When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    5 years, 5 months, 29 days, 3 hours, 43 minutes, 45 seconds ago

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The Second Transfer–letter from Aug 12, 2013

Austin at zone conference.

Austin at zone conference August 2013

Well, I’m….STAYING IN BROOKINGS! How anticlimactic, right? Nah, but it’s all good. We’re on track to have probably 4+ baptisms this transfer and now I’ll get to be here for them.

This week was pretty eventful, and a few experiences really were miraculous. We found three new investigators this week, and that was great, but one of them in particular was really amazing to me.

We had a few extra minutes Sunday before dinner, so we were biking around looking for a street to tract. Out of nowhere, Elder Argyle said, “maybe we should go back to that really old guy” ( he’s 96, and goes to the Christian Science Church). Right as we arrived, he opened the door and said to us that he’d just got done reading the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we left him about a week and a half ago. We were able to discuss it with him as well as certain truths of the gospel. We explained to him why Baptism was necessary for exaltation, and invited him to be baptized. He told us he would think about it, and was not opposed to it. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll be the oldest baptism I’ll have out here.

The next and last thing I’ll talk about regards another investigator. He is an older man, maybe in his 50s, is balding on top, only has one good eye (the other got hit by a dart when he was little and is all but blind and points in a different direction), lives alone with his dog, and is very smart. But, to say the least, he is a little off-kilter; his house smells a little funny, he talks slowly, and he has had experiences in his life people might call him crazy for. But, ever since I’ve been here we’ve gone to his house weekly. Typically, he just talks to us about what he’s been studying, but recently we had a breakthrough with him. Here is an excerpt from my weekly letter to my Mission President:

“…we had an investigator,  who we’ve been meeting with since I got here, receive a very personal revelation. He has been studying for years several books of scripture, but seemed to associate most closely with some of the books of the Old Testament, which were compiled in what is called the Tanakh. He hoped to find truth by cross-referencing everything, so ever since we’ve met with him he’s told us his ideas of God, which for the most part are accurate. Still, all he was really expecting from meeting with us was to get some more information to cross-reference. One day, he hurt his back while pushing a car. He called to cancel two appointments we had set up, and we planned to come back in a couple weeks. Elder Argyle and I both got the distinct impression to visit him, though, so we came to his door and he called to us from his bedroom to come in. Without having him get up, we spoke with him, and really just listened. Before we left, Elder Argyle marked a chapter for him in the Book of Mormon to read since he was pretty much incapacitated for the time being. This week, when we met with him, he was all business. He sat us down and explained to us two experiences he had completely forgotten about until reading the Book of Mormon, and was in awe at the things it taught him about those experiences. He expressed his profound trust in us–he never before had shared the experiences with anyone for fear they would call him crazy–and said that he had found more truth in the Book of Mormon than even the Tanakh. He wants to learn more now, is even considering baptism, and said as we were leaving “I think a lot of people in the next life are going to be very surprised.”

So here was a man who really hadn’t thought any religion had ALL of the truth or even could, who had searched deeply for eternal truths, who it had taken the Jehovah’s Witnesses two years to bring to church, and who now has asked to attend one of our services and thinks we have the truth. It’s honestly a huge testament to me of the truth of the Book of Mormon as well as that this is Christ’s church established again on the earth. It’s also a testament to me of listening. If we had not been actively interested in his life, he never could have trusted us and we never could have related his life to the Book of Mormon. This investigator is not your average man, and typically one people might even avoid, but as we reached out to him, I know he was able to feel the love of Christ through us and recognize us as servants of the Lord.”

I can’t express what I felt when he told us that he found more truth in the Book of Mormon than any other book he’d studied. He seemed happier than I’d seen him in the past, and I felt happy for him. I really hope he doesn’t ever doubt what he’s felt now, because if he doesn’t it will only build the faith that’s begun to grow inside of him.

This week wasn’t out of the ordinary, though. These miracles happen every week. Not the same way, but each and every week–every DAY–people receive revelation that changes them. It’s amazing to see the difference it makes in people’s lives, the happiness it brings them, and I feel privileged to stand stand witness to it.

Miracles happen every day around us. Miracles happen every day TO us. As we recognize the gospel truths each one highlights, we can find the happiness promised to us and have our faith and hope increased. It really is just a matter of recognition.

-Elder Rushton

Austin having fun with the missionaries.

Austin at Zone Conference August 2013 having fun!

 

 

 

Week 5: A Day in the Life of a Field Technician

Austin pointing to Oregon

Austin pointing to his Oregon mission destination.

I decided to write today’s letter with a theme that’s been on my mind for the last week. My father, Matt Rushton, has been a field tech for Automated Business Products (it’s a fancy way to say he fixes copiers) for quite some time now, and so I got to hear a lot about how he worked. This week, I couldn’t help but draw some similarities.

First and foremost in the life of a field technician, you have to drive around and fix things. In missionary work, I get to constantly make the rounds on less-actives, investigators, recent converts, and even just members when they give us a call. This is what people typically think of when they think of a field technician, and it’s probably somewhere near the bottom on what people think we do as missionaries. But, in fact, it probably takes up about an equal amount of time in both cases

What people don’t realize about a field technician is that, a lot of times, he has to CREATE work for himself. That is what missionary work is about a lot of the time, and this is true of my area more than others. We constantly are having to call our investigators, members, etc. for appointments, and often when we can’t get ahold of them or have been tracting for 2+ hours without success we’ll just show up and have a lesson with them or at least a conversation to see how they’re doing or what we can do for them. I would guess probably over half of our lessons come from doing this.

The last thing I’ll mention is teaching and learning. It’s not very often that field technicians need to be trained, and missionaries only spend a couple hours a week in meetings or training. As for teaching, field technicians actually do that in a very similar way to missionaries. Often their advice is simple such as, “you have to plug it in for it to work,” or, “we can only guarantee our company’s toner will work in our machines,” but the same is true of much missionary teaching that goes on. It’s simple: “you have to ask specific questions in order to get an answer,” “you have to keep the commandments to receive the blessings from them.”

So now maybe I actually do have a little more appreciation for my Dad’s job than before, hahaha. I realize now that it’s as much a chore to create work for yourself in your job as it is to just do the work itself. In fact, I really wish people would just give me work to do so that I wouldn’t have to work so hard to find it myself!

Regardless of how rough it gets out here though, it seems like Elder Argyle and I always have something to show for our efforts at the end of the week. As I met with President Young for interviews on Wednesday, I realized that this fact is not ignored. He knows how hard we’re trying, regardless of our small numbers, and actually has gone out of his way to help us find people and motivate this ward toward missionary work. He really does trust Elder Argyle and I here in Brookings.

We had some pretty hardcore rejections last week. We had to listen a Born-again christian tell us to do everything we ask people to do for themselves, and then had one lady who had accepted a Book of Mormon from us hand it back with a list of every reason we’re wrong in what we believe. Still, my faith is unshaken now. All of these rejections really are just silly to me, and there really is no point in trying to argue with these people. I simply let them speak their peace, then try to go on my way. Sometimes, because Elder Argyle knows his Bible, he tries to talk reasonably to them, but usually this just prolongs the unpleasant encounter. As the Doctrine and Covenants say “if ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach”. I would even take that a step further to say “if they receive not the Spirit, they shall not learn.”

Luckily, we were able to find a few solid investigators this week and get one girl on date. It’s coming along for us, and as we keep trucking along in our field technician/missionary ways, we will continue to get the numbers we want.

Love all of you, and I’m enjoying the letters you’re all sending. Thank you for your support, it is not, nor ever will be, in vain.

-Elder Rushton

 

Week 4: The Small and Tender Mercies of Missionary Work‏

Hi Mom written in the sand

Austin’s Message to Mom

·         Week 4: The Small and Tender Mercies of Missionary Work

We got in twelve hours of tracting this week. TWELVE HOURS.

The result? Three new investigators, one less-active family who was basically waiting for us to show up and bring them back, and a fourteen-year-old girl who wants to get baptized.

So yeah, when we’re only averaging about one new investigator per week, three is a pretty high number. We were supposed to shoot for ten for our mission trek…but still, three is good for us.

I’m really trying to focus on the present while I’m out here. If I think too much about back home or the past, I get depressed, and if I think about all the work that’s still ahead, I psyche myself out and never get a break. But, if I look at the here and now-for example, while we’re out tracting, just thinking about who the person is at the door-then it becomes fun. It becomes bearable. It turns missionary work into something meaningful and purposeful rather than a chore I have to suffer through.

Our mission president is always telling us that he doesn’t measure his success by numbers, but by how we live our lives ten or more years down the road. I think I’m starting to understand that now. The mission is as much about converting ourselves as it is the people we teach. Sometimes, as I’ve been out here, I’ll have experiences that really make the veil seem thin. These come as a result of many things, but first and foremost obedience. And that doesn’t mean just doing what you’re told, but having faith enough in God to say “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded”. Sometimes we have a lot of knowledge to base that faith on, and other times we don’t have anything at all, but as we place our trust in our Heavenly Father, we can have comfort and peace in knowing that the things he asks are for our benefit, and we eventually will know of the reasoning behind them.

For unto some it IS given to know the mysteries of God. That’s the beauty of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The mysteries of God aren’t so mysterious to us as we live them.

Anyways, that’s my schpiel today. And make no mistake, these are not my opinion but facts. Cold, hard facts. Or, I suppose in Heavenly Father’s case, Warm, fuzzy facts. Because He does love us. And now He wants me to show and tell that love to everyone. And not just me, but EVERYONE. Who are we to deny someone of that knowledge and of that joy?

Well everybody, I’ve appreciated the outpouring of letters from you. I hope you all know that each and every one is read and appreciated, and I’m sorry I can’t always respond to all of them. To those I’m unable to get to, though, just know that you are loved and appreciated. It’s those letters that keep me going sometimes. They always provide a boost at the end of a bad or even a good day, no matter where they come from.

I thank everyone for their support. Know that you’re in my thoughts, and I feel privileged to have such a wealth of friends and family rallied behind me.

-Elder Rushton

Austin’s July 2013 Pictures

Here are few pictures Austin sent home taken during July 2013. They include some MTC photos and photos of Brookings, Oregon. Click the pictures to be taken to the picture page and click again to see the full sized picture.

Week 3

Austin Rushton and Elder Argyle

Austin and Elder Argyle

So I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week. It’s been kind of just a build on last week. We had a few more lessons than normal, we got a spanish speaking member to come teach one of our investigators with us, he invited us back two more times this week…pretty cool guy there. Unfortunately, I feel like a lot of the people we teach are moving along at a snails pace. They want to LEARN, but they don’t necessarily want to CHANGE.

Anyways, our mission set a goal for 800 hours of tracting this week. That means, for our companionship, we have to do ten. We do like twelve every week anyways though. But we also have to place 20 Book of Mormons, 20 Restoration Pamphlets, 60 mormon.org cards, and get 10 new investigators. NONE OF THAT IS TYPICAL HERE.

This is going to require some pretty significant amounts of faith, I think.

Anyhow, I enjoy reading everyone’s letters. I always kind of have my jaw drop when I open my email and see fifteen letters to get through. Challenge accepted, I suppose. I guess I’ll just say straight up that I can’t always get to everyone, so sorry for that. Still, I print what I can’t take the time to read now so I can later. EVERYONE’S LETTERS DO GET READ!!!!! I try to respond to everyone, but honestly I just can’t always.

Now, written letters. I get those ALL WEEK. I can’t tell you how great it is to get home after a long day of tracting and open the mailbox to get a letter! One of my friends, Izzy, she sent me a SIX PAGE LETTER. That lasted me two days and I loved it :)

I won’t say that I like handwritten letters more than emails, because I love them both, but I do get to look at handwritten letters every night, can get them any day, and they do tend to not get lost in the thick of things.

Well, that’s the letter this week. Progress is a-coming. My companion and I are going to start keeping tracting logs so we can better invest ourselves in that aspect of missionary work. Hahaha, I kind of hate tracting so this is our effort to try and get me to like it more.

Love you all. I think of everyone lots! I’d love to hear from you again!

 

-Elder Rushton