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, November 24, 2014

This is what it is all about.

  What! This is not happening! Christian can not be getting married! I don't even know this girl! For all I know she could be completely crazy! (I am sure she is wonderful and amazing) but still I should at least get to know said girl before my brother goes off and gets sealed to her. This is insane. I was sure that I would be at his wedding in a year when I got home or in five years when we finished school. He hasn't even been off of his mission for a year. Just like Austin. :) I am super happy for you though! So I want the whole rundown on how it all happened and how you met and where the first date was and how it all happened so quickly. The proposal? Congrats my brother! You are a great man now! Does she speak Bulgarian with you? How many languages does she know? Does she like playing fun games with all of your siblings? How many times has she made a birthday cake from scratch? Does she doodle on the edge of her paper? Is she organized? How long does she generally like her hair?  I think that should be a good base for all of us to get to know her. Once again I am super excited for you brother! Way to go!  The two of you look great together! I am filled with joy for you right now! You should write me!
   Emma, you better not have any intentions of getting married anytime soon. But if you really have to date guys just date the ones that aren't really husband material but are still great guys! One sibling getting married on my mission is enough I think. If some guy starts to get pretty serious you better tell me before you go making any rash decisions! 
   ​---​Allegra, don't even think about it! 
Elder Kerby and I
   The things that I have learned most from my mission is how to love people. I have truly learned how to love anyone and accept them for who they are. We do a lot of street contacting in this mission in place of tracting and I love going out to talk to people with the intention to help them come unto Christ. I love being able to share this gospel every single day. 
   A habit that I have formed that I would love to keep for the rest of my life but​ will be very difficult is my sleeping schedule. If I can wake up at 6am every single day for the rest of my life, just think of all the extra hours I would have to do things! Its a goal for after the mission but I know it will be hard.
​    The baptism this week was so incredible! He is such a spiritual giant. His friend came out from Arizona to baptize him and then his friend was able to confirm him the next day as well. I am so happy to see him finally make this step in his life and to see the joy that he received as he did. During church, right after he got confirmed, he came back and sat down right next to me and he had the biggest smile on his face! He looked at me and said, "Now its official!"
   This is what it is all about. It's the joy that people receive that makes being a missionary 100% worth it. The long days, the complete exhaustion, the offensive comments, and the combination of stresses. It is all worth it! It's very difficult but that's okay because it makes me the person that I know I need to become. 

​I love you all. Congrats once again on the engagement! You are all awesome!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, November 17, 2014

Help me to do what I know needs to be done!

    Another incredible week has come and gone. What an amazing experience it is to be a missionary, at this time, in this place! Stanford is the best! So many incredible people that we get to meet and teach! But before I get into all the details of the miracles of the week I have to introduce my new companion to you. 
   And coming in at slightly shorter than me, from the town of Orem Utah, is Elder Kerby! Unfortunately for us all he is not related to Kirby, the pink flying marshmallow. I asked him the first day that we met. I figured I always get asked if I am related to THE Elder Maxwell so I wanted to ask him if he was related to THE Kirby. He is not, so we have set that straight! He is a super solid missionary. He has been out for over a year just like me and he has served in a lot of YSA wards on his mission so I call him the YSA Pro. So does our mission president so its all good.
    We have had so many amazing things happen this week. First off is that Logan will be getting baptized this weekend. He has been on a very long 7 year journey of learning about the church and now we get to be part of his last 3 months of learning and he is so excited to finally be ready to take this step. I am really excited for him and I absolutely love to see how he loves and understands the gospel. It has changed his life in ways that he could have never imagined that it would change. He is such a personable guy! I should have more on him and how the baptism went next week. I have learned a lot from him about what it means to be diligent in our studies. I don't know if I will ever be 7 years diligent though. He is an incredible guy. 
    We had Elder Bednar come and speak to our mission and the Oakland - San Francisco mission this weekend. He came out to speak at the 50th anniversary of the Oakland temple and he had a special meeting with just the missionaries. It was such a cool meeting. He had three hours with us and he opened it up as a question and answer for all of the missionaries. What a rare opportunity to be able to ask an apostle of the Lord a question. He taught us a lot about what it means to be an agent and not an object. He shared the scripture in the Book of Mormon that talks about acting and being acted upon. He told us all to be agents. He treated us as agents and never took our agency away. He would always ask us permission to ask a question. It is so important for us to be someone who is doing and not being acted upon. He mentioned how in the church it is a tradition to talk and talk and talk about what we need to do. We all know what needs to be done. He challenged us to change our prayers from help me to know what I need to do, to: help me to do what I know needs to be done! What great advice. It really makes you want to get up and go. Get to work. Rather than sitting there talking about the blessings we can receive from paying our tithing we should just go out and pay our tithing. I love Elder Bednar. He is such an incredible individual. He is inspired and led by the spirit. I can testify that he is an apostle of the Lord. He has been called of God and is truly a seer for our times!
    Last night we got a text. It went as follows: "Hey elders, I have the most incredible referral for you. He is a good friend of mine and he has been reading the Book of Mormon on his iPad and he called me and told me that he wants me to baptize him. Here is his number. Will you please call him right now and set up a time to meet with him?"... What!? We were blown away! We called him right away and as we talked to him he was telling us a little bit about himself. He said that he is playing professional baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and that he just got home from his season and he has the next few months off. He said that he had been reading the Book of Mormon and that it had been answering a lot of his questions. I asked him what he thought of it so far and he said that he loves the connections that he sees between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. We set up a time to meet with him for Wednesday night. What a miracle! He fell right into our lap! Then to top it all off, our mission president gives us a call and says that he is good friends with the father of the guy that sent us the first text and that he wanted to be in on the teaching of him. Whoah! So to conclude it all we now have a new investigator who is a professional baseball player that already wants to be baptized some time in November!
  If this is not a miracle I do not know what is. The Lord is hastening his work! The question is are we going to keep up! This could happen to any of you. We have no idea who is prepared by the Lord. All I know is that as we open our mouth we will have the words placed in our mouth. The Lord will place the prepared in our pathway if he knows that we will open our mouth. As members we have the ability to call down the powers of heaven so do it! Find those people for your missionaries to teach. Remember the water did not part for the Israelites until their feet were wet. We have to take that step into the water. Trust in God! He will always provide and he will never let us down.
     I love you all and I send blessings of warmth to you all. Probably not from the weather but warmth inside of the home. And a whole lot of love! Be good!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, November 10, 2014

We have had a pretty incredible week.

  We have had a pretty incredible week. Not a lot has happened in our own area but we have been on
a lot of exchanges and working in other's areas.  ​I got to go on exchanges with Elder Harper this week! He is such a cool  missionary! We had a lot of fun and got a lot of really good work done. I also got to go back to Fremont on Saturday. I went back to see the baptism of John. He was one of my investigators from right before I left Fremont. He is so cool and I am so very happy that I got to take some time out of my day to go and see him get baptized. He will always be a good friend of mine. I remember all the good times going over there to teach him and having to wear my John pants because his two giant dogs would get our clothes quite slobbery! What a memory. I don't think I will ever be able to forget him. It was really nice being able to see all of my old friends from back in Fremont. It is always nice knowing that you are missed.

    I also got to go to the outgoing fireside last night. That is the fireside where all of the missionaries who are going home this week get to get up and share their testimony. Its always a super big meeting and usually people from all your areas are able to come and see you off for the last time as a missionary. I got to see some people from greenfield who I love so much. I feel bad because I have forgotten all of the Spanish that I had learned so I really couldn't communicate with them in the way that I wanted to. I miss them a lot. They are such a nice family. She would always make us the best Mexican food. I think we are there at least once of twice a week while I was there.

     What a good group of people! There are so many good people! I love meeting new people and getting to know them and understand where they have come from. That is one of the things that I have learned on my mission is that everyone has come from somewhere and everyone has a story. Member or non-member, good or bad. My mission has taught me how to love everyone. I understand now why it is so vitally important not to judge people. We have to give everyone a chance. Everyone deserves to receive the same wonderful blessings that I have received in my life. So if you are not a member of the church I challenge you to go and talk to some missionaries like myself because I know that they all feel the same way that I do. All missionaries have a different back ground as well. That's because we are normal people behind the white shirts and ties! I have truly come to know who my Savior is and the magnitude of what He has done for me. There is literally nothing that He cannot help me with or help me through. He has often been a source of strength for me as I have gone through trials or challenges in my life and especially on my mission! I have been able to overcome challenges that would have been nearly impossible to overcome on my own. I know that the same can be true with everyone. It all starts with putting a little bit of trust in the Lord. Try it!

   We have transfers tomorrow and my companion is going to be out of here! I am sad to see him go but I know that he is being sent to where he needs to be. The Lord always has a plan for us!

  I am excited to see who my new companion will be. I am going to make a non-educated guess and say that he is from Utah and he is going to have 6 fingers on one of his hands, because that would be sweet! He is going to be the greatest companion in the world. I am thinking about having him think that I am a "germ-a-phobe" by using a ton of hand sanitizer on our first day together but I don't want him to think that I am a weirdo for the rest of our time together.

  Well, he will figure that out eventually, but its will be nice if he thinks I am normal to start things out!

   Things are busy and a lot of fun. Working hard and time sure is flying by! I love you all. Glad to hear you had a great week! Until next time...

Love Elder Maxwell

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

That is the greatest thing that you can become!

   I apologize for the late email day. I hope you got some pictures of what we were out doing all day yesterday. It was a lot of fun. Yet another trip to Santa Cruz! What a good time. I will be sending a lot of pictures this week!

I did enjoy my extra hour of sleep on Sunday! It was a much needed hour of sleep too!  Also, this week I was at a baptism, not Lanes, and they played a Mormon message and I am positive that the one Mathews girl, I am blanking on her name, I feel like I should remember it, she was in it. It was about all the different church history sites. She was in the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra talking about it. Please let me know if I am crazy!

    We had such a great week! Lane got baptized! It was so incredible. He has been on such a long journey with his family not supporting him most of the way.  He has been such an amazing example for me and my companion. His faith is so strong. The baptism went really well. His girlfriend and her family came out to support him and also one of his high school football coaches. There was a really good turnout of people that came and a lot of people who had been part of Lanes journey were able to share their testimony on seeing him and the example he set for those who were around him. I am so proud of Lane for taking this step even in the midst of all the challenges that were in his path. If I can have faith equal to lanes then I know that amazing things can and will happen. The great part is I CAN have faith like Lane so I will do everything I can to trust in the Lord. I sent a photo of the baptism. Be warned we are a very good looking group. :)

  We had another amazing thing happen for us this week. So if you recall in my last letter I talked about a guy that walked into church on Sunday and was super cool and wanted to learn more about our church. So last Monday we invited him to come to our dinner with us. Our dinner just happened to be at Google headquarters which was super cool. I also attached some photos of the Google trip. Unfortunately our new friend is not in any of them.

Thanks to Google Map, he visited home!

   So back to the point, our new friends name is Logan and he just moved from Arizona about three weeks ago. We asked him at dinner what led him to the church on Sunday and he proceeded to tell us the story of his journey. He said it all started about two years ago. He was a devout atheist and didn't believe in anything. He had been living his life like that for a long time and one day after a series of events and realizing that he needed something more in his life he decided that he should look into religion more and specifically Christianity. He started to study all on his own and he searched and searched for something that clicked with him. Nothing. So he decided that he needed to change the way that he was looking into religion. He decided one day that maybe he would just believe. He chose to believe that God was real and Jesus Christ really is his savior and with that attitude he began to study once again. A few weeks after this choice he met his first Mormon. He said he talked with him for three hours about religion the first time they met and over the course of the next month or two they would meet periodically. His new friend told him a lot about the church and answered a lot of his questions. Then his friend got the missionaries involved and for an entire summer him and the missionaries went back and forth, back and forth about various views on various topics. At the end of the summer he made plans to move out here to the Bay Area and work at Oracle. He told his friend that he was close to being baptized but it just didn't feel right. His friend replied to him. Don't worry, I know that in Gods time you will make the choice. Three weeks after he moved he calls his friend back in Arizona and said to him that he had been feeling a lot of inspiration and he thought that it was time. He wanted to join the church. His friend got online and found our ward and sent him to church on Sunday and that's where we met and we come into the story! Long story I know but what an incredible journey! I think of all the different people that must have worked with him and planted seeds with him and helped him understand different things that are important to him. Then I look at us, here in Stanford and I think of everything that we are doing and all the work that we do that seems to not bring any real results. But as we look at the bigger picture we are preparing miracles like this one for other missionaries. We met with Logan again on Thursday and set a baptism date for November 22nd. He is really excited and his friend and a past missionary have already purchased plane tickets to come out for the baptism.

  The Lord's hand truly is in the work. I can not deny the incredible blessings that we have seen this week. I only had time to write about those two but I can promise you that if you go to the missionaries and tell them that you want to achieve a goal by the end of the year that the power of heaven will be on your side and that the missionaries will help work with the goal. I love serving out here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. This is Gods work and I am part of it! I am so glad that I have another year left.

   I love you all! Keep being amazing! Stay warm and don't let anything take you away from what God wants you to be, because that is the greatest thing that you can become!

Love, Elder Maxwell