A Missionary Mom's Perspective When Her Son Came Home Early (+10 Lessons Learned)

Missionary mom Heidi Chapman shares her experience when her son came home early from his mission.

My son came home from his mission. 

With 10 months left, he came home. He realized that there were some things that he needed to take care of, so he came home.  

On a Friday afternoon I got a call from our stake president. He said that he needed to talk to me and my husband and that we should call him together as soon as possible. I said sure and hung up. And then my mind started to wonder... was one of us getting a stake calling? I had a really uneasy feeling, so I called him back and asked if he needed to talk to me with my husband there or if he wanted to talk to my husband with me on the line. He said he needed to talk to us both at the same time. I asked if my missionary was okay, he said yes, and then I knew.

I knew in my heart that my son was coming home, and I had no idea why.

Flight info came later that day. We were to pick him up on Monday morning. I was slammed with a cocktail of emotions.  I was proud that he was strong enough to make this right! But I was heartsick. I was mad— at him, at me, at everyone! I was excited to see him, and then I felt guilty that I was excited. I felt huge guilt. Where had I gone wrong as a parent? And I was worried! Worried about how he was feeling, worried for his mission president, worried for his companion, worried about how our ward would treat him, and worried because what the heck do you do with a 20-year-old boy—ok, man—for 6 months?

With such short notice, I ended up being the only one in the family that could go up to the airport to pick him up. Boy, that was a long drive! Once at the airport, I stared down the walkway, searching each face for my son. Then I saw him. He looked tired and humble. I hugged him long, and we cried. No banners. No balloons. No pictures. But in that moment I realized: he is still my son and I would do anything in my power to help him. I had a deep motivation to support him in every way possible! 

He has met with our bishop on a regular basis, our stake president has been wonderful, and our ward family has been kind and accepting. He has made it a priority to keep up on his scripture studies and attend the temple as much as possible. He was called to teach a Primary class and has given service as much as his schedule allows. He got a job and has refereed basketball games and umpired baseball games to fill up the rest of his time.

And then we got THE email. The email we have been waiting for since that 6 months was up!

Early the next morning I took my son—my missionary—back to the airport. He was to return to his mission, to the people that he loves. He will be able to teach with a new strength and energy. He will be unstoppable.

Along this path we have taken, I have learned some valuable lessons. Lucky for me, I have two close friends, who have had sons in similar situations, that have held my hand and listened to me cry, scream, and laugh through this whole experience.

Here are 10 things I have learned:

1- Be proud of your missionary and let them know it. Let the Bishop be the coach; you get to be the cheerleader.

2- Send out an email or call close friends to let them know your missionary is home and needs their support. The most awkward part is when people see a missionary who came home early for the first time.

3- Stand tall and walk with your missionary into uncomfortable situations. Walk with your missionary into sacrament meeting that first time, and anywhere else that people might be judgmental If they can see that you are okay, they will know that it's going to be okay.

4- Let your missionary talk all about their mission experiences. Ask tons of questions about the mission, the people, the food, the area. It is still a huge part of who they are.

5- It does get better, but well-meaning people can say dumb things sometimes. Love them anyways.

6- Keep your missionary busy. Jobs, service, callings, just keep them busy.

7- Don't expect your missionary to be perfect. Just because they were a missionary doesn't mean they won't make mistakes. You will too. Cut them and yourself some slack. It's also important to know that they may not return, and it's all right.

8- Have fun. The extra time you have is a gift. Laugh, play, and enjoy having them home while you can.

9- The priesthood does not move at the speed of moms. In my mind, my son’s 6 months was up on May 24th, so I felt he should be back in the mission on that day. It doesn't always work out that way.

10- The Atonement is personal. You can't compare where your missionary (or anyone for that matter) is to where another Sister or Elder is. The Atonement is big enough to cover each of us in the way that we need it to. It is a very personal thing between each of us and our Savior.

This blog originally appeared on Missionary Mommas. It is reposted here with the author's permission. 


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