Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Being an Early Return Missionary

     Have you ever googled, "Early Return Missionary"? It's really not the most uplifting experience. The web is filled with articles and studies of missionaries that return home due to mental or physical illness. Unfortunately most outcomes of such stories online are not that great. They all seem to end with young Elders and Sisters that go inactive and suffer guilt and pain. Since returning home, I have never felt so loved and supported by friends and family and ward members, but being an ERM, I know where that pain comes from.

     I would say the worst day of my life would be Friday, January 24th. I had just finished my third round of truly terrible antibiotics and still wasn't feeling better. It was about 9:30 pm when my mission president called. "Elder Millett, we feel it would be better for you to return home to receive further treatment. Your plane leaves Monday morning at 10:30." Totally not what was I was expecting to hear. I can't say we didn't see it coming but it's just not a call you can actually prepare for. I have never felt so devastated in my life.


     Monday morning arrived and the AP's came to pick me up and take me to the airport. Final goodbyes between companions were said and I left. Dreading what was coming, I asked one of the Assistants who was leaving the next week if this was what it felt like to leave at the end of the full two years. He sat there for a moment then said, "Probably not. I've been able to serve two years and you still have a lot ahead of you. I'm able to leave feeling resolved and prepared to leave, but yours departure is very sudden." That's where the pain came from for me. I had planned on so much more happening on my mission. Don't get me wrong; I had an amazing 7 months, even if I was sick the whole time. Having plans to do so much, and having those plans cut short was hard.

      I arrived home totally unprepared for the next few months just as i feel any ERM would. We begin to feel completely lost. It's easy to feel as if everything is lost. I felt that I didn't have any control, I didn't have a plan. I didn't know where I fit in. I felt as if I failed because I didn't "push through it and keep working". Many people told me I needed to have more faith and everything would be OK; therefore I felt as if I had none. Satan tries to pull us down! I mean, this is his opportunity while we aren't serving to keep us from doing our best. That is where I believe so many of the unfortunate ERM stories come from. I felt all those feelings and more.

     What ultimately makes the difference is hope. It is hope that kept me going; a hope for a happy future I . There is a reason we need faith, hope and charity. We know that we are nothing without charity, and that we must show faith in Jesus Christ. But without hope, we can easily fall into despair. I'm not perfect and many times felt such despair and self-doubt but it was in such moments of darkness that our truly gracious Heavenly Father reminded me to have hope; that all will be well. In the depths of pain and anguish, our Father will always be there. couldn't see but knew was possible through Jesus Christ


    No matter the trial that we pass through, the pain we experience or the anguish we bear, we must always maintain hope. In 2 Nephi 31:20 it says, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope." I love that word, brightness! When we have hope -- when we have trust in the Lord that all will be well -- there is that light. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are able to find joy in the darkness of trials for we know that it is only for a moment.



     It it with that hope that I am able to return to my mission in Florida! I have been cleared by my doctor to return to service and am working on getting out there, hopefully within a week! They say that 2% of missionaries return early, and only 1% of them return back to the field. That means that out of the 80,000 missionaries, 1600 will come home early and only 16 will go back! I am that 1%!