I remember an assignment as a home teacher which impressed on me the differences required in teaching each individual family. 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.
My son and I had not caught the vision of the change from ward teaching to home teaching in those days. Our preparation for home teaching to visit the families to which we were assigned consisted of about fifteen minutes’ study of the scriptures before going out on our visits. We would then select short scriptures about the subject and give that same message to each of the families we visited.
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.
Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Council of the Twelve.