Called to serve in a pandemic: Asthma leads to honorable early release

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Editor’s note: Thousands of missionaries across the world are facing upended plans during the pandemic. Some are returning home before completing their missions, others are serving in quarantine, and many are receiving new calls. The Daily Universe is looking at how these missionaries are grappling with challenges in a series of stories.

Elder Shane Amidan spent 12 and a half months serving in the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission before his mission president told him he needed to be sent home and honorably released.

“My mission president said it was time to move on and that I served honorably and faithfully, and it didn’t matter how long that I served but how I served,” Amidan said.

Of the 200 missionaries serving in his mission, Amidan said 40 were sent home for mental or physical health conditions.

March 10, during a mission leadership conference, was the first time coronavirus was discussed in Amidan’s mission. He said he wasn’t really worried and didn’t expect it to affect his mission.

Elder Shane Amidan served in the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission. (Shane Amidan)

“March 13 was the day that they canceled church for everyone worldwide and that was weird, but we were not quarantined,” Amidan said. “On Sunday, March 15, they let us go to members’ homes for sacrament meeting.”

Because Amidan has asthma, he started to worry about the possibility of having to return home.

“I was hearing rumors at the beginning of the next week that they were sending home missionaries in other U.S. missions with underlying health conditions, so I was getting a little nervous about things for sure,” he said.

By March 17, Amidan’s mission was required to self-isolate, and then on March 20 he got the call from his mission president that he was being required to return home. “Because of my asthma I did not have a choice,” Amidan said.

Amidan said he was disappointed when he got the call, but through much prayer and study, he was able to gain peace and knowledge that this was part of God’s plan for him.

He received his flight plans on March 23 and was home on the night of March 25. Not only did Amidan have to come home a year earlier than he was expecting, but his family had moved from Richland, Washington, to Rexburg, Idaho, while he was gone.

Although coming home to a different state was a change for Amidan, he considers it a blessing to live close to his sister and brother-in-law, who are also in Rexburg. “It’s been good being home being with family and also being able to contact friends,” Amidan said.

Shane Amidan poses for a photo in Louisiana. (Shane Amidan)

He didn’t expect to return to school until spring 2021, but now he is taking an online class through BYU-Idaho. “I plan on continuing to go to school and hopefully to get a job at some point, probably when the pandemic eases and it may be a little easier to work,” he said.

Amidan said the entire situation has been crazy but has also been a learning experience. “I obviously wish that none of this happened and that I could still be on my mission, but I know that there is a reason for this, although I might not know exactly what that is yet,” Amidan said.

Focusing on the tender mercies the Lord has given him in the past few weeks is what Amidan said has helped him as he tries to stay positive through the whole situation. “Those tender mercies, I believe, are God telling me specifically that I served a great mission and that he accepted my work.”

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