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LDS members worldwide fast and pray

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LDS Church members around the world are fasting and praying for the safe return of two LDS missionaries who continue to be held hostage by unknown assailants in Saratov, Russia, 500 miles southeast of Moscow.

The two men, Andrew Propst, 20, of Lebanon, Ore., and his companion, Travis Tuttle, 20, of Gilbert, Ariz., were abducted Wednesday. A $300,000 ransom is being demanded for the two men, who were serving in the church's Russian Samaran Mission."We have been contacted literally from around the world with people offering prayers on our behalf and on (my son's) behalf," Roy Tuttle said from his Arizona home Saturday. "It's an amazing outpouring of prayers. Did you know there is a stake in Korea fasting and praying on our behalf? We want to say to everyone, we thank you for your support."

Roy Tuttle's own Arizona ward, where he is a bishop, is also fasting, he said. A friend of the Propst family, who asked not to be identified, said their Oregon ward was doing the same.

The Tuttles and the Propsts - strangers before Wednesday - are speaking daily, trying to bolster to each other as they wait for new information about their sons, Tuttle said.

Both families are also speaking daily with LDS Church officials, Tuttle said.

But there was no new information to report Saturday, Tuttle said, even though members of Congress had pressed President Clinton for swift action in the matter on Friday.

LDS Church spokesman Don LeFevre also said he was unaware of any new developments Saturday, adding that any comment from the church at this time would be inappropriate because of their concerns for the safety of the missionaries.

The Associated Press Saturday night quoted the London-based Worldwide Television News as reporting:

"Today the situation is as follows," said Gov. Dmitri Akyatskov of Russia's Saratov region. "The money that the kidnappers demanded has been found. At this point we can't pinpoint where the kidnappers are. There is extremely contradictory information."

He said Russian security officials were working on the case. The network also reported that Akyatskov warned that if the ransom is paid, his security forces may take steps to kick the LDS mission out of the region.

WTN reported that Akyatskov believed the kidnappers may be from a religious sect aiming to extort money to strengthen its position in Saratov.

Akyatskov said there are 30 missionaries in Saratov, and he was trying to organize protection for them.

"I would advise them to find something else to do and in a different place, including Mormons," he said.

The Propst family said in a prepared statement read over the phone that they had been advised not to comment "due to the sensitive nature of the situation.

"They are tired," said a friend of the family who answered the phone, Saturday. The Tuttle family, which includes Roy's wife Donna and daughters Michelle, 16 and Cambria, 18, is also tired.

"We haven't had much sleep," he said. "There's no floor left to pace, we've had to move outside."

Tuttle is convinced his son is OK.

"I know because I have faith," Tuttle said. "I know that God is with him at this time and that there are angels among them."

And he would still encourage his two daughters to go on missions, he said. Both girls have expressed that desire, he said.

"I would say go," a weary Tuttle said with conviction. "Go, because you are doing the Lord's work and that's what we were sent here to do."