Before the Dawn

When we arrived at our missionary apartment that evening, my companion went in before me and slammed the door. I parked our bikes and went in after him. Our voices became loud and harsh as we argued about the events of the day. He, an American, claimed that we didn’t get along because I, a Filipino, was prejudiced against him. That wasn’t true, and his saying it only made me angrier. He stormed into the kitchen. I went into the other room. Silence reigned after that, but the fire of our anger still raged.

I sat in one corner of the room, crouched like a child, wanting to cry or shout—I wasn’t sure which. I felt empty and afraid, as if I were driving on a dark, winding road without headlights. Everything we had done that day—teaching discussions, playing with children, talking with investigators—seemed like a charade. When we had taught a discussion about living a Christlike life, I felt tormented inside: How could my companion and I teach about Christlike love when we had built a wall of hostility between us?

In the darkness of the room, I remembered the words of my stake president when he set me apart as a full-time missionary. He had said that I would have many trials on my mission and that some would appear insurmountable. He also spoke of two “Goliaths” that I would have to face—weaknesses in myself and problems with my companion. He then promised, “The power within you is greater than the obstacles in front of you.”

However, I didn’t feel ready to face my Goliaths; I wished instead for a transfer. I had thought companionship problems would be easy to resolve, but this was more like sailing in a raging tempest. I knew I needed to turn to my Heavenly Father for help, so I knelt to pray. I struggled because I did not feel worthy to talk to him. I couldn’t do anything but cry.

I sat in silence until, through my tears, I noticed the scriptures on the ironing board. I opened them and looked through them until I came to this verse: “First, be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt. 5:24). I knew this was the answer that I had been seeking. I felt the still, small voice tell me to make reconciliation with my companion. I also knew that Heavenly Father would help remove the wall of hatred between my companion and me.

With this assurance, I went to talk to my companion. I was surprised when he broke the silence first: “It was my fault, Elder. I’m sorry.”

I grabbed my chair and sat beside him. “No, no, no,” I insisted. “It wasn’t your fault. I’m sorry, too, because I wasn’t able to hold my temper.”

He smiled and said, “Do you know that Satan wants to destroy our friendship and to stop this sacred work? And do you know that it is past our bedtime?” He laughed, then gave me a big hug.

After that, we knelt down together in prayer and felt the Spirit of the Lord heal our friendship.

I hardly slept that night, for joy. I was surprised to see the darkness fade as sunlight crept into our room. I opened the window so the light could enter freely. From where I stood, I could see the silhouettes of the coconut trees, the nipa huts, and the mountains. At that moment, I felt a desire to share the light of the gospel with the entire world.

[illustration] Illustrated by Tyler Lybbert