Families Overjoyed As Young Volunteers In Russia Released, Returning To U.S.

Mar 20, 2019, 6:23 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A day of joy and relief for the families of two young missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who were arrested by Russian authorities and now released.

The two young men were serving as volunteers in the country because missionary work is not allowed.

Elder Kole Brodowski, 20, and Elder David Gaag, 19, have left the country according to a Church spokesman.

Elder Brodowski is on his way home to California because his mission was nearing the end. Elder Gaag is coming back to the states and then will be reassigned.  He has been out since November according to his family.

“Just so happy that he’s gotten out,” said a very happy Lisa Krulish to KSL, who is Elder Gaag’s mother. “Just genuine joy. There was a lot of tense moments especially when you thought ‘oh it might happen’ and then no and then yes.”

Krulish says her son and Elder Brodowski were treated well by Russian official. She says they were able to contact her son daily and they had regular contact with their mission president.

“It was kind of an administrative prison. They were in a large room that had bunks that they could sleep on,” she said.

The young men were arrested on March 1st at a church building. According to Russian media they were accused of teaching English and religion.

Three recently returned missionaries from that same mission and knew and worked with Elder Brodowski, tell KSL that they have believed all along the two were innocent.

“I knew eventually they would be released,” said Nicholas Williams who is now studying at BYU. “When I first heard about this I knew exactly why. I thought oh no they are accused of teaching English.”

“I knew they didn’t do anything illegal,” said Rebekah Jex, who got home from that mission three months ago. “Because we are not natives people assume we are up to something.”

“We couldn’t proselyte, we couldn’t talk to people outside our branch buildings,” said Stepan Altuhuov, who served with Elder Brodowski as companions.  “If there was anybody to enjoy the time you had there it would be Elder Brodowski. I’m sure he made a lot of friends. I’m sure he made the most of it.”

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Families Overjoyed As Young Volunteers In Russia Released, Returning To U.S.