I freely admit to being a lazy home teacher. I suppose part of it is the realization that some of the families really don’t want me to come over, and even some of the active ones are indifferent at best about it. (I certainly don’t blame them, as I myself am indifferent about whether home teachers come over to visit me.) And the logistics can be a challenge. Normally I’m assigned to someone who doesn’t want to go, and it is hard to figure out how much effort I should put into getting him to go versus just going ahead and going by myself. So like a lot of elders, more often than not I just let this little duty slip by unperformed.
(The only time I can recall being a really good home teacher was when the father of a family I home taught died unexpectedly, and then my involvement wasn’t a tedious afterthought but necessary to the survival of that little family. I have to admit it felt great to actually be needed for a change.)
So anyway, a few months ago I was assigned a new Home Teaching companion. His name is Willie. He is a convert of about a year, and he is black. And he really wanted to go home teaching. Our one active family that would allow it was out of pocket over the holidays, but we finally made arrangements to go and visit them last Sunday. As it turns out, the wife and son were away visiting home (in Switzerland), so just the dad was there.
I went to pick Willie up (he doesn’t have a car), and on the drive got to know him a little bit. He came from the south side of Chicago, and told me how hard life was there. Joining the Church had been a godsend, both for him and for a little family for which he is a kind of surrogate father, a woman and two children, who also moved from the south side and joined the Church at the same time.
When he joined the Church, he stopped drinking. And he stopped smoking. Cold turkey, just like that. He cleaned up. I see him wearing a suit every Sunday. He rooms with a brother from our ward.
He told me that when he goes back and visits his old buddies on the south side, they call him “Squareboy” because of all the changes he has made in his life. And he said he doesn’t care at all.
We sat in the living room and chatted a bit. Willie had wanted to give the lesson, so when it was about time to do so I suggested that he get started. He pulled out the Ensign and started reading the First Presidency message. He quickly asked my help on a word. I hadn’t brought my reading glasses and the light wasn’t the best, so I was having a hard time seeing. He needed help on another word, and another. So I suggested that I switch places with the father we were there to teach, so he could better help Willie, and we did so. He needed help on about every fifth word all the way through. He apologized, and explained that among all the other changes in his life he had been learning to read.
So he haltingly read most of the First Presidency message, with the father of that family sitting next to him and helping him along the way.
It was the best home teaching lesson ever.