As we spoke to him from the Salt Lake airport, he sounded confident, excited and ready to take on the world. He told us that the MTC had turned out to be a good experience, though he was glad to be on his pay to Perth. He was assigned to be a district leader while in the MTC over a small distric of elders headed to New Zealnad and Australia. At first the MTC was difficult for him, the sitting and listening, studying and having to pay attention all of the time about bored him to tears. But by the end, the other experiences there outwieghed the tedium. He had a lot of fun with some of the elders in his district, met up with Travis Schoenfeld (a childhood friend from South Jordan headed for South America), Janis Richardson (a beautiful young woman from our ward in Sandy that entetred the MTC last wednesday bound for Ohio) and Diane Morrow (a friend of Rick and Leslie from our BYU days who runs the food services group at the MTC) He got lots of letters and emails, a big package of chips, queso and other goodies from Rick so he could have a send off party at the MTC the night before he left and cookies and cupcakes from Jessica - we're pretty sure he felt well cared for - or at least well fed!
We asked him about the most important lessons he had learned while at the MTC. His first response had to do with the scriptures. Even though our family has read scriptures together each morning for his entire life and has read the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price from cover to cover several times, and even though Richard attended LDS seminary for four years, Richard finally felt as though he was learning things through the scriptures. He was willing to admit that this was the first time he felt like paying attention - go figure. He also admitted that he had learned to just do what he is told when given instructions from those he trusts or those whose authority he respects - without questioning everything - I have to admit that I about fainted when he said this and I did everything I could to restrain myself. It just felt good that our son was evidencing that he's growing up and becoming the man we had hoped he would.
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.
So now Richard is on the other side of the world - he's off to a great adventure that will yield tremendous benefits and blessings for those he teaches there, for his family here in the US and mostly for Richard himself. We already miss him, but the upstairs bathroom has been clean for three weeks now and the refrigerator has never been so full for so long. We'll get used to it.