Church Missionary Returns Home From Hong Kong Amid Coronavirus Concerns
Feb 7, 2020, 11:00 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2020, 10:09 am
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Church missionary serving in Hong Kong was one of many sent home this week amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Still kind of processing it all,” said Elder Cameron Eldridge, whose mission to Hong Kong for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been anything but typical.
Eldridge said his Cantonese still needs a lot of work, and you can’t blame him. He spent the first several months of his mission in San Diego, California, because of months of protests across Hong Kong.
By the time he finally arrived in his assigned mission on Jan. 27, concern had already shifted to the coronavirus.
“Everyone had masks. A lot of parks and stuff were shut down. So, it’s obviously a little scary,” said Eldridge, who spent most of the time indoors studying with his companion. “Not a lockdown but staying inside most of the time. Only going out for exercise and for food. So, no lessons. Church had been canceled.”
And his time there would soon be cut short. On Tuesday, Church officials said, “In light of the coronavirus and the increasing difficulty of conducting missionary work in Hong Kong and Macau, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is transferring 113 missionaries out of the China Hong Kong Mission over the next few days.”
“It just happened fast. Our stake president notified us he would be home Thursday,” said Eldridge’s mother, Natasha. “I wasn’t too worried about it. I think the church is probably doing the right thing, keeping the missionaries as safe as they can be.”
For now, Eldridge has been reassigned to serve in San Diego. But before he packs his bags again, the Church said, “out of an abundance of caution, most missionaries will return to their homes and follow guidelines from the World Health Organization, including to self-isolate for 14 days.”
Eldridge arrived home Thursday night, just eight days after arriving in Hong Kong.
“They said for two weeks to just stay inside. Make sure to stay six feet away from people. Don’t get too close,” he said with a smile while sitting next to his mom.
“Cameron’s been really flexible throughout this whole thing. We’re happy to have him,” Natasha said.
The first months of his mission were far from the experience Eldridge expected. Yet, he said, “It was really exciting to see how much everyone, all the missionaries loved Hong Kong. Even for the small time I was there, it’s a really great place.”
And he’s hoping he will eventually be able to return to Hong Kong as a missionary.
“Last we heard from our [mission] president is, it will take a while. We’re not sure the timeline. But we’ll be back in Hong Kong,” he said.