Its happening. The first of the tidal wave of young Sister Missionaries have just started to come home again after serving 18 months.
You remember the thrill of excitement that swept through the entire church when President Monson announced the age change in the October General Conference of 2012. Not only would boys be able to leave a year soonerat 18but now girls would be able to leave a full two years sooner, at 19.
Applications skyrocketed, and our number of missionaries jumped to 85,000 elders and sisters serving in 405 missions.
Our daughter, Nicole, had already applied, planning to turn 21 in the Mission Training Center. How fitting that she returned on Pioneer Day, after completing a wonderful mission in Norway. Right on her heels will be thousands of other young women coming back from all corners of the earth. Its unprecedented, historic, and even overwhelming.
Re-entry varies for everyone, but Nicole seems to be adjusting smoothly, except for asking, “Wheres the knekkebrd?” when she opened the pantry door.
Someone in grad school will undoubtedly write a thesis about which group transitions most easilygirls or guysbut after sending off four children to various parts of the globe, here are ten tips that might help parents as they welcome home this wonderful wave of our youngest RMs ever:
1.Remember that kids will always mirror your own anxieties, so if you model confidence and a take-it-in-stride attitude, your child is more likely to approach this new chapter of life in similar calmness.
2.Encourage keeping in touch with companions and locals via electronic means. Its easier to accept new surroundings if you feel youre still in the loop and still know how things are progressing back in the mission field.
3.If culture shock is an issue, be understanding and accommodating. Your familys lifestyle may vary greatly from what your son or daughter is now accustomed to, and it helps to ease into different foods and activities slowly.
4.Dont push your child to snap into a schedule youve pre-designed. While schooling and work are priorities, many appreciate a buffer zone for catching their breath and switching gears.
5.Encourage personal prayers in the new language, if there is one. This will keep it fresh and in practice.
6.Daily prayer, daily scripture study, and daily journaling are advised by many stake presidents. Its a great recipe for keeping the spirit and staying strong even after stepping out of full time service to the Lord.
7.Old friends and even old romances dont always fit your newly returned missionary. Tremendous growth can take place on a mission, and its okay if your RM wants to move on to a group that matches better.
8.Offer a priesthood blessing to ease anxieties and help with discipline, goals, and new opportunities.
9.Remember this “child” of yours has lived as an independent, traveling adult for a long time, and can make decisions, cook meals, clean, and should fit into the family as a grownup, now.
10.If youre a bishop, extend callings to newly returned missionaries so they can continue diligent service in building the kingdom. As families, enlist your RMs help with the individuals youre fellowshipping.
Last, bask in the Spirit that envelopes your family, the stories youll get to hear, and the deeper testimonies that will result. Before you know it, theyll be off again.
You can find Hiltons books at jonihilton.com.
She is also “Your YouTube Mom” and shares short videos that teach easy household tips and life skills.
Be sure to read her blog at jonihilton.blogspot.com.
Joni HiltonAugust 1, 2014
Yes, Eve-- Nicole is friends with your son! Scott, thanks for the great Norwegian food tips, and Phil-- that's the best tip ever and I should have made it Number One on my list-- thanks!
Eve Ellsworth July 31, 2014
It's wonderful to hear that Nicole made it home safely. I'm not sure if she and my Spencer ever crossed paths. He'll be getting home in 4 months and I appreciate articles like this. Thank you!