28 February 2006

I love Visiting Teaching!

A blog post on Proud Daughter of Eve entitled How Do You Visit Teach? prompted me to respond at length. Here is what I said:

I have been a VT for decades, in many different countries, and I love how the program has evolved over the years. Here are some ideas to start you thinking about how YOU want to carry out your assignment as a VT:

I think a good visiting teacher is more than just a friend who helps us out in times of need; she also tries to "teach" the things that our leaders feel we need to learn, as expressed in the VT message in the "Ensign."

Usually you chat a bit when you arrive, so you know how the sister is doing, and if she has any particular needs. I know some sisters that seem uncomfortable giving the "message," but personally, I think that it is a wonderful opportunity to bring the Spirit into the home of the person we are visiting. I think the word "message" in the case of VT means the sharing of some spiritual thoughts relating to a particular theme; it is not a "lesson" like we get in Sunday School or Relief Society. You generally don't need to prepare handouts, an outline,etc., unless you feel prompted to do so in a particular case.

Whether the sister is super-active or not much interested in the Church, when the Spirit is brought into play, good things can happen. The beauty of the new format with a theme and quotes is that I see at least one quote every month that is appropriate for just about any situation the sister may be in: unmarried, single parent, busy mother, elderly nursing home resident, totally active, less active. As you prayfully consider each sister you visit, you may focus in on just one, two, or several of the quotes. There is always one from a member of the R.S. general presidency, and the others are from the prophets and apostles of this dispensation and from the Scriptures.

You can introduce the subject in a natural way, perhaps by a comment like, "One of the quotes in the message for this month particularly struck me. Pres. Hinckley (or Sister Parkin, the General Relief Society President) said the following about (insert subject)," and then read, or ask your companion or the sister to read a quote. You can then ask the sister for her reaction to the quote, or her thoughts about the subject; and/or you can offer your personal reaction. As it says in the introduction to each message, "Share your experiences and testimony. Invite those you teach to do the same."

Even those of us who are fully committed, believing members, benefit from a heartfelt expression of gospel truths, and it doesn't need to be a long discussion to have an inspiring effect.

Your companion and those you teach may well become dear friends, even if you don't seem to have much in common at first. The Spirit helps us understand one another, and binds us together in love as we read and talk about the inspired words given in the monthly messages.

07 February 2006

New Year, New Venture

I have pondered the idea of starting a blog for some time, and have finally decided that now is the moment. I chose the title from a favorite scripture, which I quoted in a talk I gave recently:
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Ephesians 2:19.
Dear Husband (henceforth to be referred to as DH) quoted this verse in a talk when our family moved from Latin America to the U.K.; and it has come to my mind many times since then, as we have journeyed from place to place. Our appearance, or our accent, may mark us as strangers or foreigners. But whenever we are with other members of the Church, we are united by the covenants we have made, and by our desires to sustain one another as we seek to build a Zion society.
Although I love the country of my birth, in many ways I have lived the life of a nomad. Now, in the the seventh decade of my life, family ties continue to strengthen even as they stretch across the globe. Modern communication enables me to hear or read the thoughts and feelings of those I love most, even when they are far away. The two things that enable me to find joy in the circumstances of my daily life, wherever I may be, are my close relationships with family members, and my opportunities to serve with fellowcitizens who are of the household of God.