When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    4 years, 11 months, 1 day, 5 hours, 37 minutes, 39 seconds ago

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A Weekly Email for Everyone Who Thought I Was Dead!

Christmas at the Mission Presidents

Eugene, Oregon missionary Christmas photo

Voila. I am not.

About two or three hours from Reno, NV, I am emailing in the Family History Center of the Alturas Branch building. It seems as though it was designed to one day accommodate a small Ward, but alas, Alturas only reached around 298 in membership (not all active) before the town started to wither and die. Now the small chapel only fills to less than half capacity on Sunday, and people are generally moving out of town, not into it.

And who can blame them? Alturas has only the smallest offhand businesses–he largest store around is Dollar General, a knockoff of Dollar Tree–and is two hours from the nearest large city, Klamath Falls. It’s not only lonely and impoverished to live in Alturas, it’s expensive. Even we wait until Friday when we drive into Klamath to shop at a sales tax-free Wal-Mart, gasoline is still roughly $3.00 per gallon here, and anything fun demands traveling a long way. Alturas is the epitome of “scenic nowhere”.

Speaking of scenery, Alturas is vaguely reminiscent of White City, without all the traffic and business, of course. The parks are a bunch of dead grass, and we live next to the train tracks that are mostly unused in an apartment that, in the front, is the garage of the house next to it. But inside it’s pretty cozy, despite the mildly drafty ventilation and all the hard floors. One thing it differs on, though, is the juniper trees and sage brush. This place is clearly a dry desert, and summer should be nostalgic of life back home in Utah.

As small and rural as Alturas is, the other six small towns we cover are even less impressive. Cedarville houses another branch, but is really just a token LDS establishment. The membership there has a building without a chapel, and fills about half of your average classroom. The smallest and westernmost town we cover is Canby, and really is more of a neighborhood with a gift shop.

It’s really quiet here, but hey, after having spent a year in the Eugene/Springfield conglomerate, I’m glad for it. Nice, slow, quiet small town life is nice once in awhile, sort of like a vacation.

There was one guy here who was close to being baptized, but after living in the same apartment complex since he was eight, has finally decided to move out to Klamath Falls. I am glad for him because he’s going back to college, has really changed his life around, and is a firm believer in the church and gospel of Christ, but such is the story of Alturas: everyone just wants to get out. He’ll likely be getting baptized shortly up there, but this will continue Alturas’s non-baptizing streak. No one here has joined the church in a year.

But dog gone it I’m going to fix that! Alturas is probably at a risk of being closed soon if something doesn’t happen, especially with 82 OEM missionaries returning home this summer.

My companion is awesome. Elder Campbell did wrestling for several years, MMA for several years, and actually got good enough to declare professional status on his snowboarding. He’s fun to be around and has the ability to keep up with me, so that’s great.

Alright everybody, remember that Jesus loves you and me and I hope you all have a great and enjoyable rest of today. I will write to you all next week.

–Elder Rushton


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