Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mormon Teen Collapses and Dies in Front of His Family After Reading Aloud His Mission Assignment


A teen who expressed his excitement to travel to Japan as a missionary on behalf of the Mormon church died suddenly in Provo in front of his family.

Liam Mildenstein, 19, was prepared to answer a call for a two-year mission from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints earlier this month.

He had traveled all the way from Miami, Florida, to answer the call.

The teen was ready to go anywhere the church would send him but he was particularly excited about the prospect of going to Japan.

His brother Kaelten explained to KUTV how Liam had opened his mission assignment from the church and had discovered a dream was going to come true.

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“My brother had submitted his mission papers, so we knew this was the last time we were going to meet before he would have to leave for two years,” Kaelten Mildenstein told Salt Lake City’s CBS affiliate.

The brother added, ”My entire family — my grandfather, my uncles, and a bunch of my cousins — they all served in Japan. It was something that he wanted to be a part of. He really always wanted to go to Japan for his mission. You don’t really get to ask. It’s just a lottery pick of where you want to call.”

Liam gathered his immediate and extended family as he prepared to open and read the destination where he would spend the following 24 months of his life.

The teen opened a letter and uttered, “Tokyo, Japan.”

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His celebration at first led his family to believe he was excited or joking. Liam fell backward, Kaelten told KUTV.

“He just got so excited, and then he fell over. We just thought he was messing around because that’s the kind of stuff he did,” Liam’s older brother stated.

But Liam was not faking an excitement that led him to faint.

“It turned out he wasn’t messing around,” Kaelten said. “His heart just kind of stopped. We called EMTs. He couldn’t be recovered. It was an absolute shock.”

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Liam was pronounced dead within an hour of opening the envelope. His family said he had no health problems and led an active life.

The Mildenstein family is currently waiting for a report from a coroner regarding the teen’s cause of death.

Kaelton remembered his brother as a good-hearted kid who was passionate about music.

“Liam was a very sweet person,” Kaelten said. “He was very innocent and always wanted to help people and do good. He had a childlike heart. He was a musician. He played drums and Irish flute and all kinds of instruments.”

A GoFundMe campaign was launched last week to help Liam’s family with his final expenses. As mid-August, it had hauled in more than $42,000 in donations of a $30,000 goal.

The Middlestein issued the following joint statement:

“All of this is completely surreal, and being far from home creates so many difficult circumstances that we are reaching out for any help or assistance possible. We want to ensure that Liam can be laid to rest peacefully in the middle of all of this chaos. Thank you for the love and support we feel from all of you.”

Missions such as the one Liam was prepared to depart for are done on behalf of the Mormon church by single people between 18 and 25 years of age, the church says on its website.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.