For the past few months, Parker White and Luke Thompson have been hitting the streets of Overland Park, proselytizing their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints faith.
Both 19, White and Luke are more than halfway through their two-years of service as missionaries for the church, a volunteer position that keeps them away from family and friends. And while they are able to write to their families once a week, Christmas Day provides a special opportunity: It’s one of only two days a year that they’re permitted to speak with their families.
“I’ll be honest, the first time I got to talk to them last year, I was crying a little bit,” White said. “It’s great to see them, to see the physical changes in them. And for them to see you.”
Under church rules, missionaries are allowed to connect with their families on the phone or via video chat on Christmas Day and on Mother’s Day.
“We’ll probably talk for about 40 minutes or an hour,” Thompson said. “Yeah, you definitely look forward to just seeing how everybody looks.”
White, from St. George, Utah, and Thompson, from Gilbert, Ariz., decided to volunteer for their missions when they turned 18, and learned they had been assigned to the Missouri Independence mission, which covers the great Kansas City metro area. Six out of seven days each week, they’re out working to convert people to their faith. One day a week is reserved for planning and chores. And while they’re able to correspond with their families during their planning day, both say the opportunity to hear their voices and see their faces is a special one.
“A lot of the time, you’re just so focused on your work that you don’t think too much about being away,” White said. “But it’s something you really look forward to, being able to actually talk. It’s a little bit bittersweet, because you miss them so much. But it’s always a good experience.”