Guest Author - Alice Rienzo
Many of us, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, have been called as a visiting teacher to other sisters in our ward. Visiting teaching is more than just checking up on our fellow sisterís each month. It is a divinely inspired program that fulfills two of the three main missions of the church; perfecting the saints and proclaiming the gospel.
The Relief Society handbook says, ďEach sister should receive a monthly contact from her visiting teachers. Where feasible, this contact should be a visit in the sisterís home. Where this is not feasible, the monthly contact may be made by telephone call or letter, with a personal visit made at least once a quarter.Ē If you pray for guidance and follow the spirit you will be able to determine which sisters on your route are in need of monthly in-home visits and who will be okay with quarterly visits.
Here are some common questions posed by visiting teachers on what is expected of them in this call and what is expected of them.
Q: How long should I stay?
A: There is no rule stated saying how long you are expected to stay. Many factors can determine how much time the sister needs with you. For instance, this month I was in great need of some service but since I live over an hour away from the rest of the ward members I didnít want to ask for help. My visiting teachers came over and saw my needs and instead of just giving me the lesson and leaving, they stayed for 2 hours helping me in my area of need. Quality is better than quantity, stay in tune with the spirit and you will know if your sisterís needs are being met.
Q: Is an appointment necessary?
A: You should make the effort to schedule appointments whenever possible. This allows the sister you are about to visit to prepare to have you in her home and make arrangements if desired for children and spouse to be involved in other activities. However, if you feel inspired to just stop by to say hi, it is generally a good idea to follow that prompting.
Q: What should I wear?
A: Since as visiting teachers we are representing the Lordís Church we should strive to wear clothing that is neat, clean, and appropriate. We should also take into consideration the nature of the visit; you donít want to wear a church dress to help a sister weed her garden.
Q: How do I teach the lesson?
A: Each month in the Ensign is a message that has been prayerfully assembled for visiting teachers. Read through this lesson a few days before your visit and think about what you can or have learned from the various quotes and scriptures. When you visit your sister you should tell her what you gained from the message for the month and read some quotes and scriptures that you feel really helped you understand the message. Ask her if she has any thoughts she would like to share. Most of the lesson should be a two way conversation between the visiting teachers and the sister being taught. This way you both learn and grow from each other.
Q: What else should I say?
A: A sister that my partner and I recently visited told me as we were walking out the door that we did a good job because we taught, and then visited. This surprised me because after the lesson was over we sat and talked about life and kids and school for almost an hour. In my mind I was fearful she would think we were just wasting her time and didnít want to leave. As it turns out, this was something she needed most, a conversation with someone willing to listen and talk as well. Treat the sisters on your route like you would any of your best friends.
Donít worry about it if you just sit and talk about the latest news or life stories. Conversation is the building block of friendship and that is one thing many sisters crave the most, a friend. Remember ALWAYS, that conversations with the sisters on your route are to remain confidential and should never be discussed with anyone other than your partner. In cases of abuse it is advised to inform the Relief Society President and then let her handle it. Do not try to take things into your own hands.
Q: Who do I report to at the end of the month?
A: When you receive a visiting teaching list you should also receive the phone number to your visiting teaching supervisor. This is the sister you call each month to tell her who you visited. Your supervisor is also the person you talk to if you know a sister on your route needs compassionate service or any other important information like a new baby, moving, or an upcoming marriage.
Q: My partner is a problem, can I go alone?
A: The Lord has set up his church so the gospel will be proclaimed in the mouths of two witnesses. This rule is also in place for your safety. If you and your partner are unable to do in home visits together either because of scheduling conflict, unavailability of babysitters, or you just donít get along, you should notify your supervisor and your Relief Society President. They will work together to prayerfully pair you up with a partner that is a better match. In the meantime you can still contact the sisters on your list through telephone and letters. Just because you can not get out to see them doesnít mean you can not contact them monthly.
This week's article has been written by Amy Daniels.