Early Homecoming: Insights from Missionaries who Returned Early

Early Homecoming: Insights from Missionaries who Returned Early

Kristen Reber, author of Early Homecoming: A Resource for Early-Returned Missionaries, their Church Leaders, and Family, shares stories and insights from returning home early from her Latter-day Saint mission that provide healing and hope to those experiencing the myriad of emotions that come from an early return. Also included in this podcast are interviews with other missionaries who have returned home early, parents, church leaders, and experts.... Show More

Episodes

July 18, 2020 40 min

In this episode, Elizabeth shares her struggle with OCD scrupulosity, which she describes best as "perfectionism." On her mission, Elizabeth was very focused on always doing things right (which caused her to constantly feel that she was doing things wrong.) This confusion led to her being very rigid and upset with her companions. She also felt unworthy to be a missionary because she wasn't perfect. After five months, sh...

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Drew Young, author of the new book The Meaning of Your Mission: Lessons and Principles to Know You Are Enough, shares with me his experience of returning home early from the MTC due to mental health struggles. He walks me through his journey of navigating years of lonely nights and suicidal thoughts to ultimately writing his book and sharing his story, and what he learned from it, with the world. Join me in listening to Drew as he ...

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In this episode, Lizzy shares her story of returning home early due to a dizziness that never stopped. Many people around her thought that anxiety was the cause of the dizziness and she struggled to find someone who would listen to her and give her the help she needed. After two and a half years, she finally received a diagnosis and was able to get the surgery she needed and begin the path to physical healing. She shares with me th...

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In this episode, Rian shares with me her story of returning home early due to toxic perfectionism, something that she didn't realize she struggled with until she was on her mission and her usual coping mechanisms were gone. She suffered from physical and mental symptoms of the perfectionism such as stomach aches, anxiety, and panic attacks. She often felt like a failure while on her mission and eventually realized she needed to...

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McKenzie has struggled with anxiety for most of her life, but when the prompting came to serve a mission, she faithfully accepted the call to serve. While she loved several parts of missionary work, she continued to struggle with anxiety and often felt overwhelmed and tired. She struggled to sleep for five months and her mental and physical health took a toll before she decided to return home early. She came home to supportive pare...

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In this episode, Bob and Elaine share their journey of navigating the culture of our Church that still surrounds missionaries who come home early as they experienced it with their son, who needed to return home early from the MTC. Their son was told terrible things about what would happen to him if he returned home early and Bob and Elaine had their work cut out for them in trying to undo the damage of the effects of cultural opini...

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In this episode, five missionaries who came home early for various reasons, and chose to stay home, answer questions previously submitted via a questionnaire distributed on social media. They discuss their experiences with making the decision to stay home, moving forward with life, dealing with the guilt of not returning, whether or not they feel like "real returned missionaries," and how they talk about and feel about thei...

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In this episode, five missionaries who came home early for various reasons, and chose to return to the field either as proselyting missionaries or as service missionaries, answer questions previously submitted via a questionnaire distributed on social media. They discuss their experiences with making the decision to return to the field, choosing between a proselyting mission or a service mission, how they overcame the fear that the...

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In this episode, Layton shares his story of the trauma he experienced on his mission from seeing a robber in his home and the suicide threat that resulted from his inability to cope with that trauma. Layton also discusses the homesickness he was already feeling and how the experience with the robber compounded that anxiety. However, despite these harrowing subjects, this podcast is filled with a message of hope from Layton as he di...

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Sophie served in the Washington D.C. North mission for 17 months before needing to return home early to Vienna, Austria due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though she nearly completed her intended amount of time on a mission, Sophie is still facing many of the same challenges as other missionaries who have needed to return home early due to the pandemic. She and I also discuss how Austria is handling the pandemic and the similaritie...

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While in the field, Courtney came down with dengue fever. She was given a shot for the fever, but likely got a pathogenic bacteria from the shot that caused her to need to go home after six months in the field. She is still figuring out her physical health problems to this day. Courtney speaks openly and candidly about her experiences, including the mental health struggles she has faced since coming home early. However, she also ta...

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In light of the recent announcement from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles regarding COVID-19 and missionary service, many missionaries are returning home early. There has been mixed reactions on social media to this announcement and impending homecomings, mostly supportive, but some apprehensive about how those who have not previously returned home early due to COVID-19 will be perceived. In this episode, I ad...

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While on his mission in Columbia, Daniel broke his ankle. He was able to serve for about six months before he realized he needed to go home and get it properly taken care of. He thought he'd only be home for a few weeks, but it ended up being 13 months as the surgery required for his ankle ended up being more complicated than anyone expected. Daniel felt a lot of failure for returning home early that also caused him to feel ver...

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After twelve months in Germany, it became clear to Abi that her depression and anxiety had become too much and that she needed to go home. However, she still didn't feel that her mission was done and upon hearing about service missions decided that she wanted to finish her mission by "transferring" to this kind of a mission. In this episode, Abi shares her experience of serving at the Motion Picture Studio in Salt Lake ...

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In this episode, Thea shares openly and candidly her two experiences of returning home early for worthiness reasons—the first time for belated confession and the second time for serious disobedience in the field. Thea shares with me what it was like to experience the stigma of returning home early for worthiness reasons, how she suffered from "crippling isolation," distrust, and self-hatred. However, she also shares a stron...

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February 1, 2020 43 min

In this episode, Harmony Packer, a therapist at Healthier You in Lindon, Utah who specializes in treating early-returned missionaries, joins me again to answer questions from those who came home from their missions early or from those who care about them. These questions were submitted in advance and were as follows:

  • Was there no one left that could’ve benefited from me on the mission? If I had not been sent home would I have been a...
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    In this interview, a young woman who has chosen to remain anonymous, tells me about her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts both while on her mission and after returning home early. She discusses the things that helped her—mainly therapy and a supportive bishop—and what wounded her further. She also discusses the rocky relationship that developed between her and her mom due to her mom's lack of understanding about t...

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    In this episode, Austin tells me about his experience of returning home after 10 days from the Provo MTC due to a sudden onset of severe anxiety and panic. He returned home to supportive family, friends, and leaders for the most part, but still struggled for several years to define his mission. Was it a mission? Could he say he had served a mission? What should he call that experience? Austin discusses how he has begun to make peac...

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    This episode is especially for anyone who has been carrying the burden of coming home early for more than ten years. It is also especially for anyone who has born the brunt of unkind comments or false notions in our church culture. Brian suffered from homesickness shortly after entering the field. He chose to return home after six months and doing so felt like admitting defeat. It took him decades to find peace and support and he s...

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    In this episode, Tammy shares her perspective of being a mother of a missionary who came home early due to severe depression and anxiety. When her son came home, there were hardly any resources available to parents, and so Tammy dove into whatever research was available and wrote an article for parents titled "Wounded Warriors" which has been accepted for publication by the Ensign. Tammy and I discussed what she has learned...

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