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, January 26, 2015

Cool experience seeing your missionary work published

    As you have all seen by now. Deseret News put out an article about Lane and his conversation. What a cool experience for him to be able to testify of his conversion publicly like that. I can imagine he is going to get a lot of questions and comments from his close friends and family. What a great missionary opportunity for him and what a strength it is going to be for his conversion and his testimony. He has so much faith and I am so impressed with the missionary work he has already done. I have had so many people come to me and bring up to me how I was mentioned in a news article. At first I had no idea what anyone was talking about. Very quickly I learned that the article was about Lane and I had an opportunity to read it. What a cool experience seeing your missionary work published in the paper. That doesn't happen everyday. 
    The work here in the Stanford ward has slowed. We have baptized all of our investigators and now we only have one investigator and a whole lot of recent converts. I am so grateful that I get to work with all of the new members at this time. We had an incredible lesson with Sid this week. We spent an hour and we went deep into the Atonement and its life changing ability. We talked about what it is, why we need it, how we use it and what it does for us. It was such an amazing lesson! I am so grateful that I could sit down with him and have such an incredible discussion. It was the kind of discussion that you wouldn't have with an investigator. All of his questions were so sincere. The spirit was so strong as it testified to all of us and helped each of us learn of the importance of the Atonement. I love teaching anyone and everyone. I love how the gospel is so simple that a 5 year old can understand it but at the same time it is so complex that it can be studied for a lifetime and still not be fully understood. The gospel has so much for all of us to learn. We can all continue to learn forever and we need to continue to learn forever. No progress is backwards progress. 
     We had a really good lesson with Andrew yesterday. I put a lot of thought and study into what he really needs right now because we haven't been able to meet up with him since before Christmas. We taught about the Book of Mormon and how it really helps us build a relationship with our Father in Heaven. I learned so much from my studies and from the spirit. The sole purpose of the Book of Mormon and the Bible are to help us build that relationship. We can come closer to Jesus Christ by studying the Book of Mormon. As we read and understand what it is asking us to do, we beginning to develop Christlike attributes and as we DO those things we are aligning our will with the will of our Heavenly Father. Which, when we are aligning our wills, we are essentially repenting which is accessing the Atonement which was given to us by Jesus Christ because He was doing the will of Heavenly Father who loves all of us! So many things come together as we learn and understand the Book of Mormon! I have learned so much! It is incredible. I absolutely love the time that I get to study every single morning!
   I hope you are all continuing to read and study daily! I can promise miracles will happen as we put our will in line with what our Heavenly Father wants us to be doing! He will hasten His work through us if we let Him!
  I love you all! Have an incredible week!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, January 19, 2015

A month ago I gave my first talk on my mission, well yesterday I gave the third!

Dear Family!
   This is the wedding week I guess. Somehow I thought it was on the 15th... I am just way to eager I guess. I hope everyone was able to travel to and from Utah safely.
     Once again, Happy Birthday Allegra! You are so old! Holly cow! Just joking, you are a beautiful young woman and there is no guy out there that is good enough to date you so stay away from them all. They are gross anyways.
     Everyone do a whole lot of partying at the wedding for me. Make sure to laugh a lot! It will make for the best pictures. I have one request. In one of the pictures if everyone could be doing a flexing pose that would make my day! Then I would feel as though I was represented :)
    This week has been a blessed week. Remember how a month ago I said I had to give my first talk on my mission? Well yesterday I gave the third talk of my mission. I have found that I enjoy giving talks! I love feeling the inspiration as I strive to lift the members that I serve. 
    I don't have a lot of time this week. But just know that I love you all!

Love, Elder Maxwell

PS: We went to the bay!
Our Companionship

Monday, January 12, 2015

Unusual and Rememberable Experiences

This has been a week of unusual and rememberable experiences. It has been such a long time since I have been able to send home an email. Really it has only been a week but this week feels like it has covered such a long period of time. So much has happened!

  The first thing that is on the front of my mind is the baptism of Stephen! It was so incredible. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to be a part of that miraculous event. We had a trial run baptism planned for Tuesday night, so at 7pm on Tuesday myself and Elder Kerby head over to his place to practice the baptism in the pool in his backyard.
We started with his baptismal interview and that went well so he was ready to be baptized for sure on Saturday as we had planned. We go into the pool at about 7:30 to start the practice and the first thing we notice is that it is a full moon! And we could also see Jupiter in the sky, so we all sit there in the pool amazed by the beautiful sky. Then we have to get Stephen into the pool so we construct the ramp and we get Stephen into the water. Once he is in the water he decides that it would be easier if he was standing so we stand him up out of the chair and we walk him all around the pool trying to find the easiest most comfortable way for him to put his head under water. After about an hour of trying this and that we end up sitting on the steps of the pool and finding that that was the most comfortable position for him.  We start to practice the actual baptism part. Now, because of Stephens fear of water it was really hard for him to put his head under water. But after another half hour he gets pretty close. So we tell him because it's already almost 9:30, which is when we have to be in, and we had all been in the pool for an hour and a half we could just get it all the way on Saturday. Then Stephen said that the hardest part was getting in for him.
In that moment we felt prompted and asked him if he would like to do the actual baptism right now with just his mom, dad, girlfriend, and missionaries? He was very excited that was an option and said yes. He then proceeded to tell us that he was worried about doing it in front of a lot of people. So even though it was already 9:30 we called our mission president and he gave us permission to stay out late and baptize him that night. So we got our district leader on the phone and had him and his companion go and get white clothes for us. We called our bishop and got his permission to do the baptism and then we were all go! So, here we are, Stephen, his Dad, his caretaker, his girlfriend, and myself all in the pool at 10:05 at night waiting for white clothes to show up. The clothes got there and Stephen and I got dressed in white and he was baptized at 10:25pm on January 6th 2015. 
It was nothing fancy. There was no service or talks or music, just the simple, beautiful ordinance of baptism. The spirit that we all felt in that moment was so incredibly strong that it cannot be described in words. I will forever remember that night. I am so very grateful that we were able to work everything out for Stephen and that he was able to be baptized. He was confirmed yesterday at church and is now officially a member of the church of Jesus Christ. 
When I see people make commitments and covenants with God it helps me remember the importance of the work that is going on all around the world. I hope to someday see Stephen has a huge influence in the future of the church. He has so many incredible talents that I know Heavenly Father is going to put to great use. I have been built and inspired by Stephen, he and his family will forever have a place in my heart. I love them all so much!

Bad news to follow that wonderful experience is that they sent my companion home this week. The mission health department called our president and told him that my companion was making to many trips to the hospital and that he needed to go home and recover and then come back out later on if his recovery is quick. My hope is that he will come back out by February and be my companion for one more transfer. I am sad that he is gone. We were pretty close and we had a lot of really good talks as we were stuck inside together. Miss having a companion. Right now I am placed in a trio with another companionship. They are technically my new companions but because they and I both know it is only temporary until transfers we still have a separation when it comes to getting to know each other's wards.  I love my new companions but Sunday was pretty rough going solo the entire time. But I made it through and here I am as happy as can be! I have been able to spend a lot of time with other elders in the zone. I feel as though I know all of them and they all know me. It's a wonderful feeling.


    Elder Maxwell

Stephan's Baptism

Monday, January 5, 2015

There is more than one reason this work is meant to be done two by two.

Hello, hello, hello!

   This week has been a mix of everything. I will start with the good.

  We have been extremely busy with planning the baptism for Stephen.  We think that we have everything set now but tomorrow evening we will be doing a trial run baptism and will be making sure everything will work. Hopefully it all goes smoothly tomorrow so Stephen can go into the baptism on Saturday with confidence and a peace of mind. It's a lot easier going in to something knowing that you can already do it. We will be holding the baptism in his parents pool so that will be really cool. He asked me to baptize him so I will be in a swimming pool twice on my mission! Once on Tuesday and again on Saturday. I am really excited for Stephen and for his commitment to being baptized and joining the church. There are so many things that could be holding him back or stopping him from making this decision but I have never once heard him doubt. He has voiced concerns but not in the sense that he doesn't want to be baptized because of them. He wants to voice them so we can get them out of the way and move forward with the baptism. His parents are very involved with him being baptized and are doing everything they can to help. I love seeing parents that are so supportive of him. They are not members but they can see the good that it will bring into Stephens life and they support it 100%. They are such a kind and loving family and it has been such a pleasure getting to know them and to be able to serve around them. It is families like this that make missionary work so enjoyable. I truly feel like I can bless their lives so much and all I have to do is continue to introduce them to the gospel. I love them all so much and am willing to do anything I can to help them all in any way. I have learned so much from Stephen. I have learned to be grateful in my circumstances because of him. I find myself recognizing blessings more often and I realize that I can always find something to be happy about. It brings me a lot of joy to thing that I just spent the entire year of 2014 serving God and coming closer to him. I look at myself now and think back to last New Years I can personally tell that I have grown in so many ways. It is incredible! I have become a whole new person and I plan on doing that all again this year.

   As for not such good news, my companion Elder Kerby had to go back into the hospital on Saturday night because he had an allergic reaction to a combination of his medications. He is doing much better now and I have to do a much better job of making sure he is not taking different medications at the same time. Space everything out so its not overwhelming for his body to try and handle. It's not a fun situation to be in but he is getting better again and hopefully he will continue to get better so I can have my companion back. That would be nice. We have been super busy and it has been pretty physically exhausting trying to do everything on my own. There is more than one reason this work is meant to be done two by two. Both for a spiritual and physical aspect of the work. I love Elder Kerby and he has been a great companion. I have learned a lot from him and he has been very good at patiently enduring this challenge. I commend him for that. I would have gone completely crazy by now. I am so grateful for exchanges and being able to go out with other missionaries. The worst of it is that we got a call from our mission president this morning and he said that if the doctors appointment on Friday goes south my companion will have to go home until he recovers and then he can come back out to finish his mission later. I really do not want that to happen. I love my companion and I would hate to see him leave. We will be praying a lot over the next few days that everything will go well, but in the end it is God's will that needs to happen. I can't imagine what is going through his head. I would hate to get that call. Nobody wants to stop serving early, especially with six months left to go. We fasted as a zone for him to have a quick recovery so hopefully that helps.

   Speaking of other missionaries we had an awesome New Year's Eve party and six other elders came over and joined us to celebrate the new year. I attached a picture to show us in party mode right after midnight! Enjoy, just know that we all clean up really nice when we go out and work :)

  I am excited for this year! Good thing are going to be happening! Christian will be getting married pretty quick here to get things rolling and Allegra will be having a birthday that same day if I'm not mistaken so don't forget about her. Birthdays are still super important! Then we will have some more birthdays throughout the year. Christian and his wife will be in Chicago for the summer for an internship. Emma has some mission papers going in! Super excited to hear about where that call will take you! Later on someone will be coming home from a mission way far away at the end of the year. Ian will turn 9 years old, can't forget that. Lots of good things happening. I think mom and dad are going on 26 years of marriage this year? Correct me if I'm wrong. Congrats on that by the way. Super awesome parent award goes to the two of you for 2014 and preemptively for 2015! :)

   I love you all and miss you all! Happy New Years once more! Hope you all have a very grateful week!

Love, Elder Maxwell