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 28, 2015

What a great work this is.

This week has been awesome! We got three new investigators this week! That is like a gold mine out here! Three in one week!!! Unfortunately two of the three decided to stop being investigators before we could even meet with them a second time... Ugh, the thrills of being a messenger :) However one of our new investigators is still interested in finding a way to help bring her family together. Is there a better place to bring a family together than within the gospel of Jesus Christ? I do not think so!!! We met with just her this past week and taught her the beginning of the restoration and testified of eternal families. She wants us to meet up with her and her family next time. I am not sure if that will happen before I leave because they are leaving on a trip soon but I hope it does, if not the next missionary will be just as excited and ready as I am. 

I am confident at this moment that my companion is ready to take over the area. He is prepared and I am not worried about anyone falling through the cracks. I have introduced him to everyone and have taught him all the things that we do. He is having a hard time learning the roads and everything though. He will probably have to use a gps when I leave. Haha, I was trying to help him learn how to get from the church back to our apartment which is a trip we make all the time so I told him it was up to him to get us home. I pretended to fall asleep and we drove around for the next 30 minutes trying to get home. He did eventually make it home, it was just a 10 minute drive that became a 30 minute drive. He did learn however the fastest way to get home and has never gotten lost again! (At least not getting home from the church, other places we are still working on...) But we have the important things down, the people. He knows them and loves them. I have handed him the reins of friendship that I have developed with the ward. They trust us and love us a ton! He is going to do some incredible work here before he gets transferred out. 

This is a historic conference! The last time we had three new apostles at once was in 1906! That's over a hundred years ago! Not to mention I am on a mission and conference as a missionary is like Christmas in October and April! Less meetings, more spiritual guidance from our leaders who have been called by God! I love it and am super excited. Also as tradition has it, we get to go to the temple during conference week so we are headed up to the temple on the 8th and then I get to go again on the 13th because I'm coming home!!!! 

As for experiences or miracles that I have seen on my mission...

The first one that comes to mind it the miracle of Stephens baptism. I can't even begin to explain the amount of prayer and work that went into trying to get everything to come together. We did everything we were supposed to be doing we were as obedient as we could be. We called upon God constantly, asking him for help and guidance. After several months of preparation we were drawing close to the day of his actual baptism. Part of the plans we had set up were to do a trial run baptism a couple nights before to work out any kinks that we may have overlooked. This is where God took control and made everything happen. We had done everything we could and then God said, "Good work, but this is how it needs to be done and this is how and when you should do it." That trial run baptism came together so flawlessly into his actual baptism that the only way it could have worked out was if God's hand was in it. All the different details that needed to be worked out all the moving parts that had to come together; God blessed us with a miracle that night. I don't know if the baptism would have been able to happen at another place or another time or in another way. I cannot describe how grateful I am for Stephen and his faith. 

All of the other experiences that I am thinking of right now are all based upon a continual or constant effort of being our best at being obedient . I recall a time when my companion was driving and he took an exit loop way too fast and we somehow drifted all the way around the turn without ending up hurt or dead or even with a scratch on the car. I know that at that speed there was no way we should have come out of that the way we did. We also have this little box in our car that tells us if we are driving aggressively and it didn't say anything. I put that into Gods hands and give thanks for the protection we received.

The last one that I want to share right now is back towards the beginning of my mission. My companion and I were working hard and doing everything we could to find work in our area. We were constantly going. There was no letting up. Yet, day after day we would come home empty handed. Once again we were being consistent with our obedience rather than just giving obedience a shot for a day we made it part of who we are, we made it second nature. Then one day we get a text from church headquarters with a name and an address. This is when we met Golden Gladys. That's just what I call her. We went and visited her as soon as we got the text. She wasn't home but her little brother told us she was working. We decided to go to her place of work and we met her right there and taught her the first lesson right there in the store, prayer and everything. We set up another appointment with her and she continued to express her gratitude to us for coming so quickly and how excited she was to become a member of the church. She is Golden Gladys because she already knew the church is true. She already knew she wanted to be baptized. She was baptized within six weeks of our first meeting at her work. Only God provides individuals like that. He provides them through us as we do everything we can to prepare our friends for this gospel.

I really like these questions each week. I love looking back on my mission. I see times that I had incredible experiences and I see times that I could have done better. I see the moments that I grew the most. I see the lives that I have touched. I see the people I love. What a great work this is. I am so very grateful that I have been a part of it for these two years. I am excited to be on the other side of this work as a member missionary. 

I love this gospel! It is true! I love all of you and hope you have an amazing week!!!!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 21, 2015

I am so glad that I got to serve here...

I had the weirdest experience this morning as I was starting to email. For the first time on my mission I didn't want to email home! I know that sounds bad but let me explain. I don't know if Austin and Christian had a similar experience but I had this feeling this morning that I am so close to being home that I don't want to email I want to be there talking with everyone instead! So it's not that I don't want to talk to you all, it is that I want to do it in person rather than over email. Wouldn't that be nice! Only three more emails after this one and then it will be a face to face conversation! I am really excited to see everyone! 

This week has been pretty incredible! We have had a lot of interaction with non members who will potentially become new investigators for our area. We started to invite non members to play basketball with us in the middle of the day so that we can have something to do in those busy work hours and we invited them to invite their friends. We had a three on three basketball game going with four non members and us. It was awesome. And because we were playing in the church we set the terms that we would start with a prayer and a message before we played. We shared the first part of the Restoration and had a prayer and you could definitely feel the spirit there. While we were playing and after we had played every single non member had come up to us at some point and asked gospel questions. They all had a sincere interest in knowing. We invited them all to play again this week and we plan on inviting them all individually to meet outside of basketball to learn more about the church. We hope all goes well and that they will accept our invitation. They are all very cool and would benefit a ton from the gospel in their lives. They would all be attending the singles ward with us, so keep us in your prayers this week so we can have success!  

We also have been doing a lot of work in the Los Gatos ward with the members that are being taught. I have finally been able to introduce Elder Wolfe to all of the people that we have been working with and have been asked to work with. I have been doing my best to help him learn who all the members are and know where they live and the basic layout of the area. It is a tough job to take over an area after only seven weeks. I have been here long enough that I am the human gps for this ward. I know everyone's names, kids names, where they live, who lives close to them, what they do for work and fun, etc... My patriarchal blessing tells me that my memory will be a blessing to me for my entire life. I have definitely seen that on my mission. I go to someone's house one time and I will always remember how to get back to their house. No matter where I am. It has been such a huge blessing. I realize now that i really didn't know our ward back home that well before the mission. I want to get to know everyone better when I get home. Why do we close ourselves off? Kinda weird/funny/not good. 

Top five teaching opportunities... (Toughest one yet) I am going to go with my top 5 favorite people to teach.

1. I absolutely loved teaching Stephen K. He is the most accepting sincere person that I have met on my mission. He was always willing to accept what we taught but always took it to God to know the truth. He was a clean slate, he had no preconceived notions about what he wanted to hear. I think back to teaching him and he was like a child in learning things for the first time and the excitement and joy that it brought him was amazing! 

2. Teaching Max S was also an amazing experience. I fell in love with him and his family from the first time that I met them all. I know I have said it before but the feeling of love that they have fo each other has left an impression on me that will always be remembered and cherished. He was so prepared to hear the gospel and the support that he received from his family was perfect! I love that family so much and I am excited to see the effect that they can have on those around them as they share the gospel.

3. John B, I have some great memories of him and our teaching experiences there. He had him two giant Mastiff dogs and they sure could slobber!!! We had our John B pants that we would only wear once a week because they got so gross every time we were there. He is probably the roughest man I have ever met. He is always covered in a layer of dirt and he was so humble. Teaching him was amazing because he was so willing to have faith and want to know for himself. I remember some incredible feelings of the spirit as we testified to him about the truthfulness of the Restoration. 

4. Lane V was a great example to me. He knew the gospel was true from the first Ike that I met him. Everything he learned was accepted without hesitation. He was a great example to me of reusing in the Lord no matter what the possible consequences. His family did not agree or support what he was doing but he knew it was right and did what he knew he needed to do. The Lord provided a way for him to move forward on a righteous path.  His family has accepted that he joined and are even looking into the church now.

5. Logan R has to be the final one. He had been learning about the church for seven years before we even met him. He had already ready the complete standard works and had overcome his hang ups with all the anti Mormon attacks that he had received over the last seven years. We really didn't have to teach him anything. He was so prepared right off the bat. I remember talking with him in our first lesson over dinner at Google and he said, "I am here to get baptized, that's why I came to your ward." Umm, hello! How cool is that! It was only our second time meeting him and we set the date for when he would be baptized. Quite the intelligent person. He is going to make incredible contributions to the church. 

There are a lot of other people that I would love to add to this but for the sake of length and time I will save that for later. I am so glad that I got to serve here in California at this time! I couldn't imagine serving anywhere else. This is where the Lord needed me!!!!

Have a warm week and have fun! I love you all a ton! See you all in three weeks! 

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 14, 2015

One of the more interesting ways to do missionary work.

This has been another great week! We have had a lot of fun and a lot of success with the returning members in our ward. As far as our investigators go they all bailed on us this week but we still feel successful because we were able to stop by and help a lot of our members. 

One of my favorite stories of the week was when we had just gotten out of a meeting and we went to stop by a very inactive member of the church. We stop by and visit him and his wife every once in a while and we always offer to help him out around his house. He is an elderly man and there are plenty of things that he could use some help with. He has never taken us up on our offer. This one time though, as we stop by in our white shirts and ties he says that he has a quick project for us to help him with. The word 'quick' reassured us that we would be able to get it done with no problem in our shirts and ties. We get out back where his 'quick' project is and there are two huge slabs of concrete that used to be steps down from his house that he wanted moved. We are talking 6'x6'x2' slabs of solid concrete. TWO of them! There was no way that were were moving them how they were because they were probably 1000 lbs each, so we asked him if he had a sledge hammer... For the next 1.5 hours we swung a sledge hammer at concrete to break it apart into movable pieces. Remember that this entire time we are in our white shirts and ties and just to make it a little bit more fun Mother Nature decided to have it be 102 degrees out that day. We were sweating like pigs. So gross, but we got it done and he was amazed that we were able to break them apart and move them. He didn't have too much faith in our ability to accomplish what he had asked us to do. I think he was trying to give us a job that he thought was impossible but we made it happen! He was very pleased with the work that we did. I am really happy that we got to help him and that we were able to swing a sledge hammer. Takes me back to the good old days of splitting wood! Which reminds me that I never split that wood for the Wolfe Family... I owe them 2 hours of wood splitting I think. I feel very accomplished after helping them out in their yard. Unfortunately I only got one video and no photos. The video is only of my companion too, and he makes it look easy in the video but trust me it was not very easy. Most of the time it would take about five or more hits to get the concrete to split. Ill send the video so I don't sound crazy.

We also had a really good meeting with a less active newly wed couple. They are super cool! We had a family home evening with them on Monday last week and it was fantastic! We shared a message and played a lot of board games with them. We talked and really got to know one another. They are super cool because thy are real with us. They expect us to be ourselves and they are themselves with us as well which makes everything so much better. When nobody is sheltering themselves behind walls then everyone is a lot more comfortable around each other. We had a great night and I lost Apples to Apples by a long shot. Wasn't even close to being competition for the winner. We taught a lesson about how sacrifice brings forth blessings and we got into a really good discussion about why they are not coming to church and we learned that they know the church is true and they know it is what they need but the reason they come is because there is nobody in the ward that they can relate to. Our ward is relatively 'old' people or families with little children. There honestly nobody in our ward that is in the same situation that they are in. Newly married without kids. So I can understand how they would feel like the ward wasn't a very good fit for them. I am not sure what direction we should head in with them but we are counting on the spirit to guide us and help us to do what we need to do!

We also have an investigator right now who has been meeting with missionaries for the past year. He is not technically in our ward but we have been asked to work with him for a specific reason. He has a strong testimony of the church and knows that he needs to join but he has a phobia of people touching him. And its not just some thing where you are scared of a spider, it is an actual medical condition that I don't know what it is called. But he wrestles with missionaries to help him get over his fear. He has to take a drug right now that essentially makes him 'high' so that he can tolerate people touching him. He wants to be baptized but he doesn't want to be 'high' while he is doing it so the wrestling is a therapeutic way for him to be able to get used to people touching him and he slowly works his way off of the drug while wrestling and it will prepare him to be baptized. A lot of details and pieces that go into play that I don't understand but our mission president asked us to help him out on Saturday mornings so we started this past Saturday wrestling him. I am not a wrestler but I did my best to hold my own against him. What really happened was we would wrestle until he made me tap and then we would go again and again and again. It was fun and I got a really good workout. One of the more interesting ways to do missionary work. But we do it early in the morning so it does not take away from our prime Saturday proselyting time.

As you said I haven't really had FIVE areas, but I have had amazing areas my whole mission.

My area that I was most excited to go to when I got the transfer call was the ASL Branch in Fremont. I was so happy and ecstatic and bouncing off of walls at that transfer meeting. I loved serving in that program because of the wide range of coverage that we had. We could go anywhere and do anything across the entire mission! I was able to travel and visit places that most missionaries don't get to do because it would be disobedient. I was able to go to San Francisco, Oakland, Concord, Fairfield, Monterrey, and Santa Cruz, all while living in Fremont. How lucky we were! And we were doing missionary work in all of those places! I got to travel and see the whole mission even though I haven't served across the whole mission.

I Loved Stanford a ton because of the atmosphere that was there. There is something about serving in an area with only people that are young and single and are doing exactly what you would be doing if you weren't a missionary. Which means that we were doing all those normal things but with the mindset of missionary work rather than the mindset of getting married. It was such a cool experience and unlike any other area in the mission. I cannot compare it to any of my other wards because it is so unique. 

Los Gatos ward has been such an incredible ward to finish in! I absolutely love the people here and because I have gone through a companion each transfer here the ward loves me because I have been consistent. There is so much knowledge and experience here in this ward and I have gotten so much great advice from very successful people for the rest of my life here. It has been the best place to start the adjustment to the real world again. I love this ward so much and am so glad that I get to finish here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

I served in three other areas on my mission at the very beginning but I can't think of anything that really sticks out as a learning experience. I feel like all the transition at the beginning of my mission from Spanish in Greenfield to English in Irvington and then a quick change to Central Park was all preparing me for the rest of my mission where I just stayed in one place for a really long time. That's all that comes to mind. Besides training my son Elder Freeman. I loved that transfer. He is such a stud and he taught me so much and has turned out to be such a great missionary. He was already a great missionary the day he started his mission. He is now serving as a zone leader up in Menlo Park where I previously served as a zone leader.

I love you all! That is time and I have wrote a lot. Have another great week!

Until Next Time,
                Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 7, 2015

All of the hard work is paying off.

This week has been amazing!!! All of the hard work is paying off. We have been trying and trying and trying, and now it is time for success! It may have something to do with all the students returning to college this past week.  This past Tuesday we hosted a free lunch for all of the students on campus at our institute building. So it was our job to go out and invite them all to come and join us for a free lunch. I can testify right now that there is no easier way to talk to someone than when you are offering them free food. Nobody brushed us off. Everyone was kind even if they couldn't make it to the lunch. We had some really cool experiences with people. I was going out with Elder Masima to talk with people and we weren't having much luck inviting anyone in. It was hot and we were tired so we decided to go and stand in the shade. So we stood there and as we were standing there the first two guys to see us waved to us, so we went and talked to them and they decided that free lunch sounded great. We walked with them into the institute building where there were six more missionaries. We showed them where the food was and snuck out while they were filling their plates. We wanted to go back out and find more people! Right as we left the building we saw a brother (darker skinned like Masima) walking away. I told Masima he needed to call out to him. So he called out, "Brother! Yous eaten?" He was a little confused but he asked him again if he had eaten and he said no so we brought him in to the free lunch. Same thing as before, we snuck out while he was getting food and left him in the hands of the other missionaries. We found a couple more people doing this and once there was a good number of non members inside we went in got food and started making friends. There were 13 non member friends in there on Tuesday. Almost all of them said they would be back tomorrow! So cool! The hope is that eventually this will lead them to taking an institute class or meeting up with us missionaries. Give people free food and they will hear you out for a minute or two an that's all you need to let them see that there is something special here. 

We also had a lot of success in Los Gatos ward this week. We have been trying relentlessly to get this less active newly wed couple to let us in to visit them but have tried in vain for the longest time. Until Friday night! We stopped in Friday night and they were both home. They welcomed us in and initially they only had ten minutes for us but we stayed for probably two hours just talking with them and it was amazing! We got to know them well enough and they invited us over for dinner tonight! So we are going to go have a FHE with them. Games, food, and a message. It is great! We are making huge strides with them even if it just means they are friends with missionaries. 

I have gotten the feeling that with such a little amount of time left that the remainder of my mission is going to be spent finding people that will join the church after I leave. Although I am convinced that there is at least one more individual that need me to play some sort of influence in their conversion process. Because of that there is not an option to slow down or kick the bucket of being a full time missionary early. Fight to the end. It's not worth it to give up. 

My five favorite mission companions huh... This is super painful, so hard to do Face savoring delicious food
Now I won't put them in any specific order. This is just a random list of five great companions.

First, Elder Kirby. He taught me a lot about what it means to be a good leader. The way that he showed genuine love for each and every member of the zone is something that I have taken with me and will continue to practice for the rest of my life. 

Second, Elder Jensen. Can I say he was great because he taught me how to be patient? He was a super fun companion because of the crazy things he would do. Or the crazy bad luck that he had. So many good memories with him and a lot of laughs. He is the companion that taught me not to get hung up on the little things. 

Third, Elder Olenslager. My first companion. Taught me what being a missionary is all about. How to work hard. What we teach was always on my mind with him. I really learned the gospel basics from Preach My Gospel with him. He definitely set the course of my entire mission.

Fourth, Elder Reid. He was the first companion that I had that understood what it means to work had and have fun at the same time. We never had any arguments and got along really well because we were both super happy to be working hard and having fun with the Stanford YSA.

Fifth, Elder Hamilton. He was a ton of fun but also caused a lot of stress. Being his companion was a huge learning experience. I learned how to forget about myself and focus on helping others. He taught me a lot through his struggles. I really learned how to reach out. 

I could probably do one of those for all 17 of my companions but it would take way too long so there it is. 

This week has been full of blessings. Never doubt that God will provide as we are diligent and do our best to do his work. In his own time he will provide. He always has and he always will. I know that is true. Keep pressing forward. 
 
Have a great week! Have fun starting school but not too much fun! I love you all!!! I am excited to be getting home 7 hours earlier! 1030 was way too late!!!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, August 31, 2015

Don't delay or doubt!

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Pray like it is up to God, and work like it is up to you."
 
This week has been awesome!!! First things first, just to make a clarification, I have not been Elder Wolfes companion before but I was his zone leader at the beginning of his mission. He is 14 months out now and I am very glad that he is my companion! We are having so much fun together! We work super hard but at the same time he lets us have a ton of fun! And the members are loving it!!! 
 
First example is a ward BBQ that we had this past Saturday. It was a BBQ to kick off the beginning of the school year and the end of summer. And let me just put this out there, the Los Gatos Ward can put on a mean BBQ! It was awesome! From a bounce house to ribs! This BBQ had it all! And because my companion is down with having fun while working hard we were able to be super friendly and just be there and have a good time with all of the people that came. We probably had close to 200 people there and only 15 non members and a good number of less active members. The ward council was talking about how to get the percentage of non members higher for future events because the non members that were there absolutely loved it! Everyone had such a great time!!!! We talked to every single person that was there and it was a great way for my new companion to get to know the ward quickly and start to build that relationship of trust for himself. It was such a good night! There was also someone in the ward called as the event photographer. Her job was to blend in with everyone and just be part of the fun but she also had a super nice camera and took lots of pictures throughout the BBQ. The best pictures are always the ones you don't know are being taken!!! There are some good shots of us missionaries. One of us looking like we are teaching someone but really we are talking with the stake president. Hahaha, another of a group of four of us right after the whole thing got cleaned up. And finally, my favorites, the ones of me and the mob of little girls in the ward playing "duck duck goose." They all loved it and I got so many compliments from parents the next day at church about how all their daughters were talking about how cool it will be to be a missionary. The parents loved it just as much as the kids! It was a great BBQ and we had a really really great time. As a missionary you really come to appreciate ward parties especially when the members realize they are the coolest events to invite people to. I don't know any of my friends that don't want free ribs. I love how members are willing to just reach out to people they don't know and become their friend. We don't have to wait for parties or BBQs to reach out to people though! It could be anyone that God wants us to reach out to. We just have to be willing to open our mouths! 
 
 

Another cool part of the week was being able to go over to a members home and help them with their yard work. While we were there the neighbor came out and was talking with us so we offered to rake her yard as well. She had recently got a plate put in her wrist so yard work had become a difficult task for her. She was greatly appreciative of our help. It was a small this to do but it was cool seeing how God placed us where we could help someone out even if it was simple. And it was awesome because I love doing yard work so it was a, win, win, win, win, win, situation. Everyone won! So good.

One last highlight of the week was a hike that I went on this morning. We went to Morgan hill and hiked a hill called El Torro. It was a fun hike. We didn't have a huge group of people so it was nice and personal. I love nature! I love hiking! I love friends! I love beautiful views! I love steep dirt hills! I love digital cameras! I love sunrises! I love perfect weather! I have nothing to complain about. It was a good morning and it's going to be another great day and a great week! I am so excited for this last transfer now! It is going to be amazing!!!!

My mission is the second best thing that has ever happened to me! Right behind being born into this family! This is a great work that we are a part of! Don't delay or doubt! Get out there and help our fellow brothers and sisters. I love you all so much! Have a great week!!!

Love,
 Elder Maxwell

Monday, August 24, 2015

The week of the final beginning‏


New Companion - Elder Wolfe
Old Companion - Elder Schnell
This has been a fast week! A lot has happened but at the same time a  lot of it is not interesting enough to make a good email so I will  keep to the more interesting topics of the week. Which leads us in to  the most prevalent news around town! I have officially begun my last  transfer as a missionary. Which means there will only be seven more of  these emails! That's pretty crazy. I can't believe I am down to the  end of these two years! It has been good! I have learned some things  along the way. The challenges that I have faced were not easy. Some of  my companions have been a great learning experience, to put it nicely.  And it all comes down to this. One more transfer that is just like all  the others. The feeling I expected is not here. Can you believe it!?  This transfer is feeling just like the other 16!!!

 But on to the details that everyone wants to hear about. I have  received my final companion. He has been out for 14 months. He is from  Apison Tennessee. He is awesome! He can read with his eyes closed! He  can do push-ups without his hands! He can sing hymns with his nose  plugged. You could say he is a man of many talents. I served with him  before, he was in Menlo Park for my first transfer in Saratoga. He is called Elder Wolfe.

 I was also recalled as a zone leader for my last transfer. I am not sure if I am happy or sad about that yet. I found out today at the  meeting so it was definitely sprung on me pretty quick. I really  enjoyed not having leadership responsibilities for these past couple  of transfers but I guess it is time to buckle down and be a good  example of finishing strong for all those around me. I am excited to  do exchanges again!!! I missed doing exchanges whenever I want.

 I am not sure what else to write about! I am excited and happy to come  home! I have missed everyone a ton! I am nervous as well. It is going  to be different. I am so glad that I made the choice to serve. It has  blessed me a ton! I am so happy out here doing the work and being in  California. I couldn't imagine being in a better place. I know that  what I am doing is right. I know that this gospel changes people! I  know that being the son of a bishop is no different than being a  normal member of the church. We are all held to the same standards.  The bishop, the primary teachers, the home teacher. We are all the  same. We are all just doing our best and as long as we do everything  that we can the Lord will bless us and take care of us. He will lift  us as we fall. We all have the opportunity to lift others as we are  doing what we need to do and in the process we will be lifted as well.  This church is a church of love and outreach. Come in and partake of  the incredible blessings that our Heavenly Father has in store for us.

 I love you all and hope that you all get lots of blessings this week!

 Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, August 17, 2015

I can only imagine how our Heavenly Father feels

This week has been good. We have been really busy! We went back up into Menlo park zone for a baptism of one of elder Schnells past investigators.  It was cool going back to Menlo park. My son, Elder Freeman, is serving up there now. It is always good to see him and see how he is progressing in the mission. He is a stellar missionary. I highly doubt very much of that is because of my extensive rigorous training for his first six weeks. It is good to see that the style of missionary that I am has been reflected in the style of missionary he has become. It is cool knowing that your influence has been taken in and reflected in someone else. I believe this is similar to when a parent sees a child becoming like them. I can only imagine how our Heavenly Father feels as we make the right choices and do what He would have us do and as we continue to learn and grow through our experiences we are becoming more like Him and that has to make Him very happy. It makes so much sense that a Father would want his child to become like Him and then reach their fullest potential. Our Heavenly Father does not want us to fall short. He wants us to succeed in everything we do. I imagine He has such a hard time stopping Himself from reaching out and stopping us from making bad choices. 
 
This week is already freaking me out. I am realizing now that this week I find out if this is my last area or not. (It better be my last area or I will have some words to share with my mission president!) I also find out if I get to train again or not. I asked president in my interview this week to let me train or to give me a new missionary. We will see what he does. I am hoping for training and staying here. I love this area and couldn't see myself finishing anywhere else for seven weeks. I find out on Thursday if I am training and I find out Saturday if I'm staying.  Pray for me!!!

Love you all! Have a great week!!!

Love Elder Maxwell 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Another week closer to freezing!

 Another week down, another week closer to freezing! I am so excited to come home!!!!! Now let me explain myself. I can't wait to see all of you! I miss all of you a ton and knowing that I am close to seeing everyone makes me excited!!! But I am not "trunky," I am still 100% focused on the work. I have things that I need to accomplish before I can finish this mission so I am working hard so that when the time comes I can return home instead of having to extend and miss the 7 day overlap. That would not be good. I don't think that will be a problem though so Mom, you can stop holding your breath now! :) 

That is exciting news about Jonathan getting his project approved and underway. If it's not all finished by the time I get home you can count me in for long hard hours of heavy labor! Ill even drag my feet to make the hours longer ;) I love projects like that so good choice Jonathan. I am guessing you will try to bust it out and get it done before the cold comes in. Which from the sounds of it has already started to happen for you all. If if helps you feel any better the weather out here is still perfect! I cant complain about a thing! I know we are in a drought and all but I am really enjoying all this sunny dry weather. Rain is a very inconvenient type of weather for missionaries! I don't know how i am supposed to do the whole adjustment coming home. Adjusting here was easy. I would do it over and over and over again! 
 
Before we go any further I want to tell you all about Angelo's Baptism!!!! It was amazing! Everything came together perfectly! It all started Friday with making the program for his baptism. Our ward mission leader would usually do it but he had just moved to Florida and the new one wasn't called until yesterday! So we were all on our own. I personally hate it when the Baptism programs look lame because they are just on a plain white piece of paper with words, so I decided to take it up a level with these programs. I knew I had missionary budget issues so I had to be conservative. We went to OfficeMax because I decided the thing that makes a good program is the paper it is printed on! We found some sweet metallic silver paper for just $5! It was on sale. I bought it and then headed over to the church to use a computer to start typing up the program. 30 minutes later the programs were printing and then I was cutting them and then, BAM! The best programs for a Baptism ever, had been made. Ill have to send a picture so you can all enjoy them as much as I do. Lots of people mentioned at the baptism that its little things like these programs that make a Baptism special for someone. Our mission presidents wife said, "the programs look like a wedding invitation, and that's a good thing!" Over all the set up went smoothly and before we knew it the time of 10:00am had arrived on Saturday morning. Nobody was there besides Angelo and us... We figured singles ward/mormon standard time. We gave it ten minutes and the room was packed. Including a few of Angelo's non-member friends and his family! The Baptism went smoothly and everyone really had a great time. There was a simple talk given on baptism and the Holy Ghost and then Angelo was Baptized! We shared a video of Jesus being Baptized while he was changing and we had the opportunity to share our testimonies about the reality of Our Living Savior! The spirit was strong and everyone had water falling out of their eyes. We then sang There is Sunshine in My Soul Today to fill the rest of the time before he got out. Once he was back a girl from the ward sang Teach Me To Walk In The Light. It was AMAZING!!!! She had such an incredible voice! The spirit once again hit everyone like Thor's hammer and then the baptism was over. I think one of the greatest moments of all was after the baptism when Angelo's mother who just two days before had seen his copy of the Book of Mormon and accused him of worshiping the devil, grabbed her own copy of the Book of Mormon and said. "I need this so I can read what its all about." How cool it that! The spirit is real! It can change hearts! I know that in the course of that baptismal service Angelo's mothers heart was softened and that she had felt the spirit and it prompted her to want to learn about this good feeling she had. I hope and pray that eventually she will decide to follow her sons example and the example of Jesus Christ and enter into the waters of baptism. It would change her families life forever!!! 

As far as the rest of the week nothing nearly as amazing happened. We met with a couple of members of our ward and helped them with some of the things they have been struggling with. We also meet fairly often with a young man named Mark. We have been seeing him every Saturday since I have been here and this past week we were helping him prepare a talk because he was asked to speak in sacrament meeting. We show up and he was excited for us to write his talk for him. I looked at him and said, "No way, you are writing this talk. We are here for moral support!" We coached him through the basics of giving a good talk and we told him that he had to speak about things he was passionate about. He concluded that he only was passionate about two things. One, he really liked being around missionaries. Two, he is a huge Oakland raiders fan. We conjured up a talk that combined an experience he has at a Raiders game and a missionary experience. He ended up giving a really good talk! And the best part is we only had to coach him along. He basically did it all himself. We had him compare his experience with Daniel and the Lions Den. Everyone loved it and his closing line of his talk was the best! He said, "...and the real miracle of it all, is that the Raiders actually won! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." Hahaha, I loved it. He did a great job. Everyone loves it when a youth speaker gives a great talk. It helps everyone realize that you don't have to understand everything to have a testimony about something. Simplicity is often the source of hope. As we back ourselves up to the basics it is often when we learn the most. I am really grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve a mission because I have learned so much from teaching the basics.
 
Well I think that is it. The week has been accounted for. I am loving it and working hard! Ill keep you all in my prayers! Have a fantastic week and stay warm!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, August 3, 2015

Stuck making just 20 year old decisions

It has been a good week. We have been busy out and about doing man
things. 21 years of age requires a certain amount of responsible
choices. Such as buying a house, getting a credit score and getting a
wife. I guess I can't really do any of those three things right now.
That just means that I will be stuck making just 20 year old decisions
until I get home. The wo's of being an adult. Life just gets more and
more challenging. So many responsibilities. Bills to pay, the whole
shebang. Over all I would say being 21 feels exactly like I always
imagined! Did you know that when you turn 21 all the red words that
say "under 21" on your license magically disappear?!?! It was amazing.
What a moment. In all honesty its just like every other birthday,
nothing really feels different.

I love that conversation. I had this image of me running through the
airport juking out my siblings as if we were playing a game of rugby.
Everyone is trying to tackle me in a big hug but I'm too quick! I juke
left, spin right, slide under the legs and then BAM!!! I run into that
glass wall because I couldn't see it and I fall straight to the floor.
Then everyone dog piles on me just like we were the Crood family.
Hahaha, but of course it will be more elegant than that. Most likely
just like that scene out of Psych where the FBI guy jumps out of the
truck in his bulletproof vest and throws back his hair in the
sunlight. Puts on his sunglasses and does the swag walk all the way
over to everyone at which point Jonathan would say cut and give me
some suggestions on how to be a little more swanky and then would tell
me to do it again from the top. Whatever situation it ends up being I
am sure it will end with Mom getting the first hug.

 I think it is not a coincidence that all the missionaries spoke in
sacrament meeting there because all the missionaries in our Ward here
also spoke. I can attest to what you have said. The spirit was so
strong!!! In our testimony meeting I don't think it was the
missionaries that brought in the spirit so powerfully, I believe the
missionaries set the stage for the members to come in and really share
the truth. To really share what the spirit is telling them to share.
It was a really cool testimony meeting and I learned a lot from it. I
do hope that your experience was exactly the same, or maybe it is
slightly different coming from the viewpoint of a member rather than a
missionary.

We were able to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium today. It was really
cool. I personally think that the aquarium in Boston was better but it
was cool to be at this one because of all the focus on the Jellyfish
and the sea otters. Sea otters are so cute! Absolutely amazing! So so
so cool. I still think that the jellyfish were my favorite though.
Jellyfish are living art. They are Gods creation that is there to
beautify the earth. So amazing!!! I love Jellyfish so I bought a
jellyfish shirt! Woo hoo! I hope it shrinks in the wash because the
small still looks huge. I need it to fit!!! Gotta be looking good. I
am 21 after all. We also got to see some divers doing maintenance.

Well as for our week that's about all that has been going on. Hope you
all are doing well. Sorry this is being sent so late. It was typed
earlier but this is the soonest it could get sent. Love you all!!!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, July 27, 2015

How are we going to make it to the door?

What a week!

 Well it has been great having a new companion. He is amazing and very
 dedicated to the work. The Ward is very shocked that I got a companion
 who is going home four weeks from tomorrow! That is the fastest stay
 that any missionary has had in a ward! I think it is quite strange
 that our mission president would pull him out of his area and put him
 here for his last five weeks. That is hardly enough time to get to
 know the ward. We definitely have our work cut out for us. We are
 staying very busy and getting lots of work done.

 This week I had the amazing opportunity to go to the wedding of
 Stephen and Jeni. If your remember back in January when we had the
 baptism in the pool. Well Stephen and Jeni are now married. I got to
 travel across the mission to go and support them and be part of the
 fun. It was an incredible event. Beautiful weather and amazing people.
 It is cool going to a wedding and knowing both sides of the family. I
 feel like that doesn't happen too often for guests. It was so good
 seeing both of them again and seeing their families. It is so cool
 being around people that you really love and you can feel that they
 really love you back. I am so glad that I can call Jeni and Stephen
 life long friends. There will always be a special place for them and
 their families in my life.

 We also got to visit a wonderful family this week. I had never met
 them before so we were going in blind. It was a less active member
 couple. We show up to the house and my first thought was, how are we
 going to make it to the door? The front door was on the second floor
 and the right side of the porch was destroyed. It was hanging clumps
 of cement connected to twisted pieces of rebar. The wooden flooring
 was strewn about the front of the house as if it had just been hit by
 a tornado. I can imagine the look on our faces as we stood there
 staring at the path ahead of us. Off to the left there was a slim
 remaining piece of the former steps leading to the front door. We
 decided without saying a word to proceed forward to our goal, the
 front door. The wooden steps creaked with each step and I told my
 companion several times to keep his distance because I didn't want to
 die.

 Thank you so much for the birthday bash in a box! You all are so
 classy. It has been a great birthday so far!!! I love all the gifts
 and Austins idea for the bobble heads would have been hilarious but I
 don't know if I would have understood it without a note! Perfect on
 all the treats. You still understand what I like. Good work family!
 The dynamite birthday cake was fantastic. Great idea! And as for Ian's
 gift. Keep your eyes out for a really good video :D

 I love you all! What did the dinosaur say after he finished eating
 Tonga? I WANT SAMOA!!!! Face with tears of joyFace with tears of joyFace with tears of joy

 Have a great week!

 Love, Elder Maxwell

 Oh, PS: elder Schnell is...
 1- A missionary
 2- A reader/writer
 3- A brother to two brothers and a sister.
 4- A whovian (someone who is enthralled with Dr. Who)
 5- A Ravenclaw from the tribe of Ephraim

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A new companion

Just got back from getting a new companion. He is great. He is from Washington. He only has five weeks of his mission left. What? Is this real? I thought I was getting my last companion on my mission today and then I get to the meeting and they give me one of the few elders that will be going home next transfer. It is a crazy contrast being with him and being with Hamilton. Elder Hamilton was so excited about home and his levels of trunks were skyscraper high! My new companion, if you didn't know him, could pull off being in his first year still. My new companions name is Elder  Schnell.

So that is it. Elder Hamilton is gone and Schnell is here. This will definitely make the last two transfers of my mission fly by. Before I know it I will have a new comp that will be cutting my tie at the end. That is so weird to think about that. I got to see Elder Forsgren again today. He is looking really good. He is serving down in Morgan Hill now.

We had some really good meetings with Max this week. He came to the outgoing fireside for Hamilton and he brought his friend Savannah with him. We had volunteered him to be one of the speakers at the fires side. He said yes so he got to speak as one of the converts among all
of the missionaries going home. He gave a great little talk and gave some good shoutouts to Elder Hamilton. We are going to start meeting with savannah and her family. I will let you know how that progresses.

Well for some reason my mind is blank once again. I don't know what else to say. I feel like there is something big that I am forgetting but  if I remember I'll throw it in next weeks letter. Hopefully
things slow down a little this week and I can get my head back. Sorry my letter is so short! I feel like this is the shortest one in a long time. I'll have to do better next week.

I love you all!!!

Elder Ben Maxwell

Monday, July 13, 2015

I wake up in the morning just as tired as when I went to sleep!

Well here it is! Monday again! Only one more of these until my companion is on a plane! His trunkyness  is rubbing off on me but I am holding as strong as I can. Pretty soon he will be home and I will have a companion that is not dying soon and that should keep me from being trunky again. Although the end is approaching so very quickly! I can really notice it now because I wake up in the morning just as tired as when I went to sleep! I am always exhausted! I sleep all the way through the night most nights and it still doesn't help! I must be working too hard. Maybe I'll take a week off or something... Just kidding! I'm pushing through to the end!

This week has been filled with miracles! We were doing everything we could to find new people to teach and one of our potentials has been Max's girlfriend. She has come to church with him and everything. We have talked with her before but have never taught her anything. Earlier this week we find out that the elders that border our area have been in contact with her entire family before. They have never been taught but we were worried that they lived in the bordering area. we found out on Thursday that the family lives in our Ward boundaries which is perfect because they already have a connection with our Ward!!! Yes! We still haven't taught them anything but we have a family home evening set up with them for tonight as long as Max's girlfriend asks her parents for permission.  opefully the family knows
we are coming before we show up! Grinning face with smiling eyes I am sure everything will go well. We are hoping that the family will all come to church and will be welcomed in by our Ward and will never want to leave. They have five kids all over the age of 8! So the whole family could get baptized  together! And then later on sealed for time and all eternity together! That would be so cool! I am really excited for  onight. I hope we don't mess it up. Pray for us!

The road trip sounds like it would be fun! Having the Benions over would be so amazing! I am so sad that I missed them. I would be down to room with Lehi. I hear rooming with friends can be tough though. Maybe it would be better to get rooms close to each other so we can use each others rooms as escapes from our own room! But we can worry about all that later.  I am excited for college but I have been putting it off so long that I'm dreading it! Hahaha.

Say what's up to Christian for me. As for the offer to sleep on their floor I think I'll pass but maybe the occasional drop by for a nice home cooked meal. That sounds like a pretty good plan. I'll let Austin and Maddi feed me on odd days and Christian and Abby can feed me on even days. Man I have the coolest older siblings ever! You guys don't know how much this means to me!

I love you all! Happy birthday week in the car! Woo hoo!

Love,
Elder Ben Maxwell

Monday, July 6, 2015

There is no time for procrastination!

And another week has gone! I feel like not enough has happened for a whole week to have gone by. Where do these weeks keep going? Just the other day I was sitting here thinking about where I was going after leaving Stanford. Now, four months later, I am sitting her thinking about where I will be in three months! Crazy how fast things can change. Goes to show how we always need to be ready. There is no time for procrastination! 
 
We continued to meet with Angelo this week. He is doing super well. We have taught him 4/5 lessons now. His baptism is about a month away and boy the time is trickling through our fingers. Not really much new to say about him and his progress. He is still a changing man and I still marvel as I watch him make mature decisions and lead a course in his life that will hugely influence the remaining years of his life. The gospel will forever be a blessing and a strength in his life. He can so clearly see the changes in his life and he loves them all! 


As for the Fourth of July, we had a really incredible day. One of the blessings of being a missionary is that you can go to any party or BBQ and people are so happy to give you all of their food. It never crosses anyone's mind that we may have just eaten, but that is fine by me. We had so much good BBQ through the day. We started our day off with a ward party at 8. It began with us running/walking a 5k. Now I have never ran a 5k before so I wasn't sure how fast or slow I should go for a pace. I started running with one group but they were too slow so I picked up my pace until I caught up with one of my favorite members and we ran the rest of the race together. It was really cool. He is usually a very social guy but he said he can't talk and run. He has to focus on breathing.  Hahaha, he is such a stud. The 5k was fun and there was a breakfast right after that. From there all through the rest of the day we went from BBQ to BBQ. Eating our fill of various meats and kebabs of all types. Quite the filling day. I slept very well that night. The evening of the fourth our mission president gave us permission to stay out and watch fireworks. So a nonmember we were with took us into downtown San Jose where they were putting on a big show! It was pretty incredible. The fireworks were right over our head and there was a skyscraper right behind us so the explosions would echo off of the building and amplify the power of each firework. They would shake you every time they exploded. I sent some videos to try and help you all see what we saw. Pretty crazy!

That's about all that happened this week. Angelo and the fourth! So I guess it is a short letter this week. I don't think I will be effected by our coming transfer on the 21st. I hope and pray that I stay here in Los Gatos and train a new missionary for my last two transfers. That would be the best! They are just hopes and dreams though. My companion is getting more and more trunks as the days go by. He is starting to have his first "lasts." Last fast Sunday on a mission. And other things like that. He spends a lot of time looking at his calendar so I told him if he looks at it long enough he will be going home. Hahaha, he didn't take too kindly to that. I am trying to keep him grounded but sometimes his head is definitely on the plane. I can imaging it gets very difficult in the last few weeks. He still works hard when it's time to work though. He is a great missionary. 

Lots of pictures to go with this week even though not a lot happened! That's always fun! Love you all! I miss you and can't wait to run around like a crazy person on the driveway with Jonathan. 

Love you lots, 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, June 29, 2015

Another week has come and gone

Well, well, well, another week has come and gone. This week was one of those weeks where you work really hard but when you get to the end of the week there is really not much to show for it. That is alright when what you do have to show for it is a new baptism date with your investigator! Angelo prayed and decided to set a date for August 1st. He is really excited for his baptism. I think the best part about his story is that you can really see his commitment to the changes that he is making in his life. He doesn't have the greatest living situation at home. His mother and siblings support him in the changes that he is making in his life but he says they told him to not try and change them. The rest of his family is not ready to make the same changes that he is making. So in order to show his commitment to the gospel and his willingness to follow his Saviors example he has decided that he needs to find somewhere else to live for the summer until he returns to college in the fall. At only 19 years old and already being able to make life changing decisions such as that. I honor his commitment and dedication to what he knows is right. He is a good example to me of what it means to be diligent. Little does he know that as we meet and he is learning so much from us and the spirit. I am in turn, learning an unspoken lesson and have grown so much from his example. I am really excited for the continued lessons over the next month. We meet with him twice a week so he is extremely dedicated to his conversion process. I love it. 
 
As for the rest of my email I am not sure what to write. That is really the only notable event of the week. So I will be spending the rest of my time writing whatever comes to mind as I am sitting here. I guess before I do that I can reply to what was said in your email. The process of getting a visa all taken care of sounds extremely painful. I think it is a good thing that I didn't have to do that to come out on a mission. Otherwise I may have not made it out. Hahaha, I am just kidding, I would have had to have Mom helping me and pushing me to be on top of it every step of the way. Thank you Mom for helping me get out on a mission. You rock! Paperwork just isn't my thing. Hopefully the road trip goes well and nobody gets sick. Albany is only a three hour drive away. That's just six hours in the car... I'm sorry, that does sound awful. Enjoy the drive everyone.
"You never realize how strong you are until being strong is all you have left." This is a line from the Mormon message titled "Courage". I was spending part of my studies the other day trying to find a good video we could share with the family we were having dinner with and I watched this one which honestly is 99.9% geared towards women. But I ended up getting that .01% out of it that I needed. When we get down to the rocks at the bottom and we are thinking there is no place we can go. When the footprints in the sand go to just one set. That is when we know that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is there for us. That is when we know that He is carrying us through our hard times. That is when being strong is all we have left. Neil A. Maxwell puts it best when he says, "...let us use our energy to hold up the shield of faith to quench the incoming fiery darts--aided perhaps by a touch of spiritual Teflon." Pure poetry, I can not picture it better in my head than that. So that was my aha moment of the week. It doesn't make as much sense in words as it does in my head but hopefully everyone's intelligent brains can piece together all the jigsaw puzzle pieces. The picture is quite beautiful! 
 

 
I have decided that one thing I am really excited about is to have the calm quiet peaceful moment when you go out onto the street at night in the winter time and there is a fresh coat of snow falling to the ground. A couple of inches already covering everything in that peaceful white. Every step making the slight squeak as it crunches the dry cold snow under foot. Looking up into the dark night sky and seeing the peaceful flakes of snow falling and hitting you in the face. All the noise of life and the world muffled out and all you see and hear is peace. You all know that moment I am describing. I am excited for that! I am excited to share that moment with all of you. Then we will proceed to run around and tear up all the snow and send shrill screams that pierce the cold night air as snow get shoved down someone's coat. Haha, and then after about five minutes of being outside I will be so cold that I will go back inside and hibernate next to the fire that we don't have until spring. The end. Sounds like a good time! I can't wait. 

Well I don't really have anything else to say besides how much I love you all and how awesome you all are! Thank you Mom for everything you do for all of us! I don't know what we would do without you! Thank you Dad for all your hard work! You make all of this possible for us! Thank you Austin and Christian for getting married and getting out of the house... Just kidding, you Men are awesome. Thanks for helping me become an uncle! ;) Thank you Emma for your excellent example to not only me, but all of us. We are so proud of you for choosing to serve a mission. Thank you Allegra for being the most beautiful sister ever! You are so classy and always so determined and dedicated to what you do. You are truly a lady! Thank you Jono for being the stud of the family, someone had to take my place. Those were some big shoes to fill and you have done more than I could have ever imagined. You make a better Ben than I ever could. :) Thank you Nathan for being intelligent and bringing the rest of us crazy heads down to earth. You keep us all alive. And somehow you always seem to do it while on your own planet. That is good. I am guessing you have changed a lot from the panda I once knew. Ready to become a teacher this winter! And last of all Thank you myself.... Just kidding, thank you Ian for you ingenious comments that always seem to make us laugh. Your incredible talent for comedic relief can never be replaced. You are so cute and will always be the baby of the family. Sorry bro, even when you are 37 you will still be cute and we all get to pinch your old baby cheeks! Haha, I love you all! Have a great week! 

Until Next Time, 
Elder Ben Maxwell

Monday, June 22, 2015

I hope that it made my fathers, Father's Day.

We had such a great week! I wasn't too sure how the call home would be on Sunday but it went great! The unplanned surprise call was a success from my view. It was nice being able to just talk with the two of you! Although I did miss having all the chillins around filling the screen. How was it talking off of your iPhone? Small screen compared to home! It made my Father's Day! And I hope that it made my fathers, Father's Day. Haha, kind of a strange sentence right? All in all the week was amazing. 
We had a pretty cool thing happen for us this week. About three weeks ago we met a non member boyfriend that came to church with his girlfriend. He said that he would be interested in meeting up but he was leaving on vacation the next day so it would have to be when he got back. We failed on our part to find out when he would be returning so after our first encounter we were disconnected. First mistake. Then the cool thing happened earlier this week. Tuesday morning we get a text from an unknown number. It was Angelo asking us if we could meet up sometime that day. We were thrilled! He reached out to us and wanted to be taught! We met with him several times this week and have taught him the first three lessons and some of the commandments already. He knows he wants to be baptized soon. So we gave him a couple of dates and told him to pray about which one felt right for him so he could know when he needed to be baptized. The only thing that is stopping him from being baptized today is he is worried about how everyone he wants to be there are going to be able to get to his baptism. We promised him that God would help him know when he needed to be baptized and that everything else will just fall into place. I absolutely know that is true! Angelo is awesome! He is going to be a member of the singles ward! 
 
Let's see, what else happened this week... We were asked to teach the lesson for gospel principles and we were teaching about the final judgement. Ended up being the perfect topic because I had recently read a talk by Neil A. Maxwell about Joseph Smith called "How Choice a Seer!" Such a good talk. It blew my mind! There is a line in his talk that was referencing the final judgement. I love the way that Neil A. Maxwell would use metaphors and similes in his talks. The line I love that I used in our lesson is "Since we are thus fully accountable to Him, on Judgment Day we cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment!" Hahaha, such a subtle way to rebuke all of us and help us make the corrections needed to get our lives on track to our Heavenly Father. The lesson went really well. When it really comes down to the final judgement we truly will be judging ourselves. God is so smart! 
 
Well once again Happy Father's Day! I hope it truly was a great day and all of your children let you know how grateful we are for you pops! You truly are one of a kind. Thank you for all you do! 

The yard looks great! I look so good in that picture on the wall too. How am I supposed to top that when I get home? Hahaha!!! A good challenge for later on :) 

Love you all a ton! Have fun this week. Jono and Nate, you boys still need to write me a letter and send it in the mail. It's summer now so you should have plenty of time! There is your homework. Everyone else has wrote me so you are all off the hook! 

Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, June 15, 2015

Starbucks+Missionaries=HappyTime!!!

     Having technology has enhanced our ability to do missionary work by 1%! It is super funny having these iPads now. I honestly am pretty bad at using my iPad. The iPad rollout is happening in three parts. We are on phase one right now where they just give us the iPads in their limited form. They don't have all the apps on them yet so the only thing that they can really do is LDS tools and the Gospel Library.  I can also email from my iPad now, which is pretty cool if you ask me! So how it works is now receiving an email is like getting a letter during the week. You can read it right when you get it. However responses are supposed to be kept to Monday still. That's what makes hand written letters the best, they have no bounds. As for receiving emails. I still want to get the weekly update on Sunday or Monday but as far as distracting me during the week I say do your best! I am a focused machine, can't get me distracted. I would honestly love to get little shoutouts from everyone during the week. 
 
  "A good character is something you must make for yourself. It cannot be inherited from parents. It cannot be created by having extraordinary advantages. It isn't a gift of birth, wealth, talent or station. It is the result of your own endeavor. It is the reward that comes from living good principles and manifesting a virtuous and honorable life." -Elder L. Tom Perry
     I have been inspired by this quote from Elder Perry. This is what serving a mission is all about. I have been changed by service out here. I am so glad that I get to be in this area with these people that I am with. I love them all so much! I would do anything to help them. It is truly amazing how we change as individuals as we forget about ourselves. 
 
   We had to do some online training with our iPads this week. Most missionaries went to the church to get wifi so they could do the training but my companion and I decided we didn't want to sit in the church for an hour alone so we made the decision to go to Starbucks. We were out front in the sun doing our training and people kept staring at us as they walked in and out. It was so funny. As a missionary you get used to people staring at you all the time so that was completely normal. The funny part was how we were destroying all of the stereotypes that people had created in their minds about Mormons. We didn't get anything to drink because we didn't want people to think that we were drinking coffee because that would be sending them the wrong message but we did sit there on our iPads and people kept saying they thought we didn't use technology in our church. (Amish) We probably talked with close to 30 people as we sat there. All were positive interactions as well. We even taught one guy and handed him over to the elders in the area he lives. It was a really good finding activity. Turns out that when people go to Starbucks they instantly get in the mode of socializing with other people in Starbucks, or they are at least open to talking. It is a place where all walls are broken down and people were very open with their questions. Starbucks+Missionaries=HappyTime!!!
     It has been a really great week overall. My companion and I get along really well and it is almost erie at how empty the apartment feels with only four living there instead of the previous five. It is interesting how just one body can make such a big difference. Random thought, yesterday was my 20 month mark! It has gone by so quick! I can't believe how close October is. From certain perspectives it still seems far away but right now it is knocking at my door! Wow, I am excited for this summer. It is going to be a blast! I am already getting pretty tan. We have been having some pretty incredible sunny days! We have been going to BBQ's pretty consistently and I have eaten a lot of meat over the past two weeks. And a lot of dessert as well. One of the blessings of being a missionary, you always get a big dinner and a dessert to tie it all off. Every. Single. Night. I am going to miss that about being a missionary. I want to go have dinner with everyone in the ward when I get home. Maybe I should make myself a dinner calendar... Just kidding, once I'm home we just have to invite people over every once in a while. Do the missionaries get fed well in the ward back home? I remember always grabbing the calendar and putting our name down for them. Max invited us over for a BBQ tomorrow at his place and he invited a lot of his non member friends to come as well as he family that is supportive of the church. It should be a really good finding activity! Max is such a stud. I want to go surfing with him when I come back. Then I am going to move here and become a surfing beach bum. It is going to be gnarly! I'll live in the hills of Santa Cruz and Jonathan can drop out of school and come with me. Jokes! Haha, it would be too much fun.
Well now I am just rambling so I will end it here! Have a great week. Work out. Play hard. Study harder! 
I'll send some sunshine to replace all that rain you are getting. We need the rain over here but the sun is so nice you can keep it for now :)

Love you all! 

Elder Maxwell

Monday, June 8, 2015

Full steam ahead!

This week has been good. We have gone through a lot of changes this week in our area. Last week we had a baptism and several other investigators that we were teaching that were making great progress and now we have lost all of those investigators due to some unfortunate circumstances. It is very dramatic how quickly things can change while doing missionary work. That's just how things go when people have their agency! Even with a tough turn of events we have been blessed this past week. We visited one of our investigators for the first time and taught him the Restoration. He has been going to a Doctrine and Covenants institute class for the past 6 months so we asked him if he wanted to learn more and he said sure. He was 100% on board. Full steam ahead! He even mentioned that he wanted to be baptized. We taught him the lesson as I said and he had amazing questions, he was taking in everything that we taught and you could tell that the spirit was testifying to him. At the end of the lesson after we had invited him to read the Book of Mormon, he said that he was really going to have to read it. He had read a couple chapters before but they were for his own purposes. He read in Ether about the confounding of the languages because he is really excited about learning languages. He understood that he wanted to read the Book of Mormon for a different reason now. He really wanted to know if it was true. We followed up with him a day later and he said that everything was going great. He was loving what he was reading and that it all made sense to him. We called him again later in the week to invite him to church again because he will usually come with us. He then broke to us the unfortunate news. He is a 30 year old man living at home and his parents said they want him to stop doing things with the church. He said that he could come and meet up anymore and he couldn't come to church anymore. I sat there, I didn't know what to say, I handed the phone to my companion and let him finish the call. I was thinking about it and I wanted to tell him that normally when people are 30 years old they start to make some of their own decisions, but I guess you give up that right when you choose to live at home your entire life. He is a great guy and I love and respect him a lot, but it makes me sad when I see someone who is clearly interested in the church to be so easily swayed to a different path. We will continue to make contact with him and hopefully his parents hearts will soften or he will move out. Either way I hope someday he will reconnect with the missionaries. That is why we keep meticulous records!
As far the up and coming transfer that is happening on Tuesday... I will be staying right here in Los Gatos. Elder Hamilton will also be staying here with me as my companion. Elder Harral however received the call this past Saturday that he would be leaving us and moving on to help another zone somewhere else in the mission. I also received a call but my call was in regards to my calling of responsibility. I was formally released as a zone leader on Sunday night. That's okay though. I had a good run and it is honestly a huge relief of responsibility from my shoulders. My only worry is that now our zone will be getting two new zone leaders and I am afraid the zone may not be too happy about that. I don't know, we will see what happens. As far as everything else goes I am very content and we are going to do work in Elder Hamilton's last six weeks! Also, Elder Forsgren will not be getting transferred so his time is not yet here to be my companion. But it does line us up perfectly for my last two transfers. We will see hat happens down the road. (PS. Elder Forsgren got called to be a district leader! So cool!)
This past week I also got to go on exchanges with my favorite Tongan/Australian Elder ever! Elder Masima is the man. We got to spend a whole day together and we did a ton of work while having lots of fun. I have been Elder Masima's zone leader for almost his entire mission so far. He cried when I got released because that means he has to have a new zone leader. :) He didn't really cry but it was a funny exchange of words between us. We did a lot of cool things together and we got some rally good sunset photos! We are best friends! Elder Masima is such a solid missionary. He has taught me so much about how to be Christlike. He is such a good example to everyone around him!
Last thing is that we got to go to a San Jose Giants game! It is the minor league team for the San Fransisco Giants. It was really cool. The head defensive coach of the team is a recent convert from Elder Harrals past area so he hooked us up with the best tickets and free food! We were some happy guys at that game! Ribs for days on my plate! We took one of our investigators who is about to go into the baseball draft so he could meet the recent convert. He is not actually our investigator, he is being taught by the sisters but we wanted to help out a little bit :) He is doing really well but is very busy with baseball!



That's the wrap up for the week. We had a lot of fun and I hope all of you did as well. Be sure to pull some pranks on each other this week and have lots of fun!
Love,
Elder Maxwell

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I still think my mission is the best

These words can not begin to express my excitement for Emma's mission call! How cool is the! I have a sister that will be serving in Brazil! I will be including a hasty visa process for you. Even though a lot of visa waiters come to this mission! Which would be super cool if Emma got to serve in my mission briefly before she mastered it and moved on to Brazil! :) I will admit that I had no idea where Juiz de Fora is so I had to look it up and then I saw how close it is to Rio and I was blown away thinking you were going to be able to serve in Rio! but then when I looked it up with the mission boundaries shown it cuts you off just short but it looks like the area you will be covering is super cool! maybe up in the hills a little bit too! That means small town third world feeling in some places, I'm sure! You will definitely be getting the exotic foreign mission experience. I still think my mission is the best because everyone in our family knows how to speak my mission language! :) English perks. I am also extremely happy to know that we at least get those 7 short days to catch up on life and prepare you for your mission experience! I hope we really do get to speak on the same day. It really would be the coolest present we could ever give our mom! I am just going to throw the warning out there for everyone now. If the entire family is back together for the first time in five years then you all know that we are going to be taking some family pictures. It's just how these things work. So get your smiles and muscle poses ready! So this whole first part has been directed towards everyone but it is wrote as if I am speaking directly to Emma,except for the first few lines which are very unidirectional... I will try to keep it together more as I finish emailing.

So as I said last week. We are going to be getting iPads in our mission soon. We thought they would be coming within days after our initial training but our zone, because we come alphabetically last in the mission was assigned the eighth of June which is the Monday before transfers. So we get to spend several hours of our last p-day of the transfer in an iPad set up meeting... The joy that is in my voice, I wish you could all hear how excited I am... :p  Anyways, iPads are going to be sweet! I cant wait to be able to access all the hidden materials that the church has developed to help us be more technologically up to par with the rest of silicon valley! Woo Hoo! Speaking of technologically up to par, we had a gospel principles lesson this week about the signs of the second coming and the doctrine behind the signs is that we need to know them. We need to be watching for them so that when the time is at hand we are prepared. One of the signs is that the righteous will build a city called New Jerusalem in Missouri. Our ward mission leader asked us all a question as he was teaching about this sign. He said, "do you think the prophet and apostles had drawn up plans for this New Jerusalem?" I was a little surprised by his question because I had never thought about it before. Then he shared one of those small things that, one, blows your mind, and two, opens your mind to think a little more. He told us that 10 years ago he sat down with Elder Eyring and was shown some of the plans and counseled with them on a couple of different subjects regarding the matter. He said the technology that is intended to be used in these plans wasn't even available on the earth yet. That's a little bit of a tangent but it caught my attention! So cool!
On a more focused note, the highlight of the week was the baptism of Susan Ward! She was baptized by her husband and it was absolutely wonderful. She wanted the service to be small and kept on the down low. So there were probably only 10-15 people there. However the spirit was just as strong as any baptism that I have ever been to. My favorite moment from the whole baptism was as Brother Ward was baptizing her, he was looking directly into her eyes as he said the prayer and she was looking directly into his eyes. As I stood there and watched that I realized that they both understood and knew the significance of what was happening right there. It was as if they were no longer constrained to the understanding that we all are. They were in an eternal perspective. As they stood there in the water I can imaging they were both thinking about the future blessings that they would be able to take part in. They were thinking about being sealed together for eternities. Eternal families. Eternal life! I have known my entire mission that baptism is the gate that leads us to the path of returning to live with our Heavenly Father, but it wasn't until Saturday that it really hit me that each and every baptism is so significant. Each and every baptism is another child, another lost sheep returning to the fold! Another lamb accessing the infinite power of the atonement. I am still in awe of the incredible spirit and power that I felt at that service. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us all so much. He would do absolutely anything for us. I have seen miracles in the work as we have been doing our very best to be diligent and work hard. Only a few months left to be called to this great work full time. Then I will be handing that baton over to the equally capable hands of Sister Maxwell.
Incredible blessings and experiences are to be had as we devote our time to God. Heleman 3:35! Through the yielding of our hearts we see purification and sanctification. It is as we experience these things that we become a sharp sickle in our Lords hands. It is His work, we are just the tools that He will use. We have a great purpose and a great responsibility to help out this marvelous work in any way that we can. Never ever give up! Each and every effort is good. There is not effort that does no good. All we are asked to do is be ready and go to work. Everything else is in His hands.
“Don’t let the fear of striking out prevent you from playing the game.”
"Prayer is not just for times of trouble.”—President Thomas S. Monson
Love You ALL! Have a great week!
Elder Maxwell

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Full of Adventures and Awesome Experiences!


What a busy busy busy week! It has been full of adventures and awesome experiences.

​So much has happened that I am not sure what to write about so I am going to just start typing away and hopefully something meaningful comes out! To start off, I am so jealous that Emma gets to know who made her mission assignment! That is so awesome! I showed the pictures to my companions and they were both going crazy, like that's complete nuts! It is really cool. Now Emma can say she has been in one of Elder Oaks Facebook posts! Not many people can say that. I am really excited to find out when and where Emma will be going. I thought that maybe since we were emailing so late this week that even with the holiday and all that she would have her call by now but I guess I will just have to wait until next week. Now that I have seen those pictures I keep having Argentina come to mind... Who knows!? Elder Oaks does ;p
We had quite the adventure on P-day this week. Because of the holiday we knew the library would be closed so we planned on emailing on Tuesday so we knew we had the whole day to do fun Memorial Day things. We had been up in the Santa Cruz mountains earlier last week and we had come across a really cool looking trail that was closed to cars but was open to bikes, horses, hikes and so on. So Sunday night I am laying in bed and doing the whole I am not tired enough to just pass out yet so I will talk with my companion. I asked what he wanted to do tomorrow for Memorial Day. he had nothing in mind. I said, "Do you want to bike the trail we found earlier?"​ He said yes. Honestly it was the most emotionless exchange of words I have ever had. I didn't know if we were both excited about it or dreading it or just didn't care at all. The next morning we woke up and we both had emotion again. We were pumped about the bike ride. Elder Hamilton who was hearing it for the first time at this point wasn't quite as excited as we were but was still down for having a good time with us. He also is a more logical thinker than we are. He said, "Elders, we only have one mountain bike." I instantly knew the solution to our problem. Our ward mission leader had two very nice mountain bikes in his garage and we called him up and asked if we could borrow them he said we could, he said they were about a year old and we would be the first ones to put some miles on them. So myself and Elder Hamilton did our mountain biking on $2,000 mountain bikes. That was probably more terrifying that actually mountain biking. The constant worry of possibly hurting one of the beautiful bikes. SO now on to the good part. As we are biking I stop to get some pictures and my companions continue on. After a couple minutes of trying to get some good pictures I get back on my bike and start to head off to catch up. As I round the first turn the trail turns into a steep downhill. I was trying to catch up so I decide to go down the hill at a good speed. On the hill the were these dip/bump combos where water had ran across the hill at one point. I hit the first one at a pretty good speed and I was worried that I was going to die, but my very good mountain bike took the bump very well and sent me into the air. I got about a second of air time and then was back on the ground biking again. Right after the first "jump" was a second and I hit it again, going a little bit faster that the first one. I was flying through the air like a champ! I hit the third jump the same way. Then, like you have all seen coming, I hit the fourth jump. I was so high! If there were people around they may have mistaken me for superman. I was flying through the sky as if I was on that plane home! :) haha, just kidding. All was going well on the fourth and final jump until the landing. I landed right on a sizable rock with my front tire. Now mountain bikes are built to go over rocks but this one was pretty big. It threw the front of my bike off to the left but I was ready for it so I moved my weight and was able to regain my balance and right as I was about to regain control of my bike, there was another rock. This time there was nothing I could do. It threw the front of my bike off to the left again and I flew over the front right of my handle bars at about 25mph. This is when everything slowed down and I remember flying through the air head first thinking, I really don't want to land on my face. I spun my body in the air so I landed on the ground on the right side of my back. I slid for about 10' on the rocks and then came to a stop. It all happened so quickly that the first thought through my head when it was all finished was, I just destroyed a $2,000 mountain bike. I jumped up and walked back up the hill to the bike. I stand it back up and begin looking for broken parts. The miracle, everything was fine. The bike didn't even have a scratch. On the other had there is me at this point. I felt all the pain start to run across my back and that warm wet feeling of blood. Both of my companions were still up ahead so I decided that this was no time to stop so I got back on my bike and started off again. Putting all the pain in the back of my mind. It only took about a minute from there to catch them and that when I had them examine my wounds. They weren't nearly as bad as I thought they were! Whew. I was able to finish the ride and I haven't been slowed down by them at all this week! BLESSINGS!!!! The true miracle is what I discovered at the end of the ride. When I took off my helmet. The entire back of my helmet was shattered as if someone had thrown a rock at a window. I realized that if I hadn't been wearing that helmet that would have been my skull, shattered open on the rocks of the Santa Cruz mountains. That's very gruesome... All said and done, we had an awesome trip, everyone came out of it alive, and we got some sweet pictures! Ill send them your way!






Last story I have time for is what happened on Wednesday. We had mission wide iPad training. We got together with the entire mission and Elder Evans of the 70 cam and spoke to us about how technology is here for us to become the disciples that God needs us to be. He said that missionary work is not what they are trying to change. They don't give missions iPads to try and make them better at doing missionary work. They give missions iPads to help missionaries become better disciples of Christ. I loved that. There was a lot of talk about having moral discipline when using technology. The only 100% effective safeguard is yourself. Moral discipline is when you exercise your agency to do what is right because it is right, even when it is hard. I have learned so much about being in the world but not of the world over the past few days, it has been very amazing. The second best part about this meeting was that I saw Dana! Well, Elder Forsgren. He is doing great. He loves, loves, loves his companion Elder Call but he is experiencing what I like to call area trunky. All new missionaries go through it before they get to their first new area. He is so accustom to his area that nothing seems new anymore so he is looking for some change. Eventually you realize on a mission that no matter where you go it is the same work. The part of a mission where you are a missionary is when you are in the living room of someones home feeling the spirit with someone and that is exactly the same all around the world. No matter where you are called. That's not 100% accurate but it is true. Being a missionary isn't about sight seeing! I have some pictures of us at the meeting I will send as well.
I also took some before my haircut pictures! Did someone say Albert Einstein? Throw back to fourth grade! hahaha, it was definitely time for a cut!
I love you all! Have some fun out there! Hopefully next week I will be emailing you from my ipad!
Best of wishes,Elder Maxwell