Mormon missionaries kidnapped in Russia 15 years ago reunite to tell faith-filled story
"It is a very human story, a life and death struggle," Batty said. "These are experiences that ought to be shared."
"The Saratov Approach," the film's working title, which depicts the town where the kidnapping occurred, is scripted and ready for filming and it is expected to be released sometime next spring.
Propst, who now lives near Mesa, Ariz., and Tuttle, who spent his early years in Bountiful and has since moved to Boise, Idaho, have both married and started their own families. At 34, they are preparing their children to serve LDS missions and each looks back on their mission experiences fondly, saying it helped to make them who they are today.
Each has addressed LDS crowds individually since their missions but will speak together for the first time on Saturday at the Bountiful Regional Center, 835 N. 400 East in North Salt Lake, at 7 p.m. The free event is open to the public.
"In hindsight, no matter what happened, I knew that everything would work out," Tuttle said. "It has changed my life. It was not just another day. It has made me a better person."
One of the Russian captors was arrested the day after the missionaries' release and the other was tracked down by police two weeks later. The older man served two years in prison, and the 19-year-old was put on probation and wasn't allowed to leave Russia for two years.
"Things are very different (in Russia)," Tuttle said. He suffered from mild depression after so abruptly leaving a land he had grown to love, but Tuttle understood why he had to leave. He was glad he got to finish his mission.
"Every missionary gets a chance to change lives, we just got to do it on a bigger scale," he said. "I took a beating for a greater cause."
Because of what he went through, Tuttle said he lives each day to its fullest. He wants others to know that "no matter what happens, you're in charge of your own destiny. You never know when it is going to be over."
The two former companions have rekindled a relationship that was forged through the 1998 tribulation — they had a lot of down time while they were sequestered in Russia, and it was then that they learned about each other and about how much they have in common.
"I wouldn't change anything," Propst said. "It sounds kind of crazy, but I think being kidnapped was one of the best experiences of my life … to learn those life lessons that most 19-year-olds don't get a chance to.
"It helped me realize what real problems are and opened my eyes to a lot of things I took for granted before that."
If you go:
When: Saturday, Aug. 18
Where: Bountiful Regional Center, 835 N. 400 East in North Salt Lake
What: Andrew Propst and Travis Tuttle will speak about being kidnapped as LDS missionaries in Russia. The event is free and open to the public.
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