September 10, 2010

Visiting Teaching

This is something that was done for a Ward Visiting Teaching Conference that I came across. It really opens your eyes to how valuable you are.

Dear Visiting Teacher:

*You are the chosen messenger of the Relief Society (presented by Karen)

-Karen remembers the day in 1982 when her first son was born and her ward reported 100% visiting teaching for the month. Visiting teaching is very important to her, and that is a very happy memory for her because it means that each of the 200 sisters in her ward had received a visit.

*You are the link connecting each woman with her organization (presented by Shirley)

-For this part, each of us wrote our names on a strip of paper and we formed a giant chain out of all the strips.

*To the sick you are the angel of mercy (presented by Jessica)

-Jessica had severe preeclampsia and had to have her baby delivered early. She was only able to go home with the baby from the hospital if she had help. Her family couldn't come, but a group of sisters from the ward came to her aid.

*To the shut-in you are the sunlight (presented by Liz)

-Liz visits a sister in our ward with MS who lives in a nursing home. She has told Liz that it is so wonderful just to have someone to talk to.

*To the bereaved you are sympathy and understanding (presented by Karen)

-When Summer's dad passed away, Karen sent her a card saying that she was keeping Summer in her prayers. That meant a lot to Summer.

*To the lonely you are a friend in need (skit by Nan, Kesli & Telia)

-This skit was our comic relief. Nan played a woman who did not want to be visit taught. Kesli and Telia played her committed visiting teachers. After nearly a year of phone calls and unannounced visits, Nan finally invited Kesli and Telia in when they came to her door dressed in bathrobes and shower caps.

*To the inactive member you are a challenge; a call to duty (presented by Andrea)

-Andrea read an email that her mother sent her about a less active sister that she visits:

"I visit teach Lisa L. and her college-age daughter Tara. Lisa was baptized as a child but doesn't know anything much about the church. She doesn't even know if she believes in God or life after death. When I first got her name, I could rarely reach her by phone, and she didn't return messages. Her husband and son look very scruffy, and some members refused to go to the home because they were afraid of the family. I found her husband a little strange, but more like possibly slightly brain-damaged (I found out later that he has a panic disorder). Her son was huge and silent and dressed all in black, with long black hair. (Think of an overweight Professor Snape.) However, they never seemed threatening to me.

"Over the course of a few years, though, Lisa warmed up to me, and we now have really enjoyable visits. One thing that happened is that her nephew, whom she raised as her own son, was killed in Iraq. I found out about it and offered to help with food. Her work took care of that, and she didn't really want help from the church. I told Bishop T., however, and both of us went to the funeral home (separately). I think that meant a lot to her and her husband. A couple of weeks later, I saw him in Winco, and he was very warm and friendly to me.

"Last Christmas, Lisa gave me a basket full of homemade jams. When my dad died last month, I sent a letter to the sisters I VT and explained why I had had to be out of town most of the month. Lisa sent me a sympathy card. It really touched me.

"Tara is also very friendly. She also knows basically nothing about the Gospel...but she is nice. Bill, the husband, always stays in the room while I visit, so he hears the message too.

"I have learned that I can find something in common with almost everyone I meet. Many times people aren't knowledgeable about their own church, or they have personal reasons for not coming. There are so many different reasons: they are shy, depressed, too busy and overburdened, offended, living against the principles of the gospel and not ready to change, not in the habit, unwilling to go against a spouse's wishes. But most people eventually like people who like them. I try to find something I genuinely like about the sisters I meet, and the relationship grows from there. Also, I remember that God loves each sister I'm asked to teach, and He wants me to share His love with them."

*To the doubtful you are the answer to her questions (presented by Sondra)

-Sondra talked about how her father can always tell if the people from church who come to visit him are there in order to get the visit checked off and say they did it, or if they have a genuine interest in him. As you can imagine, he responds very differently to these two types of visits. She emphasized how vital it is that we visit without a spirit of judgment...that we listen to the things people want or need to talk about, and not let ourselves be shocked by whatever they may say. She reminded us that it is not only the less active sisters that have doubts and questions about our faith, and that we all need people who can listen without judging.

*To the active member you are a reminder of her blessings (presented by Julie)

-Julie has noticed that visiting with her sisters makes her more aware of and grateful for her own blessings. We all have trials, but most of us would prefer to keep our own rather than trade with another. When we take the time to immerse ourselves in the life of another sister, it gives us some important perspective on our own situation.

*To all who know you, you are the symbol of love and devotion.