SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two Mormon missionaries serving in Taiwan and another in Oklahoma have died.
Connor Benjamin Thredgold, 19, of Springville, Utah, and Yu Peng Xiong, 24, of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, were found dead Saturday in an apartment they shared in Taiwan, the Mormon church in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press.
Authorities said they do not suspect foul play, but they haven’t determined a cause of death, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said.
In the U.S., Nancy Ann Vea, 19, of West Jordan, Utah, died from injuries sustained in a Tulsa car crash on Friday, Hawkins said.
Only a few missionaries die each year, and it is rare for deaths to occur within such a short period, Hawkins said.
Thredgold’s family told the Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday that he loved serving overseas.
“We’ve had a couple of other sons serve missions in the United States, but this was our first one outside the United States, and Connor just never smiled that big. Every photo, he is so happy,” his father Greg Thredgold said as he stood with his wife, Cindy. “He wrote back about how he just loved the people of Taiwan and was so loved by them. And we would just get the pictures and go ‘Look how happy he is.’ ”
Connor Thredgold was born prematurely and very sick, but he “had some miracles happen to keep him alive,” eventually leaving intensive care after 10 days, Greg Thredgold told the Tribune.
Connor Thredgold repaired electronics and worked long days at his disaster cleanup job to pay for his mission, his father said.
“He wanted to do this. He wanted to make his family proud,” his mother, Cindy Thredgold, said.
Vea’s family members told the Tribune that while they are heart-broken about her death, they take comfort in knowing they will see her again someday.
“Nancy was a happy, good and faithful daughter who had a gift for sharing her love and testimony with others,” the Vea family said in a written statement to the Tribune. “She told us before her mission that it was her way of giving back to the Savior for the blessings she and her family have received.”
The Tribune reported that Xiong had been serving as a missionary since March 2013.
About 84,600 church missionaries serve worldwide.