By Michelle Carpenter
Sep 07, 2017

How Two Scouting Friends Became Missionary Companions

The phone rang. It was for Elder Zachary Sparks. That wasn’t unusual. Plenty of missionaries got assigned new companions right before transfers.

However, this transfer call was directly from the mission president.

That was unusual. 

“We felt inspired to put you with Elder Saunders,” he told Elder Sparks, who was just months away from finishing his mission.  

Though his president didn’t know it before the phone call, the two boys grew up together. In fact, they were both friends; their paths crossed many times. 

But, now they were about to get to know each other like they never had before as LDS missionary companions in Campbellsville, Kentucky.

From Childhood to Mission Companionship

Saunders and Sparks grew up in the same small country town of Stansbury Park, Utah. 

Just a few days apart in age, the two went to school together, church together, and Scouts together. (Both of their dads were their Scout leaders.)

They even got baptized on the exact same day.

While no one would have defined them as super close friends, they helped one another grow and reach accomplishments. Elder Saunders, who has Aspergers, explained that Elder Sparks was there for him while they were in the Scouting program together. At a big event, Saunders was getting upset about something. However, Sparks stepped in and helped him to gain perspective and move forward. 

This pattern of moving forward together repeated, and they both earned their Eagle Scout Award.

Then, the two grew up and went their own separate ways–but not for long. One year after Sparks left for his mission, Elder Connor Saunders got his call to the same place: Louisville, Kentucky.

“He thought I was joking,” Saunders explained, saying that Elder Sparks asked him where he actually got called to serve. But, it wasn’t a joke.

On the mission, they served near each other just once. As months went on, it was practically time for Elder Sparks to return home. Shortly before the end of his mission, he got the call from his president. 

In a Facebook post, Elder Saunders’ mom Michelle Saunders said she was shocked when she found out they’d be companions. ” Well, little did I know. Heavenly Father had different plans for them. Now they will see each other 24 hours a day for a few months.” 

As Companions

Currently, for a few more days until Elder Sparks goes home, the two serve together.

They see miracles as they do the Lord’s work every day. Though they grew up knowing one another their whole lives, Elder Sparks indicated that he didn’t know Elder Saunders the way he does now. He’s learned more about him and the trials that he’s gone through. 

According to him, there’s so much more to someone than what we initially realize.

Scout friends turned companions, the two aid one another in faith. 



Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council

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