When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    4 years, 4 months, 1 day, 13 hours, 6 minutes, 42 seconds ago

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Good Friends are Important. Good Enemies are Important Too.

Elder Austin Rushton crazy hair.

Elder Austin Rushton in need of a haircut.

Hello everybody! There is so much to be talked about this week…I hope I can get through all of it!

So as some of you may already know, my newest companion is Elder Thomas. He was in Junction City, just north of Eugene, at the same time I was up that direction, so that makes him the first companion I’ve had that I actually knew BEFORE he became my companion. We have done spectacular from the day he arrived.

Just for starters, as many of you may be aware, missionaries set numerical goals every week for themselves based upon their weekly planning session, wherein they discuss the direction and speed the area is moving, personal goals, and so forth. The standardized goals every missionary is required to set each week are referred to as “Key Indicators”, i.e., when these numbers are high it can generally indicate the success of an area in finding, teaching, and baptizing investigators of the church. The key indicators are

1. Baptisms

2. Confirmations

3. Investigators who attended Sacrament Meeting

4. Investigators who have set a date to be baptized

5. Lessons taught to investigators with a member of the church present

6. Lessons taught to investigators without a member of the church present

7. Investigators who have been taught at least two lessons and are keeping commitments to, for example, come to church, read the Book of Mormon, and so forth

8. Referrals received from nonmembers, members, etc. who have not yet been contacted

9. Referrals contacted

10. Number of nonmembers who have achieved the status of new investigator (takes 1 lesson, a return appt, and a commitment)

11. Lessons taught to recent converts to the church or less-active/inactive members of the church

 

Elder Thomas and I naturally set some goals for this week, as we do every week. Only this time we hit them. ALL OF THEM. It was a great feeling, and we celebrated with frozen hot chocolate from Dairy Queen.

So what did we do this week? Well for starters, we have someone progressing toward baptism at the speed of conversion! She was referred to us by our Relief Society President, who has also come to every appointment with her. She has come to church twice, we’ve met with her four times so far, and she says that EVERYTHING we’ve said has lined up exactly with what she’s found to be true. She’s so going to be baptized…

On top of that, we also made some good strides with everybody else. There was one less-active family we work with that actually broke down and asked for our help with building a tool shed. We were happy to do it! So we went on over and drilled some holes and screwed some screws for a couple hours, and afterward asked him if he would accompany us to a lesson that night that we needed a third man on. He accepted, so we came on back to pick him and his son up to go to the lesson with, ironically enough, a reactivating family. The lesson went well, and we asked them to testify of how their faith had helped them get through challenges in their lives. They bore a powerful testimony. Afterwards, they thanked us for asking them to come. The father was only a convert of a few years, and only had gotten the chance to go with missionaries on teaching visits maybe four or five times since his conversion, so he was grateful to come. He told us to ask again any time. It was powerful.

I guess the real key to success as a missionary, I’ve found, is simply to share the responsibility AND the associated blessings with others. Everyone has a part in it. And when everyone does their part to help everyone else do their parts, THEN THE MAGIC HAPPENS! It’s a pretty cool thing to experience.

I guess if I had to compare it to something, it’s like an orchestra. Sure you might have strong players in there who can carry the song forward, but the true strength in music comes in the group; when everyone is listening to everyone else so they can fit their part in there accordingly. Same deal with missionary work. We all have different roles, but those roles depend on each other, and when they are equally tempered, each serving to their utmost capacity, music happens instead of just noise: order instead of chaos. But of course, I don’t need to tell all of you that, right?

Anyways, that’s a pretty good summary of our week. It’s not everything, but it’s the most important stuff.

Hope you all have a great week,

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

Transfer Day–July 14 2014

Elder Austin Rushton on P-Day

Austin and companion at an optical illusion house on P-Day.

So as my companion finishes packing (he’s being shipped down to Yreka, CA for the final six weeks of his mission) I’m writing this letter to send to all of you! You’ve got to love transfers for that: they take up your whole P-Day. They’re an event in themselves.

I will be receiving a certain Elder Thomas. I met him before–he was in my district in my last area–so at least I know what to expect: a redhead who loves basketball. It should be a good time.

This past week was phenomenal. Our Relief Society President referred one of her volunteers at the food pantry she runs to us. This lady is Pentecostal, has visited every church in the Rogue Valley (except ours), and has been baptized six times. What changed for her is that her son started investigating, and this woman saw the changes in him and loved them. She said that the one thing she’s been looking for in a church is “the Spirit” and defined it using 2 Timothy 1:7 which reads, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The first interaction we had with her, she told us, “You guys are the only church that follows the Bible.” She came to church this Sunday despite the odd reactions she received from friends and family who heard she was investigating the “Church of the Mormons”. We have high hopes for her.

Besides that…well it was a lot of teaching and a lot of goodbyes! On the bright side, we had a lot of people show up Sunday to hear us give our talks. Not that they came specifically to hear us…but they came and we just happened to be speaking! I gave a talk on the Atonement, and how the best way to be a missionary is to just apply it in your life. I said, “If we want others to embrace the Atonement, then all we have to do is apply it in our own lives every moment of every day, and they will eventually follow suit.” I told them that that is what it means to be “an example” to others. Elder Martin followed it up with a talk on service, and testified that one of the best ways we can emulate Christ is to give of ourselves to the blessing of others. It was good to speak in Sacrament again.

One more thing I figure is probably worth mentioning is the fact that we seem to have become living ward directories. Everybody comes to us for everything. Food orders, funerals, permission to use the church building, bills, prescriptions, blessings, rides…you name it, we’ve probably had to answer questions about it. I think it’s because people just trust us, but all we can do is tell them what they need to do, who they need to call for their particular concern, and then give them the number and send them on their way. Then comes the process of explaining to them why we can’t just do it all for them…Really, I’m flattered that they think we have so much authority, but all we’re really called to do is minister to those who are not members of the church and assist the ward in teaching those they want us to teach. I guess everyone needs to be taught the directory one way or another, though, right?

Well everybody, I don’t have a whole lot else to talk about this week. For as much as we do each week, everyone still just sort of meanders along forward. Patience is the name of the game! Love you all, and have a great week. Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

 

Independence Day 2—-July 7, 2014

Austin jumps in front of the Welcome To Oregon sign

Austin at the Oregon-California state line.

I know what you’re all thinking, but this is not the sequel to the original hit film. No, this is just my second Fourth of July in Oregon.

This time last year I was staying in a middle, bottom floor apartment. We had to go inside at 7:00, and the only views we had were of the base of a hill and the other apartments. We could hear fireworks, but seeing them was totally out of the question. This year, though, we’re on the second floor with a big old balcony out back. So we sat out there and I brought my guitar and we sang patriotic songs out of the
hymn book app on the iPad for about an hour while we watched everyone light off their fireworks across town. It was a good way to celebrate the holiday, and much better than last year.

This past week so much stuff happened that I think I’ll just hit the highlights.

First of all, I finally met my new mission president, President Russell, and his wife. They are from West Jordan, UT and they are awesome. President Russell served as a stake president over there, and
his wife has served many times in the primary presidency in their ward. The two of them make a great team, and I already look forward to working with them.

Secondly, I saw another miracle happen. A couple we’ve been working on reactivating requested priesthood blessings this week. The wife’s physical condition (back problems) hasn’t allowed her to work in weeks, so she was about to lose her job and their only source of income, without any sort of foreseeable relief. I gave the husband’s blessing, and in it I blessed him that, as he faithfully continued to do what was right, striving to do better each day, everything would work out temporally and spiritually for them, and God would show them His power of deliverance. Three days passed and they received a check in the mail: the wife’s severance. They expected $300-400. Instead, they were joyfully surprised to find that it was written for over$2000. They called us just to tell us what had happened because they were so overjoyed! Truly a miracle.

I suppose the next thing to be talked about is a recent convert we met with this week. He went through the loss of a friend who had been driving under the influence, and he himself turned back to drinking
for a week in response to his own frustration and anger. After that, he felt too guilty to come back to church. We talked a long time about faith and repentance, as well as forgiveness. I encouraged him to
watch the Mormon Message “Forgiveness: My Burden Was Made Light” after we left.

We saw him again the next day. He asked which one of us had suggested he watch that video. I reminded him that I had. He said, “The first time I watched it, I hated you. Nobody makes me cry, I don’t cry. I was in the marines! Then the second time I watched it I didn’t hate you as much and I started to ask myself what I was supposed to learn from it. About the fifth time I watched the video, I finally understood why you wanted me to watch it, and I realized that doing what he [the man in the video] did–[forgiving the person who had hurt him] was the only way to really get past that kind of loss.” So yeah, he told me he hated me, but then after watching the video five times she loved me….people are funny that way.

Finally, I got to go meet less-active family that was baptized four or five years ago. They have a farm and typically have about 200-300 turkeys, over fifty pigs, and a bunch of other animals. It’s just the
husband and wife and their five kids (all of them under age 11) that run the place, but they’re really nice people. The whole time I was there, too, their dog was munching on a two week old pig head… I
asked if my companion and I (I was on a split with a member of the ward) might come up and help out sometime, and they graciously accepted. So I might be doing some farm work next week! They said they might have us help them milk a goat. They also told us to bring scriptures and a message for them because they liked that, so I considered that a small miracle that they would bring that part up
themselves.

So that was my week. I hope you all had a great Fourth of July and I hope to hear from you all soon!

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

Pure Religion — June 30, 2014

Elder Rushton Pocket Badge

Elder Austin Rushton Mission Name Badge

 

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the vices of the world. (James 1:27)

This past week we basically did exactly what the scripture says! We visited widows and the fatherless and people in other unfortunate circumstances!

A few miracles occurred this week, I think. They’re quiet miracles, things you might not even consider miraculous unless you lived through them, but miracles nevertheless.

A few weeks back we had been teaching a younger man who had recently lost his father. Then after his dog had an operation, we were not able to see him. We tried texting and calling, but to no avail. So we decided finally this week to pay him a visit. Lo and behold, he came out and started talking to us like no time had passed at all! He explained that his phone had actually broken and he just had gotten it replaced. So now we’re fully back in contact with him! It was really neat to rediscover him, and we were able to offer him some comfort since both his dad’s birthday and Father’s day had been hard on both him and his mother. I think it helped him just to have someone to talk to about it.

Later in the week, I went on an exchange with Elder Despain, a highly functioning autistic Elder. We ended up having to do a lot of service that day, and I was very impressed with him. He’s very skinny, and doesn’t exactly have a whole lot of athleticism to him, if you know what I mean, but he was able to keep up with me all day painting the inside of a trailer and moving some fairly heavy furniture out of a couple’s house that they had to evict in 72 hours. It’s not much, but I considered that a miracle in itself that he was able to do all of that, as well as teach a few lessons with me.

Another miracle I experienced with Elder Despain was an entire paradigm shift for me in a few approaches we took with investigators. A few weeks ago, with one, I felt very strongly that we should not go to her house to try and contact her yet, even though my companion kept insisting. But I persisted and we didn’t go. Then a few days ago, suddenly, I felt totally comfortable with prospect. In fact, I felt anxious to do it! It shocked me so much that I had to pray about it several times. So I got the confirmation I wanted again and again, and we went and knocked on her door.

It was strange, but this girl didn’t even answer. Instead, the house-sitter did. She didn’t want to be taught, but it was in no way a bad experience, and I can’t help but think there was a reason for that. If nothing else, it affected the rest of my day, and everything else just sort of worked out.

For another person, a less-active member of the church, I felt very strongly that all we needed to do was go in and ask him about his conversion, and the way would become clear. So we did, and he spilled the whole thing for an hour! I learned a ton, and then he came to church that week. So yeah, I would call that a miracle.

Finally, and probably the single most touching miracle of the week, we went up after church to a man’s house whose birthday it was. He lives totally isolated on his ranch with his wife who, several years ago, was diagnosed with debilitating Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t even remember who he is, and he has to watch her 24 hours a day. As a result, he hasn’t been able to get out much except maybe to go shopping, and even then he has to hold her by the hand the whole time. His state is disheveled, to say the least. He had told us Saturday it was his birthday on Sunday, and invited us up for some cobbler. We hesitated because we had no gifts or anything for him, but we decided he just wanted our company anyways, so we drove on up and wished him a happy birthday. I felt prompted that we should sing him happy birthday. Words cannot describe the feeling that entered the room. This man who had been so strong, a rancher, a blacksmith, and had endured years of isolation had tears flood his eyes as he thanked us. I don’t think he planned on anyone actually coming to wish him a happy birthday in person. As we drove home after our visit, I remember very distinctly realizing, just as my Great-uncle Jack Rushton did years ago, exactly what James meant when he talked about Pure Religion. It was one of those experiences that make you think, “If that was the only reason I was placed on this earth, to make that man’s birthday a good one, then I think I would be okay with that.” Clearly this was a miracle.

Other than all these smallish miracles, my week went well. We had a new guy move into the ward, a recent convert of about two months, and he’s super chill. We also had our bishopric speak on Sunday, as well as had a combined meeting for the next two hours given by the bishop about the importance and blessings of home and visiting teaching. It was pretty neat!

You know, I used to think missions were hard. But now I realize they’re really pretty easy. All it really takes is being a good person, or at least the best you can be! Love it. Love you all too.

Weekly Email– June 23, 2014

Elder Rushton P-Day

Elder Rushton P-Day

My week was a little unorthodox. We held our final zone conference with President and Sister Young, who will be returning home at the end of this month. I will be the first to say that it was one of the trunkiest farewells I’ve seen, but I think they wrapped up their three years of service quite nicely. Our new mission president, President Russell, will be touring the mission and performing interviews in the next few weeks.

At the conference, I also had the chance to bump into Elder and Sister Overson, a couple from my good old home ward of Battlecreek 6th who have been serving in the small town of Cave Junction these past two years. It took a year, but I finally caught up with them! They will be leaving for home very shortly, so this was my last chance to catch them. After they leave, there will only be four or five senior couples in the entire Oregon Eugene Mission. It is no small wonder the church has been pressing so hard for more couples to serve missions! They perform functions that, frankly, the young Elders and Sisters cannot.

This past week we had some wins and some losses. There are many people we simply cannot get ahold of now. Still, we were able to make a few great leaps with some less-than-active families. We got a commitment out of one of them to reactivate, another we set a date for them to come to church, our fantastic ward missionaries discovered an inactive family who invited us over for lunch, and finally we set a goal for one older couple to be endowed and sealed. These were all awesome to see, but unfortunately it’s likely that no one will ever recognize those small victories but us and the White City ward since they are not statistically recorded. Oh well.

Today I’ll probably be going to do some blacksmithing. There is a member in our ward who is not active (his wife suffers from Alzheimer’s and he always has to keep an eye on her) who has his own little shop on his ranch who told us that if we got the metal he would help us make something. So Elder Martin and I went on over to White City metals and picked up a ten pound bar of steel for ten dollars and we’ll be going up there today to forge some stuff.

Let’s see, what else happened this week….

-We celebrated the birthday of a now seven-year-old girl whose family we work with

-In church one of our recently reactivated members gave a talk

-I helped move an Organ up some stairs

-I picked up an old record copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours for free at a yard sale that I’ll probably just mount on my wall

-I perfected my pancake-making skills

So yeah, that was pretty much my week! It was pretty awesome, just saying. Love you all, have an awesome week this week.