It’s not hard to believe this will change them.
The seriousness with which the church and its members take evangelism is reflected in the daily lives of the missionaries, which don’t include dating or pretty much any form of electronic entertainment not “centered on Jesus Christ.”
But even if distractions like music and video games were allowed, it’s unlikely Buhler or Winterton would be able to make time for them.
“We’re very structured,” said Winterton. “We plan for every hour of the day.”
On a regular day, Winterton and Buhler wake up at 6:30 in the morning and eat breakfast from 7 to 8. From 8 to 10, they study scripture together and in private. They’re knocking on doors and ringing doorbells by 10. Except for the two hours set aside for lunch and dinner, Buhler and Winterton go from door to door nonstop until they retire at 9 in the evening.
Monday is the closest the two have to an off-day. It’s the one day of the week they can shop, relax by exercising or contact their friends and family by handwritten letters or email.
No phone calls, though. Buhler and Winterton can call their parents only twice a year, for an hour on Christmas and an hour on Mother’s Day.
Being cut off from friends and family is not something the church does just to make their lives hard. As with every aspect of the mission, there is a purpose.
“It’s tough, but it’s actually a good thing,” said Buhler. “We’re not focusing all on our relatives or all on our friends because we are focusing on our work.”
The lack of communication has been a challenge for the Buhler and the Winterton families. Elder Winterton’s father, Gary, says he sometimes worries about his son. Elder Buhler’s father, Ric, said he gets lonely without him. But they agree this is the sacrifice parents of missionaries must make.