Kaden’s Story

My name is Kaden. I served for 5 months and was given a medical release.

I wanted to take time to share my story in the hopes that it can help at least one future missionary one day.

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When I first arrived at the MTC, I was hit with something that I didn’t expect or anticipate at all… extreme homesickness! It came as a complete shock to me and my parents because I showed no signs beforehand that it would be an issue. Before leaving on my mission I became very independent and had a great social life. I really only came home to sleep. So the level of extreme homesickness was a big surprise. I realize now that the shock of jumping rapidly from the carefree high school days to mission life and culture-shock were more than I knew how to handle. I also have a perfectionist view of rules and obedience, which made my feelings even more intense. Between those two things I felt overwhelmed. But I wanted more than anything to be obedient to the call of the prophet and serve the Lord. I always want to do what our Heavenly Father wants me to do.

I didn’t know how to deal with these intense feelings by myself. I tried to tuck them away and set out to “just forget myself and go to work.” I was blessed to pick up the language quickly. I also found that I had absolutely no fear of talking to people. Actual teaching and contacting were a strength to me and were the parts of missionary work that brought me joy. I looked forward very much to being able to get out into the field to be able to start teaching.

When I first got to the mission field after leaving the MTC, the feelings kept getting worse and became physical as well as emotional. I was extremely confused when my muscles became sore and were eventually in a chronic state of tension. We believe now that this was due to the prolonged stress mixed with the busy schedule and wearing a backpack.

I started to develop the worst headaches and pains in my shoulders, 24/7. They started and mid-September of last year and NEVER went away. I still have them. The headaches have been so severe and feel like migraines. Sometimes it´s an intense burning feeling, sometimes it feels like a thousand needles pricking at my brain all at once, or just a pounding, sore feeling. These pains come with bad neck cramps.

I also began to have panic attacks. Like 5-6 times a day at the worst point. My lungs felt like they were collapsing in/short of breath. I got these burning feelings in my chest. I started shaking. I felt sometimes like an elephant was squashing my chest. At times I would also get horrible stomach pains and throw up.

So those are the physical symptoms that I’ve had. It was extremely difficult to have all of these physical pains and try to be a missionary at the same time. It just couldn’t be done, to be honest.

The unfortunate thing about the timing of the headaches coming on was that as the homesickness started to ease, and I had adjusted to mission life, the headaches took over and became a chronic source of pain. Instead of the source of my problem being homesickness it changed to true physical pain. The unrelenting painful headaches became daily. But I never let them stop me from my first duty to serve the Lord and be a faithful missionary. I think at that point we all thought that the headaches were solely anxiety driven. This is when everyone tried their best to help me relieve stress by sending me articles, and trying to teach me stress relieving techniques. Everyone was truly doing their best to help me out, but sadly none of it was working. My anxiety and panic attack issues became progressively worse because I really tried to do what everyone was telling me to do, but I couldn’t just think happy thoughts to make the pain go away caused by these headaches.

I love the Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ more than words can express. I love the people I taught and want nothing more than for them to be happy. I´ve gave it my absolute 100% all. I worked my butt off every single day. My trainer called me ´´the best elder he´s ever worked with´´. I don’t know about that, but I know I did my best. I don´t want to be here at home. The mission is definitely where it´s at. Every day since I have been home, I have lovingly looked at my pictures and other treasures I brought home. I feel good about the work I was able to accomplish there considering the issues I dealt with.

My first week back at church felt quite awkward for me. I don’t know what people were truly thinking, but in my own mind, I felt eyes in the crowd staring me down as false judgments were being sent my way. I wish that I could have been able to share some of my stories and the miracles I saw rather than have to solely address why I was home and when I was going back out.

The hardest thing about being back home has been dealing with a mixture of feelings within myself, such as ‘’I’m a failure!’’ It’s really hard having to deal with the whole social and cultural aspect of being an early-returned missionary.  It’s just nice to know that I have received an answer for myself that I accomplished all that I was supposed to while on the mission.

I know that God has a plan for me. Although it’s really hard to understand why certain things happen it’s all for the best. I’m so grateful for all the amazing experiences and wonderful friends I met in my short time as a missionary. Now I just have put my faith and confidence in the Lord that he has great things in store. As the 13th Article of Faith puts it, “…We have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things.” I know that this church is true without a doubt in my mind. And although I had to pass through some crazy health trials during my time as a full time missionary, I value the experience more than anything.

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Comments

  1. Sister Haslett says:

    I am so sorry this happened to you, Kaiden. People should never judge. Know that the work of the Lord will go forth, no matter what. You had time to make a difference. Not every missionary is meant to spend the entire two years out. Trust God and know that He used you where he needed you and for as long as He needed you. You just weren’t meant to do it the way everyone else does. You probably accomplished as much in 5 months as most do in two years. May God bless you and heal you.

  2. Sister Lisa McDougle says:

    Thanks for sharing Kaden. I’m sure that many missionaries struggle with the same feelings when they have to return early. Knowing you as little as I do, I know enough to have known that if you had to return it would have had to been a real good reason. That’s just the way you are, and I also knew it would probably be driving you crazy. You are an amazing young man from a great family. This too shall pass and someday you will look back and understand the lessons that were there to be learned. We have no worries about your future. You have great things in store for you.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story Kaden. I admire your courage and determination to continue to live the gospel – well done! As for people and their judgements – I learnt a long time ago, that the opinions of people who you value matter – everyone else’s – let it slid off your back like water off a duck’s back!! Take care Kaden – and hope you enjoy a full recovery from any residual ailments quickly. Regards, M

  4. Deana Willis says:

    There is no shame in your inability to complete 2 years! Even young men that do not have health problems are admonished not to serve a mission if they expect to gain a testimony while on one…(a quote from an apostle). Missionary work is far more rigorous than I ever dreamed possible, especially for those who have very high expectations of being obedient and serving well? I have a chemical imbalance that has led to depression and anxiety. I did not chose it! It chose me! It is as real as any serious illness and very debilitating! You have nothing to prove to anyone but the Lord, and he knows the desires of your heart! I was converted to the church by a member friend (never even saw a missionary b4 I met her?) Being a missionary starts when you are baptized and ends when you die! You don’t need to wear a mission tag and be set apart to do the Lord’s work! You are and always will be a missionary if you chose to always strive to serve the Lord and share your testimony with others… that is what got me where I am now, and what has given me 3 sons who 2 have or are serving in the mission field? The lord works in mysterious ways to bring about the, “Immortality and the Eternal life of man!” Keep the FAITH! Your work is not through…

  5. Elder Riggs says:

    Elder Groves,
    The Book of Mormon you placed with the woman in the Employment Resource Center shortly after your arrival at the Madrid MTC is still yielding results. The woman, Carmen Galavis, was baptized in November. She has referred the missionaries to a friend in Norway. They met with him this week. She has referred the missionaries to her sister in Venezuela. She continuously talks to friends and co-workers about the Book of Mormon and the feelings she has as she reads it. Thanks my good brother for the work you did here in Madrid. May the Lord’s blessings be upon you as you move forward with your education and your life.
    Lots of love,
    Elder Joseph W. Riggs

    • Kaden Groves says:

      Wow Elder Riggs that’s such a cool story! Thanks so much for sharing that with me. Just goes to show you that you never really know what kind of impact for good that we as missionaries can have on people. It’s so awesome! Take care!

  6. sujeydy (su) says:

    Elder no este triste por tener que volver antes a casa yo se que usted fue un excelente elders y que dio el 100% de usted mismo, y su misión seria corta pero intensa y me consta su esfuerzo y ese espíritu luchador que ahí en usted, para mi fue un placer tenerlo en casa como misionero, y ver su entrega al señor su testimonio fue un ejemplo de que estasmo en la iglesia verdadera de nuestro señor jesucristo . Se que seguirá sirviéndole al señor allá donde este y quiero que sepa que siempre estará en nuestro corazones y recuerde que la misión no termina en 5 mese o 2 años sino toda nuestra vida y seguro que dio quiere que usted le sirva de otra manera con su amor y ejemplo. Ya nos seguiremos viendo por el facebook y mucho animo. Miguel y los niños le mandan un abrazo y un saludo y gracias por haber entrado en nuestras vida.

    • Kaden Groves says:

      Sue! Gracias por tu comentario. Os echo de menos también! Tengo muchísimas ganas para esta en Vigo jaja. Claro que voy a regresar a mi segundo casa y visitarles otra vez! Eso será súper guay. Os mando un abrazo también y espero que todo esta bien allí! Gracias por todo otra vez. Y seguir en la obra misional! :)

      -El Élder Groves

  7. Kaden Groves says:

    And thanks to all of you for your comments!

    • Austin Story says:

      Kaden,

      I was touched by your story and the strength you’ve exhibited the last few months of your life. Thank you for sharing.

      You’re able to have a major impact in the lords work in multiple ways as a full time missionary or a full time Disciple. strive to visit the temple often and help others to the fold.

      PS. I happend to come across this story by accident from reading a story on the Desnews about early returning missionaries. I know and work with your father. He is a great man.

  8. It is important to tell these stories. During my time in the MTC and when I arrived at my mission, I suffered illness. My MTC companions were horrible to me. In the mission field, my companions were horrible to me. The mission president was not that great. I completed my mission. It was the worst experience I had. I could not believe the attitude and actions of supposedly believing LDS missionaries and members. Because of my experience I tell people to consider a mission very carefully. I refused to let my children serve missions. Thank goodness my testimony is based on doctrine. There were many times I almost left the mission (I could have made it home in no time – and my parents did not want me to serve a mission), and the church since my mission. I have never been in a good ward with good leaders and good members. So I go to church, mind my own business, and all my friends are not LDS.
    Going on a mission opened my eyes to all the fakeness in members and missionaries, all the hypocrisy, the cultural problems in the church, the racism, the members who are Sunday Christians only, snobbery, and anything else bad one can think of. I truly believe only about 2% of all LDS truly believe and practice their religion. Sad.

    • Katy Ryser says:

      Jrsg – I’m sorry you’ve experienced unhappiness with church members. We’re certainly not perfect but most are attempting to be our best. You’re wise to base your testimony on the doctrine of Jesus Christ. May you feel His love.

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