Visiting and Home Teaching: Good in Theory, Better in Practice

I come from a short line of pretty committed home and visiting teachers. My mother was the only Young Woman during her time within her area, and so she skipped Young Women’s completely and was sent straight to Relief Society. Maybe that is why she had a deep and abiding love of Relief Society and did her visiting teaching regularly.

My father has always been a committed home teacher. As there were not enough men, my mother was his typical companion. It was essentially extra visiting teaching, but with Priesthood around to make sure that the family’s needs were met.

My first experiences with personal home teaching dealing for myself were likely biased as they happened at a Church school. There were a lot of members of the Church around, and if someone missed for a month or two, I had no problems calling the home teachers and asking where they were or even calling the elder’s quorum president if I was unsure who my home teachers were. Skipping more than two months was unacceptable to me. I was a single, young, assertive woman. And I tried to do my visiting teaching, although I admit that it was much easier when I had partners who were willing to go.

I came to a new city, and home teachers were off and on. For when I had them and they came, it was great even if they weren’t about to be my best friends. At least someone could more-accurately report that I was actually fine, and know that I was not dead.

While serving a Church mission, my companion and I tried searching for a member. It turned out that he’d died three years prior and no one had any idea. The ward was severely over-worked and burnt out for the few active members there, so it would make sense that keeping up with home and visiting teaching would lack. However, they guy was dead. Three years prior. That’s sad.

My current ward has fits and starts. It’s probably pretty normal regarding home and visiting teaching. I came into this ward as a single older woman, and the home teachers were quite good once the leadership changed and I finally got assigned six months after moving in. They came almost like clock work. The visiting teachers lacked, but after six to nine months and only one visit, I figured I needed to make a call and get the assignment changed.

After getting married, now I am under stewardship of the elder’s quorum. I am a visiting teacher, and am assigned visiting teachees. For the last four to six months at least, I’ve been trying very hard to be a diligent visiting teacher. Most of the teaching is online or by text because making appointments with the sisters to come to their homes seems impossible.

Since we got married, we’ve been home and visit taught exactly once in close to six months. This lead me to think that being married means that we matter less than when we were single. We got checked off to happily ever after land? I love my husband, but it would be nice to even have someone want to come by even once a month.

I have been visit exactly five times since April or May 2010. Somehow I don’t think that maybe once a year average is a good thing. Less than that is tragic. It actually took some time for me to remember that many visits.

I know that I was never visit taught in the singles ward. I was visit taught exactly three times since changing to the family ward in 2012 to now, and one of those was helping me pack to move residences. In recalling the whole time, my family members have died, I moved cities, started school, and had a lot of life challenges without any support including from family. I was actively involved in the Church whenever I moved, before and after.

It’s close to the end of the month again, and my visiting teachers don’t say hi to me in the halls of Church, and don’t contact me outside of Church. Should I be the one to initiate everything? I seriously wonder what I did to become such a leper. Or am I not important because I am active?

When my husband and I first got married, we seriously considered only coming to Sacrament Meeting because no one cared whether we were there or not. We couldn’t afford a wedding reception anywhere, and the wedding was a distance wedding at a historic Church temple. The members of the ward didn’t know my husband that well and so people were watching and waiting to see what we would do and how we would act. Didn’t matter that I’d been stalwart for more than a year and served the ward on a regular basis prior to that. The only thing that changed was that there was a man around on a regular basis.

If leaders have any question about why members go inactive, look at home and visiting teaching. Even if the stats do not directly show causation, I can witness that there is absolute causation between the two.

There are more changes in my life and the only people that care are me and my husband. Perhaps I shouldn’t want any attention. Perhaps the theory that home and visiting teaching is supposed to look after people as Christ would is complete malarkey. I refuse to believe that the apathy of others is how Christ would treat me were He here.

We started working a lot with the missionaries because they like us and seem to care even if they rotate in and out. At least SOMEONE cares, or at least attempts caring, even if they won’t be around for more than six weeks at a time. My testimony of the Church is still there, even if I’m worn and frazzled and feeling very alone because of inaction. It is still completely unacceptable not to have regularly visiting teachers and home teachers, and I’ve had various teachers switched in the past because they simply would not do what they covenanted to do.

I know that home and visiting teaching are super important. Having lived for years without much of it, it’s dearer now than it ever was when it actually happened when I was a freshman in college when all that the women had to do was to walk down the hall to say hi to me and we were all brand-new at this.

Does it need to be harder for Church members to actually do it? Sure, people are busy, but so am I. You make time for your priorities and I’m just sad that their actions say that I don’t matter. It makes life tougher than it needs to be. I guess that it may be time for another phone call. I’m starting to get tired of caring. Should I keep doing my visiting teaching although no gives a whit if I get taught? (Yes.) I feel like sinking sand. Maybe I should see if anyone is actually willing to do their visiting teaching and then ask for them to visit teach me since my teachers are too busy to care. Sad, but still going and still (barely) trying.

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