How to Make a Good First Impression on Each Mission Companion
You might spend six weeks or six months with a companion, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. On a hectic transfer day, the first few hours with your new companion can lay the foundation for your entire relationship, so you want to make the experience as positive as possible. Here are some tips I’ve picked up from talking with other returned missionaries.
Prepare a Gift
When I was in the final week or so preparing to enter the Missionary Training Center, my mother suggested that I pack a few small gifts in my suitcase to give each companion. Back in the 1980s when she served a mission, she’d brought a handful of nice handkerchiefs from California to South America. I thought handkerchiefs were pretty old fashioned, but I did find small lotion sets that I packed with some of my favorite candy. Over the next 18 months, I presented each of my nine sister missionary companions with a set, and they were all pleased by the unexpected gift. It was a small gesture, but I would definitely recommend bringing something small from home to share at the beginning of each new companionship.
Get to Know Her
Depending on your schedule, you may be tempted to jump right back into missionary work as soon as you switch companions. However, the transition will go much more smoothly if you take a break from proselyting and get to know your new companion. Ask her questions about her family, her mission so far, her favorite things to do on P-day, etc. Getting to know more about her right away will help the two of you approach the transfer as friends rather than as co-workers. The people you talk with and teach will feel the difference, and your new companion will appreciate your efforts to learn more about her.
Be a Good Host
If you’re the one welcoming a new sister missionary to your area, here are a few things you can do to ease her arrival:
- Clean the apartment before transfers. Nothing makes a good impression like a clean living space!
- Have a treat ready. She may have spent long hours traveling to your area, and a special snack can lift both of your spirits.
- Serve with love. If she needs help moving luggage or unpacking, offer to help. You might make dinner that night or do something else nice to help your new companion feel welcome and comfortable.
Above all, you want your companion to feel that you care about her. Chances are good that she’ll reciprocate your kindness, and the transfer will be off to a great start.
Start With a Prayer
Before you head out again to resume proselyting and teaching, be sure to pray together. Thank Heavenly Father out loud for the opportunity to work with your new companion, and pray to strengthen your relationship as you strengthen Zion in your area. The Lord will bless you as you pray in unity (see Matthew 18:19-20).
Let Her Lead
If you’re welcoming a new sister to your area, it makes sense for you to guide her around, but be sure to create opportunities for her to take the lead. You’ll have plenty to learn from each companion, so start right away by letting her teach you a unique approach. Invite her to choose where you proselyte or whom you talk to. The camaraderie you build as a team from day one will help enhance the way you work during your entire time together.
Think about a time in your life when someone made a great first impression on you. What made the difference? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!