Certainly one of the most anticipated events for any family with a missionary in the field are the Christmas Day and Mother’s Day phone calls. This is especially true when it is the first phone call home from the missionary who is serving. The chance to actually hear your missionary’s voice (and maybe see his/her face too, if you’re using Skype) can be an immensely gratifying and uplifting experience. The opportunity to call home should be an experience that will motivate both the missionary and their family. The following tips come from my own experiences and from several other RMs to help you make the most of your phone call.
Be respectful of mission rules regarding phone calls home. Each mission is different in its guidelines for calling home. Some missions only allow missionaries to talk to their families for a half hour, while others allow the phone call to last for an hour (or even more). Some missionaries are allowed to make calls using Skype, while others are only allowed a phone call. Whatever the rules are for your missionary, please respect them. Don’t encourage your missionary to break the rules so you can talk for a few extra minutes. Depending on where your missionary is serving, they may be calling you using a member’s phone or Skype account, and you don’t want to create a potential financial burden for them.
Be supportive. Saying things like “It’s so hard without you here” or “We miss you so much and wish you were here with us” are not going to help motivate your missionary. While these statements may be true (as you will undoubtedly miss your missionary) it is much better to express these sentiments through statements such as, “We miss you, but we know you are where you need to be.” Remember, the goal of the phone call is to motivate your missionary. Express support for their decision to serve a mission. Make sure your missionary knows that you are proud of their decision to serve.
Be aware of what will motivate or distract your missionary. You know your missionary best–try not to distract them with talk about gifts at Christmas time or how much you miss them at Mother’s Day. Discussing plans for a fun post-mission trip will probably also be distracting. If having an extremely emotional call will make your missionary homesick, do your best to control your emotions. But don’t forget, there is also plenty you can do to motivate your missionary. Share relevant experiences happening at home to your missionary and motivate them to go out and work even harder after talking to you. A good idea is to share missionary experiences of your own or talk about blessings your family has received as a result of your missionary serving. The more focused your phone call is on missionary work, the more uplifting and motivating it will be.
Prepare a list of questions beforehand. While you may not think this is possible, some missionaries found that when their families did not prepare a list of questions before the phone call, they actually ran out of things to talk about. Missionaries often don’t know what to talk about when they call home (especially as they get further along in the mission), and preparing a list of questions can help keep the conversation going. Asking questions about the area the missionary is serving in, the local culture, and funny or spiritual experiences can provide interesting insights for those asking the questions and can also help keep the missionary excited and focused on their work.
Let the phone call be an uplifting experience for everyone! Serving a mission should be one of the most incredible experiences of anyone’s life. Do your best to make the phone call a motivating and uplifting experience for everyone (yourself included)! Doing so will give you a greater understanding and appreciation for missionary work and will help strengthen your testimony of a mission.
For more ideas about Christmas in the field see:
Christmas in the field – One Missionary’s Perspective
The Christmas Phone Call, by Emily Freeman