We, Daniel’s family, knew last Sunday that Daniel was imminently leaving but were asked not to blog about it until we were sure it would happen. It will be a loss for Mongolia to have all those missionaries leave. They love Mongolia and its people and contributed much to improving their lives. Daniel wrote in an email Sunday:
I was in complete shock hearing the news last night. Since we hit our year mark in the country 3 days ago I thought I had a solid 9 months left to work hard. It has been quite the challenge to have to accept I’m very likely leaving in a week with a possibility of finishing my mission somewhere else.
As a foreign missionary, Daniel has two documents which allow him to be in Mongolia: one is his visa and the other is his residential permit. Both are stamped in his passport. His visa extends beyond his scheduled departure from the mission. However, his residential permit is only good until February 23, 2010. This residential permit needs to be renewed at least once during his mission as they are only good for one year.
The mission has been having difficulty in obtaining visas for new missionaries coming to Mongolia. This process has resulted in the majority of the missionaries being delayed during the past 15 months and no new foreign missionaries coming to Mongolia since the beginning of July 2009.
The occurrence of these visa difficulties are a result of relatively recent laws in Mongolia regarding foreign workers. The number of visas available to an organization is now governed by a quota system related to the type of organization and number of local employees. Being volunteers does not allow us to circumvent these rules which are quite reasonable given the size of the population and the strong feeling towards preserving Mongolian culture. Even with these laws, Immigration continued to give visas to the foreign missionaries until last year. All of the foreign missionaries currently serving in Mongolia came in as exceptions to the new rules. Residential permits for the missionaries will no longer be renewed until they are in compliance with the quota. This permit renewal has previously been a routine matter.
Yesterday Daniel had permission to telephone home to update us. He is going to Kennewick, Washington. The rest of his group (nine missionries) are going to Oregon, California, and Washington D.C. Says Daniel:
I am leaving Choybalsan on Monday. The Andersons are leaving with me by a church car. So we’ll leave Monday morning and get to Ulaanbataar at night. Then have interviews with president on Tuesday or so and I think we are leaving to Korea on Wednesday at midnight. Then from Korea I’ll go to California LA then to Washington.
Then there is a group of seven Americans that have finished their two years and will leave the week after me. Then about three months or so later another American group will leave. From about May on there will be only two American missionaries here then in July it’ll all be Mongolian.
Daniel explained that they are just keeping to the law so when they figure it all out they should be coming back. He said that it looks like he can come back but there are no promises.
As Daniel’s parents we are grateful for the time that Daniel has been allowed to spend in Mongolia.
Elder Daniel Willoughby is serving in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission but will be temporarily assigned to Kennewick, Washington. If you want to communicate with Daniel, write in the comments or use one of these addresses.