The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced an update to guidelines regarding communication between full-time missionaries and their families.
Effective immediately, missionaries may communicate with their families on their weekly preparation day via text messages, online messaging, phone calls and video chat in addition to letters and emails. Previously, missionaries relied primarily on email and letters for communication.
“Regular communication with their families is an important part of a missionary’s service,” said the First Presidency in a statement. “One of the major purposes of this adjustment is to encourage families to be more involved in their missionary’s efforts and experiences.”
Under these new guidelines, missionaries are encouraged to use judgment in determining the length of phone calls and video chats and to be considerate of their companions. Additionally, to avoid disruption to missionary schedules, family members are asked not to initiate calls or chats but instead should wait for the missionary to contact them on his or her weekly preparation day. If a missionary’s parents live in different locations, he or she may contact each parent separately.
With so many advances in technology, this communication should take place at little or no cost. In those locations where families or missionaries do not have access to computers or phones, missionaries will be encouraged to continue using their current means of communication.
“We encourage missionaries to communicate with their families each week using whatever approved method missionaries decide,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. “This may vary based on their circumstances, locations and schedules for that week. It is not expected that all missionaries will call or video chat with their parents every week. The precise manner of communication is left up to the missionary as he or she decides what will best meet their needs.”
In addition to weekly communication, missionaries are also encouraged to contact family on other special occasions such as Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day, parents' birthdays and other culturally significant holidays.
Elder Uchtdorf said the new guidelines offer several additional benefits, including accommodating varied family circumstances as well as better supporting those missionaries who would benefit from increased personal contact with family at home.
Currently, more than 65,000 missionaries serve throughout the world in a variety of countries and cultures as representatives of Jesus Christ. Serving full-time, they study the gospel and teach its life-changing principles to people who are interested. Young men serve for 24 months beginning as early as age 18, and young women may serve for 18 months as early as age 19. They gain valuable and life-changing experiences along the way, giving of themselves and serving others.
“We love the missionaries and know the Lord values their selfless service,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “We continue to try to find the best ways to support and help them and their families while they serve.”