“Missionaries Evacuated from Albania,” Ensign, June 1997, 74
Albania mission president Laurel L. Holman; his wife, Louise Holman; and 33 other missionaries are safe after being evacuated from Albania during recent civil unrest.
The missionaries were among numerous refugees airlifted out of the country when order in the capital, Tiranë, collapsed after weeks of violence sparked by high-risk investment schemes that caused many citizens to lose money.
On Friday, 14 March, the missionaries left the mission home, later boarding a bus and then a helicopter. The missionaries flew to Brindisi, Italy, 50 miles across the Adriatic Sea.
Elders Neil L. Andersen and F. Enzio Busche of the Seventy, counselors in the Europe West and East Areas, traveled to Italy to meet with the missionaries.
The next day, the General Authorities met with each missionary to discuss the experience. “This was an emotional debriefing,” said Elder Busche. “We weren’t looking for facts and numbers. We wanted to know where their hearts were, how they felt about what had happened, what their own personal situation was.”
They found 33 missionaries who had a “tremendous level of trust in the Lord,” Elder Busche said. “They demonstrated no fear, no panic. There was a reluctance to leave the country because they love the people so much.”
On Sunday, 16 March, the group held a testimony meeting; on Monday, the missionaries were taken to Rome, where some received new mission assignments that day. Others waited a bit longer before being reassigned to other areas in Europe and the British Isles.
President Holman said the “love, concern, and prayers of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and other General Authorities, and of the families and friends of the missionaries” enabled the group to escape unharmed. “I know we had the protection of angels.”