Dear Elders and Sisters,
It has been several months since I last addressed the importance of companionship unity in the weekly email to the mission. Nevertheless you can rest assured that this principle is an important aspect of our mission vision and is critical to what we can accomplish as missionaries. The ability to foster companionship unity is one of the greatest blessings that we can take home with us and use in our future homes and families.
Like other missionary skills, things that help us to develop unified companionships must be learned, practiced and used often; it is a process. For example, open and honest communication is essential in building a strong relationship with your companion. Do not assume that they know what you are thinking, or understand how you feel, or realize what you need. Tell them! Work things out. You will be happier and more productive. Learning to express your feelings and needs does not come naturally or easily for many people. In addition, there are times when a missionary must take a stand for what they believe is in keeping with PMG principles or mission rules, “reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; then showing forth afterwards an increase in love towards him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;”(D&C 121:43). Doing this tactfully and effectively requires conviction, faith, courage, and most importantly, love.
Last week I received two emails from missionaries who expressed similar thoughts:
This week there was a lot more companion inventory because we have to spend another 6 weeks [together] and we want it to be as rewarding as possible and want to have a real relationship. So we talked some things out and it has improved, both of us as individuals and as a single unit have improved and seen many miracles this week. We will keep these habits and continue to improve together and I'm excited for these next six weeks that I have here to see miracles and learn from [my companion].
Honestly, I was really scared once I heard I would be companions with [my companion] again because I had put up with some things because I knew I could deal with them for 6 weeks and knowing I had another 6 weeks was kind of a wake up that I was covering some problems which were keeping us from being unified, I am really grateful for the chance I have to really learn more from being companions with [my companion] and I am really going to be a better companion … and learn from this experience.
Both of these missionaries started with a strategy that many missionaries use: I will just put up with things that are not ideal because we will only be together for a short time and I don’t want to risk making things worse by talking about them. Although it may seem like a very humble thing to do, it does not result in any chance for real unity and it avoids the opportunity to improve. I’m proud of each of these missionaries for recognizing the importance of companionship unity in order to do this sacred work, and for taking the appropriate actions to work things out. Some day you will have an eternal companion; there will be NO TRANSFERS in that companionship. What you learn about resolving differences as you serve your mission, will bless you greatly in that companionship!
Let’s work together to make the Taiwan Taichung Mission a place where each missionary can be loved, served and listened to by their companion. A mission should be an emotionally safe and rewarding experience for every missionary. Although we cannot control everything that happens when we are on the streets or in other people’s homes, we can and should create an atmosphere of love and learning in each of our apartments. “See that ye love one another…learn to impart to one another as the gospel requires. Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is a bond of perfectness and peace” (D&C 88: 123-125).
Mentor of Champions