“And I knew that was an answer to my prayer.”
The Mormon faith has made a profound difference in Buhler’s and Winterton’s lives. That’s where their drive comes from. That’s why they’re here in Norman instead of back home, doing the stuff typical young adults do.
“Simply, for me, it’s just to give back to my Heavenly Father for all that he’s blessed me, and to really go out and serve his children as well,” said Winterton.
Buhler and Winterton work as a pair, like most Mormon missionaries. Since being assigned to each other, they have become fast companions.
Buhler, who is still a “newbie,” sees Winterton as a teacher. He asks him questions and talks to him to relieve stress.
“He’s like a brother I never had,” said Buhler. “He uplifts you.”
Winterton occasionally plucks lint from Buhler’s shirt and adjusts his crooked collar. It’s clear he’s spent more time on the job, and that he also sees himself as a sort of guide.
Buhler refers to Winterton as a “captain.” He describes him as bold and outgoing — good traits to have when your job is talking to strangers about religion.
The first time Winterton met Buhler, he showed his boldness by giving him a big hug. This surprised his partner, but Buhler remembers it with a laugh.
Just as Buhler praises Winterton on his leadership, Winterton compliments Buhler on his kindness.
“[He’s] always trying to serve, and he’s very patient and loving,” said Winterton. “I think those things are very key to missionary work.”
Buhler and Winterton are aware Mormon missionaries are sometimes seen as salespeople — impersonal and intrusive. But they insist they are neither.
Winterton said he believes conversation about religion is more taboo than it should be, which is why some people might believe missionaries are intrusive. Some people see religion as a private matter, but he doesn’t.