention to something that in the end doesn't have any real value? As I thought about this I realized that we can get trapped in this same story if we are not careful. We need to make sure that we are not giving all of the attention to ourselves. What I want to do...where I want to go...who I want to see...I...I..I.I!  Don't get caught! We are in a constant battle between good and evil. That's a fact!
Got to have a zone leader come and spend the day with me and he is going home in two weeks. He asked me if I was excited for General Conference. I said yes and then he looks at me and says, "I'm excited for spring break."! Thats a good one, I have to use that at the end of my mission!
It was a great week cruising around in the Police Interceptor! My companions foot is almost all the way better but we are going to milk it for as long as we can ;) The beach was great last week but no we were not able to swim. Just have fun in the sun! I am sorry to hear about all the snow! No fun! Let me know if there is anything that I can do to help any of you. I love you all! Take care and stay warm!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It has been a wonderful week full of craziness and confusion and blessings and upsets!

It has been a wonderful week full of craziness and confusion and blessings and upsets, but through it all it is still just a week! JUST A WEEK! What on earth is going on! It feels like it has been a month! So much has happened this past week that I don't even know where to begin. So lets start with Tuesday morning. We wake up on Tuesday to go to play some sports with other missionaries and half way through (so about 630 in the morning) my companion randomly runs up onto the stage and then he ran and jumped off the stage like John Wilkes Booth. No joke, he went soaring off of that thing. His air time must have been five seconds! Then to no ones surprise gravity kicked in and brought him to the ground. Normally this wouldn't be a problem but in my companions case he decided to keep his right leg in the locked and secure position. This is good for standing or sitting occasionally but it is never good for a landing. So, as always in this case, the landing didn't end well and my companion bruised his heel. He hasn't been able to walk on it all week and we are waiting to see if it is fractured or not.

So, because my companion has not been able to bike or walk all week, I have been doing a lot of exchanges this week. I have spent more time with my good friend, Elder Le Beau, than I have with my own companion! (not true but it feels that way) It has been really fun trying to set up rides with members for every single lesson that we want to go to. Oh, and if we want to eat dinner at members homes now we need to get a ride there or have them pick us up for dinner. Its crazy how dependant we are on the ward right now. Honestly this is kind of like what we need the work to be like. Very involved with the members but I really don't like the part where we depend on them for everything. So that part of the week has been a little bit stressful but it has really taught me about how important it is to have set appointments and being in tune with the members to help achieve the goals that we set. I know that the Lord has a purpose for all of this and I feel like one of those was to give me time to be with Elder Le Beau. We have grown really close in the past week and I have been able to help him a lot and he has been able to help me a lot. I know that we never would have had this opportunity if it wasn't for my companion jumping off the stage. It sounds funny, I know but it really has been a blessing for me from Heavenly father.

Another amazing thing that happened this week was yesterday! We got to go to the beach as a zone! We drove all the way down to Carmel by the Sea. It is so nice, I took lots of really cool pictures and got a really nice tan. Unfortunately tan lines are unavoidable on a mission, but it was still a really great time. I caught a crab and fed it to a sea anemone. It was awesome. Then we fed hermit crabs and snails and little fish to little anemones. It was an amazing day and perfect weather. Enjoy the pictures and don't hate me because of them. (note from mom: more like envy him, it is only 13 degrees here in NY this morning!) Just know I love you!
Had my third district meeting today. Last week I did a district meeting about helping less active members and investigators and we did a cool activity where we had to build towers with oreos! This week I talked about Faith and Preparation and we did a cool activity with the alien baloons that you sent me. It was cool. It has been fun being a district leader. I love my district and I want to keep helping them as much as I can. I have learned so much from them. I have learned patience, I have learned responsibility, I have learned love (can you learn love? If yes... I did), and I have learned how important it is to embrace opportunity. All of these things are important and will help me throughout my life! Learn them sooner rather than later!

I love you all so much and I love hearing from you! I also really like pictures, send me more pictures of things. They are the best. I will try to do the same.

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 17, 2014

The spiritual inspiration comes from God.

My first district meeting went very well. Talked about the importance of working with members and I came up with a cool relay game that we could all do to help illustrate how working with members is more effective. Thats what I mean by advice for district meetings by the way. I need to know cool activities that the missionaries have done, the spiritual inspiration comes from God.
Had the Assistants to the President come to my area to go on exchanges with me this week. I was nervous about why they wanted to come and see this area but it all ended up going very well and we had a great day.
For part of the day we were contacting and we were walking down the street and this guy and his girlfriend are walking towards us so we start to talk with them and we get to know them a little bit and then we ask them if they wouuld want to meet up sometime and learn more about the gospel and he said no but that his mom was religious and she would listen. So we ask him where his mom lives and he wouldn't tell us but then as he was walking away he turned around and said, "you know, why don't you go and see her."  (I dont know if he was trying to put it to her or if he was being nice)  But we got her adress and we had time so we went to her place and ended up teaching her the restoration and she said she would love to have us back, but because she is a single woman we said that there were sisters and she said she would be more comfortable with that. SO... now the sisters are seeing her. Its awesome! Quite the miracle!
Not a lot of time this week but I will write more next time!
Love you all, 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 10, 2014

I should probably try to keep a companion for a little bit longer.

Ha-ha! I was reading through the letters and I realized that the sacrament meetings we had were very similar! My Sunday was also all about faith. It must be close enough to the beginning of the year for the lessons to still be lined up. Anyway, we had a really great Sunday!
The new ward is great. I am in the Central Park ward now. It borders my last ward and I am still in the same apartment as you have heard. But Allegra is correct, I did change beds. In fact I had to change rooms and I had to move all of my stuff to the new room which was a real bummer because my old room had four full body mirrors and my new room has none so I had to steal one and take it with me.
My new companion is Elder Jensen. He was already living with me so I already know him pretty well.  He is a big guy that is honestly a big teddy bear. He loves to give everyone hugs and he thinks like a younger kid.  He is a really great guy and a fantastic missionary.
Christian is right as well. I am in my third area now and my fourth companion. I don't think that goes very well for my missionary record. I should probably try to keep a companion for a little bit longer.
It has been an awesome experience, so far, being able to be a district leader. I love the feeling of being able to constantly thinking about others and the work that they are doing and not thinking about myself and the work that I am doing. The work I am doing is also important but I am glad that it is not the only thing that I am thinking about now. I don't know if that sounds good or bad but it honestly is a good thing. I am however having a difficult time thinking of some good ideas to do during district meetings so if you could ask the missionaries what some of their favorite district meetings have been then let me know that would be awesome! And any other advice you have for me!
Lets see, this week has been really cool. I spent most of the week meeting with ward members and trying to meet with the limited number of investigators that we have. (two)  This area wasn't in the best shape when I got here. There is a lot of work to do, finding wise and building trust with the ward wise. But nothing that can't be done with the Lords help.
This wards elders quorum does a really cool thing every year. They have an elders quorum pinewood derby (No Rules/Anything Goes) I signed us up for it so I am going to start working on a super cool car that is spring loaded and it is going to be awesome. Any cool ideas you can find for that, as well, would be cool.
We had some really great talks in sacrament meeting about diligence and patience. It was interesting because as I have been studying this past week I have come across a lot of scriptures that mention diligence and I have taken it as a sign from God that I need to be more diligent in every aspect of the work. Praying, reading my scriptures, planning, preparing for meetings, etc... It's a lot to do but as I have applied it I have seen so many blessings that come from it. One of my favorite scriptures was Moroni 8:25-26 I believe. It talks about diligence to prayer and how it keeps all these other things in effect.
Next week when I have met more people I will have cooler stories and more experiences to share.
Jono,  I was reading your advice to me and you said always style your hair. So far I have kept your advice and it is very good advice.
Love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 3, 2014

I have fallen in love ... with the scriptures!

    My week has been quite crazy. I forgot to tell everyone last week but we got transfer calls this Saturday and I have been transferred again! Tomorrow will be the start of my fourth transfer, third area, and fourth companion. I feel like blowing through companions this fast is not a good thing... Anyway, hopefully I can email tomorrow and let you all know where I will be going. I am sad that I am leaving this ward. It has been a great 12 weeks here. Missionary time is so crazy. I have only been out for three transfers but I have spent the last three months in this ward. It has not felt like three months has gone by but the 12 weeks have flown by. I know it doesn't make any since but it's crazy.

    First amazing thing of the week is that this Sunday something incredible happened. So if you can remember back to one of my letters in December, I mentioned a less active that we were working with, I have spent the last 12 weeks working with him. He is 55 years old and came to church the first time since he was 12 in December. Ever since then, we have been working with him and keeping him coming to church. He has been consistently coming to church for the last 12 weeks and last Sunday in gospel principles he asked if he could help out in any way. Our ward mission leader told him he could teach part of the lesson the next week. So during the week he was preparing for a five minute portion of the lesson. He also met with the bishop during the week. Then on Sunday, he had the entire lesson prepared and he had been called to serve as a ward family history specialist and he asked me if I would confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon him and ordain him to the office of a priest.
    I was completely blown away that he wanted me to do it and I was so happy to see him come so far and go from completely less active to completely active and serving in the ward in 12 weeks. I gave him one of my ties because he has really made a lasting impression on me. I really do know that the gospel has helped him turn his life around. It was so cool seeing the joy on his face as he received the priesthood and was set apart. He will be one that I always remember from my mission. Incredible experience... I need you to send me my priesthood lineage so that I can hand a copy of that off to him. He will want to have that, and it would be a nice thing to have with me on my mission.
    Second amazing thing that also happened yesterday (on Sunday), I went up to give my testimony and shared what was in my heart. Then at the very end of the meeting the last person to bare testimony was a youth 17 turning 18. He gets up and say how much I have helped him and how much he looks up to me. As he was standing up there saying this, I saw myself before my mission and how the missionaries were probably my closest friends as they came in and out of the wards. It is amazing to me to know that I have been one of those missionaries for him. He is one of my favorite people in the ward. His family is honestly the Maxwell family of the Irvington ward. That's probably why I see myself in him so much. He got on Facebook and sent me a friend request so if you could get on my Facebook and accept him he would appreciate that. (his last request) He changed his profile picture to an awesome picture of me and him. You got to check it out.
   This area has been a huge testimony builder for me. I know that if an area like this can change so dramatically from when I first got here to what it is now, I know that all of my areas can be like that. I am doing everything I can to be as obedient as possible so that the Lord can bless me as much as He wants to. I have fallen in love with the scriptures because of the guidance and understanding that they have given me. It is amazing to be a part of this hastening of the work. I hope that all of you feel the same way because we are all part of the work.
    It has been an amazing week and a lot of work has been done.  Just a thought, if you could send me a couple more ties in the next package whenever that is, (Not requesting immediate package) because I gave three away this week, I am searching for some more good ones. I just don't want to run out of ties.
    I love you all so much and I look forward to this hour of emailing every week. Be safe and build that family unity!
Love, Elder Maxwell