Mormon missionaries always work in companionships of two (occasionally three). The reasons for this are for spiritual and physical protection, but most importantly, because it is a mandate from the Lord.
Why Missionaries Travel in Pairs
The Lord has commanded missionaries, in D&C 42:6, “Ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two.” Missionaries will be more powerful in their teaching if they work together in unity. As it says in 2 Corinthians 13:1 “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”
In companionships, one missionary, usually the younger or less experienced one, is the junior companion, and the other is the senior companion. I had a reader once email me and ask the requirements to become a senior companion. I told him that when a mission president thinks a missionary is ready for the responsibility and is prompted by the spirit, then he would make that missionary a senior companion. Therefore, how and when a missionary becomes the senior companion would differ from mission to mission, depending on the mission president and the prompting of the Holy Ghost.
My recommendation to this young man was to not worry even for a moment about getting “promoted” to senior companion status. I advised him to take President Hinckley’s counsel to “forget yourself and go to work.”* Just seek to be the best missionary you can be, and you will be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Obey the mission rules, work hard, enjoy your mission, and it will be a success regardless of whether or not you are the senior companion.
Companionships Lead to Lifelong Friendships
Many missionaries will make friendships with their mission companions that will last a lifetime. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, in his November 1997 Ensign talk titled, Valued Companions, said:
“Companionships also constitute the basic organization in the 318 missions of the Church. Just as the disciples of old, our more than 56,000 missionaries go two by two “into all the world” to proclaim the good news of the gospel. In this wonderful work of saving souls, there is tremendous fellowship and camaraderie. When Alma was reunited with the sons of Mosiah after 14 years of missionary service, he “did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord.” Missionary reunions are still a great time of rejoicing.”
Missionary companions are instructed to stay together always with reasonable exceptions for showering and using the bathroom. Missionaries are encouraged to learn how to work with and love their companions, but when you are with someone 24/7, it is likely that conflict may occur. When disagreements occur between companions, they are encouraged to try to work it out them themselves before contacting their district or zone leaders. Your mission president is also likely to ask, in interviews or through your weekly letters, how well you are getting along with your companion.
One thing missionaries are asked to do to keep harmony in their companionship and to quickly resolve disputes is to have a weekly companionship inventory meeting. In this meeting, mission companions should:
- Discuss their relationship and resolve conflicts.
- Talk through any challenges that might be preventing the two from working together in unity.
- Set goals to improve their relationship.
- Start and end with prayer so as to have the Spirit of the Lord present.
Learning to get along with your mission companion will be excellent practice for getting along with your eternal companion (your wife), and keeping harmony and love always in that relationship.
How NOT to Conduct Companionship Inventory
In conclusion, here’s a funny video I found on YouTube showing how NOT to conduct a companionship inventory.
*Actually, that quote is what President Hinckley’s father told him in a letter during his mission.