When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    5 years, 0 months, 28 days, 1 hour, 38 minutes, 42 seconds ago

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Mid-Morning Snacks

Elder Rushton easter basket

Elder Campbell, President Davis and Elder Rushton on Easter.

Well friends, Easter has come and passed. And I have three baskets full of candy.

This is the most candy I’ve gotten on Easter in a long time! And of course it would come at the time I’m trying to lose some of my extra mission weight. It’s all just sitting on my study desk, begging to be eaten. What can I do but eat it, right?

Not to worry, though! If I eat it in the morning, it should just burn off during the day’s activities, AND will give me more energy! So I’ve been treating myself during studies the past couple days to some of my stash. I love justifying eating candy. :)

On a more spiritual note, wasn’t General Conference just awesome? I thought it was. And Brent H. Nielson, the Seventy who visited our mission twice in the past year, got to speak. I really enjoyed his talk, and it was incredibly personal and heartfelt. I have, as many of us, often had to bear that burden of watching and waiting for people to come around. But it’s always made easier by remembering that Christ does the same for me, and I always seem to come around because of it. If it works for Him, I suppose it will work for me, too. I once wrote
a talk about the same concept, only I used Plato’s Allegory of the it. I contrasted the teachings and reactions of the man who was free with that of the prisoners. The free man, when he could not convince his fellows, had to watch and wait, hoping—praying, perhaps—that they would one day realize and see what he had. Christ
affords us the ability to believe that, regardless of if those prisoners and prodigals come around, if we ourselves strive to believe and know Him, then all things will work out. What that means, I can’t say I know, but I fully intend to find out.

We are likely going to go help out our branch president today with herding some cattle. He is the manager of a very large Black Angus ranch, and offered us the chance to help him out. So obviously we jumped at the chance. He told us we could guide them down the chute for vaccinations. I don’t know what all that entails, but it sounds like something to do, so I’m sure it will be fun!

Thanks for all the letters and emails everyone. I really appreciate all of them. Have a happy Jesus’s real birthday/anniversary of the organization of the church!

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

Missionary on the Roof

Elder Austin Rushton

Elder Austin Rushton on the roof.

This week’s adventure starts on the roof of our apartment. It was a sunny afternoon during lunch when Elder Campbell felt inspired to fulfill his dream of building a fort. So, grabbing a couple tables, he stacked them and climbed up on top of the shed, then on up to the roof. I handed him one of the tables, and he brought up a bunch of wood and some nails. The only hammer around was a sledge, so he took that, too. After the materials were in place, he set to work trying to build a little shelter.

After some vain attempts, he finally nailed some boards vertically to the table, and put an old tablecloth over the top of it. It was probably the scantiest fort I’ve ever seen, but he took a picture of it. Later, when the wind blew it apart, he settled for just having the table up there, and he hoisted some chairs up to go with it. Then, so that he wouldn’t have to jump down off of the 7 foot high shed every time he wanted to get down, he dragged some old railroad ties over and leaned them against the shed to create a sort of staircase. That night, he convinced me to head on up there to plan for the next day, and  ya know, it was really fun! Our neighbor even came out and talked to us for awhile from the ground. He thought it was pretty cool, and took the time to remind us not to fall off. We sure felt accomplished.

Besides the fort adventure, we had some other successes. We found out one of our investigators in Cedarville came to church without us even knowing. We taught her the first principles and ordinances of the gospel this week and it went really well, too, so we have high hopes for her! We also taught the plan of salvation to someone in Alturas we’ve been teaching for about two weeks. Before, she told us she believed the First Vision story, and this time she actually brought up the idea on her own that the Fall of Adam and Eve was supposed to happen. That was super cool! That’s a hard concept for people to grasp sometimes. A member of the church invited her to invitation Sunday next month, and she told us she might go to it, so we’re crossing our fingers.

Another thing we had happen is that we began teaching a couple that recently moved to Alturas. We had been told by a member that they were asking about coming to the church, so we didn’t know quite what to expect but we were hopeful it would go well. We came in, sat down, and they pulled out lists of questions. Literally, notebooks came out. And the bulk of the questions were clearly from anti-Mormon writings—”When Mormons die, they believe they get their own planet to live on with all their wives?”, “Satan and Jesus are brothers?”, “Mormons believe people live on the sun and the moon?”, “The First Presidency used to make member women married to nonmembers divorce their spouses and marry members”. It got ridiculous, some of it. But they claimed that they came up with all these questions themselves through things they had read in the scriptures and in church materials, so I figured that if that was true, they wouldn’t have any issue giving us a list of their sources so we could research them ourselves, get on the same page, and give them the answers they were looking for. The lady gave us a list of scriptures, and a couple entries from the Journal of Discourses, and most of her questions seemed really sincere, e.g., she asked us about infant baptism because she had had an infant die. The man, on the other hand, provided no such list, and frankly seemed indifferent about any of the answers we did give. So we are still unsure of them, but we’ll be nice to them and respectful and hopefully that will soften them up a little so they can be more open and honest with us, because right now they are understandably a little cautious.

Thanks for writing, everyone! Your letters and emails are appreciated!

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

The American Dream

Elder Austin Rushton

Austin eating some Rocky Mountain Oysters

Well friends and family, transfers have come and gone, and Elder Campbell and I will be staying here in Alturas for another six weeks! There was one change though: I was released as a district leader. I
gave it a good run, though! Seven and a half months! Plus I learned a ton from the experience, and made some great friends along the way. I am confident, though, that the Lord needs me where I am now too, and
I’m sure more great experiences will follow.

Besides transfers, I did some truly American things this week. I got to work with cows! Specifically, I got to help rope, vaccinate, tag, brand, and castrate a bunch of calves out in Cedarville. That’s right; I got to emasculate a bunch of cows. We did it the old-fashioned way, not with our teeth (we’re not THAT old-fashioned), but with a knife and our bare hands. We would cut the scrotum open, and then push the testicles into a position where we could handle them. Then we just grabbed hold and pulled them out. Of course, then we had to grab the vessel they had been attached to and cut it closer so it wouldn’t get infected, and put some stuff on there to coagulate the wound more quickly. It was a little scary to see how easily those things can pop out! Despite the pain from that, though, the calf’s always seemed more pained by the branding. The guy we were helping told us, “Even though we’re putting them through all this trauma, the sooner we get them to their mothers, the happier they’ll be,” so we just tried to go quickly. The whole project still took about four hours, though.

We did all this as a service project for one of our investigators out there, and we were grateful for the chance! Our Branch Mission Leader  also came with us. He used to teach agriculture at the school in Cedarville, so he was the one who taught the investigator all he knew about the practice, and he is how we lined up the project.

As we castrated, the Branch Mission leader saved the severed testicles, and later in the day he cooked them for us, and I tried my first ever Rocky Mountain Oysters. actually weren’t half bad, just tasted like chewy beef, but I did have to keep pushing the image out of my mind of where they came from in order to really enjoy them. Poor cows…

Besides the project, not too many other exciting things happened this week. It’s a small town, what can I say? I did get to go on an exchange with a Zone Leader down here, and that was super fun, but all we did was the same old work! And made a bunch of milkshakes out of milk and ice cream, hahaha. Oh! And we had a zone potluck the next day so I made….wait for it….JELLO! I had never done that before, but it was super easy and fun, and everyone loved it.

I was also asked to play the piano for sacrament meeting on April 11th, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve never really performed for any sort of function on the piano before. I hope it works out!

Thanks everyone for all the letters and things, and I hope you all have a great week this week!

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

“You’re Dumb!” and the Temple

Elder Campbell and Elder Rushton

Elder Campbell and Elder Rushton at the Nevada state line.

We got the chance, once again, to attend the temple. This is the third time I’ve gone to the Medford temple and the fifth time I’ve gone while on my mission. It is a unique experience every time.

We made the drive from Alturas to Klamath Falls the night before. Both Elder Campbell and I and the Lakeview Elders (who have an equally long drive) slept over at the Zone Leaders’ apartment. As one might expect
from a group of young men having a sleepover and excited to go to the temple, we had a lot of fun that night. Elder Mitchell, our zone leader, played some Pictionary with us on their new big whiteboards. That degraded quickly into making some pretty ridiculous drawings, and I learned that you can make any animal or human you draw look infinitely more stupid by giving it a unibrow and setting its pupils in different directions. We did this to several animals—a gorilla, an alligator, and so on—and formed the phrase of the night,  “You’re dumb!”
It was a good night.

In the morning, we filed into a minivan with both sets of the Spanish missionaries. The route they took to the temple was unorthodox, and included many sharp curves and hills. It was sort of like riding a roller coaster, but was made semi-irritating by the fact that I was crammed in the back with two other elders. Still, we made
it, and had some fun along the way.

This time inside the temple I felt to watch the temple workers more than I had in the past, the reason being that the Medford Temple President testified to us in the last stake conference of their greatness. I realized something this last Tuesday as I watched them. They thanked US for coming to the temple. They help US through all of the ordinances. These men and women who devote so many hours each week to serving the Lord, who are entrusted to perform His most holy ordinances for His children, humble themselves before the guests of the temple. I learned the true meaning of what it means to be great—that he who is the greatest is the least of all, and the least of all is the greatest; the master is the servant of all, and the servant of all is the master.

We arrived back in Alturas late that night after driving for over four hours of the day. The rest of the week was filled with tracting and contacting others. We set up a few appointments and had one new investigator tell us that she believed the Joseph Smith story, so it wasn’t for nothing at least.

Thanks everyone for writing, and for just being the good people you are. I hope you all have a great week!

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

You Know You’re a Mormon in a Small Town….

Elder Austin Rushton and Elder Campbell

Elder Rushton and Elder Campbell

So as I was reporting to my family this week on what was happening, I mentioned to them that my companion hit a quail with a rock, and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “You know you’re in a small town when one of the highlights of your week is seeing someone else hit a quail with a rock.” So for my email this week, I’m going to just report a few other ways I know I’m in a small town.

You know you’re a Mormon in a small town…
1)When another highlight of your week is seeing your companion hit a deer in the face with a rock
2)If you stop occasionally to watch the local farmers shoot the ground squirrels from 100 yards away
3)When you help someone move something and everyone in town mentions it to you
4)If people are glad just to talk to someone new in town, even the missionaries of another church
5)If everything in stores is twice as expensive as anywhere else
6)If you call squishing things on the train tracks a recreational activity
7)If an intersection only gets crowded when someone calls 911
8)When the Sheriff calls you back if you pocket dial 911 even for a second
9)If searching lds.org for funny pictures is a hobby of yours
10)When going out of town entails at least a half hour drive
11)When the town’s best cuisine is called “awful” by someone visiting you
12)When there are more cows around than there are people
13)If deer roam the streets in herds of 10-15
14)When you count chasing deer as an acceptable form of fun
15)When the town goes to bed at 7:00.
16) If pushing a large, loose boulder off of a tall hill starts to seem like a great idea

So there are some insights for you!

We’ve been tracting and contacting basically all day every day. All our lessons but one this week were out in the other branch we cover—Cedarville—and were arranged by the branch mission leader there. This was my first time going there to teach, and it was a lot of fun! I guess the missionaries in the past have gone weekly. But Cedarville literally has only one street with a few small shops on it. The rest is just some small houses; none of them too far from that one main road, except for a few houses that people would only move to to get
away from everyone.

We did get our new 32 GB iPads this week at Zone Conference! So that was cool. But I’ve had to reload everything onto it again, which is not so fun. But hey, at least we have them!

I also gave a talk in sacrament meeting this week. They asked me to just talk about how I gained a testimony and some of my experiences on my mission, so I had a great opportunity to reflect on where it all started for me. I realized how important it was for me to have had my family teach me all they did so early on, e.g., my mom showed me when I was very little that prayer could help me if I had a bad dream or was scared. Those are the experiences that I decided were really the foundation of a testimony for me. If I hadn’t learned that prayers worked or how to pray, where would I be now?

That’s about all I’ve got this week! Thanks for reading everyone!

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