Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Aug 29: From Utah to Croatia

This is another one year anniversary post. It's longer than the last, and for that I apologize. It's much. much longer. If you just want a super quick spiritual thought, I suggest you skip to the end.


The day started early. So. Early.
Still, we had friends leave at 5.
Check in at the travel office was something like 7am. We took shifts of sitting with luggage and eating breakfast. Who was in the check-in line behind me, but Sis M! A friend of mine from my Lindon homeward. Her travels would be taking her to the Philippines over a period of 2 or 3 days. Joj!

Some of the younger missionaries woke up early just to say good-bye to us. My, how they have grown! It was sweet, it was heartfelt. Some of us will never see each other ever again. We definitely will never have everyone in the same group. It's a sad thought, but we are itching to serve. Missing friends will have to wait.

Finally, we leave. Who else boards our bus but Sis M!
The bus ride was surreal. I have spent my entire life among the streets of Utah. We drove past my schools, work places, and former neighborhoods. I haven't seen any of this for 2 long months, and I was a very different person then. It was as if we were watching my life past by through our windows. I had traveled that path a hundred times. I had taken the trip to the airport to drop off or pick up other missionaries. And now it was my turn. Finally, my turn.
We talked about our missions, how we felt and which countries or towns we wanted to serve in, taking our last guesses.
My district was a little... crazy. Loud, to say the least. And so it wasn't too much of a surprise that a sister in the front of the bus got really excited.
Are you the Adriatic North mission?
Da. Mismo.
I've been looking for you for 2 months!
She found us at the last possible moment. Her brother was serving in our mission and she wanted us to forward a message of a sister's love to him. Funny how that happens.

We got to the airport with out incident and pour out of the bus.
Our luggage!
Where was our luggage?
15 minutes later, the trailer with out luggage showed up. Sis H and I were among first with all our stuff, so as soon as our district had their things, we led the pack! We were anxious to go! I had rehearsed and imagined what I would say to my brother when I called him. Already, he had done a lot to help me and to this day he still doesn't know. But first things first, I would need to call my mom. She would be waiting. A man hailed us inside.
Sisters! Elders! Come this way elders and sister!
He welcomed us warmly. If you're going to be a missionary in an airport, may I suggest the Salt Lake airport? Even the patrons were excited to see us, always asking questions and giving us good wishes.
We got our tickets, checked our luggage, and wrote the Zagreb address, our new address on our luggage tags.

Through security we went, mingled with the Philippine bound missionaries and more excited patrons. It was here that the well traveled become obvious from the not so well-traveled. Sis O and Elder W seemed to sip through at illogical speeds.
As soon as we got past, we went in search of pay phones to call our families. Well, most of us. Some of us (Sis O and myself) hunted down the airport Cafe Rio. We had planned this for at least a couple weeks. I will justify this action by explaining that is was Cafe Rio, and that I was asked to use my card at every airport so my bank could track me.

Again we took shifts, watching the luggage and using the phones. There really are not that many pay phones in airports anymore. I was able to snag one. My mom had indeed been waiting, not sure when I would be calling. My dad wasn't able to get his conference call thing to work on his phone so it was just my mom and I. The conversation was relatively normal. Do you need more underwear? (Mine had turned pink.) How do you feel? How did you sleep? Don't forget this and that. It was as if I hadn't been gone for 2 months at all, but merely two days.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder and explained that we would be boarding soon and that I needed to eat my Cafe Rio. So the phone call was short and hurried.
25 minutes later I was still waiting to board, having only eaten half my salad in my haste. Ugh. Little did I know I would be talking to my mom again, very soon. But I didn't know that then, and I wouldn't have believed it if someone told me. Haters.

We were on our way! There was no turning back now! The flight to Detroit was short and fun. Everyone kept teasing me about how I saw Detroit. I still have no idea what the difference is between the way I say Detroit and the way it's "suppose to be said." Detroit..... Detroit. Detroit. Detroit. Lucky me, I got a window seat. I say I, but really Elder B wanted an aisle seat so we switch. Elder E was in our row with us, too.

It's fitting my mission travels took me to Detroit. I have family that served their missions there. Soon I would fly over the Isle of Wight. The Detroit airport is BIG! So big, there's a monorail inside it. We ran to our next gate, not sure how far away it was. We had just enough time for those who were hungry to go grab a shake. Sis F's family had sent her a cell phone. Bless the family who does so! She was nice enough to share her blessed gift with the rest of us. That is how I finally called my dad. My brother never got his call, sadly.

I hope that whenever I must travel, I travel with a group of friends. Inevitably, games come up. Like who would get to sit next to the nice French priest. (Alas, he was in first class.) Stories from the previous flight, and predictions for upcoming flights. You just can't do that with strangers.
We made friends with the flight attended. A Korean whom learned her english from the Mormon missionaries. Not a member herself, she still refers to all who carry the tag as "her elders". She was funny and very nice.
I was next to Elder B and Elder E again. Ish. We were separated by an aisle. I can't remember who sat on the other side of me, but it wasn't my companion! Luckily, it was still a missionary.

My first international flight.
My first overnight flight.
My first experience with airplane food.
I get the joke now. We were all hungry until we smelled the food. I was curled around the lap desk, trying to ignore the beginnings of jet lag. I think they assumed I was asleep, for they never asked me what I wanted when they came through, but skipped over me. It was best for both of us, since I didn't feel like eating.
Sis H, however, wouldn't have any of that. From her seat, she threw her dinner roll at me, demanding I eat it. She's always looking after me. Haha
I didn't sleep at all. I remember looking up at the flight information and wondering if it would ever end. It said 9 hours left 2 hours ago. Also,I was paranoid from a new game of taking pictures of people while they sleep. They may have a picture of me resting, but not sleeping!

Sis P asked if she could switch seats with me, so she could socialize with those who were still awake. Sure.
That poor lady who woke up next to me! She had started the flight with a brunette, fell asleep next to a blonde, and woke up next to a red head! Needless to say, she was confused. Thankfully, she has a nice sense of humor.
Then! Light!
I've seen this sunrise over a hundred times, she said. Let's switch seats. I prefer the aisle anyways.

I've never seen anything like it.
The French Sunrise.
My first sight of real foreign skies. (Sorry Canada. You don't count.)
To be IN the light.
To be IN sunrise.

Not long after, I had my first glimpse of foreign land.
Red roofs.
Abundant countryside.
Little churches.
Small hamlets.
So quaint.
So... European!

My new travel buddy gave me a crash course on all things French. She's a dual citizen French-American. Her children are American and her husband French. I found out one of her daughters was serving a different kind of mission in Africa. The lady explained she travels between her two homes frequently. She run a foreign exchange program, and depends heavily on Mormon families to take her students in, even though the French families are often trepidatious at the thought. As we all know, Mormons have horns. (<- joke!) She thanked me for watching the sunrise with her. Thank you, nice lady!
Borrowed from AP Mecham: Our first morning in Croatia. Jet lagged and rearing to go!

Charles De Gaulle would have been very confusing if it were not for Sis H and Sis O. Both are fluent in french and one use to live there. Not in the airport, but France. However, according to the not very nice airport lady, Sis H speaks neither French or English. This depressed my dear companion greatly, which I do not take lightly. On the contrary, my security team was very friendly and we even shared some laughs (whoo-hoo for passing college beginning french!). I had forgotten about some bobby pins I stuck on my dress, which they all laugh about. If you asked me, I think we both started the process equally nervous.

We had some time to kill, so we bought pastries and swatch watches, so we could say we bought them in Paris. I bought a quiche which cost my first born child. It wasn't even worth it. We took pictures by billboards, stared at the actual Eiffel Tower, and laughed about the seeing people walk cats on leashes.

We're not even sure what day it is anymore. After taking our first real rest in what seemed like a day, we crammed into a little bus-like thing. It only had about 8 chairs. Some got dressed and cleaned up while waiting.
Our plane was a tiny thing. It had just over a dozen seats, and my entire group was dispersed. I got lucky again. Another window seat in the back, in a row with only two seats. Sis H got seated between two couples, one which spoke French and another that spoke either English, or Croatian, or both. I can't remember. She spent the whole trip translating for the two, which boosted her spirits after the mean ol' airport lady.
I was seated next to a 20 yr old girl from New York. I knew all the missionaries on the plane and she knew everyone else from her father's clubs, bars, and restaurants. We had a wonderful conversation about school and family and what we were doing on the plane. She was visiting her grandmother in a small Croatian village. She gave me a lot of advice on how to make friends and not offend the locals. Number 1: You're an American. People will love you and hate you for this. I found this to be true over and over again.

With her the flight seemed to go by all too quickly. It was time to get off the plane. My groups first time being outdoors in a day. The Zagreb air!
And smell I will never forget.

We get our passports stamped and go to claim our luggage. Mine is easy to spot as well as Sis P's hot pink luggage. We decide to all leave together. No one is waiting for us in the lounge. Did they know we'd here?

Someone waves! It's not our President or his wife, but they have a name tag! The Westergaurds, from Beaver and somewhere in Arizona! And why are those little girls waving at us?

A tap on my shoulder. I turn around. It's the girl from the plane. She gives me a hug and hurry's off with a good bye before I could say anything. I turn back to my group, many of which have looks of severe empathy. "That was so sweet!" "What did you do Sis Farnsworth!" I'm taken a bit off guard.
*The people of the former Yugoslavia have a reputation for being stubborn, rough things. Stubborn they may be, but never did I go a day without them showing some kind of love to me.

There are no customs to go through, as we expected. We leave the baggage claim and are greeted with hugs. We're helped with out things and take them to various cars. President is there with his family, (it was his daughters who we had seen), the APs (assistant to the president), the first counselor and his wife, are all there to take us to the mission home to shower and change. Sis H and I made friends with our taxi driver, getting grammar lessons. She asks President about him, if he's ever shown interest in learning about what the missionaries teach. He says yes. Has he ever been given a Book of Mormon? He says h doesn't think so. When do we start the lessons? she asks. Impressed with her (who wouldn't be, that girl is amazing) he tells her to go grab a Mormonova Knjiga and together they give it to him. Not even half an hour in the city, and Sis H had already placed her book MK. She is a natural missionary.
Proof of Life! President Rowe, Sestra Farnsworth, Sis Rowe

It's all a little fuzzy after that. I went contacting with a random sister in Zagreb for a while, fell asleep during some kind of orientation in the mission office, emailed my family that I made it (You can actually see that email on this blog, under a similar title to this post), and met some other missionaries. We go back to the mission to be greeted by the best meal any of us have had in ages! Sis Rowe's cooking brought us all back to life. One by one, we go into President's office to meet with him.
I can't remember my meeting that well. I believe he asked about me and my goals, what kind of missionary I wanted to be, why I decided to serve a mission and so forth. I remember he said some things which I had been thinking about.

If you get called to Adriatic North Mission, the downstair room is a place of magic. The shower head changes colors, and the mattresses are made of dreams. I've never slept on anything softer and more comfortable. We all slept like logs.

In the morning, we go one by one back into the office. One by one, we are told our first area, our trainer, and some last words of advice. Mine was a sweet and personal moment.
Novi Sad, Serbia.
Out of my entire district, I had spent the most time studying in Serbian. Everyone else concentrated on Croatian. To be honest, I had no particular reason. I just wanted to.
Novi Sad. The "New Now".
My new home.

Sis H is assigned to Sarajevo. She really really really really wanted to go to Sarajevo! We're both so happy for each other and how we ended up in these places! We try not to think of this as our last good bye. It's likely that we would serve together again. We revel in our last moments as companions, laughing about the American music being played in the taxi and soaking in Zagreb.

We meet our new companions in the Zagreb chapel. We've been told stories about this place. That's were the one picture was taken! Remember the story about such and such! Look over there!

There's a small conference held with trainings and plannings. Then it's see you later, take care, and don't make TOO much trouble as we all head our different directions.

Novi Sad.
New Now.

We arrived late. The country is beautiful. So green! So cute and quaint! I didn't believe places like this  really existed.

And that's how that adventure started.


The day started early. 8am. Later than the day before but still early. Especially since I didn't go to bed until early in the morning.

The long awaited doctor's appointment. I have a feeling nothing too special will happen.
"What day is it?" I ask.
Aug 29.
"Travel day." I respond mindlessly.
"That's right! I was waiting for a call at this time. It's been a year. Just one week until you've had these symptoms for a whole year."
The things we celebrate these days.

The pituitary gland is still big. The spinal chord is fine. No causes discovered. Good news, I don't have MS. Bad news, we're about stumped again.

She has me do tests, such as touching my nose (easy, you find your mouth and you nose comes after), pushing against her, walking heel to toe, and so on. I'm sober!
Plans are made for the future. Perhaps 6 months in the future. I don't want to be sick for that long! But then again, I don't have too much of a choice.

When we get home, I am exhausted. I stay up a little longer. Oh happy day! My brother brought me a salad! Now that's love. I slept until almost 4 o'clock. Wowza!

Soon after, I get asked to babysit. Sure. I just took a nap. I'm still exhausted but it could be worse.
When the kiddos come, we make silky soft play dough. We. Made. Play dough. Can you believe it? We are so industrious! And if that isn't the sprinkles to your doughnut, we added food coloring.
That's how we roll.
In messes and dough.

To finish off the fun, I introduce them to Fern Gully. What can I say? It's a classic! And they love fairies.

Here's an excerpt from the evening.
"If you make a mess, I'll skin you alive."
"What did you say?.... Did you say you'll skin me?"
"What does skin mean?"
"What do you think it might mean?"
"That you'll make it so I don't skin?"
"You got it right."
"But that'll hurt."
"Then don't make a mess."
"You wouldn't do that, because... because... because you are our most very very bestest friend."
"You're just saying that so I don't skin you."
*laughter from the kitchen* [Dang it, someone heard me.]
"No! You're our most very very favorite cousin, and you love us."
I'm their aunt, but I don't correct him. His sister is giggling almost as hard as my mom.
Granny: "Is Aubrey your favorite aunt?"
And that is what popcorn and play dough will get you. the love of children you want to keep their skin on their persons.

While they're distracted, I clean up the mess I helped to make. Good thing it's only cornstarch and conditioner.
After they leave, it's time to wind down.

Late at night, in my bedroom, I watch the new mormon messages video, listen to Abraham 4 (because my eyes were killing me), listen to opera (my current exploration), and finally end with a heartfelt prayer of gratitude.

True, not much happened. Nothing exciting or ground breaking shook my world. But I felt a lot of love and hope. And that's enough to make any day feel special.
That feeling still continues today, as I pray and reflect on scriptures and on my personal experiences. I've even had a friend wish me a happy anniversary of the day we met. I did not expect myself to be in a bed, but I didn't expect myself to be headed to Croatia, to live Serbia, 2 years ago.

Every year sees me in a different place than expected, and always for the better. I have no doubt that the pattern still continues, even if I can't see it.

I would like to close this post with the wise words from one of the best movies ever made. Hopefully you can see the connection.
Wherever there is love, it feels like Christmas.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fruit of Their Labors: Trees

It has occurred to me that trees cannot see the majority of their fruit. To me more exact, they see very little of their fruit.

*There is a commons saying: Ye may know them by the fruit of their labors.*

I was having some honest one on one time with the spirit when I started going through my life's accomplishments. I don't have that many, to be perfectly honest. What have I achieved? What are my fruits?

Shoot. It wasn't looking good.

Before I could start figuratively hacking at my metaphorical trunk, a feeling of love and peace with a touch of humor came along. 
You don't know the effect your deeds have had. 

Still, my fruits were looking pretty mediocre. Maybe if you drowned it in sugar it would be decent (Read that you may). Like jam. 
As soon as that thought came to mind, another flashed in. 
You can't see all your fruit. 

How is that suppose to help? How am I suppose to see how I'm doing if I can't tell what I'm doing? 
The image of trees came to mind. The trunk bare and exposed at the base giving of sprees of foliage and fruit. The branches reach out, up, or a variety of the two! The fruit is up in the greenery. Every now and then, a lower branch will give a little something, within the frame of  origin. 

You can see what kind of tree you are. You can feel where your roots are.

If you don't like how your fruit is turning out, change the fertilizer. Maybe you need to anchor your roots further. Maybe you need more sunlight. Maybe you need a shower. Or perhaps you just need to process what is given you. 

Anyways, moral of the story is: You're doing better than you know. 

What kind of tree are you?

(PS I could go on about these trees, but I want to hear your thoughts first. What do you think? What else can you learn from this?)

Friday, July 18, 2014

However Long and Hard the Road: Part 2

That was Sunday. Fast forward to tonight (Friday). I've gone back to this draft a few times, not publishing it for some reason.  It's been an especially painful day, and nothing. I'm suppose to prepare a lesson for Sunday but for the life of me I. Can't. Focus. This stresses me out. So I take a break by reading Moses. For fun. It didn't feel like enough.
Not say this was the case, but it did get me
thinking in the right direction.

What was sitting next to me on the bed? However Long and Hard the Road. I can't believe the talk fills up that much book. It's a good thing the iPod died or else I wouldn't have heard it calling to me. Whip it over and open.

Turns out the book, However Long and Hard the Road, and the talk by the same name and author are actually two different things. The book is a compilations of talks and essays, one of which is the address above.

Awesome! I'm up for it. I read the first chapter, For Times of Trouble, and by the end I am in joyful tears.

What made it so impactful?

  • Honesty- There were times when I felt like I was being lovingly "chewed-out". It takes great love to be brave enough to be so confrontational. They call it "rebuking". You lovingly point out a flaw. Books hit you hard like that, and apostles even harder.
  • Reminder- Sometimes, you don't need to learn something new. We speak of revelation as though it has to be new. "The penny falls" isn't about finding pennies. It's about having something click. It was a humbling experience to go through and think "How could I possibly forget that?" It's further proof that you have what it takes. You just don't remember.
  • Informative- And then again you are here to grow and learn. 
  • Guiding- Elder Holland points out other people and resources to learn from. The best teaching is the teaching you take with you, that continues. What is the point of learning how to cook if you don't cook at home. Elder Holland not only shares the How but a little of the Whys. Such as why a certain prophet should be a role model and mentor to you.
  • Understanding- What a breath of fresh air it is to hear someone say something you feel. He even dwelt on illness while listing hardships we face. Another one of the evidences that God knows us and our reactions. Who knew illness was more than just sitting around and waiting to feel better? Jeffery apparently does. There were many words that found a home within me. It was as though they were suppose to be there all along. Holland just gave them a name.
  • Provoking- Elder Holland asked questions to get the grey cells dancing. Such as when he suggests "Is it wrong to wonder if President Kimball has in some sense become what he is not only in spite of the physical burdens but also in part because of them?" I'm still thinking about them. I would love to hear what you think about how pain can make us into someone.
  • One-liners- I think this is one of the requirements of being General Authority. The gift of one-liners and quotability. Check out this one: "In the Church we ask for faith, not infallibility." I actually looked for a highlighter to underline that. There was also an inspiring story to go with it.
  • Encouraging- Heck yes! (In the most respectful way.) He doesn't sugar coat it like a motivational speaker. His job is to tell the truth, not to tell us we're doing just find. Elder Holland almost promises it will be hard to overcome. He is honest. Yet, I also honestly, logically, believe feel it's possible. It's like having your brother walking you through the monkey bars, or your father following behind as you learn to ride your bike. 
  • It's my story- Elder Holland is a master at telling stories. He's funny, colorful and honest. (Again! The honesty! I could write a post about it. Maybe I will...) ANYWAYS, he shares a story about a boy whose traveling alone. And he feels very alone. Sound familiar? It gives new meaning to an old song too! To sum up the story, he's alone in Chicago and has to wait overnight for a connecting train. His dad gave him the number of the local bishop, (information you had to get via Church Headquarters back in the day) which the boy used when is faith and confidence wained. The bishop wasn't home but his wife talked with the boy and gave him instructions of how to meet her and other families in the morning, just in case he still left less confident the next day. Well, the next day came and he took her instructions to a park. When he thought "park" he thought of a small patch of earth with a net-less tennis court. What he saw was vast stretches of green. He had no idea where to go or how to even get back to his hotel room! Overwhelmed, he sought the privacy of a corner to cry "in a way any 18 year old boy could appreciate". But then he heard a sound. A familiar sound. He started walking towards it, building up speed in his old boots. 
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day
 His tears broke out in joy (as did mine). He saw the bishop and his wife, and most of the branch members at a July 24 celebration (Pioneer Day) picnic. (Isn't the date so perfect with Pioneer Day around the corner!)They were singing a cappella and a bit off key. But a song any LDS kid could recognize. And food!

Gird up your loins; fresh courage take;
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell--
All is well! All is well!
It was as if they were singing for me, too. Those words! My goodness! How simple these every day songs, yet how full of meaning and purpose! In reflecting after, it hit me that these stories they tell are more than stories. I experienced something strikingly similar. We hear them, they warm our hearts, but then for some reason we don't believe it will happen to us. Yet, in my story, my loneliness was answered more quickly. My song is a different one but with just as much meaning.

It's not just a story. It's life. And you are living it. You will make it through it. You will have your own tale. A tale your family and friends will tell. You may a mustached dinosaur or you may be a wanderer. I believe we have our fair share of being both through our lifetime.

And that's just the first chapter!

I would like to close this post the same way my friend by two degrees did. Adieu, with the encouraging words:

"Yes, 'We'll find the place which God for us prepared.' And on the way,
We'll make the air with music ring,Shout praises to our God and King,Above the rest these words we'll tell-All is well! All is well!" 
-Jeffrey R Holland (Song: Come, Come, Ye Saints) 


However Long and Hard the Road: Part 1

(This post should have been called however long and hard the blogger may write. For your convenience, I have split the post up into two parts.)

This talk came at a perfect time. And it couldn't have made itself anymore obvious!

My mom handed me this book when we were perusing our home library. I put it on the pile with the other books I've been meaning to read or am currently reading. By pile, I mean one of the many stacks around my abode. 

Although it was just one of many, I was inexplicably drawn to it. My eyes kept finding it, no matter where it was. I would just stare and contemplate the title. 

I've even gone as far as opening it up and reading the flaps. Progress! I know. 

But the flap was all it took. 

"Often in our most difficult times the only thing we can do is endure. We may have no idea what the final cost in suffering or sacrifice may be, but we can vow to never give up. In doing so we will learn that there is no worthy task so great nor burden so heavy that will not yield to our perseverance. We can make it . . . however long and hard the road."
But here's the real kicker.
"All of my professional life has been spent with young people, an universally they (like the rest of us) have needed support, encouragement, reassurance, and confidence. They have, in short, needed hope- that incentive to keep moving, keep trying, and keep believing until hope's sister virtues of faith and charity can also work their miracles."
(Jeffery R Holland, emphasis added)
What. That is what I had been praying about the night before, when I wondered if my on hope was dormant. I thought this was going to be a book for a more mature audience. But there for all to see, it was aimed for me and my fellow generation.

I can't get over how this whole universal orchestration works! All things really do testify that there is a Christ.
Let me explain what I mean. I found an inscription on the inside. This means the book is at least over 27 years old. That's older than me! Before I came into my current 'party' (woo-hoo), BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN, this man was inspired to say something that would strike me, guide me, and eventually influence me greatly. (I first came across a realization like this when I realized that if my companion, whom was 100% perfect for me and a bag of chips, and I did not have the names we did, we would not have been companions. CRAZY!)

When I asked my mom about the inscription, aka if she was holding out on me with her connections, she wistfully commented on how it's her favorite talk. Talk? It was given at BYU. In another funny serendipitous chain of events, someone found it and put it on Pinterest which eventually made it's way onto my little screen, and into my ears. Why read the talk when you can hear from the horses mouth? Erm, so to speak.

(Don't skip Sis Holland! Her talk is my favorite part.)

45 minutes may seem long, but it's one heck of a fast 45 min.

Nice, isn't it? Reminds you of the Sunday evening film screenings at the MTC, doesn't it? I miss those things. (P.S. I would pay money and a smile for Bednar's Character of Christ talk.) It was inspiring, it was nice. It didn't entirely give me the push I needed. But it gave me enough for the following days. More importantly, it was enough to get me thinking and pondering. At least until However Long and Hard the Road:Part 2!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting Along: 5 "Cure-All"s

There were two snippets of advice I got before my mission that served me greatly. 1) Don't compare. EVER. Just don't do it. 2)How to get along with your companion.

We're going to talk about the latter.

One of the most common fears before (and during) your mission is knowing that you are going to be glued to the hip of another human being. The only time you can be alone is when you're in the bathroom. The majority of the time, this other human being is a complete stranger that you don't know from Adam.

Will you like this other human being? Will they like you? Are you going to secretly wish to poison their food? Are they going to make you cry? Are you going to hate them? Are they going to dominate the companionship? Will they speak the same language as you? The questions go on and on.

Because of circumstances, I only had two official companions. Sis H in the MTC and Sis E in Novi Sad, Serbia. I will tell you more about them later. I say "official companions" because my first companion was my mom. Sis H was called to be a Sister Trainer Leader, which meant she was gone almost all day every Sunday, and often on Wednesday or Thursday nights and I was attached to other companionships during that time. My first few months on US soil I was still a missionary and as part of the rules, I still had to have a "companion" with me at all times.
Sis Hubbard was on of "my sisters". She was part of the
adopted companionship and my PE comp.

One of "my sisters". Sis S was also a part of my adopted companionship.

And here comes the spoiler... your companion isn't the only person you have to deal with. There's the street vendor, the other missionaries, investigators, teachers, members, nay-sayers, hobos, and so on. Being a missionary, and a human being, is a very social occupation. There is no getting away from it. You just have to deal with it.

So here is Dr Sestra with your vitamins and antidotes. Let's go with 5, eh? We'll end with the advice I was given. (It just might be my favorite.)

1.Pray for them- "I pray because I can't help myself... I pray because the need flows through me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me." C.S. Lewis (underline added). When you ask fro the well being of another, you cannot help but to become concerned for them, in however a small degree. That small concern, the tiny attachment, grows with each prayer. It may not change the one who is driving you crazy, but it will change you. Maybe you will stop doing little things to irritate them, whether or not you are doing it on purpose.

2.Pray for you- For those of you who don't know Moroni, he was a pretty cool guy who lived in ancient America. True story. In his last years, he was on the run from the crazy people, called Lamanites, who, at the time, did awful things. These crazy people killed his family and friends in horrific ways. Really. It's pretty graphic. While on the run, Moroni was alone. Not the kind of alone that you and I do, when we read a book, browse the internet or watch movies. His family and friends gone and his life at stake.
If that was me, I'd feel pretty bitterly towards those crazy people. I'd be gosh darn mad! I'd probably mop all up and down the ancient Americas. But what did Moroni do? What did he think about?
Faith, hope, and Charity. What? That's right.
Do you understand? He was utterly and helplessly on his own. He had seen things that defied all description of horror. He lost his father, his wife, and his children. But he chose to think about faith, hope and charity.
What does this have to do with getting along and/or praying for you? I just wanted you to know about Moroni, since I will be talking about what he said.
When I say "charity", I don't mean giving away means to the needy. Charity, in this case, is described as "the pure love of Christ." Whether you are christian or not, you can understand what that means. It means the purest and most abundant form of love.
How do you achieve it? Moroni says to pray for it "with all energy of heart."

Last thought to go with this section is the famous saying; Be the change you wish to see. Or in other words; You cannot change those around you, but you can change yourself. Pray for help to change. To be more tolerant and understanding. I know this works by first hand experience.
There was a sister in the MTC who I didn't love. I didn't hate her or dislike her, I just didn't love her. This was strange, since I loved everyone else. So Sis H and I decided to pray to have love for her. A week later when we followed up, we both found that our love for this sister had grown generously! Not only did I no longer feel like a bad person, but it made life so much better and so much easier.
Even though we would never had chosen each other as friends on our own, I could not ask for anything
better than Sis. H! I don't know what I would do without her.
(This was taken on my birthday last July, after enjoying the rain.)

3.Look for the good, ignore the bad- Or in other words, deal with it.
There is a saying that is seldom heard. Keep both eyes open during the courtship and half-closed after the wedding. You're not getting married to your companion. However, you are living, eating, breathing, and doing everything with them. This goes with all the other people you live with. You're not dating them, so keep your eyes half closed.
In the mission, there is a weekly practice called "companionship inventory". It's the time of the week you tell each other what to improve on or maybe what needs to be nixed. I was taught this formula: LOVE SANDWICH:
bread: something good about the person
meat: something the person needs to work on (in a positive way)
bread: something you like about the person

Love sandwich! This was my favorite time in the MTC because Sis H and I loved each other very much! We had an understanding that I have never known in any other situation. So our sandwiches would go something like this:
"Sis H! I love how you are so attentive to the others in class. You have such a gift with helping others to learn the language and to encourage them, especially when they get so frustrated. For the meat... Sis H, I'm sorry but you just got to turn down the awesome. If you could just do your best to stop being amazing, that would be splendid. I love that you push me to do better and be better. You're there for me before, during, and after a lesson. I really appreciate it!"
Love sandwich! Fast forward to Serbia. Honestly, we did not get along, at all. There was no understanding.  I was sick, and she had her own struggles she was dealing with. Both of us needed something we couldn't get from the other. In addition, we were each other's 'person'. The one that that rubs you wrong no matter what. The one that can just set you off! (And I haven't had one of those since elementary school) As you can see, this didn't make for a good pairing.
My brother told me to focus on the positive.  I couldn't find any. Probably because I wasn't in the best mood. So I asked her what her strengths are. True story.
She's a hard worker. She keeps a level head. TWO WHOLE POSITIVES! Woohoo! So these are the things I tried to focus on. I soon noticed that she has an immense love for the locals that they responded to. That's important to missionary work. Slowly, I started to see more and more positives to concentrate on. Did this solve everything? No. Did we laugh more? Yeah. It planted a seed. What happens to seeds? They grow!

4.Get to know them- This was touched up on a little bit in the previous section. When I asked Sis E about her strengths, I got to know her more. Will Rogers said:
Will Rogers
I bet you if I had met him and had a chat with him, I would have found him a very interesting and human fellow, for I never yet met a man that I didn't like. When you meet people, no matter what opinion you might have formed about them beforehand, why, after you meet them and see their angle and their personality, why, you can see a lot of good in all of them.
I have seen this to be true over and over again in my life. How can you focus on positives if you don't bother to learn them? How can you serve them if you don't know what to do? So much of loving another person depends on how well you know them. I was taught at a very young age that if you don't like someone, it's because you don't know them.

The more I got to know my fellow missionaries, the more I grew to love them. Sis H and I would love each other more and more as we found our commonalities and understood our differences. Sis E and I had a blast our last couple days together. (That's when I decided she really wasn't trying to kill me after all.)
Sometimes it takes a long time, as it did with Sis E, or sometimes it takes a short, yet meaningful conversation, a laugh shared while interpretive dancing, or when someone makes a comment and you go "I was thinking the same thing!'
How many times have we heard the story of the troublesome person, or child, and all it took was a teacher, friend, or bystander who was willing to take the time to get to know the individual which ultimately changes the individuals person forever. (Forever is a long time!)

5.Serve them- This is what I was told two weeks before entering the MTC. Find their love language and serve them. This changes both of your attitudes toward each other. I promise! If either of you don't know what love languages are, it's easy to find out. Ask questions like, "What is more meaningful to you? A nice note or an act of service? A meaningful conversation or a hug?" By doing this, you can discover how to most serve. This is my number one suggestion! If you do nothing else, serve those around you.

BONUS: If none of this is working (which have never heard of) and your companion insists on being a bumbler, be patient, be forgiving, and understand people change. None quicker than those on missions. Sis E and I are now really good friends. Both of us have changed. And I wouldn't trade her friendship for anything. These things work eventually. Make them a habit and they will become a part of your character.

What of it? Why should you love those around you? What difference would it make? Instead of answering and sharing why the people I love have been so important to me, I'm just going to challenge and urge you to find out for yourself. Try it. I dare you.