Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Missionary Companions

I don't know why this was on my mind today (probably because of my recent post referring to my MTC district), but I was thinking about my mission companions today. As I have lost touch with most of them, I was curious where they are in their lives right now, considering where I currently am in mine.

I thought about each one of them today and my experiences with them while serving as a missionary.

Elder A was my MTC companion. I liked him a lot, but we had pretty different personalities. He was kind of emotionally guarded and didn't express his feelings very much. He was kind of quiet and I didn't always know how he felt about me as a companion. We worked well together, but didn't really connect on the level that I had hoped we would. He was short (and cute, I must admit). I am friends with him on Facebook, but we don't converse too much. He lives in Hawaii now, I think he's in the military, and he has a wife and kids and seems active in the church. He seems quite conservative (but I think he was when we were companions, too).

Elder B was my first companion in the field. He was a stout, tall guy (very opposite of Elder A). I really liked him, but we were together for four months straight, which gets to be a bit much when you're with someone pretty much 24 hours a day. He was a great cook and made us fabulous meals. He also tried to hard (and succeeded, I think) to be a good trainer to me. We opened a city together that had been closed for some time due to anti-American sentiment. We taught my first baptism together.

He was a rule follower while I tended to be a little bit rebellious. He was very organized. I admired him and his desire to be the best missionary he could be. He also had a good sense of humor. One thing that bugged me about him was that it always took him longer to do things than I felt was necessary. For example, we would be slow getting out of the apartment or would spend way too much time at the grocery store, and it was generally due to him.

He taught me a lot and pushed me when I needed to be pushed. I had many great experiences with him at a time when I was really on fire spiritually. I enjoyed our companionship a lot. He, too, is a Facebook friend, but rarely ever posts anything. He's single, and I don't know if he's still active or not, but I get the impression he might not be. I really don't know. I really wish we could reconnect again. Maybe I'll write him an email.

Elder C was quite a disappointment after Elder B. He was disorganized, insecure, immature, and liked to blame all of his problems on everybody but himself. I always felt like I was walking on eggshells with him; you just never knew what was going to set him off. I could literally say something as innocuous as "It's such a nice day today," and he would come back with, "What you do mean by that?"

Frankly, he was mean (although that meanness came out of his insecurity), and the two months I spent with him was very challenging. I heard our mission president would put with companions who he thought could handle his volatile personality. If so, I'm flattered, but I didn't not feel I was successful in dealing with him. After two months, I begged the mission president to transfer one of us (and thankfully, he did).

I have very few good memories of Elder C, although we shared a common love of music and he taught me some hymns I didn't previously know, so I thank him for that. We also street contacted (or rather they street contacted us) a couple who still remain good friends to this day (who I wrote about in this post), so I'm glad we were able to do that together, too. I do not know where he is, and frankly, never wanted to see him again after my mission. It would surprise me if he were active, but you never know. People do change.

Elder D was a wonderful change after Elder C. He was from France, and he was such a nice guy. We got along great. He helped me become more fluent in French and I helped him become more fluent in English. He would only speak English to me, and I would only speak French to him (at least we tried). That was very helpful.

I remember someone had taught him the phrase "piece of crap," and he altered it by saying, "piece of puke," and I said that since vomit was more liquid, it wouldn't really make as much sense to say "piece of puke." I said "bowl of puke" was more appropriate. While he knew it wasn't a true idiom and that no one ever really said it, "bowl of puke" became a favorite phrase of his. It always made me laugh.

We taught some great people together and had a lot of success. We had a lot of good times. I have no idea what has become of him.

Elder E was a great companion in a very difficult city and during a difficult time. My father had just died, the people in the city we served in were not very receptive, the ward members were kind of cold, and the enthusiasm and energy I had had at the beginning of my mission were waning a bit.

Elder E was very obedient and hard working. He was so enthusiastic and so wanting to do the will of God, it was infectious. He was exactly the kind of companion I needed right when I needed him. We weren't together very long (another set of missionaries was added to our city, and he and I were made their companions, respectively), but he continued to serve as my district leader and our apartments were only a street apart.

I always remember how optimistic he was and what a genuinely good person he was and still is. We remain pretty close and of my companions, he is the one I converse with the most. We also taught and baptized one of our strongest converts together. I like Elder E a lot. He is single, which surprises me. He's such a good catch, and I always thought he'd find somebody right away. He remains very strong in the church, which doesn't surprise me in the slightest. He's truly one of the good guys. He'd give you the shirt off his back.

Elder F was my first trainee, which I was very nervous about, especially in a city where not much was happening, but he was one of my very favorite companions. We got along very well, and he had a great sense of humor. I sometimes felt insecure about being the "leader," but I enjoyed our companionship. He is a Facebook friend, is married, and has kids, but we haven't conversed too much. I think he's still active. I think he's a dentist or an orthodontist now, which I didn't necessarily expect.

Elder G and I didn't have much in common, but he was a nice guy. He was kind of a hick (and I don't mean that in a bad way) and kind of quiet and simple. I liked him. We got along well enough. I don't know where he's at these days.

I was only with Elder H for a week. I broke my foot and had to be transferred. I was a bit nervous to be put with Elder H. He was quite rebellious and kind of did his own thing. He was a nice guy, though, once I got to know him. I actually regret that we didn't get to spend more time getting to know one another. I think I would have liked him. I think he's still active.

Elder I was put with me because we both had health problems (I my foot and he his knee, I think). He was from Switzerland and was like a giant teddy bear. Really great guy. He was going home, and we were only together three weeks. I must admit we didn't work too hard while we were together. My girlfriend had just broken up with me, and I was depressed. Plus, my broken foot and his bad knee made getting around difficult. We did some work, but often holed up in our apartment. I regret to say I was kind of a "bucket" (i.e. lazy) missionary during those three weeks, and I regret even more that I didn't seem to care.

Elder J was a good kid. We actually had a lot of success together. Another successful convert from Zaire came out of this companionship (although sadly that convert vanished a few years later (people suspect that since he was a refugee from Zaire who had beat a corrupt cop who raped his wife, that the Zaire police eventually found him and either took him back to Zaire or killed him)).

Elder J was kind of quiet, but nice. I liked him. I don't know what he's up to these days, but I like to imagine he's still active.

Elder K was brand new to the mission, and I was his trainer. he so enthusiastic and on fire at a time when I was becoming tired and slightly jaded. Again, he was the right companion for me at the right time. I liked (and was simultaneously annoyed by) his enthusiasm and naivety. He was a go-getter, and I admired his spirit. We had some good successes. I would be very, very surprised if he weren't still active. He's probably a bishop or counselor somewhere by now.

Elder L was an enjoyable companion. We got along well and had a lot of fun together. He was also kind of cute.

We didn't have as much success together work-wise, although we tried. I have no idea where he is these days.

Elder M was my second least-favorite companion after Elder C. At least Elder M worked hard (unlike Elder C). Elder M and I couldn't have been more different. We were like oil and water. He was ultra-conservative while I was liberal. Our personalities were quite opposite. We had nothing in common except that we were missionaries. Our styles were very different. He wanted to be in charge, and I would have been more than happier to be the follower. He expected me to know all the answers and take charge, but when I tried to lead, he would always resist. He also had some insecurity issues and could be very mean and abrasive at times. We didn't mesh well together, and it was hard to work with him, but I still would have taken him over Elder C any day. I don't know where he is, but I'm sure he's still quite conservative.

My last companion, Elder N, was trunkier than I was, and he still had a year left, and I was the one going home. He wasn't very focused on his mission and still very much had his foot in the outside world. It was hard for me to stay focused as well, but we did teach one lady together who was later baptized after I left (although I think she went inactive).

I did attend Elder N's wedding reception after our missions. I haven't heard much from him since. I liked him, though. He was a nice guy, but I do think it would have been better for both of us (and for the work) if we hadn't been so trunky.

Well, I'm not sure how interesting this has been to read, but it's been on my mind today.

No comments: