Questions about 20-year-old Elder Andrew Propst's four-day kidnapping ordeal in Russia still outnumber the answers for his parents. But they have the only real answer they need: Their son, though far from home, is free.
"There are no problems today," said a joyful Mary Propst Sunday evening.She wished she could see her missionary son, but hearing his voice on the phone added proof to the faith that has sustained the Propst family since word came Thursday that Andrew Propst had been abducted in Saratov, Russia.
Reporters and photographers came and went from their house all day Sunday. But the family was able to attend church in their LDS ward, where Andrew Propst's father, Lee Propst, is the bishop.
"I just wanted to have a day of gratefulness and thankfulness and rejoicing," Mary Propst said. "I feel like we've been so blessed."
On Sunday, with the investigation far from complete, officials guarding Andrew Propst and the missionary companion abducted with him, Travis Tuttle, 20, Gilbert, Ariz., allowed them to say very little in their first phone calls to their parents since they were released by their captors outside Saratov earlier in the morning.
"The phone call from Andy - all it did for us was let us know he was OK and let us hear his voice,' his father said.
The business cards from FBI agents on the kitchen counter and the official letter of regret and advice from the State Department no longer looked threatening. They were now mementos for a scrapbook.
During the ordeal, the FBI had asked the family to keep a roster of all incoming phone calls. The pages-long list is now a treasure of the names of people who called to tell the Propst family of their concern, love, prayers and support. Next to it is a binder filled with faxes the family received from both friends and unknown supporters.
Elder Earl C. Tingey, executive director of the missionary department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called about 2:45 a.m. Sunday and got straight to the point.
"He skipped the small talk,' Lee Propst said. "He just said, `Your son is free.' "
The family picked up a few more details from CNN about 4 a.m., and Andrew Propst called home about 11:30 a.m.
"Life is good - when you're alive,' Andrew Propst said thankfully - and with emotion.
He said he knew he was alive because of prayers on his behalf and that he and his companion were alive because of the support they received from each other.
Lee Propst said anything his son undertakes he pursues with tremendous focus and ambition. And he's not shy about telling people how he feels about the church he is serving while in Russia. "I told everybody he'd either have (the captors) baptized in two days or they'd duct tape his mouth."
Members of the Propst family are left to wonder, for the time being, how the church and Andrew Propst will decide to use the remaining year of Andy's missionary service. But if it is left to him to decide, he'd choose to stay where he is, his family believes.
Because of the 11-hour time difference between Oregon and Saratov, Russia, the Propsts became accustomed to phone calls at odd hours during the ordeal. The first call that let them know there was trouble came about 4 a.m.
Elder Tingey made that call, saying there was a problem with a missionary and that Lee Propst should get a pencil and paper.
Because he's the bishop of a congregation with a half-dozen missionaries scattered around the world, Lee Propst said he didn't know immediately that the call was about his son. "Then he said it was Andy and that he had been kidnapped. I just gasped, I guess," Lee Propst said.
"I didn't want (the kidnapped missionary) to be mine, but I didn't want it to be anybody else, either," Mary Propst said.
LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley called the Propsts from Salt Lake City after Elder Tingey. President Hinckley detailed all of the steps that were being taken to deal with the kidnapping by both church and government officials.
"It's all in the hands of the Lord," Lee Propst remembered President Hinckley saying, adding that the church leader said he had led the church's Quorum of the Twelve in prayer in the Salt Lake Temple on the missionaries' behalf.
"He knew every step of what was going on. He absolutely clarified everything - what was taking place," Mary Propst said.
"When I got through talking to him, there was no doubt in my mind this would be taken care of," Lee Propst said.
Andrew Propst's three married sisters, Deanna and Denise from Boise and Amy from Sacramento, returned home.
Church members brought food and flowers.
Little signs of the stress that existed while the missionaries were missing are easy to laugh at now. Among them is a list of identifiers wanted by the FBI - one-word answers to questions captors would have to get from Andrew Propst.
"They were hard to think of at first," Lee Propst said. "But once we got started it was hard to stop."
Items on the list were the kind of candy Andy's sisters sent him; the first name of the person who painted the 1966 Mustang Andy and his dad were restoring; and the item that was buried in the family's back yard. It soon occurred to the Propsts they should clarify to the FBI that it was a family pet that had been buried in the yard.
The Propsts expect it will take a while before they know all of the details of their son's captivity.