When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    5 years, 0 months, 29 days, 23 hours, 43 minutes, 11 seconds ago

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White Christmas in Eugene

Elder Austin Rushton and Oregon missionaries

Austin and Santa Clara missionaries.

This past week has been one of the most unorthodox of my mission.

For starters, it snowed about six inches in one day this week. Now for all my Utah friends, this probably seems like nothing…but get this. Eugene cancels school if there is even one inch. That’s how unprepared they are to deal with snow here. They have three snowplows, no road salt, and can’t even scrape the roads right because they put reflectors all over them. That first day, there were some 300 reported accidents. On the freeway, the mainstream of traffic was moving at about 15-20mph. Our mission president ordered all missionaries to park their cars, and look for opportunities to serve (and possibly clean the apartment). In short, when it snows in Eugene, time stops for a few days.

In the midst of all this snow, we had a Zone Conference, wherein it was announced that we would begin incorporating online proselyting into our mission. In about three weeks or so, I will have my very own tablet and will be missionary-revamping my Facebook account. We are apparently one of 30 pilot programs for these new missionary tools, and so we will be heavily watch-dogged. While I will be on Facebook, I will not be allowed to communicate with everyone back home.

My companion got sick this week. We had to stay inside all day Thursday, and then it’s been a fight for him to get better since then. I’m pretty lucky that I haven’t caught anything. Regardless of all that happened in this past week, though, we had a better numbers week than we’ve ever had in this area. I guess it just goes to show that numbers really don’t reflect the amount of effort you put in.

This week was also our Ward Christmas Party. It had a Whoville theme, and was a great success. When we first arrived, though, our Bishop told us that it had been canceled. I guess that wasn’t a good enough excuse for people though, because almost the entire Ward still braved the snow to come! The Bishop’s little religious plug at the beginning in the chapel was “the most impromptu service I have ever seen”. We sang a Christmas hymn; he spoke for about five minutes, then another hymn, then BAM! Whoville was behind the cultural hall divider. It was pretty funny.

We also attended the Community Crèche this week. What the Crèche is basically is a collection of people’s nativity scenes from around the community. There are many people from many churches that participate, and it’s held in an LDS cultural hall. We invited everyone we saw to it, but because of the snow, the Crèche wasn’t as hot as it has been in years past. Still, there was a good turnout, and it was fun to see all the different nativities people have. Some were big, some so small that you had to lean in and squint at them, and some looked very very expensive.

The Christmas season definitely is a great time to connect with the community. I’ve already really enjoyed it while on my mission. A member was nice enough to donate a tree to us as well. It came pre-lighted, but we didn’t have a star, so I made one out of yellow construction paper. It’s been great fun.

Thanks for all the wonderful cards, letters, and gifts you’ve all sent me! I would love to send back a lot of the love I’ve been getting, but 50 people writing to me seems to be easier than the daunting task of me having to write to 50 people! So let it it suffice that I write in this letter that I love you all, each and every one. Thank you for your support, prayers, and love. They are felt, recognized, and appreciated.

May you each have a wonderful Christmas season.


-Elder Rushton


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