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.

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

Don't count the days! Make the days count!

Don't count the days! Make the days count!

    What a great week! Time is running short! Where has it all gone? I feel like it was just the other day that we started this transfer and got put into the trio and now we are nearing the end of the transfer! I have no idea what is going to happen! I want to stay here until the end of my mission but when you are in a trio everything is super unpredictable! I am nervous that President is going to pull me out and put me somewhere else because this coming transfer we are losing English elders and there are going to be a lot of needs around the mission so English trios are not likely to stay! AAAHHH! I just want to finish up here!​

   We saw a lot of incredible things happen here this past week! As I said last week we set a goal to visit everyone in the ward! Well lets just say that was a very large goal and we fell short a little... We got to about 25 out of 300... So we are extending our goal to the end of this week as well, and probably next week and the week after that, and maybe even a couple more after that :) Good thing is that we are staying extremely motivated and whenever we don't know what to do, we know what to do! We have had a lot of really good visits with the members and we always feel productive sitting down with them and talking with them. Even if it is really quick! ​I was talking to our ward mission leader yesterday and he phrased what we are doing in a very unique way, I loved it so I am going to share it! He said "If you have a stampede of cats you don't have to worry, it's a stampede of cattle that has power. They all run together and in the same direction. That's what makes them dangerous! We need to stop herding cats and get our Ward membership to run together at the same time in the same direction!" -Rich Thawley 

    That is exactly what our goal is with our ward. To unite everyone and get them all going! We realize that it is a very time sensitive. We have to get a lot of members going at the same time because if there is too much of a gap between getting members fired up there is never a build up of momentum! We are using the idea of spiritual entrepreneurship to help motivate everyone. Basically we are running our ward mission as if it is a small business and we are trying to make it into an empire! That takes individual participation from everyone! Then as a group, as a team, we will accomplish incredible things!

   We also had a miracle this week! We got a call Tuesday night from a member that was feeding us on Thursday and she said that she had invited a couple to join us for dinner and the wife was not a member but she wanted to talk with us about her baptism! We have never met with her before but as we talked on Thursday we set a baptism date for May 30th! She was ready! She has bee in our ward for about a month and hearing all the testimonies about Max's baptism helped her realize that she needed to join the church. He husband has been a faithful member for a long time and she has been faithfully attending with him for a long time! She is prepared and an awesome lady. I am honored to be able to have met her. One of the miracles from our visits to the members of the ward. We have been inviting all the members as we visit them to pray for us so that as we are out doing the work we can find those that are prepared and ready to be baptized. Miracles work! Mormon 9:19-21
  The work here is amazing! I love my companions and I love this ward! The church is true! Don't doubt it! I have seen the blessings of the gospel in so many lives! I have also seen the change it has wrought in my own life. I am so glad I chose to serve. I will forever be a better person because of the lessons I have learned on my mission. ONWARD FOREVER! BACKWARD NEVER!

   Pictures... Myself and one of my roommates! Elder Crawford! The other picture is the most amazing dessert I have had on my mission. That right there is an apple pie rose... How cool is that! It was very gourmet and also very delicious! So cool!
I love you all a ton! Have a super good super fun week! Happy day!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, May 11, 2015

I love my mission!

Hej familj! дравейте семейство! Hello family!

     It was so good being able to see everyone! It was weird after the call ended because the rest of the day the thought kept going through my head that the next time I see everyone will be in person! It was a little distracting but I was able to work through it and am all better now! We started visiting the ward last night and only one person wasn't home so we are off to a great start! We have been encouraged by our mission president to take responsibility for finding people. Yes it is the members work to find people and yes as missionaries we are supposed to be professional teachers but we also need to be professional finders so we can aid and assist the members all around us. So when we visit members we have been sharing a message about our efforts in finding new people to teach. We are sharing one of my favorite scriptures in Mormon 9:21 in talks about praying for things and the promise that God will answer our prayers! So not only are we trying to visit all of the people in the ward but at the same time we are striving to get everyone to join together and pray for US! We are inviting everyone to pray for the missionaries so we can find people to teach. As we all know if we want our prayers to be answered we need to take action. Faith and works!
   We are really excited for the effect that our efforts may be able to have on everyone here in the ward! Hopefully we are able to meet everyone and help everyone know that we are here to serve them and help them in any way that we can. Someone in this ward is bound to have some service for us to do or have someone that they have been working with that we can meet and help come unto Christ! So those are our plans for this week and we hope that our efforts are not in vain! I love this ward! They are all so kind and I am so glad that I have the opportunity to serve all of them!
   This past week that we had was pretty uneventful honestly. We didn't do very much as far as incredible experiences goes. This past Saturday evening was Mormon prom for all of the youth in our stake and six other stakes! 350 youth came to our chapel on Saturday night for the dance! WOW! Max and Allen were going to it and neither of them knew how to dance so I promised them that I would teach them how to dance before Mormon Prom came around, so on Thursday night we went over to Max's house and after having a lesson about the priesthood which he will be receiving this coming Sunday, I taught them how to slow dance with a girl. No I did not touch any girls. I made them shadow all my movements as they danced with their mothers! The Moms loved it. It was slightly ironic because it ended up being us elder giving two 17 year old young men dating advice in front of their mothers and then one of them brought up the point that we were the only guys in the room that couldn't actually date! Haha, it was really fun but we gave them some really good advice. The report that we got about the Prom was all positive! They had a great time and their dates loved it! Oh, and the best part is that Max asked Allen when they were going to start their mission papers! Max is planning on going on a mission! How cool is that! He has been a member for not even a week at that point and he was already planning on serving! Second best part was his mom was completely supportive! She was talking about different experiences he was going to have if he went to different places! It was really cool, and a very good feeling.
I love my mission! I am super excited for life after the mission but I am living up this mission life while I still have it! What a blessed way to be able to live for two years! 100% service to God! I love it. Doing this is never easy but every part of it is worth it and everything about it changes an individual! I am having so much fun... Changing!
Love you all!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, May 4, 2015

Just have to last three more transfers...

 I am really excited to be able to Skype home for the last time! Whoah! thats crazy!!!! The time has really just flown by!

​ Like I said, We will be calling around 1:15 our time so that is 4:15 in NY! Be ready with that gigantic computer screen! I am really excited to see everyone again. Hopefully nobody has grown up too much.​

The Baptism was absolutely incredible! It was packed which made it awesome (over 100 people came!) The entire program went smoothly without any flaws! The person who baptized him was his friend. In the picture of all of us guys from left to right it goes. E. Harral, Myself, Max, Allen, E. Hamilton, E. Faux. Then in the other baptism picture it is Max and his family. Sister, Mom, Max, Grandma and Grandpa. Then there is Max and I. And then a picture of our companionship! We have had a great week! The spirit at the service was so strong. I am so glad that Max invited so many friends to come because I know they all felt something. I know Max's sister felt something as well. I am expecting she will be wanting to learn more eventually. So many people were kind to her and she felt so welcomed at the baptism and at church on Sunday. Max's mom and sister have only come to church once for his confirmation. But that is still enough to feel the spirit and be hungry for more! I know they will both want to be returning at some point. It is a little confusing with Max's mom but I wont get into all that. They are an incredible family and I love them all so much! I would do anything for them. Its as if they are part of my own family. I also reached out to all of the previous converts on my mission and they are all doing so well! I am so happy that I have had the chance to meet so many incredible people on my mission. The relationships I have made will last forever! I love all of these people so much! I have fallen in love with the Los Gatos ward and am so happy that I am serving here. I hope I finish my mission in this ward. Just have to last three more transfers after this one to be able to stay. Three chances that they will move me. The odds are in my favor!
Our companionship is doing really well. It is crazy! But we are all doing well. I am glad that we are all companions. We are a good match. We are working well together. Just like Elder Taylor was, we are not robo-missionaries. We let our personalities shine! That's one of the best parts about having a companionship where we are all in the last quarter of our missions, we all understand that people love having interactions with real people not fake people. We are a solid team and we are hitting this work out of the park!
Short on time but we are going to talk on Sunday! Love you all!
Elder Maxwell