OGDEN, UT (ABC4) – Current missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are being moved out of Ukraine temporarily, due to “ongoing uncertainty” in the country.
A spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Sam Penrod says, “The decision was made with an abundance of caution as some government embassies in Ukraine are preparing to move certain personnel and their families out of the region.”
Chris Williams from Ogden, is the father of Elder Douglas Williams, who is currently serving a mission in Moldova, a country that borders Ukraine.
Elder Williams is not one of the missionaries being transferred. “The Church says they are far enough away from the potential invasion,” says Williams. Elder Williams is helping welcome the missionaries being transferred out of Ukraine into Moldova.
“He said about eight (missionaries) including the mission president will be coming and arriving. He was out helping them find apartments all day on Monday,” says Williams. Many of the missionaries are being reassigned to other countries in Europe, and a few missionaries approaching their planned release date are completing their missionary service and returning home.
“I believe that he’s doing a lot of good for the people there and all of the missionaries do. And the fact that they can’t do that anymore, yeah, it mainly makes me sad,” says Williams.
This comes after the state department issued an advisory on Sunday, warning people not to travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19.
“The worst has been the build-up in the last several months knowing the Russians were gathering troops and when the Dnipro mission missionaries were moved around Christmas time, we started getting pretty concerned,” says Williams.
Williams himself served a mission in Ukraine and says he has been paying attention to what’s been happening in Ukraine for the last several years. “Seeing my mission taken over and now the possibility of the rest of the country being taken over as well, just, it seems so senseless,” says Williams. “I don’t want there to be any more bloodshed, I just wish it were over I wish everyone could keep doing what they do in peaceful times without interference.”
U.S. intelligence officials say they have information indicating Russia is planning a “false-flag” operation in Eastern Ukraine to create a pretext for an invasion. Russia has denied allegations that Moscow was preparing to invade Ukraine.