Missionary Evacuated from Africa Talks About Ebola

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Map of West Africa

Elder Yasir Finkenthal was originally serving his mission in the west African nation of Sierra Leone. However, with the recent Ebola outbreak in that country, Elder Finkenthal has been reassigned to Aspen, Colorado. Elder Finkenthal talked about his experiences in Africa to the Aspen Daily News Online.

It is easy for a disease like the Ebola virus to spread in impoverished regions like Sierra Leone. Missionaries serving in Sierra Leone were told to avoid eating meat they couldn’t identify, particularly the meat of wild animals, which is often cooked and sold in the streets. Elder Finkenthal and other missionaries were encouraged to use hand washing and other sanitary practices. It was not until the outbreak escalated at the end of this summer that missionaries in Sierra Leone were reassigned to locations outside of West Africa.

He told the Aspen Daily News that some people in Sierra Leone don’t believe that Ebola is an actual disease, but instead a plot by their government to kill off the population. He believes this is why the disease was spreading so rapidly when he left.

Finkenthal says that he and other missionaries leaving the country were checked carefully by doctors before they were given clearance to leave, and their plane was prevented from landing in Ghana for a layover. They were escorted by the International SOS organization, which offers medical and security assistance in times of crisis.

Elder Finkenthal really loved the people he served in Africa and he misses them a lot. They overcame the limitations of their poverty with their creativity and imagination. The children of Sierra Leone made cars with sticks and old cans and never complained about not having nice toys.

The people in Sierra Leone are my favorite people in the world. They are the nicest people you could ever meet.

Finkenthal will be speaking about his experience of serving in Sierra Leone at the Aspen chapel on Sunday, in a public fireside beginning at 6 p.m.

Elizabeth Cole is a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She was born and raised near San Antonio, Texas. Elizabeth graduated from BYU with a Bachelor's degree in English and is currently a blogger for "The Geeky Mormon."