When I have grown a foot or two
I hope by then I will be ready
To preach and teach and work as missionaries do.
Every year, about 55,000 young people prepare themselves to serve the Lord by going on a mission. Approximately 10% will come home injured, mentally ill or unworthy to continue serving. This website exists to offer support to the parents, family members and to the early return missionary. It is an emotional time when a young person comes home from a mission early. There is not a manual for what to do when your life-long plan to serve a mission doesn’t work out. By reading the experiences of others who have returned early, hopefully you will receive good advice, find comfort and get answers. We can support each other.
Please consider sharing your story or advice for the benefit of others. Leave a comment or email your experience to: EarlyReturnMissionary@gmail.com. (Complete privacy is maintained. All names withheld.) Or leave a comment below.
There is also an email list on another website that can offer support. Visit the website for an email list for Early Release Missionaries.
SURVEY TO HELP EARLY RETURN MISSIONARIES- Sept 2015
A research team headed by Kris Doty (parent of 2 early return missionaries) is now conducting a study to understand the experiences of parents whose children returned home early from their mission. Will you please take this anonymous online survey? Just click on the link below (or copy it and paste into your browser). The survey should only take 10-15 minutes. It would also help if you would forward this to other parents of ERMs you know.
Hopefully this kind of research will help future early return missionaries.
Read What Others Have to Share:
SAFER TO BE ON A MISSION
In a press release issued in February 2007, the Church said that while these situations happen, “it is important to point out their infrequency.” According to Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, there are about three to six fatalities among missionaries per year, “but the official death rates for comparable-age young men and women in the United States are eight times higher than the death rates of our missionaries.”
YOU’RE THEIR MOM
Welcome to all of our new early release missionary moms. You’re probably feeling the whole gamut of emotions. It’s so hard, but you’re also grateful that they’re home safe with you. My son’s original release would have been next month. He came home after 5 weeks because of anxiety. He’s struggled since coming home and isn’t living the gospel right now. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in his life who still believes there’s hope for him. I can’t stop thinking about his eternal potential. Our early return missionaries go through so much when they come home. My advice would be to get them the medical and emotional help that they need. Some might be resistant to it, but I feel it’s important.
You’re their mom and the one who probably knows and understands them the most next to the Savior. Just love them. Cry with them. Hold their hand. Help them hold their head up. Stick up for them. Laugh with them. Encourage them. And never give up on them. I’m hoping my son’s story will eventually have a happy ending, and I’m hoping for the best for each of you and your children too.
NO MATTER HOW LONG YOU SERVED
“Every early release missionary should be proud of his or her contribution and willing heart. I was told an analogy that has struck me inside again and again. In the military, the view of completing missions and of wounded comrades is quite different from our view of similar situations in religious missions. If soldiers rush into battle and are wounded on their first mission or 50th mission, they are treated the same. They are given medals. They are applauded for their service, no matter how long. Their brothers and sisters at arms risk their own lives to rescue and restore those soldiers to their homes. No one looks at them differently. No one says, ‘Well, you didn’t really help the war effort, did you?’ or ‘Toughen up, man. It’s just a bullet.’ These brave men and women are honored and respected for their service.
So should it be with missionaries. We were willing to go where the Lord asked. Sometimes we get hurt. All we ask for is acceptance and love. We return with dread, hoping our partial offering will still be acceptable to those we care about most. My hope is that every missionary will be loved and respected. With your understanding and support, it can happen.”
(Quoted from When a Missionary Returns Early by Aaron Olsen, March 29, 2011, http://www.ldsliving.com/story/63954)