When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    4 years, 5 months, 28 days, 5 hours, 50 minutes, 4 seconds ago

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When in Sodom….

Elder Austin Rushton with Salad

Austin with his Halloween Monster salad.

Hahaha, okay, I realize I may have worried some of you with that title, but don’t worry, I have yet to break any commandments!

However, I do want to paint a picture in all of your minds as to why Eugene has been called a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, and how it plays into my work out here.

In Eugene, it is rare to see a smile. Really. Everyone we pass on the streets just looks really down. On top of that, broken families are ALL OVER. Families made up of a father, mother, and children are as rare as whales beached on mountains. There is always one of those aspects missing, as well as lack of a legal marriage or other things. But all that’s only the start. One of the only groups of people we consistently find a little receptive are the youth, but even then most youth here have already fallen into drugs, sex, or atheism before they graduate High School. Marijuana is everywhere, there are “adult” stores on every other street corner in some places (not an exaggeration), and Oregon is already known for its liberal political beliefs. It’s not uncommon to be yelled at from cars or elsewhere and mocked for our standards, especially regarding chastity. And of course, I would be leaving out an important part of the picture if I didn’t mention all the homeless people around here.

Anyhow, all of this combined makes it very difficult to get into homes. Those who do have religious beliefs are pretty screwy, probably due to the environment they’re living in. Everyone here seems to feel very threatened whenever anyone approaches them with a new idea. They do not want to change, and I hate to say it but when you’re confronted with atheistic ideas, unless you shut yourself away you are very threatened by them. That is, unless you’re a Mormon ;)

This week was very very slow. We got railed on by the Zone Leaders after Elder Sanders put on a great District Meeting for “not being diligent enough”. So apparently I need to work harder. The question naturally to be begged is, “how?”

So that’s been my focus is to figure out how I can cast a broader net. What we’re doing is not working, and it’s not because we’re not trying, but rather because we lack the resources to apply our efforts with. So an increase in resources will yield better results….what a novel concept!

Alright everyone, sorry for the shorter letter today. I hope you all got something out of it! Love you all, keep on being awesome!
-Elder Rushton

A Letter About Brontosauruses and Numbers‏

Elder Austin Rushton and Elder Mock

Elder Austin Rushton with Elder Mock

A couple years ago, my little brother, Skyler, started writing a fictional work of scripture called “The Book of Raun”. Now, because there is a typewriter in my new apartment, I have used his little shenanigan as inspiration for my own book.

“The Book of Elder Sanders: The White Pudding Messiah”

I’ve got about seventeen pages typed up already, and it’s a compilation of the real life and times of Elder Sanders (with some exaggeration of course)! I’ll have to copy it one of these days and send it home to you.

I’ve had a bit of a realization this week that really makes me cringe. Missionaries are dishonest in their numbers. They skew them. And it’s not to try and look good, but to keep from looking bad.

How sad is that? I thought it was pretty pathetic, especially to see such quality young men become so concerned with numbers that they created a barrier for themselves to prevent them from reaching their potential.

It all really boils down to one thing. These missionaries are not aware of the resources available to them. So when the 20 lesson standard is established, they do not go and utilize all of their resources to get those lessons, but rather they exhaust what they have, and lie to make up the rest. It’s a terribly vicious cycle and one I am determined to end.

Elder Sanders and I had a pretty good week this week. We were able to get one lesson with an investigator and three with less-actives, and I was able to hand out two For the Strength of Youth pamphlets! Those things are just filled with basic, easy to understand principles, and they really lay out all the blessings of each of the commandments in perfect terms.

Our one investigator we have been meeting with is pretty cool. He’s a big fan of AA, and works as a sponsor sometimes. We’ve been teaching him by relating everything to AA, which is surprisingly easy.

Work’s going well here. We had the presentation from Elder Bradley Foster of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, and basically he laid out exactly what I’ve been working on doing, i.e., getting the Ward involved in missionary work. Essentially what we’re working to do is flip flop it from “members help missionaries” to “missionaries help members”.

I also went on an exchange last week with an Elder Shaw in Santa Clara 3rd ward. It was fun, and I got to teach him about setting meaningful goals and meet a bunch of his investigators.

Love you all, thanks for all your support!

-Elder Rushton

Genesis: Santa Clara 6th

Santa Clara, Oregon

Austin is now in Santa Clara, Oregon

So I’m here now in Santa Clara 6th, and it’s a pretty decent area and all but…well, let me put it this way. We got one lesson to an investigator last week. Yes, one lesson. That is by far the absolute slowest week I have ever experienced ever.

It’s hard to say what the issue is. Perhaps it’s the fact that we only have about four or five investigators, and of those only one is partially progressing. This is not what I was expecting at all from this area–especially after President Young told me the zone averages 23 lessons–but I have faith that Elder Sanders and I can rescue it.

Elder Sanders is the district leader here, and this is his fourth transfer in this area. He’s basically ancient here, and we’re already predicting that he’ll probably be leaving after this transfer and handing the area over to me. So we’ve already begun taking the steps necessary to get this area really going.

I dug out a paper President Young gave all the new missionaries when I first arrived. It explained the principles of “Real Growth”, essentially stating all of the stuff that should be happening in an area for Real Growth the occur. As I read through it, I compared it to my experience in Brookings and now here. On both occasions, the principles of Real Growth were not being implemented, and so my focus shifted to maintenance with the ward. In Brookings, that came naturally to me, but here in Santa Clara, I really needed to read that paper to understand what exactly I can do here.

Santa Clara 6th is a wealthier area than Brookings, and wealthier than back home as well. It’s an entirely different culture to me, and I’m desperately trying to connect with the people here. It’s coming, but it’s definitely a slow process.

This also used to be the Assistants to the Presidents’ area a few transfers ago, so the Ward here I don’t think is totally used to having us ever-present yet. We will soon be fixing that.

Sometimes I worry about how little I can actually affect as a missionary. I mean, I know I represent the Savior, but I really only have stewardship over investigators. So trying to help out the ward is a mountainous task, especially when I really cannot be the driving force behind it. All I can do is show my willingness to help out and hope they give me some work to do.

Regardless, I love the area, love the people, and am confident that, somehow, my workload will increase here. I get so bored not having anything scheduled!

Love you all, talk to you all again in a week.

-Elder Rushton

Santa Clara 6th

Austin Halloween 2013 Brookings, Oregon

Austin Halloween 2013 Brookings, Oregon

So I wasn’t able to get out a letter yesterday due to transfers, but now that I’m where I need to be, I finally get to send my weekly letter!

I left Brookings yesterday at approximately 8:30am. I arrived here at about 5pm the same day. I am now very glad to no longer have to take long car rides!

Santa Clara is just above Eugene, and is definitely a much lovlier place to be than Eugene, i.e., I don’t feel there’s so much risk of being attacked by a crazy here. It’s a great ward, from what I’ve heard and seen thus far, but just like Brookings, is lacking communication between the ward leaders and the full-time missionaries, so I know it’s where I need to be.

My last few days in Brookings were a little, sad, but I would say that I finished strong. It was a solemn experience to just take a step back and look at all that had happened since I arrived there. It was humbling and gratifying to have everyone I had worked with thank me and say goodbye. I got to witness my only convert pass the sacrament for the first time, and after I told him I was leaving, he thanked me, shook my hand, and said “I owe you a big one”. A man I worked closely with after his reactivation also spoke to me and thanked me for my service. He told me he had no doubt that I would make a sincere difference wherever I went, and gave me one of his favorite ties. Various ward leaders and members also made similar comments.

Hearing all of this and seeing all that happened I felt an enormous sense of peace with the area. I was able to leave, confident that Brookings was in good hands. Not just with Elder Mock, but with the ward leaders with whom I had worked so closely. I know that everything I could have done for Brookings, I did, and I know that it will pay off there.

Now, I face the same challenge all over again in Santa Clara. Only, this time, I face it with a knowledge that it will work out, rather than just the faith that it will. Santa Clara 6th has only had one convert baptism in the last year, the ward has all but given up on their efforts, and the ward leaders, while sincerely invested in the missionary efforts, are losing hope that the work will ever progress here. It is now my job to lift this ward, and it’s a job I know I can handle because it’s been done before and because I know it’s what Heavenly Father wants for this area.

If any of you feel it necessary, my new street address is

2940 Crescent Ave #280
Eugene, OR 97408

Otherwise, just send it to the mission office and it shouldn’t take long to get to me, plus it won’t ever get lost if I get transferred.

55 West 29th Ave Suite A
Eugene, OR 97405

Remember, I love hearing from all of you and want to do what I can in whatever limited way I can to help you with anything or answer any questions you may have for me! Have a great week everybody, and I’ll make sure I do too!

-Elder Rushton

Last Week in Brookings?

Elder Austin Rushton with bicycle

Elder Austin Rushton with his bike

Most likely I’ll be transferred after this week. I really can’t see them leaving me in Brookings for six months, it’s just too far removed from the rest of the mission. I really do want to express just how much I’ve grown out here though.

Brookings has defined my whole mission to this point, and probably will define it for the rest of my mission. I was sent out here, five hours from the mission home, to an area that hadn’t had missionaries in nearly 25 years, with a companion I had nothing in common with. For weeks, all I wanted to do was quit, and go home. It took everything I had not to. My whole world seemed to be collapsing around me. I couldn’t quit because I’d regret it for the rest of my life, and yet I couldn’t stay where I was. That’s the beginning of every good story of the gospel though, I suppose.

And so I suffered. I didn’t want to sleep because I knew I’d have to wake up and work again, and I didn’t want to work because I was so tired. Every waking hour was miserable.

But I pushed through. After humbling myself, I really just started to follow Elder Argyle and take whatever he could give. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. Then came Elder Mock, and I suddenly became a leader. That in itself has been an experience in humility. But I changed gears and started to follow the Spirit. I was able to obtain it, and I’ve pursued it. I’ve grown, and seen all my burdens and adversities lifted. I can’t imagine life without the Spirit now. It is miserable, cold, and dark.

It’s strengthened my resolve to help other people feel this joy, or at the very least be delivered from their burdens. It’s set the pace for my mission, and solidified my vision. I am going to change Oregon, it’s just a fact. And how am I? By following the Spirit and doing what it tells me to do. I can’t explain it, but somehow I know I’m going to make a significant contribution here. Whether seen or unseen, I’m going to influence lives for good. What better result could I hope for from a mission?

Elder Rushton