Dear Elders and Sisters…a letter from home(ish) #4
The Blessings of a Companion
An MTC Update: More Holiness Give Me!
The wave of summer missionaries continues to hit the Provo, MTC. We have so many missionaries that we cannot hold them all in one room. It will be great to have the new facility completed next year. The Tuesday night devotional was awesome, Elder Neal L. Andersen of the twelve spoke. The choir number was “More Holiness Give Me.” It is one of my all-time favorites. I grew up thinking that every hymn in our book was written by an LDS author. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we share many hymns, including “More Holiness” with the rest of the Christian world. In other Christian Churches it typically goes by its original title: “My Prayer.”
The writer of “My Prayer,” Phillip Paul Bliss, is one of my musical heroes. He was born in 1838 in a little log cabin in Pennsylvania. He heard a piano at the age of 10 while selling vegetables door to door. He was so drawn to the sound that he wandered right into the house, barefoot and all. Although he was quickly dismissed from the home, the fire it sparked in his soul could never be extinguished. Philip also had a great love for the Savior. He became a music professor and traveled on horseback teaching music to children and adults.
Due to the strong spirit that always accompanied his singing, many preachers requested that Philip sing during their sermons. He eventually gave up his professional aspirations and accompanied circuit riding preachers as a “missionary singer.” Many of the tunes and lyrics he wrote were based on sermons and stories that he heard in this service, including the still popular “Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy.”
Philip married and had two children. His wife would sometimes travel with him leaving the children with their grandparents. On the 29th of December 1876, Philip and his wife boarded a train headed for Ohio. While crossing the trestle bridge over the Ashtabula River the bridge collapsed and the cars plummeted into the ravine. Bliss was able to escape, but a quick search revealed that his wife had not. Philip returned to the car and found that her legs were pinned under the seat. A fire broke out in the passenger cars, but Philip refused to leave his wife. They perished together in the fire.
The Blessings of a Companion: A Thought about Companions and Missionary Work
What a champion! What a companion!!! There were many reasons for Philip to have escaped the fire, including his two children. However, he refused to let his beloved wife face the fire alone. I have spent much of this week thinking about the blessing of having a companion. The one regret I have from my own mission is that I did not treat my companions as well as I should have. I don’t think I realized what a blessing it was to have a companion. Now that I am a parent of a missionary, I am so thankful that our daughter has a companion and is not left to do the work alone.
Here are 3 ways to strengthen your companionship.
#1 Thank Heavenly Father and the Savior for Your Companion Daily
It can be difficult to comprehend the blessing of a companion, especially if you are struggling to get along. Allowing us to work in companionships, even though separately we could cover more area, is one of the Lord’s greatest blessings to His missionaries. What if you didn’t have a companion? How would your mission work be different?
First, companions make for powerful teaching. Imagine finding and teaching alone. What would people think when you came to their door or home alone and told them of the Savior’s atonement or the Joseph Smith story? A single individual wandering around telling these two almost unbelievable stories sounds quite crazy. However, when your companion testifies that they too have received their own witness, it goes from crazy to powerful! That’s the benefit of two witnesses! ( Alma 10:12…when Amulek had spoken these words the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness who testified…)
Second, a companion provides physical and spiritual safety. As a missionary parent I have been so grateful for the safety that a companion provides. Those with mal intent are deterred by the presence of two. More importantly, we are less tempted to stray with a companion there to strengthen us. What might be easy to justify in our own minds, can be very difficult to explain to a companion out-loud!
Third, a companion provides comfort and friendship. A few of the early missionaries served missions alone. Their journals record the difficulties they encountered, particularly as they were rejected. Having a companion to comfort, uplift, and encourage you when the work is slow, hard, or when you struggle personally is truly a blessing.
Finally, companions teach us how to do the work. My trainer, Elder Santos, was the hardest working missionary I ever knew. He taught me the doctrine, to love the people, how to teach, and the language. I can’t imagine what I would have done without him! Arriving in Brazil alone, with the little knowledge and ability I had, would have been disastrous!
#2 See Your Companion as a Child of God
When we see others as Heavenly Father’s children, we behave differently towards them. Your companion is literally a beloved child of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. They want what is best for him or her. They are as interested in your companion’s success and happiness as they are yours. When you love and serve and help your companion, you please Heavenly Father and He will bless you for it. Pray for your companion and for an ability to see and love them as God does.
#3 Realize that Strengthening Your Companion is a Part of Your Missionary Purpose
When Elder Evans was on the missionary committee, I heard him discuss the missionary purpose many times. One evening he explained to the MTC missionaries how “every person they meet fits somewhere in their missionary purpose–including your companion.” Missionaries strengthen each other in enduring to the end. If it so be that you should labor all your days and bring one soul, namely your companion, to the Savior, how great shall be your joy with him in the Kingdom of the Father (see DC:18). Never forget that your companion is one of the most important people you are helping to come to Christ and follow Him.
Thank you, Elders and Sisters, for serving. I have learned personally that the Lord will never forget your service. In your times of need He will bless you. Have a wonderful week.
Brother Ryan Eggett