Visiting Teaching

forever_friends.jpg (19646 bytes)

Relief Society Page    Receive Our Newsletter

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.

 Contents

A Position of Leadership: Article about the importance of visiting teaching and realizing that it is actually a leadership position. 

Visiting Teaching 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

Shepherd and 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.

Excellent 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 Links

Click Here to Receive Our Newsletter

 

A Position of Leadership
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 death.

"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 God.

Visiting Teaching Conference Ideas

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

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.

 

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

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 sister.

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 visited.

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.

Visiting Teaching Quotes

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

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

"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

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

"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

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

 The measure of a truly great man is the courtesy with which he treats lesser men.

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

Visiting Teachers must excel and give leadership to the women into whose homes they go. 

President Spencer W. Kimball

The real 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."

--Mother Teresa--

Excellent Articles For and About Visiting Teaching

Learning 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."

Visiting Teaching: The Multiplier Effect  -- Talks about the positive effects visiting teaching has on many lives.

 

 

Visiting Teaching Poems

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

Well Known

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 born.

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 better.

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.

 

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

I'M JUST A VISITING TEACHER
Author Unknown

"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."

angball.gif (1295 bytes)

The Friend Who Just Stands By

   

When trouble comes your soul to try

You love the friend who just "stands by."

Perhaps there's 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

Nor friendship lift the heavy load,

But just to know you have a friend

Who will "stand by" until the end,

Whose sympathy through all endures

Whose warm handclasp is always yours

It helps, somehow, to pull you through

Although there's nothing he can do.

And so with fervent heart you cry

"God bless the friend who just stands by'!"

-Author Unknown

 

Top Ten Ways TO Visit Teach!

Debra Oaks Coe (c ) 1999 all rights reserved

1.  Care more about the sister than a check mark by your name.

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 them too.

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 and helping.

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 visit.

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.

 

Shepherd and Sheep Resources

The Summer of the Lambs General Conference Talk given by Jayne Malan First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency

Shepherds 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

                

 

Other Visiting Teaching Links

Visit Teaching Homepage :  Practical helps for visiting teachers including the guidelines from the handbook and a supplement to the visiting message.

Visiting Teaching Poem: (sung to tune of "On Top of Old Smokey") Humorous

Visiting Teaching   Statements by Church Leaders

Visiting Teaching Conference Theme Idea "Angels Among Us"

Visiting Teaching Parable

Click Here to Receive Our Newsletter

Return to Relief Society

BGMARVGOLD.GIF (10118 bytes)

Picture "Forever Friends" from:

logovict.jpg (10972 bytes)

 
Webmaster Debra Oaks Coe: ddcoe@msn.com  
Copyright © 1997
Last modified: April 10, 2003