One more than one occasion while a missionary in Chile, my companion and I were called “maricon” by kids as we walked together on the streets. Maricon is a slang word for homosexual, but has a more derogatory meaning, like faggot. We just laughed it off.

Being with somebody 24/7 can be very suffocating, but I seems to do well with the constant shadow of a companion. This being the 1970’s, and a foreign mission, we didn’t hold the fanatic emphasis on always being with your companion that is so prevalent today. Once we were at church, we would go our separate ways to help out the ward/branch. Often I would be teaching the youth and my companion would be in primary. Once we had a mission wide Zone Leaders Conference. At that time, ZL’s were not in companionships with another ZL, so while I was the ZL for the Zone, my companion was not, in fact he was a fairly new missionary. So all the ZL’s from the mission traveled alone via train/bus to a central city (Chillan) to meet with the Mission President. Nobody got lost, and nobody fornicated despite us all being alone for 3-4 hours of traveling. I also went a week without a companion, just getting local youth from the ward to go out with me. Lots of alone time walking the streets.

I had 12 companions in Chile, not counting the ones in the Language Training Mission (LTM).

My first two were gringos, Elder Rome and Shafter. Rome was from New Mexico, and was pretty chill. It was a nice transition to mission life in a foreign land to have a companion that was not anal. That all changed with Shafter. Elder Shafter was very by the book, and was itching to become a ZL and then AP. He once tried to exorcise an evil spirit out of a developmentally disabled boy. He also slept with his alarm clock under his pillow because it stopped working when it got cold and he was so afraid of sleeping in past 6:30!

My next seven companions were Chilean. There was no temple in Chile at that time, so all my Chilean companions were not endowed. They also had no MTC type training. They came straight from home to the mission. My Spanish (or Castellano as they called it there) got very good, as none of them spoke any English.

In the middle of those seven Chilean companions I had a two week stint helping a gringo missionary stay sane. By this time I had earned the reputation of being able to get along with difficult companions, as explained by my MP as he told me about Elder Christiansen. He had recently received a Dear John from the girl he was going to marry, who told him she would not marry him unless he went on a mission. He was devastated, and he had just 6 weeks left of his mission. My MP told me to try to keep him going as long as possible. One week into our companionship, he gets permission to call home, and I hear him yelling, then he stormed out of the house and he is gone for hours alone. When he finally comes home, he tells me his girlfriend had been disfellowshipped for having sex with her new boyfriend. I manage to keep him another week, and then the MP sent him home a little early, but an honorable release.

I had one Chilean companion that had a girlfriend from before his mission that lived in the same town we were in attending school. He would arrange to meet her on the street and talk several times a week. I had two that were 26. I was only 20 at the time, but senior companions to both, so that made it difficult for them to take directions from me.

My best companion was Elder Soto. He was older, but very fun, and had traveled some outside of Chile. He had been to a rally in Bolivia with a friend and listened to Fidel Castro speak.

For those that have been missionaries, what were your companions like? did you get along with all of them, or have some problems?