LDS missionary from Utah dies in Micronesia

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  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 14, 2014 6:19 p.m.

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

  • 1994 Cottonwood Hts., UT
    March 14, 2014 4:48 p.m.

    "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.

  • GD Syracuse, UT
    March 14, 2014 2:48 p.m.

    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.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    March 14, 2014 2:43 p.m.

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

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    March 14, 2014 12:34 p.m.

    "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.

  • Standsresolute Lake City, MN
    March 14, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    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.

  • Josephbunzol chicago, IL
    March 14, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    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.

  • Objectified Tooele, UT
    March 14, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    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.

  • Angel2012 Frankfort, KY
    March 14, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    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.

  • Rustymommy Clovis, NM
    March 14, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    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.

  • Grimly Bent ,
    March 14, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    “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.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    March 14, 2014 9:02 a.m.

    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.

  • SKT Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 14, 2014 8:32 a.m.

    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.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    March 14, 2014 7:45 a.m.

    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.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    March 14, 2014 7:39 a.m.

    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.

  • SKT Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 14, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    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!

  • Casey See FLOWER MOUND, TX
    March 14, 2014 6:36 a.m.

    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.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    March 14, 2014 5:34 a.m.

    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.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 14, 2014 12:08 a.m.

    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.

  • gittalopctbi Glendale, AZ
    March 13, 2014 11:51 p.m.

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

  • niners SAINT GEORGE, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:59 p.m.


    I completely misread that. I apologize.

  • gittalopctbi Glendale, AZ
    March 13, 2014 10:56 p.m.

    I take offense at those like eastcoastcoug and niners who uses this story as yet another way to be critical of the church. Aside the fact that niners totally misinterpreted the world stat and the church's stat on deaths per 100,000, to think that the General Authorities do not consider the missionaries' safety is ludicrous. And their care for the missionaries is not merely to avoid legal ramifications, it is because they love them!

    It is not just social media that is driving increased news on this subject, but it is the digital world in which we live in generally that is making news like this more instant and heard of. Also, we need to consider that we now have over 80,000 (!) missionaries serving in the world and in more parts of the world. With these kinds of increasing numbers, statistics of all kind increase.

    President Monson was inspired to lower the age limit for Elders and Sister missionaries. It is the Lord's will. If you have a complaint about that, take it up with Him. Good luck.

  • informed? Utah, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:16 p.m.

    For "EastCoastCoug" and others interested, last year the church reported the mortality rate for young people worldwide in the missionary age group is about 205 deaths per 100,000 population. For missionaries, "that figure is less than one-twentieth of that number."

  • nrajeff Centerville, VA
    March 13, 2014 10:12 p.m.

    Maybe this has been addressed, but if I am reading it correctly, ElJefe's statement was that "the church reported the mortality rate for

    young people worldwide in the missionary age group

    is about 205 deaths per 100,000 population. For missionaries, "that figure is less than one-twentieth of that number."

    Which would mean that the (annual?) death rate of the missionaries is only about 10/100,000. Which is even a lot lower than the 84-to-111 rate that niners cited for young Americans generally.

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    March 13, 2014 10:02 p.m.

    You guys are all reading Eljefe's data wrong. World wide death rate for missionary age (not missionaries, just that age group) group is 205/100,000. The actual missionary death rate as reported by the Church is less than 1/20 of 205, which is about 10/100,000, which is much less than the U.S. statistics reported by niners in his post--about 100/100,000.

  • 1984! SAINT GEORGE, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:24 p.m.


    To say 205 per 100,000 is one twentieth of the worlwide mortality rate for this age group is a little hard to believe. That would mean roughly 4,100 deaths per 100000 for this young age group. That is on par with most 61-65 age mortality rates that I have seen.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:20 p.m.

    I have never seen so many missionary deaths. Holy cow this is terrible and tragic. How many is that now over the past year? From bike and car accidents to missionaries walking on roofs to missionaries falling out of trees. Some of these are just freak accidents that are so unlikely. I did alot more dangerous stuff on my mission in Alaska with no problems - maybe dumb luck. In any event - the pain this poor family is suffering right now is beyond me.

  • niners SAINT GEORGE, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:03 p.m.



    For "EastCoastCoug" and others interested, last year the church reported the mortality rate for young people worldwide in the missionary age group is about 205 deaths per 100,000 population


    Every time a missionary dies someone comes on here and tries to ensure everyone that going on a mission is safe relative to not being a missionary for the same age group. The big flaw, they always compare the death rate with the WORLD. Most missionaries come from the US and more specifically Utah. Lets compare the 18-21 year old mortality rate in at least the United States but to be more accurate we should compare the missionary mortality rate to the Utah 18-21 year old mortality rate. The death rate per 100,000 in 18 year olds in the US = 84.3, age 19 = 97.7 age 20 = 111.8 age 21 = 125.0. As you can see all these numbers are less than the missionary death rate by about half. This is according to I couldn't find a good source for the Utah mortality rate by age. I have a Heavy heart for this mans family.

  • islandboy Honolulu, HI
    March 13, 2014 7:04 p.m.

    Our condolences and prayers go out to the missionary's family. May you all be comforted by the sweet memories of this young man and the Lord's Plan of Salvation.

  • LovelyDeseret Gilbert, AZ
    March 13, 2014 5:33 p.m.

    Obviously one death of an LDS missionary is too many. I am glad the DeseretNews reports the passing of young people who are willing to give up years of their lives to serve others and then end up giving up their lives.

    I don't think the answer is to make more rules for LDS missionaries. The missionaries are bogged down with enough rules.

    The answer I think is to convince others that these missionaries are special people and that their needs to be extreme caution and respect when they are around. Instead of tearing down religion, we should build it up and the youth that serve therein.

  • Macytraine New Zealand , 00
    March 13, 2014 5:01 p.m.

    I agree with ElJefeOcho, I think we can over react without realising that a mission is one of the safest places for an 18-27yr old to be. Every life is precious, but there is always going be the chance of accidents no matter where they are. We don't live in a world were there are guarantees of safety no matter what. Mortality is fragile and as we work to make things safer we can avoid some tragedies, but others are just what the word suggests....accidents.

  • Danny Chipman Lehi, UT
    March 13, 2014 4:11 p.m.

    Sorry, I should have clarified that social media contributes to the prominence of missionary deaths in the news. At least here, locally. And while I don't know what the extent of Satan's influence is, in any denomination's theology, I think it's pretty understood that he can influence people to act in wickedness, such as when missionaries are shot or accosted.

  • ElJefeOcho STAFFORD, VA
    March 13, 2014 2:57 p.m.

    For "EastCoastCoug" and others interested, last year the church reported the mortality rate for young people worldwide in the missionary age group is about 205 deaths per 100,000 population. For missionaries, "that figure is less than one-twentieth of that number." The Church added that every death is tragic, and I agree with that.

    My wife and I have two children serving - one in Carlsbad, California, and the other in Berlin, Germany. We pray for their safety everyday, but at the same time realize that each of us are mortal and tragedy can still strike any of us, including those serving our Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • Lisa Holbrook Nampa , ID
    March 13, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    My heart goes out to the Toa Family. We knew Elder Toa when he was in primary with our kids many years ago. I am saddened by the news but thankful for the blessing of Heavenly Father's plan. Heavenly Father will have a valiant young missionary to serve on the other side.

    Sending prayers at this difficult time.

  • Christopher B Ogden, UT
    March 13, 2014 1:32 p.m.


    No, social media does not contribute to the death rate.

    As for Satan, I admittedly don't know Mormon doctrine perfectly. But are you saying that Satan and those who support him have the ability to cause missionary deaths?

  • Danny Chipman Lehi, UT
    March 13, 2014 1:05 p.m.


    I don't know what the policies are, since I haven't served a mission, but I would not be surprised if there are some forms prospective missionaries have to sign that free the Church from being sued in the case of an accident.

    More missionaries in the field and more social media no doubt contribute to the death rate, but I also believe that Satan and those that support him are also ramping up their efforts to prevent the spread of the gospel to those who are ready to hear it.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    March 13, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    I don't feel like dredging up the numbers again, but for a past comment I did research and found that, even today, a 20-year-old is 5 times less likely to die on a mission than his peers in the U.S. who are not on missions. The proliferation of newspaper articles on this subject does not change the data.

    It's just like how these articles on the missing 777 don't mean that air travel is suddenly less safe.

  • sg newhall, CA
    March 13, 2014 12:51 p.m.

    "a fall". What kind of fall? What he climbing on his preparation day? Did he trip and fall? This is a very vague article. Heart goes out to family; but the peace that he is serving elsewhere will soften the loss.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    March 13, 2014 12:39 p.m.

    In most organizations, with a death rate of this level in the past 12 months, there would be alarm bells going off and a huge change afoot to ensure the safety of all employees. And changes would be widely published so all members would know about it. How many more will die before we change our approach? I've written people I know in the Missionary Department and what I've heard is "we're working on it" and assurances they know what they are doing. For parents who have lost missionaries, the grief is just as palpable even though "they are doing the Lord's work".

    Do we wait until someone sues the Church? What is the new safety policy with regard to:

    -Driving and bike riding (we're sending 18 year olds out to drive in foreign countries who just got their license)
    -Pedestrian safety (e.g. reflector vests at night)
    -Apartment safety (dealing with gas heaters, electrical repairs)
    -Recreation (climbing)

    These are the 4 areas where we've lost Elders and Sisters in the past few months. The Church needs to be more pro-active and address this before we lose another missionary.

  • Christopher B Ogden, UT
    March 13, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    So sad. This seems to be happening so much more the last few years. Does anyone have the actual statistics of missionary deaths the past few decades? I know some people say its just increased social media that makes these more prominent, but I thought I read not too long ago there actually has been an increase in missionary deaths lately.

    I don't blame God for these things. I think 99.9% of the time he just lets things play out according to our actions and the actions of others. I don't think he interferes in many things. He lets them play out, good or bad. Sometimes people survive accidents they shouldn't. Sometimes people die in accidents that shouldn't have happened. In most cases, my belief if God does not get involved.

    I'm sorry for his family and those members of his church who mourn his death.