When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    4 years, 2 months, 1 day, 7 hours, 26 minutes, 45 seconds ago

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A Letter Full of Letters

Austin Rushton at Portland LDS temple

Austin at the Portland, Oregon Temple

This past week has been absolutely phenomenal. Now that I’m coming up on my one year mark, I decided a few weeks ago to try and write to a lot of people from my first area, Brookings. As good as writing the letters themselves made me feel, the response I’ve gotten back has been far greater than I could have imagined.

I’ve received word from many of those I wrote to. The first to come were two letters from a man whom I helped to reactivate. He wrote,

“…your letter…was the right medicine, just at the right time…We too are having wonderful blessings of success with five baptisms in the last two months…The Bishop reminded our four missionaries that
the success they were having was in part because of all the hard work by Elders like yourself…I thought of you and many others; it was a nice comment on his part…we now have a half dozen or so individuals with committed baptismal dates set for June and the whole ward is thrilled…”

The next came from a man whose family I visited nearly every week in Brookings who recently attended church for the first time in awhile. His comments were more flattering than the first. He wrote,

“It was wonderful hearing from you my friend…you will always be considered by us as part of this family, especially personally, not just church family. It’s my hope…that you will somehow…be rotated back this way eventually. As strongly as I prayed for you to come into my/our lives, I will do as well in hoping for your return…you belong here with us. :) As an individual you will never be, “just one of the guys,” crammed into the mold of typical missionaries, you have a light in your eyes and a special way about you that separates you from all the others. Saw it in you from the first moment you came into our home, and know you’re loved and missed more than you will ever know…there is not a single day that goes by where you’re not in my thoughts…write when you can, this made my entire month.”

Finally, the last of the bunch was an email to me by someone I have never even met: a Sister in the Grants Pass stake who recently visited Brookings.

“Elder Rushton, Were you in Brookings?  Last Sunday a man  [my first baptism on my mission] spoke while we were visiting.  He mentioned his search for truth and all the help Elder Rushton gave him finding those answers.  The ward was so proud of him for speaking – he worried about his talk and ran out of time, but it was a testament to those who seek the truth and the Elders who are inspired in their
responses.”

It is surreal to consider that all of these letters were addressed to ME.  Regardless, it was so great to receive so much love from my first area. It’s taken almost a year, but I’m starting to see the truth of the statement that I am in a time of my life where I will experience some of the greatest happiness I can in this life.  All because of sharing the gospel.

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of my mission that anyone I helped to reactivate or get baptized would not go inactive. (I know I don’t have control of that, but I don’t want them to lose the truth once they find it ) So far, I have been blessed with a perfect track record.  It was also so good to see  my first convert, pass the sacrament for the first time before I left Brookings, and now to receive word that he gave his first talk–something he was terrified to do in the beginning–is immensely gratifying. It makes me want to never stop doing this stuff!

While on my mission, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have touched more lives than I ever imagined I could. The ones I have touched most, however, were with those I had the chance to give more service and love to than the rest; the ones who I had to go out of my way and sacrifice my peace of mind to help. Much of the time, I risked my reputation to help these people.

Consistently I had lower numbers than anyone else. Many times I had to struggle past my own depression because of it, trusting in brighter days ahead.  Sacrifice really does bring forth the blessings of heaven. On top of it all, we had, again, around eight less-active and returning members of the church attend yesterday. It was a made even more fantastic when three of them stood up to bear their own testimonies. In addition, the Bishop, Elders Quorum president, and several others stood to give theirs. This all occurred right after Elder Martin and I bore our testimonies in harmony–stressing the importance of charity, kindness, and patience. The whole tone of the meeting was set. Every testimony built on those topics. I later described it as, “the best set of spontaneous talks given I have ever heard.” I guarantee that there was no one in that meeting who did not feel the Spirit there: Elder Martin said, “It was so thick you could cut it with a knife.”

Directly after church we went to visit a couple people. One of our investigators was in the middle of major depression. His ex-wife, who left him and took their son with her without a word, was now trying to pull child support out of him, even though she knew he had no income and was living at home. He said that he felt ready to just give up. I gave him the same speech I often have given to other missionaries and future missionaries: Do not quit. Keep going, keep trying, and you’ll be okay. Things may get better or they may get worse, but regardless you are promised that as long as you keep trying, you will succeed in the end. We reminded him how far he had already made it, and we explained to him how the scriptures, prayer, and Christ would help him gain the hope and motivation he needed to keep going. We left him in a significantly better mood than we found him.

It is my testimony that all people really need is a little love, reassurance, and hope to keep on going. The only way this won’t work is if they refuse to work with you, really, and it’s then that patience has to set in and outlast their stubbornness.

I hope all of you realize how many lives you affect. You do every day, some in more significant ways than you might even realize. Remember that God cares about you. He loves you. All He really asks is that you keep going, trying, and not give up. Never give up, everyone. That is the only time you really do fail.  Help others to do the same. Love you all, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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

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