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I remember the day I arrived home. After my plane landed, I climbed into a wheelchair and made my way through Salt Lake International Airport. I saw my parents standing there, completely in a daze … just as I was.
This was the second time I came home early from my mission. The last time, I had the hope of somehow returning to my mission in Hungary. This time my return was permanent, and it hurt my heart like none other.
As I got into my parents’ van and we started the long drive home to my tiny hometown of Paulden, Arizona, I remembered the only other missionary who had ever come home early to my home ward. Last I heard, he had moved away and was inactive in the Church.
I couldn’t help but sit in our minivan and wonder, “Does ANYONE survive coming home early?”
I wasn’t the only one feeling lost right off the plane.
“I went straight from the airport to the hospital, so there wasn't really any transition time. It was just immediately went from being a missionary to not being a missionary. There was really no transition back into normal life, it was just immediate. The hardest thing for me is that I was only in the mission for three weeks, so I sometimes wonder, did I even make a difference? Does anyone remember me, that I was there? Did I leave an impression?”
“I was afraid that I would sink into this hole of just being depressed, not doing anything, being idle. I was afraid of being treated like an invalid, not wanting to go back on my mission, losing the fire.”
“Was healing possible for everyone but me? Could everyone but me have their ‘happy ever after’? I felt like I would never heal.”
“To be completely honest, my biggest thought was how disappointed my parents would be, especially my mom. That was probably my biggest worry: ‘Oh my goodness, they spent all this money and have been sending all these great messages about how their faith is being built and how great their life is because I’m on a mission,’ but now I’m cutting that short.’”
“It was hard to feel good at first because I knew coming home was going to be awkward and weird for everyone. And that’'s what scared me the most, just the idea of coming home early.”