Coming to the Rescue Through Visiting Teaching
By Sarah Jane Weaver and the Relief Society general board
“Often, it is easy to just leave sisters alone [who] are less active; however, they are the sisters who quite often need us most.” —Lorraine Barlow, visiting teacher
Melissa Campagnoni and her visiting teacher, Lorraine Barlow, are the closest of friends, but this was not always so. Building this relationship required time and sacrifice on the part of both and commitment and caring from a dedicated visiting teacher.
Sister Barlow had known Sister Campagnoni for many years. During much of that time, Sister Campagnoni regularly attended church, and her two oldest children were baptized. Then she moved from the ward. Several years later the Barlow family relocated and they were again in the same ward. By this time Sister Campagnoni had become less active. Visiting teachers were assigned, but they were getting no response, and Sister Barlow was then asked to be her visiting teacher. Believing that her calling was to be a friend, Sister Barlow determined that she would help Sister Campagnoni know that she was not forgotten and that she was loved by her Heavenly Father. She would minister to Sister Campagnoni and to her family.
Over a period of several years, Sister Barlow faithfully went to her home each month. Usually someone came to the door, but most of the time a message was graciously relayed that Sister Campagnoni was not at home. Family members gradually warmed to Sister Barlow as she stopped by each month, but visits with Sister Campagnoni were rare.
Then two years ago things changed. Sister Campagnoni accepted the invitation to come to church. She came infrequently at first and would sit with the Barlow family, and at this time they learned more about her situation.
“I was one of those sisters, raised LDS but less active for too many years to count,” explained Sister Campagnoni. “I married my husband during my inactivity (we have been together for 23 years). I had returned to church when my three children were little as I wanted them to have a religious upbringing. This eventually created tension. …
“About a year later, my visiting teacher, Lorraine, came to see me. [She] was unwavering. She never gave up on me, even when I refused to answer the door [or] phone calls or [to] thank her for treats. She never missed a month, leaving notes, treats, and sometimes talking to my family when they answered the door. … Lorraine honestly cared about me and my family. She was not fake in any way and was always showing an interest in my family and remembered everything about them.
“Her caring, loving nature I have never forgotten to this day. I sit with her family and [we have] scripture study together. She treats me like her own daughter, and for that I am forever grateful. I love her dearly. … Spiritually and emotionally, she is always there for me, unconditionally.
“It is due to the love from her that I have come to the place I am in today. She will always have a special place in my heart. … I never thought that my visiting teacher would play such an important role in my return to church and my spiritual progress. I can only hope that I can impact someone that way someday.”
“The role of a visiting teacher is more important than we sometimes think,” Sister Campagnoni shared. “We know that our role is to watch over, care for, and provide support for our fellow sisters. Often, it is easy to just leave sisters alone [who] are less active; however, they are the sisters who quite often need us most.”
Sister Barlow expressed gratitude for the blessings that have come. “Melissa has gained an increased understanding of the divine plan of happiness. Her testimony and conversion [have] been strengthened. She is an active member and has now been to the temple. … Her goal is to be a good example to her family [and] keep her covenants [so that] someday they will join with her in the faith. Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, love all, and as members of the Church we can help in a small way by being faithful visiting teachers to share that love and the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”