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, 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