Years ago, after leaving the Provo Missionary Training Center, I arrived in Florida feeling prepared and excited to get started in the mission field. When I met my new companion, we had many of the same interests and our companionship seemed like a perfect fit.
After a few weeks, however, I noticed some differences. For example, I was ready to go tracting every day, but my companion was not so enthusiastic about knocking on doors. In fact, even though he was the senior companion, he chose not to do much of it.
I also noticed that my companion seemed to talk a lot about himself. His family was financially well-off, and he had experienced many things that I, coming from lesser circumstances, had not.
These things started to develop some uncomfortable feelings inside of me, almost to the level of resentment. Harboring resentment toward my companion affected me spiritually, especially while I was attempting to teach the gospel. I had to do something. At first I considered talking to my companion and simply venting all my frustrations. But I chose a different approach.
Each morning my companion and I would take turns showering and preparing for the day. While he was in the shower, I decided to sneak over to the foot of his bed and shine his wingtip shoes. After quickly cleaning and buffing them, I would carefully put his shoes back where they were. I did this every morning for about two weeks.
During this time I noticed that my resentment began to leave. As I served my companion, my heart began to change. I said nothing to him about my little act of service. One day, however, my companion mentioned that he must have been blessed with “celestial shoes” because they never seemed to get dirty.
I learned two great lessons from this experience. First, I learned that the real problem was within me—even though the catalyst for my feelings came from outside. My companion was fine.
Second, I knew that we generally serve those we love. But I didn’t realize that the same principle works in reverse: we come to love those we serve.