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.
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 LDS.org that answers some key questions. Below are some of the more important ones:
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.