My First Door

There was a knot in my stomach. I was afraid to give the lesson in front of a high priest.

My legs felt like gelatin and there was a knot in my stomach as we approached the door. I was sure that I was going to faint as my companion told me that this was my door.

No, I wasn’t a new missionary. I was a 15-year-old home teacher climbing the stairs to the apartment of Sister Rice, a widow living in the Bountiful (Utah) First Ward. Don Gabbott, my companion, was to teach me a great lesson that night about the nurturing role of priesthood bearers to shut-ins who are cut off from the mainstream of Church activity.

Brother Gabbott had given me a topic to present to the five families assigned us, and I was frightened. Inexperienced, I was prepared with some notes on a paper, but I was unsure of how to take the lead in the presence of a high priest.

The response to our knocking was slow in coming. Even though we could see through the storm door window, I was about to suggest that no one was home. Then the shrunken figure of a frail, aged sister, came around a corner in the hallway. She seemed uncertain of what waited her answer at the door. Her face brightened as she recognized Brother Gabbott. We were invited into her living room and asked to take a seat.

After a short greeting, Brother Gabbott looked at me as if to say, “Okay, Bob, it’s time to give our message.” The knot in my stomach tightened as I began to speak. I cannot recall what I said—it doesn’t really matter—for I was the pupil in the classroom of priesthood duty and responsibility. As I glanced up from my notes at the conclusion of my remarks, my eyes fell upon the tear-stained cheeks of that sweet, sensitive sister. She expressed her gratitude for the presence of priesthood bearers in her humble home.

I was speechless. What had I done? What had I said that had been so profound? What could I do? Fortunately, Brother Gabbott came to my rescue by bearing his testimony and asking if there were any needs in the home. There were.

Sister Rice said that she had not been feeling well and asked that she be remembered as we offered our prayer before leaving. She then turned to me and asked if I would offer that prayer. By that time, I was so overcome by the spirit of the occasion that the request numbed me. I was surprised that I was asked to pray when someone older and more experienced and trusted was present. Automatically, I consented and offered a benediction upon that home teaching visit, asking that a special blessing of health and strength be given to that faithful sister whom I barely knew but quickly came to love and respect.

Twenty-five years have passed since my introduction to home teaching in the home of Sister Rice, and she has long since passed away. But I cannot pass that orange-brick fourplex on Bountiful’s Main Street without thinking about the experience provided by Brother Gabbott and a faithful sister who knew the appropriateness of calling upon the powers of heaven embodied in an obedient high priest and an insecure, frightened teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood.

[photo] Photography by Welden Andersen