Local LDS Missionary Injured in Guatemala After Lion Attack

lds missionary attacked by lions

Editor’s Note: Paul Oakey’s mother has given St. George News the blog address to follow updates on Oakey’s condition: http://elderoakey.blogspot.com/

ST. GEORGE – A local missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is alive after being attacked by two lions yesterday while visiting a zoo in Guatemala where he is serving a church mission.

According to an email update by his family, Paul Oakey was at the zoo with fellow missionaries when he climbed a concrete wall to get a better photo of himself in front of a lion cage. However, the fence that kept the lions from the concrete wall was not as tall as Oakey had originally thought. With his back turned, one lion reached through the fence and grabbed Oakey’s right leg and pulled him against the fence. A second lion then grabbed his left upper arm.

According to the update, the other missionaries could not scale the wall fast enough to rescue Oakey. It took Oakey two minutes to free himself from the lions.

Oakey was initially stabilized and was going to have to wait five hours for the surgeon to arrive. However, a vascular surgeon happened to be at the rural hospital where he was initially taken. Typically there is no such surgeon at that location, the update reported. The surgery apparently went well, and all the missionaries in the area with a matching blood type lined up to donate.

According to the report, family is still waiting to hear whether Oakey will have full use of his fingers.

The LDS Church released the following statement:

Elder Paul Richard Oakey, 20, from St. George, Utah serving in the Guatemala Guatemala City South Mission was attacked by a lion when he stood too close to an exhibit at a local zoo while on a preparation day activity. He sustained serious injuries to a leg and arm and was rushed to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The doctors are still evaluating and assessing his condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with Elder Oakey and his family as he goes through this difficult time.

email jwatkins@stgnews.com

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.

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72 Comments

  • ozl July 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    As a missionary you have lots of confidence and want the best pictures, but this Elder was just stupid xD

  • Angela July 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Our prayers go out to his family! I find it hard to believe that it was a coincidence that a surgeon happened to be in the area. What a blessing! We’ll pray for his safe recovery!

  • What an idiot July 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    This missionary deserves a dishonorable release. It would have a tragedy AND stupid if he weren’t a missionary. But, as a representative of the Church – not to mention the Lord – he should have known better. Any attempt to excuse this kind of behavior only guarantees more of it.

    Nevertheless, I sincerely hope this young man has a speedy recovery. He will be remembered in my families prayers.

    • svmom July 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      Yeah climbing up on the was, not a wise choice, but dishonorable release….wow…..I am glad it is the Lord whom this missionary represented that is to be the judge and not us. Let’s not be so quick to put down and judge this young man who made the choice to serve and lived worthy to serve a mission. He has suffered the consequences of his mistake, sending get well wishes!!

      • What An Idiot July 14, 2011 at 12:06 am

        You’re right: I’m glad I’m not the one who’ll be deciding what happens with Elder Oakey. Admittedly, there’s probably more here than what’s been reported. And, I know nothing of his previous service. Was I harsh? Yeah, probably. But, we can’t excuse behavior like this just because someone’s young. He has to be held to a higher standard.

        Don’t let the tragedy of the situation obscure the fact that the ONLY reason he got himself into trouble was because he broke the rules in the first place.

    • Deanna July 15, 2011 at 1:43 am

      As a former (sister) missionary, I would like to make a couple of things clear. First of all, there are many rules that missionaries are expected to follow… this elder did not break a single one of them! Going to the zoo on a preparation day is a perfectly acceptable missionary activity. Taking pictures with the animals is as well. Now, the zoo may (or may not) have had warning signs about not climbing on things. However, it was NOT as if this elder had climbed on the actual fence surrounding the lions! It was a concrete wall that was close to that fence. Yes, this missionary made a poor judgment call…just as all of us do at times. IT CERTAINLY WAS NOTHING TO BE SENT HOME FOR- ESPECIALLY DISHONORABLY! Thankfully, his mission president knows that…and, VERY THANKFULLY, you are not the one to decide his fate!
      Missionaries, and all other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are not perfect people. Far from it. To expect perfection is ridiculous. To post your opinion that this elder was stupid and deserves a dishonorable release is not only a poor judgment call on YOUR part, it is an incredibly unfeeling and hurtful to his family, who are already suffering from the unfortunate consequences of his actions! Where is your compassion? What this elder did does not warrant any forgiveness from you or I or anyone else…not even the Lord. He did not commit any sin. Even a missionary who has committed sin deserves more charity than you are, apparently, capable of!
      If you are a member of the LDS church, I suggest that you talk with your bishop and read up on what is considered to be grounds for a dishonorable release from a mission. If you are not a member, I hope that you will consider learning more about the gospel of Jesus Christ that teaches forgiveness, compassion, charity, and the power of the love of Christ.

  • Dishonorable release?! July 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    A dishonorable release?! Really?! While I would admit that his decision to place himself closer to the lions was incredibly foolish, I highly doubt it makes the list of sins that get you sent home. Give the guy a break.! He did what most 19-year-old boys convinced of their own immortality would do and he’s paid the price for it. What an blessing to have a vascular surgeon just happen to be in the area. What we can learn from this is that the Lord watches over his servants. He knows they will make mistakes and he takes care of them according to His will. May this young man make a swift recovery and learn a valuable lesson about getting to close to things that can hurt you.

    • svmom July 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

      This is just what I was trying to say, thank you for your comment!

      • SM July 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm

        Well said, and just what I was thinking. Thank you for your comment.

    • cjh July 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm

      I agree and join in the prayers for this wonderful young mans speedy recovery.

    • Charni July 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      An amazing, sweet, beautiful and faithful young woman very dear and close to our family was killed in a car accident while she was being transported by her zone leaders to her first mission area some years ago. Was she not being watched over by the Lord? I think what we can learn from this is to be very aware how some of our comments may affect others. When someone survives a potential tragedy, we say the Lord was watching over them; so where does that leave those who have not been so fortunate? We know the Lord watches over His servants, and indeed over us all, but can we, when making these statements, be mindful that others have not been so ‘blessed’ and that such statements hurt …. even irks! Our prayers and love go out to this missionary and his family. May he have a speedy recovery.

      • MI Mom July 14, 2011 at 12:20 am

        Don’t be so sensitive. You know exactly what everyone meant. And, you know darned well that no one meant to imply that your friend wasn’t watched over by the Lord.

        • Charni July 14, 2011 at 3:35 am

          MI Mom …

          Firstly, I am puzzled by your use of ‘everyone’ in your response above; actually I’m puzzled by why you needed to comment about what I had said at all, if not to be judgmental!, I was really only commenting on a section of what ONE person in this whole thread – ‘dishonorable release’ – had said. No more, no less.

          Secondly, it’s people like you who give American’s a bad name with your patronizing attitude; ‘….you know darned well….’ indeed! Did you read everything I wrote in my comment?

          Lastly, it may be good advice for you to heed your own counsel. What is it you said further down this thread? Oh, that’s right – “John 7:24 “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” You so epitomize righteous judgment. Not!!

          Btw, read an interesting article recently about the type of person who would say to others, “Don’t be so sensitive.” Enjoy!

          ‘I know not everyone who says, “Don’t be so sensitive” comes from a place of privilege, but the phrase “Don’t be so sensitive” comes from the place of ultimate privilege. It comes from a place where no one has ever erased your identity and experiences. It comes from a place where your concerns are taken seriously and the concerns of others not like you are dismissed as secondary. It comes from a place where you haven’t thought about and acknowledged the fundamental humanity in every other person…. It comes from a thoughtless place!’

      • Cherlyn July 14, 2011 at 12:32 am

        Not all miracles are allowed to happen.

    • What An Idiot July 14, 2011 at 12:13 am

      Neither you nor I get the luxury of deciding how this Elder will be disciplined. But, he needs to be disciplined. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT EXCUSE THIS KIND OF THING BECAUSE HE’S 19- OR 20-YEARS-OLD!!

      As I said before, don’t let the tragedy of this situation obscure the fact that he was only in danger BECAUSE HE PUT HIMSELF IN DANGER!!

      Foolish? Yes. Something any other 19-year-old would do? Yes. Is he any other 19-year-old? No. Not by a mile. Like it or not, he has to be held to a higher standard. Does he deserve to be disciplined by his mission president? Yes. Should he be sent home? I thank God that I’m not in the position to answer that question.

  • elga52 July 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Behind the missionnary, there’s a young man, inexperienced and carefree… Don’t you remember the stupid things you’ve done when you were yound? I am shocked that some people judge him so hardly! You will be jugded the same way as you judge, don’t remember! Just pray for him to live without any aftermath and disease like I do!

    • patán July 14, 2011 at 12:36 am

      *missionary
      *young
      *harshly
      And, I think you meant, “don’t forget” not “don’t remember”

  • Melissa July 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    My first thought was; what was he thinking?! Then after reading more, I wish everyone in the world could read about Elder Oakey’s story and feel the spirit. Because that is another prouf that God lives and the work that these missionnaries do around the world is His work, and we need to help and suport them along with some guidance on how they should keep it safe at all time.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints needs all of you and will always do. Elder Oakey, be strong and keep your faith in Jesus I’am sure the Hall church are praying for you fast and complite recovery. Do the Haka dance when this is over to show how strong and undefeatable the Missionnaries are.

    • patán July 14, 2011 at 12:41 am

      *Spirit (proper nouns should be capitalized)
      *proof
      *missionaries
      *support
      *times
      *Latter-day
      *I’m (I’m not sure how you screwed that one up)
      *whole (?) (I can only do so much)
      *complete
      *undefeatable (This is not a word. Did you mean “undefeated”?)

  • joe July 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    While I must express my gratitude that this elder is alive I strongly believe there will be more learned from this experience than just a “don’t get to close” cliche. He nearly put himself at death’s door! I myself having served and endured a frightening ordeal, while serving, hopes this elder learns to put the Lord first then think and act accordingly. My prayers go out to him and his family, may he have a speedy recovery and Lord be willing serve the remaining time he has left. God speed!

  • Lenore July 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Indeed it is true that when we are young there is no fear. However, Heavenly Father knows this and watches over our missionaries, as proven by the surgeon being there when one is usually not. I do believe a lesson was learned here and will fervently pray for a quick and speedy recovery! None of us are perfect and should not stand in judgement…judge not lest ye be judged.

    • MI Mom July 14, 2011 at 12:29 am

      I prefer John 7:24 “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

  • Katie July 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Wow…some of the comments are pretty critical. I have a 19 year old son getting ready for a mission and was thinking as I was reading this that I am grateful it wasn’t my son and at the same time feeling for the parents of whom he belongs. I can totally see my son doing the same thing as this young man did. In one split second any of us can make a poor decision and suffer consecuences for them. NONE of us are perfect. That is why we are here on this earth. I hope and pray he has a quick recovery and gets back out there to finish the Lord’s work. Before those of us want to be so quick to judge…or cast the first stone…we should look at our own lives and remember we are here to become more like Christ.

  • Arlo July 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Looks like another Mission Rule will go into effect PRETTY soon.

  • Cyndy July 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I too read the headlines and thought how stupid–but I have to admit that I do stupid things myself–as do my children. I have a son who is serving a mission in Florida. He already sent home a photo of him kissing a baby alligator, and I’m sure he would have been close to the lion cage as well. Thanks to all for your wonderful comments. Katie, I will forward yours to my missionary.

  • RM from Guate July 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    What an idiot. Americans down there, especially missionaries think they rule the country. We are smarter & taller & of higher intellect. I was disgusted seeing missionaries do things time & again after authorities down there told them not to, or that were illegal, just because they didn’t see why they could not do it. The Ugly American in Latin America is the LDS missionary. Not all missionaries are this way, usually just the ones from Utah. – I’m sure he’ll survive & have a wonderful story to tell about how miraculously a vascular surgeon just happened to be there at the right time. What a miracle! – Yet you forget how that came about, it was only After he was an idiot. – Enjoy this one.

    • cj July 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      RM from Guate
      You are incredible. Ugly American and such? I served in Peru and the peruvian elders did just as many foolish things and had a disregard for the rules and such as any “ugly American” We were all just foolish young men and some do things right and others not. It is just being human, not Utahn.

  • Sal July 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    RM from Guate you are the silliest person to make a comment on this site today. Even more Silly than the comments from What an idiot because I am sure, “What an idiot” realizes he was the idiot when he said the missionary should have a dishonorable discharge. But you, I don’t think you realize how much harm you have done to yourself by saying the things you are thinking. I feel sorry for you. The missionary acted foolishly as we all have at times. On the other hand your thoughts and words are deliberate and not Christ like at all. I really hope you realize the choice you made by saying what you did is much more harmful to you than what happened with the Lion attack is to the Missionary. His are physical wounds and yours are spiritual.

    My prayers do go out to Elder Oaky!

    • What An Idiot July 14, 2011 at 12:03 am

      No, I don’t think “RM from Guate” gets to claim that title today. The only “silly” people here are those who overlook such obvious arrogance on Elder Oakey’s part.

      You are clearly overlooking the most important part of the story: This wasn’t just some tourist here who did something dumb. This was a missionary. He literally carries a card that identifies him as a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Put everything else aside. He’s a card-carrying Mormon ambassador. Is that what you would want him to be doing?

      Trying to let him get away without punishment because “we’ve all acted foolishly at times” is NOT acceptable. The bar is set higher for him. Like it or not. That’s the way the system is designed. That’s the way our church wants it. He doesn’t get a pass simply because he’s young and dumb.

      My prayers go out to him, too. But, do I think he should go home because of this? ABSOLUTELY!!!

      • LDSMom July 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

        @What an Idiot
        It is becoming increasingly apparent that you are neither LDS nor a Christian. Your comments speak for themselves. While I could go and say that the only idiot here is you, I recognize that the Lord is the only one fit to judge. While it is true that he made a poor decision, he most certainly has been punished enough for his actions.
        The only reason this Elder should be sent home is so that he can recover and be cared for by his family. I hope and pray that Elder Oakey is blessed with the gift of full recovery.

      • Susie July 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm

        I agree with all that has been said about NOT judging Paul! “What an Idiot” and the “RM from Guate” have some repenting do to themselves. Shame on you! Judge not that ye be not judged… Not only will I pray for Elder Oakey but for you both as well…. Do you call yourselves Christians? If you do, then what God do you serve?

  • Sal July 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    So true CJ. I am not from Utah- but to say what RM from Guate said is pretty stupid. And the sad thing is he/she is probably not smart enough to know that! My son is in Brazil he loves the people, the country the work. But the companion who had to be sent home, and one who nearly did, for choices they made were both Natives. Young men from the 19-21 year old age group don’t always make the best choices but one they did was the choice to serve the Lord. And to say they deserve dishonorable discharge because he climbed on a wall, or to call him an ugly American because he wasn’t from Guatemala, is not foolish choices of a young man, they are un Christlike hurtful words of people who really should know better. And makes you wonder if they really are Christians.

    • patán July 14, 2011 at 12:34 am

      Oh. My. Goodness. Passive aggressive doesn’t work well for you, does it?

  • SM July 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Just a very unfortunate accident for this young man. May he be blessed with a complete recovery, and be able to finish his mission.

  • Lilly July 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    RM from Guate: Your comment here is absolutely disgraceful!! If RM stands for Return Missionary (from the LDS church), then you must have served a different God, like the one in the mirror. I am appalled by your name calling, harsh judgements, sterotyping, and complete lack of compassion. You should be ashamed of yourself! Unreal!
    As for Elder Oakey, I am greatful he is alive! Heavenly Father was watching over him and cared enough to provide a surgeon to keep him alive. This was not coincidence! I hope he recovers fully and can continue to serve the Lord in any way he can. I hope the rest of us can be as Christ is and love unconditionally, avoid judgement, care for and serve others as we build the kingdom of God together. God’s people are to be united, not divided in ridicule, hate, intolerance, and unfair judgements. May the Lord keep His eyes on each of us as did for Elder Oakey! 🙂 Best wishes Elder Oakey!!

  • Asi July 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    The Lord works in mysterious ways! The lion was like, “oh yeah boy, climb that fence, I cant wait!” Good to see he’s alive to retell this experience.

  • cecelia July 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Happy that he is going to be ok. But being an Elder in the Church he should have known not to lcimb the concrete wall. I just hope that they did not put the lions down. Lions are wild animals and that is to be remembered. Prayers are out for him and the LIONS.

  • Melami July 13, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Face palm… It’s not that big of a shock that her did it, we all know most adventurous young men would do this, and no harm done… the sad part is this time harm was done, but this missionary’s experience is a prime example of Guardian Angels watching over our missionaries. I am thankful for the Elder Oakey’s health and wish for a full recovery.

    As for * RM from Guate * don’t listen to him he is just trolling.

    • patán July 14, 2011 at 12:43 am

      No, no. I’m the one trolling tonight!

      • Katie July 14, 2011 at 10:25 am

        Agreed….

  • Wittgenstein July 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    My prayer goes out for those poor lions. Too bad they didn’t get their meal.

    • Keshin July 13, 2011 at 10:05 pm

      Wittgenstein –
      Wait… so you’re sad they did get the missionary? Or am I misunderstanding here?

  • mapcase July 13, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    “Looks like another Mission Rule will go into effect PRETTY soon.”
    Yeah- DON’T FEED THE LIONS.
    Judging from the comments in this thread, it would seem we are all idiots. If we are the Lord’s chosen people, it doesn’t make Him look very good either.
    Makes one wonder if He is thinking of sending Noah back down here with an Ark to start all over again with eight people and two of each animal… perhaps no lions this time…

  • gina July 13, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Yeah I’m kinda thinking and I wont be surprised to hear zoo’s outlawed for missionaries. It’s what happens.

    • patán July 14, 2011 at 12:44 am

      Kinda like the rule, “Sleep in the same room but not in the same bed.”

  • Tom July 13, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I am sure his family would appreciate you guys’s prayers much more than your judgement.

    • Markus July 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      You bet!

    • patán July 14, 2011 at 12:45 am

      Yeah, but judging is oh so much more fun, fulfilling and it burns more calories!

  • Pulaieni July 13, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Comment removed. Profanity not allowed.

    • patán July 14, 2011 at 12:33 am

      Love it!

  • Steve July 13, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I don’t think anyone here wishes to see this young man to suffer more than he has. The problem isn’t that he climbed a concrete wall that (I’m certain) was clearly there to keep him safely out of harm’s way. The problem isn’t that he’s an American acting with apparent disregard for his host country’s rules. The problem isn’t even that he was doing this as a missionary (and at the very least wearing his missionary name tag). The problem is that this situation combined all three of these things.

    Missionaries aren’t perfect; no one expects them to be so. But, neither are they just young men who can get away with doing stupid things. They occupy a very difficult position. And, they should be aware of this. No missionary can claim ignorance to this fact after he’s been through the MTC. Undoubtedly there are mission legends in his mission just like there were in mine of missionaries who did dumb things. And, I’d be willing to bet you that he shook his head in awe at how dumb someone could be. But, one thing leads to another leads to another and so on.

    Unfortunately, this particular DFT (dumb, foolish thing) nearly killed him.

    And, now all I read are a bunch of comments from people who are ready to let this sort of thing happen in a vacuum; without consequence. Does he deserve to be sent home? I don’t know. None of us do. And, fortunately, none of us have to decide. Will he be sent home? That will likely be determined by a combination of his health and any extenuating circumstances. None of us has the responsibility (or curse) of making that decision. And, be thankful for it.

    But, to think that we should just let this slide because he nearly was killed by two wild animals? No. I don’t think we can allow that, either. No matter how you cut it, he broke the rules. Breaking the rules has consequences if you’re not a missionary. Breaking the rules as a missionary is a serious thing.

    Is it really a big deal if a missionary decides to go to a concert while on his mission? Is it really a big deal if he decides to sneak out of the apartment and visit a friend (of the same gender)? Is it really a big deal if he doesn’t get up on time? All of these things would be No Big Deal if he weren’t a missionary. Who cares if he goes to a concert? He’s 23-years-old. But, that same 23-year-old two years prior as a missionary just might have been sent home for doing such a thing.

    My point is this: don’t coddle. Don’t hand hold. This young man needs to take his medicine (pardon the pun). If we don’t expect better behavior and more exactness in obedience from our missionaries in the small things, how can we honestly be mad about bigger infractions? As I said, one small thing leads to a slightly bigger thing which leads to a slightly bigger thing. Like it or not, folks, this is the very definition of a slippery slope.

    Had I done something like this (made international headlines and embarrassed my mother because of a momentary lapse of judgement) no doubt my mother (and probably most of yours) would have said something to the effect of, “I hope you live so I can kill you when you get home!”

    I expectantly await your disagreement.

  • Narelle July 14, 2011 at 12:08 am

    This young Missionary made an error in judgement that has caused him, and his family I am sure, great pain and suffering. Calling him rude names and being unkind is like kicking someone while they are down. We are told to love and help people, not beat them down with our hasty judgements. I am sure many people will learn from his experience. I pray that he will have a full recovery in body, mind and spirit, and will be able to finish his mission with joy. My family and I will be thinking of him and his family.

  • A Concerned Parent July 14, 2011 at 12:50 am

    More proof that the Church is true. So many 19 year-old teenagers making teenage mistakes, yet the Gospel teaching rolls on and the Spirit testifies to those that listen.

    I hope he recovers enough to finish his mission. He, and those around him, have learned a great lesson about following rules. Hopefully, this story will help improve the decision making process for the many teens (and adults) that read about this terrible incident.

    • mapcase July 15, 2011 at 10:33 am

      “More proof that the Church is true.”

      Nothing wrong with believing in the Church, but how does that prove anything?

      If he had died, would that prove that the Church is not true?

      Suppose this happened to a Catholic kid, would that prove that the Catholic Church is true?

      People from all faiths have had similar experiences, both surviving and dying from something like this.

      An LDS boy scout was killed by lightning the other day. That does not prove that the Church is not true.

      Unfortunately, tragedies happen- it’s part of life. Some of us die much too young. That does not validate or invalidate our beliefs.

      If you want to believe something, you can just believe it. You don’t have to say “My cat had kittens- proof that my beliefs are true.”

      But I have to admit- when my cats joined the Church, that certainly convinced me. 😉

  • NORA COX July 14, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Well what can i say about this? i rather not to comment the only thing i wonder what would Jesuschrist would do? probab;y hold his hand look at him with love and pray to his Father for his recovery, in essence we need to be like Christ; he is the perfect one, and indeed he will not judge him the way we had done it shame on us, let pray for forgivennes because we are so fast to judge and critic’s are just not right.

  • LifeLessons July 14, 2011 at 3:29 am

    Presumably, Jesus would have either told him not to climb the concrete wall or else not stand too close (and with his back turned) to the Lion fence! The experience with the Lions (who on this occasion also operated two-by-two like the missionaries!) is probably discipline enough. I’m sure that the toughest critic of the young Elder’s choice is the young Elder himself. We can all see the stupidity here but where is the sin? Can climbing a wall really be against the mission rules? {Even if it was (or against the Zoo rules) that would not mean that it was sinful.} The real mistake was standing too close to the fence. But it was a mistake not necessarily a sin. And he has suffered the consequences. This young man has a newfound and hard-earned appreciation for the prophet Daniel in the Lion’s den. May he recover and re-serve as soon as possible.

  • Alan July 14, 2011 at 7:55 am

    We’ve all done dumb things. He did one and paid a price. There is absolutely no reason for us to hide behind a computer screen and throw stones. It’s stupid and childish. Grow up people.

  • DONNA July 14, 2011 at 8:08 am

    WHO without sin let him first cast a stone.WHY are we so harsh against this young man,yes he made a foolish mistake,we all do.everyday of our lives….remember we are DISCIPLES OF CHRIST..where is the COMPASSION.My prayers goes out to him and his family.

  • Lee July 14, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Guess he’s no Daniel.

    • Wittgenstein July 15, 2011 at 9:58 am

      This is the best comment yet!!! smile people.. many take this incident way to serious 🙂 i’m still praying for those poor lions.

  • Lee July 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

    The problem is that many Elders think that they are immortal. They do dumb things. Yes the Lord protects his servants, but only as far as they are obedient. The white handbook can’t contain every possible dumb thing, but the spirit of the rules should teach you not to do dumb or dangerous things.

  • Mishqueen July 14, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Oh, please don’t show the missionary or his mother these comments. I’m embarrassed for most of you.

  • patti July 14, 2011 at 11:40 am

    This article has caused me to pause again and notice how it seems too many young missionaries have come to think of their missions as opportunities to put together impressive travel scrapbooks, spending a great deal of time and energy getting impressive pictures to put in a blog with adventurous tales to tell, rather than focusing on their mission role as servants of the Lord.

    Mission information sent to missionaries suggests that missionaries are to avoid even appearing as tourists and are to limit picture taking while on their mission– this situation reflects why. It is a cautionary tale of vain picture taking going to the extreme.

    How sad this missionary was so consumed with getting a great shot to make him look cool, that he lost sight of the rules (of the mission and the zoo) as well as his commons sense. (The elders blog even reports that after being injured the boy continued to call to his companions to take photos, and said non of the others “could even scale the wall”– such sad and shameful bravado). As photo blogs of missions have gained in popularity, I have noticed that more and more missionaries seem to be making the big priority of their P-days sight-seeing and travel, and the main points of their posts non- church work related stories. I have to say I have noticed so many irreverent and silly photos posted on the internet recently by elders that it is no wonder the press and popular culture have begun to accuse our missionaries more and more of being ridiculously naive, immature, young people. It is sad but true that the publicized behavior of a few, comes to represent to the public, the action of the whole.

    The role of P-day is for “preparation” for more service, not for joyriding thru a country. It is not a day-off when rules of decent behavior no longer apply, it is a day to take care of shopping and laundry and writing thoughtful letters home. I am not meaning to say I am against fun, but I would not think any person missionary or not should break a zoo rule as this boy did.

    I really hope that The message learned here is not what a miracle it was that “the Lord had a surgeon on duty just at the right time to save one of his children”, but that the Lord needs his servants to be mindful of their role, and be courteous, rule-abiding citizens where ever they may be. The “boys will be boys” attitude toward this situation that so many readers seem to have taken with regard to this story, needs to be carefully considered. We do not allow or expect our Elders to act the way most “boys” their age do–they have committed to hold themselves to a higher standard, and it is ridiculous and arrogant to think they should be able to pick and choose which rules they think are not bad enough to break. It is certain that this groups behavior caused a terrible problem, including great expense, for this zoo. In addition, this foolish act is costing the boy, the family, the mission president, the church, the hospital, the country of guatemala, and even the u.s. state department a lot of needless money, worry, time, blood, medical supplies, and bad press.

    As a mother of boys, I have often told my sons that while (knowing their personal standards), I do not stay up at night fearing that they will be arrested for stealing or drugs or drunkeness, but I do caution them that I do worry that they might, one day with a group of friends, do “something stupid” which could hurt or kill them or another. And so as they have grown up I have given them many talks about using their heads, and not falling into what seems like harmless peer pressure, to do a foolish thing. As parents, I think we need to remember to teach our kids that they need to behave carefully and appropriately all the time, and not only with regard to “the big rules”. Just because one is serving the Lord six days a week, does not make it ok to behave in an irresponsible manner on the 7th. This boy put those coming to his aid in danger as well.

    I am sure this Elder is a nice kid, and I do fervently hope he is able to recover without infection or loss of function, but I also hope his experience is not somehow glorified to become more than a lesson on how important it is to seek to behave appropriately at all times, and in all things, and in all places. The Elder, and all those innocently involved as a result of his actions, remain in my prayers.

  • Frank Holliman July 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I do not understand why there have been so many “judgemental” comments posted about this young missionary. Even Joseph Smith stated that there were times that he acted and spoke for the Lord and that there were other times that he acted and spoke as a man. Why should any of expect anyone to be “perfect” at all time? Not even the prophet claims that. We should be grateful that he survived and that “by God’s hand” a surgeon was on hand to treat this young man. Whether he receives any “punishment” or not is entirely up to his leadership and not up to any of us. I will rely on his Mission President to do the right thing as he receives revelation from our Heavenly Father on the matter and trust that whatever is decided, will be the Lord’s will and will pray for this young man’s speedy recovery.

  • Kira July 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I pray this missionary will heal quickly and completely and be able to finish his mission. It is not our place to judge what he should or should not have been doing. Let that be between him and his mission president. I’m grateful for all the elders and sisters in the mission field serving the Lord. Without these wonderful men and women, the work of the Lord would not move forward as quickly. God bless Elder Oakey and his dear family.

  • Holly July 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I’m appalled to the criticism by “What an Idiot.” Who are we to judge and cast stones at this young man?? I served a mission myself years ago. I do remember some of the Elders who were in my district that made that were immature and made foolish mistakes But you know, after some time in the mission field, these young Elders mature and make better choices. Let’s hope this was a wake up call for Elder Oakey. And that is a lesson for him and all the Elders in his district. And that he will make better decisions that will enable him to be a better and more obedient missionary. Sometimes we need a wake up call and learn from those experiences. And I would hope those who are criticizing Elder Oakey to retract your thoughts. My prayers go out to Elder Oakey and his family. What he did was a mistake, not a sin.

  • Marlee July 14, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    As a mother of 3 boys, one of whom has served a mission and one whom is currently serving a mission, I have to agree with Patti. We work as mothers to teach our boys to be obedient on their missions and to serve the Lord “with full purpose of heart.” It is a wonderful but scary, leap of faith opportunity to send an elder into the mission field. We pray for them every day and not a moment goes by that we don’t worry for them and hope they are doing well and doing their best in every way. To hear that your child has taken an unnecessary risk and has been hurt and/or maimed by a tragic mistake, to fear for his future and his overall well-being, and to wonder about the completion of his calling as a missionary is heart-wrenching. Missions are rule bound for a reason. Obedience is stressed for a reason. Mothers work hard to teach children to be ready for missions because the consequences can be very difficult to bear if children are not prepared or do not obey. My prayers are with this elder’s mother and his family. I pray this elder has a full recovery. I know if he is meant to fulfill the rest of his mission, he will be a valiant missionary because he will have been tested and tried.

  • Diane July 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Wow crazy stuff.

  • Charni July 14, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    He was only trying to get a better picture, for crying out loud! What rule was he breaking? A little miscalculation, perhaps? Oh boy, let’s all go outside, take a deep breath, and smell the roses! Is Elder Oakley on the mend? Our prayers and thoughts from way Downunder are with him and his family.

  • LifeLessons July 15, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Some ‘prohibitions’ ought to be a matter of common sense. Also, you’d imagine that someone agile enough to climb a wall would be able to judge the safe distance to stand away from a fenced in Lion… just in case. Although the Lord watches over us – he does respect our agency – and it is misused agency that led to this encounter. Thankfully, the Lord’s mercy is shown in the miracle that occurred afterward.

    It is a commandment to judge – but to do so righteously. Let him who is without stupidity cast the first stone of sarcasm! (Or should that be ‘without serious stupidity’?)

    I think it is right to have mixed feelings about this episode – hopefully others will learn to avoid unnecessary risk rather than seek after it. Also hopefully some will remember how merciful God is to us even in our foolishness and folly. Why is God so kind to us even when we have been foolish?

    The pride manifested in the desire to improve a photo-opportunity is the same pride that leads us to flirt with other ‘spiritual’ dangers and climb over the wall of safety. This is a lesson for life. And for all of us.

    Again, I wish this young man a speedy recovery and a return to service.

  • Dale Gribble July 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Mission rule # 167: Do not jump over concrete barriers to get a better picture with the lions.

  • Johnny July 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I served a mission in Central America a few years ago; I can assure all of you idiots out there that this young man will NOT be sent home for climbing a wall that he shouldn’t have climbed. If the mission President would have seen him on the wall, he would have said, “Get off the wall, Elder.” That would have been the end of it. Do you think that because he was malled by a pair of lions he deserves to be sent home? It makes me wonder if some of you didn’t serve missions. Do you honestly think people get sent home for those things? To Steve, What an Idiot, and a few other pious and self righteous “saints” on this thread, you need to quit hiding behind the guise of orthodoxy and get real. You are likely the ones looking at gay porn, straight porn, cheating on your wives, your taxes, abusing your kids, your wives, engaged in dishonest dealings with your fellow men and a whole host of REAL sins. ANYBODY LIVING A RIGHTEOUS LIFE WOULD NOT FEEL IT EXPEDIENT TO BERATE A MISSIONARY WHO HAS CONSECRATED TWO YEARS OF HIS LIFE TO DO GOD’S WILL THAT WAS RECENTLY MALLED BY A PAIR OF LIONS!! He may never regain the use of his fingers because of this and you you feel it necessary to denigrate him for climbing a wall he shouldn’t have climbed? Don’t you think the lions taught him whatever lesson he needed to learn? Don’t you think the lions gave him more than enough punishment for his foolishness? Why the lack of compassion and concern for this missionary and his family? What if one of your kids was the missionary acting like a foolish nineteen year old and made the same mistake? Would you be as callous and disrespectful as you’re being right now? Anybody taking shots at this young man should be ashamed of themselves. I certainly hope his wounds heel and he can continue with his mission.

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