Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas and Missionary Phone Calls

One of the few times of the year that a missionary can call home is on Christmas and Mother's Day. Missionaries need to coordinate their calls. In some places you have eight missionaries working out the times since they are in different time zones than their families. When a missionary calls his or her family he or she has a tendency to talk about things other than missionary work like who is dating who in the ward, or other social things. Sometimes families talk about when the missionary comes home kind of details like going back to BYU. Sometimes this can set a missionary back as they become trunky. Particularly if it involves former girlfriends etc. The call should assure missionaries of family happenings and should concentrate on encouraging missionaries to do well in their missions.

I understand that a missionary has a hard time on Christmas because it is hard to do much other than visit a few people usually members or close investigators. Most missionaries are not going to tract because they know many people have family over and don't want to be bothered with them. Many missionaries will spend the day with members or investigators for dinner or with the other missionaries. I remember on my own mission visiting a few members and investigators where we sang Christmas carols. Some missionaries don't feel comfortable singing so it is more challenging. I had a companion who didn't like to sing one year so we gave out a special tract on Christ instead.

The day can be tough for missionaries since we don't usually get a pile of gifts. Plus the gifts tend to be more practical like food, clothes, and money. It is not the same for a missionary since many receive Christmas gifts before the actual day. A lot of missionaries open their presents early and there are not too many so even if they wait it lasts about ten minutes if you open them with just your companion and about thirty minutes if you do it as a district. It can be kind of a bummer if you don't get anything nice and other people get cool presents. Calling home might be the high point of the day.

My mom sent me some nasty Cherry cordials that were half melted with hard Christmas candy. My parents always taught me that it was the thought that counted. I did get a couple of Christmas cards including one from a girl I liked back home. I spent one Christmas in Italy and one in Canada on my mission. When I was in Italy there were no members since we opened an area. I remember I got a couple of gifts from my companion which included an Italian kiddie book with Italian words for different objects and a loaner coat which he wanted back. We went out as a district to a restaurant and had pizza and some kind of gelatin thing with ham in it which was very different. We sang a few songs and the day seemed to drag out. In Canada it was slightly different as we went to an investigators house where she gave us hot chocolate and iced Christmas cookies. We then spent most of the afternoon at a member's house eating a regular meal with ham and all the fixings. An unusual thing happened as we went in the evening to visit a few investigators. There was a drunk guy in one of the apartment buildings, he threatened to throw my companion down the stairs if we didn't leave the building so we got out of there fast. I remember my companion was kind of depressed since not too many people were in a festive mood to see us that evening. We just wandered around since no one we knew was at home.

I have often wondered what kind of things missionaries talk about when they call home. Having two missionaries out in the field we try hard to find out how they are doing on their mission. We try to avoid discussing if any of us have heard from former boyfriends or tell them about friends who have gotten married. We try to not let them waste the time which is too short. We try to encourage them and let them know we are praying for them or how we can help them be better missionaries. Sometimes we talk about gospel subjects. We try to avoid talking about what is going to happen when they come in several months since we know this will cause them to not concentrate on their missions. The call is usually upbeat and we avoid any conflicts so as not to worry them. They do usually like to ask what siblings got. We try to stress the Christ and giving part and let them know we love and respect their devoted service.

I am sure there are a lot of things that missionaries chat about with their families. I wonder what Christmas experiences and phone conversation topics others have had on their missions. I am sure most elders and sisters Christmas day is not as dull as mine. I hope that all missionaries have someone thinking of them and remembering them for their selfless service on Christmas.

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