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, March 30, 2015

You realize how little you actually know...

Dear everyone!

  Wow. What a tremendous week! Full of incredible experiences and some reacquainting with past acquaintances. This area is turning out to be filled with a lot of fun and a lot of new experiences. Just when you thought you had seen it all as a missionary they send you somewhere and you realize how little you actually know and have actually experienced.

  First things first, I met a couple of people that knew me from way back in the day. It was a really funny experience watching them connect my name to my face. We were having a family home evening at the Karrens home and we get through the whole evening without anything happening and then at the end of the night they offered to send some of the leftovers home with us, (which we were very grateful for because it was the end of the month and we had no food or money for lunches) so while they were packing  up some of the food one of the moms looks at my face and then my tag and then my face and then my tag and then she shouts out to the other mom and they both make the connection and start talking about our little family of blonde heads! :) Then the husbands come in and they make the connection for them and once they have the connection they both agree that they can see it! We talk about our family for a little bit and they talk about our family 16 years ago. Luckily no embarrassing stories came out. Just a lot of compliments about how incredible my mom is! I already knew that! We took a picture and I told them to send it home so mom could wake up to it in the morning. Hopefully you got it and I haven't forgotten your phone number. Overall it was a very cool connection and I can't wait until it happens again. It's a little bit strange when you meet people who know you but you have no idea who they are. Good thing missionaries live for awkward situations.

    Second cool experience was with our investigator. If you remember my letter last week I talked about him and his family. We met with them again on Thursday and we were able to set a baptism date with him! We sit down and start to talk with him and his family again and he pulls out a list of questions that he has wrote down. They were so sincere and all of them were asking if I am a member of your church can I still do this with my family. What if I need to spend some time with family and can't make it to church? What if I have work during the week and I can't make it to mutual? From what he was asking we could tell that he was really thinking about being a member of the church so we told him right there that at this point we normally set a date with people for when they want to be baptized. He was so excited! He was so happy that he got to pick a date for when he could be baptized. It was such a great evening! I can't wait to see him continue to progress and get to know him even better. The spirit of love in the home is so amazing! I as so happy that I got to meet this family. They are so kind and so supportive of one another. There is also this little bit of joking that goes on between them that reminds me of our family. They love to be around each other and they know how to have a good time together. Love at home!

   Last thing. I live with the Tongan elders now and they are so much fun! I am having a ton of fun being around them and serving with them. They are so sincere. I have fallen in love with the Polynesian people! They are so kind and they are an incredible example of being humble. I have learned a lot about how to forget about myself and being ready to give everything I have to others. I have seen how they all look out for one another and they really are one big family that love and care for each other.

    Well that's my week! It has been amazing! This area is awesome! I still miss Stanford and all the incredible people up in the Menlo park zone but the Lord needs me here now and I am happy to serve and love these people!

Take care! I love you all! Keep up the good work!

Love, Elder Maxwell

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Returning to his Roots!

Elder Maxwell with the Karrens and the Loveladys
How fun is this?!  I woke up this morning and found this message on my phone!  Ben is serving in the Monta Vista ward, which is the singles ward in the Saratoga Stake.  His assignment also includes the Los Gatos ward.  We lived in the Saratoga Ward for almost 4 years, we moved there when Ben was only a few months old.  When I heard where Ben was being transferred to I did some computer stalking on the church website and found that the Bishop of the Monta Vista ward was Brother Lovelady.  Sister Lovelady was my visiting teacher and was in the same Joy School group.  Sister Karren and I served together.  I am thrilled that he will get to know these families that we know and love but he was too little to remember. 

If I could interpret his smile, I would guess that he is thinking: These people are really excited to see me and I kind of remember them.  I wonder if they have any embarrassing memories of me that I should be worried about.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Some pretty incredible experiences!

    This has been a very busy week, a combination of changing areas and getting to know people in the two new wards that I cover.  (Los Gatos and Monta Vista) I can officially say that I am exhausted! Unfortunately I have no time to sleep except for the eight hours that we get every night. I love this new area. It is so cool! Los Gatos is a very nice and very affluent area. I have already been in some houses that absolutely blow my mind! The modern architecture is incredible. I stand there in the homes and I am pretty sure my jaw drops to the floor and the members think that I am missing all my marbles. 

    I have already had some pretty incredible experiences being here. My favorite and the one that I want to share happened last night. We took a young man from the ward out on splits with us. We went around to try and visit a couple of less active member families and only got in with one of them. We had a good visit and as we were leaving we realized it was only eight. We asked the young man if there was anyone that he wanted to go and visit. He said let me text my friend and see if he would be open to us coming over. He texted his friend and his friend replied with, "Yeah! Bring them over!" We go over to his friends house and when we pull up he is out in the garage working on his surf board. His friend is 100% a California boy. He has the surfer personality which is very laid back. "Yeah man" "For sure" "Hecka cool brah" We start to talk with him out in the garage and he welcomes us into his home. We go inside and he calls out to his mom and his sister. They both come and we are all sitting there in the living room and talking having a great time getting to know one another. We find out that the mom was a member of the church and hasn't been a practicing member since she was a teenager but has taken on all the morals and values of the church for raising her children. He and his sister  are both in high school and they we so interested in learning more about our church. He had been coming to seminary, stake dances, church, mutual. He was integrated and loved to surround himself with members of the church because they shared the same values that he did. We ended up teaching the entire family The Restoration. The mother made a comment half way through that made me so happy to hear. She said that she had raised her children in a way that they could choose any religion that they would like. It was completely their choice. She also mentioned how it was amazing to her that her son was so attracted and interested in the Mormon religion. She had never told them that she was a member of the church. She said us coming over was like a second chance for her and it was inspired for their family. Does it get any better than this? What an incredible experience! The member we were with will never look at missionary work the same. He experienced one of the most incredible things that any missionary gets to experience. It truly amazes me how strong the spirit was during that lesson. We set up a time to go back and visit them again on Thursday. We also told them that we would be inviting them to be baptized and they were very excited about that. When I see things like this, I know that the Lord is hastening His work and preparing people. He prepares others through us. We are the tools that he has to use and the more prepared we are the more amazing the work that we can do is.
    I have also had quite a few flashback "deja vu" moments being here. A couple examples... We went to the stake center, the building off of Allendale, and I can't remember any specific memory but I recognize this one thing. In the foyers of this building there are these circles in the ceiling and if you stand in the center of them your voice will echo. They are pretty cool and I remember those from when we lived here before. Another moment was when we went and had lunch at a park. as we pulled into the park I saw this big airplane that was built for kids to play on and for some reason the plane looked so familiar. I don't know if we ever actually went there but I took a picture of it just to get another perspective on the event. I am calling these my flashback moments. They are slightly spooky... :)
   My new companion is Elder Faux. He is from Iowa. He is not a farm boy he is a city boy. He came out at the same time as I did and he is on his 5th transfer here in Saratoga so I will be taking over the area next transfer so he has four transfers in his last area. I don't know what they are going to have me do for the last four transfers of my mission but we will see. My companion is a lot of fun. He is a hard worker and he is very good at teaching. We live in an apartment with two other elders. The Poly elders. They are really cool and a lot of fun. I have really grown to love the Polynesian people as I have been out here. It is going to be very strange when I go back to New York and there are no more Poly's anywhere.
   I also got to see Elder Forsgren again this week. He is such a stud! He is killing it in his area. He is going to do a good job when he takes over this coming transfer. I saw him on San Jose State campus doing a bible study out in the grass with a bunch of non-members. I didn't want to bother them so we didn't say anything but then I saw him again later at the San Jose Institute building. It is cool being able to connect with him every once in a while.
My New Address:
350 Budd Ave. apt P-3
Campbell CA, 95008

Have an amazing week! I love you all!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 16, 2015

Transferred out of Stanford.

So, it is happening. I am getting transferred out of Stanford. Where will I be, I have no idea. I hope Everything works out and I am able to serve in a really cool area for my last area. I have figured out that I will either have one more longer area or two shorter areas. We will all have to bunker down and see what happens over the next 7 months! Transfers are exciting but I am also bummed that I don't get to stay here is Stanford longer. I have had a good run though. 7.5 months! It's been a blast and I am not sure how I will be able to move on! Just wait, two weeks from now I will be writing about how much I love my new area. They call Stanford the promised land of the mission. Usually we want to go to the promised land but I am all about trying something new :)

As you have all been hearing over the past few weeks, our area has been slow, but of course now that I am leaving the work is happening again. We got two new solid investigators this past week. One of them is named Mike. We had a member come to us and tell us that she had a referral for us. We were thrilled and asked her all about him. He is her boyfriend and he has agreed to learn about the church for her. We thought maybe his intentions for learning about the church weren't 100%in the right place but whatever breaks down that initial wall is great! We set up a lesson with him for Sunday after church at the stake presidents home. We went into the lesson and a funny thing happened. Now I have nothing against the Stake President or his wife, they are both incredible people with an incredible knowledge of the gospel. I just thought it was very funny to see how a member would teach and how a missionary would teach. We were teaching the Restoration to Mike and when we got to the first vision Mike had a question. It was at this point that our stake president and wife took over to try and answer his question and went on a long deep doctrine discussion that lasted a good 30 minutes. We sat there thinking whether or not we should cut off our stake president. But we got a chance to jump in and the stake president and his wife actually had to end up leaving at that point so the remainder of the lesson was just us. We got into a really good talk about the spirit and how we can recognize and feel the spirit. The part that was funny to me is that they never said anything that wasn't true or that was bad. They were just feeding meat to someone who needed milk. Now Mike is a very intelligent individual and conceptually understood everything that was being said but spiritually Mike is not even close to being able to understand what was said so he was taking in all of this great information but none of it was spiritually beneficial. Overall it was a great lesson and we had a really good time.

This is all I have time to write this week. We are super busy with goodbyes and packing today so anyone that normally gets a letter from me know that I still got your letter and I am contemplating whether or not I want to respond! ;)

I love you all! Have a fantastic week!

Elder Maxwell

PS: I saw Elder Forsgren again! He went to his first outgoing fireside. In two more years he will be going to his own! He is doing great! Not getting transferred. Loves his companion loves his area. This mission is a great fit for him! It's really fun being able to see him around all the time. (twice)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Nothing can ever compare to ​doing missionary work!

  ​What do I write about this week? I am not sure? This week has flown by but now that it is over I don't know what I am supposed to write about. We worked super hard and stayed fairly busy but I honestly don't know of anything that I can share as a cool experience or as a miracle. Maybe if I think about it while writing about Emma's engagement I will think of a cool story to share. 

   So, Emma's engaged. I honestly saw it coming, but I will admit it took me completely off guard. I was shocked when I saw her email! Funny story, I actually didn't see Emma's email first. The first email I read was Kiana​'​s. In her letter at the very end she wrote a paragraph saying I read some very exciting news regarding your family this morning. After reading that I was like, what, what exciting news could she be reading? Nothing super exciting ever happens to our family! ;) then I proceeded to read Opa​'​s email next. He also mentioned some exciting news but he was also very vague about it. He never mentioned engagement, all he mentioned was Emma's exciting news. I then I had the thought cross through my mind. I thought, no, it couldn't be. I rushed over to Emma's email and sure enough it was all about her becoming engaged. My mind was blown! Like I said, I saw it coming but I clearly was not prepared for my little sister to be getting married! I believe I have gotten used to the idea now. Emma is very smart and I know that she knows what she is doing! 
​    We got to go to Santa Cruz again yesterday. I got more sun in one day than I have on my entire mission! It was an insanely beautiful day out on the beach! I love the beach. Sand, sun, and fun! It is always good to get back to work though. Nothing can ever compare to ​doing missionary work! I did do something different while we were on the wharf this time. After we finished eating our lunch, I got a clam chowder bowl, it was so so so good! Like I was saying though, after we finished eating, I took my now empty Snapple bottle and I put about 4 french fries in it. I tore the paper off of it so it became a clear glass bottle and I set it out for the seagulls to try and get the fries that were inside. It was very funny and kept us entertained for our entire walk down the wharf. I will send some videos so you can see what I am talking about. It was a good time. Some people said it was mean to do that to the seagulls but I don't think they took any offense to it :)
   I also got to see Elder Forsgren for the first time at the beach. We talked and I gave him the news about Emma's engagement and he was also blown away. It might have been even more shocking for him because I am sure he saw Emma while he was at BYU this last semester. It was fun talking with Elder Forsgren and getting to hear all about home and how cold it was when he left. I was cold in the 52 degree weather yesterday morning and he was enjoying the nice summer time air. Funny how that adjustment happens :)
   We created a really cool document this past week as well. We are calling it the constitution of the Menlo Park Zone. I will have to take a picture of it and send it home. It looks really cool. We created it in order to motivate all the missionaries in the zone to set more baptism dates. Recently our zone has been doing a really good job at finding new investigators. That has been the focus we have been emphasizing for the past three months but now we need to start baptizing all the potential that we have. So far this year our zone has only had one baptism and that was Stephen way back at the beginning of January. This month we are hoping to see a lot of amazing things happen as missionaries get motivated to be bold and invite others to be baptized! We created a document that looks a lot like a mini version of the constitution and we had all of the missionaries sign it as if they were the founding fathers. Then I went and got really fancy paper and I had it copied onto the fancy paper and then I had a copy of it laminated for each apartment and gave a copy to every apartment so they could always see it, every single day! The hope is that all the missionaries catch the fire and start to invite! We will see what happens...

That is about all that has happened this week. Hopefully next week I will have incredible stories to share! The work is moving forward! Keep doing everything you can and God will eventually place those who are prepared in our paths! He will more readily place a prepared person in the path of a full time finder (members) than he will a full time teacher (missionary). 

I love you all! Once again, congratulations Emma! You are wonderful!

   :)   Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 2, 2015

You never, ever stop working hard.

 Only two more weeks of the transfer! Time is flying by! I can't believe we are already four weeks in! The chances of me getting transferred on the 17th are really high, but there is the slight chance that I will stay in Stanford for one more so I can be with Elder Ayotte for two transfers. We will have to see what happens when the time comes around. 

    There are times on a mission when you work really really hard. You never ever stop working hard. Every waking moment you are striving to work and focus on the work. We have been doing this for the past three weeks. Work work work! The strange thing is the entire time it has been what we call a trial of our faith. We really didn't see any miracles, didn't see any new "golden" investigators. We just worked hard and came home at the end of the day at the same place. This became very frustrating but we knew we just had to keep moving forward! Then we had an evening that changed all of that. It made being in a trial of faith stage worth it. Saturday around five we decided to go to Stanford campus. We were planning on walking around and trying to talk to people. We had been walking on campus for no more than a minute and this man who was with his six year old son came up to us and said that we were dressed up quite a bit to be here on campus. Then he read my tag and shouted out, "oh, you're Mormon!" He then turns to his son and tells his son, to listen closely, the Mormons are about to tell you what they believe. Then he turns to us and told us to teach his son what we believe. So my companion tells the little boy about prophets and how we have a living prophet here on earth today! Then the father looks at us again and says, "go ahead, tell him what you know." So I come in and teach him about the Book of Mormon. Then the father starts to ask him questions about what he believes. It was very strange at first but after a while we got acquainted with one another and we ended up having a really good conversation. They were very friendly and we talked about a lot of aspects of the Mormon church. He didn't really have questions but he had a lot of praise and good things to say about the church. 
    One of the coolest parts was that as he was talking with us. This girl walks by, probably in her 20's, student at Stanford. As she walks past I say hello really quick because she was on the phone but I still wanted to be friendly. She said hello and then continued walking. After a few steps she turned around, ended her phone call and came back to me. She asked me if she could ask me a question. I said sure! She then said it was a personal question and asked if that's okay. I responded, absolutely! She then asked if a Mormon can date someone that's not a Mormon. I laughed inside and was more than happy to teach her about eternal marriage and how important it is to us. Then I told her it is 100% okay for a non-member to date a member. I talked about how eventually most people date someone who is at least interested in learning about the church. I asked her if she was thinking about dating a Mormon guy. She said maybe with a smile :) then I asked her if she would ever want to meet up with us and learn more about the church. She said yes and as we started to exchange numbers she got a call that she had to take but she said she would come to church sometime. (We talked about church earlier) I don't know if this experience will lead myself personally to any new investigators but it was a really cool experience being able to see God place people in our path that were ready to learn and ask some questions. They will most definitely be asking more questions in the future and that will eventually lead them to Christ. 

   Great week! I have nothing to complain about. I am so happy!  We got to go look at really nice cars and we had a great day driving around!

Till next time...

Elder Maxwell