Home Teaching – a growing experience
Contributed by Robert Kearl of the Abbotsford British Columbia Stake
"There is no greater Church calling than that of a home teacher. There is no greater Church service rendered to our Father in Heaven’s children than the service rendered by a humble, dedicated, committed home teacher."
- Pres. Ezra Taft Benson
Learning to be a Home Teacher was the best preparation I could have made to become a life-long servant of my Heavenly Father. Three precious experiences come to mind as I recall the moments that have had the most effect on my life .
Just Keep Going
When I was a young single student having just returned from my mission, my home teaching companion was a young single student as well. We were good friends and off we went each month on our home teaching route.
We were well received by everyone except one very elderly lady who lived alone in her house. She hadn’t been to Church for as long as anyone could remember. Nobody knew her and she didn’t let anyone in to visit. My companion and I showed up at her doorstep every month, rang the door bell and waited. Even though each time we could see that she was home, she never came to the door. We wondered whether we should keep going to her house just to wait at her door and never get in. It seemed like a waste of time, but we decided to keep going.
After approximately a year of waiting on her front porch for five minutes each month, she finally came to the door and let us in. She said that she could see that we really did care because we didn’t give up, we just kept coming. She wondered why two young men with so much to do in their own lives would continue to show up on her doorstep. She opened up and explained why she left the Church many years ago and how someone had offended her. She was bitter and lonely, living on her own all that time. She told us her whole life’s story in one night. After so many years, her heart was softened just by her home teachers coming to try to see her every month. I was glad that the Spirit whispered to us to just keep going when we could have given up.
I learned Faith
A couple years later, when I was newly married with a little son and we lived in campus housing, I had a home teaching route that included a young couple with a little daughter about the same age as our son.
Their second child, a son, was born with a defective heart. The doctors said that he would not live long. He received a number of blessings and miraculously continued to live, but wasn’t getting any better. The heartache and pain only grew for his parents as this dragged on for several months.
Then the father called me and asked me to give his son a blessing. I was afraid, but said I would pray and call back when I knew if I should bless the baby, as he already had received several blessings. I went straight to my bedroom, knelt down by the bed and pleaded to know if I should bless the baby. I received the quiet assurance of the Spirit that it was right to go ahead, so I went with his parents to the hospital that night to give the blessing. I told the parents that I didn’t know what the blessing would say, as I would only try to say what the Spirit would tell me that would be in accordance with the will of our Heavenly Father. They said that they understood and were prepared to accept His will.
At the hospital, I could easily hold tiny baby in my two hands. His chest was heaving as he struggled for every breath. After his father anointed him, I began the blessing. After many words of comfort and blessing, the words of the Spirit finally came to my mind and heart which I voiced as follows: “Dear baby..., you will pass away shortly, peacefully and without any pain as you sleep in your mother’s arms”. I cannot begin to describe the emotions of the moment. Our loving Heavenly Father had declared His will, and though we didn’t know why this baby was being called home, we knew it was right.
Two days later the mother called me. She said she returned to the hospital all alone the night after the blessing. While she was holding her sleeping baby in her arms, he passed away peacefully and without any pain. Although she suffered such a painful loss, she also felt the quiet assurance of the Spirit, that all was well. She knew her baby was alive. She knew she would raise him during the Millennium. She knew that he was still hers, and that he always would be.
Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, is not just to know that He lives. It is also to have confidence and trust in His purposes, especially when we don’t understand what they are. I learned from the parents to have faith in the face of life’s greatest trials.
Twelve Were Not Too Many
While I was still a student, the ward executive secretary and taught the Gospel Doctrine class and my wife was the Primary President, I had the usual home teaching route of three or four families.
Then new Priesthood leaders were called. They determined that we should visit all the members of the ward, not just the few that were assigned home teachers at the time. This was a ward with a lot of young student families and singles on the one hand, and elderly widows on the other. We didn’t have many priesthood members, so they decided on husband and wife teams which resulted in the average route being assigned twelve families.
My wife and I had a route with twelve elderly women. Some lived at home and others in care facilities. Each Sunday, we would visit three of our sisters after church on our way back to our apartment. We took our two little children with us. Our kids were a big hit—the ladies loved them. They brought such enthusiasm and youthful vitality that our widowed sisters couldn’t wait for our next visit. In fact, all the ladies in the old folks' homes looked forward to seeing us come for our visits each month.
Now some have suggested that a home teaching route of twelve was impossible. They said it couldn’t be done. But who would we eliminate from our list? Which one of these women did not deserve a visit? No, we came to the conclusion that we could not give up any one of them. Truly twelve were not too many.