Missionaries temporarily taken out of Ukraine
Jan 24, 2022, 2:26 PM | Updated: 11:16 pm
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday that missionaries would be temporarily removed from Ukraine.
The Church said missionaries assigned to both the Ukraine Dnipro and Ukraine Kyiv/Moldova missions would be relocated to locations outside of Ukraine.
The release from the Church cited the decision being made out of an abundance of caution as “some government embassies in Ukraine are preparing to move certain personnel and their family members.”
According to Church spokesperson Sam Penrod, many of the missionaries are being reassigned to Europe, and others will serve in Moldova, which is away from potential conflict areas.
Penrod said missionaries who have recently been called to Ukraine will receive a temporary reassignment somewhere else, while missionaries who are approaching their planned release date will return home, completing their missionary service.
“We pray for a peaceful resolution to the tensions in Ukraine and look forward to when the missionaries may return,” he said.
For missionaries who have grown to love the people there, it’s hard for them to watch.
“It’s easy when it’s just numbers and news reports,” Sterling Nielson, who served in one of two Ukraine missions until August 2020, told KSL TV. “It hurts because they’re my family.”
Nielson is now a student at Brigham Young University, studying dance. He wears a necklace with the Ukrainian symbol on it that means “free will,” and says the people of Ukraine are not just another Russian Provence. They are a culturally rich people with much national pride.
Matthew and Emily Walbruch’s son is one of more than a hundred missionaries that will be reassigned. He’s been in Ukraine for nine months, after spending the first months of his mission in Texas. He got the news over the weekend that he will be leaving Ukraine.
“After a devotional, he had a very somber message, and he goes, ‘I’m not ready to leave. I love the people. I love the country. I’ve really fallen in love with the language.’”