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, December 29, 2014

Christmas Miracles!

Merry Christmas! 

   The holidays are such and incredible time of the year! My companion was my Christmas miracle for the year. He got out of the hospital on Wednesday at 11:45pm. Home just in time to celebrate Christmas! I haven't had a chance to see him off of pain mess yet. So we haven't really had any normal conversations for a while. ( I don't know if you could tell on Skype or not) He has been a very funny companion for the past week and the week before that he was missing, so hopefully we can get back to normal pretty quickly here. 
   It was so good being able to see all of you on Christmas! I had a great time and it went really fast! I really enjoyed the last five minutes of wisdom. That was really cool. As you asked me to give words of wisdom I felt impressions for each and everyone of you. I felt as though I knew exactly what would bless your life and exactly what you needed to hear. I had not thought of any of those things before hand. They came to me instantly as the spirit told me what wisdom to share with all of you. So the wisdom you got on Thursday was not from me, sorry, it was from the spirit. It was a cool experience for me receiving small revelation on behalf of all of you. Sorry Christian, you missed it but I would have had something awesome for you too! Love you man! 
    I hope everyone's holiday was filled with joy and miracles just like mine was! Speaking of miracles, I was at a baptism on Wednesday for a guy in our stake and the power in the baptistery went out right as we were getting ready to start. We started the baptism as scheduled and it was really cool because when it was time for him to be baptized, it was very dark in the font, so on either side of the font, hidden from view, we had flashlights pointing at them in the water. The light made both of them glow! It was really cool. Then after the baptism was complete and they were headed into the completely  dark bathroom to change the power came back on and there was light! Then someone said "it's a Christmas miracle!" It was very funny. A very spiritual baptism as well. Very well done.
    Yesterday my companion was supposed to give a talk. He had been asked two weeks in advance and he agreed and got his topic. Then with the whole kidney stones and the pain medication and a whole lot of sleeping, he never got around to preparing his talk. So all day Saturday I was on exchanges in another area and when I got home at 10 Saturday night and he is fast asleep because of his drugs and the other missionary that was with his looks at me and said. Elder Kerby doesn't think he will be able to speak tomorrow so he wants you to give his talk for him. So Saturday night as my companion slept I stayed up preparing a talk just in case my companion asked me to give it for him the next day. I wake up the next morning and my companion is feeling great. He feels the best he has in weeks. He never says anything to me about the talk so I assume he was feeling up to giving it himself. He waits until the bishop comes up to us in church and says, "Elder Kerby, you are speaking to us today?" Then in response Elder Kerby says he is on pain medication and can't think straight so elder Maxwell will be speaking for me. I didn't want to cause any contention and I was prepared to speak so I went along with it. I got to speak and it went really well. I just wish my companion had actually asked me to take over for him. I brought it up to him later and it turns out that he had thought he asked me Saturday during lunch. I told him we weren't even together for lunch on Saturday and I figured out that he didn't even realize that I hadn't been his companion for a day. Funny story :) Goes to show why drugs are bad for you. They mess up your head! I guess it is a good thing he didn't speak on Sunday! Who knows what he would have said. I am glad everything worked out and my companion is still here with me and not in the hospital anymore. The miracles of Christmas! 
    This week is a happy new year! 2015! This is the year I come home. That seems very strange. Very fast! It's going to be weird as I continue to approach the conclusion of my mission. I am looking forward to all the exciting and amazing experiences that I will have and will be able to share with all of you this coming year! Any HUGE plans for the coming year?

   Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 22, 2014

It is the whole "third wheel" kind of a feeling.

  Well I have a ton to write about this week! Some of it is good. Some is bad. Some of it is just weird! I also need to apologize right now for not sending the information about Skype times sooner! I have been slacking off in getting this all finalized! There is a 95% chance that I will be Skyping home at 11am (Cali Time) but if I am not able to Skype then. We have a backup Planned for 2pm (Cali Time). So as long as the world doesn't implode on itself I will be Skyping home this week! I am really excited to see everyone. Will the whole family be there? I guess its kind of pointless to ask that question because I wont read the answer until after I have Skyped. Oh well. I cant wait!

   First big news, my companion is sick and in the hospital. Thursday he started to be in a lot of pain so I took him to the hospital and after a full night of absolutely no sleep. We found out that he has kidney stones! Yay! So much fun! He didn't look like he was having too much fun. He passed them all and is now in recovery. He has to be stationary for a couple weeks because it caused some internal bleeding and any time he moves around its like ripping off a scab. So to conclude all of those thoughts. I have had no companion since Friday afternoon and have been bouncing my way around all the different companionships in the zone. I will have to keep doing things like this for the next two weeks! I don't even know if I will have a companion for Christmas! I celebrated my companions birthday without him yesterday. Some members threw him a party but he wasn't able to make it. He has a stack of birthday presents at our apartment that he still hasn't had a chance to open. Its very strange not having a companion. I feel very alone. Not in a lonely, I have no friends kind of way but in a I have always had someone watching me every second and now its as if I am observing two people that are watching each other but not me. I guess it is the whole "third wheel" kind of a feeling. Its weird. Hopefully I can enjoy it and make the most out of the time I have to spend with all the other missionaries! I am excited to be here serving at this time of year! You are right, there is no greater gift that I could give! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! Eat lots and lots and lots of sweets! Sets us up really nicely for those new year resolutions to lose weight!
    We had a really good week with both of our investigators! They are both very excited for their baptisms at the end of January! We have taught both of them almost all the lessons and they are both very sincere in their questions and are trying to learn and understand everything that they can before their baptisms! We have been doing a lot of planning for Stephens baptism and because he has physical limitations we have been looking for handicap friendly options for his baptism. The coolest option and the simplest option we have found so far is at a Sheraton hotel! They have recently put in a handicap lift for their beautiful outdoor pool! My job for the week is to go and talk with an event planner at the Sheraton to see if we can hold a baptism at the conference room next to the pool and then go out to the pool for the actual ordinance! I am pretty excited to go and talk with them to see if thats an option. It will be a great missionary opportunity within itself! Thats the big news as far as investigators go.

 I did get my Christmas package! Very good thing I didn't get transferred. I was super excited that they came so I almost opened all of them but I didn't because I knew that if I opened them all early it would be super boring come Christmas day. And under our beautiful Christmas tree there would be no presents! That would be no fun.

I can't wait to see you all on Thursday! Merry Christmas! I love you all!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 15, 2014

This week has been great!

Hello everyone,

  This week has been great! Isn't it crazy that we are already half way through the month of December! Before we know it we will be at Christmas time and then BAM! Time flies by so fast! Anyways, I forgot to say last week that transfers are tomorrow. I am staying in Stanford until at least February 1st! Next transfer is on the 2nd of February.

  The week was filled with miracles. This one was not our own but I will share it because it was amazing! Some elders in our zone get a call Saturday morning from their bishop and he says that he needs them to get a baptism ready for 7pm that same night. He had gotten a call from the non-member of a part member family who had been taught before and he said that he wanted to be baptized now. So on Saturday the elders got a baptism. The funniest part is that neither of those elders have ever taught the guy who got baptized! What I learned from this is that we do receive miracles. They are real! This is such an incredible work!

  We had a really great lesson with one of our investigators this past week. We taught him about tithing and fast offerings and it went really well. He is completely willing to pay tithing as soon as he is baptized. He is very supportive of the churches donation and disaster efforts. At the end of the lesson we realized we didn't really need to cover that much more with him before he can be baptized so we invited him to be baptized again and he said yes! We asked him if we could set a date and he said yes! Then we gave him a few dates and his is going to check his schedule and we will set the date next week! Amazing! What a great feeling it is to know that you will get to see someone dressed in white ready to make a covenant with God. We are very excited for him. He has come a very long way from not knowing anything about the gospel or religion in general to being a very interested and understanding individual when it comes to the gospel.

   We also got to help set up a projector screen for a recent convert on Thursday. Which is when the "big" storm hit. I heard one lady even call it "stormaggedon". It really wasn't even that bad. We did get some flooding on the roads, so there were some roads closed, but other than that it was just a normal Oregon rainy day. It did however provide us with an opportunity to spend some quality time helping Sid, the recent convert. We got a super awesome picture from our service!

   Our mission won't be getting iPads until March now so don't need to worry about that for a while! 
    Love you all! Hope your holidays are splendid! Keep up all the incredible family unity!

   Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 8, 2014

So we took it to the Lord!

Hello and Merry Christmas to you all!
   Yet another great week down! So many spiritual experiences that I am going to jump right in. First off, I am excited to say that our investigator, who we have set the January 10th baptism date with, is doing super well! We had a really cool lesson with him yesterday! A little background, is that over the past three years he has been losing his strength. He used to be a very active guy his whole life, playing basketball and such. Now, he is reduced to weakness and can't walk or lift his arms so he is always in a wheelchair. He really wants to get baptized and last week he brought up some concerns about his fear of water and he has very weak lungs so he can't hold his breath at all. So we were given a couple of challenges to try and figure out how he could be baptized. We were fasting last Sunday, so we took it to the Lord in prayer and asked God for a solution to help his baptism be comfortable and a positive experience. The answer we received was Alma 15. As we read through this we realized that the Lord wants him to be baptized. We don't know if the Lord wants him to be healed 100% so he can be baptized or if he will help him overcome his fears or what will happen but we received an answer as a companionship that The Lord wanted us to give Stephen a blessing of healing. So yesterday when we had another lesson with him we went fasting again. We studied and thought about the priesthood and blessings and miracles all week and when Sunday came we knew that what we were going to do is what God wanted. We went into the lesson and we shared Alma 15 with him, we talked about miracles and the power of God to be able to do all things. Then we offered to give him a blessing of healing. Now you have to understand that he is very sincere and he has every desire to be baptized. He accepted the blessing and what followed was a miraculous experience for myself and my companion. We proceeded to give him a blessing and the spirit was definitely the one talking. He was blessed to have the strength to accomplish all that God had in store for him. A lot of things were said that I feel are very sacred to him and I will not share all of them but at the end of the blessing he looked at us and said that he felt different. He felt during the blessing a wave of something wash over his entire body. He was so grateful for the blessing from God and he knew that he was making the right decision to work towards being baptized. I have no doubt in my mind that over the next few weeks we will continue to see miracles happen to help him continue to prepare for his baptism.

     I want to share with all of you my witness of the power of the priesthood. I know that God is real, I know that Christ lives and through his redeeming power all things are possible. God loves all of his children so much and He is willing to do anything he can to help any of his children on their path back towards Him. I don't know all that God has in store for our investigator but I do know that he is going to have a huge impact on a lot of people and that God has amazing things in store for him. 
   On another note, we had a Mission Leadership Council (MLC) this week. We got to go down into the mission office with all the other leaders of the mission to council with President Mella. I learned more from this MLC than any of the others that I have been to. Pres. Mella did a great job of presenting topics or ideas and asking all of us for input or things that may help the work and specifically help our individual zones. That is one thing that I love about the church is that the doctrine is the same no matter where you go, but the way the doctrine is applied is open to the leaders in areas to seek revelation as to how it will best bless, lift, and inspire the members of that area. Then once we receive the council from our leaders we can take that and ponder it and see how it applies to us individually. We can all seek our own personal revelation. I love that! This is a very personal relationship between God and each and every one of us. The way we strengthen that connection is through prayer and scripture study. Which I love to do! Its so much fun learning what God has in store for me. I am so very grateful for the habits that I have developed on my mission. I have changed a lot. It is amazing at the things that I have learned that I had no idea I needed to learn!  Steve Young also came and spoke to all of us so I attached that picture just for fun. My companion is front left and I am front right!
    Everyone have an awesome week! I love you and keep being the best family ever!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 1, 2014

Be doers of the word and the work. Not just listeners and learners.

Hola all my friends,
    We had quite the week. I learned the biggest downside to serving in a singles ward this week. On holidays all of the members go home to their families and enjoy Thanksgiving there. Which for us means that the 300 people we would normally work with throughout the week was down to only 4 people. We can just say that missionary work wise the week was pretty slow but that does not mean we didn't have any cool experiences.

    Throughout it all though, last night we taught one of the most incredible lessons of my mission. Well, the spirit taught the most incredible lesson of my mission last night. We were meeting with our investigator Stephen and we were going over the gospel of Jesus Christ and we invited him to be baptized and he said that he would love to be baptized! We are super excited for him and have set a date with him for January 10th! The joy that I felt as we were able to be a part of him taking the steps on the path back towards our Heavenly Father. It does not get better than this. I can promise you that. If you want to feel true joy help a friend come back to the fold. It is so incredible. I can promise you that! I am so grateful for this gospel!

   Thanksgiving was wonderful, we went to our bishops home along with the sisters and some other family friends that they had invited over. We started off the evening by playing a good old game of Telestrations. That reminded me of home and all the good times that we had inviting people over to our house.  I guess we are the only people that play that game by writing out sentences. They kept telling me to write just a word. Anyways, that's not really important. I had a really good study Thanksgiving morning. I studied in the Book of Mormon about God giving us detailed examples of what we need to do. My study was mostly in D&C 123 and about having faith to move mountains. We will never really need to move a mountain but we can learn from that example that it takes just a tiny bit of faith to make something incredible happen. So for us to do what God is asking us to do, how much faith do we need to have? Not a lot but imaging if we had more faith than a grain of mustard seed. We could do spectacular things that he asks of us. It's a pretty incredible thought. Then after I studied that I read the talk by Elder Uchtdorf titled, "Grateful in any Circumstance" it was the perfect talk to study on Thanksgiving because it tells us the blessings of being grateful in our circumstances rather than being grateful for things. I talked about that with a lot of people throughout the day. I was not the only one that had the idea to read that talk in the morning. :)

The church has come out with a new social media holiday video and it is really good. Everyone needs to go to Christmas.Mormon.org and watch the videos and then share it! #sharethegift we have been telling people about it on the street since Thanksgiving and it makes me sad seeing people reject a message about Jesus Christ. We would walk up to people and say, can I share a gift with you today? Everyone stops. They hear the word gift and it catches their attention, then as soon as they find out the gift is Jesus Christ they are no longer interested. How has the world become so corrupt that Christmas is now 100% about getting gifts and giving gifts. There is no more Christ in Christmas these days. It really makes me sad. I love this time of year because generally people are nicer in this month than in the 11 other months.

    Speaking of Christmas, I believe you had a picture sent to you the day after Thanksgiving of my companion and I standing in front of the coolest Christmas tree. It was called the picture tree and it was FULL of pictures. We went to that persons house to help the put up Christmas decorations at 10 in the morning and we finally left at 5 in the afternoon. She had so many Christmas decorations. It was insane! We had a lot of fun though. Nothing to get in the Christmas spirit like seeing a house transform into a winter wonderland. We had a great time and hopefully the picture was good!

I loved the Christmas package! We opened it up and were so happy to see the Christmas countdown. I think if someone was to walk into our apartment building they would think we are super into Christmas because we totally are. It's both of our last mission Christmas so we have been going all out! We got lights and a peppermint scented wall outlet thing. I must say our apartment is super seasonal right now. The countdown looks super good on the wall. We are loving our first thought a day. We are loving this Christmas season! It's the best!

    In sacrament meeting yesterday a girl got up and shared her testimony about Jesus Christ. She said something that has really stuck with me and has really caused me to ponder. She said that she has developed a relationship with Jesus Christ as she has accessed the atonement and prayed. She said, "If Jesus was to walk in here right now I don't think I would be surprised how he looks because I feel as though I know him. If he was to stand at this pulpit today I wouldn't be surprised with what he said because I already know what he would say." That really hit me. We spend so much time thinking that we need to hear something from God or we need a vision or we need to be visited by an angel but if any of those things were to happen what do we expect would be said? Are we waiting around for someone to tell us we are exempt from this or that? Are we waiting around to receive new revelation when we are struggling to do what we have already been asked to do? As you can see this has caused some interesting thoughts for me. I don't know if all of that made since but I hope that everyone can understand that we have already been given everything that we need to do what God wants us to do. We already know what a heavenly messenger would say to us. We just have to go out now and become agents. Doers of the word and the work. Not just listeners and learners. So that's my challenge to everyone this week. Go out and do something that God has asked you to do, whatever that may be for you. This is a great time of year for service. You are all incredible and wonderful examples to me. Thank you for all the wonderful support and love. Thank you for all the prayers! I love this work! I love you all and hope you have a great week.

Elder Maxwell