Sunday, April 5, 2009
His first companion in the area was Elder Bailey, one of Richard's companions while in the MTC, until two weeks ago when Elder Bailey was transferred to another area and Elder Ulu arrived. Ulu is from Samoa and, as with Elder Bailey, Richard seems to be thriving along side of a companion he enjoys and gets along with.
Here are a couple of excerpts from Richard's recent letters - these are classic Richard!
March 23rd: We had an interesting time last week altogether; Tuesday, I was reaching in my pocket for the garage opener (We really have a garage, like a proper house) while I was riding the bike... We were really close to the flat, but for some reason, I decided that while my left hand was occupied, I would slam on the front wheel brake. It was a very bad idea, and I wasn't even wearing a helmet. The brains are all over the road now.... Nah, my head wasn't even hurt. So I catapulted myself over the handlebars, ground myself onto the asphalt, and bled to death. No, I didn't. I only tenderised my left palm and my right elbow, as in stripped the flesh right off. Not to the bone, mind you, not badly, but the wound on my hand is pretty deep. Well, was. It's healing now quite nicely, and only a day or so ago, the infection stopped. That one isn't a joke. You should have seen how red it was around the wound. At least I don't need the bandages anymore, but whatever.
March 30th: Elder Ulu and I were walking past the shops, and we thought we'd use the very last of our money to buy some cordial, since Ellenbrook water is absolutely horrible tasting... It must be the relatively new pipes or something, I don't know. Anyway, we go into the shops, and we see one of the Members, Sister Lawrence, and her kids. Said hi, the formalities and such, and she asked if we were all good and everything. We said yes, because that's what we always say no matter what, and moved on. As we're about to pay, Luke (the oldest son) comes up to us with $20 and offers to buy that much worth of stuff for us, on behalf of his family. I was stunned, and we accepted the offer. It's very rude to a lot of people around here if you don't accept offers like that. So we did, with much thanks. We were planning to pay for the stuff we were originally getting ourselves, but as we went to pay for that stuff, a Member from Warwick Stake who neither of us knew came to us and paid for that stuff, too.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
We’ve been monitoring the fires in Australia pretty closely each day by satellite imagery. You may hear about fires having broken out around Perth overnight, but the closest we can find at the moment is south and west of Richard by well over 100 miles, on the coast. He doesn't appear to be in any danger at this time, and it doesn’t look as though there’s much likelihood that he’ll find himself in harm’s way.
He was transferred this week to Ellenbrook, some 50 miles northeast of Perth (about 25 miles from his mission’s office). His area is developed enough that it’s not likely he’ll be threatened by wild fires, but I think it’s safe to assume that the missionaries are going to be called in to assist with humanitarian needs after any significant danger has passed. There may not be enough activity in the Perth area to warrant Richard’s mission to be called into service; I’m sure he’ll let us know.
We received emails from him earlier this week in which he wrote about the loss of life and the building fear of those around him. At the time, he was in Armadale, a more rural area much closer to the fires south of Perth. His move to Ellenbrook almost certainly had nothing to do with the fires, but I’m glad he’s just that much farther from them. His new companion, Elder Bailey, was in his district while he was in the MTC in Provo, so they already know each other pretty well.
Again, thanks for your concerns. He’s been away for just over 10 months now, almost half way through his two year assignment, we miss him terribly, but are proud of him and pleased to know he’s actively engaged in serving the Lord.
We love you all.
Rick and Leslie
Friday, December 19, 2008
Richard has been in Armadale for several months now and expects he'll be transferred to another part of the mission just after Christmas. Though he continues to report that the work is slow there, he's had some great experiences. His mission president, President Carl Maurer, recently went tracting with him for a part of the day and both Richard and his companion learned a lot from the experience.
He's had opportunities to sing with other Elders in his district at mission functions and has been asked to sing with Elder Ah Ta at an upcoming Christmas event - he's got a good, strong voice and truth be known , I think he likes having opportunities to use it. He's also had a chance to do some good service for members and non-members in the Armadale area.
This photo is of Elder Ah Ta, but it appears that while working on the same project, Richard helped move a large boulder, reminiscent of those he'd helped move for our pond, and it got the better of his back - oh well, it seems the rock won.
Last week, Elders Haskell and Ah Ta returned to their apartment only to find that they'd been broken into, Several of Richard's personal items, camera lens, etc., were missing, and then they realized that they hadn't seen their car outside and the car keys were missing also. The car was found hours later at an LDS Church building in Bunbury, about two hours away from Richard's area.
This will be Richard's first Christmas away from home and I'm confident that it's harder on his family than it is on him - he's busy and engaged in doing the Lord's work, while we're engaged in missing him and counting the months until he comes home.
Monday, August 25, 2008
He reports that the work is slow and that he and Elder Seuga could use all the member help they can get. It sounds like they do a lot of tracting, but not a lot of teaching. Preaching the gospel to Aussies has proved to be more difficult than Richard had supposed it might. The Aussies, though friendly, aren't all that inclined to focus on spiritual issues and are far more interested int he here and now. Richard has increasingly asked us to pray for those whom he and his companion can teach.
We've also heard a lot about hiking and chasing kangaroos and wallabies in the outback. That simply means that he's having a great experience - exactly what we had hoped for!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Richard's companion is Elder Barff from Tasmania and Richard describes him as a surfer dude. Not quite sure how that translates into being a missionary, but Richard likes him and his stories reflect that they're getting along very well. Barff is the District leader, so Richard is having plenty of opportunities to go on 'splits' with other missionaries in the same district. Richard's area includes much of downtown Perth, some outlying suburbs, the mission office and the Perth Temple. It seems to be a very large area when we look at it and appears to have a pretty large population.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
When Richard called from Sydney he was pretty wiped out after such a long trip. He still had several hours to go before boarding the flight to Perth and then another 4-5 hours in the air before he would arrive in Perth. Perth is 14 hours ahead of Utah time (13 hours ahead of California), so he left Utah on Monday evening and arrived in Perth on Wednesday at about noon. That still seems strange to me, because while he was arriving in Perth on Wednesday we were laying in bed talking about him on Tuesday night - intellectually we get it, but intuitively it still seems off.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
As a young teenager, Richard displayed all of the predictable traits one might imagine. Sometimes forgetfull, often defensive, always up for a good time, and never lacking in attitude, but he also rarely forgot who he was and what his duties were. I'd like to think I was, or am, the same way, but without a doubt, 'duty' is a primary focus for Richard. He would rarely have admitted to this, but now I see that he understands the trait and even strives to lead others in fulfilling thier duty to God and man.
Richard was set apart as a full-time missionary, an ordained minister of the gospel last night in our home. Stake President, Curtis Dahl set him apart, joined by Bishop John Swallow, Shane Pace, Justin Ashby and Richard Haskell, Sr.. President Dahl pronounced meaningful blessings for Richard and there was a great spirit with us. Bishop Swallow, Brother Pace, Leslie and I each bore our testimonies to Richard and offered him some last bits of counsel. Becca and Justin Ashby and our daughter Lauren were with us as well. Afterwards, our family spent the remainder of the evening talking about missions, theology, how important it is to live the tenants of the faith that you espouse and remembering just why apple pie and vanilla ice cream are among life's simple pleasures. Actually, we did more than remember - the six of us consumed an entire pie! We love Leslie's pies!
Richard enters the MTC this afternoon. In the grand scheme of things it is just one little event, and the two years during which Richard will be in Australia will ultimately be remembered as a short time of focused service. But for right now, and for us, those two years and this event have amazing import - our world is changing, in a way we've always known it would, but the knowing only tempers the reality. Our little boy, our 6'2", 200+ pound, 19 year old son, my buddy and helper is heading out and there's nothing we could or would do to change it. Richard is exactly where we've hoped he would be at this point in his life. This, by the way, falls under the heading of 'be careful what you wish for'.
So this afternoon we'll go to the MTC, become emotional as the Elders and Sisters stand and sing 'Called To Serve' and then morph into weeping ninnies as we go out one door and our son goes through another. But we'll keep in mind that we're going out the door, going back home and he'll be going into a doorway that will bring him some of the defining experiences of his life. We can only presume what some of those will be, they're different for every missionary - but what is common to all missionaries is the inescapable reality that the years of diligent service, began as a boy, lead to rich lives lived by honorable men, dutiful priesthood holders, faithful husbands and loving fathers. What a glorious progression, what an amazing experience, what an impressive young man - our son.