For two months, I had the worst of all possible worlds: a companion who, in reality, was overly-lazy, but who, in his own mind, was unusually diligent, and therefore thought himself in a position to constantly criticize the much more venial tendencies toward sloth of everyone else.
I had a grand total of zero overly strict companions (though I did split with one or two) and about 11 of my 15 comps were overly lazy, so I could’ve used a little overworking rather than not doing a good job of pulling along the overly lazy
I had three overly strict companions, and I loved serving with two of them. The third was overly strict, but only on the mission rules he deemed important. So we couldn’t spend more than 1 hour on a dinner date, but if we were an hour late getting home from tracting it didn’t matter. We couldn’t do our laundry on any day but P-Day, but we could do our shopping any day of the week as long as it was too or from an appointment.
My only real overly-lazy companion was in the MTC, and he went home about a week before we left for the mission field.
You wanna know how I fixed it? Same way I deal with being sick: not do anything and hope it fixes itself. In this case I have no idea what was wrong (neither could Stapley figure it out) and have no idea how it self-corrected. I guess I’ll throw it into the miracle pile.
I didn’t serve a mission as a young man (I hope to serve one with my wife as an old man) but I was interested to hear my oldest son, who could never seem to get out of bed before 11:00 am when he wasn’t in school, tell how he challenged his senior companion about getting our on the street at the appointed time. My son recalled the words of the temple president who counseled the young men at the temple as they prepared for their missions. “If you are supposed to be on the street at 9:30 and you don’t get there until 9:35, you lose power,” said the wise old Temple president. When my son related this comment to his “lazy” senior companion it was answered with “lighten up!”
I was intially shocked that my son would make such a comment and then eventually proud that he had made the right transition in his life. He returned home after serving an honorable mission and immediately went back to sleeping in late (primarily because he stays up into the wee hours of the morning reading and studying.)
I never had any overly strict companions. My last greenie was probably the strictest, but she really wasn’t particularly extreme (and also, I liked her fine). The worst thing I can think of was related to where we went grocery shopping. We lived outside our area, and there were no grocery stores in our area. Our mission president was crazy strict about us never leaving our areas, but obviously we had to. There was one grocery store that was basically across the street from our area, and there was a really cheap one (which meant we missionaries liked it a lot) that was 2 blocks outside our area. Since we lived farther than that outside our area (but in a different location), I figured the cheap grocery store was acceptable. After several weeks together, my companion said she thought we’d have more success if we were more obedient, which meant we shouldn’t be shopping at that store farther outside our area. I found that fairly absurd, but also fairly harmless to go along with her, so I shrugged and said fine.
I did have one slacker companion (who was also the master of manipulation), and that was an absolutely miserable 6 weeks together. I think an overly strict companion would be much preferable to that.
I had fifteen companions by the time I was done. I got pretty lucky as they were all pretty good – and my area’s were great. I was a work hard play hard kind of guy, so having a stricter companion was better for the first part and I had no problem having them relax a little afterwords. But getting a lazy guy to work harder – that is really hard.
gst….that’s what I was going to say! It’s like what Steve Carrel said regarding his character Michael Scott: if you don’t know a michael scott in your work space then YOU ARE Michael Scott.
As the guy who made his trainer cry, I was Pharisitical to the extreme for my first few areas and companions. A part of me wants to believe that such a stage is necessary to progress: we first have to be obdeient to the letter (as far as they exist in the mission field — which there is a lot of black letter law as a missionary as opposed to in the Church in general). Once we get a testimony of obedience, THEN we begin to understand the principles behind the law.
I have swung pretty much the opposite way in the decade + after the mission…if my trainger could see me now!
Katie, I so don’t see you as the overly strict companion. I see you as the hot party companion.
Did you ever have problems with people pretending they wanted to hear about the gospel when they really just wanted to talk to a pretty American? That was a big problem for me when I went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
I don’t know for sure if this comment will reach you, but here goes. your comment on markcares blog directed at me to “put a sock in it” was extremely rude. where i come from, mormons stick together. so you didn’t like my comment? tough. don’t read it. i routinely skip yours. especially the false doctrine you spouted about blacks and the priesthood. you come off as pretty obnoxious.
I am not impressed.
Comment by ladonnamorrell — April 18, 2009 @ 2:05 pm
I so don’t see you as the overly strict companion. I see you as the hot party companion.
Jack, LOL. My inner perfectionist killed my inner party girl pretty quick, I’m ashamed to say. I even remember writing in my mission journal that my biggest flaw as a human being was my tendency towards levity. (?!?!) Sometimes I feel like my mission was this miserable vortex that sucked all the joy and life out of me–and it took me a couple years to fully recover.
And yes. We certainly DID have guys pretending they wanted to learn about Jesus when all they really wanted was some American-with-a-capital-A, if you know what I mean. The worst was this married dude who followed me around Bulgaria for about 6 months. He sent me registered mail, gifts, heartbroken emails, wrote me songs on his ukulele–all of which I ignored–until I finally had to sic my mission president on him to get him to leave me alone. His best email ever? “IF YOU HAVE ANY DIGNITY AT ALL,” he cried, “you will respond to this email NOW!”
Well, we both know about how much dignity I have. I clicked delete.
Katie ~ Sometimes I feel like my mission was this miserable vortex that sucked all the joy and life out of me–and it took me a couple years to fully recover.
Aw, Katie. I am sorry your mission was such a terrible experience. Missions are the part of Mormonism that I’m most envious of and I always thought it would be a blast to do one. I’ve told my husband he’s lucky I wasn’t Mormon because I almost certainly would not have attended school Winter Semester 2003, the semester we started dating. I turned 21 in January 2003 and likely would have skipped school that semester so I could leave on a mission ASAP.
The one thing about marrying Paul which made me a little sad was knowing I would never again get to do Protestant missions. /sigh
Jack, you know, I talk badly about my mission a lot, but I shouldn’t. It was a tremendous growing experience and there were some honest-to-gosh good times. The food was great, I loved (nearly) all of my companions, and I really developed a profound love for the country and culture where I served.
I’d never do another one, but if I had a chance to go back and influence my past 21-year-old self (in Primer-esque fashion, perhaps?), I’d still tell her to go.
Oh, and for the record? I think you are a phenomenal missionary. :)
In one district, we had an elder (he wasn’t worthy of an uppercase E) who quit working his last six months. He had the same companion of four of those months. It drove the comp crazy. The MP didn’t seem to care. So this guy sat in the apartment, went to movies, sight seeing, dating, etc. It drove his comp crazy. So the comp and I would go on splits so he could stay sane.
Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — May 19, 2009 @ 4:13 am