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When a Missionary Returns Early

Aaron Olsen - August 05, 2014

A missionary’s return is meant to be a joyous occasion. But it doesn't always happen that way.

When a Missionary Returns Early

It is the mark of a job well done, of two years of sacrifice devoted to God and others. Homecoming for a returned missionary should be a time for family gathering, congratulations, and reflection. For me, it was quite different—depression and bipolar disorder sent me home before my 10th month was up. 

That doesn’t stop others from treating me like I am somehow less than I should be. For thousands of missionaries who come home early—whether due to rule infractions, health issues, or emotional struggles—much of the trauma lies in the treatment given by well-intentioned friends and neighbors.

Conclusion and Consequence

After returning from 10 months of service, I received several letters and comments from friends and acquaintances urging me to “not give up” and “go back.” While generally understanding, the expectations set by others crushed my spirit. I wanted to go back. I loved my mission. I hoped and prayed that, above all else, I could get better and return to the field. And yet I knew that I would not return. I knew I was in over my head. The good-natured but misguided pressure to “just cheer up” hurt deeply.

I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut. At college the few people who bothered to pursue the subject of my age would not accept “20” as a legitimate answer. Some accused me of being dishonest. Those who didn’t would likely ask, “How can you be home from a mission? Did you even go? What did you do to get sent home?” The worst part? I was still trying to sort out those feelings myself.

I recognize that much of the hurt I felt was unintended, or a result of inexperience with this issue. So, in an effort to educate, here are some tips on how to approach an early release missionary—whatever the cause of release—from someone who has lived the disaster.

1. Recognize how traumatic the experience is for the person coming home.

Many early release missionaries feel loss, nostalgia, or longing to be back in the field. Coming home brings both relief and sorrow. It’s akin to graduating from high school and leaving good friends behind. The conflicting emotions are difficult to deal with.

The thought of “What if?” or “What might have been?” is a constant nag, so allow your missionary to work through his or her feelings. It’s ok for them to be sad. It may take months for the wounds to begin to heal. But given time, they will. Let us grieve. In the meantime, supportive friends and neighbors should say, “We love you and you’re worth so much to us,” not, “You don’t have to be sad.” Many of us need to work through our grief to heal. Simply show love to us while we do it.

2. Don’t search for something to say.

You don’t need profound words of encouragement or a prepared speech to address an early release missionary. I recall many moments of pause, confusion, and stammering when I explained that I came home early. What early release missionaries do not need to hear is “sorry.” We want to know that our sacrifice mattered. We want to know that, whether our service lasted 24 months or two, we are still people in your eyes. For me, an arm around my shoulder, a “Welcome home, Elder,” and a warm smile are all I ever wanted coming home. That’s all you have to do. 

3. Don’t be surprised if early release missionaries discuss their problems infrequently.

It may be too painful right after the return, or perhaps it is simply too much of an effort to explain the conditions of the release. I felt that no matter what I would say, my parents and friends would not understand what I was going through. I was largely right. Unless someone has had a similar experience, it is difficult to connect. Don’t feel shunned or unloved if your son or daughter or friend doesn’t share the dark days of his or her mission with you. Encourage conversation when you can, listen intently to understand, be sure they have someone to talk to, but don’t put blame or guilt on early release missionaries for not being “open” about their issues. They have enough on their plate already.

Pep talks and cheering up strategies didn’t work well for me. What helped me most in the awkward transition was moving on with life. Going to school, dating, and working all helped me put the nightmares in the past. Now, six months after the fact, I can look back and reflect with clearer vision.

4. Treat early return missionaries like everyone else, and not as if their situation makes them some kind of an anomaly.

Ask them about their future goals and dreams. Talk about old hobbies they might pick up again. Get reacquainted with your missionary. It is not necessary to discuss his or her difficulties in the mission field in order to reconnect.

New Beginnings

I consider myself exceptionally lucky. I came home to a warm ward, understanding family, and dependable friends. I may have felt alone and inferior at college due to the reactions of some ignorant people, but I do not regret the decision to come home. I served God when He asked, and I earned an honorable release. Every early release missionary should be proud of his or her contribution and willing heart.

I was told an analogy that has struck me inside again and again. In the military, the view of completing missions and of wounded comrades is quite different from our view of similar situations in religious missions. If soldiers rush into battle and are wounded on their first mission or 50th mission, they are treated the same. They are given medals. They are applauded for their service, no matter how long. Their brothers and sisters at arms risk their own lives to rescue and restore those soldiers to their homes. No one looks at them differently. No one says, “Well, you didn’t really help the war effort, did you?” or “Toughen up, man. It’s just a bullet.” These brave men and women are honored and respected for their service.

So should it be with missionaries. We were willing to go where the Lord asked. Sometimes we get hurt. All we ask for is acceptance and love. We return with dread, hoping our partial offering will still be acceptable to those we care about most. My hope is that every missionary will be loved and respected. With your understanding and support, it can happen.

Advice from a Mission President

Craig M. Moffat, an allergist for Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, returned from service as the president of the Washington Seattle Mission in the summer of 2010. He has extensive experience with missionaries who return home early. Here’s what he says:

“When I call parents, the majority of them are understanding. They just want what’s best for their child. They want to know the issues and voice their concerns. Parents are most often confused as to what to do.

“The steps that have to be taken are, first, apprise the leaders and parents and second, keep communication lines open. As a mission president, I don’t have the time to work out the particulars for the missionary’s care when they get home. That is up to the parents.

“The greatest weakness in the system is the transition home. The best advice I’d say is to love the missionary. They have suffered tremendous internal torment, guilt, anger, and fear. They carry a spirit of self-incrimination, saying ‘If only this’ or ‘If only that.’ Parents will do best if they accept them with open arms. And when the time is right, sit down and talk about the issues. Don’t fluff it over.

“The problems come when parents are defensive and angry. These feelings are quickly absorbed by the missionary. They think they’re unworthy anyway. Tell them it’s okay. Get them talking. How a missionary perceives his or her mission will reflect upon how that missionary perceives him- or herself. Put aside stereotypes, don’t worry about the long-term results, and get them help.”

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When A Missionary Returns Early is a classic LDS Living article and was originally published March 29, 2011.

© LDS Living 2011
Comments 93 comments

jkeyes87 said...

07:33 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I have a good friend of mine that came home early from his mission twice. The best thing I found was to just be a friend. Be there to listen if he needs to talk or be there to do something fun if he needs a distraction.

jakeyutah said...

10:49 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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My cousin and the AP from his mission both got sent home early. It was a difficult situation but now I see it was all for the better and they've been the most adorable couple for the past 10 years.

bigdogdano said...

10:56 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I think the higher law we should all live is that: "If I say or do anything that breaks God's heart, its wrong." In our mormon culture we too often have cookie cutter thoughts on so many things; mission fulfillment, temple marriage, having kids (and many of them), being in your 30's and not married. We need to back it off and give all of our brothers and sisters a break and stop judging one another. Its no one's business "what happened" or "why". If you really think Christ cares about most of the stuff we worry about, then perhaps the Savior you have in mind, isn't really Jesus Christ afterall. Can someone please tell me a scripture where in the New Testament Christ punished someone? Love one another. Simple.

loriemig said...

11:04 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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What a great article! I wish I had read this years ago when someone close to me returned home. It is hard to know what to say, and you have given some valuable insight into the appropriate responses that will heal and not hurt. Thank you so much for taking the time to educate the rest of us with your experience.

jebt said...

11:13 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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Thank you for this article. My son is out on a mission as I am typing this article. He has informed us (husband and me) that he is being sent home early due to depression. He truly loves the people he has worked with and wishes he could have made through the end but he just hasn't gotten better. What he is going through may have always been there and as his parents we just didn't recognize the signs. This article will be very helpful to us as a family.

kykko said...

11:16 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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The above comments are very thoughtful and helpful. It would be interesting, however, to have comments from someone whose membership in the Church was terminated due to choices made in the mission field. It is one thing to come home and continue attending Church, taking the Sacrament, etc. It is another to not only deal with an early release from one's mission but to cope with no longer being a member of a Church which, for most, is an integral part of who we are.

hampton said...

11:23 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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All I can say is great article.....

stephenadams said...

11:35 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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What a wonderful rendition. Thanks for sharing your story with us. It will help alot of us members to know how to properly address this issue with those who return home early. May Heavenly Father Bless and Keep You! May the Light of Christ, continue to shine upon you, inasmuch as you bless others!

megtaylor said...

11:54 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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This was a wonderful article. My sister and I both suffer from depression, and while she was able to serve a full 18-month mission, she struggled greatly not only with depression, but with companions and a mission president who did not understand or accept depression as a serious condition and not simply a result of sin or spiritual weakness. She struggled with church membership after returning home in part because of her disillusionment with others' treatment of her disorder (though she is active today). It is extremely difficult to live with mental disorders, especially when others' lack of understanding and mercy leave you feeling as if depression is your fault. I'm glad articles like these shed light on a serious and not-uncommon problem that's often misunderstood by members.

promisedgurl2 said...

11:55 AM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I am sorry you were ostracized like that. You served a Mission you had the experience. We as a society need to understand that we need to do what Heavenly Father wants us to do as hard as that may be at times that is what we need to do. We also need to remember that maybe he has something bigger. There are times when I feel that I am a failure because I didn't do what I was suppose to but I also didn't wait long enough for the purpose he has for me. We need to have faith and trust that he will provide for us. We are the only ones to lead us astray and it is easy to let is happen.

kayiniowa said...

12:14 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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We just had this happen in our ward. This young missionary came home -honorably released-. That means his "official" service is fulfilled in the eyes of the church and the Lord. He was suffering from depression and needs to heal. In going through this, our ward has all learned that serving a mission means ~being worthy and accepting the call to serve~ and then going out and doing our best. The Lord is in control of how long any of us serve in any calling because the call comes from Him. A missionary may be out eight months and get sick or worse but he still served a mission. In any calling we serve until we are released. On the paper when a missionary is called it says: it is "anticipated" that you will serve for a certain amount of months but as long as a missionary is honorably released then he has truly served the Lord. This is a great article and I hope it helps people to stop judging and start supporting each other. Thanks Aaron.

untypicallyjia said...

12:20 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I really wish this article was around years ago when someone very close to me came home due to severe depression. The entire ward ostracized him and almost ten years later, his family still brings it up. "Too bad you never finished," and things like that are all too often said and it's caused a lot of heartache.

smthornock said...

12:33 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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Every one of us is different and we have different capacities for giving. It matters not how long we serve it matters that we serve willingly and do our best while we are serving!

randibee said...

01:05 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I have a 16 year old son who is struggling right now, and I am not sure that he will even choose to go on a mission. Thanks for sharing your experience and words of wisdom.

jeantoller said...

01:07 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I have sent out 4 sons on missions. The last one had to come home shy of a year out. He came home honorably and struggled with depression from serving in a poor country. He is the most wonderful man and serves in the Elder's Quorum Presidency. He struggled at first with knowing her didn't serve the whole 2 years but has come to grips with the fact that he did his best and served just like any other missionary. His mission president told him that he had served a full mission as far as her was concerned. Every mission is different for every person. We welcomed him home with open arms knowing that he did his best. That's all the Lord expects of all of us.

genealogybuff2011 said...

01:11 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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untypicallyjia said, "I really wish this article was around years ago when someone very close to me came home due to severe depression. The entire ward ostracized him and almost ten years later, his family still brings it up. "Too bad you never finished," and things like that are all too often said and it's caused a lot of heartache." I am sad this person went through that. I was sent home early from my mission twice years ago. The first time because of emotional difficulties in the mission field. My ward was very supportive. However, I went back to the mission field and did finish my mission. Unfortunately, because there was no more work done for my companion and me. My zone leader suggested I think about going home early and really pray about it. I truly did not want to go home early again. I felt afraid and was afraid others would judge me for going home again the 2nd time. So I did what my zone leader did, I prayed for like 2 days even thou I was very afraid of going home early again. On the 2nd day, as I prayed, I knew what the answer was even though I didn't like it. The Lord told me my mission was finished and he was pleased with it. I felt warm all over. I was not happy going home early again, but my companion saw my face "getting flushed" by the Spirit. She knew I had received my answer and supported me for it. I went home 2 months early before my actual release. It was hard because I'm the only member in my family and my parents did not understand why I came home early. Even though, my ward was supportive, but it was still very traumatic for me because I was home early twice. Even tho, it was years ago, it is still somewhat a sensitive topic for me. I'm still single to this day. And that doesn't help either. It is still heartbreaking because of the circumstances in my life. I wonder if I was "punished" for it even tho the Lord gave me his approval to go home early. It still affects me to this day.

saddened said...

01:19 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I pray for those who have to return home early and are faced with some in the church who automatically assume that he or she was sent home for wrong doing. This has an even far greater impact on the returning missionary than the actual return home does. We have to educate our members that gossip is extremely harmful and that such comments can pull people away from the church. I want to thank all of those missionaries who have devoted their time to serve whether it was full time or not. God bless each of you.

mollyjane said...

01:53 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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one of the women in our ward experienced this with her son. ultimately they decided that the removal from the family, combined with the isolation was too much. in a new day and age, we should be able to have constant contact with our family members via email and cell phones as this would lessen the isolation. also, there is a heart breaking savagery among our members who viciously judge everyone and leads to many leaving. this is our greatest problem. the vicious judging. these young men are at a stage where they need to date, have fun, ready for their adult lives, maybe it is time to rethink what we are doing tothem, maybe it is time to start sending couples who are married out together instead. also this would allow for more patriotic joining as our young men could enter the us military of their choice. it is embarassing how few of our young men serve this country! it's a new day in the lds world and the church needs to change with the times, or many will be leaving. this kind of hardship on young men is not sustainable, endurable, or kind. it is a form of child abuse.

contraltissimo said...

02:20 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I can't help crying as I read this.... I came home early too, after only five months. It was psychological. Talking to people just unnerved me so much.... My release was honorable, and it's been five years since then.... but I've still felt ashamed, and like I didn't serve a real mission. But I'm glad you wrote this, and I found comfort in your words. I like your analogy about soldiers in a war. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your feelings and everything in your head and heart. It makes me, and others I'm sure, feel less alone.

stocky said...

03:10 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I always thought I was sensitive to the early release of a missionary for any given reason, however, your article certainly taught me a lot about what to say and not to say. We never know how someone is feeling unless we walk in their shoes. I have never served a mission, so how could I know? I have listened to many missionaries and many returned missionaries, but this was a big help for me for the future. Thanks to all of you for whatever you contributed to your mission. Thanks to you Aaron Olsen for being so honest and willing to help us be more Christlike.

kjhskousen said...

03:16 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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My husband was sent home after just 9 months. He was in poor health and his mission president said he should never have been sent out. This has bothered him for years, although he shares it often. It made him feel like a failure

musicmom27 said...

04:00 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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kykko said: "The above comments are very thoughtful and helpful. It would be interesting, however, to have comments from someone whose membership in the Church was terminated due to choices made in the mission field. It is one thing to come home and continue attending Church, taking the Sacrament, etc. It is another to not only deal with an early release from one's mission but to cope with no longer being a member of a Church which, for most, is an integral part of who we are." I don't think that adding excommunication to the problem is anyone's business but the person dealing with it. This article was timely as I have a son with Asperger's syndrome turning 19 in the fall. How will he handle the mission field? Will he be allowed to serve as 'normal' missionaries do or will he be in the Family History Library in Salt Lake? How long will he serve and what happens if it's not the full 24 months? Thank you for sharing your experience.

jackie said...

04:16 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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We have 3 grown children who developed bipolar; so my heart certainly goes out to Aaron! thanks for writing this. We also have 2 younger sons w/ Asperger's. The oldest of those served the full 2 years of his mission, due to lots of counselling & taking EMPower (vit& min) supplements. He found it very hard to deal with companions, and was so happy to get home. He is now happily married to a very patient young woman. We never know what will transpire.... thanks again Aaron, I will remember to be more sensitive to situations that DON'T have a "happy ending".

elranchobob said...

04:19 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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Thank you so much for this article. I have a son who was unable to serve a mission because of some emotional problems. I know there are many who look at those who didn't serve as second class Mormons. It's true that all young men are encouraged to serve but not everyone can. They should not be made to feel less than worthy. Our Heavenly Fathers knows all of us and loves us anyway. We should all follow His example. I want to thank this young man for his service.

michnellelurv said...

05:17 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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I was one of those missionaries that came home early due to a medical issue. A disk ruptured in my back while serving in korea, and the church wanted me home asap. I had a great ward, that welcomed me home like i served the entire 18 months, but I still suffered from the What if's and Why me's. I had friends tell me that I should go back out, and even a member of the stake presidency ask me "how does it feel to be a missionary that didnt complete their mission?' i was little taken aback by that. But I had an amazing college bishop who knew my story and told me that on my papers its state that I served a mission an that there is no astrick by it saying I came home early. I was extremely blessed by coming home early, the Lord had different plans for me, and I have been grateful my mission experience.

ricklds said...

07:30 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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Hey..one of my sons surprised us with the info that both President Monson and President Packer did not serve missions -- perhaps there are more of the 15 apostles who did not, but I have not checked. I did check on those two and sure enough, my son was correct. It is unbelievable to me that there are people who claim to be "Christians", but who negatively criticize and mistreat others.

macho_mz said...

08:10 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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This article brings up a very good point. So many missionaries who return home early are met with a stigma that they did something wrong. Many missionaries who return early do so for health, personal or family problems. The negative attitude of others can be very difficult to handle, especially if they have these other issues to deal with. Even if they were send home for infractions, they still need love and support. President Monson once gave a talk about member retention and said that if everyone truly felt the love of those around them, no one would ever leave the church. I wholeheartedly agree!

lynnfuller said...

08:52 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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My son just came home from his mission early. He was gone exactly 1 year. I have had a gammet of emotions and would have liked a support group to help me through this. My son evidently was depressed and lost 25 pounds, wasn't eating and finally passed out on his bike. He asked me if he came home early, would I still love him? I said I would love him no matter what. My greatest fear was that this would cause him to go into inactivity. He's only been home a month and seems to be doing just fine. I'm a little surprised there isn't a little more emotional support for these young men and women when they're out. I believe that would have been helpful for our son. A little perspective can be so helpful!

rob67 said...

11:29 PM
on Mar 29, 2011

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This is an excellent article. After reading all of the comments, I am very upset that some of these missionaries are ostracized by their family and/or ward. We had a 12 year old son take his life in 1983; we took him to many doctors and all said he was fine. Finally, a doc determined his problem and wanted him to see a Doc who worked with kids. He never made it to that appointment. Mental illness is just that-an illness. I served a full 2 year mission and knew of a few missionaries that went home early. Most of them were depressed and couldn't handle the stress. Missions are not an easy calling. Very spiritual times; very discouraging times. I loved my mission in the South, way back in the 60's-wonderful people. Sister Fuller. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope your son realizes that he did his best and wish I could give him a hug and tell him to get some counseling & stay active and Temple worthy. My love to you and your son! Depression is a real illness that can be treated. I wish my son had been given a chance but realize that it was his time to go on ahead. Elder Ballard gave my wife a blessing and told her he would be waiting in the Celestial Kingdom and he was not responsible for his death.

rob67 said...

12:08 AM
on Mar 30, 2011

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To: Molly Jane. I do not agree with you that young men should not go on missions and more should go into the military. I served in the South in the mid 60's and was in Army Basic Training less than 6 months after I came home, during the Vietnam War. The Basic Training for six months was much more difficult than my two year mission X 10. It was not a positive experience for me at all. A mission is a great experience, not just to spread the gospel but to grow up and mature and grow spiritually to be a future leader in the church. I served part of my mission in the mission home and a General Authority told us that. The vast majority of missionaries do not have serious problems and many are like me and speak fondly of those two years as the best two years of my life. If young men are no longer needed to serve missions, President Monson will receive a revelation. I don't think we will see that happen anytime soon. I loved my mission. When I was interviewed by my mission president before going home he told me that when you serve as a Bishop, you will say the most spiritual times of my life were when I was a missionary and while serving as a Bishop....he was right. I felt the Spirit many times as a missionary and while serving as a Bishop, but both callings had some very discouraging moments and both experiences were not easy callings - just as it should be.

kate123 said...

01:10 AM
on Mar 30, 2011

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I think everyone needs a little perspective, coming home from a mission is not the worst thing in the world. No, it's not the ideal situation, but you have no idea what that person is going through. No need for shame or embarrassment especially from family members. It's hard enough for someone come home early for any reason, they don't need people judging them. If you came home early, move on and live a good faithful life.

urbanforester said...

09:48 AM
on Mar 30, 2011

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Thanks so much for this article. My oldest son, who has a difficult form of OCD called scrupulosity (religion-oriented) has been on his mission for nearly 10 months. He has struggled, but he is very strong and very determined, and his growth in the field has been incredible. Still, I always wonder how if his illness will stay contained long enough for him to complete the full 2 years. If he cannot stay, I know in my eyes he will have fulfilled his mission. I'm grateful to know that in the eyes of Heavenly Father and the church, he will have fulfilled it as well, should it come to that.

youfoundheidi said...

11:04 AM
on Mar 30, 2011

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I also returned early from my mission, due to depression, to family and a ward who didn't understand. Many tried to be helpful or give words of encouragement, but I found that for me the best thing was to continue to serve in the ways that I could. I went out with sister missionaries in my area, I wrote to missionaries from my MTC district every month and sent them encouraging stories, and did the best that I could. The best words of advice I was given were from one of the office Elders in my mission. He quoted the lines from the Hymn "Who am I to judge another, when I walk imperfectly. In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye cant see". It reminds me that we know what we are going through, but not everyone else will understand the sorrow of our heart. I loved the time I was able to serve the Lord in the field, but missionary work and service lasts longer than 18 months or 2 years. :-)

justlive said...

11:08 AM
on Mar 30, 2011

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The most important thing is for the individual to come unto Christ. No matter what we don't like or understand, we shouldn't put ourselves or others in boxes where we are to be exactly one way...that was part of the issue with the law of Moses. Whether we think we understand or not, we need to care; that is charity, the pure love of Christ (for ourself and for others). This has only come because of personal experiences. We can pray for our hearts to changed and become how our Father would have us become.

gregs said...

03:26 PM
on Mar 30, 2011

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What a bunch of preachers... Why are we such a mental society? They used to announce disfellowhipments and excommunications during priesthood. Now we have to walk on egg shells with everyone.

doubleocinco said...

04:48 PM
on Mar 30, 2011

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I also came home from my mission early. i was only out 6 months. it was the best 6 months! i loved my mission! but I also got depressed and had a mission president who didnt understand. So it was really hard to come home because my mission president wasn't supportive. When I came home my bishop released me and would not even talk to me and then said i was dishonorably released. I was so shocked because its uncommon to have a sister dishonorably released. my ward was NOT supportive and neither was my father. my mom and her side of the family was great. confused but great. All i got was you should have stayed out etc... no incouragement. I felt horrible for coming home early. but I didnt let the negative people keep me from going to church. I saw so much on my mission about less actives who had been offended. I was not going to let that be me! so i kept going, but still to this day I always wonder if I should have stayed out? I am in a good place right now though but i get judged so much still after 5 years about coming home early.

susieblue said...

06:44 PM
on Mar 30, 2011

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I am a member of a large ward in Brisbane, Australia. Over the years we have had some of our young men return from this missions early. Thank you so much for this insight into their feelings. I wish I'd had this information earlier. I will put into practice the suggestions given.

momardnas@gmail.com said...

07:06 PM
on Mar 30, 2011

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I know of a close friend whose son returned home early because of depression and health problems. He wa fortunate enough to have a loving family, but some ward members treated him differently. This had a profound effect on his well being as a member of the church. His family sent him to college in another state where he didn't have to answer embarrasing questions and could re-invent himself. He has since married and is serving as a ward missionary and is fulfilling his missionary service informally. He has vowed to make himself a "life" missionary for the church. This article is great because ALL members should accept missionaries who are honorably released early as just that - HONORABLE.

momardnas@gmail.com said...

07:14 PM
on Mar 30, 2011

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@doubleocinco: You stay strong because the Lord LOVES YOU for at least trying to serve. Having depression is not dishonorable. All you have to worry about judging you is Jesus. And he'd wrap His arms around you and say, "I love you because you tried."

rob67 said...

10:45 PM
on Mar 30, 2011

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Dear Doubleocinco: I was so shocked to read your story. I mentioned above that I had a son with depression problems take his life at 12 years of age. Two additional boys had depression problems but we got them hospitalized and they are fine now. Depression is part of Mental Illness and is very real. I am so sorry that you were not given a honorable release and not supported by all family members and your ward family. I heard a story of a Bishop getting up in front of his ward and advising that a young man was coming home early with Mental Illness problems and please love him because I know he did his best to stay but could not. I too wish that I could give you a big hug and tell you that you did your best and the Lord does in fact love you because you tried. I served a full two year mission with no health problems but knew some missionaries who had health issues, including Mental Illness. Our sweet Mission President spoke with the parents, Bishop and Stake President of each missionary who went home early and requested that he/she be loved and that they did their best and received an honorable release. He then called to follow up every 2-3 weeks for about six months. He was a jewell and loved his missionaries. We as missionaries love him as well. He would sit at the dining room table having dinner and excuse himself and go call a missionary and found that the Elder was having depression problems and made arrangements to get him to the mission home... a very inspired man. My heart goes out to you and my love also..... Stay strong and you will be blessed. Take care, Rob.

grammiejane said...

11:41 PM
on Mar 30, 2011

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Thanks to all the parents who wrote in about sons and daughters who are worthy to serve but have medical conditions that might preclude their serving full-time missions or cause them to have come home early, especially musicmom27. How many of you are aware of the great Welfare Service Mission program? Our son was desirous of serving a mission and had prepared himself to serve. We were aware of some issues and were seeking answers through prayer. The October 2003 Conference announced this new program for young men, sisters and married couples. It allows service in a multitude of areas, such as the Family History center, and other numerous opportunities, such as Nauvoo reenactors, computer specialists, distribution centers and Church Employment Services. Our son was blessed to be called on such a mission. He served valiantly and faithfully for the duration of his call. He was able to live at home, drive himself to the Temple or the employment offices, distribution and cannery facilities. He spent the majority of his time at the Employment office setting up and running their programs. This is not an easy mission, but it addressed our sons needs. He was able to take medications, meet with his Dr. and share the light of the gospel with his family. Please look into this option. Talk to your Stake President, as he will serve as the Mission President over your missionary. The worthiness bar has be raised and it makes it more challenging for all worthy men and women, but physical, emotional or mental issues need not prevent the serving of a worthwhile and enriching mission. Thank you, Elder Olsen, for your service -- well done -- well done!

gr8showersinger said...

11:53 PM
on Mar 30, 2011

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Wow...obvious, from reading above, this happens to a lot of people. Good article. Glad it's being discussed. So sad for those who went through bad experiences. My heart goes out to you. However, I did have some comments to a few people: To JakeyUtah, you said,"My cousin and the AP from his mission both got sent home early. It was a difficult situation but now I see it was all for the better and they've been the most adorable couple for the past 10 years." Are you talking about being sent home for homosexuality? That's not genetic...it's a choice. A nasty one too. Still, people need love when they return home. But saying they're an "adorable couple"? What's so adorable about homosexuality? Let's love the person, not their lifestyle. Second, MusicMom27, shame on you! You said, "Will he be allowed to serve as 'normal' missionaries do or will he be in the Family History Library in Salt Lake? How long will he serve and what happens if it's not the full 24 months? Thank you for sharing your experience." Hel-lo! Serve a "normal" mission? I know so many heart-broken parents whose sons will never serve a mission... and you want to complain if he gets the honor to serve one, even in SLC in a history library? Seriously? You must be from Utah. Anywhere else people would be excited for their child to go 24 months. Having only 1 out of my 4 brothers serve, I would have given my right arm to have that privilege for one of them. Maybe you ought to get your priorities straight and find out what a mission is all about... not appearances, dearie. Missions are wonderful, and my husband and I both served. (In fact, I got two, a musical mission in Nauvoo, and another in Spain.) But if someone gets sent home, seriously, that's their issue. I'm appalled that people would even say anything, or treat them any less. I've known quite a few LDS men who never did, and they're amazing people. Sure, it would've been awesome if they did, but maybe they'll get the chance with their wife later. Most women end up going when they're older. P.S. About Nauvoo missions, if you think your son/daughter might not be able to serve a 24/18 month mission, there is a musical mission in Nauvoo. A young person can serve for four months giving tours through historical sites and singing/dancing in the evening. Best mission ever! PLUS, s/he can get their endowments and say they have served an honorable FULL-time mission. Two of the six elders I served with never went on 24 month missions (they were lucky just to make Nauvoo), but they can hold their head up high knowing they gave their time and talent to the Lord. If you want to inquire more, just call church headquarter and ask about the Nauvoo musical mission. Good luck!

cti said...

07:54 PM
on Mar 31, 2011

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Thank you for this article. I think that we who are somehow "different" in the LDS culture (which most of us are in some way or another) may need to start politely speaking up when people make insensitive or offensive comments. My husband and I had trouble having children, and got a multitude of questions about when we were going to start a family. I finally started to answer, "that is a personal question and I would rather not talk about it." People then would usually apologize, and I'm hoping they would think twice before being insensitive to somebody else. So, if someone asks why you came home early, or starts saying something annoying about it, why not just politely say, "that is personal and I'd rather not talk about it?"

onemoreday said...

05:12 PM
on Apr 02, 2011

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In regards to the comment by gr8showersinger relating to JakeyUtah's post, "My cousin and the AP from his mission both got sent home early. It was a difficult situation but now I see it was all for the better and they've been the most adorable couple for the past 10 years." You immediately jump to the perhaps erronoeous conclusion that "my cousin" was an elder. Perhaps "my cousin" was a sister missionary? A little clarification goes a long way to dispell error and false assumotion. Not that it is our place to judge anyway. As far as I know there is really only one human being that we have to answer to who is qualified and authorized to "judge" anyone in matters relating to the church and that would be ones bishop who has been given the keys and the responsibility to act for the Lord as a common judge in Israel. Just a thought. Great article, by the way. THANKS!

whythinkestevilinyourheart said...

09:34 PM
on Apr 02, 2011

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I returned home early after a year on my mission in Utah. It surprised everyone. It was very traumatic to me because I wanted to stay on my mission and I loved my mission so much, but knew I had to go home. In fact, the last transfer of my mission I asked my mission president to send me home as soon as he could because I knew I did not "belong" in the field. When my mission president told me he didn't know wither I was going home or staying because he had to call Salt Lake I knew if you call HQ I might as well pack my bags. I knew I was only hurting my area and mission by being in the field. The mission president before mine didn't send anyone home because his philosophy was that they would just go inactive so that wasn't an option. Which is true. I heard 1 of 10 go inactive after their missions if they are sent home early. I know some missionaries that should have been sent home, but never were simply because they were never caught (Drive to California, sit on the beach for a week then drive back), but yet they received an "honorable" release. If you're a RM (or ex-mission president) you know exactly what I mean. I would say most of the time when "early release" missionaries come home they're sometimes on church discipline. This makes it even more hard to not feel judge because it is the equivalent of the scarlet letter of the 1700's to some people. This is why it is up to that member to "pay the price" of sin. I did. It was the hardest time in my life, but I did it because I need to re-qualify for eternal life through repentance. Much has been said of not judging. My experience shows most members here (the Midwest) are not judgmental. Bottom line the people that judged me the most were my girlfriends parents (at the time). They passed a "righteous judgment" and I was not good enough for their daughter. Unfortunately, for them I repented and we were married in the temple 2 years later, but I digress. It's all about testimony. If I had no testimony I would have left the church. However, my testimony is in Christ so I stayed even though it was challenging. Having a loving family is the number one biggest help for us "black sheep." When people ask I still say I served a mission that I am proud of because 95% of my mission was fantastic. I serve as a ward mission leader now helping the Elders, and I love it. The Lord does use "early release'' missionaries to build his kingdom. If you are being judge by members just pull a Coriantum and "sail away" to escape the judgmental people. It works.

understandu said...

10:42 PM
on Apr 02, 2011

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This is so nice that we can share with each other about this! Our son returned home from his mission after struggling with timidness, depression, and eventually having a breakdown from the stress that he could not handle. We were blessed with a loving Bishop who told him he was proud of him for the effort he gave and to keep his head up high. Even with that, our son was so hard on himself that we needed to watch him for suicidal tendencies for quite a while. He struggled going to church and wondered what others thought of him. He felt abandoned by the Lord because he felt he had done everything he thought he was supposed to, and it still didn't work out. After 2 years of inactivity, he is now slowly coming back to church and sees that other young single adults have struggles, too. Loving and understanding people have really helped him feel like he belongs. An LDS social worker told us that she would have suggested a service type mission for our son, had she known his struggles. She said many people who don't do well on proselyting missions have great ability to serve in other capacities. It's all in serving the Lord! We are grateful for all missionaries who made that often difficult decision to serve. May you be blessed for each and every day you served and remember you will continue to grow after your mission. May you be sure that there will always be someone who needs you. We never stop being missionaries to feed His sheep. You are still very much needed by the Lord. Keep on going forth and teach and love others in whatever capacity you can. Be of good cheer!

agpotter said...

04:25 PM
on Apr 05, 2011

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@onemoreday: Um, I'm pretty sure the pronouns JakeyUtah used pretty clearly indicate that both the cousin and the AP were men ("...the AP from *HIS* mission...", emphasis added), which flippancy of sexual deviance also leads me to believe JakeyUtah is a troll of some kind. I appreciate gr8showersinger's comments, and remind you that Christ commanded us to exercise righteous judgment, and loved all, but condemned wicked behavior. As someone who didn't serve a mission until my mid-'20s, I find this to be an interesting twist on the phenomenon I experienced when I was 19-24 or so. But, what I learned to do was buck up, no need to throw a pity party. This article is pretty much gospel-less societal whining.

d_aolsen said...

10:48 AM
on Apr 06, 2011

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I don't see the merits in flaunting mistakes or jabbing at them. There is certainly a right and a wrong - performing shameful acts and shaming others both wind up in the latter category. Let us move onto assisting those who may have been hardened by the insensitivity of others or who struggle to harbor Christ-like love. I see nothing "gospel-less" with assuaging guilt, sorrow, or loss - regardless of the cause, or whether that person needs to rise out of self-pity or not.

gettingby said...

04:39 PM
on Apr 06, 2011

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I have treatment resistant bipolar disorder, ocd (and on and on) and have been hospitalized in a psych facility (the longest and scariest 3 days of my life). I served a 2 year full time mission before I knew I had a problem. I thought that all other missionaries were as miserable as I and that we all dreamt of being hit by a bus while on our bikes (thus ending our pain and our mission honorably). I didn't really understand that coming home was an option, so I just stuck it out. I'm proud to have made it, but I'm not sure that staying on, under that much stress and misery did me any good. I think a missionary who has done his/her best and realizes that there is a mental health problem or has to come home early because the problem is evident is doing the right thing. I don't regret my mission. I loved much of it, but it took a toll on me because I was mentally ill (and didn't know it) and might have benefitted from coming home early and getting counsel. As it happened, it wasn't until several years later when I was married with a child and had just gotten a master's degree from an Ivy League university that I really began to break apart and then I sought treatment. I'm entering my forties and trying to put my life together while raising a family, etc. It would have been better, and I would have been a better husband and father had I had the opportunity to improve or try and stabilize my mental health when I was young and single. As far as judgement within the church goes, that breaks my heart. I have a brother who tried to prepare for and serve a mission but had (for lack of a better term) a nervous breakdown. He did not serve a mission, lives in Utah and is not active. He feels he will be judged and criticized at church and while that might not be the case were he to try to be active, I know from experience that it might well. Christ loves us all and only God will be able to judge the worth of our offering. Some pay huge tithing because they make huge income, some pay the widow's mite. God judges us each based on what HE (and no-one else) knows about us, and Christ advocates and extends mercy. We need to do the same, to the missionary who returns early, or the brother or sister who struggle or stray. We have no right to judge them. If we expect to receive mercy ourselves, we ought to extend it to others. We need to feel that our brothers and sisters in Christ love us and think of us charitably even though we are imperfect. I hope any missionary who has had to return home early, for whatever reason, will not feel that his fellow latter day saints are judging him or are idly curious about the reasons for his return, but that he will be treated with love and a welcome back.

sharonlower said...

07:57 PM
on Apr 07, 2011

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Whats hard is a son having many problems on his mission and having it go over the Mission President and Stake President heads Having ADD and serving a mission is almost impossible if not impossible til our son was brought home and get "disfellowshipped" (twice) and should have been "excommunicated" instead He stopped his meds in the MTC He listened to all the Elders speak of "their girlfriends" waiting for them Not all "boys" Elders are mature enough to serve a mission. To have him now been finally excommunicated serve 3 years in prison for the same problem on his mission and didn't get help from his Bishop or church.... being of age how can you make a child seek help? Whats worse on the parents is the lack of love, compassion, cards, hugs, visits from ward members.. even today. they don't know what to do or say or even make those visits for they don't want to be involved. What do we do? we're alone and we didn't do anything wrong... Pray for help..... Realize the Church is true! the members have problems with support thats their trial Grieving the lost of a child for life is just that. a lifetime of "whatif?" And move on

kosimov said...

02:59 PM
on Apr 08, 2011

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I had the experience of returning home early - twice. Once to have surgery after about 8 months, again after complications set in a few months later. I was finally released "early" after 18 months when I lost weight and could no longer do the work. Many missionaries served only 18 months "back then" because of quotas due to the war in Vietnam, so I rationalized that I had served a full-term mission as they did. I was not necessarily treated badly, but, I did feel as though I was invisible because nobody really said much to me the second time. I just sort of "appeared" in the ward and went on from there. When other missionaries returned home that year, especially those who had served in foreign language missions who bore their testimonies in the language they had learned, I had to endure some unintentionally hard remarks about my mission ending early; I had already gotten over being teased about "only going to California" the first time. It takes too much effort, courage, faith and devotion just to decide to go and follow through by submitting papers and so forth. Even more demanding is the mental process we go through when choosing to go, and thinking about all the details, as well as being willing to GIVE two years of our life in service to our “fellow man”. Since we have been told by prophets that when we serve our fellow man, we also serve our God, the decision is really to give back two years of the life we are given by our Creator. And, as we know, we are judged by the desires of our hearts as well as by our actions, which means the desires of the returned missionary to serve and sacrifice for unselfish reasons is what the Lord will see. Can we justify ourselves if we do less? Now, as I think about my experience and those described in the article, my heart wants to reach out to those who are suffering because of the issues which ended their missions early, the guilt, remorse and regret they feel, as well as the unintentional but insensitive things said by members upon returning home. My experiences would never allow me to now be so callous as to imply that anyone whose mission ends early is somehow weak, or lazy, or whatever is being implied to hurt these servants of the Lord, or to think for one instant that there must be something wrong with the missionary or this would not have happened, and so on. A wonderful young man in my ward recently returned home after his medical conditions would not allow him to complete two years. This article has reminded me what it was like for me, and I am resolved to contact this man, and express my gratitude and thanks for his mission, which is, in the eyes of the Lord, honorably fulfilled, if it lasted just one minute! I will remind him, for example, that until later in the history of the Church, missions were not specified to last for a certain amount of time, but were served according to the work needing to be done. And also, that the Lord could easily move mountains to make his mission endure to full term if the Lord wished it to be so, but, since that had not happened, the Lord, it can be assumed, isn’t too worried about how long he served, but is well pleased because he DID serve, going through all the spiritual preparation and labor required to decide to serve, to prepare to serve, and to take the first steps toward service. Why do we not recognize how hard it is to actually choose to serve, then to depart with full intention of serving for two years, a length of time which is not very long to me now at age 61, but then, at age 19 and leaving a girl I loved behind, seemed almost an eternity, as it may to anyone beginning their service now. Missionaries do much work and treasure, and give up a great deal just getting to the point of lifting up one foot, and placing it down ahead of the other, moving toward those years of often very hard, sometimes lonely service. If something happens to prevent them from finishing, it does not diminish the wonderful good of all that is done up to that time, as well as the spiritual growth that has occurred, which will continue if not smothered by sorrow and resentment due to careless, insensitive remarks by those at home! Nothing can diminish that once it is done. We should be proud of the missionary who served for even one day on the road to his or her mission field! And in feeling proud and thankful for their willingness to serve by sacrifice and hard work, we cannot help but communicate the spirit of what we truly feel to them. After all I went through, and a period of time where a savage complex infection ravaged me and left me "sterile" after huge doses of antibiotics and who knows what else to save my life, according to several tests and the opinion of doctors, I dated a girl at BYU who I had met at the end of my "second mission", and married her. The power of my bishop's blessing saved me. I have 5 children, four boys and a girl. Three served exemplary missions as zone leaders, etc., in the US, Canada, and Japan, so I am at peace now, knowing I served as much as I was able, and fathered children who also served well, keeping a promise I made to the Lord when my mission ended early. None of this would have happened if I had taken the “innocent” but still very painful remarks and “neglect” of my ward and stake members too seriously. In fact, I did suffer from them for a while, actually, quite a while. At first it didn’t bother me too much, but, a few years later, the effects showed, and I became less than valiant in my Church service and attendance. I am lucky to have a wife who was willing and able to carry my share of the load in teaching our children and setting good examples for them for a while. I have considerable regret about this, which is why I am taking the time to write so much here. I hope that someone may read this and be helped or be inspired to help someone else who may be having this very difficult, heart-rending experience. I hope that those who must come home early will take heart, and remember that the main purpose of their mission was to serve, not to receive something for themselves. The real blessings of a mission come from the sacrifices, love and hope which begin when we choose to serve, and we give while serving. There is no reason why those blessings should not be enjoyed if we will accept the disappointment and other difficulties which an early release may generate, and find another way to serve. It is only when we focus on ourselves, and our own misfortunes, that we suffer so much. This is true in the case of an early release, as much as it is in any other Church service. As I look at all this now, I see that I was too focused on "my" mission at the time, and thus, felt too sorry for myself. It wasn't "my" mission; it was a mission I did for the Lord and those I baptized. At times, we get too caught up in the complicated social aspects of the Church, and should turn our hearts around and focus more on the spiritual aspects and blessings of the Gospel instead. What really matters is WHY we serve, and WHO we serve. I knew some missionaries who were on missions for various social, traditional reasons, who never quite understood the spiritual, more rewarding aspects of their mission. I know about that because, at first, I had a problem with that. You see, I had only joined the Church one year before going on a mission, and I was engaged to boot! I think I went as much to make my fiancé' happy as for any better reason, which served me right, when she married someone else the day I went into McKay/Dee hospital for surgery! After that, when I served the second part of my mission, I came to know the deep spiritual experience which makes a mission meaningful and so valuable for life. So while I did have a second chance to serve the full term of my mission, I was doubly disappointed when, once again, I had to accept going home before it was finished! I wanted to return a third time, but, Elder Sperry felt it was the will of the Lord for me to concentrate on recovering my health and let another serve in my place, since the Vietnam war era limited the number of missionaries who were exempted from the draft long enough to serve a mission. I hope you will forgive me for such a long “comment”, but as you see, this is one issue I feel VERY strongly about! Please, if you meet anyone who has had a mission end early, please be careful what you say. It is not necessary to say anything about it. The more you can act like it is “no big deal”, the better they will feel. They’ve probably been buried to the gills with sympathy and “too bads” and so on. All they need from you is to accept them as though they are just normal people who don’t wish to be pampered, or to try to explain what happened, and so forth. If you have known them for a while, and you used to greet each other with a slap on the back, then slap ‘em on the back!

ldsca said...

10:25 PM
on Apr 12, 2011

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After reading all your "stories" happy to see we are not alone in this matter. what is so confusing is how or why young men are allowed to leave a mission with such problems, mental, and physical or emotional problems It's not enough for these kids to get their "physical" but have a "emotional" physical as well done. This seems to me being overlooked. Isn't Eagle Scout a better prep for a mission than not have done this? You can not live a "monks lifestyle" if you're not prepared . Give up everything before your mission. No PC No Cell phones. I'd like to see Missionaries-to-be go to the regional Mission home for 1 week to see how they handle the change.... Before being sent to the MTC. Some there will learn its not for them or can't physically handle it But I found there was no help for us or our son. It was NOT TO BE TALKED ABOUT how can you get help for already of age child? especially if Bishops, stake president and Mission Presidents keep everything from the parents? His life will never be the same he made his choice. Our lives will never be the same Like we don't fit in anywhere ... Adoption.... choices... now he serves time in prison Good luck to each of you all Pray members will love you Serve Serve Serve is the answer anyway you can. Parents: You are not at fault ! Get help for your other kids talk to them so they can look forward to serving a mission

fospizzle said...

02:15 AM
on Apr 28, 2011

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I think that we can tell, from the length of the responses, that wounded missionaries are a reality in the church. To the author, Aaron Olsen: you hit the nail on the head. I returned home shortly after a year of service due to severe panic attacks and mental/emotional trauma. I was fortunate enough to be welcomed home by a loving family that didn't ask too many questions. Yet I had a bishop at home, who knew little about what I was going through, sending word that I should stay in the field. As much as I knew and loved that man, his was the kind of input that doesn't help. Though I am glad I served, quite frankly, I wish I had come home a bit sooner. Something I learned out there is that, above all, the Lord loves his missionaries and wants them to be well. Perhaps an earlier release for some of us wounded ones may have been in the best interest of ourselves and the future health of the kingdom.

fospizzle said...

02:18 AM
on Apr 28, 2011

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I also agree that there are no sweeter words that a wounded soldier returned can hear than "Welcome home."

dol_princess said...

10:13 AM
on May 12, 2011

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I agree. It wasn't my fault I was sent home. The Lord had different plans for me and I just had to have trust in Him even though others didn't. People cannot receive revelation for others. It is between them and the Lord. If they ignore the Lord, they will face the consequences. Otherwise, please try to understand us. I miss my mission every day and wish I could go back but now I know why I was supposed to go home, I am now married to a wonderful man and am helping many people here get baptized and stay active in the ward.

lindas said...

09:28 PM
on Jun 23, 2011

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ldsca, one thing to keep in mind is that many kids have no idea how they will react to the very difficult things they face on a mission. My son was diagnosed very young with depression and is on medication. He is currently serving a mission, but others who have never experienced this come home early because it throws them.

briannyc said...

02:28 PM
on Jul 13, 2011

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First off I'd like to thank the article author for a well written and well received topic. Second, I'd like to offer the congrats and thank you to any and all missionaries whether you served part or all. You carried the title of Elder or Sister whether two years or two minutes, I thank you and congratulate you on a job well done. Third, I read all of your posts, and I'm am saddened by the hopelessness of sadness of parents, by the unfaithfulness disgust of RM's(honorable and dishonorable alike), and most important by the loveless acts that most of you have shown on here. I thank you to the ones who have shown hope, faith, and love, in each other, in our missionaries, in our church, and most importantly in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Lastly, I owe everything I am today because of missionaries. I am a convert. I was one of the lost. I have not served a mission. I have stood side by side in every aspect of missionary callings, I have stood with them in the field, I have cried with them when they went home early, I have laughed with them when things were amazing. And yet I have not served a mission. Listen up to all RM's (honorable and dishonorable alike). Your mission is not over, it's not over til you give up or Christ says. Your mission is your life. Whether you suffer from mental, physical, or emotional disorders you still have a mission to teach the gospel whether it be in an official or unofficial capacity of the church. Do not harken unto the ears of those who think you are done, but hear the whisper of Heavenly Father's and Jesus Christ voice that says get up and keep going, you are not done yet. My name is Brian, and I am a convert. I am a member of the true church because of you! Hear my voice as I say, "You are not done yet!" There are people who are without the light of the gospel still and you get to be that missionary til the day you are claimed. I speak to all missionaries! Because I am a convert and I would not have been found had it not been for you! I love all you missionaries and I can't thank you enough for everything you have given to me, and most of you didn't even have to meet me to give the gift of Light to me.

archie said...

05:37 PM
on Oct 28, 2011

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I can relate to this story. I was sent home 2 months into my mission. Just long enough to get out of the MTC. Due to a physical illness and depression. Until reading this I felt like a loner with everyone else saying "During my mission..." Thanks for sharing :)

lds1990 said...

09:09 AM
on Dec 14, 2011

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I have a very good friend in our stake who wanted to share his story with anyone in a similar situation he said I can share it for him hoping it will help somebody on here. He was serving in Madrid but came home early due to a very serious illness (unknown to anyone accept family and church leaders), his story is a really sad one but he says he can look at it now 5/6 months on feeling success over it. The Elder is from Leeds and before his mission was super righteous, and probably the happiest person I know and one of the most prepared missionary I have ever met!. But about 5 or more months into his mission something very serious happened to him as a result he slipped into a psychotic episode but kept serving until it became apparant to his companion he was ill and acting fairly peculiar, so his companion took him to a hospital and he was sectioned in a highly secure unit to get treatment. But because he was sectioned nobody could get him out. The area president managed to get him out a week later and then came home on some serious medications and we barely recognized him. He was very pale, very slim and wasn't the same guy we knew before his mission, to look at or even to talk to. Nobody judged him because we all knew something serious must have happened to bring this Elder home ill. Anyway, he came out the Psychotic episode around August and made a very quick recovery. The sad thing is that he had to tell members he had suffered from Anxiety because he didnt want people to put a label on him or think differently of him. After quite a few months of looking really unwell in all aspects he made a recovery. But he had many priesthood blessings, many prayers and fasts on his behalf and was able to say that this was why he got better. I can talk to him and feel as though this is the pre- mission him back, in good health, happy and he hasn't let his experience stop him going back out there. He is now a better person than before his mission. He is happy, positive, more relaxed and very very caring of other people. I wish to say as a member who has not served a mission and also as a friend of a early returned missionary and say to all early RM's who have come home and had any conidtion, illness, low self esteem or felt failure of any kind. That we all love you. You are wonderful in every way, because you fell ill in the work of the Lord, you did all you could and sacrificed your health to his service. The Lord is happy with you all. Whether My friend and anyone else that has come home ill return back to the mission or not, you have all served with honour and have done your best and like Elder Holland said in the Priesthood session "you are also on the team!"

lds1990 said...

09:15 AM
on Dec 14, 2011

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and also I agree with the comment, "Welcome Home". I remember that when Matt came home, his Branch President put his arms around him and said "well done Elder, welcome home". There are so many loving people in the church and Early RM's need special love and attention, they deserve it!

bigtkill77 said...

05:24 AM
on Dec 19, 2011

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I really appreciate this article. I recently came home early from my mission for depression. I was so beyond scared about what others would do and say, but of course everyone was amazing. It has been a hard two and half months since I have been home, but it gradually gets easier. I have developed a lot stronger testimony now and am so thankful for that. Thanks again for the article. I am glad to know that I am not alone.

morris.jerem said...

06:31 PM
on Mar 26, 2012

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I got sent home from the mission field after 11 months of service, 4 of which were spent in the MTC. Upon coming home, my leaders did not seem to want to talk about the issue, other than "Go back". My parents were living their own lives one day at a time. Throughout the majority of the last two years since being home, I have found few places or people to turn to with good advice and wisdom. Then I started asking the questions, I took control of the situation. After being home for two years, I am going back out! I was honorably released the first time around, and after being home for about 6 months I had found some peace through prayer; however, the desire and drive to finish what I had agreed to never left. Coming home early was easy compared to what awaited me when I got home. Missionaries that come home early need only two things; time and the opportunity to figure it out on their own. Treat us differently and we will feel differently. Allow us to use our agency and the ability which we all have to gain personal inspiration by not pulling us down, or putting thoughts into our heads.

handycandy said...

12:02 AM
on Apr 04, 2013

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I left the MTC after a week to come home and get married to a poor, uneducated, in debt, much older guy. We celebrate our 21st anniversary in a month and the joke is on everyone who said it wouldn't last. My biggest mistake was not owning my decision and blaming others for how they treated me. Take it from an d woman, stop blaming your parents or ward for their treatment. Stop being ashamed of your decision and start owning up to your life. You may find you are less sensitive to what others think about you. Being a pity suck gets old. You're decision is made, now move on and stop holding yourself and others hostage with the past. Life is to short to live in woulda coulda shoulda. I own my decision and am Active ... Always was... And the cutest mom and wife of five amazing kids and would not change a thing!

americanpatrol said...

08:30 AM
on May 01, 2013

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Good comments, I was faced with this issue during the first month in the mission field. I got deathly sick and was diagnosed with Type I diabetes and spent a week the hospital. I was asked by my mission pres and parents to come home early. I felt differently, I felt my call meant something and I had to be strong, be an adult and learn to deal with it on my own, while doing my best to fulfill my mission calling. I told them all I was staying. Things were very difficult but I am glad I followed my inner voice. At the time every missionary got the same living allowance and buying insulin, food rent etc. on that small budget was impossible. Once I bought and resold a yardsale item for just enough $ to buy the inulin I was in deparate need of(I still believe it was gods way of providing). My mission pres was not very understanding, he was upset and said I bought "treasures of trash". Never once did he ask me if I needed an extra allowance or anything else. I learned that missions dont offer flexibilty to missionaries who deal with real problems or have some sort of limitaions. I know my pres. never got it and on my exit interview said he had expected more from me, even tough I served as a ZL for over half of my mission??? I know I did my best, I have no regrets and I have stopped worrying about being judged by people who want to put you in a catagorical box. Live your life, do your best, dont worry about the rest. Peace

kkiimmmm said...

03:36 PM
on Sep 04, 2013

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Aaron, I just want to say thanks for writing this article. I feel like I can relate on several levels. I had to leave my mission early on medical release as well. I think that you have done a fantastic job putting those feelings into words. I was extremely lucky, and my family had completely outstretched arms. I even felt support from several members of my ward. One other big support that I have had in coming home, is my boyfriend going through a similar situation. He and I had the "perfect plan". He reported to the MTC three weeks before I was to report to a different MTC. I was going to wait for him after I got home, we'd be sealed in the temple, and live happily ever after. To make a long story short, our plans changed. He ended up having to come home for major hip surgery, and is now in recovery. Now, because we are both home, I have a hard time with the few people that DO ask questions that are so off point, like, "When are you due?" or the lack of support that he receives from his mom. But, if we compare the support to the lack of support, there is a lot of support. I definitely agree with the point comparing missionaries to soldiers. The world as a whole is not perfect and has a long way to go before it gets to that point. As my boyfriend, and future companion would say, "it'll all work out." :)

missannie said...

11:12 PM
on Sep 10, 2013

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I too was sent home early...I served for five months I only had thirteen to go :( haha... IT IS SOOOOOOOOOO HARD. I WANT TO BE OUT THERE EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE BUT I CAN'T my body wont let me... so I am waiting to either be healthy enough to go back or for my Heavenly Father to show me that He has better plans in store... You know something... Where does it say that if a man serve a full mission he will be banished to hell? I have a cousin who chose not to serve and he is the sweetest, kindest man you'll ever meet. He will give you the shirt off of his back and then I have another cousin who chose to serve and he is just the opposite he wouldn't let you lick the mud off of his boot if it could save your life... just because you serve doesn't mean you are a good person, what you chose to do with your service and your life makes you a good person. SO YES SERVE, but then continue to serve. I love this article... Christ didn't say come unto me all you that labored the full 24 or 18 months and I will give you rest... If you served well then that is enough!

bobiwaldo said...

11:07 AM
on Aug 05, 2014

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You should contact the Young Church Service Missionary Program and find help asap and even before the missionary even come home!!! Go to www.lds.org/ycsm and check out This Program, it is a life saver in many ways!

charmercud said...

12:08 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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I hate how most church members, especially in Utah, deliberately make early-returning missionaries feel like a fish out of water by making them social pariahs and outcasts. All of a sudden, they will no longer fit in with the "exclusive" group, no matter what the reason was about why they left early. I never served a mission. I was serving with the U.S. Army as a combat engineer on my 19th birthday. When other guys my age were going to the MTC and boarding planes to their assigned missionary stations, I was in military uniform putting my life on the line for my country. But the church back at my home didn't seem to accept THAT as an excuse. I lost good friends because all of a sudden, I wasn't "good enough" to be in their circles, and all because I served with the army instead of serving a mission. Even to this day, I'm still considered "different" by my ward because my records don't include 2 years of service to the Lord.

dolphin5688 said...

12:16 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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Thank you for this article. My son has been home from his mission for a year now. What a wonderful experience even though it was hard. But, you may have been on your mission for a few people that needed YOU especially for their conversion. God is the only one who knows what we and others need. Evidently,it was you for the time you served. You did return with honor you served your Heavenly Father for the time he needed you.

ahogan said...

02:13 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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Don't know how to contact the author and other people who commented,but I was touched by the article and comments. I too came home from my mission early due to manic psychosis. It's been 25 years now and the experience still influences me every day. I wrote my experience and submitted to some LDS publishers. An owner of one of the publishers told me, "your writing is great, and your story may be true, but the LDS people can't handle this truth. It's too much." I decided to self publish the book. My thoughts are the LDS people want and need to know the reality of mental illness. How can they help others or understand their own experiences otherwise? I am willing to give anyone a free copy of my book who gets on my website, goes to the order page and in the Special Sales Code, write LDS Living. I'll pay the postage for the first 25 orders and only ask the others to pay postage thereafter. The website is BearCanyonPress.com and the book is Bipolar Disorder in Truth. I also speak at firesides, youth groups and FHE s. I'd love to speak to individuals or groups if you contact me through the website. God bless us as we face life with mental illness.

t-reezy said...

03:32 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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There is anecdotal evidence that this is occurring with increasing frequency. I think it is great that mission presidents/the church are beginning to recognize that depression is a legitimate illness and the stigma of returning home due to depression is wearing off. I think the increasing frequency could be partly due to the change in the age policy. Whereas previously, 19 year old boys were often living away from home and getting adjusted to 'the real world' prior to entering on their missions, now we have a large number of 18 year olds who are fresh from high school. They have never lived on their own before and they are now being thrown into a situation that they are totally unprepared for. I don't have a problem with 18 year olds serving but this is going to be one of the unintended consequences and while Pres. Monson did mention that the change in policy does not mean that all 18 year olds should leave at that point, the pressure is being felt to go at 18.

dad7 said...

03:35 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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How the Lord feels about the service of these wonderful missionaries is best summed up in D&C 124:49: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons (or daughters) of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings." I hope that all whose service might be cut short can feel the Lords gratitude for their "offerings" and know that it is enough in his eyes.

t-reezy said...

03:39 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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to ahogan: I'm not surprised that you were told that the truth is too much to handle. I think the church is moving past that mindset. I would be interested in reading about your experiences. My brother, though not clinically diagnosed with a mental illness, had a tough time making sense of his experience upon returning home. He has written beautifully about it in an unpublished memoir of his mission. Although I have fond memories of my own mission to Korea, it doesn't take long at all to realize that the mission experience (from preparing to depart through to the return experience) is not at all similar to how it is presented in the church media. For too long the truths of how damaging the experience can be have not been discussed. It's about time the silence is broken.

tevster said...

05:42 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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To "charmercud": I cannot/must not judge your particular circumstances, however, generally speaking military service is not a good excuse for not serving a mission. All worthy young men are to serve a mission. Just like any other directive from our leaders though, personal circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. People should love you and treat you as the important member of God's family that you are, but if being in the military was your "excuse" for not serving a mission, you may one day have to answer for that…but not to us mere mortals. We all have things to answer for, but we should be careful not to try to justify them to others, even if we seem to be able to justify them to ourselves. Perhaps you should have been in the missionary uniform since there are so many eternal souls on the line. I'm not trying to make you feel bad, unworthy, or whatever. Just putting' it out there to think about. Kindest regards.

kh17 said...

06:32 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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I came back 5 months into my mission. I ironically came back due to a physical problem that came on the same day I called my parents to tell them I decided to go on a mission. The issue was corrected and I was 100%. At the MTC, it flared up again a month into my training. I received a blessing and it has never bothered me 17 plus years later. Unfortunately it happened again on another spot a month later and I had just had it. I tried to get it corrected but the local drs were unable. My understanding Mission President talked with me and I went home. This was not done lightly. I cried myself to sleep every night for a month until I was assured that everything would work out. I missed my mission, my fellow missionaries, and the people I had worked so hard to prepare to serve. It was like training for a marathon and breaking your leg at mile 5. I went on to get married shortly after returning and have been active in my Church membership. It was difficult the first year back for me but I now view my mission as something positive and a treasure trove of experiences and lessons I would have never otherwise had. (I have since had three surgeries on my feet and one miracle.) We all have our trials in all shapes and sizes. This one is just a little bit more public. In the end, you know the truth and should never let you feel less than.

katiefrankie said...

10:15 PM
on Aug 05, 2014

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I am very grateful for this article and the responses that have been shared. (Except perhaps for tevster's - you just reiterated the painful, judgmental comments that bring so much hurt to your brothers and sisters. Unless you are that man's parent or bishop, your are not his steward. Mind your own business.) I served an 18-month mission and did not go home early, but I asked to. My MTC experience was unexpectedly negative and I was struggling with a flare-up of my depression and anxiety, which was exacerbated by family problems, low self-confidence, and the rigors of mission life. I felt for the first time that everything I did was wrong, and my MTC teachers told me that they "only felt the Spirit when my mouth was shut." I arrived in NYC eager to meet my mission president, but he asked me in my first interview "was I normally this talkative, or did I have ADD?" Also, he told me that because I took medication for depression, I wouldn't be able to feel the Spirit or be an effective missionary. I was crushed and felt like I had made a terrible mistake in choosing to serve a mission. Not a day went by when I didn't want to go home and be among people who loved me and believed in me, where I was successful and happy, and where I was surrounded by the beautiful and inspiring. And yet I served, and I do not regret it. Ten years later, though, I still feel that pain and uncertainty. I sometimes wonder if it was my fault - if the mission president's often cutting remarks, other missionaries' teasing, and lingering feelings of failure were because I did something wrong. Instead of being confident when asked to serve, I feel shy, nervous, and guilty. I wish there was someone who could sit down with me and promise that my service was accepted of the Lord and that it wasn't hard because I was being punished for something I did or didn't do.

tevster said...

07:56 AM
on Aug 06, 2014

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To katiefrankie: I was in no way judgemental of the person who inspired my thoughts. I merely stated a fact: Every worthy young man is to serve a mission, and again, "GENERALLY SPEAKING" military service is NOT an excuse for not serving a mission. Now, because I am fully aware that I am not "that man's parent or bishop, [I am] not his steward", I know I cannot judge him, which is why I very carefully included the statement: "personal circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation". Also, I feel it is my business to state truth and fact. I was not being judgemental of HIS circumstances or choices, but rather I made a correct point clear that came to mind as I read his comment. When someone implies something that is erroneous, I can offer a correction of the idea…which is not a correction or judgement of the individual person. Putting false ideas out into the public forum makes it my business, so therefore I WAS minding my own business. While there may have been extenuating circumstance with "Charmercud", the implication that being in the military should be an acceptable excuse for not being obedient (to serve a mission) is flat out wrong. Maybe that's not how it was for him…I don't know, but that's what was implied by his wording. I did say that perhaps he should have been in the missionary uniform instead of the military one…but I did say PERHAPS because I cannot (and did not) judge HIM. Please review the fact that I said "IF being in the military was [his] "excuse" for not serving a mission". I just really hope no one thinks that choosing to do something else, no matter how noble, noteworthy, valid, or good it may be, should ever come before being obedient, and then expect others to validate his or her choice. However, whatever extenuating circumstances people have in their own lives that necessitate personal adaptation to counsel is NOT being disobedient! But again, and hopefully finally, "GENERALLY SPEAKING" military service is not an excuse for not being obedient and serving a mission. In the end, it's the Lord we all have to face. He knows us as individuals. He knows our choices and our circumstances. Thanks goodness he hasn't left us to navigate blindly. He has given us instructions. I hope we can find ways to follow them, rather than justify doing something else. If one NEEDS to do something else, I hope the rest of us can treat him or her how Heavenly Father expects us to. P.S. I'm kind of being judgemental here, and in some people's opinion I may not be minding my own business, but even though I can't sit down with you to tell you this…I think your "service was accepted of the Lord and that it wasn't hard because [you were] being punished for something [you] did or didn't do". After all, when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are in the service of your God. Kind regards.

philweyers said...

09:33 AM
on Aug 06, 2014

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It never ceases to amaze me how much ignorance there is with some of the members of this church. Not all people are capable of serving a full-time proselyting mission and it is certainly no ones business if someone returns early for whatever reason. We all should be so busy with our own perfection road that we don't see the imperfections in others... and the Lord knows none of us are perfect.

notquiteperfect said...

02:06 PM
on Aug 06, 2014

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I know this story is a reprint and I haven't read all the comments but there is a _huge_ difference between someone who comes home early because of things out of their control (physical, emotional health) and someone who comes home because of things within their control (rule infractions, falling in love, etc). To lump them all together as was done in the article and talk as though all have grief and regret, etc is ridiculous.

oncelds said...

06:51 PM
on Aug 06, 2014

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I remained on mission even though I didn't want to stay, simply because I didn't want to be judged and ridiculed. The LDS religion, like all Christian religions, preach "Thou shalt not judge.", however Mormons, in my experience, are quick to judge and slow to forgive. This is not a judgement, but a very accurate perception by non-Mormons. It is for this reason I left the church 15 years ago. I found happieness in serving others in the United States Navy. When you are in the service of others, you are in the service of God.

helen58 said...

02:13 PM
on Aug 11, 2014

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I have a friend whose PARENTS cannot accept the early honorable release due to a medical condition, and using guilt and coercion to force the missionary back into the field before she is ready, and blames the church, the bishop and anyone in contact with their daughter for something they have no control over. Anxiety disorders and depression are real, and a supposedly loving parent would not do such a thing. She served a period of time in the field under great duress and I can only admire her she lasted more than a year, she was honorably released and I feel the Lord is pleased with her service and thanks her for her sacrifice, and He now has something new for her to do, a new mission. Parents lay off the guilt trip and get over yourselves. The RM is the most important person here, and not your PRIDE, and fear of judgment as a parent.

jmm13261 said...

10:02 PM
on Aug 24, 2014

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This kid just doesn't get it ! He was called by the Lord to serve and FORGET HIMSELF IN THE WORK OF THE LORD ...coming home early was not the plan and he will be held accountable for the souls he could have touched but didn't because he chose to come home early and give up. I had a brain hemorrhage and became paralyzed at age 21 while on my mission, and i fought back and got the ability to walk and went back into the mission and finished it...He will regret that decision for the rest of eternity.

jmm13261 said...

11:15 PM
on Aug 24, 2014

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I just finished reading most of the posts here about coming home early, and to make it easy on the poor people that give up for whatever reason....PLEASE understand i am not unsimpathetic to these people that come home early and all the people here saying " Oh its okay that you got off your mission early and the lord accepts your service " when I went back into my mission after two brain surgeries and four months intense therapies in the hospital to walk and talk again ...I served another 20 mns ( 8 in calif and 12 mns in Texas ), I baptised a 75 yr old Black Methodist Minister that had taught that faith for 45 yrs ! My mission president told me at the end of my extended mission that he was proud of me for not giving up when i got paralyzed on my mission and for fighting back to get my body back and go back into the mission and having found all those wonderful people and bringing them into the church ...then he teared up and said he was so proud of me and wanted me to know that the Lord told him that of all the people I helped reactivate and baptize in my three mission fields ...that I WAS SENT to Texas for that Methodist Minister"...and I would be blessed for the rest of my life for NOT quitting and going back and finishing my mission.

lovemany said...

08:49 AM
on Sep 03, 2014

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jmm13261, thank you for sharing your story. It is wonderful that you were able to fight to recover and have a wonderful experience. However, please don't judge others because you were able to push through. I came home early for reasons beyond my control. I wanted to stay. I wanted to fight. I've wanted to go back. Much of the past year I've been home has been hell because I would do ANYTHING to go back but Heavenly Father has let me know clearly multiple times that it is not His will and there are other things He wants me to do with my life right now. I'm thrilled that it was the Lord's will for you to finish. It was not His will for me or for many other missionaries. Saying things like "he will regret that decision for the rest of eternity" is hurtful when the you can have no idea the will of the Lord or the agony of wanting to go back out and being told no. Again, I rejoice at your experience. But just because someone came home early does not mean that they "quit". Thank you for considering my thoughts!

jmm13261 said...

07:50 PM
on Sep 08, 2014

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Dear lovemany thank you for expressing your thoughts on what I stated. I am sorry you needed to come home for medical reasons, and I fee,l for your pain in having to come home for medical reasons. those reasons are understandable but the missionary whom this story started about, did not have a medical reason to come home early from what I read. I was in 2 bishoprics and saw others come home early and everyone that did for WHATEVER reason...has regretted it...and i am sure the missionary that this story was written for has and always will regret it...btw ...I never did recover, I am still paralyzed 35 yrs latter but I am active LDS and always will be...but LOVEMANY thank you for your kind words to me ...take care.

dylanjay_94 said...

12:46 AM
on Oct 08, 2014

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Reading this brings so much comfort to me. I had served my mission for 6 months, and was sent home early. I had some medical problems and was diagnosed with a hernia, which put me into a deep depression. I had prayerfully gone about what I needed to do, and what I needed to do was go home. I can't really describe it, but I just felt that it was the necessary thing for me to do. I knew at that moment, that my mission was over. I was so confused, because I had always told myself that I was going to complete my mission fully. After talking over with my mission president, that really didn't help at all. He and his wife were very confused at why I had made the decision to go home. I had a very strong feeling that this was what I am to do. My mission president's wife had told me that my life was going to be a complete hell if I were to go home, and that I was most likely going to go inactive. I had promised myself that I would never go inactive because of this, and that I would make my life anything but "hell". I would never place blame on my mission president, and his wife. Clearly, they really didn't understand what I was going through, and they had just sent home 5 other missionaries that week, so I really didn't know what they were going through as well. I am still an active member. I LOVE THE GOSPEL! I know it is true with all of my heart. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. Getting told that I am getting released dishonorably was probably the worst thing for me to hear. I had a great ward, and my family was so supportive of me. I wasn't going to let this take control of the rest of my life. Heavenly Father knows me perfectly, and He knows my intentions. After going through a series of appointments with different drs. I found out that I don't have a hernia at all. It was crazy to hear. Everything happens for a reason. Maybe Heavenly Father needed me back home. Who knows. I do know that I will find out when it is appropriate. I LOVED my mission. I grew so much from it. It was the hardest 6 months of my life, but I am so blessed to have gone through those trials. "God never shuts a door without opening another". Thanks for all of the experiences shared here! They have really broadened my perspective, and helped me feel not so alone :).

book.lover23 said...

04:51 PM
on Oct 10, 2014

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Thank you for writing this. I just got back from my mission 3 months ago and I had only been out for 4 1/2 months. I didn't know how much I needed this!

wilcochris said...

01:14 AM
on Oct 11, 2014

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@jmm13261, If you step down off your sanctimonious, self righteous high horse for 5 minutes and read properly you will see he suffered from depression and bipolarity (I know exactly how it feels since I suffer with it too) Bravo you for being a hero. Well done on publicly parading your achievement and rubbing it in others faces. It must make you feel super awesome! Whilst it is good that you were able to overcome your troubles and get back to your mission, it isn't always the case for others. You have no place to judge them. I stayed the full 2 years on my mission even though I desperately wanted to come home because of my bipolarity. I regret staying out full term and not seeking help sooner. (Just to throw a kink in your train of thought) Show some compassion for others. You have proven, by your first comment, that this article was written for people like you!!

henrymccann said...

10:50 AM
on Oct 11, 2014

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There is a big difference in returning home for medical reasons and returning home because you sinned and didn't repent. Repent and return if you have sinned. Now if your sins were such that you have lost the opportunity to serve, then stay active and make great decisions for the rest of your life. Lastly all missions are hard for everybody. It is long, grinding work, seven days a week for two years. We have too many that are completely unprepared to work that hard. Plus with over 200 missionaries in most missions now, your mission president can't raise or baby you. I had the least compassionate mission president possible. I have joked that when I have a decision to make I think what would my mission president have done, then do the opposite. People in every ward, branch or mission are imperfect and make stupid hurtful choices no matter their calling or position. Read Elder Bednars talk on being offended, get over it and serve the Lord. We should all strive to follow the Savior and show charity always, but that is not going to happen. We need to mature, nod our heads and accept the reality of a telestial world full of very imperfect people and find the joy that comes from having a testimony of a Father in heaven that loves us and a Savior that died for all of us. The power of the Atonement is all encompassing.

archie said...

03:27 PM
on Oct 13, 2014

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Great Article! Makes me think of Elder Hollands talk titles We Are All Enlisted - "We also recognize that there are some who have hoped all their lives to serve missions, but for health reasons or other impediments beyond their control, they cannot do so. We publicly and proudly salute this group. We know of your desires, and we applaud your devotion. You have our love and our admiration. You are “on the team” and you always will be, even as you are honorably excused from full-time service."

utahjan said...

01:07 AM
on Oct 14, 2014

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I wished this article was written back in the late 1970's along with the plethora of resources and support currently available today as one of my best friends returned home early from his mission back then. When I returned from my mission, I did what I could to reconnect with him, but, he was ostracized when he came home and was told by his girlfriend that she wouldn't marry him because he didn't HONORABLY returned from his mission. That along with the guilt, pain and depression he experienced which was so bad that he committed suicide. In the end, you could say this was a form of bullying! He didn't deserve this kind of treatment! I didn't find out about his passing until after he was buried. Needless to say, I was very sad and distraught over this because there wasn't an opportunity for closure, however, his parents assured me that he is at peace and free from the pain he was suffering.

akmama said...

11:02 PM
on Oct 15, 2014

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I have not had a son return early from a mission, but my friends have. My response is simple, a big hug and, " it's good to see you." Sometimes I've known the why, sometimes not. Doesn't matter. Not my business. All that missionary needs from me is acceptance and love. And that's what his/her family needs as well. Some church leaders handle these things really well. Some don't. That's how it is when we deal with imperfect people. Some of these leaders could use more love and forgiveness from us as well.

neversaynever said...

08:55 PM
on Nov 23, 2014

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WOW! You mormons which I assume include most on this posting board, are amazing! You dig at each other and yet profess to be the one true church on the Earth! If there are so many problems with missionaries why then do you have a bunch of old men commanding youth to go on missions? If the spirit of revelation was at your top echelon why did they ok for certain people to go in the first place? Was it because their pic was nice on the computer screen? I see a lot of people reference judging in their comments and the infamous words WWJD play over and over but not one of you knows what Jesus would do or say. You have words from men but not God himself. And even if your men's words are from God you people certainly don't apply them. How can a house so divided stand?
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