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Returned Missionaries Can Choose to Share Contact Information with Mission Leaders in Member Tools

Former missionaries who served since 2000 can choose to allow their mission leaders to view their contact information in Member Tools.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Latter-day Saints who served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2000 can easily share their contact information with their former mission leaders through a new Mission Directory in the Member Tools app.

By opting into this directory in Member Accounts, a former missionary allows mission leaders to see his or her name (including maiden and married surname), avatar picture, individual and household phone numbers, and email addresses. Mission leaders can use this information to more easily communicate with missionaries both individually or as a group. Missionaries will not be able to see mission leaders’ information from Member Tools, nor information about other missionaries.

Returned missionaries who served since 2000 now have the option of sharing their contact information with former mission leaders in the Member Tools app.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“We hope that former mission leaders and missionaries will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to stay connected, because these relationships are important to both,” said Elder Marcus B. Nash, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Missionary Department. “Missions are full of life-changing experiences and relationships can continue to bless, teach, and strengthen missionaries, mission leaders, their families, those they taught, and the whole Church, if kept alive.”

Member Tools shares the contact information that is currently listed in an individual’s Church records, so those interested in opting into the directory may want to ensure that information in their Member Account is up to date.

Some missionaries’ records may not appear in the directory, due to lack of service records or contact information. If you don’t see your information or need directions for how to opt in, see the FAQs on Helping Missionaries and Leaders Stay Connected.

Mission reunions, email, newsletters, social media and virtual meeting software like Zoom are some of the methods many mission presidents are already using to maintain special mission relationships.

Leif Erickson and his wife, Linda, served as mission leaders for the Zambia Lusaka Mission in South Central Africa from 2013 to 2016. The Ericksons and many of the missionaries they served with have a Facebook group where they share photos, thoughts, memories and updates of what is happening in their lives. “Not all of our missionaries are on there, so we welcome the opportunity for something that is Church sponsored that allows us to keep track of each other over the years,” Erickson said.

Leif and Linda Erickson, who served as mission leaders from 2013 to 2016, pose with missionaries in Zambia Lusaka Mission in South Central Africa. Photo courtesy of Leif Erickson.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Most of Erickson’s missionaries at the time were from Africa, 40% were from North America, and 10% were from Europe and the Pacific islands, so a traditional mission reunion is only physically accessible for a small percentage of them.

While evolutions in technology, social media and third-party apps and programs allow connections to be more inclusive, “it’s very nice to see the Church facilitating that and providing an enduring platform for making that happen,” Erickson said. “[The mission directory] is physically and practically efficient, but it also formally acknowledges that these relationships both for missionaries and mission leaders can be rewarding, lifelong relationships.”

The Importance of Staying in Touch

“The bonds that missionaries and mission leaders create during their service can continue to be a source of strength and support as each faces the challenges of life,” said Elder Michael T. Ringwood, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Priesthood and Family Department.

“A mission president is like a father who loves all of his missionaries equally,” said Mark Peterson, who served with his wife, Randy, in the Korea Busan Mission from 1987 to 1990. Throughout the years he has used email, social media and other available technology to keep in touch with mission friends. While he would welcome contact with each missionary he served with, “some missionaries just respond and need more contact than others,” he said.

“One of my strongest relationships is with a missionary whose father had died in Vietnam. We’re still in touch and he even stopped in to see me last week.”

Leif and Linda Erickson pose with one of their missionaries during their service as leaders of the Zambia Lusaka Mission in South Central Africa from 2013 to 2016. © 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Erickson and Peterson both acknowledged that for some returned missionaries, Church activity may fluctuate over the years.

“Some will have evolving thoughts about religion and the role of religion in their lives,” Erickson said. “We know the Good Shepherd and know His enduring love and persistence and patience. [He has] provided this life experience to grow from questions and mistakes and challenges. Our love for our missionaries is enduring as they evolove and change and grow. We love each of them for who they are.” 

The contact between mission leaders and individual missionaries also encourages missionaries to stay in touch with each other, Erickson said. They enjoy learning and sharing about children, marriages and career successes. For example, one of his South African missionaries has succeeded at becoming a chef. “To see his life’s dream play out and have all of the missionaries see that and share in the joy of his success is a real joy and real blessing.”

As former missionaries experience inevitable disappointments with education, economic situations and other challenges, the special mission friendships can help as well.

The Ericksons experienced that support in 2020 while Linda Erickson was undergoing cancer treatments. “Many of our missionaries were praying for her and reaching out to her and extending love to her,” Erickson said. “We gain great spiritual strength from our former missionaries who care for my wife and pray for her.” In turn, her sense of delight and optimism about life and living in the moment is an ongoing inspiration to them. “She’s a joy,” he said. 

Maintaining contact with former missionaries continues to bless the Ericksons and the Petersons.

“Mission experiences are among the most memorable moments of faith, devotion and consecration,” said Erickson. “It’s difficult to find the words to share those experiences with people who haven’t experienced them for themselves. When you’re connected to your missionaries, you remember. You remember the Lord and His goodness and His work and how our work was blessed. It’s an inspiration to be with our missionaries.”

Peterson said being able to keep in touch with several of the missionaries he served with has been a blessing. “I love it to pieces. There’s just a special relationship between a mission president and his missionaries.”  

Former and current mission leaders will be receiving in-app notifications in Member Tools reminding them they can connect with their former missionaries and letting them know who has recently opted in. They can also email former missionaries directly from Member Tools.

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