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, September 15, 2014

This work is not my work, it's not our work, it's Gods work!

    I don't think that I can even describe what has happened this week. I can put it in words but in order to understand the incredible things that have happened you would have to be me. I am going to jump right in because it is incredible!

    First, on Monday, P-Day, we got together as a zone at a park and we had a really good time. The greatest part was that one of the elders has a slack line with him on his mission and he brought it and set it up at the park. I got to slack line! It was a lot of fun and I didn't think that I would ever get to do that on my mission. The elder that brought it is really good and he can do a lot of really cool tricks. It was super cool watching him and he taught me some cool things that I can do so that was a lot of fun.

    Second, my companion and I started to plan for our zone training meeting that we were going to have on Thursday. So we started planning on Tuesday and we came up with a great idea to make a time lapse video to motivate the members of the zone to do their morning workout. We get 30min every morning to workout and sometimes we get lazy and don't use that time so we were trying to get everyone motivated and exercising. So Tuesday morning as we were doing our morning workout we took a camera around with us all morning and videoed all the random funny things we could think of doing. Then we put it in time lapse, six times faster, and we watched it and it was hilarious! We loved it but we found some things we could have done better. So the next morning we did it again. We ran around non stop for 30min doing all the random funny things that we could. The second video was even better than the first one! We loved it so much that we want to put it on YouTube but that will probably never happen. We shared it on Thursday morning with the zone at our meeting and they all loved it. They were laughing the whole time! It was perfectly wonderful! It was a lot of work to get the movie ready but we did it and it was really cool!

    Third, was the actual zone training meeting that we had this week. This was my first meeting where I was in front of the whole zone instructing them so I was a little bit nervous. Last Friday we had Elder Packer, the area 70, come and talk to the leadership in the mission and he gave us all some really good instruction. So we planned our meeting off of what he taught us. I planned on teaching diligence and it went really well. I broke down the mission into percentages and it is really interesting what I found. 1/3 of the mission will be spent asleep in your bed. 1/3 will be spent in meetings, lunch, studies, p-days, and other things that are not proselyting. The last third will be spend actually proselytizing and spreading the word. I wrote that out to show the missionaries that two years isn't a lot of time when really you only have 1/3 of that time to be sharing the gospel. I really emphasized how important it is to use the time we have been given to do everything we can to spread the word. That's how I tied diligence in and I spent the rest of the time talking about what it means to be diligent. A firmly fixed, unchanging, sincere conviction in doing the Lords work.  It was super awesome and everyone in the zone leadership did a really good job. I love being a zone leader because that means I get to be friends with everyone in the zone. I always do everything I can to be someone's best friend every time I see them. I love it! Sometimes I make mistakes and then I have to make amends with someone but I have learned that it is all about humbling yourself and putting others before myself.

    Fourth, this is where the week starts to get pretty incredible! So last week I said that I was going to be having a lesson with our investigator Lane and we were going to invite Steve Young to come and be the member present at our lesson. Well everything worked out and we had Steve Young come with us to teach our investigator! It was super awesome. He is a really cool guy and Lane was really impressed that someone as successful as him, who has everything he could ever want in life could talk so powerfully about how he is so grateful for the gospel in his life. He talked about how it would help him in his games and how it would help him in his schooling. Every aspect of his life had been blessed by the gospel and that was very powerful for Lane. He said something really funny. There were 50 guys on the 49'ers when he was playing for them and 5 of them were members of the church so he said that it was a joke between them that the 49'ers paid their tithing 5/50 (10%) and that's why they did well as a team. I thought that was pretty clever. I don't think it actually works in that way but it was still very funny. I put the photo of us on the email. From left to right, Dallas, Myself, Lane, Elder Reid, Brandon, and Steve Young! Dallas and Brandon are members that are on the team so they are friends and supporters of Lane.

It was a pretty awesome lesson and definitely one of those moments for a missionary! I don't know everything about him but I know enough to appreciate a lesson with him!

    Fifth, it continues to get better. Tuesday we are contacting people on campus and we meet this guy named Conrad. Conrad is an archaeologist for Stanford and he is really cool. His wife is a Dean for Stanford so she is pretty important I guess. I have never met her and am not sure what a Dean does so she is cool in my books! Anyway, we are talking with Conrad on Tuesday and he says that if we ever want to go to one of the Stanford football games than we are more than welcome to use the tickets that his wife gets for free. We said yes, we would love to! (not even knowing if going to a football game was something president would ever let us do). Conrad tells us that his wife gets the tickets on Thursdays so if he ever sees us on a Friday he will give us some tickets. At this point I am thinking, how are we ever going to see him on a Friday, the day before a game and then call president at the last minute and expect him to let us go to a football game. I didn't have very high hopes. Fast forward to Friday. We have half an hour to contact during the day so we go to campus and we start to talk to people. While we are talking to a guy, Conrad bikes up in the middle of our conversation and says, "sorry to interrupt but I have your guys tickets!" He hands us two tickets to the next days game and then bikes off. The man we were talking to looks at us and says, "wow, God is good to you guys." Then his wife shows up and they start to leave and us thinking that there is no way we will ever use the tickets offer them the tickets but they said they don't watch football. So we walk away with two tickets to the next days game. We are both looking at each other and we are going crazy thinking about going to the game so... I make my companion call president and ask for permission. We both get super nervous and my companion explains that we have an investigator on the team and two members of our ward on the team and we already have two free tickets. He asks us what time the game is at and we say 2. He says okay, go for it. That's the slow time of the day anyways! Ahahahahah! We just got permission to go to a Stanford college football game! Fast forward to the next day, we get a call from the assistants to the president. One of the assistants was my companions companion. (I took his spot here in Stanford and he went into the office.) So he calls and say, "you are going to the game? It's my birthday so you should get us some tickets so we can come with you!" We spent the next few hours of the morning finding two more tickets. We found them and then they came up to the game. So the four of us all went to the game together to support our investigator, Lane, and to celebrate my companions, former companion's birthday. Confusing, I know. All said and done that is definitely something I never thought I would do on my mission. Crazy!

    Sixth, and last because this email is already pretty crazy long. Yesterday we had an awesome BBQ at a members home. This member had invited all of his non member friends and all of the members that lived close by and they invited all of their non member friends and it was totally awesome! There were probably about 50-60 people there and at least 10 non members and we got to talk with all of them and it was super cool. I spent a good amount of time talking with two guys who were really interested in learning about other peoples philosophies. They were very open minded and wanted to learn more. Only down side was that they live too far north. Out of our mission. That's the one direction we aren't allowed to teach in. But we are definitely going to get them set up with some missionaries! It's super cool serving in this ward because most of the people are successful and hold jobs and have cars and all those things are super duper helpful in doing the Lords work. As in helping us get investigators and such to church and activities. The work is going really well here in the area. We are seeing so many miracles and so many... Tender mercies is what I would call them but really they are super awesome things! The church is totally 100% without a doubt, TRUE. The blessings that I have seen in others lives, the love of God that I have seen people feel, and the powerful influence and aid that the Book of Mormon gives to people are all testimonies to me that this work is not my work, it's not our work. It's Gods work. We are laborers in His vineyard and He will use us to accomplish what He wants to get done.
   Everything is super amazing and in full swing here in California!  I love you all! I'll pray some warm weather your way this week!

   Elder Maxwell

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