By ANNIE GARDNER
Although the U.S. State Department is asking Americans in some foreign countries to come home because of potential Y2K problems, LDS foreign missionaries are staying put.
“The only precautions the Church is taking for Y2K is to request that no missionaries and church employees travel between December 1, 1999 and January 5, 2000,” said Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church.
Douglas Brinley, professor of church history and doctrine at BYU, has a daughter serving a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia. Brinley said he is not too concerned about her safety because the church has not contacted his family about any problems.
His wife, Geri Brinley, said she is more concerned about her daughter serving her mission in the murder capitol of the world than being in Russia during Y2K.
“If she were working for the U.S., I’d be concerned about her coming home, but she’s working for the Lord and I put my trust in him,” she said.
However, in October, the U.S. State Department issued travel warnings for citizens in the Ukraine, Algeria, Russia, Moldova, and Belarus because of potential Y2K-related disruptions.
They are requesting that employees and their family members leave foreign countries who are not essential to U.S. embassies and consulates. They have also asked U.S. citizens to consider deferring travel to these countries “until the extent of Y2K-related disruptions, which may begin Jan. 1, becomes clear.”
The State Department said they are concerned that Y2K may impact energy supplies and create health and safety problems for U.S. citizens in foreign countries.
“In practical terms, this could mean disruption of basic human services such as heat, water, telephones and other vital services,” according to warnings issued by the State Department.
Although all embassies and consulates will remain open, these facilities cannot provide private U.S. citizens overseas with food, water, fuel, medicines, shelter or other emergency equipment, according to the State Department.
Even if a country appears to be somewhat prepared to deal with Y2K problems, “Y2K disruptions are likely to occur in the key sectors of electrical power, heat, telecommunications, transportation, and financial and emergency service,” according to the U.S. Consular’s report on Russia.
Despite the State Departments call for voluntary departures, the LDS Church is keeping their foreign missionaries in the field.