My Home Teacher, My Friend

Weak from kidney surgery, and abandoned by those dearest to me, I finally hit bottom. Life had become intolerable—hopeless. Sick, paralyzed from the neck down, and broken in spirit, I felt that there was nothing nor anyone left to turn to. Or so it seemed.

Inactive for ten years, I had no formal connection with the Church except a soft-spoken, unpretentious home teacher, Brad K. Robison. I had known Brad for about two years and had grown to regard him as kind and thoughtful. But it wasn’t until he walked into my hospital room at this, my life’s lowest ebb, that I realized what he represented and that the hope and promise he brought with him could make my life meaningful.

The first time I spoke with Brad, two years earlier, had been on the phone. A close friend had requested that someone from the Church look in on me, so Brad was assigned to be my home teacher. Knowing nothing about me, Brad asked, “Why haven’t I seen you at Church?”

Cynically, I answered, “My legs just can’t seem to get me there on Sunday.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he replied. “Some Sundays I have the same problem.” Chuckling at his witty retort, he proceeded to ask if he could come over. I agreed, without telling him that I was a quadriplegic.

Upon entering my home and realizing my situation, Brad turned to me sorrowfully, paused, and then burst into laughter. It was contagious. We began talking and found we had quite a lot in common, including the desire to practice medicine—a goal I had been prevented from achieving by my auto accident and the resulting paralysis.

After a pleasant chat, Brad asked if he might come back. Thinking I would never see him again, I answered, “Sure.”

To my amazement, month after month, Brad returned. Even when my only words were “Go away!” he never let my moodiness or bitterness put him off. Tenaciously he would return, just to talk and ask if there was anything he could do. Not once, in all his early home teaching visits, did we talk about the Church, God, or anything remotely religious. Patient, insightful, or just polite—I’m not sure which—Brad seemed to sense that my pain and suffering wouldn’t allow me, at that time, to be receptive to any notions of a benevolent deity. Brad became a friend when friends were few and far between.

In time our friendship grew. I became conscious of traits in Brad that reminded me of someone in my past: his quiet, inner peace; his sense of who he was and where he was going; his honesty and unpretentiousness. But who it was, I couldn’t remember.

So it went until Brad, my diligent home teacher-turned-friend, cautiously walked into my hospital room that day. Once again, as when I had decided to join the Church, the truthfulness of the gospel and its witness washed over my being and became undeniable. Peace filled my heart. My self-pity and bitterness abated, and the sense of abandonment faded. I knew things were going to be all right. Suddenly, what before had seemed strangely familiar about Brad now no longer puzzled me; he was the reflection of myself when I was active in the Church and armed with the priesthood, the Holy Ghost, and a knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Renewed with hope, I asked if the bishop would visit me.

Bishop C. Lynn Mahoney came and further convinced me that there were still good people—people who cared about others. Graciously, he helped solve my immediate temporal problems and warmly invited me to become active in the ward. He has since supported my efforts to be active by escorting me through the temple to receive my endowment and by asking several of the brethren to assist me to priesthood and sacrament meetings.

Is home teaching really important? I know it is. Because of a dedicated, persistent home teacher and his visit at a time when life seemed hopeless and no longer worth living, I’m once again active in the Church and have a second chance to live life according to Christ’s teachings. My home teacher helped me to see that the gospel offered hope—not only for salvation, but also for happiness in the here and now.

[illustration] Illustrated by Mark Buehner

William Wanet Miller is an elder in the University Ward, Oakland California Stake.