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, April 27, 2015

I have two new companions

    Just to clarify last week a little bit. Our transfer did come a week early. Our mission president has a mission president meeting that he had this past weekend so transfers had to get moved a week early, which means this next transfer is now seven weeks long to put us back on our six week average. It's confusing but really it is quite the thought out system.

    I have two new companions, Elder Harral and Elder Hamilton. I have served with both of them in past zones so I know both of them pretty well. We are a fun group and have already been able to get a lot of work done together! Elder Hamilton has a really easy time getting in with all the members, just like myself. We match up really well with our personalities. Both very outgoing and friendly. Elder Harral is our spiritual powerhouse that keeps us all in line - for the most part :) Elder Hamilton has been out for 21 months and will be on a plane back to Arizona in 12 weeks. Elder Harral will also be on a plane pretty quickly here he will follow six weeks after Elder Hamilton and will be heading back home to Highland Utah. Then I follow six weeks after him and will be on a plane back to Rochester New York! This is generally the time of a mission where missionaries experience what we call being "trunky". Essentially it means they are ready to pack the trunks and head home. If I am honest, there is quite a bit of trunky talk going on in our companionship but we are not letting it get in the way of us doing missionary work :)

     As for some things about my companions, Elder Harral did what he likes to call, "Combat Simulation" before his mission. He would go out in the woods and help swat teams and police forces train and practice as if they were in actual combat situations. Pretty cool job. He is super intelligent, he came out on his mission straight from High School but still has two years of college under his belt somehow. He is a little farther ahead then I am to put it lightly. Elder Hamilton sold drugs before his mission. That's how he made all his money. (Cashier at a pharmacy!) He is a ton of fun! He has been a member of the church for the past three years and is absolutely changing the course of his life by coming out here on a mission. This Friday he can officially say that he has been a missionary for the church longer than he has been just a normal member of the church. That's pretty cool. At the end of his mission the majority of his time as a member will have been spent on a mission. He LOVES airplanes and knows how to fly them! He lives in the same mission boundaries where Jessica Beatty will be serving her mission so they may end up crossing paths at some point but who knows, the church is very large in that part of the world.

    As far as the work goes, everything is going very well. Everything is set for the baptism on Friday. I am really excited for him. He is really excited for himself, it's really cool to see him so set on joining the church. He has so much conviction! He stood up during priesthood opening exercises yesterday and invited the entire priesthood body to his baptism. He is so incorporated into the ward. It's as if he is already a member. I can't wait to see him change people! He is going to bless so many lives. This is the first convert on my mission that I truly feel like is going to serve a mission and do the same thing I am doing and that is a pretty cool feeling! I will be sure to take a lot of pictures so everyone can get to see him and his family.
   I know it can be hard at times to push everyone around you to be more active in doing missionary work. For some strange reason everyone dreads it! Keep doing your best. From the sounds of it you are doing everything that I would want a ward missionary to be doing. One thing that is really helpful for missionaries is having things that we can invite members to invite people to. One thing that I would love is if a ward missionary was to inform me of who would be speaking in two weeks in sacrament meeting and I would make it a point to go and visit those members in advance and ask them to invite their friends and coworkers to hear them speak in church. I would role play it with them and would follow up with them the Thursday before they spoke. It is honestly one of the least threatening things you can invite someone to. "Hey, I am going to be speaking in my church in a week and if you are free I would love to have you come and support me!" Who would be offended by that? Absolutely nobody! Just an idea. Keep me informed on how it is all going. Maybe it is just because I am a missionary but I am very interested to hear how everything goes!
   I love you all and hope you all have a wonderful week! Hopefully it continues to warm up and stops being so cold! 
Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, April 20, 2015

I can't stop smiling all the time.

  What a week! I feel like I am on vacation! You said the word warmer so I assume that gives me permission to talk about the incredible weather we have had this week. It has been nothing short of miraculous! I can't even use words to describe to all of you how beautiful it has been. It is such a good feeling being able to walk outside in my missionary proselytizing clothes and feel the beautiful rays of sunshine hitting my skin. I will say that I am not very happy with the whole not being able to avoid getting tan lines thing but I guess that just comes with the job. I truly believe that energy and happiness are directly connected to sunshine. I can't stop smiling all the time. People are going to start thinking that I am crazy! 

   We started today off with a 5 mile hike up in the Santa Cruz mountains. We hiked a trail called Castle Rock. The best part was that Castle Rock is also a place where people go rock climbing! I may or may not have been able to stop myself from climbing - just a little bit. Nothing dangerous, just a little bit of bouldering. It was so nice to be outside and enjoying the incredible beauty of the forest! A miracle happened in association with this hike. I have been trying to plan really cool p-Day activities for the zone and for the past four weeks I haven't been able to get the entire zone to show up to anything. I guess this morning I found an activity that everyone wanted to be a part of! The entire zone woke up at 6 am so that they could come on the hike at 7! Miracle! Literally! The feat that I thought was impossible. My favorite part of the hike was when I stopped the entire zone in the middle of the forest we were completely alone and I asked everyone to be silent and look around them. They all paused for a moment and were able to take in the incredible beauty of the forest. The birds were singing and the light was trying its best to break through the canopy. I then played the song Joseph Smiths First Prayer and told everyone that this is what the sacred grove looks like and feels like. We all shared our testimonies about Joseph Smith and we all talked about the importance of him being called as a prophet and beginning the restoration of the Gospel. It was a very spiritual experience for all of us and it was really cool how we were able to recreate the same spirit that resides in the Sacred Grove. I actually felt as though we were in Palmyra. It was a really cool experience and all of the missionaries gave very good feedback on how they loved it!

  We also got to teach Max again this week. He is doing really well. We taught him about a couple of the commandments and he loved it all. It really doesn't matter what we teach him because he is so prepared no matter what he is asked to do he will do it because he knows that it is what God wants him to be doing. He knows this is the true church. One of my favorite quotes from Max is, "I really wanted to join the church before but now that I know it is true I want everyone to join!" Max is going to be an incredible missionary. I am so excited to see all of the people that he touches with his sincere spirit. He came to church yesterday in a brand new suit with a haircut. He was looking good and he was so happy to be able to finally make it to an actual sacrament meeting. Due to General Conference and then Stake Conference he has been unable to go to our ward. The excitement about his baptism is spreading like a wildfire. No matter where I go in the stake people have heard about his baptism and are very excited for it. His baptism is a week from this Friday and he is already prepared for it. He could be baptized today and he would be fine with it!

   Transfers are this week as well. We are having a lot of change in our zone this week. My companion is leaving so I will be getting a new companion on Tuesday (tomorrow morning). NO idea where he will be going or who I will be getting! The excitement, stress, and suspense of transfers! YAY! 

   That's about it for the week! Busy and full of fun! I love serving! I can't even explain how much I enjoy being out here. I thought there was no life after Stanford but I survived and I am loving Los Gatos/Saratoga. 

Stay safe and have another amazing week! You are all awesome! Have fun. Love one another! DO something crazy for me and give Emma a huge hug for me on Friday when she gets home! OH, that reminds me, I know quite a few Tongans that are going to BYU Provo now and I was thinking about sending them to protect my sister but I guess I can call them off. Those are some big guys. I wouldn't mess with anyone they were protecting. :)
I love you all! 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, April 13, 2015

DO NOT fall asleep when you are sitting next to your bishop!

  Wow, you have stayed in Utah for quite some time. I am amazed that those college kids were okay with their mom shadowing them ;p Just kidding, I am sure they were very happy to have you around. Even Jonathan missed you! Whoah! He is growing up into a real young man! I miss you too. Two years is a long, short time. if you know what I mean. It goes by so fast but it seems to take forever! It is kind of crazy to think that in six months I will be on a plane. Weird. It's getting close. Only four more transfers, probably one more area and three more companions. My mission you could say is far from normal. 

   My companion is great! He is a fireball of a missionary. He is always in tune with what God wants him to be doing and he is always lifting me and inspiring me to be a better missionary. I am glad that he is my companion, we have a lot of fun together. We have been super busy and have been working hard but this past week I feel like I have nothing to share. I feel like I missed everything that happened this week. As the Zone leaders we go on exchanges a lot and I left our area twice this week to go and be in other missionaries area and those just happened to be the days that all the productive and fruitful work happened. I am glad that the missionaries that came into our area with my companion got lit up and inspired to go back to their areas and work hard!

  We also had stake conference this past week and on the Saturday evening session I was sitting right next to Bishop Lovelady and I will admit I was exhausted. I may have dosed off for a minute in that hot chapel and Bishop took a picture of me and showed me at the end of the meeting. He joked around and said he was going to send it home to you. I told him he could and it would just prove how hard I was working :) I was talking with the Karrens later and Brother Karren, who is in the Stake presidency, asked me if I was tired and told me that he had seen a picture of me. Then he asked if I fell asleep during his talk and luckily I had been awake for his and was able to tell him what he had talked about. I hope they don't think I am a bad missionary because of this. They seemed to be pretty fun with it so I think it should all go over well. However the lesson has been learned, DO NOT fall asleep when you are sitting next to your bishop! Especially when he knows your parents! Just kidding, you shouldn't fall asleep at all but if you are exhausted fall asleep somewhere a little more secret :)

   I have been studying recently about a marvelous work and a wonder. I have had some very good insights and have concluded that the marvelous work is the restoration and missionary work. That part was easy. The coolest connection I made was that the wonder of it all is how it reveals the mysteries of the eternities and gives us an eternal understanding. It reminded me of the saying, "A missionary is a person that leaves their family temporarily so that others can be together forever!" That is the wonder of this work. Families CAN be together forever and I am so grateful that I get to spend so much time with the people that I absolutely love! I can't even imagine what my life would be like if I didn't have that understanding. As a missionary I am truly blessed because I get to bring a message of hope and Joy to people every single day. "How great will be your Joy if you bring many unto me!" I love serving as a missionary. I love the people that I have met and the lives that have become part of my life and will change me forever. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and will always be there to take care of me and help me when times are hard. I am so grateful for this gospel and how it has helped me become the best person I can become. I love my family more that anything in this world and I would do whatever it takes to make them happy. The atonement is real. It has changed my life forever and I will never be able to repay my Savior for what he has done for me. This is the true church. Don't doubt, the Spirit has confirmed it so move forward with faith. Put your trust in God and let him mold us into the incredible beings that our potential holds. We all have so much to create and to offer. Let it be unlocked!
I love you all! I am so happy that I get to call you Brother and Sister, Mother and Father!
Until next Monday,
     Elder Maxwell

Monday, April 6, 2015

I do have so much to write about!

 This week went by extremely fast! I feel like it was just the other day that I was sitting here emailing home. It almost feels like I don't even have anything to write about. Oh, but I do have so much to write about! So let's begin with general conference. How great was that! Man, I love hearing the prophet and apostles teach us! There is something about hearing them live that just trumps reading from them in the ensign. I love it! My favorite session had to be the priesthood session this time around. If you didn't get a chance to see it I would be sure to set aside a couple of hours to sit down and watch it. AMAZING! The message that really hit home for me was the constant counsel to be talking with God. I need to do better with my prayers! There is so much room for improvement. So the process has already started of me trying to do better in my personal prayers.

   Our investigator is doing really really well. We met with him twice this week and he is still very excited for his baptism date coming up on May first. He even reached out to some of his member friends and asked them to make desserts to bring to his baptism. Haha! I love it! He is the best. Such a cool guy! We were really excited that he would get a chance to see the prophet this weekend so we peeped him for conference a lot. He was only going to be able to watch on Saturday so we made sure he had a member home to be at all day and we went with him and the members to the priesthood session. So the entire day we are talking about how cool it is to hear the prophet speak and how excited we were to hear him! Max started to share our excitement and he saw him a couple of times on the screen during the first two sessions but he never spoke. I was sitting there thinking what in the world is going on why is the prophet not speaking?! We get half way throught the priesthood session and Elder Uchtdorf gets up and is announcing the rest of the program and he said something along the lines of "after this musical number I will speak and after my remarks we will be pleased to hear from our beloved..." At this point I am turning to Max saying, Yes! Here it is, the prophet! He is getting super excited and I am super excited and then Elder Uchtdorf says, "Elder Eyring" I don't want to say that I was disappointed but I turn to him and he turns to me and I'm just like, I don't know if he is going to speak. After both of them speak the prophet does speak and I am super excited and Max is super excited and he absolutely loves everything that he says. After conference is over he said that he loved the prophet the most because he just sounds like a prophet. Ah, it was amazing and he is super excited to get married now and get the priesthood and he wants to go to BYU Idaho.

   We also had a chance to go to the temple this past week. Every time I go to the temple I think about how amazing it is being able to have served in the temple before my mission. What a blessing that has been. I understand so much more about what God expects of me and wants me to be doing. I love the temple. I love the spirit that I feel there. I love the Oakland temple because it is so beautiful and it has an amazing view! And the palm trees are super cool. I am going to miss having palm trees as the normal. Its going to be so weird not seeing them around all the time!

    Anyways, I hope you all have a great week! Happy Easter to you all and I hope you take conference in the fullest! Use it up!

    Elder Maxwell