By Kent Larsen
LDS Mother Relies on Faith for Safety of Missionary Sons
POCATELLO, IDAHO -- During the October session of General Conference,
President Hinckley mentioned that the war on terrorism might affect
missionary work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While
there hasn't been any sweeping policy change, some foreign missions in the
church have advised their missionaries not to wear backpacks, American coats
or the black tags that identify them as missionaries.
Sally Nielson has two sons serving as missionaries over-seas. Ryan, 19, and
Derek, 20, are two of almost 60,000 church members serving in 330 missions
worldwide. Ryan arrived in Rostov, Russia, early this fall and Derek has
been serving in Seoul, South Korea since last summer. After the terrorist
attacks, Nielson wondered how close her second son would be to the site of
American strikes against the Taliban and terrorist groups. "I looked at the
map immediately when we knew Afghanistan was the problem," she said. "He is
further from Afghanistan than we are from New York. Russia is a huge country."
Missionaries devote themselves to preaching the Gospel and as part of that
commitment, they do not watch television or read non-religious material.
Ryan was told about the terrorist attacks by his mission presidency, but he
didn't realize how devastating it really was. His mother said, "He looked at
a magazine in the airport when he left and said he was really shocked. It
was hard on him. He said he wished he hadn't even looked."
While Nielson was concerned for her sons after the terrorist attacks, she is
more concerned about the political and social problems of the countries
where her sons are serving. "When I get their letters, I get emotional and
cry a little, but never for their safety," Nielson said. "I feel like they
are as safe regarding terrorism there as they would be here."
"Actually, in the days after the World Trade Center attack, I watched a lot
of TV and I heard (Russian President Vladimir) Putin talk and be very
supportive to the U.S.," she said. "That was comforting because we heard
there was a lot of anti-American sentiment and, if they look at Americans or
they stand out, they could be targets."
A mother keeps faith
Pocatello ID State Journal 20Oct01 N2
By Graham Garner - Journal Writer
Despite Sept. 11, sons continue missions