In some ways a mission is training for a Mormon-style marriage: The two companions are expected to love each other with a pure, spiritual love, they have a clear command hierarchy within their partnership, and they cooperate and work together for the gospel. Practically the only bit that’s missing is the sex — missionary companions are required to share a bedroom, but not share a bed. So when a missionary feels romantic love towards his companion, the emotional bond they are encouraged to share can be a beautiful thing, even though it presents special challenges when it comes to keeping one’s thoughts and actions chaste.
In Elder Peterson’s case, his first missionary companion when he arrives in Colombia is a guy he’d had a crush on back in High School in Salt Lake City. Their companionship gets off to a bit of a rocky start since Elder Peterson was among the first batch of new missionaries to get some of the more intensive training that missionaries started getting in the early 70’s. Elder Peterson’s companion was his trainer — the assigned leader of the pair — and Elder Peterson wanted to be able to look up to him as a role model who would lead them to be the most faithful and diligent missionaries they could possibly be. His companion wasn’t really up to the pressure and kind of preferred the earlier-style, more laid-back rules. I’ll let you read for yourself where the relationship went from there.
Elder Peterson’s Mission Memories is a work of fiction, but reads very convincingly like real memoirs. I found myself really caring about the characters and looking forward to finding out how their relationship would progress and what would happen to them. It is a heart-warming love story (I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that 😉 ) and an enjoyable read.