Home Teaching, April 2006

Ronan: Good afternoon Brother and Sister Bloggernacle. Nice to see you again. (Courtesies and half-hearted offers to “help you with something.” Perhaps even a creased birthday card for one of the little ones.)

For our message today, we have brought three props: a mirror, a picture of a Mormon McMansion, and a rusty garden tool (a rake). Yes, it’s really weird that we came to your home wearing suits and holding a rake, but it will all make sense soon, I promise. President Monson’s First Presidency message is about “becoming our best selves.”

Steve: I brought my 40 gig iPod with me to play you a little song. Did I tell you it’s 40 gig? I even have an external hard-drive for my computer to hold all the cool songs I have. Anyway, let me play you something from the Book of Michael:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

(Holds up the mirror) What do you see?

Ronan: Take a good look at yourself Bloggernacle. President Monson suggests we ask ourselves these questions: “Am I what I want to be? Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday? Will I be closer yet tomorrow? Do I have the courage to change for the better?” Consider the words of Jesus: “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”

Steve: (holds up picture of a McMansion) Nice, eh? Jesus said that in his Father’s house are many mansions. He didn’t say “townhomes” or “ranchers.” You know, big homes = happy families. Anyway, I digress. President Monson again:

It is time to choose an oft-forgotten path, the path we might call “the family way,” so that our children and grandchildren might indeed grow to their full potential. There is an international tide running. It carries the unspoken message, “Return to your roots, to your families, to lessons learned, to lives lived, to examples shown, even family values.” Often it is just a matter of coming home–coming home to attics not recently examined, to diaries seldom read, to photo albums almost forgotten.

Ronan: Ah, families. You know Bloggernacle, you’re like our family…

Steve: We love you.

Ronan: (swings rake, almost decapitating Steve) The final prong (no pun intended) in “becoming our best selves” is service. You know, like cleaning an old lady’s yard (shakes rake). President Monson tells this story:

Many years ago, while serving as a bishop, I felt impressed to call upon Augusta Schneider, a widow from the Alsace-Lorraine area of Europe who spoke very little English, although she was fluent in French and German. For years after that first impression, I would visit with her at Christmastime. On one occasion, Augusta said, “Bishop, I have something of great value to me which I would like to present to you.” She then went to a special place in her modest apartment and retrieved the gift. It was a beautiful piece of felt, perhaps six by eight inches (15 by 20 cm) in size, to which she had pinned the medals her husband had been presented for his service as a member of the French forces in World War I. She said, “I would like you to have this personal treasure which is so close to my heart.” I protested politely and suggested there must be some member of her extended family to whom the gift should be given. “No,” she replied firmly, “the gift is yours, for you have the soul of a Frenchman.”

Shortly after presenting this special gift to me, Augusta departed mortality and went home to that God who gave her life. Occasionally I would wonder concerning her declaration that I had “the soul of a Frenchman.” I didn’t have the slightest idea what that meant. I still don’t.

Many years later, I had the privilege to accompany President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) to the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple, which temple would serve German-, French-, and Dutch-speaking members. In packing for the trip, I felt impressed to take along the gift of medals, without any thought concerning what I would do with them. I’d had them a number of years.

For a French-speaking dedication session, the temple was filled. The singing and messages presented were beautiful. Gratitude for God’s blessings penetrated each heart. I saw from my conducting notes that the session included members from the Alsace-Lorraine area.

During my remarks, I observed that the organist had the name of Schneider. I therefore related the account of my association with Augusta Schneider, then stepped to the organ and presented the organist with the medals, along with the charge that since his name was Schneider, he had a responsibility to pursue the Schneider name in his genealogical activities. The Spirit of the Lord confirmed in our hearts that this was a special session. Brother Schneider had a difficult time preparing to play the closing number of the dedicatory service, so moved was he by the Spirit which we felt there in the temple.

I knew that the treasured gift–even the widow’s mite, for it was all Augusta Schneider had–was placed in the hand of one who would ensure that many with the souls of Frenchmen would now receive the blessings the holy temples provide, both for the living and for those who have passed beyond mortality.

Steve: What’s that got to do with a garden rake?

Ronan: Garden rake = service. Doing genealogy = service. I’m just following the Ensign’s suggestions, man. It said to bring a garden tool as a prop.

Steve: Bottom line, guys: have the souls of Frenchmen. I studied at the Sorbonne you know. Vive la France!

Ronan: (Chokes)


  1. trevolution says:

    my favorite part was the 40gig ipod.

  2. That was good, indeed. I liked the part where Ronan almost decapitates Steve. What if he had?

  3. Three questions:

    (1) Can I count myself home-taught and avoid my HTers tomorrow?
    (2) Any recommendations about where to find the soul of a Frenchman (on Ebay?)
    (3) Not to complain or anything, but oculd you guys bring treats next time instead of rusty rake?

  4. Uh, that is to say…

    _could_ you guys bring treats next time instead of _a_ rusty rake? (And perhaps an English dictionary and grammar?)

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Eve, you have the English grammar of a Frenchwoman.

    And mine is 60 gig.

  6. Sad, but true.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Just joshin’, of course.

  8. Not to worry–no offense taken.

  9. I have a post in the works (in my head) about Pres. Monson’s message and how I think it reveals the inner genius of Thomas Spencer Monson. The key is in telling stories that do not, at first blush, have anything to do with your stated topic and also subtly reminding people of the true nature of god by couching everything in threes.

  10. My dad has always loved President Monson’s talks. He wrote to him once saying so and received a personal reply. I think Monson will make a wonderful Church President should the opportunity arise.

    But is it full? Steve’s is (and then some).

    Steve-decapitation is a bloggernacle sport already.

    The soul of a Frenchman can be gained by not bathing for a year.

  11. Alright guys. This is absolutely, positively NOT funny.

    I just got back 20 minutes ago from making my last visit for the month (hey, it’s the 30th, after all), and our visit went about like you describe here, right down to the card, but it was their anniversary, not a birthday. Br. X told a story about what he learned from his mother and father, and we made plans to come back next Saturday and rototill their garden space. Tearjerking stories were told, service was scheduled, families were fortified.

    I heart hometeaching.

  12. When a woman is in the “family way” doesn’t that mean she’s pregnant? Ah, that oft forgotten path. Pregnancy.

  13. Isn’t Converse or Saucony or one of those a French company? Go thou, forthwith, and you can BUY the sole of a french man.

    Er, or not. Hee.

    Lame humor aside, I am rather fuzzily befuddled by Pres. Monson’s story. Sort of like when you are almost about to wake up in the morning, and feel like you are in your apartment of four years ago, and then start to wake up and get all confused because the room is laid out all wrong and you are really disoriented because you aren’t laying where you thought you were, in the room or apartment.

    Sort of like that, you know? Hee.

  14. Sarebear! I haven’t seen you in ages. I hope you’re doing OK. And I’m thrilled to discover we’re in the same HTing group, it seems.

    Thanks to you and Ronan for the pointers about French souls/soles.

    See you next month on the 31st at Bro. and Sis. Bloggernaccles’, and undoubtedly sooner as well.

    Amri, I think that family way message was especially for me. We’ve looked and looked for that forgotten path and just haven’t been able to find it.

  15. You can’t even know how GOOD it feels, to see the surprise of someone being glad to see me, and be THRILLED about our association!

    I dunno, maybe I’m more pathetic than I thought. Then again, I really AM sincerely grateful to see you thrilled that we are in something together!

    I am glad to see you too. Actually, I haven’t been okay, and I’m not sure I can say I’m okay, overall, right now, but for the next few hours anyway, which is about as far ahead as I can say, I’m okay.

    Thank you for enquiring!

  16. Anytime. I’m sorry to hear things have not been good. I wondered about you when you disappeared.

    There are people who care about you around here (especially on this here friendly BCC blog, where folks are so nice, they even home teach with visual aids!). The Bloggernacle just isn’t the same without you around.

  17. I happen to know that Eve actually has the grammar of a Latin woman, and the soul of an iPod.

  18. Lynnette! My long-lost sister! I’m so glad that your studying hasn’t eaten you completely up, and you have returned to our virtual ranks. (This truly a day of reunions. I guess you just never know who you’ll run into in your HTing group.)

    Let us all hope and pray that I do indeed have the grammar of a Latin woman, at least during my final tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. But I think you’re the one with the soul of an Ipod, Lynnette, as I recall from last Christmas. My soul, like Kiskilili’s, is mildly allergic to technology.

    Sorry, all, for the family diversion…please carry on…

  19. Yes. Welcome back Sarebear!

  20. I’m glad to know you, Sara. I like you.

    I like all you guys. Like is better than love. I think.

    That is one of my favorite songs. Honestly.

    I need a blessing, guys. Come on over, I’ve got the oil. I think you’d make great home teachers.

    I needed that, we haven’t had home teachers in years.

  21. CS Eric says:

    We had one of those mega-stake conferences yesterday–you know, the satellite kind, with all the stakes from Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. Anyway, L. Tom Perry’s talk was based on Pres Monson’s home teaching message. So everyone who attended Stake Conference in three states got home taught by a real, live apostle! And on the last day of the month, just like in the real world! Bonus for me to get the same message, only with a slightly different take, from the BCC home teachers. I would have loved to have seen Elder Perry swing a rake around.

    The final speaker was Pres Monson. HP (#9), you would have loved it. He told several wonderful stories, most of which had little discernable relationship to his stated topic. The kicker to it is that, for me at least, the Spirit was stronger when he was just riffing on stories than when he was actually trying to make a point. Reminded me once again that, while he isn’t much of a preacher, he is a wonderful storyteller. I actually enjoyed much of a Stake Conference, for the first time I remember in nearly 20 years.

  22. Porter says:

    I cannot wait until Elder Monson becomes the prophet. I’m sick and tired of all the direct guidance we get from Pres. Hinkley — it just makes me feel guilty. Under Monson it will be way better — no guilt, just good heart warming stories — and they only get better with repetition!

    And then Elder Packer will take over.

  23. Now, if those whom we home teach do not frequent the ‘nacle, but do have email, we can count this as a visit we make, if we forward the link right?

  24. Thanks, brothers.
    Wow! Two for two. And I didn’t even have to make an excuse of why I wouldn’t be home.

    I appreciate the time you take out of your busy schedule to visit me. Would you care for some cream crackers and brie? No? How about this pie I made? My husband? Oh, he’s hiding in the bedroom with earphones on. He’s fine.

    Thanks for the visit. See you next month.

    And, I’ve been wondering about you too, Sarebear. Good to see you.

  25. Thanks meems!

    Hey, HTers, I’ll make the Ben & Jerry’s Superfudge Brownies for next time, with some ice cold COKE, I mean, Milk!

  26. Elisabeth says:

    Well done! I think this is the only time in history that the Home Teachers have outdone the Visiting Teachers in consistently contacting their families (imaginary though they may be).

  27. Regarding Pres. Monson, does anyone else think that “Makafeke” makes a really good Mormon faux swear word?

    And it’s actually appropriate, too, when used for something that tempts us and leads us to harm.

    (Oh, and I have a 40G non-iPod. Works just as well at half the price! Go Creative! Woo!)

  28. “Works just as well at half the price!”

    FHL, you may know nothing about digital music players, but your home teachers love you nonetheless.

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