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The Early Homecoming podcast is dedicated to helping missionaries who return home early and to helping those who care about them. Below you can listen and learn more from those who experienced a faith crisis in relation to their early homecoming. You can also listen to episodes in other categories.
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Podcast Episodes: Faith Crisis
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Episode 51: Brandon’s story of serving at the Utah Salt Lake Headquarters mission after a short call to a proselyting mission ended
Brandon was about to commit suicide when the thought came to his mind to “Give God one more chance.” Brandon decided to act on that thought and prayed mightily. This decision to pause and act on a prompting began his long journey of repenting of past transgressions and resolving his concerns with the church. Brandon wanted to serve a mission, but he wanted to do it right, and make sure all things were resolved before he went and served–both his former transgressions and his faith crisis–which took a few years.
After this time passed, he received a call to serve in the Illinois Chicago Mission for only a few months. He lives with autism and was very frustrated with this short call as he felt his ability to serve was misunderstood because of his diagnosis. But, he still went and loved his mission even though he dealt with imposter syndrome. After those few months, he was sent home, and after a series of ups and downs, which he details in this episode, he was called to serve in the Utah Salt Lake Headquarters mission–a mission that he initially hated. However, a sacred experience humbled him and helped him learn to love and appreciate his mission. Brandon’s story is one about promises being fulfilled and a testimony to the importance of listening to God and acting on promptings. It is an inspiring listen for anyone.
Episode 44: Jake shares his story of growing up with cerebral palsy, becoming inactive, discovering himself as an LGBTQ individual, returning to church, serving a mission, and returning home early due to belated confession
Jake was born with cerebral palsy and as a result was often excluded from activities as a youth in the church. As a result of this exclusion, and a falling out with a friend, Jake became inactive during his later teen and young adult years. He is part of the LGBTQ+ community and identifies most closely as queer. While he was away from the Church, Jake had a close brush with suicide and felt the Spirit tell him to “come home.” Jake contacted the missionaries who helped reignite his testimony and desire to come back to church. Shortly after coming back, Jake decided to serve a mission despite his physical limitations. While on his mission, Jake realized that there were things from his past that still needed to be cleared up, particularly related to homosexual immorality, and he opened up to his mission president. Jake was sent home, which he initially felt peace about, but upon returning home was treated in a way that led him into inactivity again. Jake is currently trying to find peace again with the Church, but in the meantime is also doing what he can to deepen his relationship with God and Jesus Christ. He shares with me his insightful perspective on church policies and discipline, as well as how being different in the Church can be extremely difficult. Jake is very open, raw, honest, and vulnerable in this interview and anyone would benefit from listening to his story.
Episode 41: Pascal Friedmann shares his story of returning home early due to severe thyroid dysfunction
In this episode, Pascal tells me his story about returning home early due to a prolonged illness that started about a month after he arrived in the field. It was misdiagnosed as depression and homesickness, but turned out to be severe thyroid dysfunction. Pascal shares how he was ostracized by many in his ward back home in Germany and how that led to a period of inactivity because he felt like he didn’t belong. When he moved to Utah for school, he felt like he was able to start over with the church and found fellowship and understanding. Pascal also shares his story of conversion to the church and how his testimony helped him to stay in the church even when it was hard. He also tells me about the miracles that happened during this trial and shares wisdom he’s gained for anyone going through something similar.
Episode 35: Josie shares her story of coming home early after 15 months due to stress, anxiety, and panic attacks, and going through a faith crisis
In this episode, Josie shares her story of coming home early after 15 months due to stress, anxiety, and panic attacks that increased in severity. Gospel activities triggered large amounts of anxiety for her, leaving her scared and confused, and she began to abandon the truths she had always held dear. The gospel began to fuel her anxiety rather than soothe it. Through this trial, Josie is better able to help others who question their faith or leave the Church. Her testimony is stronger for having gone through her faith crisis, but she understands what it’s like to be on the margins of Church culture.
Episode 34: Tyler talks about his journey of intense anxiety, leaving the church, and returning to full activity
Tyler came home early due to intense anxiety and panic attacks after serving in the Spokane Washington Mission for 3 months. He actually loved being out on his mission, but his mind would not let him be stable. The experience of returning home early challenged his relationship with God and he left the church for a short time. He tells me that it was easier to think that God wasn’t real at all. He has since returned to full activity and he talks to me about what happened to get him to where he is now–happy and even more deeply committed to the Lord.
Episode 33: Ruby shares her journey of returning home early due to extreme depression, self-harm, and suicidal thinking
Ruby began struggling right from the get-go on her mission during at-at home MTC (due to COVID-19 restrictions). Her struggle soon turned into extreme depression and shortly after arriving in the field, she began to self-harm . She recalls feeling temporary relief upon cutting herself, but then felt guilt and like she wasn’t worthy and had failed God and her assignment as a missionary by self-harming. The depression continued though and soon she found herself making a suicide plan. She was sent home and felt like there was something irreparably broken inside of her upon returning home early. She felt abandoned by God and seriously considered leaving the Church. Her suicidal thinking and planning continued too upon returning home. In this raw interview, Ruby shares her pain and struggles openly, but also discusses how she has continuously overcome the worst of her depression and why she wants to live even though the pain is still there. She also shares poignant testimony of why she has chosen to stay in the Church and how she has deepened her relationship with her Heavenly Parents through this trial.
Episode 6: Hayden’s Story of Severe Physical Illness, Mistreatment, Falling Away from the Church, Coming Back, Forgiving Others, and Finding Peace
Hayden came home early due to a severe case of H. Pylori. He was mistreated by his companion and mission president, probably due to major misunderstandings about his condition. However, the scars of what was said to him remained for years. Hayden was further judged and mistreated by various ward members for several months after his early return, causing him to no longer feel welcome at church. He was also rejected by several girls he tried to date because he came home early. Wanting to avoid further pain, Hayden went through a period of inactivity in the church and experimented with various substances. Eventually, he was able to turn things around and find peace by talking to others who came home early about his experience. When he came back to church, he had very kind, understanding leaders who helped him on the path of repentance. He also eventually met a wonderful young woman and they were later sealed in the temple. Hayden explains to me how he has continued to recover from his mission experience and forgive those who harmed him.