To Pick Them Up or Not

Part 1 of ‘The Return of the Missionary’ Series

‘To Pick Up or Not to Pick Up’ that is the question. There are differening views and opinions on this subject – believe me I have heard a lot of the pros and cons – so I think it is important to flesh it out a bit.

Looking for lots of discussion on this series, so at the end of each segment I’ll pose some questions and comments that can prompt some response here. Please don’t leave this page without engaging in some way.


Dave and Wendy Ulrich

To pick them up or not

There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. If you decide to go, some tips: Missionaries like showing you around but also are eager to get home – don’t stay more than a few days. Call the mission office to work out travel arrangements, work out hotels and itineraries yourself, be on time for any meetings at the mission home, and try not to tie your missionary up with planning. Missionaries often complained to us about parents making them “trunky” by counting down the days and talking only of plans to come visit or for when the missionary returns. Preferences of mission presidents and local circumstances vary greatly, so respect his requests. The church asks that you not plan to stay with members (even when members invite you). Once you are there, recognize that your missionary knows far better than you how to get around, what is safe or not safe, what is appropriate, how much things should cost, etc., and let them take the lead. Understand that missionaries are expected to live and dress like missionaries until released by their stake president at home. Some would really prefer to come home and be released, then return later to visit. Most parents do not pick up missionaries, and most missionaries are fine with this. They are eager to get home anyway! In all cases, realize that the stake president’s release is an important transition event, as are homecoming talks, high council reports, family gatherings, father’s blessings, and other traditions that help mark this life change.


This question has been raised several times amongst my fellow missionary mums. There is not a lot of information out there from the church on how to organise things if you choose to pick up your son/daughter at the end of their mission. But I did find an FAQ page on that answers some key questions. Below are some of the more important ones:

Missionary Travel Services FAQs:

Does Missionary Travel Services make airline reservations for parents and family who are going to pick up their missionary?
No. Missionary Travel Services will only make the reservation for the missionary but we will coordinate your missionary flights with yours.

I would like to pick up my missionary when he or she finishes their mission. What should I do?
Contact the mission office where your missionary is serving to find out release date and visa issues if applicable. 2. Contact Missionary Travel Services at 800-537-3537 or 801-240-5111. If you are flying to pick up your missionary here are your options: a. After calling Missionary Travel Services, buy your ticket on the airline we have a contract with. Missionary Travel Services will buy a ticket for your missionary on the same flight pending availability. b. Buy your ticket and your missionary’s ticket on an airline of your choice. Missionary Travel Services will reimburse you up to the amount we would normally spend on his or her ticket or if you spent less we will reimburse the lesser amount. c. Buy your ticket on an airline of your choice and pay for any extra cost to have Missionary Travel Services purchase a ticket for your missionary on the same flight.

Who can pick up a missionary?
A parent or legal guardian of the missionary can pick up his or her missionary. Other family members can come if they are accompanied by at least one parent.

Can we drive our car to pick up our missionary?
Yes. The Church will reimburse you for the amount we would normally spend on his or her ticket and you can use that money towards the cost of driving.


What do I think?

We have no plans to travel and pick up our daughter in 7 weeks, but that is more because I know she will want to go back there next year for General Conference with us and can do it all then.

While the church neither encourages or discourages parents to make plans to pick up their missionary, I do know it is important to consider carefully the feelings of the missionary, as well as the policy of the specific mission they are serving in.

A key thing to remember too is that they still have the mantle of a missionary right up to the time they arrive home, meet with their Stake President and are officially released.


1. Have you ever picked up a missionary from their mission?

2. If so, then how did you plan it and what would you do differently?

3. Do you think it is a wise thing to do?

4. What do you see as possible pitfalls to picking up a missionary?

5. What do you see as possible advantages?

6. If you had a particularly positive experience with picking up your missionary, then please share here what it was that made it such a positive time.

**For Part 2 we will be looking at the excitement and disorientation associated with returning home from a mission.

>> Part 2 – Excitement and Disorientation >>


12 thoughts on “To Pick Them Up or Not

  1. I want to be able to meet the people that have been calling and emailing me and such about how my son has touched their lives. There is an elderly lady that my son and his companion visit every week. And she calls our family frequently because she has kind of adopted the missionaries as her sons. I want to meet this wonderful lady, and our son wants that too, so he has asked that when he is done serving, for the family to come out and get him. So it’s great that we both agree. 😉

    • Erica, it’s wonderful when we are able to create new friendships through our missionaries time of service. I have also made similar connections and am keen to meet up with these wonderful people who are such an important part of my daughters life. I am so excited for you and hope that it all works out when your son finishes.

  2. I too think it’s important to leave it up to the missionary and what they want! In saying that, we still have about 8 years before Rylan goes on his mission so there’s plenty of time to sort it out 🙂 I personally think it’s a wonderful idea to be able to go and see where your son/daughter has been serving and meet some of the people they have no doubt come to love!

    • Oh Felicity, let me tell you now, that 8 years will fly by. Dallan is 16 1/2 now and only has 2 1/2 years before he goes. I can’t figure out where that time went. I agree with you. As long as we maintain the focus of who they are, who they represent, and what they have been doing for the last two years, then picking them up will be an opportunity for them to extend the spirit of their mission.

  3. Hi Tracy 🙂 We had no plans to pick up our first two missionary sons, nor will have for our twins who come home from Japan in 7 months. I really have no opinion on what other people should do 🙂 For us the choice was primarily a financial one, although, even if we had unlimited funds, I think we perhaps would still not want to pick them up. I am so grateful they can be on a mission, but when it’s finished, it feels like it’s time to come home 🙂 They have siblings, and nieces and nephews here who are looking forward to seeing them when they come home too.

    • Sandra, you have made a couple of really important points here. Sometimes it is just not financially possible, so there should not be any pressure on families to think they have to do it. Additionally, it is an important time for ALL the family to share in, so allowing them to finish and return home is a great opportunity for the whole family to be a part of their completion. Thanks for raising that.

  4. My husband and I picked up our son from his mission in Hong Kong last year. Our son wanted us to come, and my husband and I made it a matter of prayer in making such big, important decision. As the pick up day approached I was so excited to see my son again after two years and see the place that had he had loved and served in. I was totally unprepared for what a spiritual experience it was. To see my son serving as a set apart missionary, interacting with members, investigators and people on the street was an experience that I will always cherish. It was also a blessing to meet face to face so many of the people he had written about and come to love.

    I know it’s not the thing for everyone to do, but for this son, it was a very positive experience that I will always treasure.

    • Julie, what a wonderful experience you had. I love that you were able to approach it through prayer and know that it was the right thing to do. Then to have such a spiritual experience. I am sure that this choice allowed your son to complete his mission in a positive way and add to his overall mission experience. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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