When your full-time “work” is spreading the gospel — and when all your belongings fit inside two suitcases — writing a Christmas wish list is no easy task. To find out what LDS missionaries most want for Christmas this year, we polled two elders, one sister missionary, three missionary moms, one mission president’s wife (and a partridge in a pear tree).
1. Elder Nicholas Taylor, from Springville, serving in the Chile Santiago West Mission: In typical missionary fashion, Elder Taylor has had a hard time thinking of anything material he hopes to receive for Christmas. “A Skype call to my family is more than enough,” Elder Taylor said. “As a missionary experiencing a Christmas away from home, I’m grateful for all the past Christmases I could share with my family. But there is no other place on the earth I would rather be than in Chile, serving my Lord. This Christmas I think I want more shoe inserts, so I can keep going… and maybe a new tie.”
2. Joan Jensen, missionary mother from Spanish Fork: Jensen’s son, Matthew, is coming up on his second Christmas in Jacksonville, Florida. Like last year, her son’s wish list is rather short. “I asked him what he needs or wants, and he said he doesn’t need anything!” Jensen said. Last year for Christmas, the Jensen family sent him a book of testimonies, filled with messages from Matthew’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
3. Elder Payton Thorpe, from Springville, serving in the El Salvador Santa Ana Mission: Like many U.S. missionaries serving internationally, Elder Thorpe has requested American candy bars for Christmas. And a few ties. “As a missionary, you don’t need all that much,” Thorpe said. “The best gifts are when investigators begin to change their lives. So my biggest wish is to have a ‘white’ Christmas. This ‘white’ Christmas isn’t with snow, but with a person who has accepted the gospel and is dressed all in white, ready to be baptized. It will be hard not to have actual snow or my family here, but I know there is a bigger picture for me this Christmas.”
4. Sister Heather Slater, from Woodland Hills, serving in the Massachusetts Boston Mission: Sister Slater agrees with her fellow missionaries that this holiday season will be different from every other Christmas she’s experienced. Pictures and cards from home are at the top of her Christmas wish list. But she also came up with a number of practical items she could use: pens, highlighters, Post-it notes, a new watch, CDs with mission-approved music, a new toothbrush (“with firm bristles”), microwave popcorn, a mini Christmas tree, earrings and fun socks. “But obviously, every missionary really just wants everybody to accept the gospel,” Sister Slater said.
5. Sister Dorothy Fluckiger, wife of the mission president in the Portugal Lisbon Mission: Sister Fluckiger is plenty familiar with the needs of the elders and sisters in Portugal. Here are her top suggestions for missionary mail: peanut butter, ties (“about the only thing an elder can change in his wardrobe is his tie!”), licorice, mapeline flavoring (to make maple syrup), beef jerky, candy that reminds them of home, ranch dressing, American pens, lemon pepper, shirts and sweaters.
6. Laura Thorpe, missionary mother from Springville: When Thorpe asked her son what he wanted for Christmas, his first response was “pictures of home.” Thorpe took her son’s idea a step further, creating a Christmas-themed photo garland to decorate his missionary apartment — she assigned letters from the phrase, “Feliz Navidad” to various members of her family, and asked them to take pictures with their letters in a creative way. Thorpe also recommends sending food items, like peanut butter and Oreos, that might be expensive internationally.
7. Jennifer Taylor, missionary mother from Springville: Taylor is sticking with family tradition by sending her missionary son a new pair of pajama pants. “I would send him an ugly Christmas sweater, which is a family tradition for Christmas Eve, but it would be too expensive to ship!” Taylor says. On the practical side, Taylor has found her son also appreciates toiletries, like toothpaste, deodorant and hair products, which can be expensive or different in foreign countries. She also sends handwritten letters from cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings — “letters are his favorite thing of all.”