Purpose of Early Homecoming
Early Homecoming is dedicated to helping missionaries who returned home early because of physical illness, mental health, family troubles, personal choice, mistakes, or anything else that kept them from serving out their entire call to serve. Individuals seeking to help a missionary who returned home early will also find this blog useful. It is a place where early-returned missionaries can read stories from others, contribute their own stories, find answers to tough questions, understand their feelings, and most importantly hold tight to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I recognize that conditions vary from person to person, and each mission is different. This website acknowledges these nuances. Although I quote and refer often to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the views expressed on this website are y own. This website is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
History of Early Homecoming
Early Homecoming was created by me, Kristen Danner Reber, in November 2013. It was taken down in November 2014 because (1) I was a poor college student and domains/hosting was expensive. (2) I had just become a mom and was therefore going through a major life change. (3) I still had a lot of anxiety about talking about coming home early. I couldn’t work on the website without some anxiety attacks. I took it down and left this work to others.
In September 2017, I decided that it was time to revamp Early Homecoming. My anxiety about this period in my life is gone. I also saw that the other websites I had counted on to continue this work had not been updated in years. I also felt that I could add to the subject. Early Homecoming was reborn and support for it has grown rapidly.
Also in September 2017, I attended a publishing conference by LDS Publishing and Media Association and met an acquisitions editor from Cedar Fort Publishing and Media. I gave this editor an “elevator pitch” about a book idea about coming home early I’d been refining in my mind for four years. A week later, I received a call from another acquisitions editor at Cedar Fort who was very interested in taking on the project. A whirlwind of a month later, I signed a contract to write and publish Early Homecoming: A Resource for Early-Returned Missionaries, their Church Leaders, and Family. It will be released August 2018.
I served an LDS mission in the Philippines from October 2010 to April 2011. Two nasty parasites derailed her plans to serve the expected 18 months.
When I came home early from her mission, I struggled with feelings of worthiness. I had not done anything wrong to get sent home, but I still wondered if I had somehow caused my illness. I also wondered if my faith had not been strong enough for the Lord to heal me. As a missionary, and even before my mission, I’d heard “miracle stories” a lot (e.g. missionaries suddenly speaking fluently in another language). Because I had not been miraculously healed, I was plagued with guilt about not being a good enough missionary or a strong enough missionary. Sometimes I felt relieved about coming home early. I had struggled to learn the language, acclimate to the culture, and get along with my companion. Often though, I just felt hopeless. I didn’t feel like a real returned missionary.
I graduated from Brigham Young University in April 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in English and minors in Editing and Psychology. I was heavily involved with writing and editing for student journals while I completed my degree. I married James Reber in the Utah Manti Temple in May 2013. James and I have two children together. I have spent the last four years working full-time as a stay-at-home mom, while continuing to pursue writing and editing through freelance work. I also work remotely as the Operations Manager for Latter-day Saint Publishing and Media Association. I have published two articles with the Ensign: she contributed to Young Women and the Mission Decision (January 2013) and authored In Tune with the Christmas Spirit (December 2015). Early Homecoming: A Resource for Early-Returned Missionaries, their Church Leaders, and Family will be my first book.
If you would like to contribute a story, suggest a topic or quote, point out an error of any nature, or provide anything else to add to this website, please send me your suggestions or story to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also message me on Twitter at @KristenReber, or contact me via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/earlyhomecoming/.