When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    5 years, 0 months, 28 days, 1 hour, 41 minutes, 12 seconds ago

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To Whom It May Concern 10/6/2014

Elder Austin Rushton with squash

Elder Austin Rushton testing the tonality of a squash.

I am getting a new companion. Elder Scott. He is…an intriguing young man. But I’m sure we’ll do marvelously. I’ve gotten a slew of interesting companions lately. Ones with reputations. Not necessarily bad ones, but just unique ones. And each one more unique than the last! But here’s the really weird thing… I’m fine with it. The oddballs have always been the ones I belonged with! So, in a way, all that’s really happened is that I got placed back within my niche! Glad I could find my way into it again!

I am still the district leader here. Our entire zone got filled out with nerds, too, so this transfer should be at least a little different from any of my past ones. Probably a few Nerf wars will be coming.

We had a few people tell us, again, that they wanted to be baptized. We have probably three or four people that will definitely be baptized; it’s just a matter of when with all of them. But they’ve all already made the decision to become Mormons, so once they buckle down and just do it; they’ll be there in no time at all.

I am glad to be taking over an area again. I enjoy being able to be the one in charge of making plans and things because it lets me lock in my schedule, rather than praying the guy I’m with knows what he’s doing. However, it also means my workload gets increased, so I don’t like that part of it. I like being able to just follow my companion around sometimes and not think of much besides the next lesson,   hahaha…

Not much else to talk about this week. I did have one investigator ask me to string a guitar for her, so that’ll be coming up soon. Glad I had a dad to teach me how to do that! Good day to you, friends!

Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Pizza Should Not be Had for More than One Meal a Day 9/29/2014

Austin Rushton gnat ride

Austin covered with gnats after biking

Last P-Day (Monday), our zone held a miniature Olympics. We divided up by districts and competed in four little events. Well…my district won. And that was all well and good–we won a pizza party–but I did have to eat eighteen large marshmallows in two minutes to take second place in my event, so I was feeling a little groggy in the stomach after that. I also lost the magnet to my casual nametag, so I had to spend a lot of time searching for that. Overall, though, it was all worth it!

So, come Friday (district meeting), after we built some straw-and-masking-tape rafts for a team-building activity, we got our party with five large pizzas for eight people. Elder Johanson made me show everyone my ability to eat an entire piece in one bite, but other than that it was delicious and enjoyable. But then came dinner, and they couldn’t be around to feed us, so they got us some pizza! And then the next day for dinner…a pizza buffet! So I am effectively pizza-d out this week.

Besides my extremely unhealthy diet, the week was full of the usual stuff. Giving blessings to people in the hospital in our area, getting people to church, visiting people who didn’t come to church and asking them why they didn’t come…it’s the same story all the time! We did get a couple people to church yesterday who I haven’t seen come before, so that was neat. One is a less-than-active member who associates herself with our church, but believes strongly in the concept of the Trinity. This week, though, she decided she didn’t like the fact that the Catholic church had made zero efforts to reach out to her since she stopped going there, so she decided to head on over to ours!

We were also able to hook up with a less-active guy this week who just got out of jail. He seems like a nice enough guy, and he was only in there for not paying enough child support (he was paying some, but didn’t make enough to pay the full amount). But still, as strange as it sounds, I think jail was a good thing for him because he really capitalized on the situation. He took the chance to read the entire Bible and Book of Mormon and share the message with other people in there. Jail strengthened his own conversion! So that was neat to see someone do that. The other guy we meet with that’s still in jail is making excellent progress, too. He is soaking everything in, and is almost done reading the Book of Mormon for the second time! He hadn’t even really heard of Jesus Christ when missionaries first started meeting with him, and now he knows more than most people in the world do! It’s kind of crazy how that happens. I think I understand a little more why God allowed so many of his prophets to be thrown in prison!

Okay everyone, sorry for the short email, but that’s what I’ve got this week. Thank you all for your support, and have a blessed week. Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Check Yo-Self!

Austin Rushton gets a ride

Austin at the Missionary games.

Okay people, I have some legit stories this week.

So we got a text message last Monday from our black Christian rapper investigator,  with one word in it, “Brethren”. Upon further inquiry, we were told that he wanted to meet with us this week. We couldn’t fit him in Tuesday, so we got over there first thing Wednesday morning. When we sat down to talk, he told us he had knelt down and prayed before going to bed for God to show him what to do next, and that night he had a dream.
So he told us he still wasn’t totally sure what it all meant, but he knew he had to keep meeting with us to increase his faith for whatever reason. He told us he wanted to come to church too, so on Sunday he showed up with his two boys (10 & 11). We were so excited, but alas, things can never go completely right, can they?
Well, our investigator had his trial by fire at church. It was one of those disasters you only hear about and never think you’ll experience. First of all, the talks in sacrament were bad. Just not good at all for a newcomer. We heard all about the “Patriarchal Order” from the first talk, and the second one was really disjointed, but its two main points were chastisement for those not holding weekly family home evenings and also that we should all eat healthy. The second speaker also took special care to plug that hamburgers and hotdogs were the worst possible thing you could do to your body, and got really emotional when he talked about his friend deciding to start BIKING to work.
One of the speakers had mentioned that his friend from Africa was in the audience today to hear him speak too, so after the meeting, everyone was coming up to our investigator and asking him “Are you the one from Africa?” Crazy white folk…
I thought it couldn’t get any worse, but I was sorely mistaken. You see, our investigator is a Christian rapper fixed on fulfilling the “divine commission”. He quotes from Isaiah to us regularly. So a Gospel Principles class full of lifetime high priest members was just a recipe for disaster. The lesson just happened to be on Adam and Eve, and all the members in the room were talking about what a blessing the fall was, and how joyous an occasion it was. Add in the speculation that Adam and Eve knew everything that would happen before they ate the fruit and you have got a classroom full of, what looked like to him, some seriously messed up people. So he voiced his concern calmly and collectedly, because he is a really nice, intelligent guy. He said that joy didn’t come by Adam and Eve’s transgression, but it came by the grace of God. He warned that we not over-focus on the Fall for fear that we might justify sin.
And you know what he got? Hammered with disapproval. People were trying to tell him why the Fall was so great and no one even mentioned the word Jesus Christ for a solid fifteen minutes. It was SOOO uncomfortable! The exchange of words was basically mormons using their extra scriptures to tell him to worship Adam and Eve, or at least that’s what would be perceived by anyone without LDS background. It wasn’t until our assistant ward mission leader and a new face to the ward stepped in that things began to cool off. They were able to testify of CHRIST and say that the Fall made it possible to experience Christ’s grace. They acknowledged that our investigators input was valid. Finally, the two parties were reconciled. It was really admirable of him to stay as cool as he did during all of it. Most people would have up and left the room with that kind of heat on them, especially being brand new to it.
Then our investigator went on a walk (probably because of the ordeal in Sunday School) without telling us, and we spent the next fifteen minutes in panic looking for him. We were able to find him, though, and get him to Elders Quorum. And as if it hadn’t been a rough enough Sunday already, the lesson in there was on Temples and doing work for the dead. By this time, though, we were all so burned out by the day that we all just hung out quietly in the back.
We had to apologize to him afterwards for the experience he had. There were people after Sunday School apologizing too and thanking him for his input. But man, it was just really bad. Still, the end of the day seemed to give us some peace of mind. His kids loved Primary, and he asked if we could come over even later that same day. We couldn’t so we scheduled to meet Tuesday.
I learned something from this whole experience, though. It’s that faith transcends bad experiences. It’s that the doctrine the church is built on is not owned by it, but stands independent. Our investigator,  despite all that happened, is still willing to meet with and talk to us. He’ll have questions; how can he not? But that’s okay, we can handle those. What he’s tapped into on his own, though, is faith. He has faith enough in us because of the dream God gave him to keep meeting with us. That is the x-factor that we gain when we are living worthily.
That’s been my emphasis with my district because I see it time and again. When we live the commandments–when we don’t fight, seek to cause harm, lie, or argue, and instead build each other, the human family, up–miracles happen. Miracles like dreams, miracles like money right at the right time, and various others. Every single true conversion starts with one, and when they don’t occur it’s because we lack the faith to keep the commandments. I have found that the key to success in missionary work is in simply living the commandments, and then God leads me to the right people right at the right time.
That was the main theme of this week was this experience at church,  but the usual stuff happened too. Basic lessons, trying to stay out of the spotlight of the higher-ups, so on and so forth. It was a good week, actually, and even our experience at church was alleviated by the fact that our investigator still is willing to talk.
Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The Second Week Transition

Elder Austin Rushton selfie

Elder Austin Rushton takes a selfie.

Usually, in the first week of a transfer after having received a new companion, missionaries tend to actually have a lot of success. Everyone is determined to start off the transfer right. However, while the first week of a transfer is usually an above average week, the second week is almost always a BELOW average week. There are a number of contributing factors, but generally this is the case throughout the mission, and this week was no exception.

As a district leader, I not only get to see it in my own area, but everyone else’s as well. Last night, when I called to touch base with everyone, people were exhausted with little or nothing to show for their efforts. Consistently, and that includes from myself as well, I heard the same story: appointments with people from last week didn’t pan out this week. It’s funny how that happens, but that is, again, almost always the case in a second week.

Elder Johanson and I did still have a decent week, though. A big highlight was having a couple of our investigators say, “I want to be baptized,” and/or, “I want to become a Mormon.” Obviously these people have a couple things to correct (an unmarried couple living together, word of wisdom issues, coming to church, etc.) before they can fulfill those desires, but where there is a will; there is most definitely a way. It looks like I’ll hopefully get to keep my streak going of at least one baptism per area going here!

This week we got to do some more service for people. I love doing service because it’s so easy to look back on what you’ve accomplished, pat yourself on the back, and say, “Job well done!” We got to team up with 10-14 other missionaries for one project that included clearing big blackberry bushes out of a backyard that was around 60% overrun with them. We worked at that project for around three hours. There was a shortage of tools at first, too, so I used a pickaxe to cut branches and dig up roots for probably two of those hours. It was especially funny, though, to see Elder Johanson go at the bushes with a machete. After the project was done, I had small cuts everywhere and my back was a little sore, but the woman we performed the service for (a nonmember) was so grateful she bought us a bunch of pizzas and started talking religion with one of our zone leaders. Mission accomplished!

Elder Johanson and I also got to do some more painting this week! I am going to be a master of paint by the end of my mission! But here’s the unique thing about this one: it was for another church! I got to paint a room inside their church. We got hooked up with it through the youth pastor we meet with occasionally. He was redoing the “high school room”, so we offered to help and he accepted it. We had a few people walk in while we were doing it and go, “Wow, thanks you guys! This is really nice of you!” Missionary work at its finest, if I say so myself!

The last thing I’ll plug into this letter is that I got to teach a section of Zone Training Meeting (ZTM) on Friday morning. They asked me the night before if I would teach for 10-15 minutes on “Exact Obedience”. So obviously I said yes and had about 14 hours before I had to teach it. I honestly didn’t know even how to teach it at first because obviously I am not perfectly obedient on everything. Then I remembered that no one else is perfect either, so I talked all about what the word “exact” meant (for those of you who are wondering, when we use it in the context of “exact obedience”, we are not expecting perfection right away, nor are we asking missionaries to be perfect immediately, but we are asking that they keep themselves WORTHY; that they continually strive to be perfect and not become frustrated or impatient when they make a mistake). It went over well, though, and I had lots of people tell me it was their favorite part of ZTM.

So that was my week. It’s been fun and stressful, but I’m still chugging!

Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints


Journeys in Springfield


Alright everyone, I’ve been here in Springfield for a whole week now. And boy. Do. I. Have. Stories.

Eugene and Springfield from Mount Pisgah

Eugene and Springfield from Mount Pisgah

The Eugene area was interesting the last time I was here, but I’m realizing that there is no standardized culture of Eugene. The culture is different from person to person; the culture is to be as weird or unique as possible. So it creates some interesting stories.

There was one lady we met with who had been meeting with the missionaries for awhile and was close to being baptized, but recently the issue had come up that she may have been an excommunicated member. Well she didn’t have any recollections of ever even being a member….so yeah. So we pulled her records, and blam! She’s actually still a member in full fellowship. So there you go. No baptism for us, but one of our “investigators” became a member.

Another woman we met with came out to us on her porch so depressed she was distraught. She kept telling us how she had no friends and she was ugly and she cried herself to sleep every night….it was bad. She is in a bad spot financially, has no job, and has a criminal record which makes finding a decent job difficult. She gets so discouraged and scared that she hasn’t even found it in her to go apply for jobs. So we spent about an hour just convincing her to read a scripture with us, then we read parts of Alma chapter 36 with her. We were able to talk to her about finding joy despite our circumstances. We talked to her for a long time, but eventually she was able to pick herself up and resolve to try writing up her resumé again. She also said she’d finish Alma 36.

We also taught a guy, who is a rapper, but his thing is that he raps for Jesus! He even has a tattoo on his right arm that’s captioned, “Black Jesus”. He lent us a couple of his CDs (surprisingly professionally done) and they don’t swear at all and they’re all about being a good disciple and Christ and stuff. I’ll have to send a copy home. He honestly is a super awesome dude, and he calls us his brothers in Christ.

We did get to teach a pretty awesome couple, though. Mmm…well…I say “couple”, but they’re actually just a man and a woman living together as roommates who sleep in separate bunk beds. They’re recovering alcoholics, too. But the girl actually referred herself through the internet after researching the church for awhile. She already seems ready to be baptized, but she basically told us when we met with her to teach to the guy she’s living with because she would like him to know what she does. They’re both super humble people, though, and they both came to church this week.

Man, this week has been hard mentally. I’ve been trying to learn the ward, all the people in the teaching pool, and how to function as a district leader since I’ve never done it before. To top it all, I had my old trainer and current AP, Elder Argyle, sit in on my first district meeting. That was…intimidating. But hey, I survived! And I’m doing alright :) Hopefully I can hear from all of you soon. Have an awesome week!

Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints