When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    4 years, 11 months, 1 day, 5 hours, 40 minutes, 56 seconds ago

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Not Enough Time!

Austin at Portland, Oregon LDS Temple

Austin at Portland, Oregon Temple

Hey there everybody. So basically this past week just flew by. It seemed like every day I had several things on my to-do list left undone, and more was getting piled on top of those daily! If any of you read my letters early on in my mission, this new circumstance stands in stark contrast to back then, when I felt like I was constantly searching for things to do!

So what’s the difference? What changed? For starters, it has nothing to do with the area I’m in. No, I think what changed was my focus on doing QUALITY work, instead of just getting more QUANTITY of work. Let me explain by contrasting a typical week in the past with just this last week…

In Brookings when I first started, it seemed like all we ever did was tract. And tract. And tract some more. Why? Because we were looking for people to teach, that’s why! Meanwhile, the rest of our
investigators went nowhere and we were constantly dropping them. We were losing people faster than we were finding new ones! Obviously that made our workload decrease, and spurred us to just keep looking for more by tracting.

Now, last week we did significantly less tracting than when I first started my mission. This is where the quality part comes in. Instead of using every second we were not in a lesson for tracting, we used a
lot of that time to PREPARE for future lessons. For example, we made, in total, about ten non-lesson visits to current investigators and less-actives just to check up on them and remind them of what we
taught. We also maxed out our allotted service hours scraping moss off of a potential investigator’s roof. Still there were other small details we found to spend our time on. It probably sounds silly to
anyone focused on quantitative data, but I’m telling you it’s these little things that have made all the difference! We rarely drop investigators anymore, many of them make huge progress, and it is only
through these quality, consistent, persistent efforts that I have seen any success on my mission. As an added bonus, I feel less like lecturer to these people–members and nonmembers alike–and more like
a trusted friend.

To me, this is what distinguishes a successful teacher from an unsuccessful one. I’ve observed time and again–both on and off my mission–that when a student does not like his or her teacher (or vice-versa), it creates a learning barrier. The student becomes rebellious or uncaring, and the teacher becomes impatient and frustrated. Both sides tend to blame the other and massive friction
results, hindering any sort of progress. So what is the solution? One side has got to be patient and caring enough with the other to spend the time and effort to develop a good relationship. It takes listening, service, and most importantly TIME. This is the only way it can work, and it applies in all facets of life: parenting, schooling, and, of course, ministering.

Unfortunately, as a full-time missionary, my ability to give of my time and effort to someone is surprisingly hindered by the fact that I can only stay in one place for six months or less. Luckily, through the miracle of Facebook, it’s easier now more than ever to stay in touch with those I leave behind. If I’ve really been fortunate, though, then before I leave I’m able to connect the person to someone in the ward with whom they develop a strong relationship. Most successful, however, is still when they already have a friend in the ward before I’m ever even introduced.

In the meantime, I’ll keep reaching out to those who don’t have such friend to help them along the path. They take a little more time and effort, but it is worth it to see them gradually become stronger people, increasingly capable of meeting life’s challenges.

Thanks everyone for your support, and for reading my letters and writing in return. Each one is valued, and I keep them all in a box that’s starting to get a little cramped! The outpouring of love I’ve received has been tremendous. It is my hope that I can show such thoughtfulness to those I interact with as well, and that hope has guided me in much of what I do. So once more, thank you, and I’ll write to you all again next week!

Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!

1 comment to Not Enough Time!

  • LeAnn Rushton

    I really love how you have grown in your missionary work as I read your letters! It gives me a spiritual boost as I hear how you are doing. You have such great parents who have done such a great job of raising all of you! I found the following quote this week as I was going through some of my stuff.
    “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others, and if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them!”
    This is by the Dalai Lama. It is what you missionaries do–you help others with your spiritual guidance and with your efforts on their behalf. You are a wonderful young man and are doing a great job! God bless you in your missionary efforts. We love you lots!
    Aunt LeAnn

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