When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    4 years, 5 months, 27 days, 16 hours, 16 minutes, 40 seconds ago

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Look Unto Me in Every Thought…

Austin attends September Zone Conference

Austin at his September Zone Conference

To start this week off, we had to take our car in to get some body work done. Our neighbor backed into us a few weeks ago and it’s taken us this long to finally get it fixed. So we brought it in first thing Monday morning, because we needed it Tuesday night to drive up to Coos Bay for Zone Conference. Then we left it..

Tuesday rolled around and we taught some great lessons. 3:00 rolled around and we went to an investigators for a lesson. And there we stayed. And stayed. And stayed some more. Suddenly, Elder Argyle looked down at his watch, then at me in a panic and said, “It’s 5:15, we need to go get the car!” My mind raced, 5:15…5:15….Suiter’s Paint and Body closes at 5:00!

So we hurried and told him goodbye and then biked at probably 30mph to the body shop, hoping, praying someone was still there that we could get our car from. But then again, we’re missionaries, so miracles happen for us. Two guys were there who had apparently decided that day to stay a little late and finish up a job. They got our car out for us and we were extremely grateful that we would now be able to get to Zone Conference.

Zone Conference was quite the day. We spent almost the entire day in Coos Bay for it, but the message our leaders had prepared was great. The theme was “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:36), which coincidentally was Pleasant Grove’s theme scripture my Junior year of high school. They also talked about the necessity of planning and goal setting. It was a great message, and very inspired.

President Young also talked to us about teaching in or in front of the baptismal font and showing investigators the sacrament table. We actually did this with an investigator a few days ago. She has set three baptismal dates and each have fallen through, and so she was reluctant to try another. This lesson was great though, and we were able to finally make a breakthrough. She should be setting a new date shortly.

At the end of the conference, President Young hinted very strongly to me that I might be training soon.

When we left to conference, we went straight to a less-active family we teach here in Brookings. And it was there I found what I’ve been missing ever since I came out here. Every experience I’ve had out here in Brookings has not had the magic it seemed to have back in the MTC, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. It was at this lesson that I finally realized what I had lost.

I had become so focused on getting high numbers and teaching lessons that I lost sight of the single most important goal our district set in the MTC: to teach people, and not lessons. That one simple principle has become the greatest teaching skill I could hope to have. While we no longer typically cover all of the points in the lessons during our visits, we now more effectively establish the points and help build our investigators’ testimonies and, in so doing, help them come closer to Christ.

Well friends and family, that’s all for this week. I hope you’re all doing well, and wish you the best. I love to hear from you all, and I apologize for not being able to write more to all of you. I wish I had all the time I needed to, but then no missionary work would ever get done! Even so, your letters are appreciated, your love is felt, and your prayers are heard.

 

-Elder Rushton

Commitment and Re-Commitment

Austin Rushton manning LDS booth

Austin manning a booth at the local fair

This week, we went to Zone Training Meeting on Friday. In it, our Zone Leaders put us through a “boot camp” and had us recommit ourselves to missionary work. They all had us sign a contract of sorts and physically make that commitment to not slack off. The rest of the meeting was all based around that.

I pretty much just went through the motions. “Yeah yeah, President Young wants us to not slack off and whatever, got it.” I didn’t understand why they were putting us through this AGAIN. It seemed like every time we would meet the message was on diligence or obedience, and I just kind of started to write it off because it was something I had heard a million times before.

Then it hit me. The gospel is repetitive. And why? Because there are things contained in there that we’re not seeing, regardless of what we think we know. Because, if we were living all of these things, we would not need reminders and life would be perfect. Because our Heavenly Father loves us, and in order to receive all of His promised blessings, we must internalize these things.

I see this again and again as a missionary. Less-actives, investigators, and even members need to be taught these lessons again and again, and every time it reminds them of some important principle they are missing. I watch as these people listen to the promptings of the Spirit to guide them to follow the counsel of their Heavenly Father, and when they do this they flourish in happiness and success.

 Unfortunately, I see far more often the opposite. People disregard the messages. They do not pay attention. They think they have heard it enough and know the principle already. But they are not living it. They are not asking why our Heavenly Father has given them this message at this particular time. They are not striving to follow His counsel.

We all sin. We all ignore our Heavenly Father’s counsel at times and break His commandments. This leads us to unhappiness, pain, and uncleanliness. We are imperfect, and therefore cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

When we repent, we cleanse ourselves of such things. But, in order to fully become clean, we must be baptized. This is commitment. Commitment to our Heavenly Father that we will never again break the commandments and will strive to do all we can to not. But then we all do. We all fall back into sin.

This is the importance of recommitment. We recommit ourselves through the sacrament to those same promises. We show our Heavenly Father that we are doing our absolute most to follow Him and keep His commandments. Without the recommitment, we may as well condemn ourselves forever.

I encourage all of you to never give up. Christ taught us to “be ye therefore perfect”, and He knew he was not asking something impossible. Each of us is perfect, if we will not stop committing and recommitting to follow Him and become better. We ought never to suppose we are good enough where we stand. Even so, we must not lose hope. We can have that hope that through the Savior, we will be perfected, and we will never again be subject to sin.

Love you all, and never stop recommitting yourselves to follow His counsel.

-Elder Rushton

P.s., for those who are interested, the only thing holding our oldest investigator back from baptism is coffee. We reset his date for the 28th. He loves church though, and is continuing to learn

Big Plans—Letter from Austin Sept 2nd, 2013

Austin Rushton at Gold Beach Airport

Austin at Gold Beach Airfield

My first four paragraphs will be regarding investigators, after which I wish to make a point as to what our focus this week has been.

We have been meeting with a Hispanic gentleman investigator every Friday since I first got here. His wife and most of his kids are Jehovah’s Witnesses and they really don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. He HATES the fact that they don’t celebrate birthdays or holidays. Still, he agreed to meet with missionaries awhile back, and he’s a really nice guy. The first time I met him, I invited him to be baptized. Unfortunately, his English is…less-than-stellar. He replied that he wanted to read the Book of Mormon two times and then share it with people. So much for progress…

This went on for a few weeks until we decided there just had to be a change made. We tried a lot of things, but ultimately what it came down to is that there simply is no one close to us who could help us out with this! That’s when we found out that the senior couple just north of us in Gold Beach, the Kieffers, both spoke Spanish. So we brought them on down here to Brookings and BAM! Now our investigator is changing his schedule so he can come to church. He understands the Restoration of the Gospel now, and I think the desire is growing in him to be baptized.

Our other 96 year old investigator was able to make it to church this week. The guy really cleans up well! He is down to a half a cup of coffee per day, and really wants to be baptized. He basically told us this is what he’s been looking for. He loved fast and testimony meeting as well, saying that it really reflects well on a church when the members feel comfortable enough to go bare the things of their soul in front of the entire congregation.

We told him of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith yesterday. I don’t remember how we got on the topic (I think by asking him if he knew he was a prophet), but the news of that hit him so hard he had to sit down, and he looked about ready to cry. Then, as we were leaving, we had him pray, and he actually prayed FOR JOSEPH SMITH. Carl is so solid, he just needs to acknowledge it now and keep up what he’s doing.

Now for my point to make. In every ward, there is something called a Ward Mission Plan. You may not be aware of it, but it is there.

Bandon, an area in our district, has recently been growing immensely in their reported numbers. They double or even triple any other area in our district. So how are they doing it?

While Elder Argyle was in a baptismal interview on Friday, I got the chance to question them about it. What it came down to was one simple thing: the members. But how? How could a BRANCH of less than 30 or 40 people be tripling the numbers of a ward of over 100? I asked myself this over and over, and then it hit me.

Unity. The branch was united on missionary work.

Naturally, my next question was how they had done it, and how Brookings could do it. After diligent study of chapter 13 of Preach My Gospel, I finally understood. The answer was almost too easy to be true. We had to make everyone aware of the Ward Mission Plan.

Honestly, I didn’t even know we had one until a few days ago. But yesterday, after meeting with our Ward Mission Leader, he presented the plan again to the Ward Council with one simple question, “if the missionaries were pulled out of Brookings tomorrow, where would the missionary work for this area go?”. The results were immediate; ideas were thrown out immediately as to how the plan could be promoted and acted upon, certain efforts were scrutinized and corrected, and the ward started to finally become mission-oriented. Now, it’s game time.

By the fifth Sunday of this month, the Ward Mission Plan will reach every member in this ward. Everyone will know our goals and contribute to the accomplishment of them. Family Mission Plans will have a goal, purpose, and foundation. On the fourth Sunday, Elder Argyle and I will be speaking in sacrament to promote this even further.

I cannot begin to stress the importance of the Ward Mission Plan enough. It is the foundation for a missionary’s ministry in the area where they serve. It is the foundation of member-missionary efforts. So go, find your ward mission plan and ask yourself, “What can I do to help this plan along?” I know that Christ has called on every member to do His will and spread His gospel, and that He has selected divinely inspired leaders to make the plans to do so. If we do not act upon these plans or even seek to know them, we cannot fulfill our baptismal covenants.

That all being said, I love all of you. Thank you for your kind words, encouragement, and letters. The Lord is hastening His work, though, and so we must all do our part as His people to accomplish His purposes. Have a good week, and good luck in all of your various aspects of life.

-Elder Rushton

Little Children – August 26th, 2013

Elder Austin Rushton

Elder Austin Rushton

Little Children

Often, in the mission field, I’m given the opportunity to interact with children. It’s not very uncommon to see us, the missionaries, visiting a Primary class (at the request of the teachers, of course) to share with them our testimonies or teach them about missionary work. When we visit members, we always seem to be the center of attention for their younger children.

One child in particular we see often is a five-year-old, red-haired boy named Porter. Porter is one of the member’s children here, and I’m absolutely his favorite person in the whole world when we come over to his house. To put it delicately he’s….a handful. He climbs on everything, scales the walls in his house, and actually used to get up on the roof so much that his family now leaves a ladder on the side of house at all times just so he can get back down safely. All things aside, though, he’s a pretty sharp kid.

I remember in great detail the day his mother, his Primary teacher, invited us to sit in on her class. The subject was on how each of the children could “bee” missionaries. Porter not only offered about half of the class’s comments, but also felt it necessary to dig out his “future missionary” badge that day. That week, when we came to that particular family’s house, we got Porter to go hand out about four mormon.org cards to his friends, just like a little missionary!

That’s pretty much been the pattern with Porter ever since. He’s more than willing to help us out every time we come over! He even asked us for some cards yesterday when we went and visited him and his family.

It makes me realize just how amazing children are, and brings home that message the Savior taught. We truly must humble ourselves as children–to accept that we can’t know or be anything without our Heavenly Father–in order to gain knowledge. To put it Socratically, once we realize and admit that we don’t know anything, then we have truly begun to know something. The door is opened for us to understand and learn through the Spirit.

True understanding comes only from the Spirit. How else can we know of anything? Some believe that they must see to know of a surety, but even when we see something, does that make it true? Does that make it right? Does that even make it real? No. All it does is tell us that we can see something. There is, in fact, a philosophical idea that states that anything our senses feel is merely a perception, and not necessarily a reality. But the Spirit, He is real, and He testifies of truth.

Through the Spirit, we can know the truth of all things. Eventually, this will extend to our knowledge of the truth of every thing. So often we find ourselves caught up in trying so hard to understand what truth is that we cannot hear the truth being testified directly to us. Such is the case in missionary work. This is the reason our job is merely to speak truth to those around us, and allow them to feel the Spirit testify of this truth to them.

I would encourage all members and missionaries everywhere to do exactly this: to speak the truths that we know to those who surround us. This is how we invite the Spirit to testify. This is where conversion starts. This is where any real learning begins, and is the start of our knowledge.

I love you all, and I hope you will all realize this. I appreciate all the support I’ve been getting as a missionary. That being said, my companion, Elder Argyle, almost never gets mail.

Collin.argyle@myldsmission.net

He actually knows of letters that got sent his way but never made it. I invite anyone who will hear me on this to write him a letter of encouragement. He would love this, as any missionary would, and I’d love to see him get a letter he’s not expecting. It will be funny, I’m sure, but the significance will not be lost, I guarantee it. That all being said, write to the missionaries. Any missionary. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of saying “I’ll do it later” or “I wouldn’t know what to say”. Say anything, just write. Missionaries need those connections back home so that they can make it through every day out here. It gives us confidence to know we have the support of those who love us, no matter how many times we get a door slammed on us. Often, we need to draw on that support so that we will not falter. Build the trust with your missionaries, and establish a bond with them. As you do this, you guide the missionaries to learn charity, and allow them to express ever greater love for those around them.

These things are of Christ. Every day in the mission field testifies more strongly of his divinity, love, and the truth of His message. He did the will of His Father. His Father is your Father. He loves everyone. He loves you. You are His child. He has provided a way for you to be happy, to be with everyone you love and who loves you again. This is the good news of the gospel. This is our message.

 

-Elder Rushton

 

 

Elder Rushton and the Half Week Baptisms‏–Aug 19, 2013

Austin with his MTC Group

Austin with his MTC group pointing to their missions.

See what I did there? I copied a book title. Pretty clever, right? Okay maybe not but that’s not what this is about.

We spent the first half of this week away from Brookings. We only came back late wednesday night and we left monday afternoon! All of tuesday, Elder Argyle had to go to some leadership meeting in Eugene, so I got left in Reedsport with Elder Spicer, who was brand new to the area. Luckily, we had a service project set up for us so we spent about six hours helping build what’s called a Pole Barn. It was kind of scary balancing on a plank seven feet in the air while trying to handle a power drill…but hey, that’s just good experience for the future, right? Anyways, we spent the rest of the day tracting until Argyle came back to pick me up to go back to Northbend.

Wednesday, we spent the entire day in Northbend with our Zone Leaders, Elders McBride and Gosar. We went on splits with them, and so McBride and I just tracted around for a couple hours while Gosar and Argyle taught a lesson. Then Stake Correlation, then finally the two hour drive back to Brookings.

Point? We were halfway through the week by the time we got back and we had ZERO numbers. Also, we’re about 200 miles over our allotted 900 for the month already. It’s pretty silly, I don’t think they understand how far out we are from everything.

So we got last investigator on date for baptism. We showed up to his house and found out he had pushed his back too hard too soon and hurt himself again. He was able to get up and get over to a chair though, and we were able to teach him the Plan of Salvation. It’s pretty crazy how his lessons go, though. They’re all different, but usually the only thing we have to do is present the information and then he’s able to connect everything he’s found on his own to what we present him with. The whole process takes about two hours though, because he not only has to tell us what he’s come to find for himself, but also the story of HOW. Still, what we’ve come to realize is that he did not start on this path when we met him. He is living proof that the Lord is preparing His people. Everything he has ever observed about our faith has appealed to him. That allowed him to listen to us. Through us showing the charity he’s observed of our faith towards him, he came to trust us with some of his most personal experiences: experiences that he knows others would call him crazy for. As we were able to relate these stories he would tell us to things within the Book of Mormon, he came to a knowledge of its truth, and now he’s on the road to baptism and beyond. And why? Not even so much because of our teachings, but because of the love he’s felt, and the trust he’s confided in us. He even told us that, in the past, a pastor had told him in church that he was scaring people, and that made him apprehensive to come to a church. He told us, also, that even though he had a “dirty house” and a “smelly dog” and even though he was a little off-kilter, he realized that we were still nice to him. I can’t stress enough how important that is. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it needs to be extended to EVERYONE.

Now I could talk about other lessons we taught this week, or other fun times we had, but I think I’d rather say this. The full-time mission is just a calling like any other really. Each and every one of us is not a missionary every day, but we all do missionary work. Consider this, when a Bishop is called, certain keys and responsibilities become his. Only he holds them. BUT, does that make him solely responsible for the maintenance and smooth operation of the ward? No, each and every member assists him in this calling, and he delegates out some responsibilities to leaders and other assistants. So it should be with any calling, including missionary work. We’re not asking a lot, simply that members sustain us in our callings as they do others. Missionary work is not a habit, though, and it’s definitely not passive. It’s not something we can do in our spare time. It is simply being willing to actively seek to contribute to Christ’s missionary effort. He has asked us to reach out, not to wait upon others to come to us. He has exhorted us to follow him in this way.

I can’t preach to people, it’s true. I can’t even say I’m normal, and I definitely have a unique calling that most members don’t hold. That being said, there are few things that can compare to rewards of bringing people to this gospel: of bringing them to Christ. It truly is the “hardest thing I’ve ever loved to do”.

-Elder Rushton