by Devin Justesen
Devin Justesen is a graduate of Brigham Young University, where he studied English and Business Management. He is a writer, photographer, movie-fanatic, and a lover of street-tacos. He served his mission in Tokyo, Japan.
Picking up your missionary at the airport after they have completed their mission can be one of the most beautiful and wonderful experiences. After months and months of waiting, you are finally being reunited, and they are just as excited to be back with you. Whether this is your first missionary or last, the day can also be pretty stressful, especially if you're trying to align everyone’s schedules, include extended family, or even just wrestle younger siblings into the car. There can definitely be some factors that are a little stress inducing.
To help navigate this very exciting day, we’ve compiled a list of 5 tips that will help make the day a memorable one, and hopefully not a day of stress and worrying.
1) Don’t stress too much if they don’t come down soon after the plane arrives.
Many missionaries have to take a few moments, or maybe even many moments before descending down from the departure gate. Some missionaries, especially when travelling together as a group, gather for heartfelt goodbyes before meeting with their family. Some missionaries gather for a concluding prayer, or simply to wish each other luck as they conclude what has been their entire lives for the past 18 months or 2 years. Speaking for myself personally, after the 15 hours of flying back home, I took a moment to brush my teeth, say prayers of gratitude, and just take time to breathe deeply before reuniting with my family. Though my Mother was stressed that I didn’t come down until about 20 minutes after the rest of the passengers arrived at the arrival gates, it was something I look back on now with a laugh or two.
2) Have all of your banners ready days in advance!
Printers experience issues, sometimes the design may not be exactly what you thought, or you may need to make some last minute changes. For all of those reasons and more, it’s always a great idea to have your banners ready and done at least a few days before your missionary arrives. Additionally, having a couple of “home-made” banners is a great idea. If this is your first missionary, sometimes recycling them again for the next one is a fun family tradition that can really welcome home your missionary.
3) Remember the other families.
If your missionary is coming back to heavily trafficked airport for missionaries, it’s important to remember that there will be many other families there waiting for their missionaries. Many parents love to rush to their missionary as soon as they see them enter their view, and this in no way is something wrong or inappropriate. However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for other families that are waiting for their missionary as well. Now that your missionary is back, you will have all the time in the world to hug them, talk to them, and be back in their lives. Although you may want to throw your missionary the biggest, most enthusiastic homecoming that’s ever been, it’s important to share the day with the other families who are welcoming back one of their loved ones as well.
4) Bring a nice camera if you have one.
Once you have picked up and welcomed your missionary home and are heading back home, it can be a great idea to bring a nicer camera to snag some of those high quality pictures of your missionaries face as they’re back with their family. One of my siblings, who is a professional photographer, brought her setup to my arrival home at the airport, and was able to take one of my favorite photos of that day of us heading back to the car to drive home. It’s photos like these that can be special keepsake for years to come, and your missionary can look back on and immediately recall those same feelings of accomplishment.
5) Center the whole day on your missionary.
It goes without saying, but your missionary will be feeling a flood of different emotions on the day they arrive home. Rather than booking your missionary’s day with a variety of homecoming activities, give them space to decide what they want to do with their first day home. They may surprise you and say they simply want to stay around home with the family, or they may ask for some time alone. On the other hand, they may ask to have all of their friends and family over immediately so they can start reconnecting with those they love. Whatever they decide they want to do with their first day home, give them that space to ease into their life as a returned missionary.
But above all else, never hesitate to let your missionary know how much you love them, care for them, and are proud of them for their service as a missionary. Whether that service was 18 months, 2 years, or any variation depending on their circumstances, they have truly given their all to the Lord in the service of His children. They have faced countless trials, successes, learning experiences, and events that have shaped their lives in new ways. They decided to leave their families for a brief moment so that other families could live together for eternity. And now their time as a full-time missionary has come to a close, and they are beginning a new chapter of their life. So welcome them home with the widest of open arms, warm smiles, and words of congratulations. With some of these tips in mind, you can without a doubt welcome your missionary home in the best way possible for them.
--Welcoming home your missionary in the near future? Consider LDS Bookstore when making your banners! We specialize in beautiful banners that can be held at the airport, set up along the front of your home, or taped to the wall of their bedroom. Click the link here to see what banner options we offer.