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Early Returning Missionaries

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18 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I'm close to a couple of the early-returning missionaries in our stake, and for neither of them was the issue lack of belief. One is now married in the temple, and the other is completely active as well.

But it seems to me that attempting to serve a mission without personal knowledge that what one is preaching is actually true would be a recipe for complete disaster.

That's a pretty difficult standard.  many who leave the church have served missions and yet leave years later because they don't have knowledge that what they taught was actually true.  

18 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I would think that depression would be the most minor consequence. Why on earth would people send a young person who doesn't believe into such a soul-destroying situation???

It's not that they don't believe.  It's that they do believe then get out there and start to see things differently. 

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4 minutes ago, Amulek said:

Why not?

Because one isn’t in high school and the other in college.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, JulieM said:

Oh, I agree if we’re talking about high school students, but we’re not.  

I just don’t see that reason as being a valid one to keep the ages one year different.  A year difference isn’t going to stop most guys and girls from being attracted to each other, imo.   They still end up serving with those their own age (opposite sex) or even those who are older over the years they serve a mission. 

Very true.  We had the elders looking at the sisters (some having crushes and talking quite a bit about them....in a respectful manner, but about how attractive some were, etc.) even when they were only 19 years old and the sisters were 23 years old.  And the sisters looked back too.  It's normal for that age group to do this.  I see no reason to keep the age difference in place (YM vs. YW getting their calls) for romantic reasons 😉

But the leaders must still feel it's right to have the YW go out a year later than the YM (or at least be able to go earlier).

Edited by ALarson

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4 hours ago, Amulek said:

Probably because maintaining a maturity gap helps limit the likelihood of elders and sisters developing inappropriate relationships. 

That might be the thinking but it's probably not the most thoughtout thinking if true. I suspect as Bluebell said that it's more about signaling expectations for going. Although I'm noticing socially missions don't have the same expectation that they had when I was young. (Not necessarily a good thing mind you) The main problem is that maturity really varies a lot between people. I matured socially late and it appears to be a genetic thing. I see it in my son and arguably it was true of my dad  and brother as well as going back generations. On my mission I saw people who were pretty immature and people who were extremely mature. At BYU I had a home teaching companion who started BYU at 16 and was surprisingly mature. I've met many women far more mature than the typical guy their age but I've also met several who were less mature. Part of that is upbringing and peers and part of that is just genetics. I think we have this expectation of maturing and developing which simply isn't matched by the biology. 

19 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don’t believe pushing the age back to 19 is the answer. Eighteen may be too early for some, but others who leave at that age make fabulous missionaries. 

I certainly agree, but again the issue is expectations. I think what's happened in practice is that people feel expected to go immediately after high school whether ready or not. And if they don't go because they're not socially and emotionally mature enough, then there's a sense that they've already broken expectations so why go at all? Even among those who are socially and emotionally mature enough there's a lot of experience with living on your own that helps on a mission even ignoring the intellectual development.

Even if it's not the main contributing factor to people coming home more, it most likely is the major factor on effectivness. Again it's not the only factor. I think changes by the Church to how missions are conducted combined with social changes in the west contributes a lot too.

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1 hour ago, JulieM said:

A year difference isn’t going to stop most guys and girls from being attracted to each other, imo.

I don't think it would stop most guys either, but I think it's probably good enough to stop most girls, and that's enough to effectively prevent the problem.

I understand you feel differently, so we can agree to disagree. I'm okay with that.

I do agree with you and Bluebell about the age being something that could very well be changed. There's no doctrinal reason that it must be or remain what it is right now. If it changes in the future, then it changes. No bigs.

 

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, Amulek said:

I don't think it would stop most guys either, but I think it's probably good enough to stop most girls, and that's enough to effectively prevent the problem.

Do you work with the youth much?  (Just curious.....because a one year age difference is definitely not a big deal even in high school....although it can be with both sexes and doesn't just stop "most girls" from liking a younger boy).  

Once kids are out of high school, a one year age difference means pretty much nothing and many girls date and marry a YM who is younger than they are.  

I do get that maybe it's to show YM the need for them to serve a mission vs. not as much a priority placed on the YW to serve, but I'm not sure that is very effective now that it's just a one year difference.  I can see the age difference starting out for this reason though (19 years compared to 21 years), just not so much now.

It's certainly not a big deal and it'll be interesting if both YM and YW will be called to serve at the same age within the next few years.

Edited by ALarson

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On 7/16/2019 at 9:54 AM, Thinking said:

Two of my nephews have returned early from missions. The first (about 4 years ago) never returned to his mission and is now married (in the temple). The second (last month) doesn't seem to be working towards returning to his mission.

On the home page of the Church's website there is a link to an article about missionaries who come home early.

If Your Mission Ended Early, Don't Give Up

I don't think that the Church will ever publish the number of missionaries who have returned early, but I'm speculating that it is significant. Numbers are dropping. Look at the graph for the Missionary Program on the Facts & Statistics page.

Is there a solution?

I think that things are different now. Missionaries can call home when they wish to. They are even on facebook now. I have had a couple of serving missionaries request me as a friend. I think that this generation has development problems. Perhaps it is because of social media. Not many perhaps can go cold turkey. Thus, we have the changes to help them cope with it all.

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4 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Many who leave the church have served missions and yet leave years later because they don't have knowledge that what they taught was actually true.  

What a tragic waste of opportunity.

Quote

It's not that they don't believe.  It's that they do believe then get out there and start to see things differently. 

I think this is why it's essential for prospective missionaries to be grounded in their own personal experiences. The young man in our ward who 'broke our drought' by serving in 2012 asked me to drive him to the airport. (His parents were very angry with him for serving.) I knew it was our last time together, so I asked him as many questions as possible, including: 'What are you going to say to people who tell you that you're ill-informed or crazy or brainwashed?'

'That's easy', he said.I'll tell them that I know what I'm talking about because I've experienced it for myself'. And he had. Repeatedly. This was no matter of intellectual belief for him.

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4 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

What a tragic waste of opportunity.

I think this is why it's essential for prospective missionaries to be grounded in their own personal experiences. The young man in our ward who 'broke our drought' by serving in 2012 asked me to drive him to the airport. (His parents were very angry with him for serving.) I knew it was our last time together, so I asked him as many questions as possible, including: 'What are you going to say to people who tell you that you're ill-informed or crazy or brainwashed?'

'That's easy', he said.I'll tell them that I know what I'm talking about because I've experienced it for myself'. And he had. Repeatedly. This was no matter of intellectual belief for him.

That's fine.  Just know that many people who leave were challenged, again and again and again and yet for years in some cases stayed in the Church.  It's easy to stick around in the wake of criticisms or difficulties.  People do it all the time.  But that certainly doesn't mean people who leave weren't ever challenged,  nor weren't grounded in their own personal experiences.  I do believe that's a pretty sad misperception that seems to only cause more division and problems.  

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I still say it all started with wanting the girls to marry young and start families. 

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2 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

I still say it all started with wanting the girls to marry young and start families. 

That started a few centuries ago.

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The introduction of service missions (different from the "young church service missionaries" of the past) in January is in response to not only the increased number of early returning missionaries, but also to the inability or hesitancy of young people to consider missionary service due to physical, mental, or emotional challenges.  There is now one application process, and a member of the Twelve assigns missionaries serve either proselyting or service missions.  Comments from bishops, stake presidents, and from a panel of medical and mental health experts are taken into consideration when a service mission is a possibility, but the call is made in the same manner.  The call letter is issued in the same way and is signed by the Prophet.

Early returning missionaries (for reasons other than worthiness) have the option of continuing their missions as service missionaries.  If they decide not to, they are honorably released.  If they decide to continue, service mission leaders, under the direction of the stake president, assign service opportunities in community/charitable organizations, church operations (temple, distribution center, bishop's storehouse, etc.), and stake-based service.

Even though the root cause of early returns is multifactorial and may not be solved, there is now an option for further missionary service if desired. 

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3 hours ago, ERMD said:

That started a few centuries ago.

Yes. 

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10 hours ago, ERMD said:

The introduction of service missions (different from the "young church service missionaries" of the past) in January is in response to not only the increased number of early returning missionaries, but also to the inability or hesitancy of young people to consider missionary service due to physical, mental, or emotional challenges.  There is now one application process, and a member of the Twelve assigns missionaries serve either proselyting or service missions.  Comments from bishops, stake presidents, and from a panel of medical and mental health experts are taken into consideration when a service mission is a possibility, but the call is made in the same manner.  The call letter is issued in the same way and is signed by the Prophet.

Early returning missionaries (for reasons other than worthiness) have the option of continuing their missions as service missionaries.  If they decide not to, they are honorably released.  If they decide to continue, service mission leaders, under the direction of the stake president, assign service opportunities in community/charitable organizations, church operations (temple, distribution center, bishop's storehouse, etc.), and stake-based service.

Even though the root cause of early returns is multifactorial and may not be solved, there is now an option for further missionary service if desired. 

This is so much better than in the past. I had a roommate at BYU who was serving overseas. He had some medical issue and ended up coming back to the states for treatment. After he was released from the hospital 70 A. Theodore Tuttle contacted him and wanted him to finish his time left in one of the stateside missions. By then my roommate was kinda over the whole mission thing and was back at BYU.  He also felt that he was not called to do a stateside mission.  This 70 wouldn’t take no for an answer. He started threatening my roommate if he didn’t complete his mission in the states he would be responsible for the entire airfare which was pretty significant.

 

I don’t know how it ended.  The issue still was not resolved before the semester ended. But I can tell you that with each letter, each phone call from Elder Tuttle he got further away from wanting anything to do with the church.

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6 hours ago, california boy said:

This is so much better than in the past. I had a roommate at BYU who was serving overseas. He had some medical issue and ended up coming back to the states for treatment. After he was released from the hospital 70 A. Theodore Tuttle contacted him and wanted him to finish his time left in one of the stateside missions. By then my roommate was kinda over the whole mission thing and was back at BYU.  He also felt that he was not called to do a stateside mission.  This 70 wouldn’t take no for an answer. He started threatening my roommate if he didn’t complete his mission in the states he would be responsible for the entire airfare which was pretty significant.

 

I don’t know how it ended.  The issue still was not resolved before the semester ended. But I can tell you that with each letter, each phone call from Elder Tuttle he got further away from wanting anything to do with the church.

Certainly understandable.

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On 7/17/2019 at 3:50 PM, why me said:

I think that things are different now. Missionaries can call home when they wish to. They are even on facebook now. I have had a couple of serving missionaries request me as a friend. I think that this generation has development problems. Perhaps it is because of social media. Not many perhaps can go cold turkey. Thus, we have the changes to help them cope with it all.

There are a lot of changes. I am a young Gen Xer and we were the last ones to have a traditional American childhood en masse. We played with the neighborhood kids away from parents, climbed hills, did stupid stuff. Now kids are almost always supervised or in front of electronics.

I was diagnosed with ADHD (they should never have renamed it from ADD) as an adult and treatment was life changing. My problem is probably partially genetically derived but environmental factors in my childhood probably contributed as well. I had it since I was a child but no one caught it because I did reasonably well in school and did not cause too much trouble. Though I try not to it is tempting to look back and wonder what might have been different if I had discovered it earlier and how much more effective I could have been on my mission, in college, and in my career and whether it was a factor in my staying single (almost certainly). I do not blame my parents or anyone else. My main concern after the diagnosis was that my mother would blame herself for not catching it. My case is moderate at best and I developed really good coping mechanisms and I suspect a lot of that was due to me strong social support network, my faith, and my smarts allowing me to ‘cheat’ the system. Even still I developed some maladaptive coping mechanisms I was convinced were moral weaknesses that I fought against but could never win.. I went on medications and I was able to dispense with those habits with relative ease.

Mental health knowledge is the big gap in western society. We have so much knowledge but so little of it is getting out and many are still in denial about the whole thing existing. We are stuck with the moral paradigm about so much of everything where one’s struggles and weaknesses are self-inflicted. A few are now falling off the other side of the horse where a disability is an excuse to not thrive and both sides fight it out while the people who actually need help suffer. Bad parents meanwhile turn to diagnoses when their kid would be fine if their parents were not screwups with a dysfunctional household. I talked to a psych a few days ago who was complaining about kids everyone things are bipolar or have ODD when it is clear to him that if anyone actually loved and cared about the kid they would be fine. Another case I know of a kid had ADHD and his teacher refused to acknowledge the disease existed by stating he did not believe the condition existed at all as if medical diagnoses are a religious proposition. His parents fought tooth and nail to help the kid. The irony is that the teacher learned a lot about ADHD through the process, a year later realized he had it, and got treatment. When he reached out to the mom to share this fact as if she would be glad he was shocked she did not share his enthusiasm and still thought he was an idiot.

Mental illness has always been with us but the “natural” coping mechanisms many used to use to deal with it are eroding and being cut off and meanwhile we are creating a society that breeds mental and emotional diseases. We will see more of it. 

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On 7/17/2019 at 11:55 AM, Amulek said:

Probably because maintaining a maturity gap helps limit the likelihood of elders and sisters developing inappropriate relationships. 

 

I think we should encourage more co-ed friendly proselytizing.  Elder and sister tracting, team teaching, training, hugs could be healthy.  A young elder and sister leading together as AP's would be great.

Edited by blueglass
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On 7/16/2019 at 10:19 AM, pogi said:

Mental illness needs to be addressed.  Anxiety seems to be the plague of our day for young people, and I would guess it is a large factor for many returning early.

I don't think every contributed here but here goes.  15 - 20 years ago our ward had about 24 missionaries serving constantly.  This was in the days of fair wells and homecomings.  We were constantly having them.  Sometimes we wouldn't have testimony meetings because we had to do a fare well.  It was pretty much expected of every young man.  My son always wanted to serve a mission.  He lasted two weeks in the MTC before he was sent home with OCD.  H

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Sorry,  I don't know how to edit.  Anyway, after the worthiness talks that he heard, he became convinced that he was unworthy.  I'm sure this was the darkest time in my life, and my mother died when I was a kid.  Seeing our children suffer is so hard to bare.  My wife would wake up and cry before she even got out of bed,.   All he wanted to do was get back out there.  I don't blame the mission home content.  He must have had OCD before he left and it just took the stress of a mission to bring it out. I was in the bishopric and I interviewed him.  He felt unworthy because he had kissed a girl a few times as a freshman in college.   He would keep bringing it up and I would say stuff like, "I kissed your mom and we were married in the temple."  After I did some studying on it, i realized that doing this was about the same thing as handing a compulsive hand washer a bar of soap.  It really hurt my faith.  I couldn't come up with a reason why the Lord wouldn't help a boy who had lived his whole life so he would be worthy to serve the Him.  After a year, he went back out but it was nip and tuck . It settled down after he had been out for a year, but at times he was so close to coming home.  When our phone rang it felt like i got hit by a cattle prod.  

He is not active today and is bitter about having gone through it, although he served two years, worked hard and learned a foreign language.  I thing the stigma about this in the Church as faded and the leadership has had a lot to do with this.  But even now, when I think of those days, it feels like looking into a dark pit. Anyway, if you read all of this, thanks.  It wasn't really squarely on topic.

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You will be able to edit and start threads at 25 posts

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On 7/17/2019 at 1:55 PM, ALarson said:

Very true.  We had the elders looking at the sisters (some having crushes and talking quite a bit about them....in a respectful manner, but about how attractive some were, etc.) even when they were only 19 years old and the sisters were 23 years old.  And the sisters looked back too.  It's normal for that age group to do this.  I see no reason to keep the age difference in place (YM vs. YW getting their calls) for romantic reasons 😉

But the leaders must still feel it's right to have the YW go out a year later than the YM (or at least be able to go earlier).

Funnily enough I did this on my mission. I was obviously respectful and didn't allow myself to get to distracted, but I did have a little crush on one particular sister missionary. Even funnier is that one year later that sister missionary became my wife! The one year difference really doesn't affect the attraction at all haha

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5 hours ago, blueglass said:

I think we should encourage more co-ed friendly proselytizing.  Elder and sister tracting, team teaching, training, hugs could be healthy.  A young elder and sister leading together as AP's would be great.

That would be one way to get more missionaries married.

3 hours ago, ldsatty said:

Sorry,  I don't know how to edit.  Anyway, after the worthiness talks that he heard, he became convinced that he was unworthy.  I'm sure this was the darkest time in my life, and my mother died when I was a kid.  Seeing our children suffer is so hard to bare.  My wife would wake up and cry before she even got out of bed,.   All he wanted to do was get back out there.  I don't blame the mission home content.  He must have had OCD before he left and it just took the stress of a mission to bring it out. I was in the bishopric and I interviewed him.  He felt unworthy because he had kissed a girl a few times as a freshman in college.   He would keep bringing it up and I would say stuff like, "I kissed your mom and we were married in the temple."  After I did some studying on it, i realized that doing this was about the same thing as handing a compulsive hand washer a bar of soap.  It really hurt my faith.  I couldn't come up with a reason why the Lord wouldn't help a boy who had lived his whole life so he would be worthy to serve the Him.  After a year, he went back out but it was nip and tuck . It settled down after he had been out for a year, but at times he was so close to coming home.  When our phone rang it felt like i got hit by a cattle prod.  

He is not active today and is bitter about having gone through it, although he served two years, worked hard and learned a foreign language.  I thing the stigma about this in the Church as faded and the leadership has had a lot to do with this.  But even now, when I think of those days, it feels like looking into a dark pit. Anyway, if you read all of this, thanks.  It wasn't really squarely on topic.

My brother who has autism did not make it through the MTC and it still hurts him a bit but I do not blame the church. He would have had a brutal time in the field and driven his companions nuts. I wish he could have done a service mission instead. He still seems to be compensating and works two shifts a week in the temple and is a patron another evening. I wish I had his level of devotion.

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17 hours ago, blueglass said:

I think we should encourage more co-ed friendly proselytizing.  Elder and sister tracting, team teaching, training, hugs could be healthy. 

You can have all of that as a senior couple. Something to look forward to. :) 

 

Quote

A young elder and sister leading together as AP's would be great.

I have my doubts. 

 

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9 hours ago, Amulek said:

 

I have my doubts. 

 

Perhaps this article w personal experiences of the highest leadership calling attainable by sister missionaries will change your mind?

https://www.the-exponent.com/hearldswomen-sister-training-leaders-are-not-given-remotely-the-same-levels-of-power-or-responsibility-as-zone-leaders/

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9 hours ago, blueglass said:

Perhaps this article w personal experiences of the highest leadership calling attainable by sister missionaries will change your mind?

Sorry, you were talking about having mission activities be more co-ed, so I assumed  you were talking about something like having one elder and one sister server together as companions, working together as AP's. If that's what you were referring to, then yeah, I think that would be a total disaster.

However, if you just mean for a mission president to have additional assistants who happen to be sisters (say, e.g., two elders and two sisters all serving as AP's) then I think that would be fine. It might not be the most efficient way of organizing things, but I suppose it could be done. 

Oh, and by way of information, 'training leader' isn't technically the highest leadership calling attainable by sister missionaries. That may be true for many missions, but it isn't the case for every mission. I know because my sister served as an AP on her mission to temple square. 

 

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