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SALT LAKE CITY — Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can now call and text their families every week, church officials said Friday.
"Effective immediately, missionaries may communicate with their families on their weekly preparation day via text messages, online messaging, phone calls and video chat in addition to letters and emails," a statement from the church said.
In the past, missionaries were only allowed to call home twice a year: on Christmas and Mother's Day. They were generally allowed to email friends and family for about an hour each week during their preparation day.
Preparation day includes a few hours on a certain day of the week, usually Monday, for missionaries to prepare for the week by shopping for groceries, doing laundry, and relax by seeing the sights and emailing home.
“Regular communication with their families is an important part of a missionary’s service,” said the church's First Presidency in a statement. “One of the major purposes of this adjustment is to encourage families to be more involved in their missionary’s efforts and experiences.”
Missionaries are encouraged to use their own judgement to determine how long their phone calls and video chats should last "to be considerate of their companions," the church's statement said. Those whose parents live separately may call each parent individually.
Family members are asked not to call their missionaries but wait for their missionaries to call them in order to avoid disrupting the missionaries' schedule.
"In addition to weekly communication, missionaries are also encouraged to contact family on other special occasions such as Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day, parents' birthdays and other culturally significant holidays," the church said in a statement.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the church's governing body, said these changes are meant to accommodate different family circumstances and support missionaries who would benefit from increased contact with family.
More than 65,000 missionaries are currently serving throughout the world. Missionaries dedicate the entirety of their time during a period of a year and a half (for women) and two years (for men) in order to to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve others.
“We love the missionaries and know the Lord values their selfless service,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “We continue to try to find the best ways to support and help them and their families while they serve.”