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Published: Thursday, March 13 2014 1:05 a.m. MDT

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gittalopctbi
Glendale, AZ

Hey, niners, I "liked" your comment. Thanks!

marxist
Salt Lake City, UT

Speaking as an old OSHA guy I offer the following. Every ward, stake, or mission which regularly does service projects should have a safety specialist. This person would be expert in general safety orders in industry so as to apply them to various service projects. For example, as in this tragic case, no person should be at elevation without being tied off. Silly, you say? Such could have prevented this death. I mean no disrespect to this fine young man or his family, but somebody has to brings this up.

Dennis
Harwich, MA

What could Satan possibly have to do with this? Really. I'm staggered at even the mention of it.
My question and the questions his grieving parents might ask of this fine young man is "where was his companion at this time and why did he let a "blind" elder climb a tree"?

I'm sorry for the loss and and would apologize for the Church were I in the capacity to do so.

Casey See
FLOWER MOUND, TX

One more point on the numbers. There is now over 80,000. So if three years ago there were 54,000, now have just over 35% more missionaries out than we had three years ago. If there were 12 deaths with 54,000, just statistics alone would extrapolate that there will be 16 now.

In my mission to Brazil over 30 years ago, we had one missionary die due to illness and another shot (in the arm) resisting a robbery. At that time there were over 60,000 missionaries so our mission saw a higher percentage of deaths than most missions, yet I never felt truly threatened.

Yes, I was told by the spirit not to go into a slum area one day that we normally went into to save about 20 minutes of walking, and heard gunshots about half way around the slum area and another time, I saw a man stabbed on the street corner while I was on a bus. Shortly after, I was told by someone on the bus that his brother hated me and would try and kill me, but never felt really threatened.

We also did dumb things, that we should have gotten hurt, but didn't.

SKT
Pleasant Grove, UT

Let's please be respectful. This family lost their son, it is time to love & support them, not time to tear down or criticize the very religion their family belongs to. He was serving a mission for this church, sharing the love of God with as many people as he could. Let's honor what he did by sharing that love with others, especially his family at this time of loss and leave our destructive & negative feelings out of this! My son was friends with the Elder that was just killed in Sweden, this is hard enough news and many are hurting. May the Lord comfort and bless Elder Toa's family & mission at their time of loss & mourning. This will be hard, and I pray you will feel the love & support as you go through this, knowing he is with his savior continuing the work he was called to do with greater love & understanding on the other side. God bless you all!

Flashback
Kearns, UT

Sad. Unfortunately as the missionary numbers keep rising, there will be more of these type of accidents. Stuff sometimes happens. I have a daughter in Texas right now and my son is getting ready to put in his papers. I pray for them every day.

eastcoastcoug
Danbury, CT

I am not criticizing...what I am saying is as a faithful member who has had missionary children and experience in global companies who have had to address safety issues, there are pro-active things we can do here. We're sending out young people who can barely drive a car in Utah and Idaho to drive in places like New York, Rome and Moscow. And others to ride bikes and walk along traffic (I served in a foreign country with insane driving habits). Do they understand traffic patterns, road and pedestrian markings, lights and signs? It's dangerous whether you drive, ride a bike or walk and there is little instruction or raising of awareness of differences as we send our missionaries out to the field. Our Elders here get in accidents all the time on our dark, narrow and windy roads.

I'm just saying we need to make Safety a higher and more consistent priority. It doesn't matter whether we lose a fraction of the global mortality rate. If it's your son or daughter - it's the whole world.

SKT
Pleasant Grove, UT

To everything there is a season. I think there is a time & place to bring up our concerns and ideas. Now doesn't seem like the time. There is a family that is hurting and needs support when they look at these comments, not a laundry list of things that need to change & be addressed. I too have 2 children in foreign missions,in Sweden & England. I trust the Lord called them there, and will either keep them there & bring them home to me, or home to him. Either way, they are serving & doing what HE called them to do. I trust if he brings them home to him, he will comfort me & help me through the pain of separation by sending love & support both from here & the other side. I just want to be a part of that here for this family and hope many others do to. I can't imagine the suffering, all I can do is love. Trusting God knowing he has called those he has to lead his work on this earth and they are doing the best they humanly can.

gmlewis
Houston, TX

The first few chapters of Job demonstrate the Satan can do a lot of physical harm when not blocked by the Lord. Even though the book of Job was written with a deeply poetic style, I think that it was true scripture; for example, the Savior quoted Job.

Joseph Smith was keenly aware that his life was protected for a purpose, and that his life would end shortly after that protection ended.

Satan would like to snuff out the entire human race, but he can only go as far as the Lord will allow. The Lord maintains a balance between allowing men their moral agency and letting us complete our mortal mission.

This father and mother understood that, and trusted the Lord.

Grimly Bent
,

“This is what the gospel gives us—not immunity from death, but victory over it through the hope we have in a glorious resurrection. … It is a pleasure, and it is a satisfaction and joy to know that men lay down their lives in righteousness, in the faith, true to the faith.” Elder Richard J. Maynard.
My condolences and prayers go out to the Toa family today.

Rustymommy
Clovis, NM

So sad for this young man's family. God be with them in their time of struggle.

For those questioning the number of deaths of missionaries reported: While social media doesn't contribute to the deaths, it does contribute to our ability to hear about the deaths. So we may see news about these tragic situations more often. Also, the number of missionaries have increased dramatically since late 2012. Without changing another thing, that will make the number of deaths likely to rise. I haven't done the research but guess that overall missionaries fare better than those in many other demographic groups common among 18-25 year olds. I'm guessing deaths are above average among military enlistees, collegiate athletes, professional athletes, skateboarders, motorcyclists, snowboarders, emergency service workers, construction workers, gang members, drug users, party drinkers, street racers, petty criminals, bridge jumpers. Life is a risk for most young people, not just missionaries. It is part of life wherever you are.

Angel2012
Frankfort, KY

I am so sorry!! My son is serving in Guatemala. My daughter passed away a few months before he left. Your story brakes my heart. Love to you and your family at this devastating time.

Objectified
Tooele, UT

Even if there has been a slight increase in missionary deaths over the past few years, statistically speaking... a young person is much safer while serving a church mission compared to any other demographic. Multiple times safer.

Being in the "information age", these sad events receive more media exposure and public attention than ever before. That enhances the impression of more of these types of deaths happening compared to previous times.

Since almost no missionary deaths are due to reckless personal action of the victims, surmising about overall purposes serves very little purpose. We're incapable of seeing the same big picture that God does. That's why we're required to use faith. And every time we do, that faith becomes strengthened. Someday, all of these apparent tragedies will make more sense than what our current very limited understanding allows.

I'm very impressed with the missionary's family's attitude toward this tragedy. They seem to have a mature understanding of the gospel of Christ and His plan of salvation.

@ Dennis:

The elder involved was not blind. His father is. Please re-read the article.

Josephbunzol
chicago, IL

You can argue statistics forever. My concern is the Maturity of the young people, especially the young Elders, that go out to serve. Are Stake Presidents so pressed to have Missionaries called that they fail to really pray about the person's ability to serve in the field. ? Not to put down this young man or to be cruel to his family, but why was he in a tree? Was he trying to convert a bird? In nearly 20 years in the Church I have seen fantastic missionaries. I have also seen others who would have been better off at home, or, heaven forbid, waited a few years before going into the Mission field. Just like a horse matures between the ages of 2 and 3, a Young brother or sister greatly matures between 18 and 23. Only the most mature and most ready should serve at the low end of the age scale.

Standsresolute
Lake City, MN

Why Elder Toa was up a tree is HIS business and the Lords. I served a mission. I LOVED SERVING THE LORD ON A MISSION. I know it is better to give than to receive. Whatever reason this young man has departed this life is between the Lord and this young man. What counts is that he SERVED.

I don't believe in accidents resulting in death. That is too Darwinian and offends my conscience. God has accepted whatever choices were made by Elder Toa by receiving him into the next life. That's it.

My family give our love and prayers to the Toa family. The morning of the first resurrection is coming soon to reunite ALL those who held to the iron rod.

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

@niners
"As you can see all these numbers are less than the missionary death rate by about half."

No. The 205 you're comparing it to is the worldwide death rate of people that age. So the correct statement based on your numbers is that the US death rate for missionary-age people is less than half that of the world. Assuming the missionary death rate is 1/20th of that of the world that would make the missionary death rate about 1/6-1/8th the US death rate for people of missionary age.

Dennis
Harwich, MA

I apologize for the misread, but not for the intent.

GD
Syracuse, UT

Mission guidelines are established to protect these young missionaries. For example if a missionary is driving a car and gets into an accident he or she will drive no more during their mission. You can't keep them in a bubble. They make choices like we all do and sometimes that choice turns out to be a bad one. I imagine this young man was being a service to someone and then over extended himself and fell. May the Lord bless and comfort this family. This is a hard time.

1994
Cottonwood Hts., UT

"In the work of the Lord we must allow for the possibility that the ultimate sacrifice is sometimes required for His work to proceed on one side of the veil or the other. Of the more than 1 million missionaries serving in this dispensation, less than one-tenth of one percent have qualified for 'The Transfer,' making it an extremely rare occurrence.
This book (first of 4 volumes) is a compilation of 64 such stories told by loved ones. Readers will learn of these unwelcome sacrifices which were somehow deemed requisite or even fore-ordained to open doors, turn keys, and bless thousands of people.
Although on its face the topic may seem depressing to compile a book about such events; as readers learn of the experiences surrounding these 'random' events they begin to sense the guiding hand of the Lord and in time the tragedy turns from crisis to consolation, then to faithful resolve and finally to humble gratitude."
These are the words found in the preface of a book by Susan Woods titled: 'The Transfer - Stories of Missionaries who Gave the Last Full Measure of Devotion.' (Digital Legend 2009) Hopefully the Toa family can take solace from its pages.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

The details will come out. Missions have never been without risk. May God bless the family of this elder with peace.

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