Lillian Wood, who just returned to Utah from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California, reads while in self-quarantine at her home in Syracuse on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Latter-day Saint missionaries who leave Utah to proselytize in other states and nations typically aren’t counted as Utahns in the decennial census, but many will factor into the 2020 count after being sent home due to concerns over the novel coronavirus. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SYRACUSE — Lillian Wood spent months knocking on doors in city neighborhoods and along country roads lined with almond and olive trees. She toted the Book of Mormon and cultivated her own faith as she shared the gospel across Northern California.
That changed last week when a statewide lockdown prevented the Syracuse native from venturing out, and again in following days when Wood and thousands of her fellow Latter-day Saint missionaries learned they would be sent home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“You only go on a mission once,” Wood recalls thinking late Sunday night, when she got word that she would fly home to Utah the next morning. But by the time she strapped on a surgical mask and boarded a plane in Sacramento, she had quit sulking.
“I knew this is what needed to happen,” she said.
Now the timing of Wood’s return could play a role in the funding of Utah’s roads, schools, health care system and its congressional representation as the 2020 census gets underway in her home state of 3.1 million.
Utahns in the proselytizing force of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have long been missed in the once-a decade count. But this year’s tally is different as about 12,000 overseas missionaries — out of a total 67,000 worldwide — return home to the Beehive State.
Elders with fewer than six months and sisters with fewer than three months of service remaining are set to be released, while others will be reassigned within the United States. Still more are coming home from other states if they have medical conditions like Wood, who has asthma.
It’s one of several last-minute twists the COVID-19 illness has dealt Utah in the lead up to the decennial count, which kicks off April 1. And it could make tricky work for demographers trying to determine Utah’s headcount in future years when missionaries fan out across the globe once again.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
A sign welcoming Lillian Wood home from her mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California is pictured in Syracuse on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Latter-day Saint missionaries who leave Utah to proselytize in other states and nations typically aren’t counted as Utahns in the decennial census, but many will factor into the 2020 count after being sent home due to concerns over the novel coronavirus.
“We’ll have that sort of ghost population back,” said Pamela Perlich, director of demographic research …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News