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Two Anecdotes Re: Most Foreign Missionaries Coming Home


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Two data points (anecdotal) concerning most foreign missionaries coming home. The Church had put out a flowchart for missionaries and the changed lengths and terms of service:

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/coronavirus-update?fbclid=IwAR26-WG_qosqOU97pMulhyat5e-B0MdStz7qfYKFOX6HdWol1rG7NS_vO58#missionary-work

My sister-in-law is a primary president in the Daybreak area (Oquirrh Mountain Temple). My wife's family has all flooded us with calls wanting to know if our son was home, and they were surprised to hear that European missionaries aren't being sent home (which could conceivably change, of course). The flood of Philippines and African missionaries (the infamous flood at the Salt Lake Airport) hit, and my wife's sister said that they had several who returned home with around six months of service who are not being reassigned post-quarantine. I asked if they have health conditions, and she said, no, and they are devastated. That isn't what the above guidelines say (and we may not have the full story, but she knows at least some of them through her ward and she doesn't think that they fit the "release and thank them for their service" group).

More concerning to me is a girl from our former ward. She was in the very last actual MTC group set to go to the field March 30. She graduated with my son, and I was her bishop. She was called to Nebraska Omaha, and I just checked with her mom to see if she was in-field yet (I had heard they were sending them early to get that group out of there. I wanted to write her a letter and wanted her apartment mailing address). I was stunned to hear that she is home and has been released. They called their district in to meet with a therapist/counselor of some sort. They were told that they can choose to go home and be released, or choose to go to their field of assignment, but if they choose that, they are probably going to be sent home soon, anyway. They were strongly encouraged to choose release, though. They were told to pray about it. She prayed, expecting to receive an answer to go to her assigned field, and was surprised that she felt she should go home. Her companion (from Texas) also felt like she should go home. Her mother said she has been an emotional wreck since returning and being released on Tuesday, and is second-guessing her choice. I trust her and her mother, and believe that this is their understanding of what they were told, and I don't think they misunderstood or misinterpreted anything. I trust their recollection of the facts.  

I know that placing the swarms of foreign missionaries was always going to be a logistical nightmare, and some things had already been announced that would help, but not solve, the problem (e.g., early releases, etc.). But this really seems like some missionaries are being shafted and not even offered the stateside reassignments they were told would be available to them. Missions being extremely important for development to me, I feel heartbroken for the untold missionaries who are being shortchanged with this Corona debacle. All-around sad! :( 

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My daughter was called to Russia, then reassigned to California and had three great months as a spanish speaker before coming home last Friday.  She feels like she went to the right place and it was m

One of the legends in my mission was an Elder who, whilst learning Italian in the MTC, woke up one morning with impaired vision. The cause, it was discovered, was a brain tumour. He left the MTC after

Something does appear to be happening, Bishop, but I am not sure that it is or will be as negative as you assume at the moment.  We all need to chill out and wait to hear from the Prophet.  Meantime,

I can understand why many would feel that way.  I can also understand why some would second guess their prayers. I can also completely understand why it was so hard when it came expectantly.  

19 minutes ago, rongo said:

Two data points (anecdotal) concerning most foreign missionaries coming home. The Church had put out a flowchart for missionaries and the changed lengths and terms of service:

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/coronavirus-update?fbclid=IwAR26-WG_qosqOU97pMulhyat5e-B0MdStz7qfYKFOX6HdWol1rG7NS_vO58#missionary-work

My sister-in-law is a primary president in the Daybreak area (Oquirrh Mountain Temple). My wife's family has all flooded us with calls wanting to know if our son was home, and they were surprised to hear that European missionaries aren't being sent home (which could conceivably change, of course). The flood of Philippines and African missionaries (the infamous flood at the Salt Lake Airport) hit, and my wife's sister said that they had several who returned home with around six months of service who are not being reassigned post-quarantine. I asked if they have health conditions, and she said, no, and they are devastated. That isn't what the above guidelines say (and we may not have the full story, but she knows at least some of them through her ward and she doesn't think that they fit the "release and thank them for their service" group).

More concerning to me is a girl from our former ward. She was in the very last actual MTC group set to go to the field March 30. She graduated with my son, and I was her bishop. She was called to Nebraska Omaha, and I just checked with her mom to see if she was in-field yet (I had heard they were sending them early to get that group out of there. I wanted to write her a letter and wanted her apartment mailing address). I was stunned to hear that she is home and has been released. They called their district in to meet with a therapist/counselor of some sort. They were told that they can choose to go home and be released, or choose to go to their field of assignment, but if they choose that, they are probably going to be sent home soon, anyway. They were strongly encouraged to choose release, though. They were told to pray about it. She prayed, expecting to receive an answer to go to her assigned field, and was surprised that she felt she should go home. Her companion (from Texas) also felt like she should go home. Her mother said she has been an emotional wreck since returning and being released on Tuesday, and is second-guessing her choice. I trust her and her mother, and believe that this is their understanding of what they were told, and I don't think they misunderstood or misinterpreted anything. I trust their recollection of the facts.  

I know that placing the swarms of foreign missionaries was always going to be a logistical nightmare, and some things had already been announced that would help, but not solve, the problem (e.g., early releases, etc.). But this really seems like some missionaries are being shafted and not even offered the stateside reassignments they were told would be available to them. Missions being extremely important for development to me, I feel heartbroken for the untold missionaries who are being shortchanged with this Corona debacle. All-around sad! :( 

Have her look at the missionary portal and watch the video by Elder Uchtdorf.  My son's mission told us about it in an email this morning and it may help her.

If missionaries heard the Lord right and He answered they should go home they weren't shafted.  I understand that she may be second guessing her answers, but I suspect she heard right while in the MTC. Just from my gut feeling, so take it for what it is worth. I think more likely this was just one of the difficult transfers of her life mission.

I am so glad I went on my mission. I'm so glad my daughter listened to the Lord and didn't go.  I don't think she has missed out on anything - she just has a different life mission than I do.

Edited by Rain
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Nothing has been said about trying again to go when the pandemic is resolved and the world opens up again, has it?  Is it feasible to tell those whose missions got cut way short they might try again later?

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Unlike with young men in the Church, full time missionary service has never been regarded as an obligation for young women. I should think any young woman who endeavors to render such service but finds that circumstances make it impossible for her to do so should consider that her very desire and attempt will be counted unto her for righteousness as though she had gone on to fulfill a full 18 months of service. She should move forward, confident that her Heavenly Father is pleased with her, and seek other ways to serve Him for the rest of her life. 

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I don’t think missionary service will return to normal anytime soon. The whole world is going to need a reset. I think this will lead to a flood of students at the Utah colleges this fall...if they are open by then. I think the stateside missions will return to normal more quickly than the overseas missions.

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4 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Unlike with young men in the Church, full time missionary service has never been regarded as an obligation for young women. I should think any young woman who endeavors to render such service but finds that circumstances make it impossible for her to do so should consider that her very desire and attempt will be counted unto her for righteousness as though she had gone on to fulfill a full 18 months of service. She should move forward, confident that her Heavenly Father is pleased with her, and seek other ways to serve Him for the rest of her life. 

This applies to the elders as well. 

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4 minutes ago, readstoomuch said:

My daughter was called to Russia, then reassigned to California and had three great months as a spanish speaker before coming home last Friday.  She feels like she went to the right place and it was meant for her to come home.  She is doing great, even though the first couple of days were hard.  I guess there is not a missionary yet who has tested positive for the virus.  This is definitely going to be hard for these missionaries, but so good for them that they took the call to serve and wen with it.  I am so proud of them all, including my daughter.  Eventually it will make sense, like most tragedies we have in life.  

So glad about this for her!

So she has both Russian and Spanish experience now?  How cool is that. I wonder where those unique experiences will put her.

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For the girl, it's mainly that she feels she and her district were pressured and primed to get a "go home and be released" answer. I have to admit, I think it's weird that they had a therapist/counselor talk to them and not a member of the MTC presidency or at least senior MTC staff. And, it's manipulative, especially with youth, to say, "Go pray about it, but we highly recommend that you choose release. You're probably going to get sent home from that mission, anyway." I'd like to know the percentage of those who chose stay the course (some did, certainly).

If it weren't for my SIL's anecdote of the boy in the Philippines for six months, I'd say it looks like stateside missionaries are being shortchanged in favor of foreign missionaries. He is devastated, because his mission is over (he's being told), and he doesn't have health issues (Newsroom release says missionaries in his boat quarantine for 14 days and then get reassigned stateside. Apparently, this isn't always happening). For me, I'd say that those called to Nebraska Omaha (or Florida Tallahassee or whatever) take precedence over foreign missionaries they need to reassign. That was the mission they were called to, after all! 

I guess this answers my question (sort of) about how in the world they are going to accommodate all of these missionaries. It looks like encouragement to take the will for the deed is part of the answer. 

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1 hour ago, rongo said:

And, it's manipulative, especially with youth, to say, "Go pray about it, but we highly recommend that you choose release. You're probably going to get sent home from that mission, anyway."

You don't know how it was said.  That could make a big difference.  The leadership sharing how they saw things along with the possibility of them being sent home early is, imo, no more manipulative than a doctor sharing medical info and what his experience suggests.

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2 hours ago, Rain said:

So glad about this for her!

So she has both Russian and Spanish experience now?  How cool is that. I wonder where those unique experiences will put her.

She didn’t make it to Russia, right before she was to go to the MTC her call was changed.  

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3 minutes ago, readstoomuch said:

She didn’t make it to Russia, right before she was to go to the MTC her call was changed.  

See, that's what I'm wondering about. According to the flowchart/criteria released by the Church, your daughter should have been able to serve 15 months (because she was reassigned from a foreign mission). But, she served, what, around six months? 

Are they letting any missionaries serve on reassignment as advertised?

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2 hours ago, Calm said:

Nothing has been said about trying again to go when the pandemic is resolved and the world opens up again, has it?

We lost our senior couple last week. They had only been with us since October or November. They were told straight-up that they could return to their exact assignment later (whenever that is!). I have no idea what our younger missionaries have been told.

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14 minutes ago, rongo said:

See, that's what I'm wondering about. According to the flowchart/criteria released by the Church, your daughter should have been able to serve 15 months (because she was reassigned from a foreign mission). But, she served, what, around six months? 

Are they letting any missionaries serve on reassignment as advertised?

Yes.  At least 4 of them arrived in my son's mission this week. It might have been the Hong Kong mission?  Can't remember for sure.

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10 minutes ago, readstoomuch said:

She didn’t make it to Russia, right before she was to go to the MTC her call was changed.  

I caught that she didn't go.  Did she not learn (or begin to learn) the language before being reasigned?

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19 minutes ago, Calm said:

You don't know how it was said.  That could make a big difference.  The leadership sharing how they saw things along with the possibility of them being sent home early is, imo, no more manipulative than a doctor sharing medical info and what his experience suggests.

I had actually thought of a medical example.  I had severe pre-eclampsia with my first child.  At some point, after 2 weeks in the hospital my blood pressure shot up more and wasn't coming down.  They started me on pitocin to start contractions.  The pitocin was doing nothing for me though.  The doctor finally talked with me and told me that things were not progressing.  He gave me the option of starting a c-section or waiting another 12 hours, but felt we would probably do a c-section then as well.  My husband and I discussed it and felt that we should go ahead and do a c-section.

We in no way felt manipulated.  I do not regret having that c-section even though I am a big advocate for giving birth vaginally whenever possible.  It was just right for me.  I wasn't much older than a missionary at that time.

So it is possible that it was manipulative, but given the circumstances with what is going on in the world it seems more likely to be informative than manipulative.  

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20 minutes ago, rongo said:

See, that's what I'm wondering about. According to the flowchart/criteria released by the Church, your daughter should have been able to serve 15 months (because she was reassigned from a foreign mission). But, she served, what, around six months? 

Are they letting any missionaries serve on reassignment as advertised?

She has an autoimmune disease and is on medication that suppresses her immune system.  We don’t know if she can go back out and I think she is happy with even being able to serve.

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16 minutes ago, Rain said:

I caught that she didn't go.  Did she not learn (or begin to learn) the language before being reasigned?

She started to learn Russian on her own, but she loves Spanish.  

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24 minutes ago, rongo said:

See, that's what I'm wondering about. According to the flowchart/criteria released by the Church, your daughter should have been able to serve 15 months (because she was reassigned from a foreign mission). But, she served, what, around six months? 

Are they letting any missionaries serve on reassignment as advertised?

I know of one sister, who was to serve in Hong Kong, was in the MTC to learn Mandarin, then waited for her visa in California and was in Hong Kong like less than a month before all this stuff happened and now she is in London, as she is from the UK

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I think they are letting the missionaries who are serving in Canada to stay in Canada, it's safer here! They released all the senior missionaries in this mission except for two couples

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6 minutes ago, readstoomuch said:

She has an autoimmune disease and is on medication that suppresses her immune system.  We don’t know if she can go back out and I think she is happy with even being able to serve.

That explains it. Any health concerns at all were the "preemptive strikes." In my son's mission (Norway), they sent home missionaries with asthma or other health conditions, even if they had only been out for a short time. I think, given the circumstances, it's clear that preexisting conditions are going to be a front line disqualifier for the time being. As you and others have said, it's how they feel about it that really matters. 

It's amazing that she was called to Russia with an autoimmune disease on medication (prednisone or another steroid?).  

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