When Will Austin Be Home?

  • Austin left on his mission:
    4 years, 4 months, 4 days, 5 hours, 14 minutes, 25 seconds ago

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Fare-thee-well Trailers!

Elder Austin Rushton with Slurpee

Elder Austin Rushton enjoying a Slurpee!

This week I got the news that I would be saying goodbye to White City and hello again to Eugene! I am going to be serving in Springfield (the Siamese twin city to Eugene) in the 1st Ward, which actually borders my old area: Santa Clara 6th Ward. I’m also going to be serving as a District Leader, so I will now have lackeys! Just kidding…but I will get the chance to hopefully help out some people in whatever small way I can.

My last week in White City flew by! We got the chance again to serve food in St. Vincent De Paul’s kitchen service again, so that’s always fun. A lot of the people that come into there for food probably don’t need it and are just taking advantage of the system, but we do it for the few that really do just need a helping hand. Surprisingly, those people who take advantage of it are pretty picky about the food. We even had a guy come back after he had eaten and tell us we didn’t know how to cook vegetables right. People are pretty strange…Oregon never ceases to amaze me.

We actually had a very good week for lessons, but now that I’m leaving I guess that was my final goodbye with a lot of those people. Sunday in church there was actually a little time left at the end of sacrament, so I was invited up to bear a last-goodbye testimony. People were pretty chill about me leaving, though. I didn’t know how to feel about that. I guess they’ve just seen enough missionaries come and go. There were a couple people who were pretty sad to see me go, though. In particular, my convert and a Mexican family I was really close with both were sad to see me go. I actually spent the greater part of Sunday evening with the family eating dinner, taking pictures, and so on. I’m sad to leave White City, but it really is just one more step in my mission.

Well everybody, stay tuned because my adventure as District Leader Rushton in Springfield is just starting to begin. Exciting times are surely ahead, especially as I re-enter the weirdness of Eugene. Thanks everyone for all your support and I’ll write to all of you later! Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Baptism!

Elder Martin and Elder Rushton

Elder Martin and Elder Rushton

Baptism!!

So my right arm is randomly twitching and spasming while I write this….hopefully this doesn’t make my email take forever to write.

We had a great week this week, but quite obviously it all revolved around our baptism on Saturday. The rest of the week was good, but pretty plain (except for one thing I’ll mention later), and a lot of time was spent trying to get everything ready to go for Saturday. Sister S, our newest convert, actually built her whole program. She didn’t really even take suggestions! She already knew who she wanted for everything. One thing surprised me though….
She asked ME to baptize her!

I was pretty in shock about that. I had never once even PRACTICED baptizing someone before. So ever since Monday of last week I was pretty antsy about that, but I did it right in one try, so I guess someone was looking out for me. The rest of the baptism went spectacularly, too. Our bishop gave a great talk on the Holy Ghost, and Sister S had actually requested that one convert member of about two years give a talk on baptism. This convert member was so honored, even though she didn’t really even know Sharee, and she gave probably the best, most appropriate baptismal talk I have ever heard! On top of it all, Sister S’s husband (a nonmember) and son (who is going to be baptized this Saturday in a different area) both attended the service! They got there about a half hour early, so we got to talk to both of them a little more about the church while we waited for people to show up.

There was really only one flaw….WE FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE DRESSED UP FOR THE BAPTISM!!! We felt pretty dumb for that one, but we did grab a picture of us afterwards.

On Sunday, the member who performed the confirmation was actually a pretty cool story too. All he had done is, every week, he had gone out of his way to say hello to Sister S and help her feel welcome. That’s all. And it left a great enough impression on her that she requested he give the confirmation. Oh the power of a hello…

The last thing I’ll mention about this last week was that we had a recent convert who only just became less-active reappear on our radar. He texted us to tell us he really wasn’t doing okay, he was severely depressed, and he wanted to meet with us as soon as possible. We weren’t sure how severe it was at first, so we went ourselves the first time and just talked to him awhile. He really was in bad shape…he has a heart condition that basically doesn’t allow him to work anymore, so he felt totally useless. Not only that, but he lives in a drug-dealing house trailer in a room smaller than a prison cell next door to a Mexican gang member and has no income or foreseeable way to get an income. We took our bishop with us Sunday to see him, though, and he was able to help a lot. It is, after all, a bishop’s calling to deal with such things. He recommended him a counselor, but I think the most helpful thing was all of us just being there for him. The man told us that he probably hadn’t utilized his ward family for support like he should have, and told the bishop he’d be to church Sunday. It was a great day for him, I think, and probably a turning point for his depression.

Finally, the reason this email is going out on Tuesday is because we had a member of the first quorum of Seventy come to our mission yesterday, an Elder Brent Nielson and his wife. They were pretty cool. While I appreciated Elder Nielson’s three hours of remarks, I think Sister Nielson’s talk stuck out to me the most. Her main point was, “You don’t have to be a Nielson to be loved by the Nielson family”. She talked about the difference between tolerating others and embracing them. She used a lot of examples of her sons and daughters-in-law. She talked about how, even though their interests were not the same, they were still able to love and accept and embrace them. She also talked about how each of their talents were able to help one another. She related it to our relationships with our missionary companions, but also with other people in general.

On my mission, I’ve heard the phrase “I just wasn’t raised that way” more times than I care to admit. But this talk basically said, “It doesn’t matter how you were raised, you can still embrace and love and appreciate each other for who you both are”.

Anyways, that’s been my week in a nutshell. It’s a great time here in good old Oregon!

Love you all, and have a great week.

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

 

Ain’t No Time fer Creative Title Writin’!

House of Mystery

Austin visits the House of Mystery

As I was considering what to write to my Mission President today, I couldn’t think of a lot. I think, the longer I’m out on my mission, all the twists and turns that occur daily become more and more routine and less and less memorable. So I apologize if my letters reflect that.

This week we saw a lot of people we haven’t for awhile. There are a bunch of a member’s grandkids that we’ve been teaching and they disappeared for about three weeks or so, but they came back this week. Basically I feel like a Primary teacher there. There’s the rowdy kid, the kid who actually wants to learn, the quiet kid who I never know what she’s thinking, and the kid who is too easily distracted to actually get anything we’re saying. There are a couple who might actually get baptized, but it’s going to be mostly a matter of getting their parents onboard and making sure the kids can actually make it to church each week. We actually will probably be baptizing a woman we’ve been teaching this coming week. I wish I could say I actually was a big part in her conversion, but honestly I have done nothing beyond teach her the lessons almost verbatim from Preach My Gospel. I haven’t had to organize rides for her, haven’t had to do any service for her, haven’t had to push her to do anything, and really haven’t even had to resolve her concerns. She’s figured it all out herself! She answers her own questions long before we ever even meet with her. She is basically her own convert to the church. So I guess for some people all we really have to do is show them where to find their answers or how to navigate the church, and they’ll take care of the rest. The best part of it, though, is that it means she will almost definitely stay active.

There is another lady, we’ll call her Amanda, who we recently began teaching. She referred herself to us through the internet. Every time we interact with her, she sounds like she has almost nothing holding her back from baptism besides a few technicalities (she’s living at a commercial address which is technically illegal). She’s already been taught everything and knows what she has to do. She tells us how well she’s doing with all of it ALL THE TIME! Solely based on those interactions, I would be totally confident Amanda would be baptized within a month or two. But here’s the thing, because we’re now on Facebook, I have friended Amanda and can see all her posts, and they tell a different story entirely. So now that’s another hurdle we’ll have to overcome with her; being able to be honest about her situation. We’re not sure which reality is the truth: the one she’s telling us, or the one she’s posting on Facebook. We will be investigating that more in the coming weeks…

Finally, we had the chance to celebrate a couple little kids ‘birthdays. They belong to a Hispanic less-active lady we teach regularly. It was pretty cool, and of course I enjoyed the authentic Mexican food! I find it’s the little things like going to birthdays that really help us connect with people. It shows them, I think, that we really are just there because we care about them, and not just because we want to “save” them. Other than that stuff, people are staying pretty much the same. They refuse to move forward or even take steps backward. We try and try to encourage them, but some people just won’t be helped. It’s just the way life is, I guess. I suppose it’s the same feeling a parent will have about his or her child when it behaves contrary to what they believe is right. Luckily, we can always have confidence that God watches over everyone, and will lead everyone down the paths they must go down to learn the lessons they have to. I have complete confidence that He will take care of those I clearly cannot.
Well everybody, that’s about all I’ve got today. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have specific questions you want to ask me, shoot me an email at austin.rushton@myldsmail.net. In the meantime, I hope you all have a great week!

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

Why Do They Always Kill The Prophets?

Elder Rushton Pocket Badge

Elder Austin Rushton Mission Name Badge

Over the past week, there seemed to be one central theme: “Endure it well”.

D&C 121:8 reads, “And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” This revelation came to Joseph Smith while he was in Liberty Jail  calling upon God for deliverance. I think we all know what enduring is, but enduring trials WELL is crucial for our development and growth. If we don’t learn to do it, we will endure trial after trial and never really gain anything.

All this week I’ve had to give ear to a lot of complaining, and not just from one source. I don’t feel it’s necessary to point to specific people, but I will point to a few examples. I’ve heard missionaries talk about how they hate their areas, investigators whine about their physical and/or financial problems, and members of the ward moan about, what are to me, very minor setbacks! Now, I can’t say that these people’s problems do not exist–they do–but what I will say is that complaining is NOT enduring our trials well. I’m not talking about asking others for help or telling someone about a problem you may be experiencing. What I’m talking about is murmuring: decrying circumstances seeking not for help or compassion, but for pity.

So the question that has been on my mind all week is, “how do I stop the complaining?” I didn’t want to just reciprocate the complaining, and I didn’t feel inclined to be rude with them…so instead I just decided not to complain, and to trust that God would correct them in His own due time. And do you know what…HE ALWAYS DID! Invariably God would help these people realize that they were getting nowhere, get them to pick themselves up, and get them moving forward with their lives. Missionaries’ adjusted to their areas, investigators learned to cope with their circumstances, and ward members learned to trust other people with their own lives. I know I’m a bit vague with all this, but I’m sure all of you have dealt with this at least once in your lives.

Besides this lesson, we are getting ever closer to a baptism. The woman we’ve been teaching just gave up coffee two days ago. She’s stocked up on Pepsi for the time being! But just yesterday she announced to everyone in Sunday School that she was going to be baptized, so this is pretty much a done deal. She’s already committed to tithing, chastity, and is attending church regularly. All the pieces are in place for her to become a fully integrated member of the church! We even educated her on the Temple garment last time and she was totally OK with it!

We have a lot of other people who are close as well. We just had another middle-aged woman move into the area who referred herself through mormon.org. She told us she had been working on becoming a member of the church when she moved here, so she’s already had most of the material taught to her. Her only real setback is that she’s on medical marijuana (Oregon, right?), but she’s searching for an alternative already.

We also have been bringing a less-active member of the church with us to a few lessons. We helped him build a shed, and he’s almost always available, so he’s a perfect guy for when we need a third male. He loves coming too, and ever since we’ve started bringing him along his whole family has been coming to church. His son even brought a nonmember one week.

Finally, I’ll mention all of the service we’ve been doing. We’ve been building a tin shed, painting walls, caulking the outside of a house, spraying wasp nests, we moved a dog run into a trailer without taking it apart (the owner didn’t want us to), and for one lady we shoveled dirt out of a metal trailer for an hour and a half at 1:00 in the afternoon. It’s been busy. Very very busy.

There have been a lot of fires around Medford lately. There were some lightning storms with no rain that started a bunch of them. Now there’s a smoky haze over the whole valley. The sun only stays its natural color for a few hours each day, then it turns orange at around 4:00, and red around 7:00. Hopefully they get those fires under control soon…

Love all of you. Hope all of your wildest dreams come true….

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

 

Weekly Rhythms

Elder Austin Rushton Eugene, Oregon

Elder Austin Rushton wearing glasses and his best smile!

Hello friends and family,

There is a truth I want to highlight in this letter: Sometimes you can guess how a week is going to go from day one.

On Tuesday, the first full proselyting day of the week, we had four lessons planned and scheduled in. All but one canceled the very same day. I told my companion at the end of the day that this was going to be “one of those weeks”.

Oddly enough, with that recognition and premonition at the head of the week, as the rest of it progressed it wasn’t too difficult to deal with. We actually started counting on certain appointments falling through, so we made some legitimate backups and scheduled lessons accordingly. When the days would arrive, all the ones we thought might fall through did, but we were prepared! Overall we probably had ten lessons cancel on us, and several others we normally can count on not even schedule anything. But we still managed to squeeze twelve decent discussions out of the week.

Some weeks are like that. They used to get me down, but now I think I’ve finally experienced enough of them to know when one is coming. The best thing to do is just take them with as much humor and laughter as possible.

The woman we’ve been teaching who is on track for baptism is getting closer every time we see her. She’s already almost halfway through 1 Nephi, has committed to live the law of tithing and the Word of Wisdom, and is down to just two cups of coffee per day. She’s also coming to church regularly. I think it really does take this type of person with this level of preparedness to become a fully-active member of the church. I have seen others get baptized without this level of enthusiasm who just drop right off the map. But the two baptisms I’ve had and likely this third have all had the same characteristics. THEY were seeking the truth, it was a high priority for them, and when they found it, I doubt if anything could have shaken them from it. All I really have been for any of them is a resource–a stepping stone in their searches for truth–and I’m just fine with that. It is THEIR salvation, after all. I’m glad when they take ownership of it.

One small miracle I saw this week came in the form of a lost phone. We called a man we’ve been trying to meet with for awhile now, and someone else picked up and told us he had found the phone lying in the street and was waiting for someone to call so he could return it to its owner. He gave us his address, so we went over, picked the phone up, and brought it to the man we were trying to contact. He let us in, and we taught a lesson. But those sorts of things are commonplace on a mission…

Another cool thing that’s been going on is that we’ve been taking a less-active member of the church out on splits with us when we need a third man. And he’s been loving it! Every time he tells us how much he enjoys it, and that he hasn’t really gotten the chance to do this since he joined the church. What’s more, he and his family came to church last Sunday and his son brought a nonmember friend. Blessings, blessings everywhere…

We also got the kids in a less-active/part-member family to church again. The mother would have come but said she was sick with a migraine. The nonmember boy, a ten-year-old, came for the first time, though, and sat next to me during sacrament meeting. He has ADHD (and a lot of other mental issues), so he kept asking how much time was left. I kept telling him sacrament meeting was kind of boring sometimes, but it would be over soon. Unfortunately he started having a psychological breakdown in Primary (he said there were too many people), so Elder Thomas and I waited with him outside while his mother came to get him. While we waited, though, we showed him a video on Jesus being baptized (subliminal messaging?). It was at least some good bonding time.

Finally, I suppose I’ll mention that sacrament meeting this week was held in the cultural hall. I guess that a church in Wisconsin of the same architectural build had its sound system collapse in the chapel, so until the engineers OK’d ours, we couldn’t go in. It was really different to have church without an organ or an elevated pulpit. I imagine that must have been what it was like back in the olden days.

Well everybody, I hope you enjoyed this letter. Maybe it even made one of your days…but anyways, keep the faith, do the work, and be good! Elder Rushton – Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints