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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 decided to return to the mission field. You can also listen to episodes in other categories.
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Podcast Episodes: Returning to the Field
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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 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 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 43: Kate returns home early due to emotional and physical abuse from companions
Throughout her childhood, Kate was emotionally and physically abused by her father, and then later by her stepmother. While on her mission, Kate experienced anxiety and undiagnosed ADHD. These mental health struggles were not understood by her companions and they became exasperated with her and abused her emotionally and even physically as well. This re-traumatized Kate and brought up a lot of PTSD. She was given a sedative to calm her, but eventually things came to a head and she decided to go home. Upon returning, Kate felt “broken, undignified, and like a complete failure.” She transitioned to a service mission shortly after returning home and the healing began. Her family also rescued a dog, which became an emotional support animal for Kate. During this episode, Kate shares how she has been able to turn negatives into positives her whole life, and this experience of returning home early from her mission is no exception.
Episode 42: Genisse’s story of coming home early due to depression and anxiety and then returning to her mission
Genisse is the first missionary I have spoken with who came home early due to mental health reasons and then returned to her mission. In this episode, she shares with me her journey of choosing to come home and then choosing to return which includes the ups and downs of therapy, moving forward with life during the 16 months she was home, keeping the desire to return to her mission alive, and going through the required process to return. She also shares what it was like to return to a mission, how she coped with her mental health upon her return, and what has happened in her life since then–including working on a book about this subject and owning a small business, all while still dealing with her depression and anxiety!
Episode 37: Synne returns home early due to perfectionism and self-harming and becomes the first service missionary in Norway and Sweden
In this episode, Synne shares her story of returning home early from her mission in France due to perfectionism, anxiety, depression, and self-harming. She felt like she had failed Heavenly Father and was devastated. However, because of her desire to continue serving, Synne immediately requested to become a service missionary upon returning home, even though there had never been a service missionary in Norway before. Synne persisted despite this and with the help of her leaders, she became the first service missionary in Norway and Sweden! Listen to Synne’s story if you want to feel inspired and uplifted about how to continue doing the Lord’s work even when things don’t go as planned.
Episode 32: Jacob shares his story of returning home early due to belated confession
Jacob had always wanted to serve a mission, but due to some mistakes made before he left, he was unworthy to go. He lied to himself constantly to convince himself that he was okay, which led to him serving for 9 months before the guilt became too much and he had a powerful experience that helped him to seek repentance. Upon returning home, he intended to repent and return to his mission, but life began happening again and he soon found himself committing the same sins. It wasn’t until after a few more turning points that Jacob was finally able to forsake his sins, fully repent, and eventually return to his mission.
Episode 24: What can I expect if I return to the field?
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 same issues that caused their early return would happen again, how they dealt with feelings of impatience, envy, and confusion while waiting for the right time to return, and how they adjusted to missionary life again. If you are struggling with the decision to stay home or go back out, or if you have already made the decision to return to the field and just want to know what you can expect next, listen to this episode and continue the healing process.
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 18: Abi Shares Her Experience of Serving a Proselyting Mission and a Service Mission
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 City, discusses the schedule and expectations while on a service mission and what makes it different than a proselyting mission. She also shares her testimony and faith both about the purpose of her serving a proselyting mission and then a service mission and the Lord’s love for her. Abi also discusses her mental health struggles and her methods for both overcoming and coping with the effects of anxiety and depression.
Episode 17: Thea Shares What She Learned by Coming Home Early Twice for Worthiness Reasons
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 strong message of HOPE for anyone else going through a serious repentance process and about the healing she experienced through the power of Christ’s atonement. She also shares how she was able to turn this trial into a good thing—she now goes about doing good by sharing her story and inspiring others to continue living the gospel and to find peace in their lives.
Episode 11: Tyson Discusses Returning Home Early for Worthiness Reasons and then Returning to the Mission Field after Two Years at Home
In this episode, Tyson discusses with me his need to return home early from his Latter-day Saint mission due to belated confession. He was lucky to have a supportive and inspired bishop as well as parents, but despite this, Tyson returned to what had been causing him trouble before even though he had hoped to get his sins resolved and return to his mission. Thanks to some tough love from his bishop, and a forced look at excommunication, Tyson did eventually make it through the repentance process, and, thanks to some more tough love from his best friend, he returned to the mission field. The transition was difficult, but by opening up to his leaders and discussing his concerns, Tyson found the strength to continue and finish what he had started.
Episode 9: Blake shares his experience of serving in the Utah Valley Service Mission after returning home early from Brazil due to anxiety
When Blake came home early from his Latter-day Saint proselyting mission in Brazil, he had many questions: Why? What was the purpose of coming home early? What was he supposed to do? How could he move forward? He was initially not interested in serving a service mission until he learned about the Utah Valley Service mission where he would have the opportunity to serve beyond the temple and the Bishop’s storehouse. Upon learning this, he felt like he wasn’t done and that there was more that he could do and was reassigned to labor in the Utah Valley Service mission where he now happily serves in the MTC. He shares with me a powerful testimony about the validity and power of service missions, talks about the growth he has experienced by serving one, and also discusses facing the stigma that his reassigned mission is less than his first mission. Blake also discusses the culture shock he faced in Brazil that triggered his anxiety so badly that it began severely affecting his physical health and the anxiety he faced about coming home.
Episode 8: What is a Service Mission and Should I Consider Serving One?
In this episode, Elder and Sister Wilkey discuss their roles as Latter-day Saint service mission leaders in the Utah Valley Service Mission and share valuable information about the way service missions are developing and all the different ways to serve in Utah Valley (which they hope will extend to other areas soon!). They share with me the similarities and differences between a service mission and a proselyting mission. They also discuss the role of parents in service missions and explain the involvement of parents better. They are very candid and honest about the best parts and hardest parts of serving the Lord as a service missionary while sharing real examples of the various experiences that service missionaries they work with have had. Finally, they discuss the stigma that still surrounds service missions and how they hope that will soon change.