Just a little more than a week ago, Elder Stephen Ward, 18, of Bountiful, Utah, had completed his six weeks of training in the Madrid Missionary Training Center and was on his way to his first teaching location when he was involved in an accident that caught the attention of the world.
Elder Ward was one of the passengers on a train bound for El Ferrol, Spain, that derailed, killing 79 people and injuring at least 70 more, according to CNN. Elder Ward suffered a neck fracture but has maintained a positive attitude.
"I actually came off very lucky," Elder Ward told the Deseret News in an earlier interview. "I was the very last person they took away in an ambulance, just because I was doing well. I might have a small crack in one of my vertebrae in my spine, but nothing that won't heal by itself if I wear a neck brace for a while.
"I've got some pretty good bruises and some pretty good lacerations," he continued. "I've got staples in four places in my head. But you know, it's nothing permanent, for which I'm grateful."
In an interview shortly after the accident with CNN, Elder Ward said he wanted to continue his mission.
"I absolutely want to stay on my mission in Spain," he said. "I'm so proud to be out here representing my church, proud to be representing Jesus Christ, and I'm so glad that I've been left alive without permanent injury. I very much plan on staying out here. Missions are usually two years for young men, and I plan on serving the full two."
Thursday, The Davis Clipper reported that Elder Ward would be able to fulfill his desire. For the time being, he will serve at the Madrid Temple and the Madrid Missionary Training Center so his injuries can continue to be monitored. The Spain Madrid Mission president, Scott Jackson, who happens to be an orthopedic surgeon, is among those caring for Elder Ward.
"The young man is still taking some medication for pain, his mother said, but he plans on finishing his mission and told his parents he'll see them when his mission is complete in two years," according to The Davis Clipper.
Emily Eyring is an editor and product manager for DeseretNews.com.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company