Monday, December 30, 2013

One of my goals for the year is ...

Surprise!! So I thought we would be writing on wed because that is our P-day this week but they needed the numbers to get entered for the last week of the year so they are having us write this morning!! 

It was very good to see all of you and I am amazed at how much all the little kids have grown up I can hardly recognize them! 

My new companion is Elder Parkinson he is from Utah (the area up close to Idaho I can't remember exactly where) He is one of five boys and the second oldest. He plays water polo and has very hairy arms. He is a great missionary and I am glad to be able to work with him, this last week I didn't have much of a chance because I was working with one of the Ukrainian Elders but they got all their work done and left Saturday night. So basically in three weeks I will have had three companions! It was fun working with Elder Page (from Arizona went to BYU same time as me, serving in Ukraine Russian speaking) he couldn't do a ton of missionary work seeing as he didn't know the language and he doesn't have a visa or anything for that here but it was good and an interesting and fun experience! 

This week was pretty good we had two baptisms on Saturday ( a couple that had been meeting with the missionaries for a while) and church was good the missionaries taught the third hour combined and it went pretty well. It has been pretty rough finding new people and even harder meeting with them (we are anticipating a lot of meetings after the new year) but we had some good success and Elder Page and I even found an American couple while we were tracting who are here translating the bible into Roma (gypsy) so we are meeting with them next week as they will be out of town this week, so that was pretty incredible! 

One of my goals for the year is to grow a moustache and to eat a grilled cheese sandwich with so much cheese that I get cheese in my moustache, I probably won't be able to do that any time soon so we will see if I ever get around to that. You could say that is my physical goal, social maybe to pick up a little Turkish, spiritual to be a better missionary here and when I get home, educational room with Elder Bennion at BYU and eat Austin and Emma's food! (And get A's in my classes at BYU)
I love you and it was good to see you all have a great week!!

Love Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 23, 2013

The only bad part about moving to new apartments is...

So it is good to be back in Sofia, the branch here is amazing and I love the city!! I'm not in the same apartment that I was in last time, sadly ( it was a nice apartment), but we still have a nice apartment.  It's just kind of far out from the church and it makes it difficult if we want to do meals at home because it requires a lot of travel.  We do fine and it is going well, it has been good seeing all the members I knew and meeting the others that I didn't or who are new. The only bad part about moving to new apartments is that I usually have to bring it up to Christian Maxwell cleanness standards, ours wasn't too bad but there were a few things that needed a good scrubbing. 

My new companion is Elder Harkness, he is from Highland, Utah.  He is the middle child of 5 kids and he is pretty funny. He plays tennis and likes to shoot bubbles at me while I call people in the mornings and at night, he's been out for 12 weeks now and he is a good missionary. Although, there is  a bit of adjusting from working with fluent missionaries and with those who are still learning the language but he does well!

The week was a bit rough at first, we don't have any investigators at the moment (they baptized them all right before I got here).  We are on the search now with contacting, less actives and part member families.  It was especially crazy this week because there are Ukrainian elders that come in for passport work and all from time to time so my first day: I still don't know my new area, we don't have any investigators, I don't know the members in my area or any less actives and I've got to take one of the Ukrainian elders to work with me while they are here.  That was exciting!  The zone leaders worked with them most the week but it was fun working with them a little and trying to figure out what I was doing. Overall it was a little stressful but a pretty good week!
Well, I will see you all on Wed! Don't forget to learn something in Bulgarian! I love you all!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 16, 2013

I am in Sofia!

Hey, so I am in Sofia now and I will be serving here again! This time I will be the district leader and the branch is a lot different than it was before, instead of the two branches there is only one (they combined the two). I will miss Varna for sure it probably is my favorite area that I have served in (but I love them all very much) and it was sad to have to leave. I left pretty quick too.  Usually we move cities on Tuesday, but there is an Elder that was in Varna with me who finished his mission and has a flight home tomorrow, so I came in to Sofia this morning with him.  I got to spend my P-day on a bus!!   But it is all good and I am excited to be here in Sofia!

My new companion is Elder Harkness and I still don't know anything about him so I will have to let you know about him later!

Things are going well in Bulgaria and we have big expectations for the new year, especially here in Sofia.  The branch has a goal for 60 baptisms this year!  It is exciting for me to be here and work with them for that!

Answers to questions from mom:
  • What is the best thing members can do to help the missionaries?  The best thing a member can do is to invite friends to meet with the missionaries and to help out in lessons.
  • What is the biggest challenge the church faces in Bulgaria?  I'm not really sure what the biggest challenge is, it is difficult because the church is still pretty small but it is growing and I am excited to see what the future has for Bulgaria.
  • What is your biggest challenge as a missionary?  My biggest challenge is helping the members to invite their friends I am not super good at it and I am working to get better because it can be a big help in the missionary work.
  • What is the best part of being a missionary?  The best part of being a missionary is probably just meeting with and working with so many people, investigators, members, less actives... I love getting to know them and helping them to have the spirit more in their lives!
Love you all have a great week!!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 9, 2013

I am always very ready for bed each night.

So this week was good, we were very busy and had a pretty successful week!! We were in Shumen for a little bit and it's a nice little city but it is pretty cold there, it is a bit warmer here in Varna but we get pretty strong cold winds.
So like Ben we have our transfer calls this week and I hope I get to stay, although, it is likely that I will be moved, I've been with Elder Measom three transfers and I've been here longer than him so it is more likely that I will end up going somewhere but fingers crossed that I will be able to stay!! We have a lot of really cool investigators and a couple baptisms this month and if I transfer I would miss them! Plus the branch here is awesome and I could serve here with them till the end of my mission!! But we will see!
It is pretty easy to live within the budget, I usually have a little left at the end of the month which is good because it is like a buffer for the next month if we end up buying more food.  We eat cheap and well so it is good! Recently we've had a lot more meals from investigators and members which has been helpful although we still cook most of our meals.  Elder Measom and I are both healthy and well which is good, a lot of elders have been getting a little sick recently but we have been blessed to be able to be healthy and work all the time! I am doing well, very busy and I am always very ready for bed each night. 
Cool teaching experience from this week, we were teaching one of our investigators about the word of wisdom and she doesn't smoke or drink but she has drunk coffee for 40 years but she has a very strong desire to follow Christ and is doing all she can to prepare for baptism! She was a little worried about it, but decided to give it a try.  The first couple days, she said she had a bit of a headache but with prayer and a little Advil she made it through the day.  After that, she says she didn't even have the desire to drink it anymore and it's been about a week now! It is amazing to see people change their lives to live according to the commandments and how happy it makes them!! We also have another investigator preparing for baptism this month and he is doing well and the sisters here have a baptism this week so this will be a good month for Varna!! 
The holidays haven't really changed much, there are still people out and about and our investigators are all still in town and willing to meet so it is good.  It's just a little harder when it is colder because there aren't as many people out. In the city, they've put up a bunch of Christmas lights and some other stuff in center so it is all very pretty when it gets dark!! Other than that, I can't think of much but you all have a great week!!!

Love you!! 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, December 2, 2013

Things are going really well.

Things are going really well for us, we missed basically the first half of the week for our meeting and for exchanges but we've got some good investigators and there should be at least a few baptisms here in Varna this month!
We are still working with the grandmother and her son and wife.  The grandmother is doing really well and loves coming to church and meeting with us and she always feeds us when we go over for lessons usually it's just fruit or something small but she's done a couple bigger meals for us.  Once we had this one thing I forget the name it's rice wrapped in cooked grape leaves but she did it with pickled cabbage. Not my favorite but I'm getting used to it they eat it quite a bit here especially in the winter. She is super dedicated and once she gets over her morning coffee she will be ready for baptism! 
The teaching is going well, we had a few good lessons and the members have been helping us out a lot the last couple weeks so that has been good! We found this one really cool guy while we were tracting a couple nights ago, he had a couple kids and he studied the bible and all for this one evangelist or something church but doesn't go there because here doesn't agree with some of their teachings. He is super nice we only had a few minutes with him because it was pretty late at night and we were in a further out part of our area but he has even been to the English courses before and we have another lesson with him tomorrow! It is pretty incredible how prepared people can be and we hope that things will go well with him!
This week got pretty cold and when we were in Sofia it was snowing and we hadn't brought our winter stuff because it was warmer and all in Varna and then we went to Veliko for exchanges and it had dumped snow there and so we had a good colder day working with them and then on the bus back, the bus had to stop and we had to wait a hour or so for them to plow the road so we could get back to Varna! We got in a little bit late but we got in so that's what is important! We still don't have snow here in Varna just cold, windy weather but with a coat and scarf its not bad.

Other than that, things are going well and I love you all! 
Have a great week!
Elder Maxwell 

Monday, November 25, 2013

A very blessed missionary!

So just to let you know, your son is a very blessed missionary, we have our council meeting this week so we were going to have to come in today to Sofia on the bus but yesterday the Wilsteads were in Varna and they gave us a ride in to Sofia so that was good because the buses are not the most comfortable.  Then we find out that the American family is having the Thanksgiving dinner on pday this week so it just so happens that we are here for that so 2 years in a row I get an incredible Thanksgiving dinner! Other than that Thanksgiving will just be a normal day for us but it's all good because our normal days are pretty good!
This last week was good for us, we had the training meeting that Elder Measom and I were responsible for, and that went well so that was good. We still are working with the one family and the Grandmother came to church again and was participating in the lessons and one of the members that lives close to her wants to come to the lessons with us. So it is good that the members here are helping us out in our lessons! We found a few cool people and another family who are interested to learn more. We found a mother with two daughters and the mother want's her daughters to learn more about faith and God and so we will go visit them with a member this week.
We had a blessing too where we had a member call one of our investigators who hasn't been to church in a while and invite him and he came and had a really good time and it was a perfect week for him to come to church the lessons were all for him and I am sure he felt the spirit! It wasn't a big thing for the member to do but it meant a lot for the investigator and it got him to church!
We most likely will have a lot of traveling this week for our council meeting then we have exchanges in Veliko Turnovo and then an interview in Ruse, so we will have to get as many lessons as we can in the time that we get in our area. 
I love you all and have a great week!
Elder Maxwell 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Things are going good

I am glad that you got the pictures from zone conference I put a lot of effort into them to look good  and it would be a shame if they never got to you! Not really though it was pretty easy and I didn't do anything but thanks to Sis. Wilstead for sending those!
The mac and cheese was good but it wasn't really as awesome and delicious as I remember it being  but I am excited to have some home made mac and cheese with bacon when I get home!
We were able to meet with the families some more although one of them we are transferring over to the sister missionaries because they live in their area and they will be able to lessons with them at their home and with the members who are close.
The investigator that got the leg cramp, we've worked with him for a while and he is pretty goofy so he just laid there for a couple minutes and then we helped him get up. 
Funny story, this week was E. Measoms b-day and I did not know so one morning he wanted to run to the store for workout to get some Oreos for a Reese's pie and it was pretty cold but I went anyway and we made the pie for breakfast and then it took me half the day to figure out it was his birthday I finally got it when he said he wanted to go out for dinner and it was on his parents. So I was glad I went for the pie stuff !

Yesterday the English couple that is retired here in a village had us out for an English dinner and that was pretty good and we were grateful to have a Sunday roast with them!
Other than that things are going good.  We've got some good investigators and the weather is still pretty good, just a little bit cold. Today we went to ice skate at a sport complex and I've sort of got the hockey stop down now! Then we played some basketball and soccer so it was a really good p-day!
This week we probably will head down to Burgas again and we've also got a zone leader training meeting that we will get to lead so it'll be a very busy week getting all that in as well as meeting with all our investigators so that is good!

Have a great week! Love you!
Elder Maxwell 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

The best things that happened ...

This week one of the best things that happened was we started teaching a cool family who is interested in our message and who have very strong faith, and they read and pray and keep their commitments!
Since you asked, when we went shopping this week (last week we haven't gone yet today), we bought a ton of chicken and potatoes some cheese a lot of eggs and milk and bread some peppers and oranges and bananas and bread and cornflakes and kicelo mlyako and lyoutenitsa and shpek and some pasta. Probably some other stuff but that's all I can really think of.
 kicelo mlyako



The thing that my companion does the most different from me is love football otherwise we are basically the same with small differences.
We had eleven lessons this week. In one of our lessons with an investigator the spirit was really strong, he had dropped off the map for a little but we were able to meet with him, and so talked about why it is important to live and learn about the gospel and the spirit was very strong and the lesson went really well then he got a really bad leg cramp and got up then fell over, so that was a bit weird.
Also in church we had a eastern Europe broadcast with Elder Nelson and some other church leaders and that was really good!
Other thing's from this week, we had a meeting in Sofia and I got to see and talk to Elder Bennion again (through Skype) so that was cool and I am excited to be at university with him again, we will have to be sure to room together again!

Have an awesome week I love you all!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, November 4, 2013

You never really know how much your little efforts can lead to!!

So this week was good.  We were here in Varna all week and had exchanges with the Elders here, that was pretty good.  We had a Halloween activity for our investigators and the members and that went well. They all had a good time and the members were able to get to know the investigators and vice versa so it was good. Although not too many people here know about Halloween, basically just the younger kids celebrate it, but everyone enjoyed the activity and we had some fun games for them, like donuts on a string and apple bobbing! 
We had a couple pretty successful nights of tracting this week and we found a couple families! With one family, they invited us in and they were sort of religious but had been pretty busy and hadn't gone to church in a long time. So we were sharing about the restoration with them and when we shared Joseph Smith's first vision the spirit was so strong and the mother right after asked how she could learn more so we set up a return appointment with them and hopefully we will be able to keep teaching them! The other family was similar, they used to meet with the Jehovah Witness missionaries but with their kids they got busy and lost contact but they have great faith and wanted to learn more about our message!
It is just like the family that Elder Taylor and I found in Blagoevgrad that used to meet with the JW and they got baptized! I called them up one evening after planning this week to see how they were doing and the 14 year old son passes the sacrament every week and is going to the weekly seminary course they have.  He told me he can't wait until he is old enough to be a missionary! So you never really know how much your little efforts can lead to!! I am very happy for them and hope to be able to continue to find families to teach and to help them receive of the blessing of the restored gospel!
This week we have transfer calls so we will see if I get to stay here in Varna for another transfer or head somewhere else! Today we travel into Sofia for a council meeting but luckily we don't have any exchanges this week so we will still have a good amount of time in our area! 
I love you all!
Have a great week!  
Старейшина Максуел

Monday, October 28, 2013

I honestly love these people so much!

It is funny that our family is getting so small at home but really is still quite large, I saw in Ammon's letter a similar comment about how they don't have many people at home either! It is strange that everyone grows up.
We actually had the time change yesterday so it looks like I'm an hour closer to being in the same time as all of you!
So for me, this last week was pretty good, we were up in Ruse on exchanges and it was good. I really like Ruse and I'm good friends with the missionaries there so that is always a bonus!
Our investigators are doing good and we should have a baptism soon! We had zone conference this week and that was awesome to have some training and to learn and grow as a zone! It is incredible how we are being blessed in this mission and I have high expectations for Bulgaria as the church continues to grow and bless the lives or more and more families and people!  Even though it can be (and is) hard and discouraging at times, I am always excited for the potential and possibilities that there are here in Bulgaria! I honestly love these people so much and am incredibly grateful for the time I have to work with and among them!
Other than that, it's starting to get a little bit colder but it's still not too bad I've been lucky to be along the sea for the winters, so far, where it is a bit warmer (but also a bit windier)! 
I love you all have a super week! 

Elder Maxwell

Monday, October 21, 2013

He gave us some bananas!

It sounds like it was a pretty good week and Ben is off on his mission!! I am very excited to hear how it is going for him! I liked the MTC but after a few weeks I was ready to head out so he is lucky to have some good time there and to get out into the field quick!

So for me, this week was pretty good.  We are doing well and have some cool investigators. We have a new investigator from Nigeria who is a student here.  He is super cool and has incredible faith and accepted a baptismal date for the end of November! Also this week, we started our English courses and they are going really well.  We have a lot of cool people that are coming.  It was pretty funny too, after our first lesson one lady came up and was talking with us about how she is a believer and all but also how the whole time she was looking at our haircuts, she is a hairstylist.  I had just gotten a haircut the day before but the haircut wasn't the best I had ever gotten, but I thought it was pretty funny how she kept mentioning my haircut in our conversation.  Maybe I will have to go to her next time I need a hair cut so she can't say anything anymore!

Also, you should all take a look at the October New Era, on the cover are a couple missionaries from my mission!  And also inside are a few, I'm not in there but one of them that is on the cover, Elder Killpack, I actually worked with him in Shumen this week on exchanges and he is from my MTC group.  So I know someone that thousands of church members have looked at!! 

Other than that things are going well, we have a couple investigators with dates and they are progressing well! We also have this one priest that we met with, he is super nice and loves our church so it is pretty funny talking with him.  He was super excited that there were so many missionaries in Bulgaria and he gave us some bananas when we left!

I love you all and have a super week! 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, October 14, 2013

I am still learning and getting better!

This week was really good, we had a lot of traveling but we were able to get a lot of lessons in with our investigators which was good.
We finished conference yesterday and we had a lot of investigators come to that again. And a few of our investigators are just so close.  They have been taught just about everything but are still just there waiting for that answer or something so they will get baptized. But we had a lot of really good lessons were the spirit was very strong and they went really well.
When I was on exchanges in Veliko Tarnovo, we had a lesson with a new guy they had found and we had a recent convert helping out in the lesson.  It was amazing because the recent convert, when we asked him to testify about how the gospel has blessed his life, he testified all about how baptism was the turning point in his life and so on and so forth and the investigator after that asks us if he could get baptized, we didn't even have to ask him! So that was pretty cool and a great testimony to me of using members!
My companion is doing well, we work well together and he is a great companion so it is all good ( even though he doesn't put potatoes in his homemade chicken noodle soup, weird!). Our apartment here is nice, it is probably one of my favorite apartments. It is a bit colder now, sweater weather, which is okay I like sweaters! The language is coming along fine I don't speak perfectly and I've got an American accent but I do fine and I am still learning and getting better. 

I can't think of anything too funny from last week I will have to try harder this week so I can have a story for you all! 

Love you! Have a great week! 

Elder Maxwell 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Spinach Banitsa, What?

Conference was way good! At least the Saturday sessions, because that's all I've seen so far! It is nice having it at home but in the church isn't bad either and we had a few investigators come and stay for the first couple hours so that was good! Oh and this week me and Elder Measom cooked some breakfast casserole for dinner one night, it wasn't as good as yours mom, but it was still good and you've got to have breakfast casserole conference week! And I probably would have done nachos but they don't really exist here so sadly we went without. And next week we will finish up the Sunday sessions so that will be good! Although the last couple years I've really missed having conference at home with the family!

Everything is going well and I would love to serve with Ammon but I don't think it will ever happen but I would love to pick up some more Turkish and go talk with the tailor! It would probably take me a while to learn Turkish but maybe I could sort of understand stuff after a couple months if I had someone teaching me. We had a pretty good week and had a good amount of lessons.  We are trying to get some lessons in the home of the members.  Our mission president told us it is good to have lessons in the church with member "friends", it is better to have them in the homes of the investigators with a member friend and it is best to have the lessons in the home of the member friend. So you should introduce yourself to the missionaries investigators and invite them and the missionaries over for a lesson (FHE, Dinner,.. ) they would probably like that. You have already had lessons at home right?

Sadly, and also not, we do have a lot of traveling this week, we have a meeting / visa work in Sofia this week and maybe an interview/ exchange in Ruse so we will be out and about a bit. But I do love exchanges, especially in Ruse, its a very nice city and the missionaries there are super! It's gotten a bit cooler this week were down around 5 degrees in the mornings and there is a pretty cold wind that comes off the sea but no snow and the last couple days have been a bit warmer and sunnier. 

One story from this week, we were helping this one couple move a wood burning stove up into their apartment and the wife is pregnant and the doctors had told her to eat lots of spinach so after we helped them they fed us some lunch and it was everything spinach. Spinach soup, spinach banitsa so we ate a lot of spinach, it wasn't my favorite meal but it wasn't bad. I probably ate more spinach than I have from the rest of my life combined!

Have a great week you all are amazing!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 30, 2013

I love being able to serve here!

It sounds like everyone is growing up while I am gone, that's not very fair and it shouldn't be allowed, but for now I guess I'll just let it be - there's not too much that I can do about it! 

So, I am staying in Varna for at least 6 more weeks and I will be staying with Elder Measom!!  Although it will have to come pretty soon (my call to go serve in Turkey with Elder Bennion) otherwise, I won't be able to learn the language very well!  Ha-ha, that probably won't ever happen but I am ready if that is where the Lord needs me to go!

Bulgaria is a very beautiful country and I love being able to serve here, the people aren't as busy and rushed as people in New York but they are busy enough that it can be a little difficult talking to them on the street and setting up lessons. I can't complain, I sometimes forget that people don't have all day, everyday to talk about the gospel and all.
There are tons of strollers here, especially when the weather is good, there are always mothers, fathers and grandparents out on a walk with their kids.  The family is pretty important to everyone here and they are often in the parks doing things together.

This week we were in Varna all week! We just had exchanges here with the district leader so we were able to get a full week in, which was nice.  This week though, we'll be going down to Burgas for a baptismal interview and some exchanges!
Our investigators are doing pretty well, actually our one investigator who was ready for baptism but went out to the village for work gave us a call this week and we were able to meet with him. He broke his hand while he was out there and he lives alone so we helped him out with a few things and are able to meet with him more often now!  
We were going to have a branch sports activity this week, it was sunny all week but then all the sudden sat. it started to rain and so we weren't able to have that, it was a little disappointing but that is what back up plans are for!
Another cool thing, we had dinner and a lesson with a couple who has a son on a mission in London and after we finished the meal their daughter (not a member) shows up with her kids and we were able to have a lesson with all of them! It was really funny because the mother invited them to sit down with us for the message and when they said yes (she was in the kitchen where they couldn't really see her) she gave us a huge thumbs up and was really excited. It was pretty funny, you would have had to have been there, but we had a good little message with them!  

Contacting was really good this week, although the weather is starting to turn more cold and wet so there won't be so many people out on the streets, but there are lots of ways to find people so it's all good. 
One thing I can think of now for a Christmas package would be a box of mac n cheese. I haven't had that in a long while!

Have a great week! Lots of love,
Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bulgaria is doing well!

Bulgaria is doing well, we had another training meeting that me and Elder Measom led this week and it went well.  Elder Measom is an excellent missionary and a great teacher! Our investigator is still out in the village and we still don't know when exactly he will get back, hopefully he's not trying to avoid us or anything!
We had a pretty good week we were able to get more lessons than we had last week, so that was good.  We talked with so many people this week and had a pretty successful week of contacting so now hopefully some of these people will turn into investigators! We talk with a lot of Russians and also Turks from time to time.  Elder Measom and I are getting pretty good at a few sentences we know in each of the languages, we can ask the how they are and all but after that we just have to ask if they know English. We have a new investigator that met with missionaries a few years ago, he learns kind of slow but he has a pretty sincere desire to learn and do that which is right! Also one investigator that I worked with in Sofia (and Elder Measom worked with him there too) lives here in Varna for now but he has been really busy with work.  Now that the tourist season is dying down he has more time and was even able to come to church on Sunday! 
This last week we had exchanges in Shumen and it went well there, it's a pretty city. For our exercise we ran up the hill to this giant communist statue thing and got some pictures it was pretty cool but it was a big hill and I just about died from all the stairs!  I'm going to have to go running more when I get home, I've lost all of my cardiovascular endurance from only rarely going running. Although, we do good workouts every morning I just can't run as far as I used to be able to. But, I am staying healthy and all I still haven't gained or lost any weight, I try to eat a ton but we just walk to much for me to put on any weight and our work outs are to short for me to build any real muscle. 
We do have transfer calls this week, then next week the transfers.  I would guess that I will stay here with Elder Measom and I would like that but, we will see.  It is good that you do role plays with the missionaries.  I love role playing, we usually do at least a little every morning in our companionship study, it can be a little awkward but it is so helpful in figuring out how to say things in a way that allows the spirit to testify and for others to understand our message! I also like how it is so easy to apply to specific situations and then we also can get feedback from others on what we can do better! 

So yeah, that's about it from this week, nothing super exciting or anything that I can think about.  I will try to get some pictures sent home soon but they do have some restrictions on what we can send because of the rough relations between Russia and America at the moment but I will see what I can do. 

Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 16, 2013

Finding times to meet...

Hey, so this will be really quick because me and my companion, well really just him, went golfing today and we got stuck behind some old slow golfers so it took a little longer than we thought. I just drove the cart and handed him clubs and I may have hit a couple balls at the driving range but golfing isn't really my sport. We went to this golf club called Thracian Cliffs it was way pretty and a very nice course so I got a lot of sweet pictures! 

So from this last week, our investigator was still out in a village helping his friend who has a sick father so he wasn't able to get baptized so we will see when he gets back into town. We found a couple new, pretty cool people this week.  One met with the missionaries a few years ago and showed up to church before we could even schedule a lesson with him! It's weird because recently it's been pretty easy to get our investigators to come to church they all love it but finding times to meet with them during the week has been near impossible! But overall it's been really good.
This last week for meals, (when we were in town) we had a chicken week and did a different kind of chicken every night from all sorts of cultures. We had fried chicken and apricot chicken and chicken fajitas and a chicken roast! So my stomach has been very satisfied this week! Oh and also last P-day me and my companion went suit shopping and I found a nice dark grey one for a good price so I got it, it's a nice European style suit not a super slim fit but it is a good one I will have to try and get some pictures to you all! I will make a note to be sure and do that next week! 

This week we met some guys who are sailors from Manila, Philippines and we talked with them for a little bit.  One of them was a member, he showed us his CTR ring and all and I told them my dad works there pretty often and they all knew the Sutherland call center so I am guessing that it must be pretty big there. They all were very nice and it was cool that one was a member! 

I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 9, 2013

It went by way too fast!

We have been doing a lot of traveling in the last two weeks.  I've had about 30 or more hours on a bus, so that is quite a bit but this week I've only got a few more hours, over to Ruse and back for exchanges.
This week was good, we were in Sofia at the beginning of the week then we spent a day in Veliko Turnovo again, it's a very pretty city.  Elder Measom and I go on runs, when we go on exchanges there, (for our workouts) so we can get pictures of the city.  I'll have to send some soon, I forgot my camera today.
Things are going well with our investigators, most of them were pretty busy again this week so we didn't get a ton of meetings with them but it was still good. We might have a baptism this weekend, it depends on if our investigator is back in town, he is out in a village helping a friend that is sick, but he is ready - he's just got to be here!  We haven't got any families that we are teaching at the moment but we have a few younger, clean, impressive guys we are working with but we are doing our best to find some families! 
Other exciting news, the branch president got married this weekend to one of the members so we have a new young solid couple in the branch! 

So, my mission President and his wife are amazing! They are from St. George Utah, or at least that is where they were living. They've got 4 sons and basically they are just incredible examples and great teachers. Plus they are such loving and kind people I am very grateful for them and everything they do!
Not too much new or exciting this week, it went by way too fast! But I hope all of you have a great week and that everything goes well! 

Love you,
Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 2, 2013

The people are just so incredible!

This week was good, we had a training meeting for all of the leaders in the mission, so there was a lot of us there.  It was all the way in Sofia so we lost some time to travel but it was really good and I learned lot.  Plus, they had the elders from Turkey skyped in because they all are training.  After the meeting Sister Wilstead let us talk to them for a little bit so I got to talk with Elder Bennion for a little bit!
Also, that one picture I sent you of the family I had been teaching in my last area, the grandmother and the grandson (the two in-between Elder Taylor and me in the pic) got baptized this last week and they are still working with a few of them in the family! I wasn't able to go to the baptism because it was all the way over in Blagoevgrad but I called them that night and got to talk with them for a little bit! It made my day when they were passing the phone to each other and every single one asked when I was going to come, I wish I could go so bad, maybe sometime though I will have the opportunity. 

We did a lot of finding this week, all of our investigators were really busy so we didn't get many lessons.  We were out on the streets a lot, but it went well, we talked with a ton of people! There was one guy that either us or the other elders had talked to last month and he came to church out of the blue and after sacrament meeting I went and talked to him and he had really liked it. He told me he had two questions: Where he could get a Book of Mormon? and Where he could get a hymn book? (he sings in a choir and really liked the hymns!). So we set up a lesson with him that afternoon and it was incredible, he probably is one of the most prepared people I have ever met out here on my mission! So I am excited to meet with him again this week!
We also had exchanges in Burgas and this time we ran into a few of the members so I was able to say hi to them and talk with them for a little bit, they are doing really well down there.  The branch president is incredible and the members are awesome, I would definitely serve there again.  I would probably serve in all of the cities I have been again - the people are just so incredible! 

This week we have mission council so we have to go back into Sofia and we have exchanges in Veliko Turnovo so we've got a bit of traveling again but we got to do what we got to do and as long as we work hard we will be blessed with success!
I really enjoy working with Elder Measom, he is a super missionary and we get along really well.  He probably is among one of my favorite companions, he is pretty similar to me and we are able to joke with each other a lot, it is a lot of fun and we work and teach really well together! 
So things are good and I am enjoying serving here in Bulgaria. Have a great week! 

Love you! 
Elder Maxwell 

Monday, August 26, 2013

I am very happy with the work and feel very blessed.

Elder Measom is very cool (I spelled it wrong last week), he is from the group that came out just before me and he plays football ( American) and is very good at it.  It is nice being with athletic companions. He has a couple brothers and a sister and is in the middle. He likes to golf, and to eat and cook, and he's lived in a few places Wyoming, Colorado, and maybe somewhere else but now his family is in Utah. 
This week was nice, besides the transfer day, we were in Varna all week.  We got basically a full week in our own area, which was very nice. Although, we will have to start going on exchanges again this week to make sure we get to everyone this transfer. We found some really cool people and things are going pretty well with them.
We had a very diverse cultural week to say, we found one guy from America (San Diego) and he's lived all over the place and worked as an electrician on a bunch of embassies. He is married here now with a son and when we met with him, it turns out he actually is a member! He wants us to teach his son and wife but the wife has heard some rumors, that are pretty common here, and at the moment she is against that.  So, we can only meet with our American friend. But it is okay and he is really nice and I hope that we will at some point be able to work with his whole family! We also had a lesson in Russian with a member translating for us, that was neat I could understand a lot of what they said but they don't understand Bulgarian very well. We met one younger guy from Bulgaria but has lived in Turkey and we were able to get him a Turkish book of Mormon and help him figure out how to get in contact with the missionaries in Turkey when he gets back.  Then we also found a guy last night from China who has been living here for fifteen or so years and his Bulgarian wasn't super good but he was interested and said we could share our message with his family! And to top it all off we had the Baptism of our investigator from Iran on Saturday and that was good. Of course we are working with a number of Bulgarians too and things are going well I am very happy with the work and feel very blessed and am very grateful for the success we are having! 
Being here at the Black Sea, there are quite a few tourists, so it will calm down a bit as the summer ends but there will still be people here and it will be fine. 
My short sleeve shirts are pretty baggy but I actually took a couple in this morning to a seamstress to get them taken in a bit and it's really cheap here it's probably only be like 8 lev for the two of them which is probably a bit more than five bucks. My shoes are doing fine I just need to replace the laces they are starting to fall to bits. 
Have a super awesome week and keep being awesome! I love you! 

Elder Maxwell

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's all good!

This week was good we had our training meeting that Elder Hoy and I presented and I think it went pretty well, it was kind of like a district meeting just with a lot more people so it's not like it was anything to new. I do enjoy teaching so it was fun to do a little bit in English and about missionary work, which I also very much enjoy, so it's all good!
This week we had some exchanges in Shumen I really like that city it has very nice people and I got to work with an Elder from my MTC group so it was fun working with him and we had a lot of success and met a lot of really cool people! Although, crazy story, while we were there the other Elder that Elder Hoy was working with woke up and passed some kidney stones so he kind of was in pain a bit and they had to take it a bit easy that day. I sure hope that I never get kidney stones, it would not be fun. 
We had a lot of kind of weird lessons this week with a lot of new people, so it made for an interesting week, our investigators are progressing pretty well. One of them had a really rough beginning to the week (his wife had passed away a long time ago from cancer leaving him with his young daughter) and his daughter had a spot on her leg the doctors thought might have been cancer but they had to run a test to see so for a couple days our investigator was really worried and he told us that he took his book of Mormon with him everywhere and even kept it next to him while he slept. And he had been having a hard time with prayer but he said he prayed so much, and in the end it turns out it was just a spot so everything was good but I think it was a really good experience/ learning moment for our investigator. 
So, I am staying here in Varna!  My new companion will be Elder Measum, he is from Utah so he will be my first Utah companion! He is cool I know him from when I was in Sofia so I am excited to work with him! My elbow is fine, I think I just bumped it hard or something.  
Have an awesome week, share something about the church with someone and have some fun!!
Love you! 

Elder Maxwell

Monday, August 12, 2013

If on your mission, you really start missing home, you're probably not working hard enough! ( or you have a sick companion).

I actually got to make some curry this week, my companion got some nasty sickness and he was down for a couple days so I got some extra study, cleaning, cooking time. I made that tomato curry stuff it was really good then I also make some fajitas with some homemade tortillas (I was a little worried because I had never made them before but they turned out pretty well). It was a bummer, because I was stuck inside while my companion was recovering, but it was good to be able to cook something real good! Although I would take real work over cooking any day, it's a lot harder to not miss home when you don't have a lot to do, so Ben if on your mission you really start missing home, you're probably not working hard enough! ( or you have a sick companion).
So this week has been pretty good, it felt a bit longer but it wasn't bad. We were on exchanges in Veliko Turnovo this week and it is a really cool city, there are a lot of hills there, it is basically built on the side of the mountain.
It was good, we had a couple good lessons and we found some cool people contacting so we had a good day there. It also is the furthest away city in our zone so we had some pretty long bus rides.
It was weird too, this week, I bumped my elbow or something and it got all swollen and sore but I just soaked it a bit before I went to bed and it's basically all better but it looked kind of bad for a day!  
Teaching this week was good, we have two investigators who very likely will be baptized on the 24th, one of them is really cool, he has been coming to the English courses for forever and he teaches kick boxing so he is pretty fit and he always comes to church and has a really strong desire to do what is right. When we asked him if he would stop drinking coffee, his only real vice, he didn't even hesitate to say yes! And when we taught him about the Sabbath day, after the lesson as we were heading out, he told us "I didn't know we weren't supposed to buy stuff on Sunday but now I will buy everything on Saturday!" it was just cool to see how readily he is accepting everything he learns and embracing the gospel in his life! 
I've only ever been to Mission council with Sisters there, but it is good that we have their input and all on the sisters (from their exchanges and their views of things), so yeah I would say it is good that they are there. Girls are weird so it's good there are girls there who already understand so I don't have to worry about trying to think of things from a sister point of view or something weird like that.
The transfers are only 6 weeks here now so this is the last week of our transfers, 6 weeks goes by really fast!  I'll most likely be staying here in Varna, which is good, I like it here! So have an awesome week, I gave you all some pretty good ideas for stuff to do so I'll be following up on that next week to see how it all went! 

Love you! 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, August 5, 2013

We just worked and worked.

Things are going well here.  We didn't have a ton of time in our own area this week, but we were still able to have a really good week, which is nice.  It is hard to be an example when we don't have a ton of time in our own area but the Lord makes up for the time we spend in other areas. We had a couple days just packed full of lessons and we had a lot of success contacting so I am very glad. I was a little worried at the beginning of the week that we wouldn't be able to get much going but I guess I just got to trust a little bit more.
So this week on Monday, we had to travel in to Sofia for council meeting.  Tuesday, after that, we went out to Burgas to work with the Elders there and we were with them all of Wed.  I was hoping I'd get to see some of the members but we never ran into any of them.  It was good to be in the city again! It is really cool going on exchanges, I don't know what it is but we always seem to have a lot of success with them wherever we go.  I guess that is just another blessing to help uplift and encourage the Elders!
We finally got back to Varna Thursday morning and we just worked and worked to make up for all the time we missed and it turned out really well! Plus we have some really great missionaries here in Bulgaria and I am glad that I get to work with them and learn from them.  Overall, things are going really well, it's hot but not too hot, we have people to teach, we are finding more people out on the streets and we have a lot of members who are very willing to help us teach! 
Teaching is going well, we have a couple investigators with dates in Aug. one for the 17th and another for the 24th so hopefully we'll get a couple baptism weeks in a row. And actually this week, there will be a baptism from the Elders here and also from the Elders in Shumen ( a smaller city that comes into Varna for baptisms) so that will be good!!
Messenger bags aren't too bad mine is pretty small but it is good for my wallet and camera and planner, I got it for free from my trainer when he left so I can't complain! 

I hope you all have a great week! 
Love to you all! 

Elder Maxwell

Monday, July 29, 2013

You will have to try some shopska salata it's a very Bulgarian dish they love it here. It's basically cut up tomatoes and cucumbers and sirene (a crumbly white cheese kind of like feta but it only really exists here in Bulgaria) then a little bit of vinegar and oil, it's not too bad and great for in the summer!

The mission is going well, we are finding some cool people and our teaching pool is a lot better than it was when I first got here.  We have a few really cool investigators, a lot of very potential investigators and a couple with dates for baptism this next month!
The travels this week were good, Ruse is a very pretty city and the Elders there are super awesome so I really enjoyed working with them for the day. This week we have a lot of traveling, we are going to Sofia right after I finish writing.  We have to catch our bus (7 hours) and then we have mission council and then we are going out to Burgas to work with the Elders there (there is a new district leader who needs some training) then we will finally get back to Varna to start our week on Wed. night - so there will be a lot of traveling this week!  We travel basically with buses here, the trains have too many stops and are usually and hour or two longer, so we just use the busses.
Bulgaria is probably about the same size as New York, maybe even smaller. Mostly we are just here on the east side in our zone so the furthest city for exchanges is about 3 hours away which is a lot better than the 7 but still pretty long.
Here they grow tons of sunflowers out in the country, so when we travel, we go by huge fields just filled with sunflowers and they are very pretty and yellow! 
Our new apartment is very nice, although we never really have time to cook with our schedule so I haven't done too much.  I did make some banana bread once but that's about it, I haven't really had time to cook anything else special.
Oh yeah, and crazy story from this week, the other Elders here in Varna had a baptism and they had started filling up the font down in the lower floor of our building here then came up for district meeting.  Afterwards, they went down to check on it and the hose had come undone and the whole downstairs had gotten flooded!  We had a to help, for a few hours, pushing all the water into the bathroom so it could go down the drain and then mop everything up. It had only gotten to a like an inch, so not to much got ruined, but it took forever to get rid of all the water! So be careful and watch the font when you are filling it up!!
We keep busy, I am happy, my companion is cool and we get a long really well! 

I love you all! Have a awesome week! 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, July 22, 2013

We are still working hard!

So this week was pretty good, we had our zone conference and that went well, I always love zone conferences!
We are still working hard to find some new investigators we don't have a ton and a couple are progressing pretty slowly so we really need to find some new people! But the last few days we've met several pretty nice and potential people so we will see how it goes with them.
One cool experience from this week was while we were contacting, we stopped a little bit older man and his wife and while we were talking with them we found out they were going to help out with a free lunch for the needy that  a local church puts on every Saturday. We had been looking for opportunities to serve so I jumped on this one and offered our help, they had already done pretty much everything but he invited us over to meet some people and see their church. While we were there, a young man came up and said some not so nice words but the guy who had invited us calmed him down and so he stayed and talked with us and in the end we got his number and yesterday had a really good lesson with him!
We finally got our air conditioner fixed so now we aren't roasting but it still is pretty hot outside. I really like this city it is big which is good for having options in where to contact and the branch here is probably the strongest branch I have been in ( meaning they would be fine and still function well if the missionaries were taken out). 

Christian will be traveling from Varna to Ruse for exchanges this week.
This week we'll head up to Ruse for some exchanges and that will be fun.  It'll be my first out of city exchanges! We'll be traveling a lot this transfer because we have a lot of cities in our zone and to get to all of them at least once we will be traveling every week which is a little rough because our zone is pretty spread out so that's a lot of time on a bus, not my favorite but I'll do what I've got to do. 
Have a great week and congrats again on the mission call I am very excited for you Ben!!

Love you all,
Elder Maxwell

Monday, July 15, 2013

So yeah, Life is Good in Varna!

Varna is pretty awesome, the members here are amazing!  We have a much bigger branch here, which is a great blessing, it is pretty hard in the smaller branches.
We don't have a view of the sea just a bunch of annoying seagulls that nest outside our window and make a ridiculous amount of noise very early in the morning. It is pretty hot and a little humid so I'm a pretty sweaty Elder by the end of the day. Our air conditioner is also broken, it fried the day before I got here so I've been living in an oven all week, but they should be coming to fix it this week which is good because I'm not a huge fan of the heat.
We do a lot of walking when we contact, we only use the buses to get out to the further sides of the city for appointments, but it is good and a very pretty city. There are two other sets of missionaries here some sisters and elders.  I'm here with Elder Hoy as a zone leader, so I'll get to travel out to some other cities this transfer for exchanges, I'm excited to go to Burgas and see the members there again!
About my companion: he is from Canada (Edmonton), he has two younger sisters, he's a quarter Chinese.  He likes a lot of things: soccer, Canada, food, cool stuff. He doesn't like seagulls and I can't think of anything else he doesn't like.
We don't have a ton of investigators, but we are finding some cool people.  The members here are really helpful in teaching and we are working on getting them to invite their friends and such to things.
I think we'll have a great transfer, it is a bit of a change of pace to have a companion that also can speak Bulgarian and knows whats up and all.

So yeah, life is good in Varna!

I love you, have a great week!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, July 8, 2013

Тази седмица ще се върна на морето!!

So we got transfer calls this week and I'm headed back over to the other side of the country to serve in Varna! I am super excited, there is a pretty big branch there and I have heard lots of good things about them! And I will get to serve with Elder Hoy from my MTC group he is from Canada and he is pretty awesome!!

Ben you need to get your call already so you can start getting ready to come to Bulgaria!!

I am doing well, we had a pretty good week it felt a little bit slower, a couple of our investigators are out on vacation so we weren't able to meet with them at all this week. It is okay, we found a cool new family this week and had a really good lesson with them last night.  Also, last night after our lesson, we still had some time so we did some tracting and found a couple more people.  Then, we didn't have enough time to do a complete fode or set of apartments, but we still had a little time so we were just walking back trying to talk with people and we talked with a couple guys from Yemen, they were really cool.  They spoke very good Bulgarian but not much English, so that was cool, it was interesting to hear an Arabian accent with Bulgarian. They are here in the city studying for their doctorate and we got their numbers to meet with them again sometime!!

It is pretty cool all the different people that we meet and talk with, it makes for a very unique experience! It makes it even better that I am here to share the message of the restored gospel which really helps them in their life's it is amazing to see how it can change their life! Our recent convert is so excited he is a member and is inviting his friends to learn more and meet with us and he is helping us out in a lot of lessons. He really is a different person from when we first met him!

People, in general here, are pretty shut to us as missionaries and I've had my fair share of rude people. The mission has been focusing on working with the members and building relationships with them and, even in the time that I have been here, I have seen a change in how the members feel about the missionaries and the overall progression of the work. There are people here who have been prepared to receive the gospel in their lives and we just have to find them, as we work with the members and do everything we can, we will find them and we will help others to be ready to accept the gospel. There are many wonderful people here in Bulgaria and I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve them even though it may be a little frustrating at times. 
Have a super week!!
Love from,
Elder Maxwell

Monday, July 1, 2013

It's been good and I am happy!

This week we did have the baptism and it went well.  I must say, I'm pretty tired!  We have been very, very busy keeping up with all of our investigators and lessons and getting the font and everything ready for baptism and all it made for a pretty exhausting week.  It is all good, I wouldn't have it any other way, even though in the mornings I never feel like 8 hours is enough!  Once you get going, it's not so bad!

Our companionship is really being blessed right now.  We have a lot of really good investigators and a few with dates for baptism.  One of them is actually a very good friend to the recent convert, they both come to church together.  We have a new member that can support him and help him learn and also we can keep our new convert busy and active in the church as he helps us with his friend! Our family that we have been teaching is doing well the grandmother is working very hard to stop smoking because she feels she can't help her family do what is right when she isn't being a good example for them so I am still very happy to be working with them!

Oh yeah and my companion got to baptize our investigator so that was cool, him getting to baptize someone in his first transfer!

We've had alright weather, it hasn't been too hot but it has been raining on and off the last few days, but overall it's been good. I cant really think of anything else but it's been good and I am happy!

I love you all and have a great week!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, June 24, 2013

I am ready to make the 2nd half even better than the first!

So our baptizee didn't disappear but he needed another week to work on stopping smoking.  He has been working on it for a while but couldn't quite kick it completely and postponing the baptism I think is helping him take that last step and realize that he really does have to stop smoking completely. He still really wants to get baptized and is doing much better and on track for this Saturday. So at least we don't have to take the font back this week! We should be able to keep it for a while, I think the mission has quite a few and in our zone only 2 of the 4 cities need a portable font and we have two portable fonts in the zone right now so unless one of the other zones has a need for a lot of fonts we should be fine!

In general things are going pretty well, it was even hotter this week than it was last week and so the streets are pretty dead, not to many people really go out so we have to stick to the parks and areas that have more shade if we want to find people. We have some pretty cool people we are working with and a couple of them have dates for baptism! This week we have started teaching this one family we tracted into, the grandmother is pretty religious, and they are a bit poor so there are a lot of them living there, but she really likes what we have taught so far and is really active in getting her family involved in the lessons with us.  Last night we taught her and a couple of her kids (and their wife/ husband) and also a few of her grandchildren, as we would teach she would always make sure that they would understand what we had said and have them explain verses that we had read to make sure that they understood. She also loves the Book of Mormon and she understands it really well, I've only had one other investigator who has had such a good grasp of the Book of Mormon (and he had been reading it for 15 years!), she told us she didn't really understand it at first but as she kept reading and she was able to understand more and more! She was sharing all of the things she learned and liked and comparing it to what she knew from the bible! It was pretty incredible and her whole family is pretty awesome! So I feel pretty blessed to be able to work with them!

I feel pretty good about the language I occasionally do dream in it, it just feels normal to talk with people now, which is good. 
Luckily the heat here is more of the dry heat,  I'm not a huge fan of humidity, but it's not as dry as Utah. We have transfers in a couple weeks I'm pretty sure, the beginning of July sometime. Here in Blagoevgrad it is very green, there are a lot of trees - I would say it's like a mixture of Oregon and Victor, plus mountains.

The Branch is doing well we had a branch activity on sat. and it went well and our investigators got to know the members better and vice-versa and it was fun! But yeah things are going well and I'm glad to be here, although it's weird to think that I have less time left than I have been on a mission, kind of sad, but it is good because I feel like I can actually do the work and speak the language now so I am ready to make the 2nd half even better than the first!

Elder Maxwell

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who's Counting? I am!

On Wednesday, this week, Christian will have completed 52 weeks as a missionary!  That means his is halfway home!  I don't think he would be nearly as happy about that news as I am!

Things are going pretty well here and I am doing good!

I am doing really well, our training meeting was really good.  We have a couple investigators that are doing really well and a few others we are working with. Actually, this Saturday we should be having a baptism - so long as everything goes well! We had to get one of the portable fonts from Sofia yesterday and bring it back on the bus.   We have it in a few bags but they are really big and heavy so that was a project, all in our suits from the meeting and it being super hot!  Getting all of that to the bus station and to the church, I got pretty sweaty and stinky - gross!

This week we've been trying to find a bunch of the non active members from the branch list that haven't come in forever.  We went out to this one selo (village) maybe a half hour from Blagoevgrad. We had to take a bus and so we talked to the people at the station and got on the right one but instead of going to the village the bus stops at the side of the highway and the driver said that was the stop for the village so we had to walk a couple kilometers up some side road to get to the village. We were pretty excited to find this member and her son, she had even been to the temple, we get there and have her address but there are no street signs or anything and no one even knows the names of the streets there.  We  just were asking everyone if they knew her and after a bit we found out she had passed away a couple years before and her son was living in Sofia. So that was a bit of a bummer but an adventure none the less and we got to talk to some cool people out in the village. 

So yeah it is good, I do enjoy being a district leader it is pretty fun!  I got to teach our ward how to have ward council, I haven't ever been to a ward council so I had to do a little research on them and figure out what all they needed to do, it wasn't perfect but that's okay there is plenty of time for growth and improvement here. Oh and the branch presidents wife just had her baby on Friday so everyone is pretty excited about that! So yeah things are going pretty well here and I am doing good! 

I hope you have a great time in Sweden and that everyone at home will have a good time too!
Love you, 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pics of the week!

Me in front of the American University

The main glav, and if you look at the hill there is a new cross they just built.

We hiked up to the new cross last pday, so here is me in front of it.

It's not really that hard to share the gospel!

This week has been good, we have a good number of investigators and they are doing well, although one of them needs to start coming to church so he can get baptized.  Recently we have been spending more time teaching than finding which really is nice, I'm not against finding but I do prefer teaching, it is pretty awesome!

A good story from this week: we have one investigator' he is pretty old and a little crazy but his son is super cool and has a lot of potential, the other day we went over for a lesson with them and usually they have some cherries or something that we have to eat while we talk, (Bulgarians are very hospitable and basically refuse to let you leave or anything till they feed you or give you a drink), but this time he had a whole meal thing set up.  It was just like cold balogne hot dog thing and some funny looking cheese and he would let us talk or anything till we had eaten it all, so that was, cool. He really likes the Book of Mormon though and is a really nice guy. One other time we were tracting and an older lady, who had met with the missionaries around 9 years ago, let us in and we shared a short message with her and then were going to leave because it was almost time to be back in our apartment for the night and she wouldn't let us leave till she made us hot chocolate.  So she goes and gets the milk heating up and gets out her china and all. (And we really had to leave!) she brings it out and we have to quick down this burning hot coco and get out of there, she was really nice we just didn't have much time.

We have an investigator, he likes the discotekas and smoking and all and he would tell us about it.  When we told him we dont drink or smoke and taught him about the Word of Wisdom, we didn't even have to commit him to live by it, he decided, on his own, that was something he wanted to do! Our example can have a big influence on those around us, as they get to know us and what we believe, they very possibly will want to be like us! This week I actually was thinking about the time a friend came over to our house so I could help him with some homework and I remeber all the little siblings were there and you had just baked a desert or something and it didn't seem weird or anything at the time but I wonder what kind of an impression that made on him. I can't remeber what he said specifically after but I think he enjoyed being there and it did have a positive influence on him, even though he was only there for twenty or so minutes for some help with homework. 
One thing I've noticed on my mission is that it's not really that hard to share the gospel with people when we are good examples for them it leads them to ask questions and then really all you need is a little practice and the determination/ desire to share and the rest just kind of comes. So yeah that is super cool that you are putting yourself out there and being the great example that you are!!

Have an awesome week, I love you all!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, June 3, 2013

Keeping busy and all that good stuff!

Things are going pretty well, our investigator with a date for this Saturday disappeared so we are going to have to postpone that and try and find him somehow. It happened in Sofia this week too but he disappeared on the day of his baptism, so at least we didn't have our guy not show up to the baptism or something.

Other than that things are going really well.  We got a ton of new investigators last week, we contacted a lot of the former investigators and a few of them have some interest to meet with us some more. We also have a couple that we are teaching that are really cool and I have some high expectations for them!

We've been really busy the last week and we are trying to work with the members a lot more, having a member present at lessons and also trying to get referrals from them.  We plan on having an activity for the branch for everyone to bring their friends too so if you have any good ideas of activities or stuff we could do that would be good for people of all ages, I'm open to suggestions!

I had to teach the branch how to have branch council yesterday which was good because they are having it now, it wasn't perfect but it was a first for all of us so that is exciting! They didn't really want to go visit the less actives they had kind of lost hope in them or figure they'll come back on their own but eventually I got them to at least agree to work with one this month and get some goals set. But they are learning, it's definitely something different being in smaller newer branches, it's cool though and I definitely learn a lot! So yeah keeping busy and all that good stuff!

Have an awesome week! I love you all!!
Старейшина Максуел

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wedding Week Miracle! (atleast I think so)

(We just spent 10 days in Oregon, visiting with old friends and attending the wedding of Christian's older brother.  I knew that it was a hard week for Christian, he too wanted to be there enjoying friends and joining in the festivities.  He had a great attitude and knew he was where he should be but I knew it was still pulling at his heart strings to be so far away from us.  At one point, I considered calling the mission president to let him know it might be a hard week for Christian but instead I went to the Lord and asked Him to help it be a good week for Christian. His letter this week confirms that Christian's needs were met in a wonderful way! - Katie)

From Elder Maxwell's (Christian) letter:

So the first one is off and married, now only seven more! That is cool that you got to see so many people. I sure wish I could have been there but oh well. I actually got to talk to Ammon this week, the Assistants came down for a day and Turkey calls in to them so when Ammon called in they let me talk to him.  He wishes that he could have been there too, so really it wasn't a complete party because me and Ammon weren't there! I am a bit jealous that you got to see everyone but sometime I'll get over there and say hi to them all!

From Elder Bennion's (Ammon) letter:

Those pictures are amazing!  Goodness I haven't seen the Maxwells in such a long time, but they are all growing up so much. And man those little boys are starting to look like men! That is so fun to see them! I actually just talked to Elder Maxwell a couple nights ago (privileges from being friends with the assistants). The assistants were in his area during call-ins and when I called in for the night they said "Elder Bennion, guess who is with us." Then they handed the phone to him and we talked for about 10 minutes.  It was really fun. I am still super glad that Elder Maxwell and I went out at the same time and we are close enough that we still get some communication every once in a while. And it was fantastic to see pictures of their family.

I can tell you right now there is nothing better that you can hear on the first lesson!

Bulgaria is well this week, we had a ton of lessons and one of our investigators set a date for baptism in a couple weeks.  We met with him for lessons every single day this week and he came to church and is keeping all of his commitments and is very sincere so I am very excited for him and all he is doing!
There was another big holiday this week on the 24.  They have alphabet day where they celebrate getting the alphabet. And also from the 24th to the 30 they have the graduation celebrations for people finishing 12th class, so there are tons of people driving around in nice cars and going to restaurants.
Also this week when the Assistants came down they all have served here so we went and visited some of their former investigators and people they worked with.  We got a few new people to continue to work with from that! One really cool family and the sisters are even working with the parents of the wife so things are going pretty well here with investigators and teaching!
We found one really cool guy this week and it is amazing how some people are prepared.  I had talked to him on the street and the next day we had set up a time to meet but he didn't show up and his phone was off. But I didn't want to give up on him so the next day I was able to get a hold of him and set up another lesson and this time he came and we were getting to know him a little and we found out that he was fasting and was praying and searching for the truth.  I can tell you right now there is nothing better that you can hear on the first lesson. The lesson went really well the spirit was there and at the end as he said a prayer he thanked God for answering his prayers and we have another lesson with him tonight!
So things are going really well and we'll just keep working!

Have a great week! I love you all!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, May 20, 2013

A little bit slow but we had some good lessons.

First of all say hi to everyone there in Oregon for me!  Hi to the Bennions, the Jordans and Shurts and everyone else for me!!

That is a little strange to think that it was over a year ago when I first went through the temple. I really want to go to the Portland temple sometime, I have heard it is pretty awesome and plus that's basically my hometown temple and I haven't even been there!
This week was pretty good, it was a little bit slow but we had some good lessons and we have a few investigators that are progressing really well and preparing for baptism! Cool story, last night my companion found a scorpion in our apartment. I don't know how it got in, we are up on the second floor and all but oh well. My companion killed it before I could catch it a keep it as a pet (which is probably good because we aren't supposed to have pets) but a scorpion would be pretty cool.
We had a zone meeting in Sofia this week and that was good.  It was a bit funny because my last two companions are now companions (up in Pleven), so I asked them if they ever talk about me and they said yes, there isn't a meal that they cook that my name doesn't come up at least three times! I got a pretty good laugh out of that.

It's not really humid here or super dry but it still gets a bit hot, it's nice though. And yes they are starting to have more fruit besides the apples and bananas this week we got some cherries that were pretty good and they have melon but it's still a bit expensive for that.
Most likely there is a another holiday coming up but they have so many here that I never really know. Other than that things have been going well, Elder Taylor rolled his ankle at a branch activity we had on Friday so we have been walking a little slower but he's fine.  I have my ankle brace that I'm letting him borrow and he's been doing better.

I am glad that you all get to be in Oregon and see everyone there.  I wish I could be there too but someone just couldn't wait to get married.  But it is good, I have work here to do and I understand that getting married is important ( although I still think that is pretty fast so don't expect it quite so quick from me).
I hear that you got some Panda Express, so I may be drooling a bit over here, thinking about that orange chicken.

Have a great week and eat some wedding cake for me and all that good stuff!
Love to you all!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tennis Anyone?

One of Christian's favorite P-day activities is playing tennis, the clay courts have to be wet down before they can play.

It was a bit weird.

It was really good to see you all, it was a bit weird, it was so normal - but then it wasn't really normal anymore!  Jonathan and Ben probably looked the most different but Nate was a lot taller. All of you looked really good and I can't believe how much older all the kids looked.  The computer lady, after I finished, was amazed how big the family is and she says that you both look very young and bright and happy, that was pretty cool.

Things are going well here we had a few of our investigators come to church which was really good.  I've been trying to get investigators to church all last transfer without much success, so it was good to have them there and I'm pretty sure they liked It! This transfer I think we will have a lot of success.  Contacting has slowed down a little because there isn't quite so many people here but we have some good solid investigators!

In Bulgaria, in the summer, most people go to the sea for vacation for at least a couple weeks and lots of people have houses in a selo ( village) that they go to when they have time off.  The students and teachers finish up with school for the summer and there are less people from that too.
So yeah, I can't really think of anything else.  I am glad I was able to see all of you and thank you for all you do, especially you mom and dad! Good job taking care of the missionaries I'm sure they really appreciate it and if they don't, I've got a word or two for them!

Happy Mothers Day again to the best mom in the world, I love you!!

Have a great week!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Photos from the Mission Office!

Here are some photos the mission office sent home!

Christian's district

Elder Breeze and Elder Maxwell

I am guessing this is Christian's zone but I don't see him