Between the miles of walking in the heat or cold, the bugs, the lack of water or electricity, the cancellations, and the homesickness, having a difficult companion on top of that can be the toughest part of a mission.
No matter how much you both love the gospel and the Lord, some companions will still be challenging to get along with, purely because you have different backgrounds and different ideas of how the work should be done. You cannot escape being with them 24/7, so here are 6 suggestions to help you learn to love your companion more fully:
Spend time with them. There is nothing that puts a wedge in between you more than separating yourself from your companion.
You may live with other missionaries that you are close to but make it a point to spend most of your time with your assigned companion, no matter how little you get along. Without even talking, merely being in the same room together will keep you united.
Help each other reach your goals. You both came on a mission to achieve something. You may have had a desire to bless other people’s lives but you also knew that you would have the opportunity to change, too.
One companion of mine, whenever we had our companionship inventory, always repeated, “I cannot change alone,” as she would ask for constructive correction. This created an environment where we could openly express our concerns and desires and help each other stretch.
Even as you write down your daily and weekly goals, write down your companion’s as well and help them remember to work on them. This will bring a spirit of progression and love into the companionship.
Ask them questions. Some companions will not desire to have a strong friendship within your companionship, but the only way to understand their needs and fill them is by asking questions. One morning, my companion and I arrived at a less active woman’s house to find a Mount-Everest-sized pile of laundry for us to hand wash.
We gathered our skirts and got down to work and as we worked my companion asked, “What is your Mom like?” As I described my mother, someone so dear to me, I felt cared for to think my companion wanted to know about this important person in my life.
Another time, I was having a difficulty understanding my companion and keeping up with her diverse sensibilities. The sun was hot as we knocked on a door and found no one at home, so we found some shade to take a short rest. I looked at her, almost bewildered, trying to understand her foreign mentalities, and finally I asked, “What was life like growing up for you?”
As she disclosed the times of starvation and domestic instability, I found my heart brimming with love for this daughter of God sitting next to me in the shade. It was as if the Lord whispered to me, “Look not on [her] countenance or on the height of her stature…for [I] seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart,” (1 Samual 16:7)
Remember you are there for them. In our limited, mortal knowledge of the purpose of missionary work, we tend to assume that we are in a certain area for the investigators we will meet and teach there. In God’s vast knowledge and perspective, we are placed in situations and places for a much greater purpose.
Your companion may be the most valuable teacher and the most in need of all investigators you meet. None of your appointments may work out because Heavenly Father wants you to teach each other something.
Stay positive. Never talk badly about your companion to another missionary or a member. Of the hundreds of lessons you can learn in these 18 months, the greatest may be that every soul is magnificent in the sight of God.
It’s easy to see that when you are teaching a progressing investigator, but remember that lesson when you come in the door at night with a companion who is on your nerves. They are precious to the Lord, too.
Pray for one another. This was actually a silly goal I made with my trainer to help us become more unified and it perpetuated through my entire mission. “Heavenly Father, thank thee that Sister Orr killed that spider for me.”
“Father, thank thee for Sister Orr’s example.” When you have to thank the Lord for your companion every time you pray and you pray 50 times a day, you have to get pretty creative.