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, 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


     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!
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