Part 3 of Memory Lane Series. It is here that I reminisce about the funnier and more unique experiences I had on my mission over 30 years ago.
5. Never assume that everything an AP says is true.
When I served my mission, even tho’ I was older than most of the Elders out (and in some cases more mature), I always had a deep and abiding respect for the two Elders who served as Assistants to the President (AP). Not that I didn’t have respect for all the other Elders, as silly as many of them could be, they had my respect for the mere fact that they were sacrificing two years of their lives in service to the Lord. In my book, there is nothing more worthy of my respect.
However, the roll of AP seemed to carry with it something really special. The Mission President had chosen these two Elders to assist in the workings of the mission as a whole. There was a lot of responsibility placed on their shoulders as leaders, and the pressure was never off them. They were expected to maintain the roll of AP – speaking assignments, Zone conferences, assisting the President in determining where missionaries will serve and with whom etc – as well as continue to meet the same kind of missionary goals that all of us were expected to achieve; their load was huge.
On this occasion I remember hearing from family at home that one of my friends there had just received her mission call, and was coming to serve in the APM. My excitement was barely contained. I really loved this young lady, and had a very high regard for her. What an amazing missionary she would make, and maybe, just maybe, we might get to work together one day as companions. I shared these thoughts with many of the missionaries I worked with. They too were excited for me, and anticipated the day when this sister would come into the mission.
My excitement brimmed over one Sunday evening at a missionary fireside, and I just had to share this with one of the AP’s. This Elder had been one of my Zone Leaders in the past, so I knew him fairly well, and felt confident that he would share in my enthusiasm.
With dismay I listened to him respond (and I remember his exact words to this day), “Sis. Maine, you will NEVER get to serve with this sister as a companion”. I was shattered…
He explained that it would be wrong to put two people together who were friends from home, and that it would cause more problems than it was worth. He then listed all the things that were wrong about it.
It took me several days to get over the disappointment of his statement. But I eventually did.
However, my excitement was still on a high when I heard that she had finally arrived in the mission. I rejoiced in the knowledge that she was there and doing the work.
I still remember the joy in my heart when, just one transfer after this particular AP had returned home from completing his mission, they announced that my new companion would be my friend from home. I knew then that you could never assume that what an AP tells you is true.
6. Never pass up a chance to have your companion sing to you.
For those who have served a mission, you will agree that there are always some really low points to it. Now, on the whole a mission is probably one of the best experiences a person can have in their life, and on returning, there is not often many negative experiences that you would remember. The good experiences far outweigh the bad.
But I do remember some really low points to my mission. Times where I really struggled with feelings of rejection and disappointment. Hey, the scriptures teach that there is opposition in all things. Without the bitter we would not appreciate the sweet. So there was certainly always a purpose for this.
I was really blessed to have had amazing missionary companions. If you were to ask me which was my favourite, or which was the best, I would not be able to tell you. They were all so very different, but all offered something to me that I needed and learned from at the time. I love that about a mission. The Lord blesses you as much, if not more, than you can ever repay Him.
So one of my companions was the best at something that I needed more than anything at the time – singing. We lived in an area that was incredibly hilly and difficult to navigate. It was also in the middle of winter, so at times it was wet, cold and miserable. Sometimes this was ok, as we loved to stomp in the puddles and make the most of it. But, on many occasions I would find myself grinding the peddles of my bike, homeward bound through teaming rain, tears streaming down my face, wondering whether it was all worth it. There were some dark moments in this time of my life.
Somehow tho’, I was always able to find my way out of it when I remembered to ask my companion to sing. There were many days where you could see two wet and bedraggled missionary sisters walking the streets of Perth, Australia with one of them singing “How Great Thou Art” at the top of her voice. Oh, that was just what I needed on those days. Her clear, beautiful, vibrato voice ringing out praises, filled me with such love and hope.
Now, whenever we sing that song at church it takes me back to those days. Not in dread and remorse, but in thankfulness and joy.