Richard is in Wayland, Western Australia - a suburb of Perth that he describes as the 'drug capital western Australia'. In his most recent email he told us of a drug bust in the middle of the night in the 'flat' just beneath his. He also told us that as he and his companion began to rush outside to see what was going on, they were quietly guided by the spirit to stay inside and observe rather than get involved.
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.
As soon as he got his field assignment, Richard went out and purchased a bicycle and a few of the other things he'll need while in that area. Not long afterwards he developed a bad case of bronchitis that, left untreated, turned into pneumonia. After an aggressive course of antibiotics and some extra care he was just fine. He wrote home on week and explained that he and his companion had bottles thrown at them from a moving car one afternoon - as a parent that's a little concerning of course, but as a parent who served a mission I know that it is just a normal part of missionary life. I wrote him back and congratulated him for having made that rite of passage if you will. Thrown bottles, unkind gestures, inappropriate advances and slammed doors are just as much a part of missionary life as feelings of the spirit, baptisms, dinner appointments and prayers.
Richard sends us an email each Sunday night, Monday morning in Australia, and we can't wait to read them. They are typically short and often don't address questions we've asked (sometimes 2 or 3 times), but they are pure Richard! Attitude mixed with a little humility and caring - what a kid!