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.
We recognize that conditions vary from person to person, and each mission is different. This website acknowledges these nuances. Although we quote and refer often to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the views expressed on this website are our own. This website is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
History of Early Homecoming
Early Homecoming was originally created by Kristen Danner Reber in November 2013. It was taken down in November 2014 because (1) She was a poor college student and domains/hosting was expensive. (2) She had just become a mom and was therefore going through a major life change. (3) She still had a lot of anxiety about talking about coming home early. Kristen couldn’t work on her website without some anxiety attacks. She took it down and left this work to others.
In September 2017, Kristen decided that it was time to revamp Early Homecoming. Her anxiety about this period in her life is gone. She also saw that the other websites she had counted on to continue this work had not been updated in years. She also felt that she could add to the subject. Early Homecoming was reborn and support for it has grown rapidly.
Kristen met Spencer Durrant in November 2013 when she was first working on Early Homecoming. He was fresh off his mission and in a hard place. He was very interested in the project, but they both had a lot of anxiety about the subject. Early Homecoming fizzled out due to Kristen’s neglect and Spencer had his own healing to do.
Four years later, they are both in a much better place. Kristen contacted Spencer in October 2017 due to his strong social media following to see if he’d be willing to help me promote the project. After a phone conversation and hearing his passion on the subject and knowing about his strong writing skills, she asked like to co-author the content on the website and a book on the subject. Kristen felt that the viewpoint of a sister AND an elder would be invaluable to Early Homecoming. Spencer agreed and they have been working together on the project since.
Kristen 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 Kristen came home early from her mission, she struggled with feelings of worthiness. She had not done anything wrong to get sent home, but she still wondered if she had somehow caused her illness. She also wondered if her faith had not been strong enough for the Lord to heal her. As a missionary, and even before her mission, she’d heard “miracle stories” a lot (e.g. missionaries suddenly speaking fluently in another language). Because she had not been miraculously healed, she was plagued with guilt about not being a good enough missionary or a strong enough missionary. Sometimes she felt relieved about coming home early. She had struggled to learn the language, acclimate to the culture, and get along with her companion. Often though, she just felt hopeless. She didn’t feel like a real returned missionary.
Kristen graduated from Brigham Young University in April 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in English and minors in Editing and Psychology. She was heavily involved with writing and editing for student journals while she completed her degree. Kristen married James Reber in the Utah Manti Temple in May 2013. She and James had their first child in August 2014, and Kristen has spent the last three years working full-time as a stay-at-home mom, while continuing to pursue writing and editing through freelance work. She also works remotely as the Operations Manager for Latter-day Saint Publishing Professionals Association. Kristen has 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).
Spencer served a mission to New York City from June 2013 – August 2013, coming home early due to severe mental health issues. His experiences lend a unique perspective to the needed discussion on early returned missionaries.
He is a nationally recognized fly fishing columnist and outdoors writer. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including the AP, Reuters, Miami Herald, Orvis.com, Hatch Magazine, TroutUnlimited.com, KSL.com, Deseret News, Standard-Examiner, and various other regional outdoors publications. Spencer is currently finishing a master’s degree in English at Utah Valley University.
Spencer currently works in content marketing (he has 4.5 years of professional marketing experience) for a Salt Lake City-based marketing agency. He’s well-versed in all forms of digital marketing, especially social media advertising. Spencer had a novel published in August 2016 by GenZ Publishing – Learning to Fly. He currently has articles forthcoming in both Field & Stream and TROUT magazines.
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 us your suggestions or story via the Contact page. You can also message us on Twitter at @KristenReber or @Spencer_Durrant. Email addresses are forthcoming.