Coming home from a mission can sometimes be difficult, but practicing self-discipline and utilizing church-related activities like Institute have helped returned missionaries at BYU-Hawaii readjust to life after service.
One of the biggest challenges is keeping the “kind of lifestyle developed from the mission,” said Amelia Chen, a freshman TESOL major from Hong Kong. She said it’s especially hard “to start off a day with prayers, early exercise time, scripture study… It is true that you can still do those things, but it just feels like it is missing something.”
Having been home from her mission in Australia for one year. She said, “You have an organized schedule everyday on your mission… Appointments are arranged and time is fully utilized in every hour of the day so that you would be really clear of what you have to do.
“After the mission, without a regular schedule you do whatever you want. For most of the time of a day, I was thinking [about] what I should be doing. Self-discipline is required, but I had always wasted so much time.
Institute helped Chen transition to life after the mission, she said. “I took institute with my sister after I finished my mission. I was able to feel the same spirit as I used to feel. Keeping myself busy by spending time with family members and spiritual things like going to temple are definitely some of the ways to make me feel more comfortable.”
Parley Wan, a freshman student from the Philippines majoring in business management, said he has been home from his mission in London, England for nine months. He shared, “I remembered the feeling when I took off my name badge. I felt uncomfortable and I felt like I was missing something. I missed being a missionary, but I knew that I had to go back to normal life as a normal person.”
He said, “On the first day I was released, I did one hour of personal study… I have come to realize the importance of partaking the sacrament, which had played a really important role to help me to feel the spirit I used to have on my mission.”
Brindlee Fullmer, a returning sophomore from Arizona majoring in accounting, said the mission changed her Sabbath Day observance. “I have become more focused on the gospel and spiritual things. I have spent a lot of time praying and going to the temple. I spent a lot more time in keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Before, I just went to church. It wasn’t something too special for me. I am trying not to do homework and really trying to focus on the Savior and on family.”
Home from her mission in Hong Kong for five months, Fullmer also said returning “wasn’t has hard as everyone told me.” She clarified, “The first couple of months were not; however, it was getting really hard in the first three to five months. I changed a lot but my parents didn’t, so it was hard to adjust doing things with them and seeing them all the time instead of seeing them once a week.
“It was really cool to be reunited with my friends again, especially the ones who had gone on a mission. We had not seen each other for three years. It was good to talk with them about our missions. We picked up where we left off.”