Homecoming Talk on August 9th, 2015

Come Unto Christ And Be Healed 7/9/15

  • It is good to be with you today Brothers and Sisters! For those of you that I’ve never met before, and have no idea why I’m up here today, my name is Skyler Rushton, son of Matt and Miriam Rushton. I returned on Wednesday from my mission in British Columbia—the Canada Vancouver mission. I’ve spent the last six months living on an Island among many, many hippies, so it’s good to be back in good old Utah. I was asked to speak today on the topic of, “Come Unto Christ and Be Healed.” I hope you don’t mind doctrine intertwined with stories from my mission, because that’s what you’re going to get!

    Skyler's Homecoming Party.

    Skyler’s Homecoming Party With Friends From His Mission!

  •  On page 60 of Preach My Gospel, it reads “God sent His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, into the world so that all of God’s children would have the possibility of returning to live in His presence after they die. Only through the Savior’s grace and mercy can we become clean from sin so that we can live in our Heavenly Father’s presence. Becoming clean from sin is being healed spiritually.” Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the path to spiritual healing. If we open our hearts to the Savior, he can heal us of anything.
  • D&C 112:13 reads, “And after their temptations, and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted, and I will heal them. “
  • I was serving in a place called Courtenay on Vancouver Island where, on my first day there, we met a man named Akshay Kapoor. Akshay is from India, and he has had a very hard life. He is estranged from his parents and siblings and became an alcoholic to cope with his emotional pain. His uncle sent him to Canada to study so he could escape the slums of Delhi. He was the nicest person I’ve ever met, and his friend, Anshul, who we were already teaching, had brought him to learn about Christianity. He was Hindu prior to that. Akshay had many truth seeking, heart felt questions about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, because he didn’t really know anything about them. He loved everything that we taught him and as he applied what we taught him, he felt the spirit, received answers to prayers and began to be converted to the savior. Initially when we invited him to be baptized, he was convinced that he would NEVER be able to give up alcohol. But step by step Akshay worked towards making that covenant with God and on June 14th, he was baptized a member of Jesus Christ’s church. I saw a transformation in that man that could only be classified as a miracle. “Miracles ARE a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” (BD-“Miracles”) Through living the gospel of Jesus Christ and using the power of His atonement, Akshay was made whole.
  • Jesus Christ promises to forgive us of our sins and heal us so long as we repent, or change to become more aligned with God’s will. As these things happen and we become more one with God, we are able to reach out and strengthen Heavenly Father’s other children. Jesus told Peter  “…When Thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” That conversion took time but when it finally came, Peter became a powerful tool in the hands of God, baptizing three thousand souls on the day of Pentecost alone.
  • I… Didn’t do anything quite like that. But as I strove to be worthy and willing, God brought miracles about in my ministry. There is a lady we taught in Courtenay named Nancy who was a believer in Jesus Christ already and had been baptized multiple times into different churches. She told us that it felt good for a while, but the “spiritual high” became dulled, and eventually went away. She had been addicted to Coffee, tea and tobacco for more than 40 years, and we didn’t know quite how to approach that. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and gave her a copy to read. Three days later we went back. It was only her second lesson, but we went in with a plan to teach the Word of Wisdom and just see what happened. When we sat down and followed up on her reading, she proceeded to tell us that she had read from the Intro to Alma 40, prayed about it, and knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. After we picked up our jaws from the floor, we taught her the word of wisdom and she committed to live it with no questions asked. It took her about a month and half, but eventually she gave up all of her addictions and was baptized. A couple months later, I got to see her one last time before I came home. She had read the Book of Mormon twice and told me that she had never felt happier in her entire life. It was an incredible experience.
  • The Book of Mormon is a catalyst that helps bring about this spiritual healing I’ve been talking about. I have seen it change lives first hand, and it has also changed mine. My mission was really hard, but it made me grow in the way God wanted me too. I know that God gave me the scriptures to lead me, guide me and strengthen me on my mission, as well as for the rest of my life.
  • Ok, one last story. There was a recent convert in Langley—Brother Cameron is his name—who is pretty old and physically, his body isn’t in really good shape. He had a really, really rough past. He would walk around with a cane all the time and wouldn’t be able to stand for very long. He went and did baptisms for the dead in the temple a month or so after he was baptized. He told me that when he came up out of the water in one of his first dunks, he felt his back pop and release a lot of pressure. When he came out of the baptismal font, he didn’t need his cane to walk anymore. He walked more uprightly and said that he felt almost no back pain anymore. This story is a little different from the first two, but it was a fun one to tell to converts who were getting ready to go to the temple!
  • I think I might be running out of time… But the last thing I want to touch on is how to go through life WITHOUT needing to change big things. The Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet we share with people says “Repentance does not always mean making big changes. Often it simply requires an increased commitment to live according to God’s will.” This is Nephi’s counsel on the subject:
  • 2 Nephi 31: 19-20: “And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
  • This is the way to happiness in life! Bear your testimony.

I hope you enjoyed a copy of my homecoming talk! It was an awesome sacrament meeting and I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to tell some stories from my mission that have forever changed my life! Thank you all for reading! Have a great day!

–Skyler Rushton

“Home” Is Where Your Heart Is

Elder Skyler Rushton and family

Elder Skyler Rushton Reunited with his family after 2 years!

Hello everyone! This email comes to you today from my missionary email, but I am sadly no longer a set apart missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints… However, my original ministerial certificate I received as a missionary still has a day on it! August 7th is when that bad boy runs out. That means… Not really anything haha, but I like to think that it means I can still write one more missionary email to all of you to let you know of my last week as a missionary. Hopefully it still means at least something to you!

On Monday while we were emailing, President Burt called me and thanked me for ten minutes for working so hard this last transfer of my mission. A young missionary I had been on exchanges with the week prior wrote President and said that I “set a great example of how a missionary should act this close to the end of his mission.” It was so touching! After emailing, we walked around downtown, I bought real Canadian maple syrup to bring back to the folks and then we knocked on doors for the rest of the evening. Tuesday was a super busy day for us with regards to teaching and finding. Wednesday was also great, and we spent a couple hours getting things ready for our zone meeting on Friday.

Thursday was my last weekly planning session, and I will NOT miss those things haha! I stayed focused while we were doing it, but it was weird planning things for the missionaries to do after I left… But hopefully, right now, they are doing them!!! Thursday we also did a mini-service project with our Ward Mission Leader where we helped him move a gigantic rock to a certain place in his backyard. I know it doesn’t sound that intense, but his backyard is a mountain. Literally. Very, very steep. But we got the rock moved and now it looks great! My arms were sure dead for the rest of the day though. The Duncan Elders also came up to Nanaimo and we did an exchange with them. Elder Bonfield and I went with Elder Wood to work and Friday morning, we got to split wood for a couple hours! It was ironic, and seemed fitting to me because both Elder Bonfield and Wood are Canadian!

Friday we had our zone meeting that was fabulous. I got to bear my last testimony to the missionaries there and I promised them that if they would just trust in God, live the commandments and give everything they have to preach the gospel, the Lord would bless them with a “successful” mission just as he has with me. It was so nice to give my dying words to that zone, they are so amazing. Saturday we got transfer calls! Mine was to Pleasant Grove, Utah, Elder Higley is going to Vancouver YSA and Elder Bonfield is staying. I am also glad that I don’t have to deal with transfer calls ever again–they’re stressful! Saturday we also invited everyone we possibly could to church because it was Elder Rushton’s last Sunday! It worked like a charm, we had four people show up! Mitch and Crystal came with their two little kids and Len came with his girlfriend! It was great to see them all at church; luckily we didn’t get any crazy testimonies with it being fast and testimony meeting! I bore my testimony in the meeting as well where I finally (I didn’t really tell any members prior to that) told everyone that it would be my last Sunday. I had a lot of people come up and say goodbye afterwards and thank me for the service I rendered. It was really touching–I did not cry!! We spent the rest of the day working hard so we could reach standards for the week, and we did! Us and four other companionship’s in the zone did. It was a great way to leave!

Monday, a member bought us sushi, we said goodbye to Ashwani and then I shipped out on the 3:15 p.m. ferry to Tsawwassen. I was alone on the boat (for the first time in two years!) so that felt super weird. I walked around, took pictures and eventually we landed in Tsawwassen where the Assistant’s picked me up for my departing interview with President Burt. The interview was awesome and put me a lot more at ease for going home. I spent the rest of the night with the Assistant’s doing transfer travel plans, and we didn’t get to bed until 1:00 a.m… I feel sorry for those guys! On Tuesday, we had our temple trip where, after making it into the Celestial room, sat down and bawled my eyes out for a couple minutes. I couldn’t believe that my mission was finally over, that I had made it, and how much I actually loved my missionary service. Later, we had our departing missionary dinner with the Burt’s and our final testimony meeting that was powerful beyond all belief. That, coupled with the temple trip, made Tuesday one of the greatest days of my life. We finally got to our hotel and checked in at around midnight.

Wednesday morning, I woke up at 3:45 a.m., showered and got my stuff loaded onto the shuttle to the airport. I flew to Utah with 7 other missionaries–two of them being my best friends from the mission, Elder Englestead and Lewis–and so we had to go through customs and whatnot. On top of that, I got selected for a random security check! Yay! What a great way to leave Canada haha. It wasn’t actually bad, but I thought it was pretty funny. We finally got to the plane with really no problems (the customs officer said, “Do you have anything to declare?” And I said, “Some clothes and maple syrup I guess.” To which he responded, “Alright! Welcome back to America!” So, pretty easy going for me! Other missionaries got grilled for a couple minutes on what they were “actually” doing in Canada for two years!) and then we flew to Los Angeles first where we had to run to make our connecting flight to Salt Lake City! I’m sure it was a pretty epic scene in the good ol’ LAX.

We finally got to SLC, I said goodbye to the other missionaries, hugged my mom and dad, went and got Costa Vida (which I haven’t had in two years!), taught my family the Restoration (with Austin as my companion), got released, then went and played laser tag with the teacher’s quorum! Things that felt weird included: Being called Skyler, not having to back up the driver of our car, walking around alone in the laser tag arena and not feeling guilty for looking at T.V. screens! I feel like I’m living in a dream being home still, but I’m sure it will pass. I slept in until 7 today, went running, studied the scriptures and then was going to unpack, but decided that this was more important. I loved my mission a lot and you will probably hear me talk about it a lot for the rest of my life, so be warned! I haven’t been able to stop talking about it since I stepped off the plane. My heart was really in my mission when I was there, and it was sad to leave it. It was “home” for these last two years. But now that I’m back, my heart is right here with my family. I love them so much, I have missed them more than anything else in the world and I am literally tearing up as I am writing these things. I love the Lord. He is good and I pray that I may always be His disciple. I love all of my friends as well; thank you for reading my letters as I’ve gone about this great journey. My testimony was strengthened by it, and I hope that yours was as well. The blessings of God are real, this church is His church. We can and should trust the modern day Prophet and Apostles. They are called of God. Elder Christofferson changed my life when he visited our mission; the spirit I felt as he testified created my testimony of who those men really are–they are servants of the Most High God. This is a really long letter so if you made it through the whole thing, thank you for reading. We will have Elder Rushton the Fourth out in a few years, so you can follow him next haha! I love you all, have a spectacular week. May the Lord bless every one of you!

–Skyler Rushton, Formerly Known As Elder Rushton The Third

Is This the End? Last Email from Skyler

Sunset over Nanaimo, Canada

Sunset over Nanaimo, Canada. Photo by Skyler Rushton

“But behold, it was not so…” I’m not dead yet everyone! I’ve still got a whole week left! There are people to find, lives to change and salvation to gain! But that’s not the end of the scripture…”but it was appointed unto men that they must die…” (Alma 12:27) And so it is. Every missionary has to go home someday, and so it will be with me in a week and a half. I am almost out of time for emailing because I had to get a lot of “departing missionary” stuff done… so I apologize. I don’t know if I will be able to email next week. I leave after church on Sunday on a ferry for the Lower Mainland. I will be there until I fly out Wednesday. I go to the temple on Tuesday, as well as have a final dinner/testimony meeting with the Burt’s. That will be intense. But this week, we have a zone meeting on Friday we have to do, and then just work hard the rest of the other days! Last week, we went on exchanges in Duncan on Tuesday which were great, had district meeting on Wednesday as well as have a meeting with the stake Presidency Wednesday night. That was intense! But really good; a lot was accomplished. Then I went up to Courtenay Thursday and Friday to work with those Elders. I said goodbye to all of my friends up there, and it was really sad! I like the people here in Nanaimo too, but Courtenay is still my favorite place on the Island! The Elders up there are taking really good care of everything, so I was happy about that. We taught a crazy Evangelical Christian guy while I was there though… That…. did not go very well haha. At one point all I asked was, “Would you ever read the Book of Mormon?” And he said, “Joseph Smith does not produce salvation!!!!!!” At that point, we were all fed up with him and left because he just wasn’t listening. I am not going to waste my precious time in the service of the Lord with crazy people like him! It was a good learning experience for the greenie missionary up there.

As I approach the end of my mission, almost everyone has asked me, “Are you trunky yet?” The answer? Not at all. It’s not like I’ve put on some weird robot-missionary mode the last two years. I’ve been nothing but Elder Skyler Rushton the whole time and while that’s gotten me into some trouble sometimes, it has also allowed the Atonement to work on who I really am, not anyone I’m pretending to be. The Lord called ME to this work and while I haven’t felt qualified for that responsibility, He has brought me through it all and it has been glorious. I plan on working hard until I am released from this sacred calling. I haven’t loved every second of my mission, but as I reflect on the mission as a whole, it brings me great joy. I have seen people get baptized who I never imagined would, but luckily God had a better plan for them. I trust that the Lord will bless me even after I arrive home because of my faithful service. The gospel is true, and by that I mean that it proceeded forth from the mouth of our Father–even God. I have had a duty to testify of Him these last 24 months. I know He is there, I know He loves us, and I know His Son, Jesus Christ, lives. All other knowledge is icing on top. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all so much! God has filled me with that love. Thank you all for your support, encouragement and love these last two years. May the Lord continue to bless you all!!!

With Great Love and Respect (especially to those serving missions),

–Elder Skyler Rushton

Road Trip Exchanges, Costco Food & Miracles Out The Wazzu!

Elder Skyler Rushton and companions

Elder Skyler Rushton with Vancouver companions

Hello everyone! This was a really spectacular week where we really moved the needle and saw miracles!

We left last Monday night after P-day to travel to Courtenay for the first stop of our North Island/Sunshine Coast Road Trip. We went on exchanges with those Elders–I was with Elder Anderson who I actually used to be companions with! We started out the day with almost no plans, but then I figured we should stop by some people that I used to work with when I was there. We re-found a sweet couple-that-I used to teach, mowed some guys lawn with his riding lawn mower (that was more fun than it probably should have been!) and ultimately just had an extremely productive day.

After our exchange in Courtenay, we took the 2 hour ferry to Powell River to go on exchanges there. We had district meeting via the phone on the ferry, finally landed in Powell River and drove to their chapel which is a converted Baptist church! After lunch, Elder Higley and I went with Elder Haskins and literally taught ALL DAY LONG!! It was sweet but man, we were sure busy! Those Elders had a whopping 35 member present lessons this week which is just unreal, as well as a baptism on Saturday that President Burt attended! So basically, Powell River, a small town on the “Sunshine Coast” as it’s called, is just exploding with the gospel. They are a branch right now, so hopefully in a year or so they can finally become a ward!

After our sweet exchange in Powell River on Wednesday, we got back on the ferry and headed back to Vancouver Island (at this point I came to a startling realization that I’ve been living on an island for the last 6 months!). We weekly planned on the boat and when we got off, we hit up the Costco in Courtenay for some Costco dogs and poutine! The food there is legit and cheap–perfect for a missionary! And my companions both have memberships, so that just puts all the pieces in place for a great lunch. After that, we drove down to Port Alberni and met up with those Elders. Elder Higley and I went with Elder Hansen (from Provo!) for the last few hours of Thursday and most of Friday. By Thursday night, we had 2 new, 2 MPL’s, and 2 new baptismal dates! That was a legit miracle for Port Alberni–their areas been dead for a while. Friday was also great and they ended up hitting the mission standards for the first time in transfers this week! So the road trip = huge success.

For ourselves, we got back to our area Friday night and in four hours; we had 4 MPL’s, 3 new investigators and a new baptismal date. By the next day, we had already hit the mission standards, and then Sunday’s results were just the icing on top. It was honestly the craziest thing ever and I have no idea how everything seemed to work out just right, but I’m not complaining! God is good!  Our sweet grandma investigator, is getting closer and closer to baptism every day, but her date is for after I get home. So I might miss it, but as long as she gets dunked, I’ll be happy.

The last major miracle of the week was when I got on to email and I saw a sister, an eternal investigator I taught in Brookswood–got baptized this week! Tiny but gigantic miracles like that have kept me pretty motivated this whole year of 2015.

Well, I’m about out of time, but I want you all to know that I love you! God loves you! The Savior loves you! And we are all rooting for you. Live the gospel, put others first and everything works out for you in the end. That is definitely what I learned this week. Have a great week everyone! Love you bye!!

 

–Elder Rushton The Third

 

“That Really Moved the Needle” July 13, 2015

Vancouver Canada Elders

Elder Rushton with the Vancouver, Canada missionaries.

This week, we really moved the needle. At least, that’s how Elder Higley would say it ha-ha. We had a zone conference with President & Sister Burt on Tuesday that was legit, set a baptismal date with our favorite Native grandma  and scrapped together a solid week despite being out of our area for two full days setting up/having zone conference. We will need even more miracles next week to pull together a solid week, because we’ll be doing traveling exchanges all week until Friday. Road trip

So we started off the week with P-day as always, but we spent most of it cleaning in case President Burt decided to do a surprise drop-in on our apartment. He’s done it to other missionaries in the past and we wanted to be ready–”It’s better to prepare and prevent then it is to repair and repent.”–Ezra Taft Benson. So with that counsel, we prepared! We never did get an inspection, but it sure increases moral authority when you’ve got a clear conscience.

Zone Conference was in Duncan on Tuesday, and Victoria zone came up for it as well. It was really good–the focus was, “What can I change now to become a better lifelong disciple of Christ?” Perfect for a dying missionary like myself. (That is what we call Missionaries almost ready to go home) We read a sweet talk by Bruce R. McConkie called, “Obedience, Consecration, and Sacrifice” to prepare for the conference. It was a really great talk; my favorite part was about the law of sacrifice. I learned that when we covenant to live the law of sacrifice, we are covenanting to sacrifice “our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men; our houses, lands, and families: all things, even our very lives if need be.” I thought that was legit–thanks Elder McConkie!

After the conference, we did an interview for one of Duncan area baptismal dates who got “dunked” this weekend, then cleaned up the chapel and drove home. Wednesday we went hard so we could start making up for the two days lost to the conference. While we were down at the pier contacting, we saw a GIANT yacht with a “For Sale” sign on it and wanted to know how much it was, so Elder Higley called the number to find out. He ends up having a 30 minute conversation with the guy selling to boat, transitions from talking about the boat to talking about the gospel, and now he’s interested in the gospel! Elder Higley hung up the phone and went, “Well, that really moved the needle!” The best part was that we could actually see the guy on the yacht as we were talking to him, and he had no idea. Creeper status, but it was a good laugh. However, we never did find out how much it cost…

Thursday through Saturday we taught a bunch of lessons. We set a baptismal date with the coolest. old Native sister. She has an ear problem from getting hit with a baseball bat (on accident!) as a child, so she can’t get water in her ear. That was really her only concern when it came to baptism, and we think we’ve got it all figured out now. Hopefully she can get baptized before I leave! We had dinner with a family that we’ve done a lot of service for in the past, and they are really cool, but they are really, really hung up on what we believe concerning homosexuals. So that was kind of sad to see that stop their progress, but they are a neat little family. They won on a show called “Dragon’s Den” (Canada’s version of “Shark Tank”) and got funding for their business–which is making Elvis costumes! Apparently, he’s alive! And there are thousands of him everywhere haha. Anyways, they prayed for us in German and stuff; it was pretty cool.

We had some great lessons with our friends throughout the week and they are progressing slowly; we had a part-member family come to church that we weren’t expecting so that was exciting; Nanaimo had it’s annual “Dragon Boat” races in the harbor Friday-Sunday so there were LOTS of tourists in town for that. The last really cool thing that happened was Sunday night right before our ward’s cottage meeting. We were talking to people around the Dragon Boat event, and met a sweet guy .  We needed one more baptismal date to hit standards for the week, and he was miraculously prepared to receive the gospel and change his life. We set a baptismal date with him, and hopefully I’ll be able to talk about him more next week! God blessed us a lot this week, as he normally does, and things are going pretty great here on Vancouver Island. We got some rain, which was a very welcome change from the drought we’re in (which doesn’t make sense–we’re on an island for pete’s sake!!) and it cooled down a bit because of that. Oh yeah, Elder Higley did the Tim Horton’s Dozen Donut challenge (eat a dozen assorted donuts in under an hour) Saturday night and failed miserably. Glad I wasn’t dumb enough to try ha-ha!!

Have an awesome week everyone! I love you all and pray for you daily! The gospel is so true, the Book of Mormon is the fruits of Joseph Smith being a prophet–which he is– and it is amazing! God’s greatest gift to us is the gospel, which makes happiness in this life, and eternal life in the world to come possible for everyone; lastly, Jesus lives! Love you all, bye for now!

–Elder Rushton The Third

Skyler has been home this long-

  • Skyler has been home for:
    2 years, 3 months, 13 days, 8 hours, 31 minutes, 45 seconds ago