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 1, 2014

We determine our success in life...

   As we walk we hear the shouts of the crowd. The thundering of thousands of voices chanting in unison. You can feel the vibration of the excitement running through the ground and into your entire being. Suddenly, it goes quiet but not silent. You can feel the anticipation in the air. Then without any warning you hear the roaring of the crowd once more! The magnitude of their cries overpowering the sound of my own voice. The game is over and now it is our time. As we walk the paths of the campus searching for the people who are ready to hear the gospel. The campus is full, people everywhere! The are all wearing red in support of their favorite team. We talk to some and they enjoy our conversation. We talk to others and the blow us off as if we are a leaf in the wind. Minute by minute, hour by hour we work as the time slips away. We give it our full effort but nobody seems to want to hear. We watch as they miss the opportunity to grow and experience the changing power of the Atonement. After giving everything we had and feeling like nothing came from it, we head to the car defeated.
   We were about to head home to make ourselves "who knows what" for a dinner when a man runs up behind us and asks us how we are doing. Overjoyed that we would now have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone we stop to talk with him. Without wasting any time the man asks us if he can buy us some dinner, he then also told us that he was a member of our church. We replied to him that we would love some dinner. He bought us some Panda Express and we went and sat down with his family. They were in town for the game and were about to head back up to Sacramento. They had seen us walking from where they were sitting and thought that we would probably be hungry. We had a wonderful meal with them.
   We asked them how the game went and we learned that Stanford won 45-0. What a win! First game of the season with no sweat. We continued to talk and I learned that the daughter was really into rock climbing. She had just started getting into it recently but she loved talking about anything rock climbing so we had a great conversation. She then saw on my tag that I knew sign language so she began to sign to me. It was great! She took sign language all through college at BYU. They were a very cool family and we really enjoyed talking and sharing dinner with them. Then right as we were about to leave my companion mentioned to them that we didn't have anyone signed up for dinner for that night and how great of a blessing it was that they got us dinner. The mother then said this in reply, "You Elders must be living right!"
   As we parted ways and we headed back to our car for the second time. We had a demeanor of joy and love knowing that our efforts had not been in vain. It illustrated to me that no matter the circumstance, we determine our success in life off of how hard we try, not off of the results that we see. Heavenly Father knows our hearts. He knows the effort that we put in and he will bless us accordingly. We don't know the effect that we will have on someone. The seeds that we plant just in our interactions alone can become, in the future, blossoms of faith that will develop into worthy and faithful followers of Jesus Christ. What a great lesson to learn. We are the tool that lies in the hand of our Heavenly Father. As we make ourselves the most effective tool we can, Heavenly Father will work amazing miracles through us. This joins in exactly with a lesson that we taught this week. If you remember back to general conference in May, President Uchtdorf gave a talk about being grateful in our circumstances. He said, "We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.
This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.  When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace."

   As I read what he has said to us, I look back on my own attitude as I was feeling defeated and tired as we went to the car the first time. I think now about how much different it could have been if I was grateful in my circumstance. I could have been grateful for the opportunity I had to be out sharing the gospel with those around me. If I have learned anything this week it is that I need to be more grateful for what I am doing.

   The other cool story for the week was how we got our new investigator. We got invited over to dinner by a girl in the ward and often in this ward three or four women will share one house and will all be roommates. So this one sister invited us over for dinner. When the day of dinner got closer we called to confirm that we were still on for the next evening. She said yes we found a man that can be there. So fast forward we are at dinner and the man that was there was the non member boyfriend of one of the other sisters. Perfect! They had talked a lot about the church before so he was really cool and was asking us a lot of questions. We had a great discussion over dinner and then afterwords we shared a lesson about the plan of salvation and he loved that. He had so many good comments to add. At the end of the lesson we invited him to continue to learn and meet with us. He said that he would love to do that so we will be meeting with him again soon. It is so cool! I love how many people in this ward have friends that are not members and they all bring them to church without having to be asked to do so. Singles wards defiantly have it very easy to get friends to come to church or an activity. It is really cool to be serving here. I love it.

    Serving as a Zone Leader is so much fun! I get to go on exchanges whenever I want! Its so cool. Spending an entire day with other missionaries is such a great way to get to know them and love and understand them. I am really loving serving all the other missionaries in the zone. I was studying about leadership the other morning and I read a talk that taught me a very important principle. Being a leader doesn't make you better than anyone else. The talk mentioned something called the "Jonathan Factor". This was in reference to the story in the bible about Saul and David and Jonathan. Saul was going to be replaced as king and David and Jonathan were the two candidates. As Samuel anointed David to be the new king, Saul was upset because he wanted his son Jonathan to be the new king. So Saul tried to convince his son to kill David, but Jonathan understood that being the king meant nothing more to God. So Jonathan faithfully supported David as the new king! This is exactly how it is for us. We support our leaders faithfully and we know that our Heavenly Father does not determine our success by how many different leadership positions we hold. Jonathan was just as great of a man as David. That is how I want to be as a leader. Humble just like King Benjamin and Jonathan!
    It was an awesome week! I had such a great time! Happy Labor Day! And good luck starting school!

Love, Elder Maxwell

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