EUROPE AREA PRESIDENCY
Frankfurt am Main 60435
EUROPE AREA PRESIDENCY
Frankfurt am Main 60435
To the parents of our wonderful European missionaries,
First of all, on behalf of the Europe Area Presidency, I express our gratitude to you for raising and supporting such devoted disciples. It is humbling to work with your sons and daughters and witness their unselfish goodness.
You no doubt have questions regarding the current status of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus in your son or daughter's mission. This is understandable as the media reports regarding this have varied considerably. Please be assured that our number one priority is the safety of your son or daughter and there has been, and continues to be, ongoing prayerful discussions with the missionary department, physicians, government officials, and the mission presidents and their companions regarding this matter. We honestly believe that we have taken the Lord’s admonition to heart and followed the divine pattern as taught by the Lord to Joseph Smith when he gave this promise:
"Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another."
Doctrine and Covenants 90:24
We assure you that we have many who are searching diligently, praying, and believing that the Lord's work will continue to go forward. We have heaven's promises. We understand, however, that the first requirement is to search diligently or in other words, do our part. To this end we have done the following:
1) We have asked each mission president and companion to be aware of any missionary who has health conditions which would put them in a higher risk category. In Milan where this virus has blossomed, we have sent some higher risk missionaries home where they will be isolated for 14 days and then be reassigned to another mission with the expectation that they can return to their original field of labor at a later date. Fortunately, there are very few young missionaries in this high-risk category.
2) In some missions, new missionaries have been delayed from coming into the field. They may be temporarily delayed or reassigned as a "virus waiter," not dissimilar to "visa waiters."
3) We are tracking daily the spread of the virus in each mission, stake, and district. We currently have no missionaries in Europe who have become ill from this virus and are aware of only six members. We will undoubtedly see an increase but fortunately, most people who are infected experience a mild case of the flu and recover quickly. Those at higher risk are the elderly, especially those with preexisting health issues. Young, healthy missionaries are in a very low risk category.
4) We have closed the Rome temple, postponed many stake and district conferences, and either cancelled Sunday services or had them conducted via broadcast in areas of concern. This has been done out of an abundance of caution as the instances of the virus in most countries are still relatively few. We have also temporarily suspended church services when the government has closed universities and schools, such as in Italy.
5) In those areas where the virus is blossoming or in the event missionaries have had contact with someone in question, we have asked the missionaries to self-isolate themselves. This means they do not actively contact, teach, or visit members and limit their activities to online finding, teaching, fellowshipping, reactivation, etc. I have attached a list of the many activities missionaries can productively be engaged in at this time. We have heard from some missionaries that they have been able to teach more now than ever because people are more willing to listen and more available. This alternative work does not apply to most of the European missions but, as this virus is increasing in prevalence, more missions may be asked to redirect their activities to online finding, teaching, fellowshipping, and reactivation efforts in the future.
6) The missionaries have been told to prepare for the current virus concern by having a two-week supply of essentials. Stores and restaurants are open, even in the high-risk areas. In certain cities in Italy, the government has restricted movement between certain areas to avoid the spread of the virus. We have already been keeping the missionaries in place for some time, so it does not change our behavior.
7) We have established protocols regarding security and transportation, all with the goal of being ahead of any emergency.
8) We have followed the guidance of the Crisis Management Committee chaired by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. The committees guiding principles are as follows:
• The most important work in the world is the Lord’s work and it needs to go forward.
• We should not react out of fear. Risks should be mitigated but they cannot be eliminated.
• Decisions will be made based on the most current information. Decisions may change as the situation evolves.
• People should take primary responsibility for protecting themselves through appropriate hygiene practices.
Finally, two personal notes:
Our granddaughter is serving in the Milan, Italy mission which is the epicenter of the virus. I believe she is safer surrounded by those whom she knows are healthy rather than traveling for hours, possibly interacting and sitting next to those who may not be. Should she go home, she would be going home to a place where the virus also is spreading but perhaps with less vigilant safeguards in place.
Our son who has Cystic Fibrosis was unable to serve a conventional mission but rather served a two-year mission in the Provo MTC as an online missionary. While there, he was able to teach and baptize dozens of people and refer dozens more to be taught by missionaries in their respective areas. We have learned from his experience and many others that irrespective of the limitations some missions may experience, the work can go forward in marvelous ways. As the current situation changes, as it surely will, we will react to keep your precious missionaries safe and productive. We ask for your faith, prayers, and trust as we do so.