At a nearby stake center in Madrid, Spain, Karissa Karlen — a set-apart missionary — sat in shock after viewing the worldwide missionary training broadcast that implemented changes to the missionary schedule.
According to the Church News, nearly 71,000 missionaries in over 400 missions of the church gathered on Jan. 15, 2017, to view the broadcast implementing various changes.
Missionaries, under the direction of their mission presidents, can customize their schedules to accommodate the culture of the respective mission.
Elder Brent H. Nielson, General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explained the reasoning behind these changes in an interview with Church News.
“You may be serving in a country where that schedule will not particularly work for the culture where you live,” he said.
Elder Nielson also said these changes will create a “net effect that missionaries will actually be out working an hour and a half more each day.”
Karlen, a junior studying special education at BYU, served her mission from January 2016 to July 2017 when the missionary schedule changes took place.
“The change to lunch and dinner hours of the missionary schedule was really nice. In Spain, people like to take their time eating lunch, so it was exciting to be able to spend more time with them,” she said.
Changes to the missionary schedule were approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.
The older missionary schedule required all missionaries to wake up by 6:30 a.m., exercise, get ready, then have personal and companionship study before proselyting and return home at 9 p.m.
However, missionaries now — depending on the culture and mission president — have the flexibility to begin their work earlier or later in the day. Another adjustment includes allowing personal, companionship and language study at any time throughout the day.
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president and member of the Missionary Executive Council, talked to Church News about these changes.
“The thing I love about this new schedule is that it allows the missionaries to exercise their agency to determine how to best use their time,” Sister Oscarson said.
Missionaries strive to fulfill their purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ, by learning to adapt to the changes of the new schedule.
In an interview conducted by Church News, Elder Dallin Miller from Tucson, Arizona said the changes have helped missionaries focus on the spirit, rather than a strict schedule.
“We are able to maximize our time and efficiency in order to find the people that God and angels are preparing to hear this gospel message,” he said. “It’s a great time to be a missionary.”