6 lies early returned missionaries tell themselves

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  • Sqwatch The Outback, OR
    May 23, 2016 3:27 p.m.

    Every one of us on this thread judge every day. We judge in our own way, deciding what to watch tonight from judging the guys holding signs at freeway off ramps. It's in our nature to judge. It is true that there is a sigma associated with kids that come home early (what ever the reason), as well as those that do not go at all.

    Since reducing the age from 19 to 18, more kids are not ready to go. They've never left home. How could the be prepared? The real shame is that many of the "establishment" Mormons are those that do not let kids play with non-mormons, or dont let them in their homes to play with their kids. How can we profess to be a missionary church when we are not willing to open our homes and hearts to those not of our faith?

  • Multi Bountiful, UT
    May 20, 2016 2:11 p.m.

    I'll add my two cents seeing as I went for the full two years yet hated every minute of it, the best thing I got out of it was Spanish and a love for Latin culture.

    If you were so miserable at your job that you despise going into work everyday, would people judge you unfairly for moving to a better fit career wise? No they would not, why would you people do the same to a missionary who comes home early even under those weak emotional circumstances, you love to pop off about?

    That is the whole problem with LDS culture, it sets a bar and when we don't all hit it, you get treated like an errant toddler, or the whispers about worthiness start to circle. "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." (Daniel Tosh)

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    May 20, 2016 9:53 a.m.

    I do love the comments that read such as, "I have never seen this, surely this does not happen."

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    May 20, 2016 9:49 a.m.

    Ronnie W is a symptom of the problem.
    What a shame.
    This is nothing like Jesus would have said.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    May 20, 2016 7:06 a.m.

    Elder Dalton refused to go home when he had cancer in Gods Army. Actually in real life that would not of happened no one can say I a not going home. That was listed as factual error in IMDb too. There are health problems you can,t control no matter how much positive thinking y have. I.e. Norman Vincent Peale Grant Von Harrison type books. Even for transgressions h can repent. Times the Lord does not remove ur afflictions though he can. He only does what is best for us and knows what is best.

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    May 19, 2016 4:04 p.m.

    In the Family Search Library where I serve as a missionary, we teach our patrons that it is correct for them to do all the appropriate temple work for their ancestors, regardless how those ancestors lived and died.

    Keep it simple: judging others: "Bad"; Forgiving and loving others: "Good!"

    May 22, 2015 9:43 p.m.

    I found this article very timely and healing! Thank you for sharing your experience with me so I can know that I am/was not alone. I, myself, had several bouts with illness on my mission and wondered "why Me?" I thought that if I just had enough "faith" this wouldn't be happening! I loved my mission and didn't want to go home early.
    I am forever grateful for an understanding and patient Mission President, and his wife, who helped me tremendously to understand why we go through certain trials and that sometimes our "Thorns of the flesh" aren't taken away. I still live with my illness today (my mission was more than 20 yrs ago) but with the love and support of my family and ward family, I have not let the illness decide my destiny or defeat my testimony.
    Thank you for putting into words what many people have 'wondered' for many years, and for stating it so clearly and graciously.

  • spiffy3 South Ogden, UT
    May 22, 2015 8:47 a.m.

    Thank you for the touching and personal stories.
    I would like to share my thoughts about number 6 especially.
    I submit that we should not care about whether or not we are being judged. The only person whose judgment matters is that of Jesus Christ - and he doesn't judge in order to condemn or compare. His judgment does not determine the level of his love for us, and he desires that the same be true about our judgment of ourselves, and others.
    Being judged by others is an unavoidable part of life. An inescapable truth: Imperfect, and fallen men, and women (that's everybody) will be cruel and unfair.
    The same lies are told to themselves by those who come home early without an honorable release, except if they do not base their concept of self-worth on their value to the Savior, they won't have the ready-made and relatively easy justification - that the reason they came home wasn't because they did something wrong. They are more likely to condemn themselves and are no less worthy of nor more in need of the Savior's atoning sacrifice than any of the rest of us.

  • Robbie32 Mesa, AZ
    May 22, 2015 6:55 a.m.

    You know Ronnie W. and others need to realize that depression and axiety can be real seriuos mental problems and are not an excuse. Maybe a few but depression is very real and probably had it before he or her went out. So..please no matter what the reason..DON'T JUDGE"..you aren't perfect either

  • Avdrus Boise, ID
    May 22, 2015 5:15 a.m.

    What a marvelous article. Satan, and those who seek to uphold his work, seek misery for those who want to come to and follow Christ. Identifying the "six lies" is so insightful. The big lie is that the Atonement of Jesus Christ will "work" for everyone, but me. Thanks for the uplifting reminder that we all have our burden to bear and that we can overcome lies and triumph.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    May 21, 2015 7:39 a.m.

    Ronnie W. "I also know as well, if my daughter was considering to marry a missionary who had returned early..."

    If my daughter considered a temple marriage; I wouldn't judge him by his race, accent, mission, family background, or tattoos. I would be thrilled that he is able to take my daughter to the temple and they are beginning their life on the right path.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    May 21, 2015 7:22 a.m.

    I have been active LDS for 50 years. This has never been the "talk of the ward"...ever. Nor about those that choose not to serve full time missions.

    May 20, 2015 11:52 p.m.

    to Morpunkt, please remember that our Heavenly Father, our God, our perfect parent, lost 1/3 of his children. Please, forgive yourself for what you didn't do and haven't done. My sweet mother-in-law showed us how to love all of your children and grandchildren. Show them that you will always love them. Not necessarily approve of their choices, but will always still love them. It makes it much easier for them to return and allows you to enjoy the good choices they do make.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    May 20, 2015 9:08 p.m.

    As a returned missionary who served the full mission, honorably discharged and now no longer Mormon, I find the belief some LDS members have that 'their members who have left a mission early are somehow less worthy in God's eyes' to be completely immoral! Having This type of immoral belief taught in church is risky for a religion because it could potentially drive away good moral people til only people with immoral beliefs like this remain.

  • ebur Charlotte, NC
    May 20, 2015 1:50 p.m.

    They should be stoned and burned in a public square, their names deleted from every church records and her families outcast and send to wards far from their residence. They should wear only black clothes and not speak to other faithful members of the church, neither looking at their eyes. They will be forbidden to enter to the Temple for the next 10 generations and their have to paint their skin in purple color.

  • kvnsmnsn Springville, UT
    May 20, 2015 12:41 p.m.

    Skeptic posted:

    =It is all part and parcel of belonging to a cult.

    Calling the LDS Church a cult is kind of like calling Barack Obama a politician. They (cult and politician) are both derogatory terms whose meaning is not clear. What exactly does it mean to call the LDS Church a cult?

    Sociologically, Skeptic is right, the LDS Church is a cult, but in its beginnings Christianity was a cult sociologically too.

  • islandboy Honolulu, HI
    May 20, 2015 11:59 a.m.

    A mission is not easy and I know from my own experience. I respect anyone who decides to go. If they return home early, who am I to judge? I agree with a previous poster, no matter how long you stay out, the fact that you went is amazing in and of itself. Welcome home brother or sister. Thank-you for your service.

  • Anonymous100 Anywhere, UT
    May 20, 2015 11:56 a.m.

    I served a two year mission. Two friends from my home ward went home early due to illness. It's not the time spent in the mission field, it's what is done while there. We all have sinned and have no right to pass judgment on anyone else whether they came home early and honorably or early and dishonorably. The blessings of the atonement are available to everyone.

  • Strong Man Eau Claire, WI
    May 20, 2015 11:09 a.m.

    Seems like we all just need to focus on "working out our own salvation with fear and trembling." I served a full-time mission and was honorably released and learned so much. My dad used to say that his mission "was the best two years of his life up until then" but that he's had even better years since, being married and having a family. I wholeheartedly agree. There is so much life to live after a mission! Have I made mistakes since serving a mission? You bet! Have I learned that the gospel is mostly about picking yourself up every time you fall and focusing on the daily things like scripture study, personal and family prayer, kindness, taking the sacrament, humility? You bet!! In essence, there is no SILVER BULLET. No one gets to exaltation solely because they served a mission, married in the temple, served in a specific calling.... We all need to just keep the commandments daily, one day at a time, and support each other humbly in that effort, trusting that the small and simple things done humbly and consistently will indeed lead to greater things in the next life.

  • Kav Boise, ID
    May 20, 2015 10:48 a.m.

    Thank you for coming back and commenting again Ronnie. I probably could have been a bit more sensitive to your position as well. It's just something that I struggle with because I feel that I have not fulfilled my duty to the Lord. That's not something that comes from culture (I don't remember living in Utah), it is something I have done to myself. There is a great impulse to blame others for how we are treated when we return home early, of which I am also guilty, but ultimately it comes down to how we relate to ourselves.

    Someone else commented that the way we see ourselves influences how we feel others see ourselves and can actually influence them to treat us certain ways. I suppose this is true. So, thank you for continuing to comment despite some abrasiveness on my part.

  • Don37 Nottingham, MD
    May 20, 2015 10:36 a.m.

    I am surprised that each of the posters failed to add the following.

    D&C 64: 10
    Doctrine and Covenants
    10 I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

    This is the way I try to deal with all people I meet and who may have committed an indiscretion.

  • illuminated St George, UT
    May 20, 2015 9:40 a.m.

    @Reasonable Man

    "illuminated, go look up the word hyperbole and then go to work on your intellect and forensic skills."

    Intellect and forensic skills? I told nothing but the truth as I experienced it and exaggerated nothing. I didn't say all missionaries were like that, I just said that they fall prey to the same temptations and problems as anyone else. My MTC experience was unique, I know that. I've never talked to anyone else who had a similar experience. Maybe it was just bad luck that I got placed with such a group of individuals.

    Most of my 17 companions were good guys, but they had weaknesses like anyone else. And there were also quite a few who did very bad things while on their missions.

    I loved my mission, it was the greatest two years of my life. The fact that I met a few bad missionaries doesn't change that. But what I find ironic is your swift rebuke of myself, a former missionary, while claiming that any criticism of a missionary is "dark and depressing and seamy". Look in the mirror.

  • AllBlack San Diego, CA
    May 20, 2015 9:01 a.m.

    If only most of this article was actually true. Fact is that when one ends up home early from a mission you become a second class member minimum and a second class priesthood holder. The pressure one feels a few years after that event, from judgmental members, is enormous and at times unbearable. I found that the best solution was to move away, to another state and stake and new people altogether just to be able to continue on as a "normal" member, because at times I felt that I was considered worse than someone who was excommunicated for the worst sins out there. Even today almost 30 years after the "event" on returning to my home stake the members who remember that failure equate any life problems I have to the "well they're the consequences of not being faithful on your mission" judgement call (and I was unfaithful but not ex´d nor did I abandon because it was the Pres call, I simply didn´t keep the rules by going to cinemas and clubs in a small near dead country town) So I wish this article was true but it isn´t. The worst is yet to come!

  • DonO Draper, UT
    May 20, 2015 8:01 a.m.

    The gospel of missionary service ("Go ye therefore and teach all nations") vs the culture of missionary service ("Do it this way or you have failed") will be in conflict until the Second Coming. Would that all "active" Mormons could focus on the first.

  • Frozen Chosen Savage, MN
    May 20, 2015 7:31 a.m.

    Mission presidents - like Bishops and Stake presidents - are not perfect. They do their best in difficult situations. My son's substitute mission president (the original one's wife became very ill so he couldn't serve) had an area with a bunch of out of control and disobedient missionaries. He threw my son into that milieu as his first area and he ended up coming home 6 months later due to stress, anxiety and a lost desire to serve. My son has never been back to church since he came home. The Bishop never met with him after he came home and the brand new stake president didn't really know what to do about the situation.

    We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and leaders. I don't blame anyone for my son's situation but it's been a difficult trial for his mother and I obviously. The Church is true, we just need to realize that life isn't always a straight line.

  • davidlezette Durham, NC
    May 20, 2015 6:17 a.m.

    Thank goodness I did not grow up in Utah where there is great societal pressure to go on a mission.

    I didn't serve a mission and I was inactive for 6 years. Despite all of that, I was still able to marry the best woman in the world (sorry guys, the rest of you just didn't luck out like I did)

    She was able to see me for who I am and not just as someone who didn't serve a mission. She dated a "RM" before me who treated her very poorly so she knew that being a RM did not automatically make someone husband material ( a lie that is commonly portrayed to young women in the church ).

  • Llew40 Sandy, UT
    May 20, 2015 12:14 a.m.

    6 Lies Never-Married Returned Missionaries Over 30 Tell Themselves

    1. I didn't get the same blessings as other full-service returned missionaries.
    2. God doesn't want me to progress.
    3. I could have done more to catch a temple worthy companion.
    4. I have let everyone down, especially God.
    5. I can't go on with my life now.
    6. People will judge and pity me from now on.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    May 19, 2015 9:52 p.m.

    1aggie makes an excellent point. Maybe I would have been more open to going on a mission if I had had the option of a service one instead of having to go door to door like an Amway salesman. Perhaps the LDS Church should focus more on setting a Christlike example for the world instead of trying to reach a quota...

  • Just an Observer Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 7:37 p.m.

    I'm wondering why you refer to pressure or nagging from parents and ward leaders, but don't mention that the prophets are the ones saying, "every worthy young man". To my knowledge, every prophet since President Kimball has repeated that at least once. As I mentioned in my earlier post, that of itself should be enough to make young men feel that it is their responsibility; the challenge then is to have them understand and live the Gospel and prepare to go on a mission. Sending young men out who are not well-prepared spiritually and mentally is not a very good idea.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    May 19, 2015 6:03 p.m.

    i'm just wondering for young adults, why "serving a mission" is defined only as 2 yr or 18 mon. proseltyzing. For senior couples there are a wide variety of "mission" opportunities and ways to serve. Not everybody is mentally and emotionally suited for "sales."

    There is a substantial amount of pressure put on our young men to serve a 2 yr mission. They are taught lessons on the importance of serving a mission. Ward leaders and teachers often bring up the topic in personal conversations--ie what might otherwise be referred to as "nagging." Some youth quit attending church in order to escape the "nagging." There are social pressures to serve a mission--like for instance at BYU. And finally, some parents exert a tremendous amount of pressure on their sons.

    Elder Oaks gave one of the best talks about judging others. I look to Christ. No one was more qualified to judge/condemn others than He, yet during his ministry here his harshest judgments were pronounced on the Pharisees--religious leaders. Judging others not only entails measuring someone's heart, it also means taking a measure of someone at a single point along an entire lifeline.

  • nicholdraper West Jordan, UT
    May 19, 2015 2:50 p.m.

    John 9:2-3 "Who sinned this man or his parents" What I find funny about these comments is the idea that judging people by their outward appearance is something new or unique to Mormons. There are those who say we shouldn't judge, but that also shows a misunderstanding of scriptures, we should not judge unrighteously. Which means we would need to get to know a person before we could accurately judge wether leaving a mission early was an indication of chronic poor life choices or something benign. It is easy to say condemn them. It is easy to say don't bother to judge. It is hard to actually get to know people.

  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    May 19, 2015 2:49 p.m.

    Another issue is those who for medical or other reasons chose not to go on a mission. The negative comments i regularly received cause me to quit going to church altogether.

  • What I Would Tell A Friend Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 2:24 p.m.

    "maybe it was for the best in the long run? I never went back." First, the person who "outed" you assuredly did not understand or follow the Two Great Commandments to love God with all their heart/soul/mind/might/strength and love their neighbors as themselves, and for that I am certain they will not be going where they hope to go in the afterlife unless they have fully repented (including apologizing to you if at all possible).

    But was it best to never go back? Do you, despite issues you have that are difficult to deal with in relation to living Gospel teachings--and, trust me, everyone has them even though they may be different from yours--believe what the LDS Church teaches? I have had serious struggles on the other side of the spectrum, and I allowed them to keep me for a long time from being what Heavenly Father intended for me to become. Even now, married, I still have extremely difficult issues for which I don't have answers. If you believe it at all, no, it is not best for you to remain away.

  • Uteofferouus Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 12:56 p.m.

    Early on in my mission in Ecuador, many years ago, I became acquainted with an Elder who impressed me very much. He appeared to be a fine, intelligent, and well behaved Missionary. He told me he had been out 10 months but was going home. He did not say why and I did not ask. I recollect that I simply wished him well. I believed then and I still believe that young man was a very good person, everything about him seemed to radiate goodness. Regardless of the reason(s) he went home early, I believe he ended up being very successful in life and I feel strongly he became a very fine husband, father and likely an outstanding employee for someone or his own business owner. In my heart, I totally forgive that young man and I hope he turned out to be as successful and good as he was when I met him! I served all 24 months but I doubt I was as good a person as that young man.

  • lynn Roosevelt, UT
    May 19, 2015 11:59 a.m.

    There are as Many different circumstances as there are missionaries. Case in point though, I think more highly of one who comes home honest enough to face their worthiness or not than one who fakes it through-

  • wcaughey Tempe, AZ
    May 19, 2015 11:23 a.m.

    I am an RM that returned home early for knee surgery - luckily I was able to go back out and finish my mission. I have a soft spot in my heart for the missionaries who come early. It is a very difficult and trying experience. The RM's who come home early for mental/physical reasons feel ashamed. The most difficult thing I had to do was hug my Mom. I felt like I had let her down. She, with more love and kindness than I have ever seen, took me into her arms, told me she loved me and she was proud of me.

    I have also seen the missionaries who have been sent home due to inappropriate conduct. It isn't an easy thing to come home, admit you are wrong, and then start walking back to full activity. Those missionaries need as much love as the ones who had to come home early for medical reasons. They bear a guilt and a shame that will haunt them for a long time. To not care for them and, for lack of better terminology, shun them is folly on the part of the one who is casting the stone.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 19, 2015 11:22 a.m.

    Number 6 is written incorrectly. People in fact will judge missionaries who come home early. They shouldn't of course but sadly some will.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    May 19, 2015 11:08 a.m.


    Also, parents, prospective missionaries, ward and stake priesthood leaders, and mission leaders need to realize that prospective missionaries are making a commitment to serve 24/18 months, and the prospective missionaries need to understand and accept the responsibility of ones keeping the commitment. Mission leaders and ward and stake leaders need to counsel with the youth about the importance of keeping commitments. Going home early shouldn't be an option. I think that prospective missionaries shouldn't go on missions unless they understand the commitment they are making. If a missionary can't handle the stress of missionary work, perhaps he/she should be reassigned to a less-stressful environment rather than being sent home early. I don't see anything wrong with reassigning a person to a different area or even a different mission to reduce the stress on the missionary.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    May 19, 2015 11:01 a.m.

    Re: RFLASH

    Sorry about your experience. We have a long way to go.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 19, 2015 10:57 a.m.

    We had a girl in our ward come back a few years ago due to illness. They didn't have a "homecoming" sacrament meeting for her. I don't know if that was an individual or family decision. I don't even know if having a homecoming sacrament meeting came up. She was honorably released. Were I bishop, I'd have a homecoming for them.

    On my mission, I only know of 1 elder that left early while I was therer and that was his decision to leave. Not sure he got an honorable release. A few months after I left another missionary left early. He'd been a major problem child and my first mission president, the Admiral, had put him with strong companions. The later mission president apparently put him with a health challenged missionary. He beat up his companion and left him at the DFW Airport when he left. They found the companion and he later died due to complications from the assault (according to the news articles in Dallas).

  • Ronnie W. Layton, UT
    May 19, 2015 10:51 a.m.

    @Kav, @Utes Fan

    I am sorry if I offended you. I feel I did not adequately explain myself. People who are true sufferers from depression, stress or health problems, should go home, for their health. I know missionaries who went home who had to. I think no less of them. On the contrary, some of them had such a fire in their eyes about wanting to work it inspired me.

    A case I am referring to is when someone who is completely healthy, who played sports in high school, starts having "back" problems and goes home. I know someone who this happened to, and I know it was because he just didn't want to be out there. It doesn't matter to me why they came home. All I am saying is that I want my daughter to think cautiously and know if someone quit or if they had to come home because of health.

  • Something to think about Ogden, UT
    May 19, 2015 10:44 a.m.

    There's a wide range of definitions that can describe missionary service or any form of service. What exactly is a "good" missionary or a "bad" missionary.

    I knew elders who lived the letter of the law, yet did very little in the way of finding, teaching, or baptizing. Were they a 'good' elder? Yes by the standard of obedience. But they we not 'good' in terms of production.

    We need to be careful about all the labels we attach to anyone involved in any form of service.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 10:41 a.m.

    Why should it be anyone's business why someone comes home early or even if they choose not to go? I think it takes a lot of nerve to make judgment on the lives of others and a great deal of our lives are not the business of everyone. Mormons are extremely judgmental. there is a lot of peer pressure to be a certain way and it isn't always good for everyone.
    I am gay, but I never really had a chance in the church. Someone took it upon themselves to out me in church before I had even came out to myself fully! They gossiped about things I supposedly did and so forth. None of it was true! It destroyed everything. maybe it was for the best in the long run? I never went back.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    May 19, 2015 10:30 a.m.

    As for the pressure put on young men to serve being a cause of some missionaries coming home early, I don't think so. All parents want the best for their children and let their children know that they expect and hope that they will do the things which will bring about their greatest happiness in this life and the life to come. It is actually harmful to a young man or young woman when parents do not counsel with them as to what decisions will be for their best happiness. But, parents should also make it clear that it is worse to go on a mission unworthily than to not go at all.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    May 19, 2015 10:30 a.m.

    For those who return home early, parents, potential future spouses (that means anybody who they want to date in a serious way), and some priesthood leaders have every right to know exactly why that person came home from a mission early and need to make some appropriate judgment based on that knowledge through prayerful consideration of all the facts and circumstances. For the rest of us, it is none of our business and we should treat them with kindness, love and respect that we would show to any child of God.

  • Justiciaparatodos Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 10:26 a.m.

    I'm guessing principles in the Church Missonary Department monitor these articles and comments to sort of get a "pulse" on current thinking about these issues. If you are, please take into account the various perspectives and use this information to develop some new approaches to how Missionary work is viewed.

    Please promote some new dialogue that can help all members to understand that Missionary work is important, but so are the reputations and feelings of members young and old who struggle with the decision to serve or not to serve a mission.

    Somehow we need to disavow the notion that if someone chooses not to serve a mission that they are a "second class saint". Let those who really want to go on a mission do so, but let's be clear that there are other good choices in life that are also worthy. Let's find ways to promote less judgementalism.

    Let's have dialogues in our singles wards about why character is important whether it comes from missionary service or other endeavors in life; and that all people of character are worthy for friendship, dating, marriage, etc.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    May 19, 2015 10:20 a.m.

    I wonder if some of the pressure results from a strong influence on missionaries to get baptisms. My understanding of the scriptures is that missionaries are called to teach the gospel. Ones decision to be baptized or not is made by the person investigating the church, not by the missionary, and I question the wisdom of making missionaries responsible for baptisms when they don't make that decision.

    I served as a missionary in 1956-1957, and we did all of our work via door-to-door tracting. I only had one baptism during my 24 months, but I felt like I served a faithful mission, because I did my best to teach people. Missionary work, at that time, wasn't geared to referrals from members like it is today. I consider a person a successful missionary if he/she is teaching the gospel, whether the teaching is with non-members, less active members, or members. I also like to see missionaries today get involved in community service, because that is another way of teaching the gospel.

  • Wacoan Waco, TX
    May 19, 2015 10:11 a.m.

    @Reasonable Man,
    Thank you for your comment and your service as a missionary and mission president. My wife and I are planning to serve in a few years.

  • Lolly Lehi, UT
    May 19, 2015 10:02 a.m.

    The problem continues, but it is a more friendly atmosphere than 40 years ago. A person found it very, very difficult to continue in the church especially if he came home excommunicated, those many years ago.

    We had three Elders come home recently due to medical problems. All three are back out now finishing their missions. I believe the main reason for doing away with "missionary farewells was to avoid the false expectations and take away the earlier anticipation that the missionary was some kind of hero who was soon to learn that the world was not waiting for his arrival. This endeavor requires work and diligence which some have never known in their growing up years. Missions are not easy but like myself, many good things are learned as with my having flunked out of college and then returning and in my first semester to receive a 4.0 which continued until I graduated. Learning the 12 points of the Scout Law and who benefits from them and then living them can make all of the difference in staying or returning.

  • Just an Observer Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 9:49 a.m.

    I served a mission only because I felt it was what I was supposed to do. It wasn't pressure from parents; I just believed that "every worthy young man" meant just that. However, despite believing the Church was true, I wasn't really converted to it, and consequently I was not a particularly faithful missionary. As I have grown in my understanding of the Gospel (which wasn't strong in my own family), I have come to believe that I must live and teach it the best I can so my own children can see exactly why it would be of value to others. A mission is not an easy experience; I want my kids to be able to focus on what the Savior would have them do so that even if they don't naturally have a burning desire to leave their comfort zones and try to find people to teach for 18/24 months, they will feel as strongly as possible about using that allotted time to do the very best they can to bring the truth into the lives of others who would not otherwise have it.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    May 19, 2015 9:26 a.m.

    What I find interesting is the level of judgement in most of the "encouragement and loving" comments. It is still a fact that if a person comes home early then She/He is damaged goods - physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. The zealots continue to push the sane people from the organization. Sadly what you have left is just a cult.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    May 19, 2015 8:59 a.m.

    I wonder if part of the problem is that full time missionaries are called for either 18 months (women) or 24 months (men). Older missionaries are allowed to choose the length of their mission. I recently finished a 12-month service mission, and I'm glad I was able to choose the length of my mission. If I had been required to serve for a longer period of time, I'm not sure I would have served. I feel like I was truly a volunteer and not just a cog in the gear of the church.

    Some people will say (or think) that I shouldn't be questioning the policies established by General Authorities. They have a good point. However, we all need to ask ourselves, are missionaries really volunteers? Do we treat them as volunteers? Do we want missionaries to be volunteers? Part of being a volunteer is the decision to serve in a particular capacity. Is there more to being a volunteer than this initial decision?

  • RBC Cody, WY
    May 19, 2015 8:55 a.m.

    This is an issue that needs to be addressed by our church authorities, preferably in General Conference, and preferably by the First Presidency.

    It's a strange aspect of Mormon culture that it is better for someone to have never gone on a mission than to have come home early.

    The person who never went they can always say "I didn't go, but I sure wish I would have". Not preferable but it will get you by. But the missionary who comes home early will forever have to answer the question...what "really" happened?

    For myself and many of the missionaries I served with, "it was the best years of my life". But for others, not so much. Yet I knew all of them to be dedicated to the same common theme of just wanting to help others.

    Serving a mission is hard. It's not normal to spend month after month being yelled at, laughed at, and mocked. Such things create enormous stress. As do mission presidents who always want more...more hours, more service, more baptisms.

    I respect all those who chose to serve--regardless of how long it turned out being.

  • Reasonable Man Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 8:50 a.m.

    illuminated, go look up the word hyperbole and then go to work on your intellect and forensic skills. I served a mission for 2 1/2 years in the old days, and I served as a mission president with 342 young missionaries. There are a few problems and a few people who haven't kept the moral standards required to serve a mission, and there are some who fall prey to temptation during their mission--but your exaggeration for effect (all missionaries are hypocrites and unworthy) is absurd. They are the finest young people in the world. They are trying to do what's right, lern to recognize and follow the Spirit, overcome weaknesses, repent of pride and sins and character flaws, help people improve their lives, and working hard to have a positive effect on the world--all at the sacrifice of most worldly distractions and pastimes. Perhaps in your mind the missionary world is that dark and depressing and seamy, and if so, I hope that you will find some positive energy to bring some light and happiness and truth into your life.

  • Wacoan Waco, TX
    May 19, 2015 8:32 a.m.

    Many have suggested that young men, and to a lesser extent young women, should not be pressured (incentivized, encouraged) to serve missions. As a reminder, people are pressured about nearly all decisions. We are pressured to go to school or not, use drugs or not, and go on missions or not. An important question to ask is if the activity is valuable.

    I believe that missionary service is valuable to the future converts, the church and the potential missionary. Because the benefits are often not easily seen by the potential missionary and the cost and social pressure not to serve are easily felt, pressure to serve is good. Without empirical evidence that nobody in the comments has, I believe that many more who elect not to serve would find joy and benefit in service.

    I am grateful for those who attempt to serve given disadvantages in health. I feel sympathy for young men who wanted to serve so badly that they did not fully confess before leaving or who were even embarrassed to confess. My limited experience suggests that most want to serve a full mission. My inclination and responsibility is toward love and not judgement.

  • Daria6407 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 8:25 a.m.

    Honestly of all the guys I have dated the worst ones were the return missionaries, regardless if they were early or full return missionaries. The guys I have known and/or dated who weren't return missionaries are the ones who were the best. The conclusion? Judge people (and yes we are supposed to righteously judge people) on who they are and not what they've done. I know that seems a little counterintuitive because often what someone has done is part of who they are, but doing it this way leaves room for repentance or realizing someone can a serve a misson and still be a jerk.

  • Jack Rose China, 00
    May 19, 2015 8:19 a.m.

    Mark wrote one of the four gospels in the New Testament. His first mission with Paul and Barnabus seemed too overwhelming for him and so he left it and went home. It really ticked off Paul and he wouldn't serve with him again. But Barnabus was happy to serve with Mark in future missions and the rest is history. I think Mark will make it to heaven because he didn't stop being a solid Christian. He continued and eventually was a major contributor to the New Testament.

    I am glad to see efforts to rub this distasteful part out of our Mormon Culture. I don't think Heavenly Father put it there.

  • ute94 Corona, CA
    May 19, 2015 8:08 a.m.


    "There is a BIG difference between missionaries who have to come home for health reasons-mental or physical,
    verses ones who ARE SENT home for flagrant abuse and violation of the commandments and ordinances they professed to believe and uphold.

    But they shouldn't all be lumped into one big group in people's minds.
    Or spoken of as one big group.

    They are very different groups and need very different things."

    I totally agree with this, I came home early, not for getting sent home, not for being sick but just choosing to come home, but I don't feel I should be grouped in either of those categories because there tends to be differences in the missionaries that come home early.

    With that being said I think it's fair to reverse it and say the same about RM's. There's many different types of RM's and for those who tend to judge early returned missionaries, I'd just like to say that not every RM stays in the church and not every early returned missionary leaves the church or is struggling in the church, which a lot of times is the assumption members have.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    May 19, 2015 7:24 a.m.


    "It's not your place to judge" you say?
    Then why are you doing just that?

  • gchris rock springs, wy
    May 19, 2015 6:27 a.m.

    Most of those things could also be thought and felt by young men who choose not to go on a mission at a particular time in their lives. I was married when I went to BYU and a mission just wasn't in my immediate future. While I was quite comfortable with my decision, I felt a need to explain to everyone I met there why I wasn't an "RM." I have often wondered if President Monson has to explain his reason for not going on a mission as a young man. Why anyone goes or does not go on a mission or why he or she might come home early is their business. I have met a few missionaries who should have gone home early and a few more who shouldn't have gone at all. Fortunately for them, folks at home think they filled an "honorable mission" just because they stayed out for two years.

  • witzlaw Spring Hill, TN
    May 19, 2015 5:30 a.m.

    All right, here's the thing. I sometimes think that as members, we have a tendency to question others about all sorts of things. And not just regarding prematurely-ended missions: Why didn't you marry by a certain age, why didn't you have a certain number of children, why didn't you serve a mission at all, and so on. None of this is intended to excuse bad conduct, of course, but not everything is bad conduct. Some people didn't go on missions because they converted later in life. Some families are small, because the parties are unable to conceive. And some missionaries return home for purely medical reasons. Moreover, I am aware of at least one person who served a seemingly honorable mission, married in the Temple, and fathered several children, but who is now an excommunicated member who spews increasingly apostate views over his podcast.

    We are simply poor judges, in part, because pride gets in the way. For that reason, leaving those judgments to the Lord is needful.

  • TheVoiceofTruth Austin, TX
    May 19, 2015 1:58 a.m.

    I believe you rely on the "Satan" option way, way, too much. LDS society at times gets deeply into speculation whenever there is an abnormality, such as an early return, or why the first councilor wasn't made bishop, when the bishop moved. It's normal, human nature, no need for the superstitious baloney. Likewise, you felt down because you knew you were the subject of this speculation, in addition to failing to reach a goal "everyone else" was able to accomplish. I have always given LDS people for avoiding blaming "Satan" for every untoward actions of human beings, the way Fundamentalist do, after all why talk about accountability IF "the devil made me do it"? Good luck, take a little unwanted advice, Confront those who spread the rumors, you'll find that doing so is like popping the speculation balloon.

  • Drewskione China, 00
    May 19, 2015 1:10 a.m.

    I am a convert to the Church. And I converted at 23, so I was within the mission age, but upon being baptised I moved overseas for work. Because of the emphasis on mission placed in the Church, it has been something always on my mind. Well, I'll be 26 next month, so it is too late to answer the call. It makes me feel like I will always be on the outside looking in, but I guess that is my lot in life.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2015 12:38 a.m.

    "What I didn't realize was that the adversary was the one handing me the sledge-hammer, and I was the one smashing the pieces." Was it the "adversary" or your culture handing you the hammer? I think the latter.

    The writer needs to disarm the wielder.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 10:12 p.m.

    @Ronnie W.
    "I personally think they will be better off sticking it out."
    You don't know that. It can vary from person to person.

    "They can find a reason to quit and use health as an excuse, or follow though and stick it out."
    Has it ever occured to you, that a missionary with, say, depression, who comes home early may be doing the more courageous and more difficult and "honorable" thing than "sticking it out"?

  • JimInSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 10:08 p.m.

    I remember once while shopping a very large woman passed by and the thought came to my mind that she was obese ( euphemism for the three letter f word ). I thought where did that come from? I do not tend to be judgmental of others.

    Thoughts have energy. I have wondered if it was the woman's own insecure thoughts triggering these thoughts that I had?

    Now to my point, Some missionaries that have feelings that others are judging them, it may be their own self judgment that is being projected back to them. Judge not lest ye be judged, applies to yourself too.

    Know that You can never do anything that would make Father in Heaven love you less. And if He loves you, that is the one that matters most.

    Thank you for your service, however long it was.

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    May 18, 2015 10:00 p.m.

    I am skeptical of the skeptic

  • Weberboy Fruit Heights, UT
    May 18, 2015 9:53 p.m.

    I disagree that we should lower expectations just so people don't get hurt feelings. serving a mission is voluntary but it's also strongly recommended for able and worthy young men. And after serving a mission, you realize why is so strongly recommended. There is nothing quite like being a missionary. It is such an awesomely difficult but rewarding experience. I feel bad for those who choose to pass on serving or who who choose to serve but don't really want to be there. It's such a life changing experience if you embrace it and decide to work hard.

  • Kav Boise, ID
    May 18, 2015 9:46 p.m.

    Ronnie, stress, a bad back, or depression are not excuses. I suffered from stress and depression on my mission and toughed it out until it turned into seizures. Yes, the stress and depression turned into seizures. But I felt that I had to tough it out, that I needed to finish. I made it one year and six days before I could no longer hide the seizures and had to go home. I got married in the Temple, finished college, and I am almost done with my advanced degree. My failure to finish the mission will haunt me for the rest of my life. I know that it is not your intent to make it even more difficult, but all you've done is rub salt in a barely closed wound that is now raw and gaping.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    May 18, 2015 9:45 p.m.

    One size doesn't fit all. I had an employee who returned from his mission early (as I recall it was before he even left the MTC) and married his high school sweetheart. They are both very happy and active in the Church. He is a blessing to his current employer and they are both living exemplary lives. Now with the internet and social media, anyone who wants to can do missionary work and help build the Kingdom of God in countless other ways. We are all always in need of repentance of some sort. Let's stop judging, "put our shoulders to the wheel" and help Heavenly Father and Jesus accomplish Their Work upon the earth. There is much work to do and the more willing souls helping, the better.

  • roberto Moses Lake, WA
    May 18, 2015 9:09 p.m.

    I'd take an early returner who is truly trying to do the right thing over a full timer who comes home and quits, after the full length mission. I'm guessing the lord is pleased with the one and disappointed in the other.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    May 18, 2015 8:49 p.m.

    Exactly. My daughter married a returned missionary who served here in the Arcadia mission. He turned out to be a disaster. He was acting one way, prior to marring her, only to turn out to be a complete deadbeat. My daughter had no choice but to divorce him. (Most drug users are more productive than him.)
    Needless to say, my daughter became disillusioned and became inactive to this day.
    Now, she is married to a non-member who is so much more than that full term returned missionary. She is now much happier and so is my wife and I.

  • Miss Piggie Phoenix, AZ
    May 18, 2015 8:49 p.m.

    "There are reasons that some young men may not have the physical or psychological wherewithal for a mission."

    Reducing the age to 18 is part of the problem for many. Some eighteen year olds might lack maturity necessary to be out into the world facing the many difficulties...

    If I had a child who desired to serve a mission I would not let him/her go until at least 20 years old. Get two years of college then go.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    May 18, 2015 8:27 p.m.

    Our prophets have asked every worthy young man physically and emotionally able to go on a mission. If you choose not to go you are disobedient in that regard. That us why Young Men are encouraged to go. Those that lie to get into the field and have things to work out or because of transgression disqualify themselves should work with church leaders. If emotional or physical or other medical things come up you can,t control ways to move on. Same for flagrant disobedience that gets you sent home.

    Those that choose not to go miss out. People should do all they can to be worthy to serve for 24 months. Older brother in prodigal son felt like he was good guy. Why are you making my brother such a hero when he did what he did. There is repentance for prodigal though. Most missionaries do serve full term. Real heroes. However for medical reasons lord takes sacrifice and desire. And for disobedience or worthiness there is repentance.

  • bigdaddy Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 8:10 p.m.


    Let's not lump all early-returners as heroes. Many go home for very shameful reasons, and they have lots of repenting to do.


    and you shouldn't lump all missionaries together like the ones you described knowing in the MTC and on your mission. They are the exception, not the rule. To be truthful, you sound a little bitter and resentful your tale sounds a little fabricated with maybe a little kernel of truth to it.

  • Griz Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 8:03 p.m.


    I don't really understand why someone who served worthily and had to return early for various reasons would think the things this person lists in the article.


    I got really sick on my mission after being out for about 8 months. Over the next couple of months I lost 70lbs (that was 1/3rd of my total weight). I was in good shape when I went out and was a Div II College basketball player. At the worst of my illness I was a walking stick and spent some time in a hospital but I continued to pray, exercise my faith and kept diligently to the mission rules. I even proselyted in my hospital even though it was operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church (one of my nurses later got baptized).

    I came home at about my year mark after both my Mission Pres and I got a confirmation that I had done all that was required of me by the Lord. Despite this, the adversary works on you and creates self-doubt and often depression ensues. Eventually you begin to second guess yourself. It's not an easy thing to deal with.

  • call_me_ishmael ROY, UT
    May 18, 2015 7:58 p.m.

    I extend my thanks to Ms. Williams for writing this article and the Deseret News for publishing it. When my children were young, my wife and I were really struggling. They (our two kids) both had serious developmental disabilities (and still do). We lived away from any family support. I felt like a total failure as a husband and father. Our kids were VERY busy. Some people from our ward had very good intentions and wanted to help, but they didn't know what to do. There were some very hurtful things said to us.

    When you see somebody who is struggling in life, please be kind. What is happening 'behind the scenes' is part of that person's private and personal life.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    May 18, 2015 7:00 p.m.

    there are certainly legit health reasons for coming home early and no one would debate that. However there are many many more who come home for the wrong reasons and the rest of their life is effected...not usually in a good way. The advise I gave my son as he left for Miami on his mission was simply return with honor which means all 24 months! Endure to the end or fight a good fight and keep the faith as the Apostle Paul said. My son didn't have to worry because he was a great missionary and although he endured hardship as all missionaries do he kept the faith and finished his course with honor. What a difference it made for him in the 8 years since he has been back. Of the few in my wife's family who quit on their mission for no other reason other than they just couldn't hack the daily routine none are active in the church and all have been married and divorced several times. Life has not been good for those that quit. I use the term quit because that is exactly what they did. Be a finisher!!

  • Uteofferouus Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 6:58 p.m.

    Lamentably, the LDS Church in a sense puts young men in a win-lose situation. It is virtually a requirement in our LDS culture to serve a mission for social and familial acceptance. It is said to be voluntary, but it really is not. So when a young man chooses not to go, or struggles after he gets out there because he really didn't want to go, then problems often ensue - especially if he comes home early.

    In both of the above scenarios, experience suggests that too often these young people are relegated to a "second class Saint status".
    I wish I knew the best answer for this important issue. I served a mission, loved it, and it made me a better person. In my case I never planned to go nor was I under any pressure by my family to go because they were not active.

    From my perspective I believe it would be better to emphasize the voluntary nature of missionary service and remove the shame and stigma for those who choose other positive pathways at that juncture in their life.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    May 18, 2015 6:28 p.m.

    When young men are judged on the basis of IF and how long they've served a 2 yr mission, (such as not being suitable marriage material), it is clear people aren't learning or living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Additonally, we have forgotten that these are young people, whose brains are not fully mature.

    We don't even honestly teach our youth about the full experience of what it is like to serve a mission.

  • Amy Mia Bakersfield, CA
    May 18, 2015 5:14 p.m.

    Sadie Williams. I want to personally thank you for writing this article. I got back from my mission early recently for the same reason that you had to. Very serious health problems. We don't have the exact same shoes, but very similar shoes. So when I read what you had written, I felt like I could relate to the battle and it helped me have the peace that only comes from the Spirit. Thank you for answering my prayers. I really appreciate it. Thank you.:)To all that have rude comments, the article is for all missionaries who returned home for truly honorable release. Who is anyone to really judge whether or not it was for truly honorable reasons but God? There are lots of people involved and lots of feelings for those who were have been honorably released. I feel it is necessary to take a step back to see the bigger picture instead of looking inward to all the injustices you feel about every other scenario BUT those who fits the description of the specific audience. The message was meant to help and build people up, not tear them down. Everyone should treat it as such.

  • cgbyu Tooele, UT
    May 18, 2015 4:22 p.m.

    Even for a returned missionary who was sent home for transgressions beyond repair repentance is available. I still remember the name of the one missionary sent home while I served my mission and although the president had no choice with this one and easily could have sent many more home early for breaking mission rules he was wise in knowing how that would effect the returning missionary to go home early with a minor infraction. So even for the worst possible sins, murder aside, let's remember that the Lord forgives, even full time missionaries. No the 1 wasn't me,I just have great empathy for the one who was sent home, so many years ago. I served in the late 70's.

  • Big C Murray, UT
    May 18, 2015 4:16 p.m.

    There are far worse scenarios in the world than a missionary returning home early - no matter what the reason. A big dose of perspective would do a great many people some good.

  • Valerie415 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 4:10 p.m.

    There doesn't need to be two categories of early returned missionaries. Even if a missionary came home because of worthiness issues. they are still spiritually damaged and need love and support. Condemning them because they got injured differently, even through their own choices, is not going to help them.

  • Kimi Logan, UT
    May 18, 2015 4:07 p.m.

    I served an honourable mission though mine was cut short. I saw elders and sisters who stayed and I saw some that went home early. I knew some who stayed full term who were fake bitter people who should have gone home but stayed for appearance sake. And I knew some who had testimonies of fire who HAD to go home early. They weren't making excuses or looking for the easy way out they had a reason that God had inspired their mission president to send them home to take care of themselves. No not all returned missionaries are angels early returns or full time returns. But I know for a fact that 3 of God's kindest, hard working, Christ like servants had their missions cut short. Two have already happily married their companions in the temple and the third is preparing to marry his sweetheart (also in the temple) soon. May we all remember to judge others by their character and the content of their heart not the length of time the did or didn't wear a black name tag.

  • trekker Salt Lake, UT
    May 18, 2015 3:57 p.m.

    Honestly it is no one's business if someone goes on a mission or comes home from a mission early or not. This is something between them and the Lord and no one else. Only the missionary and the Lord know their circumstances. When I was on my mission we had missionaries that were only out because it was expected of them by parents etc. Sadly they sat all day in their apartment not doing the work or going to the gym. They wasted mission resources etc. People should go because they feel the desire to go and they are physically mentally and spiritually able if not they should stay home. The Lord loves all his children regardless if they serve missions or not. I think it is very important as members of the church that we do not judge others it is not our place.

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    May 18, 2015 3:54 p.m.

    Those who engage in the character assassination of others, even in the privacy of their own thoughts, have some explaining to do to their Maker.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 18, 2015 3:45 p.m.

    @Ronnie W.;

    If they didn't want to go in the first place, they shouldn't have gone; but with all the pressure in the LDS church to "serve a mission" it is extremely difficult for young people to "Just Say No".

    That is why I refer to the mission as a rite-of-passage. As long as the pressure to go exists that is all it is.

  • Justmythoughts Provo, UT
    May 18, 2015 3:43 p.m.

    Missions are tough and they are not for everyone. I had a companion who was just plain miserable on his mission. He wanted to go home so badly that he would do absolutely nothing. It was a nightmare. I was encouraging and loving but it was by far the worst part of my mission. I tried to make it the best experience ever. I did most of the work and our President allowed him to talk to his family on phone. We visited strong members even had some good experiences. He eventually went home and ended up regretting it everyday for the rest of his life. I am not one of those people that says everyone should serve a mission. It makes it doubly difficult for those who really want to be there.

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    May 18, 2015 2:50 p.m.

    I appreciate that additional attention is being paid to this issue. As the parent of one who came home early due to an inability to cope with the mission combined with anxiety, it has been on my mind a great deal. I am grateful for those who have lovingly embraced my son as he has faced that challenge. I am happy to report that he remains active and seems to be growing in faith. I attribute much of that progress to the kindness and goodness of others who support him.

  • taatmk West Jordan, UT
    May 18, 2015 2:25 p.m.

    The General Authority's response is a lesson to us all. It is not up to US to decide whether or not the reason for coming home early is "worthy" of our judgment, be it contempt or respect. It does NOT matter actually. What does matter is that the missionary WAS WORTHY in the first place to even go. That, to me, says a lot about the quality and qualification of the missionary. Coming home early or not is really inconsequential in the long term view. Who are we to say that in 2 weeks, 6 months, or 23 months, said missionary did not give all that they possible could give. That would be satisfactory to them, to the Lord, and should be to us.

  • Overdubbed San Diego, CA
    May 18, 2015 2:05 p.m.

    I've known Missionaries who return early. Of the 4 I have known who did, one was mentally ill and I am not sure what he might have been telling himself. The other 3 went home for trangressions. (One of them is now a Bishop!).

    I don't really understand why someone who served worthily and had to return early for various reasons would think the things this person lists in the article. Maybe these are ideas she had. I bet most worthy early return missionaries do not beat themselves up like this. But then, I don't have any experience with it.

  • DVD Taylorsville, UT
    May 18, 2015 1:56 p.m.


    Thank you for reminding us that we're ALL being judged by someone. I'll just try to be a good person even if that example is swept aside by a pre-judgment on me.

    Also, more importantly, I like the reminder that Heavenly Father very well knows our pain. Losing 1/3 of your near infinite number of children, each of whom is known and loved completely, the pain is unimaginable to me. I'm still hurting over the deaths of those I've known in mortality.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 18, 2015 1:41 p.m.

    To "ipr" there are some times where I would caution my daughter about a RM that came home early. If the missionary was sent home as a result of misbehavior or rule breaking or commandment breaking, I would be very concerned.

  • Arm of Orion Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 18, 2015 1:39 p.m.

    I am a missionary that had to come home early. I needed knee surgery to fix a heretofore unknown problem I had been living with all my life but did not manifest itself until I did all of that hard walking. I actually felt most judged by the other missionaries in the mission than I did by members of the ward. However, I learned one thing on my mission that will stick with me forever. You know what you know and eventually the truth will win-out.

    I knew I needed the surgery. I knew I would not return (I had been out for 21 months). I knew there were missionaries judging me. I knew my Savior loved me. I knew I did what I could and was stopped from reaching the 24 month mark through no fault of my own. When I got home I was judged by someone I knew, though they spread the doubt without me hearing about it. It hurt at first. But I got over it because I knew what I knew. To those struggling with the judgers, you know the truth and so does God. Go forth with faith.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 1:33 p.m.

    I converted late and chose not to go on a mission. In the 3 wards I was a part of as a young man in my twenties, only one girl was willing to go on a date with me (and her parents were not excited). Now, this could be because I am not as ridiculously good looking as I think I am, but I got plenty of attention from non-Mormon girls. Finally, I met, fell in love, and married an amazing Catholic woman. I feel lucky every day that the LDS girls saw me as damaged goods. But nobody can tell me that I was not seen as a member of a lower ecclesiastical caste.

  • Spoons Lake Tahoe, NV
    May 18, 2015 1:08 p.m.

    The biggest lie most early returned missionaries tell is that they came home early "because they got sick." When you get to know the ex missionary better, the real reason comes out that they were never worthy to go out in the first place and use the "sick" line as an excuse. This leaves me skeptical of any RM who says they got sick.

    That being said, I did two years in the Dominican Republic. That was a grind physically, mentally, and emotionally. If anyone can make it through there people can make it through anywhere. We had two missionaries leave early in two years. One could not handle it and one had legitimate mental illness.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 18, 2015 12:42 p.m.

    There is far more judging than this article lets on.
    Far too many are going out, who shouldn't be pressured to go.
    People forget this is entirely voluntary yet those poor kids are treated as anything but volunteers.

  • Bigger Bubba Herriman, UT
    May 18, 2015 12:38 p.m.

    In my associations with members the issue of whether someone came home early or served a mission at all is of very little importance. I know plenty of guys who never served who are great, active priesthood holders. And I know plenty of guys who completed missions who are no longer active. What is important to me is whether someone is currently living faithful and will continue to do so in the future.

  • Ronnie W. Layton, UT
    May 18, 2015 12:35 p.m.


    I am not trying to be judgmental. I just know guys/girls personally who went home early because they just didn't want to be there. Also, I never implied because one is a missionary who finished, they won't have problem. I know that's not true.

    I do not think I am better than someone just because they did not finish. I don't care if they did. I just know what type of person I want to encourage my children to be. They can find a reason to quit and use health as an excuse, or follow though and stick it out. I personally think they will be better off sticking it out.

    I believe that people who quit, just because something is hard, on something like a mission, may have a hard time enduring other things in life(school, marriage, etc). Regardless of who my daughter marries I just want her to be sure the guy is not a quitter. When it comes to things like marriage, we must judge, because if we don't, we may find ourselves in a bad situation.

  • illuminated St George, UT
    May 18, 2015 11:52 a.m.

    Looking at missionaries from the outside, you see them all the same: great, clean-cut near-perfect, young people. Once I got into my mission, I learned the truth: they're really no better than anyone else. In fact, my MTC experience was one of the darkest times in my life.

    My first zone roommates had all gone out lying to their bishops about their worthiness, and they were proud of it. I got more sex education and filthy jokes in the MTC then at any other time in my life. Here I was, expecting perfect little missionaries, and got the exact opposite. It was an eight week nightmare.

    Almost all of them ended up going home early, but I had plenty of other companions who should never have been there. One companion confessed to me that he had been having sex with women all throughout his mission. I was completely floored by this.

    Let's not lump all early-returners as heroes. Many go home for very shameful reasons, and they have lots of repenting to do.

  • 801_trojan Orange, CA
    May 18, 2015 11:28 a.m.

    I just returned home from serving a 2-year full time mission, and have to admit that I know some people who came home early but they still served a more honorable mission than myself. I would gladly trade places with them.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 10:53 a.m.


    I'm in your camp and appreciate your thoughful comment. I also believe that Mr. Ronnie W. comes accross as being too judgemental.

    I completed a two year mission and it was a very valuable experience in my life. I learned a lot and I hope I was able to be an influence for good and help others find the gospel of Jesus in their lives.

    I also have learned that serving a mission doesn't guarantee anything for the future of the missionary. What determines the missionaries future is his/her on-going committment to living true and righteous principles. I know quite a few returned missionaries who have to varying degrees abandoned living the principles they learned and taught as missionaries.

    What we need to look for in people is character, not whether they served a full mission or served a mission at all.

    A mission is an important decsion and can be a valuable addition to a life devoted to building true character and striving to develop the attributes of The Master, but it should not and does not define one's life.

  • Yorkshire City, Ut
    May 18, 2015 10:48 a.m.

    As was said before on an article about those who come home early:

    There is a BIG difference between missionaries who have to come home for health reasons-mental or physical,
    verses ones who ARE SENT home for flagrant abuse and violation of the commandments and ordinances they professed to believe and uphold.

    All the best to those of the first group--and to those of the second as well.

    But they shouldn't all be lumped into one big group in people's minds.
    Or spoken of as one big group.

    They are very different groups and need very different things.

  • Healthy Skeptic Saratoga Springs, UT
    May 18, 2015 10:40 a.m.

    I think we better all go back and read the parable of the Prodigal Son...then we should all remind ourselves that each and every one of us is the Prodigal Son.

    May 18, 2015 10:12 a.m.

    Things to do / say or not say to missionaries who return home early:
    1. Don't say - "Are you planning to go back out?" Reason - obviously this is something that has gone through their mind 1,000 times and usually it is just painful and annoying.
    2. Do say - "Thank you for your service!"
    3. Get them a calling.
    4. Help them with getting a job, if they wish.
    5. Don't - Try to get the scoop about their reason for coming home; if they want you to know they will tell you.
    6. Do - recognize their talents and encourage them in their life.

  • blackattack Orem, UT
    May 18, 2015 9:47 a.m.

    From my experience, the best way to treat these returned missionaries is with open arms and love. This seems appropriate for those with a physical or mental ailment or those who had problems with obedience or other issues. The last thing we want, regardless of the reason, is for the person to feel they are no longer good enough and lose their faith as a result.

    It is not our place to judge. Some serve two weeks and others serve two years. Those who serve two weeks sometimes change more for good than those who serve the full two years (or 18 months).

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    May 18, 2015 9:46 a.m.

    Ronnie W. may want to ease off his judgemental tone. Someone close to him/her may come home early with an "excuse." Worse yet, someone close to him/her may marry that RM in shining armor who ditches church within 3 years of his triumphant return. My ward has at least 3 heartsick young women who married triumphant returned missionaries who haven't set foot in an LDS chapel for years.

  • SlickMick Ashburn, VA
    May 18, 2015 9:39 a.m.

    This discussion reinforces the fact that nothing in the gospel is one size fits all. There are reasons that some young men may not have the physical or psychological wherewithall for a mission. But, as parents of daughters we do have the right and obligation to seek to understand why a future son-in-law and parent of our grandchildren may or may not have served a full mission if we feel it's something important. Sometimes the answers can give you clues about what makes said young man click. I personally know young men who have served varying amounts of mission from none to two years and have seen many diverse post-mission age outcomes.

    I think a key problem with using missionary service as a gauge for future outcome is that it presupposes that full missionary service equals lifelong church activity and righteousness. We know that is not a given. These are only bits of information to be used in conjunction with prayerful consideration of all the facts. Too many divorced ladies can attest that mission doesn't necessarily mean success or lifelong happiness.

  • Bifftacular Spanish Fork, Ut
    May 18, 2015 8:57 a.m.

    I have no problem with kids coming home early as long as everyone is completely honest as to the reason. If the mission was too hard, say it. If they were sick, that should be said. If it is because they couldn't live without their boyfriend/girlfriend, cell phone, video games, they weren't used to hard work, or whatever the reason, I think it should either be said or nothing should be said. What I think does everyone a disservice is to lie or exaggerate the truth. It really is no one's business why someone comes home and a perfectly good response is silence. But if you are going to explain, make sure it is accurate or you lose all credibility and respect.

  • FanOfTheSith Vernal, UT
    May 18, 2015 8:49 a.m.

    Spanish Fork, UT
    "My brother came home early from his mission. Two months into his mission he took the train and went home. He was received well by the ward and his family. A couple of months later he went to a stake conference where a general authority was speaking. After the meeting he walked up to the general authority and told him that he had left his mission early. The general authority immediately took him in his arms, and said, "I am so glad that you are still here (meaning the church)." I know the reasons my brother left, and I feel he did the right thing. I am so grateful for a non-judging ward and family. My brother is an honorable man, still active in the church, and with a great faith. I am so glad that there was a woman who did not judge him for leaving his mission early, who married him. There are many reasons missionaries leave their mission early. Let's just love them unconditionally and not judge them."

    The way it should be. Very well said.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2015 8:17 a.m.

    We are all in it together. We don't need to judge each other at all let alone so harshly. Also, we don't need to be so hard on ourselves, especially early returned missionaries.

    If you took the time to serve someone else for even 1 day then that is more than a lot of people ever do. Good work! Now move on and go do other great things with your life.

    Choose to be happy.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    May 18, 2015 8:03 a.m.

    We cannot draw the boundaries for an "honorable Mormon" so small that only a select few fit. Young people who do not serve the full two years or who cannot go at all for other reasons still can make fantastic and effective leaders in their adult life. They can be good fathers and mothers.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    May 18, 2015 7:59 a.m.

    morpunkt - If failure is anything short of the ideal Mormon family then we all wear an invisible "f" on our foreheads, even God himself who lost 1/3 of his children - permanently. You'd be surprised at the challenges that take place in "perfect" Mormon families. Yes, things can go horribly wrong and our hearts break and there are more people that can relate to your experience than you know.

    I appreciate these articles about young people who cannot live the "ideal". Our stake president and bishop are so welcoming and loving to missionaries who come home early. They give their their homecoming talk and the ward welcomes them home. One elder in our ward had debilitating anxiety in the MTC. He came home with in two weeks and our good stake president assured him that he was not a failure, that as important as missions are they are not saving ordinances. He assured him that he would be blessed for his willingness to serve.

  • Sean70 Arlington, VA
    May 18, 2015 7:57 a.m.

    Ronnie W's post is evidence that lie #6 isn't always a lie.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 18, 2015 7:56 a.m.

    This is all just a symptom of the fact that young Mormons are expected to go on a mission and if they don't, or they come home early, they're judged by other members (read Ron's comment above).

    A mission should be more than just a rite-of-passage. As long as that is all it is, and that is exactly what it is (now the girls are feeling the pressure to make that passage too), things are only going to get worse.

  • ipr Spanish Fork, UT
    May 18, 2015 7:42 a.m.

    My brother came home early from his mission. Two months into his mission he took the train and went home. He was received well by the ward and his family. A couple of months later he went to a stake conference where a general authority was speaking. After the meeting he walked up to the general authority and told him that he had left his mission early. The general authority immediately took him in his arms, and said, "I am so glad that you are still here (meaning the church)." I know the reasons my brother left, and I feel he did the right thing. I am so grateful for a non-judging ward and family. My brother is an honorable man, still active in the church, and with a great faith. I am so glad that there was a woman who did not judge him for leaving his mission early, who married him. There are many reasons missionaries leave their mission early. Let's just love them unconditionally and not judge them.

  • Ronnie W. Layton, UT
    May 18, 2015 7:27 a.m.

    I don't think anyone has a problem with someone who is truly sick coming home. The problem is when people make excuses. Some cases are real and the missionary needs to come home. But I know there are plenty of people who just couldn't hack it so they used an excuse (stress, bad back, depression). It is definitely not my place to judge. I just don't like it when we make these people out to be heroes for coming home early.

    I also know as well, if my daughter was considering to marry a missionary who had returned early, I would encourage her to make sure that it wasn't just them taking the easy way out. Not that they are bad for doing so, just that if they gave up once before, they may give up again.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    May 18, 2015 7:10 a.m.

    Even after one returns from a full term mission, things can go terribly wrong.
    How about those of us whose families, i.e., children who we thought were going to stay active and marry in the temple, etc., turn out to stray from the Gospel? We also feel these same feelings of failure, only on an eternal scale.
    Things like, "what did we do wrong", "maybe we didn't have consistent enough FHE, or scripture study, and therefore we are failures". The list goes on and on. (Not to mention feeling like life isn't worth anything anymore, because our whole world, our children, probably won't be there with us forever in the next life.)
    I feel like I wear an invisible F on my forehead, when I go to church every week.