Early Returned Honor

Doctrine and Covenants 124:49

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​The Early-Returned Missionary Mentor Program

Guest post by Zachary Leifson 

Note from Early Returned Honor: I know it’s been a while, and I haven’t been very active in the ERM world lately. When I heard about this program, I decided to go to a meeting and see what it’s all about. I truly believe this is a wonderful resource for ERMs and for those who love them. I think this program will bless a lot of lives, and I hope that you will consider being a part of it if you are able.

In August of this year a program was created by a nonprofit organization with the purpose of serving Early-Returned Missionaries (ERM’s). Missionaries leave mission service earlier than they originally anticipate for a variety of reasons, but most, if not all, are faced with a barrage of confusing emotions and thoughts upon returning. Many ERMs choose to isolate within their own homes, fearful of who they will run into while at the grocery store, dreadful of the inevitable two questions Ward members, family, and friends always seem to ask: “Why are you home already???” and “So, when are you going back out?” The purpose of an ERM Mentor is to reach out to these ERMs who are suffering, to reassure them that they are not alone, to be a source of unconditional love and support, and to provide the ERMs with resources which may assist them as they make this often rocky transition.

Mission Fortify created the “Early-Returned Missionary Mentor Program” for the sole purpose of assisting those who are now arriving home early from mission service, but over the course of the last three months it has become apparent that the program is also serving the ERM Mentors themselves. The majority of ERM Mentors (approximately 70%) are also ERMs, and have discovered an avenue to find closure from their own experiences as they serve others, share the lessons they have learned, and the insight they have gained since returning home from their mission service.

What is an ERM Mentor? The following was taken directly from Mission Fortify’s website:

Mentors are volunteers who are active members of the LDS faith. Mentors are either Early-Returned Missionaries (ERM’s) themselves, or are volunteers who understand the struggle ERM’s encounter when returning home earlier than anticipated from full-time mission service.

Mentors make themselves available to meet with ERM’s within 48 hours of the missionary returning home from mission service.

Mentors offer moral support, empathy, and compassion to ERM’s, and provide ERM’s with a list of local resources which are available to help with the transition to post-mission life.

Mentors are expected to follow Alma’s words, by being “willing to mourn with those that mourn; yeah, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God…” (Mosiah 18:9) 

Mission Fortify currently has ERM Mentor Teams representing UT County, Salt Lake County, and Davis/Weber Counties, with the goal of creating Teams in Cache and Iron/Washington Counties within the next three months. Mission Fortify also currently has ERM Mentors representing areas in the States of Washington, California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Idaho, and Georgia, with interest being expressed in New Zealand and Germany. Ultimately, Mission Fortify hopes to have ERM Mentors representing every Stake within the “Mormon Corridor” (as far North as Idaho Falls, ID, through all of Utah, and as far South as Phoenix, AZ), while also giving anyone living outside the “Mormon Corridor” area the opportunity to serve as ERM Mentors as well. 

You can find a list of ERM Mentor Team Meetings and ERM Support Groups on the Mission Fortify Facebook Page or on the Mission Fortify website. If you’d like more information about the ERM Mentor Program, or would like to know how Mission Fortify plans on serving Pre-Missionaries and Returned Missionaries then send an email to info@missionfortify.org.

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Skipping the Hard Parts


Twice a year, my piano teacher would have us learn a piece to perform in a recital. My preparation for these recitals varied. Sometimes I could have played the song with my eyes closed. Sometimes I was not so prepared.

For one recital I learned “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Well. I say “learned,” but I don’t think it’s the right word. I didn’t practice as much as I should have. The day the recital came, I still had a difficult section at the end—five measures—that I couldn’t get through. I hadn’t practiced it because I felt it was too hard. And now it was too late. Right before I was supposed to play—I mean right before, like on my way to the piano when it was my turn—I asked my teacher if I could just play the final note and skip that part that I didn’t learn. Continue reading

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My Mission Was A Failure: A Success Story


I’ve always been a little obsessed with failure. I’m one of those students who felt like a 96% on a test was a failure. Not getting accepted for a job was a failure. Not finishing my food at a restaurant? Failure.

I think everyone has their own definition of failure. My personal definition is when I don’t succeed at something that I tried to do (a friend of mine pointed out that I then need to define success, so we’ll say that success is when I meet my goals). By that personal definition, coming home early–not succeeding at staying out for the 18 months that was expected–was a failure.  Continue reading

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You’re Still A Missionary: One of the Best Ways To Be A Missionary Right Now

missionary-praying-788725-wallpaperWhen my sister got her mission call, I was still in Ohio serving mine. I didn’t expect to see her until she came home (I actually was home about a month or two after this, but at the time I assumed I wouldn’t see her for a very long time). I wanted to do something for her. So on my preparation days, I wrote letters. I wrote a letter to read on her first night in the MTC, one for the plane ride to her mission, one for her first transfer, one for really hard times, and so on. I cried writing every single one of them. And I prayed that they would be able to help her in the difficult moments when I could not be there for her.
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The Missionary that Changed My Life

When I was younger, probably around ten years old or so, I met a missionary that changed my life.

aIf I remember right, the missionaries were over at our house for my little sister’s birthday party. We adored her companion, who was fun and funny and maybe just a little but crazy. We were playing with some of the balloons and I bragged about how I’d read all the Harry Potter books over a dozen times. This amazing sister missionary looked at me and challenged me to read the Book of Mormon more times than I read Harry Potter.

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Scripture Toolkit: Emergency Scriptures For When You Feel Broken

At many times in my life, I found scriptures to help me get through whatever I was facing. Many of us have our go-to scriptures for when we need extra love and comfort from our Heavenly Father. I will continue to add to this list as I find scriptures.

Book of Mormon
1 Nephi 21:14-15
Mosiah 24:13-16
3 Nephi 17

Old Testament
Psalms 46:1
Psalms 46:10
Joshua 1:9
Isaiah 1:8

New Testament
Romans 8
Philippians 4:6
Philippians 4:13

Doctrine and Covenants

The Hope of God’s Light by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Like a Broken Vessel by Jeffrey R. Holland


Do you have a favorite emergency scripture? 


What I Wish My Family, Friends, and Ward Members Knew When I Came Home Early From My Mission

Family, Friends, Ward MembersAs a follow up to my post about what I wish I had known, this is what I wish other people had known when I came home from my mission. I hope it will be helpful to people who know a missionary who comes home early. If I had known what to say, these might be some of the things I would have said.

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Thoughts From the Early Returned Missionary Fireside

I had the opportunity to go to a fireside for early returned missionaries done by The Early Returned Missionary Initiative. Thank you to everyone who is involved with this wonderful program! It was great to meet you! Because there are people who aren’t able to go to firesides like this, I wanted to mention a few of the things they talked about. Continue reading

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Dear Early Returned Missionary: What I Wish I Had Known When I Came Home From My Mission

Dear friend,

I wish we could have this conversation face-to-face. This post is the reason why this website was started. There were things that I wish I had known when I came home. I wish I had known someone who could sit me down and tell me things that would have helped to spare me from the agony that I felt for so long. I can’t physically sit down and talk to all of you, although I would if it was possible. So, instead, I’m writing this letter. Even if it’s not the same as a personal conversation, I hope it can help you as you adjust to coming home. I have thought and prayed about this message for a long time. I hope that the thoughts here will be helpful to early returned missionaries, but I also hope that some of them will be useful to those who had the blessing of being able to complete their time in the mission field. Continue reading

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Light and Darkness

A year ago yesterday, I hit absolute rock bottom when I felt that I could not go on any more. A year ago today, light came rushing back into my life.

My Experience

As you may know from reading my story or some of the other posts, I went through a long period of darkness after I came home from my mission. I got to the point where I hit rock bottom. I saw no possibility of hope. I was completely broken. Continue reading