Elder Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described viewing an oxen pulling[i] contest:

Several teams of oxen with heavy wooden yokes were lined up to compete. A wooden sledge was weighted with cement blocks: ten thousand pounds (4,500 kilograms) to begin with. The object was for the oxen to move the sledge three feet (1 meter).

I noticed a well-matched pair of very large, big-boned, blue-gray animals. Because of their size, of course they were the favorites. But the big blue oxen didn’t even place! A small, nondescript pair of animals, not very well matched for size, moved the sledge all three times.

The big blues were larger and stronger and better matched for size than the other team. But the little oxen had better teamwork and coordination. They hit the yoke together. Both animals jerked forward at exactly the same time and the force moved the load. “And, thus we see” that size and strength are not enough. It takes teamwork as well.” (Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 April 1975)

How well are we “equally yoked together” with our missionary companion or our eternal companion? What have we done or what are we doing to become a team?

In some ways, it is easy to be a team as missionary companions. For example, we can be united in getting up on time, eating together, studying together, going out on time, following mission rules together. In other ways, it might take more effort to set aside any differences like coming from different countries, speaking different languages, growing up in different cultures, being in the church for generations or being a new convert, having different educational experiences or different work experiences, just to name a few.

As eternal companions, we work together to match and meet our expectations and focus our lives on what matters most as we strive together to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and honor our covenants. As missionaries and as couples, we combine our talents, our experience, and our gifts as we learn together, grow together, and serve together. We can find the joy of being “equally yoked together” as we pull our load.

Adjusting to Missionary Life describes the demands of life as well as the demands of missionary work: learning challenging material, getting along with people, following rules and meeting expectations, leaving our comfort zone. It also lists our resources to meet those demands: the Holy Ghost, learning new skills, learning to plan, pray, diet and exercise, using the scriptures and applying the atonement of Jesus Christ and having the support of other people. Our companion can be our closest support.

May the Lord continue to bless us as we strive to be equally yoked together as we gather Israel on both sides of the veil.

[i] Retrieved April 30, 2024 from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/video/2017-04-0019-boyd-k-packer-equally-yoked-together-regional-representatives-seminar-april-1975?lang=eng.