PROVO -- Not all missionary homecomings are celebrations with balloons, banners and cameras at the airport.
A few come home each year with critical injuries that require hospitalization, others come home in caskets.
This week Sister Brittany Scadlock died in Buenos Aires, Argentina from E.coli that weakened her system and put her into cardiac arrest. She had been hospitalized and at the time of her death her parents were in California seeking expedited passports to be with her.
Instead, they came home to wait for her return.
In the meantime, well-meaning family members set up a gofundme.com account to help collect money to get the parents to Argentina and to help get Brittany home. Of the $8,000 they requested, the outpouring of donations came to $13,700 in just a couple of days.
“We are extremely humbled with the out pouring of love and support for Brittany and the Scadlock family, said Kally Scadlock Heslop on gofundme.com. “We will never be able to thank you enough for all you have done to help as we grieve Brittany’s loss,”
What Heslop and many others within and outside the LDS Church may not be aware of is the funds there are via the church.
“The death of a young missionary is a tragic time for the family and for all those who love them, and the Church seeks to ensure that there are no financial concerns that make the mourning process more difficult,” said Eric Hawkins, church spokesman. “When a missionary is injured or becomes ill and then passes away, the Church covers the costs of medical treatment and transportation, return of the deceased to their home and funeral expenses. Families may choose to supplement what the Church provides to personalize the funeral at their own discretion.”
Anytime a missionary has died while on their mission it is common for the church to make a public statement. The church does not share what the total cost of financial support is given to each missionary’s family.
"We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Sister Brittany Nicole Scadlock," Hawkins said. "Sister Scadlock began serving her mission in the Argentina Resistencia Mission in August 2014, and is from the Kanesville Utah Stake. We extend our love and prayers to her family and all who knew her as they mourn her passing."
In January, Elder Nathan Castle McBride, from Pasco, Washington died from a heart attack while playing soccer with community members. McBride, 20, was serving his LDS mission in Merida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan.
The death of a missionary is felt by every Church member in a deep and personal way, Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Missionary Department said in a September 4, 2013 statement.
“For the Church and particularly for the families of these missionaries who have lost their lives, we know that the loss of even one missionary is far too many,” Elder Evans said. “To these remarkable families we extend our love, our faith, our hope, and our prayers. And we pray that peace and comfort will be yours during these times of sorrow.”
Elder Evans said that, gratefully, these occurrences are rare, and missionary work is inherently safe. The mortality rate for missionaries is significantly less than those in their same age group in the general population.
According to the September 2013 church statement relevant data from the World Health Organization indicate that the annual mortality rate for young people worldwide in the missionary age range is approximately 205 deaths per 100,000 population. For missionaries, the figure is less than one-twentieth of that number. Nevertheless, no statistics can lessen the pain of a missionary’s passing.
“When I initially set up this gofundme account it was meant to help with the travel expenses for Terry and Nicole (Scadlock) to get to their daughter in Argentina,” Heslop said in a message on gofundme.com. “After I heard she had died I changed the account to help cover Brittany's funeral expenses. I have since learned that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is covering the costs of Brittany's medical expenses, returning her to the United States, and funeral expenses.”
Heslop said the funds in the account will be used to cover travel expenses incurred and anything else that is needed to offset additional expenses for Brittany’s funeral. Remaining funds will be donated to a worthy cause to be decided upon by Brittany’s family and donated in the name of Sister Brittany Scadlock.