NORMAN — When people answer the door to find Elder Zachary Buhler and Elder Braxton Winterton, they usually don’t have to ask why the pair is on their doorstep. They know just from glancing at their white, short-sleeve dress shirts and ties.
Thanks to the ambitious evangelical efforts by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the experience of finding its well-dressed missionaries like this is near universal.
But while the scenario is familiar, most people only have one half of the story. They know what it’s like to answer, but not what it’s like to be the people who knock on the doors, who stand on the doormats as they spiel about Jesus Christ and some guy named Joseph Smith.
“It’s not a breeze,” said Winterton, an athletic 19-year-old from Utah. “It’s difficult. Emotionally, spiritually, physically, everything. It’s tough but … When it’s hard you’re able to grow from it.”
Winterton has had plenty of time to learn. He began the two-year mission at the beginning of January. This makes him a little more experienced than his 19-year-old partner, Buhler, who left Oregon for his mission in August.
Buhler and Winterton could’ve been called anywhere in the world, but they were called to the Oklahoma City Mission, which assigned them to Norman. It may not be the most exotic of places, but they like it, partly for its citizens’ religiosity.
“You just walk around Oklahoma, and most people have that religious background,” said Winterton. “People want to talk about the Savior Jesus Christ. It’s just a part of their life.”
This is something Buhler and Winterton can relate to.
Buhler and Winterton are part of the nearly 30 missionaries in the Norman zone, who are part of the more than 200 missionaries in the Oklahoma City Mission, who are part of the roughly 82,000 missionaries around the globe.