VT / HT = Joy?

[ 23 ] Comments

by NotMolly

I’m a hermit. I freely acknowledge this. And for several years, I’ve not been a Visiting  Teacher (for a lot of reasons, but hermit-hood is on that list.) I’ve recently been praying about it, and have accepted a VT calling again. I don’t mind being cordial with other ladies at church, but I’ve never wanted the “insta-besties” that so many VT ladies seem to have with their companions and visitees. I feel really fake taking a message to strangers each month, and struggle with wanting my VT ladies to be more than strangers or polite, cordial acquaintances.

I want to do this well, and be a blessing, but my basic nature struggles against almost everything to do with the program! Advice on changing my attitude and making this work is welcome. So far, I’ve got a really sweet companion, a visiting list with semi-compatible schedules, dread, anxiety, and a nagging sense of distaste.

Now, how do I navigate a program that feels so intrusive and fake to me?

And not to leave out the men- what about home teaching?


About NotMolly

Liz blogs as NotMolly, and lives on the western reaches of the Rocky Mountains with her Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband, their four beloved Minions, a huge number of books and assorted musical instruments, and four very spoiled pet hens. She can occasionally be somewhat serious and ponder The Big Stuff. And then she'll probably lapse into puns again...

23 Responses to VT / HT = Joy?

  1. I was recently released as a member of our RS Presidency, and I had to learn to gain a testimony of visiting teaching. My advice for you is to study all you can about why the program is important. I truly believe it is one of the most important programs in the church as it teaches us how to minister to each other and how to become more like the Savior. Try not to think of it as assigned friendships, but instead as a way to learn to love as the Lord would have us do. Good luck!

  2. Ramona Gordy says:

    Thank you Liz
    You “spoke” the words out of my own mouth. So I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS (5 years). I struggle also, but my struggle is that I would really like to “give more” to the sisters I have been assigned. But in my short experience as a VT, I have had some “challenges”. My first companion asked to be reassigned after only a year, so I was reassigned instead and given an inactive sister, who did not answer her phone, or her door and did not really want to see me. What to do, what to do I pondered? So I knew that she worked in a big box store, and I knew that she spent a lot of time in furniture department, so when I went shopping there, I would share some things with her at the store. She seemed to appreciate it.

    I was then assigned a new companion who struggles with depression, so trying to work with her or not, is hard. We were assigned a mother and daughter who struggled with unemployment, sick children, wayward husbands and to top it off, they didn’t speak to one another; living in the same house. Soon they stopped speaking to us, accepting our calls, or answering the door. The best we could do was to stand outside their window and throw a rock in it with the lesson tied around it. LOL 🙂

    We had another sister, the same way. So again we were reassigned to 3 more sisters; 1 is inactive, another walks a fine line of activity vs inactivity, but as a bonus the RS president is one of our charges.

    So I question why we have to do this and believe me I have been counseled about the benefits. My VT’s have been hit or miss, one lady sent me letters every month, even though I saw her at church every Sunday. We did the best we could. Oh yes and whenever I ask for advice on this the answer is “Just do the best you can”. Seriously, if I am doing the best I can, should not the one receiving even try to meet me in the middle, or at least be honest with me and tell me what’s up with them?
    What I am learning is that there is a “file” of sorts on everyone, and so everything is known on a need to know, but it’s like can we honestly talk to our sisters and say” I have heard info about you, but can you tell me what’s really going on with you , so I can know how to better serve you? Or not. I have tried that, with no replies so far. The sad thing is that, in my own experience the ladies do not really want me or anyone else to “serve them” or help or anything. I know the needs of my “sisters” is more than a phone call or a crock pot of soup or what ever. I know their needs, but if they don’t want it, I can’t give it.

    See, as a new(ish) convert, I want to know how this started, the VT and the HT. Is it somewhere in the scriptures ? I am being totally honest here and I feel that your post is an answer to a question I posed in prayer. I wanted to know if there were other sisters out there who felt as I do. Not a rebel, but I want to be successful in Visiting Teaching, but in truth you are only as good as the person you are serving will allow you to be. Just saying..

  3. Bonnie says:

    Ramona, I think that’s an honest question. There is no official program for home and visiting teaching in the scriptures. I think the Church, in all its many iterations through history, has always had some kind of organized way to care for one another, but I’m reading that between the lines. The Lord’s focus has always been the way we are mindful of and care for one another. When you look at the law of Moses, there are all kinds of guides for what you do for one another – rules for the kinds of behavior we should have for each other’s bodies, persons, and property. It’s quite a high bar, really, but that’s another discussion. When the people didn’t fulfill this law of hospitality, the Lord’s frustration was intense.

    In the last dispensation, HT/VT evolved as we grew. Home teaching was officially begun in the 1960s although there is reference to the responsibility of the Teacher (in the Aaronic Priesthood) to ensure that teaching occurs in the home in 1952. The program was initiated by the brethren in 1963 and explained in April Conference by Elder Harold B. Lee – with charts. Before that it was called “ward teaching” and before that it was handled in less structured form. Before that, some time during Brigham Young’s administration, there was a focus on priesthood teaching in homes during one of his reformations. Rex Anderson in 1974 did a master’s thesis on the history of Home Teaching. You can find a historical overview of Visiting Teaching in Daughters in My Kingdom here.

    I can tell you my personal experience with home and visiting teaching and you can take it for whatever prophetic authority I have (which is none!) I also don’t have a testimony of many programs for their own sake. Programs are a way to systematize the good works we have the capacity and responsibility to do, to make them organized, to eliminate duplication, and to ensure nobody falls through the cracks.

    Sheri Dew once visited my Kansas stake and gave a talk as a member of the General Presidency of RS. She opened with a Q&A about what was causing people stress. People stood all over and shared their ideas – wayward children, financial woes, and, eventually, apologetically, church callings. She focused on that, and created an exercise. “Let’s start all over, sweeping away every bit of the Church structure. Let’s start over. How would you best fulfill your stewardships as outlined in Mosiah and the baptismal covenant?” People were energetically participating in the exercise. They offered all kinds of ideas, the discussion rolled from one issue people face to another, and eventually people came up with … what we have. It was a watershed moment for me. The problem wasn’t the programs; the problem was how we were implementing the programs. If we do the right things with the wrong spirit, forcing our actions to conform to something besides genuine care and concern and charity, it is not what we intended. If we do the right things with the right, relaxed, inspired spirit, it will work out right. We aren’t all there yet. I’ve endured VT visits rather than been inspired by them, but I’ve also recognized that people are growing, learning by doing, just as I have and will continue to evolve.

    A few months ago my oldest son’s best friend committed suicide. It was wrenching in a way I can’t describe here. I prayed so fervently to understand, because I was wracked with survivor guilt of the mother kind. He had spent a whole lot of time at my house. I should have known. In fact, Real Intent is a very real outgrowth of my search to understand how to reach people better, and we launched a month to the day after his death. When I was praying to understand, once, I had what seemed like a little vision: I saw him walking, head down as was his habit, in the dark, as he was the night he hung himself. I saw two people beside him, brushing his hair with their hands, leaning around him, speaking fervently to him. They were filled with love, this man and woman, in bright white robes. He couldn’t hear or feel them there, but they never left him. Of a sudden I knew that we are never alone, and I personally believe that there is a home and visiting teaching program in heaven, where spirits are assigned to watch over us here.

    A couple of months later I had an experience in which, of a sudden, I knew that my father was there, on assignment, to help me (he passed on a couple of years ago). I knew because I was seeking guidance and I knew someone was providing it (I thought some amorphous “the Spirit”). I recognized it was my father because only my father has ever felt that specific frustration with me that I suddenly felt. He was having a terrible time getting through to me, and in a moment I recognized him. We didn’t have a spectacular relationship in life, and it seemed to me that he was trying to rectify that, given the opportunity and the assignment that would allow that, and he had little more patience helping someone understand in the next life than he did in this one!

    Spencer W. Kimball once commented that God watches over us and is aware of us, but it is usually through another person that he will meet our needs. I think this is an eternal principle, and I think our needs here in mortality are of such concern to him that he organizes both earthly and heavenly help. I think he does so in an organized manner by making assignments. I would imagine that we are only limited in our assignments by how faithfully we understand our role, learning, overcoming our fears, developing skills, and searching humbly to help people in the way God would have them be helped. We aren’t very good at it here, and my experience is that it isn’t going to magically be any easier later.

    Sorry for the book response!

    • Natalie says:

      Beautiful response. Thank you, I have things to ponder now after reading it.

    • Ramona Gordy says:

      Thanks Bonnie
      “Thank you for letting me, be myself”
      This is something that lifted my spirits:

      [The Lord] will not permit us to fail if we do our part. He will magnify us even beyond our own talents and abilities. … It is one of the sweetest experiences that can come to a human being” (Ezra Taft Benson, in Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 20)

      As we speak, my companion and I have arranged a “Road Trip” which is what we call when we can gather 1 or more of our sisters together and do something, like a Temple trip this weekend. We have found some success in these “road trips”, whether they are “girls night out”, or the Temple or a movie.

    • Marsha Keller says:

      Never be sorry, that is what this discussion forum is all about! Though Bonnie, I really think this could be also formated for a question/I post as well.

      “We aren’t very good at it here, and my experience is that it isn’t going to magically be any easier later. ” – Magically indeed. I think we are here to learn, not to be comfortable and do what is easy.

  4. Natalie says:

    This is the first time I am commenting on this website… But the question you asked is important and is a subject I have grown to love. I haven’t always loved VTing, but I do now. I think the reason is because of my companion. For the first time in more than a decade of VT I have a companion who is dedicated to visiting teaching. We have become great friends as we have served together. And we truly love those women whom we are called to watch over. Each month we ask each other how each of our three ladies are doing and we try to meet their needs or lift their burden in some way.

    I’m not sharing this to say “look at us, we are so great” but instead with gratitude to The Lord for helping me see what this program is really about. I love visiting teaching. I love the word that sister Julie beck used instead: watch care. I love watching over these three women to whom I am assigned, watching over my companion, and I love the two women who are assigned to watch over me. I like to watch over and care for them, too.

    I had a thought similar to the previous comment… We covenant as members of the church to care for another. That is a huge job. It can be overwhelming. But instead of worrying about everyone, if we can just focus first on those whom we are assigned through visiting teaching, then we can know that we are doing something.

    I hope this makes sense. I’m typing on my phone and there are some typos and grammar issues… Forgive me. But I hope that my deep feelings of love for the women whom I work with in my VT assignment shows through. VT is not always peachy king, but I do believe that it helps us in becoming a little more like our savior and caring for those around us.

    • Natalie says:

      Two more thoughts, sorry!

      1. One thing that might help is to break out of the thinking that it is “visiting” teaching. It does not have to be a formal visit. Sure formal visits are important once in a while, but I think it is more important to ponder what that person needs. A call, remembering birthdays, help with childcare, whatever! And you don’t always have to go with your companion! Talk to your companion and brainstorm about what you can do to help that individual and then go for it! Haha maybe I’m not giving the “right” advice here, but this is what makes VT enjoyable for me. It can be a creative endeavor to figure out the best way to help bless someone’s life. 😉

      2. Also wanted to add that I have issues with several other church programs, to the point that I can get a little bitter about them: YW and …. Scouts. Ugh. So I understand the dread. Luckily I don’t have callings in those organizations, yet! (Knock on wood.)

  5. Angie says:

    I too am somewhat of a hermit. I hate phones. I hate imposing myself on people and I feel that in an effort to try, I end up talking WAAY too much and not helping anything. But I try.

    Sometimes trying has no fruits for a long time. One of the women I visit taught years ago let me in regularly, although begrudgingly. I swore for probably the first 3 years that she hated my guts. But it turns out, we were becoming friends in her begrudging, grumpy way and we are still friends in that same herky jerky way 12 years later.

    I think we want our efforts to be effortless and to be successful in an instant way that is not real for most of us. Whenever I get discouraged about the difficulty in making myself make the visits and then in the difficulty of trying to visit people who don’t necessarily want visits, don’t think they need watch care, I try to remember one of my mother’s VT stories. 30+ years ago, we lived in a different city and state. She would attempt to visit a very inactive sister every month and every month that sister would chat guardedly with them through the screen door. This continued throughout the years that we lived there (and my mother is SHY, but obedient, so I can only imagine how excruciating all of this was for her). Eventually we moved, my mother never having gotten past the screen door. Fast forward 20 years or so and my mother walks into the meetinghouse library in a completely different state and sees an elder with an unusual name, the name of the long ago sister with the screen door. She asks him where he is from and she figures out that he is the son of that screen door sister. He tells her that my mother’s comp kept going and one day, the sister let her in and one day she went back to church and then her children went too and eventually, here stood this elder serving a mission because a visiting teachers kept trying even through years of discouragement and seeming failure.

    I loved what Bonnie said about the meeting with Sister Dew and remembering the roots of watch care and how to focus on serving and not programs. The assignment and the structure are the start; the push. We have to pray a lot and try and determine what the person we are to care for actually needs. Segullah had a discussion about this a few years ago and one woman commented that her best visiting teacher would often leave her Diet Coke and brownies on her door step. One of my best visiting teachers would text me when she was going to Costco and ask if I needed anything too. One of my worst visiting teachers was irritated that I was unable to receive her visits because I was in the hospital giving birth to a child. But she was going through her own stuff that I didn’t understand at the time either. And she was still trying. Only in trying are we able to even attempt to know the people we are supposed to love. BCC had a post a while back about a sister who had lost her child and the visiting teachers came and started cleaning but saw her go to her room to sob and they went and they just held her. They mourned with her.

    Watch care is essential to becoming like Christ. But it is complicated and messy and often ugly because we are complicated and our lives are messy and sometimes downright ugly and that is when we are most in need of love and care and only able to receive it if others are standing guard, ready to be the angels we need. It’s not easy. I still hate the awkwardness of the program. But I love seeing the connections that are made, the stewardships that are filled. I feel blessed when it works, used by God when I work, willing to hold my breath and keep at it.

    • Bonnie says:

      I LOVED that post at BCC, Angie. It was by Jacob, called They Lay Down Beside Her and Wept. It’s short, so I just copied it here. Beautiful.

      A handful of years ago her 17 month old baby boy died. She had several other children, the oldest of whom was only nine. Her Relief Society sisters did not deliberate long. Three of them simply showed up with faces full of concern and began to clean. Sitting on the stairs, she watched them, not really comprehending why they were there. She hadn’t processed it yet, what she had just been through, what had just occurred. All of a sudden it hit her like a wave, all of it at once, and she fled upstairs to her room, collapsing on her bed in uncontrollable sobs of despair. It wasn’t long before all the cleaning tools were found abandoned. The women had made their way upstairs and all lay down on the bed beside her, silently weeping with her and holding her close.

      A woman in my ward related this story today. Her story of personal salvation. The body of Christ, in all its beauty, majesty, and glory.

    • jendoop says:

      I think you hit on something important Angie – VT and HT isn’t a task to check off our lists. There is no “right” way to do it any more than there’s a right way to love your child. Some children feel loved if you hug them, some don’t like that but want you to listen. Some like chocolate, others have diabetes and can’t have chocolate but get angry when you give it to them because they want it. Adults are just big children. Get to know them, love them, and don’t stop.

      Even if we aren’t people people (?) we can still pray to feel love for those we are asked to care for. In my experience in VT and other callings, I feel a kind of love for the people I serve that is beyond myself, it is like a portion of God’s love for them has been placed in my heart. It is wonderful, but it is also a risk – you feel for people, you care about what happens to them and you get hurt when they don’t respond the way you would like. The trick is to turn to our Savior in those times and ask him to help us continue loving even when hurt. That is really when you open someone’s heart, to consistently show love even when they may not deserve it. And I don’t mean sappy love like scrapbook cards and smiley face balloons – care about the person, who they are and their struggles even if you can’t do a single thing to take their struggles away.

  6. Karen says:

    I have struggled off and on with visiting teaching. The messages in the Ensign this past year have seemed to be more about how to be a better visiting teacher than to uplift those that are being taught. One day I was struggling with what to teach the sisters I had been assigned. I only have two. One is in the Stake Relief Society Presidency and the other is the Bishop’s wife. What could I possibly teach them. Then the whole thing was opened up to my mind. These lessons are teaching us how to be better friends. Like how Christ referred to his apostles in the New Testement as His friends. Visiting Teaching is the lesser law. The greater law is the law of consecraton. We are to love everyone. We start by learning to love those that we visit and those that we teach with. To me, the message is the secondary purpose but it is what gets us going. Our real reason for visiting is to allow others to feel our love and compassion for them. Sometimes we don’t get around to the message, sometimes we don’t leave with a prayer. We just go with how it feels. I don’t know about others but, when I really need help, I will go to someone I already have some kind of relationship with. If my visiting teachers don’t come (or home teachers), you can be sure that I will not be calling them when I need help.

    Now as far as the instant besties. I don’t know of many who will bare their whole sole to someone just because they have been assigned by the visiting teaching coordinator. Building a friendship takes time. Some of the sisters I have visited have come and gone in my life. Only there for a season, but others have become true very best friends. That’s a bonus.

  7. Liz C says:

    I appreciate these comments so far!

    Here’s the thing: I do believe that watch-care is an important part of discipleship, and have had really cool experiences with VT in a few areas… and I still struggle, even with the testimony being in place. I like the idea of being a “Visiting Sister”… but the “teacher” part just slams me up against a wall. And I feel like I’m very, very silly to be so hung up on semantics.

    For a few years, I’ve been the coordinator for new-mom meals in the ward; it’s getting to be like pulling teeth to get people to participate, so I need to find ways to revitalize that aspect of watch-care (I’m going to pull in some of the YW, I think!). I love helping with funerals. I like a lot of the concrete service that’s part of being a portion of the church body.

    It’s the personal relationships I kick against, I think. I’m very comfortable with amorphous “loving everyone”, and less comfortable with the sort of intimacy it takes to know people on a more individual level, or let them know me.

    What’s odd is, I’m very comfortable calling my home teacher. He’s been a friend to our family for years now (I’m so grateful they don’t rearrange his assignment; my husband is not LDS, and actually LIKES our home teacher, so they swap his partners, but keep our Main Guy the same). But, had he and I gone to school together, we’d have been good friends as kids, so it’s a far more comfortable relationship that goes beyond a church responsibility. His wife is a delight, and we really enjoy one another, though we’re not in “close friend” territory most of the time. But, she doesn’t ever begrudge sharing him, and gladly sends him out in the middle of the night if we need the Priesthood in action.

    So, eight years: one person I’d consider a friend I would call… and I call about once a year. And enjoy the monthly chats a lot.

    But I got to thinking: I’ve not seen my VT in nearly a year, and I’ve not missed it at all. Not even a little. I didn’t notice a lack, because I don’t tend to want my VT to really *know* me. I’m that problem-visitee, I think! Yikes!

    Random scribbles here… trying to work out my thoughts more on this one. It’s very, very hard to change my fundamental coding, I think. More later.

  8. templegoer says:

    I’ve come to see VT as a mechanism through which we make community, it’s been a great experience for me getting into the inside track of people with whom under different circumstances I’d have nothing in common. It’s greatly enriched my life.

    On the downside, I Vtd a sister for many years who was inactive. My partner was a great woman who went with me every month after her nightshift, going home to kids back from nursery. When the former sister did eventually start to come back to church she bore her testimony of how no-one had come to see her. Ah well.

    I do try really hard to be my authentic self with those who VT me, as I think that’s the best way for all concerned to achieve mutual understanding, and hopefully unity. I see my VTs as emissaries of Heavenly Father with a spiritual message that we need to share together, and that becomes our starting point. Clearly that’s going to work better with some than others.

    HT is a little different unfortunately- I’ve had one experience as a young person when we had a HT who was outstandingly caring, and my family really benefited from that, particularly as my mother was a lone parent,but it was brief. Other than that, it’s something I’ve subjected my self to without getting great rewards. Thay have been nice enough men but unfortunately never really wanted to get to know us, maybe it’s a guy thing. Hello on a Sunday would be good though.

    But my husband has great experiences when he HTs and has a real sense of connection to the families over whom he has watch-care. I can see how beautiful this could be were we to really catch the vision.

    • Liz C says:

      That may be part of my problem… my authentic self tends to be a bit overwhelming at times. 🙂 Safest in Really Small Bits, Spread Out.

      Here’s a side-aspect I could use ideas on: I tend to be a brainstormer/problem-solver. I kind of stink at listening to “venting without solution-seeking.” Kind of, as in REALLY A LOT. Which means that if a sister I visit has a lot of griping to vent, or is generally a negative person, I find myself getting sucked DRY trying to help find a solution, getting shot down, etc. And with everything going on in my everyday life, I can’t afford that kind of emotional drain.

      I know that I can recharge, but it takes a toll on my primary responsibilities to my family. And I’m not good at all with sympathy for “first world problems”–I really struggled with uncharitable thoughts in one assignment years ago, where the sister was brag-complaining about how expensive it was to keep her daughter in competitive dance teams, and shot down an honest suggestion to perhaps let her dance with the already-funded high school team instead? It was hard to continue to be even cordial knowing that this particular sister was dumping twice my husband’s monthly pay into a rather-pointless hobby for a child, and complaining about having the money to do so. But I get the feeling it’s still considered rude to tell a teachee that they’re being patently ridiculous and should hush?

      Typing it all out, I can see I’m having a fundamental problem with a lack of charity on my part… Being a natural introvert, it takes so much energy to get out there and DO it, I don’t have a lot left for actually wanting to care. And WOW is that ugly to type out.

      Right… more prayer and work needed, obviously! 🙂

      • Bonnie says:

        I don’t think it’s a lack of charity, but a different focus. Some of us are more programmed as problem-solvers. I am. I make a terrible nurse and a terrible listener, I think. It’s because my focus is how to end the suffering, and frequently people don’t want the suffering to end or have other goals or needs that I don’t perceive. It has been VERY stressful for me to listen to someone who is venting because I feel completely stymied and have no idea what to DO.

        We have to flip a switch in our brains when we are natural problem solvers. We have to switch into neutral and pull ourselves out of gear and just idle. I’ve found it really useful to step outside myself, like a life-after-death experience (I know, I’m inspiring all kinds of confidence in my abilities as a listener). But I’m serious – sort of like I’m watching the whole exchange and wondering what the one woman will say and how Bonnie will act to support her. It really helps me, I have to tell ya. If I can remember to pull myself out of gear and idle, I will actually hear what she’s saying about this situation that isn’t going to change soon, and I can just say the things I do really feel: I love you.

        Perhaps that wouldn’t work for anyone else and isn’t your issue with venting, but it worked for me.

      • Jendoop says:

        It is an opportunity to try to view people as Christ views us. I’m pretty sure he gets sick of me complaining about making dinner every night when more than half of the world is praying to him just to have something to eat. But he still listens and loves me.

        Recently I was assigned a sister with health issues and was told, “Take her to this appt, don’t let her say no.” Sure enough, she said no and we didn’t go. I wanted her to get help but you can’t force someone if they don’t want help. So now I know what she wants from me; not a doctor appt, but to listen and laugh at her stories. Some days when I leave I feel bad for her, but it’s her agency to choose that kind of life. The bishop, RS pres and her HT are aware of her physical needs, I let them take the lead and enjoy my opportunity to make her smile.

        Another thing that helps is keeping the visit brief. Anybody can listen for 30 minutes.

        • Liz C says:

          Some days, 30 minutes might kill me. Some days, I can’t listen to my own offspring for more than about 3 minutes. 🙂 But I see your point–it’s a very short investment for a good purpose.

          Bonnie, dis-engaging to allow actual engagement is a very interesting concept to me.

  9. Sheila W says:

    I have a friend, who’s ex-military, I was describing church structure to and when I got done, he said, ‘oh, it’s like the military.’ That brought me up short as I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms, but in pondering it have realized, structurally, there are many similarities. In doing so, as I wandered down the structural outline I came to me, a foot soldier. And how am I important as a foot soldier for the Lord. Because foot soldiers are the ones that get out into field, they do the work, and then report back.

    That has really helped me to understand the importance of Visiting/Home Teaching. Why are these programs important? Because we certainly can’t expect the Bishop/Relief Society President to visit everyone and make sure all is well. It gets spread among the ‘foot soldier’ to get out there and do the work, then report back. And in the process the Lord has given us an easy (as in we don’t have to look for it to do it) way to serve and be served. And along the way we make friends, we get those who are hermits at home (such as I) a reason to get out, and quite possibly be there the day you might really need someone to talk to.

    As for the ‘teaching’ part, I’ve had some really good gospel discussion, but not in every house, and I don’t have a problem with that. I have two new VTs who came by last week who I get the impression don’t do the teaching part, which saddens me because I really do enjoy talking about the gospel. But I will enjoy their visits, nonetheless, because they are foot soldiers just like me, and like our counterparts in the military, we make sure that we have each other’s back.

    • jendoop says:

      I like that Sheila. I had a branch president that was always saying, “Return and report!” It didn’t drive him crazy that people didn’t do their HT and VT, it’s that they wouldn’t report back so we would know who got visits and who didn’t. Maybe if we caught the vision of how much our foot soldier work means then we would be better at it and see the value in reporting. Not even that we have to report perfection, but at least explain why an assignment is difficult, or that the person won’t let you in, or that you’re uncomfortable with their little dog yipping at your heels the whole time you’re there, or whatever. I think our General RS leadership has improved their stance on reports over the last decade, taking the focus off of numbers and shifting it to watch care.

  10. Jim says:

    Just getting caught up on the wonderful posts here….I admit that I haven’t read all of the comments yet and hopefully this won’t be too redundant.

    Like you, I’m pretty much a homebody. If it were not for the church, besides work and some trips to the store, I probably would not get out much. This is one of the things that I really appreciate about the Church- our responsibilities as church members tend to coax us out of our comfort zones and help us to do and to be more than we would without the church.

    My only suggestion is to try to have a “paradigm shift” about visiting teaching. Give it another name in your mind if that’s what it takes. Don’t think of it as a monthly visit with a canned message. Understand that the sisters you are called to visit need you. If you are not sure, ask them how you can be of most help to them, and that might change from time to time. At times it might mean offering a listening ear and saying very little. Other times it might mean sharing the Ensign message. Sometimes it might be dropping off a note, or sending a text, taking a meal or a treat, or serving in any of a million different ways.

    Your interaction and friendship will bless them and will bless you too in the process.

  11. Jim says:

    One other thought: outside of the teaching and influence we have in our own homes, home teaching and visiting teaching may be our greatest opportunity to minister to others. Service and watchcare at that level really is the essence of the gospel.

  12. MSKeller says:

    I”ve been thinking about this since you posted it Liz. I think it goes into my question about doing good with a bad attitude. I’ve had companionships that I hated (Felt like a third wheel while two friends talked for an hour about things that I knew nothing about and kids). Teachers that didn’t fit my needs in the least (A companionship of two older ladies who actually drove up to me walking home in the rain and handed me out a ‘treat’ through the window and drove off, letting me walk home in it.) and ones that were amazing and still great friends today.

    I think that the ‘fakeness’ can be, if you let it. It can also be amazing as we wash the feet (figuratively) of those who don’t seem to need it. I think that what helped me the most was to understand that it wasn’t about me. That no matter who I served or who served me, it was about doing the Lord’s bidding. It is His program. He knows best, and the truth is, time and again I’ve found that the sisters I dreaded the most became my dearest friends, and ones I didn’t appreciate at the time, left me with some really wonderful inspirations despite their or my own attitudes.

    Sort of what President Hinckley’s dad told him in the mission field I guess. “Forget yourself and get to work” (loosely quoted). Look for little miracles and record what you find. All the best, truly. None of us are far from where you are.

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