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.
Another missionary from our stake, Carter Hewlett, is currently serving in Kennewick. Best of luck for Dan, know he’ll knock him dead wherever he’s at.
There is a boy in our neighborhood that is going to Kenniwick. He leaves soon to the MTC. There are reasons for everything.
Melissa Lee says
This week has been a crazy one for all of the Mongolian missionaries. Daniel will have like three missions! We’re hoping things get worked out over there for future missionaries.
I think it is awesome that he will have three missions. Daniel is going to feel like it is the middle of summer in Washington after being used to Mongolian weather.
I’m sure it is quite a change in weather for Daniel since I have seen temperatures in Mongolia as low as -29 degrees F in the last week (Kennewick Washington is in the positive 40’s F).
Sad to hear daniel has to leave mongolia.
I’m sad that Daniel has to leave Mongolia, it has to be hard for him. I hope he enjoys Washington.
I hope things will get worked out so they can return as soon as possible! Good luck in your new area, Daniel!
Sara Potter says
I am so glad I discovered your blog, courtesy of a little bird telling me about it on facebook…haha!
Back in 2007 a few of us Potters and a girlfriend were able to go to Ulaanbataar, and stayed a week there. We visited the church members on that Sunday and attended sacrament meeting, with a few missionaries helping us out with translation. One of our own neighbors, Todd Altom, was there just finishing his mission. His Dad is Mark Altom, whom you no doubt know, since we send him our property taxes each year, eh?!
I don’t know all your kids but I know Steve, and he has been so wonderful to all the Potters…we love him!
We just moved from Korea to Germany, and are happy to be back here after so many years away from the European lands. Norm also works for the Dept of Defense, as a social worker with the Army here in Ansbach. We had been in Seoul in the middle of the concrete jungle for 6 years.
Sara Potter, aka Milk’s Mom
Michele Wilson says
We are sorry to hear that Daniel is leaving Mongolia. He will be a wonderful missionary wherever he goes. I will be forwarding the information to Elder Wilson.
Sad to hear about Daniel but the nothwest Rocks
I know I lived in Seattle for awhile….
So sorry to hear that Daniel is not going to be in Mongolia any more. Which mission in Washington is he going to be in?
There is a Washington Kennewick Mission so I am assuming he will be in that mission, though Daniel didn’t say. Michele Wilson says the mission president in Kennewick is Paul Belnap from West Kaysville. He will be there until July.
Brian Child says
Hey you do such an amazing job keeping us all informed about Daniel. I am sure he will bless the lives of people anywhere the Lord sends him.
I feel very fortunate to have you as a friend.
Cheryl Sprague says
Wow, that is something! We wish Dan safe travels.
Melanie Karten says
I really like your blog and your posts! :)
John Lawler says
I live in the Washington Kennewick Mission (Vancouver). Elder Draper, who was supposed to go to Mongolia from the MTC two transfers ago, was assigned to our ward as a “Greenie”. We have been greatly blessed having him in our ward. The Washington Kennewick Mission covers much of central Washington (including the Wenatchee/Ellensburg/Yakima area), southeastern Washington, and the Columbia Gorge area along the southern border of the state. It also extends into Oregon to The Dalles, Hood River, John Day, and other areas of northern Oregon. Finally, it extends west of te Cascade Mountains to pick up southwest Washington, including Vancouver and Longview.
As you probably know, this ain’t Mongolia by any stretch of the imagination. However, we believe that Mongolia’s loss is our gain. I hope the missionaries that come here from Mongolia feel welcome.
Side note: Steve Sorensen, recently a mission president in Mongolia, lives in our Vancouver Stake.
Thank you for the information about the Washington Kennewick Mission. It was very helpful. Daniel’s new mission president called on Friday to tell us that Daniel had arrived and that he was being assigned to Hermiston, Oregon.
Daniel will be happy to serve wherever he is sent but it always helps to have a warm welcome. Thank you.
Paula N. says
I also live in the Kennewick, Washington, mission, in Kennewick itself. Hermiston is about 30 minutes drive away, across the state line in Oregon. It’s a nice little town, but it is pretty little (about 15,000 in population). I did write a previous comment about the mission, but it seems to have disappeared into the ether after I hit “submit”. I grew up in this area, and it’s really a wonderful place to live. We have a temple locally (Columbia River Washington temple), and a very active LDS population. My own ward has had three or four baptisms in the last couple of months. Anyway, hopefully this comment won’t get lost … but if it does I guess I’m not meant to comment here!
I am glad you persevered and was finally able to post your comment. I checked the contents of my spam and your comment wasn’t there. Sorry it was lost. Fortunately this is the first time that I know of it has happened.
Daniel should feel right at home in Hermiston as his home town has a population of only 26,000. We haven’t had any email from him yet since he arrived back in the U.S. I think it is great that he gets to serve in another mission, and with such friendly members, judging from the comments.