This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Mormon missionary Joseph Dresden Empey, who was injured in Tuesday's blasts at a Brussels airport, has witnessed firsthand his church's security procedures since arriving in Europe in 2014.
The 20-year-old from Santa Clara was among the missionaries who were put on "lockdown" requiring them to remain in their apartments after the first of two terrorist attacks in Paris.
After the second killing spree Nov. 13, 2015, Empey and his peers in Belgium were told to stay in and "forgo normal proselyting activities" until further notice.
The young man described on his blog the precautions taken at a train station Nov. 25, when he was transferred to Paris: "Because of the scary stuff recently, missionaries were spread out amongst train stations so there wasn't like 70 missionaries in one spot."
And now his missionary pals are once again in lockdown.
"Just to make sure they are safe, I did ask them to stay in their apartments," Paris LDS Mission President Frederic J. Babin said in an online interview posted on the church's newsroom website, "as long as we have no [assurance] that people will be safe outside of their apartments."
Babin has been working "on safety rules" with his young charges ever since last year's Paris attacks "wherever they are, either in Belgium or in France."
The vast majority of the nearly 75,000 LDS proselytizers spread across the globe spend their two years (for men) or 18 months (for women) in safety even more than other young people in their same age group but some have faced unexpected dangers from political instability and natural disasters.
Some Mormon emissaries have had to flee from gun-toting rebels, car-burning protests and politically charged rallies.
In the 1970s, missionaries in Argentina were given codes to call to find out whether to stay put or head to Buenos Aires, should that country go to war with Chile (it didn't). In the 1980s, Haiti was rocked by coups, and elders and sisters were locked down each time. In 2004, senior LDS couples in Siberia had to keep passports and cellphones on them at all times, and couldn't wear their missionary name tags in certain neighborhood or cities because of that country's tensions with the United States.
The LDS Church has, indeed, evacuated missionaries in recent years, as it did during the civil unrest in Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Few of these episodes came as a surprise to the Utah-based faith. For decades, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has prepared for all kinds of emergencies, putting in place security procedures that can be implemented quickly and efficiently.
"The first rule was always 'don't panic,' " said Ted Lyon, who served as an LDS mission president in Osorno, Chile, from 1996 to 1999. "We did have an evacuation plan in place which was also true when I was president of the Santiago temple from 2007 to 2010 but we never had to use it."
Sure, there might be a coup in a country, Lyon said, "but often it is simply a less expensive way than ours to change a government."
A coup certainly doesn't demand, said Lyon, a Brigham Young University professor of Latin American literature and culture, "you have to send all the missionaries home."
Any evacuation order must be approved by church headquarters, he said. "Once or twice I got a call from Salt Lake City, with people saying they had heard something worrisome or that there was going to be a problem."
That's because the 15 million-member faith has staffers monitoring what's happening in areas where their representatives are posted. It also instructs mission presidents to "watch over and be very careful where we place missionaries."
Male and female pairs are "instructed to minimize the objects they have with them and only carry cash sufficient for that day's needs," the church's policy states. "If accosted by thieves, missionaries are trained not to resist, to avoid confrontation and to give up whatever money they have."
In 2013, about a dozen Mormon missionaries died, well above the typical average, which hovers between three and six a year.
However, even the higher number remains well below death rates for those same age groups across U.S. and world populations as tracked by the World Health Organization and several prominent academic journals. Like-aged rates of death for nonmissionaries are six to 20 times higher, depending on the measures used.
A principal reason is that Mormon missionaries who follow the rules would not be drinking, smoking or engaging in riskier behaviors common to their similarly aged peers. They work under close supervision. They go to sleep by 10:30 p.m. They are schooled in how to stay healthy and safe. Few of them drive cars although traffic accidents are among the most common cause of death and injury among missionaries and all of them are with a "companion" 24/7.
They can't avoid airports, though. That's where you will find at least some Mormon missionaries every week of the year.