While a mission is a deeply rewarding experience, it can also be stressful. L. Marlene Payne, M.D., has written a new book to help LDS Missionaries, their mission presidents, parents bishops and therapists to understand and be supportive of missionaries who struggle with mental illnesses. Her book is called “Mission Possible: A Guide to Mental Health for LDS Missionaries and their Mission Presidents, Parents, Bishops and Therapists.”
I have had the privilege of serving as a psychiatrist for forty years. They were years when psychiatrists did both medications and therapy, so I knew my patients more intimately than I knew my friends. During thirty-five of those years, I often took care of missionaries who needed psychiatric help in the Washington, DC, North and South missions. It was interesting to see the variety of personalities in the missionaries I met, and I learned that the Lord needs many kinds of missionaries to teach the many kinds of people that walk the earth.
One of my favorite stories was shared by Matt Schults. “I was sent to Switzerland where I served for six months. I was transferred to Germany and thus had to apply to their government for permission to stay there. This was usually a routine matter, but I was stunned when the mission office lost my papers, something that had never happened before. The time limit had expired by six days, and in spite of lawyers’ efforts, my papers were stamped “Deported.” The first presidency of the Church confirmed that I needed to return to the United States. I had to leave the next morning.
I packed all night and got to the airport at 4 AM. I was very calm and felt that this was what I was supposed to do. I was on my way to Wisconsin to finish my mission, but as the long flight droned on, I hit a low point. I was exhausted and began to doubt why this was happening.
Read the full story at Meridian Magazine.
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