Carlos is from Mendoza, Argentina. His dream became a cold reality when upon contacting BYU he was denied and informed that just because one serves a mission, one does not have the guarantee of attending such a school. He was devastated and returned to Argentina. His bishop was confronted by his non-member family and as you can imagine much anger was expressed. Carlos does not attend any sacrament meetings nor does he want to know anything that’s related to the church. He’s fluent in English and is a computer techie. He knows so much about the gospel and in the beginning of our friendship, he talked a lot about the wonderful experiences while on his mission. I can’t understand how once a person with a single eye to Heavenly Father now refuses the church. I have shared my testimony, my scriptures, and I have tried to help him in any way. What else can I do? He was close to the missionary that baptized him who now lives in Utah, also, very close to his mission president. I sometimes have felt this great need to get help for him–someone that Heavenly Father can use to touch Carlos’ heart. Please advise me as to what I may be able to do to help this spirit return home. I care a lot about him and want to see him back on the path of everlasting happiness.
Liz, from Sacramento, California
It is unfortunate that some people act in such a way that they lose the Spirit and fall under the influence of the adversary. The Mormon Church does all it can to promote the welfare of returned missionaries and other members alike. BYU is not the only academic institution that returned missionaries could or should attend. There are nearly 60,000 missionaries, and BYU has a limited capacity. When I graduated from BYU in 1953 there were a total of about 4,000 students. Nearly 50 years later, the full-time day enrollment for winter semester 2001 totaled 29,158, with another 2,885 part-time day students and 1,089 evening school students. So your friend, Carlos, should understand that very likely most applicants to BYU are turned down, simply because the school is operating at maximum capacity.
However, as an expression of the concern of the church for the welfare of returned missionaries, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced at the April 2001 General Conference of the church a program that will make it possible for all returned missionaries from financially distressed areas who have a desire to continue their education to do so. Returned missionaries who haven’t the financial means to continue their education may now borrow from the Perpetual Education Fund, and return the money after they graduate. You can read the details of this inspired new program in the Ensign, May 2001, pp. 51-53. I imagine that there is really very little that you can do about the unfortunate attitude of your friend. When we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition… behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; [and] the Spirit of the Lord is grieved. If he is to get back into the Kingdom he must come to himself and not throw away the greatest gifts ever offered to man for the sake of harboring hurt feelings because his unreasonable aspirations were not realized.