When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    4 years, 1 month, 3 days, 14 hours, 54 minutes, 17 seconds ago

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Utah County

Elder Austin Rushton and companions

Elder Austin Rushton and Companions

My trainer and first companion in the field was Elder Argyle from Spanish Fork, Utah. Now my final companion is Elder Townsend from American Fork, Utah. They are the only two companions I’ve had throughout my whole mission who have been from Utah County. The first and the last. Granted they are two drastically different individuals—Argyle was a football and baseball star while Townsend is a marching band guy like me—but they are the only two companions I’ve been able to talk about certain things with. For example, the Purple Turtle, the Gandolfo’s I worked at, the space center, and all the local celebrations around the county. It’s also been great to talk music with a companion who actually knows something about it beyond just that he likes it! What’s more, we were at most of the same marching band competitions, and other festivals and Elder Townsend even knows a few of the people I do. We have had a lot to talk about!

One thing I found out when I first went to college at Weber State University is the amount of contempt some people hold for Utah County within the state of Utah. Now, on my mission, I’ve found that it’s essentially the same feeling the rest of the nation holds towards the state of Utah! :D So it’s totally fitting that Utah County is named “Utah”, because as the USA is to Utah, Utah is to Utah County!

So what’s that whole attitude about? Usually its manifest in the accusation that those from Utah (county or state, whichever you feel inclined to imagine) think they’re better than everyone else. There’s also the accusation that people from Utah (the state or the county) are too sheltered. Now I’m not going to say those imagined “Utah” attitudes don’t exist, but I’m not going to say they’re the dominant attitude of Utah either. What I am going to say, though, is that I’m glad to finally have a companion who is not going to criticize my home. :)

Elder Townsend and I saw some great things happen this week. We work really well together! We saw two new faces at church from our investigator pool, we began teaching someone brand new whose major belief is that everything happens according to God’s plan (which is a plan of happiness), and a sister in the branch is going to start having us teach a woman who came to church with her. We have a lot going for us! Cedarville is also coming along well. We committed our baptismal candidate—to the Word of Wisdom last week. She is getting closer and closer, and hopefully everything will work out and she’ll be baptized on the last Saturday of this transfer

Not much else to report on this week. Well there is, but most of it falls under the category of “Stories for After the Mission” or “Unimportant Details and Miscellaneous Lessons”. So I’ll talk about it all when I get home, I’m sure!

A big thank you, again, to all of you who support me financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Much love,
Elder Rushton—Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Party in Klamath

Elder Austin Rushton bowling

Austin and his companions bowling.

So I’m getting a new companion today for my final transfer—Elder Townsend from American Fork. He’s super great and has been out since July of 2013. I’m sad to lose Elder Campbell, though. I guess I was more attached to him than I thought. He’s kind of like my brother—we get along most of the time, fight sometimes, but always come out on top. Truly the time I spent with him will be unforgettable.

This past week we put someone on a baptismal date for June 13th. She has been investigating for some time, but in the last month or so she has been speeding up in her progress exponentially. It has been really exciting. If that pans out, it will be the last thing I do before I go home. Hopefully it does work out!

We also found someone new who is interested in joining the church. He is super cool and is already living most of the standards. He also already knows most of the branch in Cedarville. So hopefully that will go quickly too!

Lately we’ve been working on our obsidian working. It has been intense. Elder Campbell got really good at it! Me…I’m trying to,hahaha!

So now we’re in Klamath for the day, and I’m hanging out with Elder West and Elder Jamison from Tulelake and Elder Grantham, my buddy who’s serving in Klamath Falls. So I guess I’ll go chill!

-Until next week!

Elder Austin Rushton

B-Earth Day

Elder Austin Rushton as spiderman

Elder Austin Rushton the superhero missionary!

Hello everybody! Thank you all for the birthday wishes, presents, and cards this week! I can hardly believe I’m 21, personally but that’s what it says on my driver’s license so it must be true!

This past week was great. To celebrate my birthday, my companion and I got up on the roof of our apartment to plan for the night. My parents had sent me a 50-pack of glow sticks, so we brought those up, too. It was a party, let me tell ya!

Besides the roof party, we had a great week in terms of missionary work as well. This Sunday was invitation Sunday, and we had plenty of investigators attend, including a younger couple who are considering baptism. We taught that couple on Saturday the day before, and they are just so cool. David, the husband, let us try out his throwing knives after our lesson, and I got the second one I threw to stick in the target! Too bad that was all I got the whole time, hahaha. David also got us started into making obsidian arrowheads. We’ve been chiseling away at pieces of obsidian when we have a little bit of time. It’s really cool but really dangerous too. Obsidian is as sharp as broken glass, so I always wear safety goggles when working with it. I just wish those goggles protected my hands too!

We also got to speak in sacrament meeting over in Cedarville. Elder Campbell gave a talk on the Restoration of the Gospel, and I spoke about the Savior, Jesus Christ. It went really well, and I learned a lot from preparing it! Like that Christ is constant throughout everything we teach and do, and when we fail to relate things back to Him, we really miss the whole point. Fast offerings, tithing, the word of wisdom, the Spirit World, the Fall of Adam and Eve: all of these ought to remind us that we are totally dependent upon Jesus Christ—someone who loves us and won’t let us fail. He is always there for us, and will help us through everything. We will “be able to endure all things” through Him (see Article of Faith #13).

I got to travel up to Lakeview, Oregon on Friday for an exchange. I hooked up with Elder Flora, who I haven’t been on an exchange with for about a year now. We had an awesome time, taught a lesson to two of the coolest people I have ever met (they’re real close to getting baptized, too), and he took me by a couple of the sights around Lakeview, including a pretty sweet geyser. Saturday morning, before we exchanged back, he and I went to a service project to help someone in the ward move. Unfortunately, the guy moving had loads of stuff. Practically everyone in the ward who owned a truck showed up to help out, and we were moving things out of his shop that were heavier than anything I’ve ever tried to move: heavy machinery and solid steel. Elder Flora and I got assigned later on to remove a wire fence, which would have been fairly easy except that we had to pull the posts out of the ground by hand. They were those big green metal ones with some wings on the bottom to hold them in the dirt better. The first two I really struggled with, but eventually we got it down to a science where we would move the posts around until the dirt was loose, then pull them out. Regardless, I was exhausted by the time I got back to Alturas.

Another service project Elder Campbell and I took part in was on Thursday. We were out in Cedarville with the Branch Mission Leader there, Brother Oilar, and were visiting a Recent Convert in Nevada. We had brought our service clothes along so we offered to help him move some boulders with his tractor. Sounds simple right? Wrong.

As most people know, tractors have only one seat. We piled four people onto it. The recent convert drove, I stood on the step up to the driver’s seat, and my companion and Brother Oilar stood on the back thingy (I don’t know what it’s called but it looked like some kind of scoop) and hung onto the bar between themselves and the driver’s seat. The ride itself was already over dirt, but then our recent convert hit a rock the made the tractor prop up sideways. We about tipped over. When we came back down, I just about fell off but was fortunate to have good footing to catch myself. Brother Oilar had a death grip on the sturdiest part of that bar I mentioned, so he was alright too. As for Elder Campbell, he was not so lucky. He had worn leather-soled shoes and didn’t have a tight grip on the bar, so when the tractor swayed like it did, it threw him off. He had just enough time, thankfully, to jump, do a 360-degree spin, and land on his feet about half a yard from the tractor. The only injury he got was from his momentum, which carried him into a barbed-wire fence where he scratched part of his knuckle. It wasn’t so bad, though, so we loaded up three great big boulders, came back down to unload them, and then carried on our way!

So there you go, now you have lived through part of my week with me! It was really fun, and hopefully this week will go just as well. We have a lot of appointments lined up, so we’re excited!

Much love,

Elder Rushton—Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

To Be Honest, I’m Not Gonna Lie

Elder Rushton and Elder Cambpell

Elder Rushton and Elder Campbell at Medford, Oregon Temple

I had a companion once who used to really dislike preface phrases like, “To be honest,” “I’m not gonna lie,” and “The fact is.” His reasoning was, “Why do you need to say that? Do you normally lie to me? Do you normally not give facts?” I didn’t really understand why he would bring this up over and over and get so worked up about it, but I did think it was a little funny for a missionary to become so defensive and critical about such a small thing, especially when I was the object of criticism.

I was taught a valuable lesson this week in interviews with my mission president. He told me that some people have very different ways of expressing themselves than we’re used to, especially when it comes to love. He used the example of when a little boy likes a little girl, he throws rocks at her. Personally, I more often than not find myself in the shoes of the boy in that example—expressing myself, and not really thinking that others may not react the way I want them to. But how does a boy expect a girl to react when he throws rocks at her? Does he think she’ll laugh and say she thinks he’s funny? Does he think about her feelings at all?

Far more likely than a positive reaction on the girl’s part is a negative one. She may run away crying. She may get her older brother to come beat the living tar out of the little boy. Regardless, the lesson the little boy must learn is one of compassion, and is generally obvious. He should think about the girl’s potential feelings before acting.

The lesson I learned this week, though, is that there is a lesson the little girl must learn, too. No, it isn’t that she should retaliate against little boys with their rocks and it isn’t that she should run and hide for the rest of her life. It is essentially the same one the little boy must learn: to consider the other person’s feelings before reacting. How would the boy feel if she ran away or retaliated? He would likely feel bad. He may even begin hating the girl for making him feel that way. So what should SHE do to avoid that? What CAN she do?

The answer I found is that determining the proper course of action begins with understanding that message my mission president gave me: that some people express love in very different ways than we expect. Some people express love by giving harsh criticisms or compelling others to do what they themselves are afraid to do. Parents sometimes express love for their children by constantly pressuring them to go to college, get good grades, or otherwise be successful. God tells us, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” (See Rev.3:19) It may not make sense to us in the moment why they do what they do—why a little boy throws rocks at a little girl—but I promise that it is an expression of love.

So how do we react when we have metaphorical rocks slung at us? Remember the Savior, and what He did. It takes sacrifice, courage, and faith, but we simply accept those who pain us anyways. “Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” (Matthew5:41). We understand that they love us, and look for how their actions are an expression of love. This is not to say that we immediately allow that little boy to keep throwing rocks at us—that would only cause both parties more trouble—but perhaps we could talk to him about it. Perhaps we could reason with him, and show him the consequences of his actions before he hits us. Though it may seem impossible, perhaps there is a justifiable, loving reason he is throwing those rocks. Maybe we could spend a little more time with him, and use the mediums of love we have found so rewarding. We might ask a trusted adult what to do, and perhaps they could tell us what to do, or even talk to the boy for us. Regardless, there is a way for both parties to be satisfied. Granted it takes a little more courage and faith and work to take the time to talk, but it is infinitely more rewarding than running away or fighting.

So there is my sermon! And my lesson I learned this week!

Besides that, a couple significant events:

-My dad is one of the top 5% of field technicians in the nation for customer service! This was cool news!

-We had two investigators who bombarded themselves with anti-mormon literature a couple weeks back participate in a Relief Society appreciation dinner. They experienced a complete change of heart, and are talking about getting baptized. They didn’t even bring up the anti-stuff again.

-We are speaking in sacrament meeting in Cedarville this coming Sunday!

-We helped an investigator in Cedarville organize her thrift shop, and it took hours. We still aren’t finished, but at least we got most of the clothes into one place!

Okay, so there’s a basic little outline of my week. I hope it was enough! The main thing for me really was learning that lesson, though, so I really wanted to share that and I hope someone benefits from it.

Love you all, thanks for all the birthday wishes, and I’ll talk to you all soon!
Elder Rushton—Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Numbers, Numbers, Everywhere!

Elder Austin Rushton Medford, Oregon Temple

Elder Austin Rushton at Medford, Oregon Temple

There is a lesson that is of the utmost value every missionary who wishes to find joy in the work must learn. It is that the work that counts most is the work recognized by God alone. It is personal repentance and growth, saying hi to people you know when you’d rather just get in and out of the store and go do something fun, and perhaps taking time to buy a treat for the children of the families you teach. It is making sure to have a connection with every member of the ward you’re serving in, regardless of if you click well with them or not. It is choosing to be nice to everyone, even when you feel otherwise.

That being said, sometimes its easy to imagine that no one sees our sacrifice. Our suffering. How can we possibly reach out when we are not being reached out to? How can we take care of someone else and ourselves at the same time?

The simple answer? Don’t worry about it.

Jesus Christ watches over us. All of us. You and your friends and family included. He is able to take care of everything. In fact, He IS taking care of all of it in His own way, which is perfect by the way. The only real question is whether we believe in Him or not. Do we believe He’s there? Do we believe He has all power? Do we believe He will use that power to bring about ultimate good? I hope we’re all able to answer yes, yes, and yes, because that is the God I know.

We are taken care of. Our friends and family are too. The whole world is. All things will be “restored to their proper and perfect frame”, and things will turn out perfectly. We just have to decide if we believe that or not, and that choice we make determines whether we will be happy or miserable. Personally, I choose to trust the Lord.

We had some great things happen this week. We taught a spectacular number of lessons for this small area. We also discovered a bunch of new people willing to let us teach them. But let me again stress that this is not what is important. What is important is that most weeks we DONT see such results. What is important is that, even though we don’t usually see these results, we keep trying. We don’t let depression take over, and we don’t quit. Just staying out on a mission is really the basis of accomplishment; learning that the Lord is pleased with all our efforts to do good is the foundation for happiness. And, of course, the Lord rewards in kind, whether now or later.

So let me tell about some of the miracles now.

First of all, something small. There was rain. And snow. All of Modoc County is in a severe drought right now, and it was much needed.

Secondly, we got to meet one of the nicest people out in the country. She is a Seventh-day Adventist, but she still talked to us while she gathered eggs from her chickens. I got to speak to her awhile while her seven-year-old daughter played soccer with my companion, Elder Campbell. It was a very positive experience, and we’ll be going back there in a week or so.

I’ll mention another less-active member we meet with on occasion. He’s not totally capable of understanding all we teach, so often we’ll just joke around with him a little and talk awhile before we give a brief spiritual message. He lives alone, so I always imagined that maybe in some way our visits at least helped him socially. That was confirmed, though, last time. He said a prayer for us this before we left, though, and said, “Thank you for the Elders. I wish that they could stay longer.” It was like God’s pat on the back for taking time we could have spent elsewhere on someone who really needed us.

Anyways, I hope all my friends and family back home can experience the same joys I have in the small day-to-day things. I never get tired of the little miracles like the sun rising, the flowers blooming, or a breeze on a hot day. And the miracle, of course, that just visiting someone and talking awhile can make a world of difference.

Love all of you. Thank you all for being the essential parts of my life. I don’t know what I’d do without you! (Probably nothing!)
Elder Rushton—Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints