Missionaries in limbo during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in a period of limbo amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the story of a sister missionary in the Provo Missionary Training Center who, like the rest of us, is uncertain about the future.

Olivia Smith-Driggs is a funny, feisty missionary assigned to labor in the Poland Warsaw mission. She is also my sister. When Olivia entered the Missionary Training Center 5 weeks ago, she thought she knew how long she would be there and where she would be going after 9 weeks of language training.

Well, now she’s not so sure.

“At this point, nothing could surprise us!,” she says.

While there is currently no case of COVID-19 in the MTC, Olivia and her companion are preparing mentally for further quarantine or reassignment — or both.

“We haven’t seen any of the 9-weekers be reassigned because we haven’t gotten our travel plans yet. But all the people we came in with that were here that were 6-weekers that left on Monday…we’ve been seeing them get reassigned.”

Official word from the Church is that, “Missionaries who begin their service and are unable to travel to their assigned mission may be temporarily reassigned to another mission.” However, fear of getting reassigned or sick is accompanied by the excitement and uncertainty of being a missionary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Yeah, it’s kinda cool being like, ‘Oh yeah, I was out during that.’ We’ve already talked about how this is going in the history books, when the world just shut down.”

For now, life is still pretty normal at the MTC. Olivia is attending classes with her companion to learn about missionary work and the Polish language.

Olivia said this week in her email to her family and friends, “Just pray for comfort for all the missionaries getting reassigned and pray the Lord’s will will be fulfilled!… Our world is in chaos, and we are all just riding the wave. Two things remain constant: Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I trust them both.”

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