Visiting Teachers
Sunday September 30th 2012, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Life

There was a woman’s conference broadcast from the Salt Lake City headquarters of the Mormon Church.

Henry B. Eyring was the final (and only male) speaker. He thanked the sisters for the ways in which they go about their work–and for one particular (unnamed) sister in a different city and time zone, he said, This father thanks her.

The Church has a setup called Visiting Teaching, wherein pairs of women are assigned together to go visit several other women to make sure that everybody has someone they feel they can turn to in need–by their making the effort to get to know each other better.

The names and pairs occasionally get changed around.

Let me tell a story on myself. Back when we’d been married about a year and a bit, while living in an apartment complex full of married students and grad students, I found myself one day not long after a miscarriage at nearly four months and Richard was doing finals week for his Master’s degree classes and we had to move and clean that place well enough to get our cleaning deposit we needed back (never happened for anyone with that landlord), tired and frustrated, and at 5:00 the electricity was going to go out and be transferred to our new place a few blocks away–and it was a hot, stale day on top of that.

So I had my kitchen door open.

A middle-aged woman I had never seen before was suddenly standing in that doorway. “Are you the maid?” She proceeded to tell me all the things I had not done well in preparing her apartment for her and she wanted to move in now and why wasn’t it ready. She wasn’t angry, just firm. She was talking about a spot several doors down, turned out, but there was such a Niagara Falls of words and assumptions that I couldn’t swim past them for several minutes to get through to her, simply, that, No. I’m not!

And so she too easily became the focus of a bad day. I really really never wanted to see her again.

Guess who was in church the next Sunday? In our own ward? She’s Mormon? Guess whose Relief Society president, knowing not one word of any of that, instantly assigned me to be her Visiting Teacher? I groaned an inner, Yes, Lord. I hear you. But–really!? Do I *have* to?!

Never turn down a Visiting Teaching assignment.

And so that lonely, newly divorced woman old enough to be my mother and I became fast friends. By the grace of God I got over myself and got rescued from my own resentment while being given a dear friend I didn’t deserve. She was one of the people I missed the most when we moved to another state a year later.

Elder Eyring said his daughter a month ago was six months pregnant and home with her three-year-old while her oldest was in kindergarten class, when suddenly she found herself bleeding. And heavily. She called her husband and he told her to call 911 and get an ambulance; he would meet her at the hospital.

Before she could make that second call her doorbell rang: it was her visiting teaching partner, who had simply felt somehow that she should swing on by. No appointment that day, it just seemed the thing to do–and so she was the one who got her friend to the hospital, while being able to take care of the three-year-0ld; I imagine the paramedics wouldn’t have been able to do a thing about her past those ER doors and the mother ended up being sent straight to surgery. The dad was on his way as fast as he could. Waiting for him was his little girl in a strange place–with someone she knew.

And so, too, Elder Eyring’s daughter got to the hospital perhaps sooner than had she had to wait for that ambulance to come.

The baby was fifteen weeks early but is alive. They had to deliver her to save her mother’s life. Both of them made it.

And now the good women of that ward are taking turns helping out the family so that they can spend as much time at the hospital with their newborn as they can. That means the woman’s visiting teachers are in charge of coordinating care for the other children, meals brought in, whatever else may be needed as needed.

And you know every single person who chips in and helps will feel thisclose to that family forever after, that baby, their baby.

And Elder Eyring just wanted to say, with all that was in him, Thank you.

7 Comments so far
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Thank you for this. A copy is going to my RS President.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 10.01.12 @ 6:38 am


And of course… no coincidences. Ever.

Comment by Channon 10.01.12 @ 7:16 am

I agree with Channon, God provides for our needs, truly blessed.

Comment by Kris 10.01.12 @ 8:25 am

Magnificent story! God provides if we will listen, and perhaps even if we don’t.

Comment by Don Meyer 10.01.12 @ 9:12 am

Oscar and I are really missing connection with community these days. Our closest friends live more than an hour away in Lansing and in Atlanta, GA. Those closer have not returned phone calls for months. I think it’s time to look into the welcoming congregation at the Unitarian Church in the next town over.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 10.01.12 @ 9:19 am

wonderful story

Comment by Bev 10.01.12 @ 9:21 am

I have chills! What generous hearts… Thanks to all of you who participate in such kind activities!

I agree that the sense of community is missing. It’s not always easy in big cities but in our previous neighbourhood, I did my very best to be a good neighbour.

Comment by Suzanne from Montreal 10.01.12 @ 12:10 pm

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