Relief Society Page
Written especially for LDS
sisters serving as visiting teachers includes inspirational helps, visiting teaching
conference ideas, quotes, poems, etc
Please Note: This Website
does not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
in any way, either
officially or unofficially. I alone am responsible for its contents.
A Position of Leadership: Article
about the importance of visiting teaching and realizing that it is actually a leadership
Conference Ideas: Ideas for two different visiting teaching conferences
designed to help the sisters of your area understand and see the importance of
putting time and love into their visiting teaching rather than just
dutifully doing it
Sheep Resources: These
are wonderful conference talks that contain wonderful stories that could
easily go with any theme that included Sheep and Shepherds
Visiting Teaching Quotes: Various
quotes that help sisters understand importance and role of this calling.
Articles For and About Visiting Teaching
Top Ten Ways to Visit
Teach: Ten ideas for better visiting teaching
Top Ten Ways NOT to
Visit Teach: Humorous way to show the silliness of some our method of
doing (or really not doing) our visiting teaching
Visiting Teaching Poems
Other Visiting Teaching
Here to Receive Our Newsletter
A Position of
by Debra Oaks Coe (c) all rights reserved
I know that we have all heard the statement that no one is "Just a
Visiting Teacher" and that visiting teaching/home teaching are the most important
callings, but how many of us believe it? There is something about "most
everyone" being a visiting teacher that makes us feel like we aren't
"special. If we were to be called to be THE Stake Relief Society
President that would be different; then we would feel important but only because just one
sister in the whole stake has this calling. It all reminds me of President Benson's
talk Beware of Pride where he said, "It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest."
The truth is that visiting teaching is a call to lead. Through faithful visiting
teaching one can learn that real leadership is all about caring for individuals and
helping them to improve. Leadership has no necessary connection with position.
Leading others is not a title it is an action word.
I love the song "I am a Child of God" where it says: "Lead me, Guide me,
Walk beside me, Help me find the way." What better words to describe our duty
to the sisters we visit. Such a small thing, but in the Book of Mormon, " 'Alma
spoke of miracles worked by small means, and he included a warning; 'Nevertheless because
those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works.'
But, 'they were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those
marvelous works ceased and they did not progress in their journey.' (Alma 37:41)"
(Elder Boyd K. Packer, "Let Them Govern Themselves," Regional Representative
Seminar Friday, March 30, 1990)
True leaders desire equality. They esteem others as themselves (Mosiah 27:4 and D&C
38:24-25). Hugh Nibley said, "We think of great generals from David and Alexander on
down, sharing their beans or maza with their men, calling them by their first names,
marching along with them in the heat, sleeping on the ground, and first over the wall. A
famous ode by a long-suffering Greek soldiers, Archilochuis, reminds us that the men in
the ranks are not fooled for an instant by the executive type who thinks he is a
leader." ("Leaders and Managers," Commencement address given in the
Marriott Center on August 19, 1983)
The whole War in Heaven centered on equality. Satan wanted to be above all and have
glory unto himself. Christ, with God on his side, desired that all should be
equal. He desired to give great service to us and did not seek glory for
Himself. As visiting teachers, we can emulate this example by seeking only to serve,
love and encourage those we teach. We must see each sister in her true light as
daughter of God and of great worth. What a wonderful thing to have so many sisters
in the church called to be visiting teachers so we learn that we are all of equal value in
the sight of God.
Great leaders care about individuals. General Eisenhower for example, spent the last
few hours before the D-Day invasion with his troops. Note that he did not spend it
with the "top brass." Instead he mingled with the soldiers, the airmen,
the sailors who were about to invade Europe. He couldn't possibly visit with all of
them, but he knew that word would spread that he cared about his men as individuals.
He knew that this alone would give the added courage and strength needed in battle.
God Himself is of course the perfect leader. As such,
He is deeply concerned with individuals. The Holy Ghost is sent to comfort all those
who would invite Him and are willing to listen to the still small voice. The spirit
of Christ is likewise given to all men. Through prayer we may speak with our
Heavenly Father at any given moment. Through the scriptures and modern day prophets
a loving Father in Heaven speaks to all who will listen. This same loving Father knows
that there are times when we need another flesh and blood person to help and encourage us
in the "battles" we are engaged in. Again His main concern is with
individual people. So we are called to visit teach and to be God's representatives.
As with all callings, great spiritual growth can be obtained by those who learn the real
spirit of visiting teaching. Caring for individuals and valuing them no matter what
worldly status they have, is what becoming more Godlike is all about.
I have learned over the years that as women we are far more verbal on average than men and
have a need to talk about our feelings. In facing challenges, when women know that
just one other person is aware of and understands what they are going through, they
receive added strength and are better capable of getting through difficult times -- even
with no more help than a listening ear. How interesting that the rest of our
families are served by one set of home teachers and while sisters are given the added help
of visiting teachers.
Christ often reached out to individuals as they went about their daily lives. He
taught Mary and Martha as they prepared supper, the woman at well as she got Him a drink,
an entire crowd about the worth of a soul as He helped a woman about to be stoned to
"Come follow me, the Savior said." Visiting Teaching gives us
opportunities to serve as He would serve and to learn what leadership is all about.
It is a call to be in the service of our fellowman which is to be in the service of our
Teaching Conference Ideas
Understanding and Loving Each Sister
Debra Oaks Coe Copyright 1997
Purpose: Learn to understand
other sisters who seem different to you and to value each other. Understand the importance of visiting teaching.
Call each sister in the ward and ask them to come with a specific thing
wrong (I usually picked something to ask them ahead of time based on personality since
some are more daring than others.) Some of the things we used were: Two different
shoes, slip showing, different socks, dress or shirt backwards, etc.
This served three purposes -- one being that it gave each sister a reason
to come because they were participating and had obligated themselves to come (yes we did
have much better attendance with this); second we used it as a game to see who could find
the most things wrong which helped them to get to know each other and talk a little; third
I used it later as an object lesson that I will explain later.
As the sisters arrived they were involved immediately since we handed them a paper with
the list of things wrong and they were to begin writing in the names of the sisters that
fit each item.
After an appropriate amount of time for mingling and everyone getting a chance see each
other and laugh and talk, we had everyone take their seats and we read off the correct
list and recognized those with the greatest number correct.
At this point we used it as a object lesson and asked what if someone,
perhaps a neighbor or someone at the gas station, etc had seen them with say a dress
backwards or two different shoes, they would judge and think something was wrong with
them, etc. Of course they would be judging incorrectly because they did not have all the
facts. We then talked about judging each other and how we often don't take the time to get
to know our sisters before we judge them and usually incorrectly.
Some good poems that go with this idea are: (After the poems keep
scrolling down as there is more)
WHEN YOU KNOW A FELLOW
By Edgar A. Guest
When you get to know a fellow, know his joys and know his cares,
When you've come to understand him and the burdens that he bears,
When you've learned the fight he's making and the troubles in his way,
Then you find that he is different than you thought him yesterday.
You find his faults are trivial and there's not so much to blame
In the brother that you jeered at when you only knew his name.
You are quick to see the blemish in the distant neighbor's style,
You can point to all his errors and may sneer at him the while,
And your prejudices fatten and your hates more violent grow
As you talk about the failures of the man you do not know,
But when drawn a little closer, and your hands and shoulders touch,
You find the traits you hated really don't amount to much.
When you get to know a fellow, know his every mood and whim,
You begin to find the texture of the splendid side of him;
You begin to understand him, and you cease to scoff and sneer,
For with understanding always prejudices disappear.
You begin to find his virtues and his faults you cease to tell,
For you seldom hate a fellow when you know him very well.
When next you start in sneering and your phrases turn to blame,
Know more of him you censure than his business and his name;
For it's likely that acquaintance would your prejudice dispel
And you'd really come to like him if you knew him very well.
When you get to know a fellow and you under- stand his ways,
Then his faults won't really matter, for you'll find a lot to praise.
THE JUNK BOX
by Edgar A. Guest
My father often used to say:
"My boy don't throw a thing away:
You'll find a use for it some day."
So in a box he stored up things,
Bent nails, old washers, pipes and rings,
And bolts and nuts and rusty springs.
Despite each blemish and each flaw,
Some use for everything he saw;
With things material, this was law.
And often when he'd work to do,
He searched the junk box through and through
And found old stuff as good as new.
And I have often thought since then,
That father did the same with men;
He knew he'd need their help again.
It seems to me he understood
That men, as well as iron and wood,
May broken be and still be good.
Despite the vices he'd display
He never threw a man away,
But kept him for another day.
A human junk box is this earth
And into it we're tossed at birth,
To wait the day we'll be of worth.
Though bent and twisted, weak of will,
And full of flaws and lacking skill,
Some service each can render still.
Okay after this presentation about learning to get to know others thoroughly and not
judging and accepting differences, there are a couple of directions that I have then taken
at different times. One is to give a presentation on Meyers Briggs Personality types (if
you want more information let me know)
Another is to have either two tables or one long table divided in half. On one side have
it all set up a head of time with very nice refreshments, center piece, nice table cloth,
etc. Next divide the sisters into two groups. To the first group tell them how much you
love and care about each one of them and point out that you wanted to do something special
for them and so you brought one of the nicest table cloths you could find (pointing to the
table all set and beautiful.) Then turn to the second group and assure them that you love
them just as much as the first group, but explain that you were just in a rush all week
and that you meant to bring a nice table cloth for them too -- of course on your way to
the meeting you realized that in all your rush you forgot it so you looked through your
car to see what you had for a table covering and found an old newspaper. (at this point
bring out some news paper and begin spreading it out over the table) All the time you are
doing this, point out that the newspaper covers the table just the same as the nice table
cloth and keep repeating that you love them just as much as the first group repeat that it
is all the same often as well.
Go through everything on the table this way, if you have a nice fresh vegetable tray for
example, for the second group have the same vegetables in the raw (carrots still with the
green tops on them and dirt if possible for example) if you have chips for the first
group, bring raw potatoes, salt, and oil for the second group and point out where the
kitchen is. What you use depends on what refreshments you are having. Above all repeat to
the first group how much you cared for them that is why you went to so much trouble for
them and then to the second group repeat often how it is just the same and how you love
the second group just as much and that you were just very busy and in a rush but that you
meant to do everything nice for them too.
Needless to say, you don't fool anyone and it certainly isn't the same. At the end of the
presentation, assure the second group that the refreshments were really for everyone. The
point is that how much we care and love someone does show no matter how much we try to
convince ourselves or others that it is the same; it isn't. Love is something is that is
felt by everyone. One point that I always make is that love is not necessarily shown by
taking plates of cookies or loaves of bread or poems, while these are nice and can be part
of showing concern, love is shown through intangible ways, it is sincere concern and
caring for another person.
Feed My Sheep
Debra Oaks Coe copyright 1997
Another visiting teaching conference we did was to put on a nice dinner
for the sisters. We related each part of the dinner to visiting teaching and just before
each course we talked about the correlation to visiting teaching. Part of why we did this
was so that whenever the sisters were eating dinner (like every night) it might help to
remind them of visiting teaching and being good visiting teachers.
PREPARATION FOR THE DINNER: We related the preparation of the food,
setting the tables in a nice fashion, etc. as the preparation we do as visiting teachers.
These include living the gospel in our daily lives, reading the scriptures, saying our
prayers, etc. so that we can be good examples since this teaches far more than mere words.
This also represents the preparations of reading the lesson, calling and setting up
appointments with our sisters, etc.
PRAYER ON THE FOOD: Represented all the special prayers for our sisters. Our personal
prayers on their behalf and prayer with our companion.
APPETIZER: All friendly contact outside of the visit: for example at church, phone calls
or just dropping off a plate of cookies etc. "just because." All these things
are appetizers for the real visit and help set a positive tone and comfort with each
MAIN COURSE: This of course would be the visit itself. Just as a nice dinner would be
presented in a nice way, so should a visit. Take time to carefully read the lesson and
know how to best present it to each sister. With a nice meal we also take time to put it
on nice dishes and also make the food itself look nice -- we should also look nice when we
go to visit our sisters. You can certainly have a meal without a dessert or an appetizer
but it wouldn't be a meal without a main course. Our bishop refers to the visit itself as
just the minimum to be done.
DESSERT: This should be the sweet friendships that develop as a result of good visiting
teaching. There should be friendships developed with your companion as well as the sisters
In addition to the above we invited the stake RS Presidency to come. However, we warned
them ahead of time as to what we were going to do. When they arrived we pretended to be
surprised and to have forgotten they were coming. We threw a cloth on the floor for them
and quickly threw paper products for them (everyone else had nice dishes to eat on and
needless to say it didn't look nice). As we served each item we explained to the stake
visitors that we didn't have time to make them nice food so we brought out a head of
lettuce and tomato and a knife, etc. instead of salad for example.
We did have a main course for them, but no dessert. We used this through
out the meeting as a contrast to visiting teaching done without the necessary work and
preparation. (I have to tell you that after we had made our point with each category we
did bring the nicer things out for the Stake to eat with us. You could also invite the
bishop and his wife or just any other sisters in the ward to sit at a "special
table" for the same purpose.
To be successful, it seems to me that a visiting
teacher would wish to have high purpose and remember it all the time, would want to have
great vision, a terrific enthusiasm that cannot be worn down, a positive attitude, of
course, and a great love. . ."
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball page 525
"My desire is to plead with
our sisters to stop worrying about a phone call or a quarterly or monthly visit, and
whether that will do, and concentrate instead on nurturing tender souls. Our
responsibility is to see that the gospel flame continues to burn brightly. Our
charge is to find the lost sheep and help them feel our Savior's love."
-Mary Ellen Smoot, General Relief Society President, 4 October 1997
"It is the individual who is not interested in his
fellow men who has the greatest difficulty in life and provides the greatest injury to
others. It is from such individuals that all human failures spring." -- Alfred Adler
The measure of a truly great man is the courtesy
with which he treats lesser men.
Visiting Teachers must excel and give leadership to the
women into whose homes they go.
President Spencer W. Kimball
poverty of the earth is as common in the South Bronx of New York City
as it is [in India]. The poverty we must fight is the poverty of
unwanted humanity, a spiritual poverty that develops when no one
cares. This poverty will never be erased by money and medicine and
materials. It can only be cured by love."
Articles For and About Visiting Teaching
to Cherish Visiting Teaching -- Good article about learning to
really love the sisters you visit instead of just doing the work. One of
my favorite quotes from this article is: "I was determined to be
the 'perfect' visiting teacher. I gave the prepared message, visited early in
the month, and brought cookies and cakes, birthday treats, and Christmas
gifts. But the feelings of sisterhood I had expected didnít
materialize. . . [later] I learned what I had lacked . . . ólove."
Teaching: The Multiplier Effect -- Talks about the positive
effects visiting teaching has on many lives.
By Debra Oaks Coe Copyright 2002
I want to be well known as the old comfortable walking shoe is known to the
foot that used it for years. Famous as the well-used work glove is to the hand
it protected through many difficult projects. Famous as the frayed and bent
photo is to the person who carried it for years
I don't want to be famous as the rarely worn dress shoe is to the once
visited ballroom floor; beautiful, sparkling, and admired by the world, but
impractical to everyday life. Nor do I want to be put on display and admired
like fine china that sits in a cabinet, rarely used for its intended purpose.
I want to be known to my descendants as my great great grandmothers are
known to me. Not always by name, but as women that cared more for future
generations than for their own personal comforts. Women whose courage and
pioneer spirit molded the good circumstances of my life decades before I was
I do not hope for my name to be known. Instead I hope to help others
recognize their potential and to feel that they are loved. I hope to do this
for more than my circle of friends and family. I want to include strangers and
even my enemies. I especially hope to be useful to those people who have
generally been rejected by society because so many considered themselves
I pray for God to share His love and esteem of mankind with me that I might
be His willing servant and help Him to be the one well known to others.
I'M JUST A
"I'm just a visiting teacher,"
I said to my friend today.
And my father in Heaven heard me,
And I seemed to hear him say:
"Not just a visiting teacher,
A disciple with work to do,
And wherever you carry my message
My spirit goes with you."
"Some daughters of mine with burdens
Some seem to have lost the way
Go take them my love and my gospel
To strengthen them day by day."
"Never say you're just a visiting teacher,
Have faith and you'll understand
When you enter a home with love and prayer --
I take you by the hand."
The Friend Who Just Stands By
comes your soul to try
You love the
friend who just "stands by."
nothing he can do.
The thing is
strictly up to you;
For there are
troubles all your own,
And paths the
soul must tread alone
Times when love
cannot smooth the road
lift the heavy load,
But just to know
you have a friend
"stand by" until the end,
through all endures
handclasp is always yours
somehow, to pull you through
nothing he can do.
And so with
fervent heart you cry
the friend who just stands by'!"
Top Ten Ways TO
Debra Oaks Coe (c ) 1999 all rights reserved
1. Care more about the sister than a check mark by
2. Find all the good qualities that you can in each
sister you visit and compliment them often.
3. Sincerely get to know the sisters well enough to
become their friend.
4. Learn her children's names and say hello to
5. Be more concerned about bringing a God's spirit
and message than about bringing something that only looks cute and clever.
6. When personal problems are shared be sure to try
and understand how your sister is feeling and find ways to help -- even just a sympathetic
ear is a huge help and often all that is needed.
7. Remember that there are many things about each
sister that you do not know so stay clear of judging and concentrate instead on lifting
8. Become friends with your companion.
9. Never forget that you are God's representative and
should be looking for ways to serve as He would if He were there -- be sure to ask for His
help! Pray with your companion and with the sister as part of your
10. Always strive for unconditional love both for the
sisters you visit and for your companion.
Top Ten Ways NOT
To Visit Teach
Debra Oaks Coe (c) 1998 all rights reserved
10. Have NO contact at all -- don't call even once, that way the
sisters on your route won't even know who their visiting teachers are and won't know that
you are the ones that don't care about them.
9. Bring sure to bring all of your children -- the
more the merrier -- or is it the more annoying? Whatever, don't even worry
about the children. They will be quite happy running wild through the house
while you visit. Jumping on the furniture is especially fun! The sister you
visit won't mind since she is talking with you and isn't noticing what they
are into. Even if she does notice, don't worry most sisters are too polite
to tell you how much it bothers them. If something valuable is broken, leave
quickly! Be sure to bring all your children back next month.
8. When you do visit a sister, be sure to keep one eye on the clock
and when ten minutes are up LEAVE IMMEDIATELY -- DO NOT care what topics were being
discussed and DO NOT ask if there is anything you can do to help. You have now
achieved your goal of being able to count this sister as visited so RUN!
7. Instead of asking "is there anything we can do to help
you?" Say, "If you need anything be sure to call your home teachers; we're
sure they would be glad to help you!"
6. Decide that you will be better than anyone else by finishing your
visiting teaching the first week of every month. Brag about this fact in public as
often as possible. To accomplish this you must not ask any sister when is a good
time to visit. Instead you tell each sister the exact day and time you will be
visiting each month. If she cannot make it, don't worry about it -- her loss!
Leave a little card to let her know that you were thinking of her, call and report your
visiting teaching as 100% in the first week!
5. When asked by the Relief Society President to take in a meal to a sister you visit teach who has
just had surgery and cannot get out of bed, call and say, "I don't want to offend you
by bringing a meal because I know how independent you are." If they tell you
that you would not be offensive and please bring a meal, INSIST on helping them stay
independent and INSIST on not bringing a meal.
4. Be sure to say, "If there is anything that we can do to
help, give us a call." However, DO NOT mean it! If the person you visit
teach does call and ask for help, say okay so you sound nice, but then just don't do it.
3. Do not become friends with the person you teach! This means
you need to go out of your way to avoid them at church!
2. As often as possible, go visiting teaching without calling ahead
and only go when you KNOW the sister will NOT be home. Leave a card or a note so the
sister will "know" that she has been visit taught that month.
1. No matter what the topic of conversation, be sure to always
either find a way to talk only about YOUR personal problems or find a way to put down the
sister you are visiting. Don't forget to put down your companion too!
Don't forget to GOSSIP while you visit.
and Sheep Resources
Summer of the Lambs General
Conference Talk given by Jayne Malan
First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency
of Israel General Conference Talk given by Elder
John R. Lasater
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
Hymns: Dear to the Heart
of the Shepherd hymn #221
The Lord Is My Shepherd hymn #108
Visiting Teaching Links
Teaching Homepage : Practical helps for visiting teachers including the
guidelines from the handbook and a supplement to the visiting message.
Teaching Poem: (sung to tune of "On Top of Old Smokey") Humorous
Teaching Statements by Church Leaders
Teaching Conference Theme Idea "Angels Among Us"
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