To demonstrate the importance of home teaching, President Thomas S. Monson told the story of a man named Johann Denndorfer, from Debrecen, Hungary.
“He had been converted to the Church years before in Germany,” President Monson said, “and now, following World War II, he found himself virtually a prisoner in his own land of Hungary. How he longed for contact with the Church.
“Then his home teachers visited. Brother Walter Krause and his companion went from the northeastern portion of Germany all the way to Hungary to fulfill their home teaching assignment. Before they left from their homes in Germany, Brother Krause had said to his companion, ‘Would you like to go home teaching with me this week?’
“His companion asked, ‘When will we leave?’
“Brother Krause’s response: ‘Tomorrow.’
“Then came the question, ‘When will we come back?’
“Brother Krause did not hesitate; he said, ‘Oh, in about a week.’
“And away they went to visit Brother Denndorfer and others. Brother Denndorfer had not had home teachers since before the war. Now, when he saw the servants of the Lord, he was overwhelmed.”
When Callings Are Magnified
“Miracles are everywhere to be found when priesthood callings are magnified,” President Monson said. “When faith replaces doubt, when selfless service eliminates selfish striving, the power of God brings to pass His purposes. The priesthood is not really so much a gift as it is a commission to serve, a privilege to lift, and an opportunity to bless the lives of others.”
“In the home teaching program the line of communication to members goes from the bishop to the priesthood leader to the home teacher, and then to the family,” Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “Thus, the home teacher becomes the representative of the bishop to the member. This is the mainline channel of communication. We would encourage stake presidencies and bishops to use this channel to send messages from the leadership to the members. The more information and direction the home teacher receives, the more effective will be his visit.”
Not Tired Anymore
“I remember coming home after doing a very difficult operation one day,” said Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who was a heart surgeon before being called as an Apostle. “I told my wife, ‘I’m too tired to go home teaching. Please call my partner. Tell him that I can’t go.’ What did my wife say? ‘You’ll have dinner when you come back.’
“I went home teaching, but I was hungry, I was tired, and I didn’t want to go. An interesting thing happened. When I came back home, I was not tired anymore. My hunger was less. The secret is in what the Lord said to the Apostle Peter: ‘When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren’ (Luke 22:32). Who was I thinking about when I came home not wanting to do my duty? I was thinking about myself. When you serve God and your fellowmen, something happens to your body. You get enthusiasm. I’ll give you little lesson in the Greek language. Enthusiasm means ‘God in you.’ … You stop thinking about yourself; you look for ways to serve somebody else.”
Care about the Individual
“I remember an assignment as a home teacher which impressed on me the differences required in teaching each individual family,” said Elder Perry. “Shortly after my family and I had moved to a new city many years ago, my son and I were assigned to visit a single member of the Church who was inactive and lived in an apartment house with a nonmember roommate. She and her roommate were about fifty years of age and both worked as nurses in a local hospital. …
“When we would visit this apartment, we would always receive a very cold reception. I am certain they would have desired that we not make the effort to visit them. Our visits would be something like this. We would knock on the door and be greeted with, ‘Oh, it’s the home teachers again.’ At that point the nonmember roommate would light up a cigarette, and the room would turn blue with smoke. We would cough and sputter through our short message and quickly leave.
“After about six months of this, my son remarked to me one night on our way home that we were not accomplishing one thing with this visit. He suggested we either change our approach or go to the bishop and report our failure. I inquired as to whether he had any suggestions. He quickly answered, ‘We should get her out of that apartment to teach her,’ and suggested that we try inviting her into our home for the visit. I agreed to give it a try.
“Next month we called and invited her to dinner at our place. She was delighted. We picked her up and had a most delightful evening with her. We found her to be a lonely woman who wanted more than anything else to feel close to a family and children. My children adopted her as their eastern grandmother. Our association over the months that followed caused her again to become active in the Church. She soon found a new roommate who was more suited to her new life-style. A lonely, unhappy woman found a new, exciting, happy, fulfilled life as the result of our home teaching visit.”
Hallmarks of Effective Home Teaching
“As I have surveyed large fields of this planet, my sense of appreciation for home and neighbors nearby has become even more dear,” Elder Nelson said. “Those feelings of fondness have found meaningful expression in home teaching. Sister Nelson and I are so grateful to have been blessed with home teachers who have given much-needed encouragement to us and our family. Wherever we have lived through the years, we have appreciated home teachers who have observed four hallmarks of effective home teaching. Our home teachers have
- “Faithfully kept appointments scheduled in advance;
- “Come prepared with brief messages relevant to contemporary need, determined previously in counsel with us as parents;
- “Honored our time constraints with visits that were appropriately concise;
- “Invoked the Spirit of the Lord upon our family with prayer.”
No Activity Is More Important
“Through home teaching, tragedies have been averted,” President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “Sinking souls have been lifted. Material need has been provided. Grief has been assuaged. The infirm have been healed through administration. While the work goes on without being heralded, it is inspired of Almighty God and is basic to the spiritual nourishment of this people.
“The leaders of the Church expend great effort to see that priesthood home teaching works. Though it is much taken for granted, it is always provided for and always will be. The principles of it have never changed, not with changing society or the various additions to programming in the Church. Without it the Church could very quickly cease to be the Church. And I say again, though some activities may be more inviting, none is more important.”
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