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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 about those who returned home early for physical health reasons. You can also listen to episodes in other categories.
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Podcast Episodes: Physical Health
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Episode 55: Haley shares her story of choosing to return home after four weeks due to physical illness
Haley served for a total of four weeks–three in the MTC and one in the field–before choosing to return home early due to physical illness. While she had support at home, Haley still struggled with feelings of shame and loss, as well as anger towards God. In this episode she tells me her story of repairing her relationship with God, owning her decision to come home early, and working through the emotions of an early return. She also talks about how she recognized that returning to the field was not the right decision for her. This is a great episode for anyone struggling with the emotions that accompany an early return, particularly if the mission was much shorter than anticipated.
Episode 50: A chat with author Destiny Yarbro who returned home early twice for physical and mental health reasons, and now helps early-returned missionaries all over the world
Destiny Yarbro returned home early twice. The first time she returned home early from the MTC for physical health reasons. The second time, she went to the mission field and then returned early for mental health reasons. She not only felt like she had failed the Lord upon this second return, but she truly felt like she had committed a transgression (even though she hadn’t) because the Lord didn’t heal her and so must not want her in the field anymore.
Destiny experienced a chronic illness where she had to lay horizontally for months on end. This was extremely difficult emotionally, but eventually she began to feel peace and joy again as she made goals for herself and accomplished them. She called them her “horizontal goals,” and they included spiritual goals and secular goals. As she worked towards these goals, she began to see miracles in her life, some of which eventually led to her serving a service mission while at home.
Destiny has since gone on to write a book to help early-returned missionaries, work with the Church’s missionary department to make the service mission program what it is today, and serve members of the Church all over the world. She does all of this while still dealing with chronic physical and mental health issues. Destiny is absolutely incredible and literally anyone and everyone would benefit from listening to her story.
Episode 49: Addie shares the many emotional, mental, and physical health trials she experienced on her mission before ultimately being sent home due to COVID-19
Addie had always desired to serve a mission and when her call came, she was excited to go! However, a few months into her mission, she was emotionally abused by her companion and housemates. It was a very isolating experience for her. She also began having some physical health problems due to allergies. And, to top it off, she suffered a lot from OCD as well. Despite these things, Addie did manage to continue on until the COVID-19 pandemic struck and she was sent home along with thousands of other missionaries. She talks about her struggles on the mission as well as what it was like to go home due to the pandemic and the emotions and struggles that came with that. Furthermore, Addie told me that she didn’t love her mission and we discussed the cultural implications of that. This episode will comfort anyone who had a rough time on their mission, whether they served the expected amount of time or not, to know that they are not alone and to find a path forward.
Episode 48: Jackson shares his story of returning from his mission early twice for physical health reasons
In this episode, Jackson shares his story of returning home early twice. The first time, he served for eight months before physical health problems required that he come home. The second time, he served for seven months (in the same mission) before a different set of physical health struggles struck him and he again needed to return home early. Through all of this, Jackson had an amazing support system who helped him to talk kindly to himself and put things in their proper perspective. He tells me why he chose to stay home the second time, takeaways he learned from this experience that will serve him well in life, and gives great advice to those who have come home early for any reason.
Episode 47: Jacob shares his story of returning home early for physical health reasons, dealing with judgement, and ceasing his habit of seeking validation from others
Jacob started his mission journey long before he even got his mission call. Overweight and insecure, Jacob decided to make some changes. He got into body-building and realized it was a way from him to grow and push himself. He decided to apply this new mentality to all areas of his life, including spirituality, and eventually decided to serve a mission.
However, as soon as he arrived in his mission, he began experiencing breathing problems, possibly due to the recurrence of a childhood illness, and then later had a hard time swallowing. He managed to stay for seven months, but finally needed to go home. He stated that he believes that if he’d been able to take care of his physical health more, especially through more exercise, these illnesses would not have bothered him as much, or perhaps not have occurred at all. His health improved dramatically once he resumed his workout routine.
Jacob was lucky to have a lot of support from those around him, although he did also deal with some judgement which really bothered him for awhile. Ultimately though, Jacob learned to stop seeking validation from others and to love and accept himself as he is, to set goals for himself, and to understand more fully his divine potential.
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 36: Sarah shares her story of experiencing covert abuse from a companion and her dad while also returning home early for physical health reasons
Sarah was sent home during the COVID-19 pandemic because of physical health problems. She begged her mission president to stay, but he was concerned she wouldn’t get the help she needed if an emergency happened and so after 15 months in the field, she went home. At the time, she was also experiencing covert abuse from her companion which brought up a PTSD response of abuse she had experienced from her dad. In this episode, she discusses that abuse, the trauma it inflicted, and what she has learned by going through this trial.
Episode 29: Lizzy tells her story of returning home early due to a dizziness that never stopped
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 the anger and frustration she felt at others, herself, and God during this time, but also the peace and comfort she received along the way and how she is now able to move forward with forgiveness.
Episode 21: Courtney’s early return due to physical health, the mental toll it took on her, and her decision to return to the field
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 talks about the miracles that have happened that show her that God still loves her, cares for her, and approves of her. She bears powerful testimony of the Atonement and God’s plan for each of us. Additionally, Courtney chose to return to the field after her physical health was good enough and she speaks openly about what that was like and why she feels that was the right choice for her.
Episode 19: Daniel Shares His Story of Returning Home Early Due to a Broken Ankle and then Returning to the Field
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 very anxious and depressed. He bears powerful testimony of the Atonement and how it helped him during this dark time. He also shares with me his experience of returning to a mission and how it is different than initially going out on a mission, as well as what life is like after completing the expected amount of time.
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.
Episode 3: Nathan’s Story of Dealing with Severe Insomnia and Discovering the Validity of Caring for Oneself
Nathan Winters, author of the Medium article, “What Early-Returned Missionaries Want You to Know,” gives a raw interview where he shares his struggles with insomnia on his Latter-day Saint mission, his attempts to grapple cultural notions of “Forget yourself and go to work” with his great need to take care of himself, and how he is coping four months after his early return. Nathan also discusses what he has been found helpful and unhelpful from others who have tried to help him upon his early return.
Episode 1: My Story of Battling Parasites and Finding Peace with Returning Home Early
This is my story of returning home early from my Latter-day Saint mission. With the help of my husband, James, I navigate the listener through my experience of choosing to serve a mission, to feeling ill, to my hospital stays in the Philippines, to making the decision to return home early, to choosing to stay home, to finally where I am now: completely at peace with my mission and coming home early.