A Home Teaching Visit

On Sunday afternoon I went to visit a woman I home teach. I went by myself. The guy who had been going with me couldn’t do it anymore. My actual companion isn’t anxious to do it, and the logistics of trying to organize a visit that way make it so it would hardly ever happen, and this woman very much wants and needs to be visited. So a couple of months ago I asked her if she would mind if I just came over myself, and she was perfectly fine with that. She’s 83 years old. At church in the morning she had asked me whether I was still her home teacher (because I had missed January), so I figured, oops, I had better get on it. We arranged a time after church to meet at her home.

There was no Ensign lesson; I’m not a big fan of doing that. Rather, we just had a conversation. She lives alone and appreciates having a sounding board. She is planning to move across the country to be closer to her daughters, but the prospect is overwhelming for her. So we broke it down into pieces to make thinking about it more manageable. And every now and again I would put on my lawyer’s hat and ask her if she had thought about this or that contingency, or suggest that she do such and so if something were to occur. For me it was just conversation, but she was extremely grateful to have someone to help her think through things. She said there were a half-dozen things I had mentioned that she hadn’t even thought of and that were extremely helpful to her.

When we finished our conversation and I said a prayer, I realized we had been talking for two hours. I didn’t begrudge the time; it seemed to me time well spent, and she was very appreciative.

As I drove home, I said a prayer of thanks for the concept of home teaching. This woman is pretty much alone; without the church she would have no one to talk through something like this with.

And I also realized what a blessing it was for me. To spend my Sunday afternoon in service to another human being was a very good thing. And without the church I don’t know how such an opportunity would present itself. It felt really good to make myself useful to someone who really needed the connection and conversation and advice.


  1. J. Stapley says:

    True religion. Moving.

  2. I too thank the Lord for home teaching. And I also thank him for when the testimony of its power burns in others.

  3. jlouielucero says:

    Thanks for this.

  4. I love faith affirming blogs. Thank you. You also helped me.

  5. home teaching (and visiting teaching) is such a wonderful work to be involved in. thank you for sharing this experience. I wish more of us could catch the vision of what home teaching is – loving others and ‘watching over them’

  6. Thank you for this. It reminds me of James 1: 27 – “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

  7. Molly Bennion says:

    When I have to report monthly ward VT numbers, missing a month seems the point. Of course it isn’t. The love that drove you to know she needed your friendship now is the point. Wish we could bottle it (and banish the numbering guilt trip).

  8. I’ve always enjoyed the visiting teaching (and home teaching) programs, too. Although the numbers game can be bothersome, I very much enjoy getting to know other people. They are usually people that I would not otherwise know well; I certainly wouldn’t otherwise visit them in their homes (and vice versa). I’m grateful for these acquaintances and friendships — while perhaps forced to begin with, they quickly became genuine and heartfelt for me. My life has been improved by this program.

  9. On the issue of guilt, if we are tripped with guilt because we are not doing what the Spirit is telling us to do, then we should accept the guilt as an invitation to improve. Agreed that the Lord is much more interested in us making a difference in the lives of those that we visit than He is that we check the box.

  10. It has been years since I have had a home teacher who I even know, but I have seen miracles of heart as a visiting teacher. I find that the most useful visits rarely include the Ensign, which was disheartening for the year I had a companion who insisted reading them word for word, even when it was wildly inappropriate content for the person being visited.

  11. Nathaniel Hancock says:

    I love this. I love home teaching. Thank you, Kevin.

  12. This is a great example of home teaching working as it should. What happens when your companion doesn’t want to go, and the families you are assigned have a bunch of kids, are busy, and seem inconvenienced by the thought of your visit? No likey.

  13. JL–I think sometimes it’s enough for people to know that you’re interested and would visit if that were what they needed. I’m in the often-too-busy-for-a-visit stage of life right now. It’s always great when we do make time, but even just the fact that my home teachers make contact and are aware of my busy-ness counts for a lot, and I appreciate the fact that they’re good-natured about our sporadic availability.

  14. Terrific, Kevin. Thanks.

  15. The real test is if you continue to visit when you are no longer called to be her home teacher. Friendship is much more important, useful and powerful than home teaching ever will be.

  16. God is wroth with you for neglecting to read the message from the Ensign.

  17. “I missed January”–epic humblebrag.

  18. Right place, right time Christian service, Kev. Thanks.

  19. Lived Mormonism is the best kind of Mormonism.

  20. This post counters the condescending tone of the 2/15 Ensign article “Changing Our Hearts through Charity.” Who is to say who is lesser or greater, who is serving whom? Clearly, we serve each other rather equally, as this sister served the writer by providing an avenue for religious practice. The people Christ criticized were those were aware of their own superior intellect and ability, who had so much to offer the common folk. We call them hypocrites.

  21. I would disagree Ben, that that is the real test. It seems kind of like telling a Bishop that he needs to keep interviewing all of the members of his ward after he is released, to prove that he really loves them. Obviously, they wouldn’t take kindly to such an attempt, nor should they. Home teaching and visiting teaching are errands from the Lord, and errands from the Lord change from time to time. I agree that there is a power in friendship as well, and when true friendship develops in a home teaching situation, it is awesome. However, I don’t get the need to pit home teaching against friendship. Home teaching can be done, with great power, with the pure love of Christ, without there necessarily forming a permanent friendship, evidenced by life-long visits.

  22. Home teaching/visiting teaching is probably the best thing Mormonism has to offer. You know, aside from Jesus and stuff.

  23. @at: people want to be visited by real friends, not assigned friends. Lonely people easily mistake fake friends for real friends because they’re so anxious to have someone to talk with. Assigned friends easily mistake themselves as fulfilling an actual need that lonely people have because they’re received so well.

    I’m not saying nothing good comes from these visits, I’m just saying they aren’t all that special. They can be summed up with “my quorum president (not the Lord) tasked me with walking over to person X’s house, and we had a better discussion than I thought we would since we aren’t even really friends and certainly won’t be once my president (not the Lord) releases me from this ongoing task. I’m glad I was tasked by my president (not the Lord) to do this because otherwise I would have never been willing to speak with this person outside of the 3-hour block.”

  24. I didn’t want to express my opinion of this piece online, but I really wish every priesthood holder could read this. My home teacher and I are at an impasse now as I expressed to a couple of folks the weird vibes I was getting from his visits and actions.

  25. Well I guess if we don’t agree on whether a home teacher/visiting teacher is on an errand from the Lord, or from a local leader, when going on a visit, we are far enough apart in our respective views that we could continue this exchange at great length, and profit very little. I would probably reach the same conclusions as you, if I believed that the errand was from the local leader.

  26. I love this, Kevin!

  27. The reason why HT/VT is important is because it’s where we may do Christlike service (or the Lord’s errand or whateveryouwannacallit) at its most pure. Or as pure as we can muster as self-absorbed sinners in a fallen world and church. When I worked in running VT, and people were forever apologizing to me for their poor numbers, I used to tell them that the Lord isn’t interested in our 100%, just do your best and be a friend in whatever way works, and try to get in some home visits when you can. I learned that when I criticized the program it was really just me philosophizing about my own lack of performance and understanding. My perspective changed a lot when I had to think through being the coordinator. It’s impossible for the program to be without flaws, for a thousand reasons, but if you are a believer, and accept an assignment, can you not see the good in being organized in this kind of labor? Even though it always falls short?

    Some visits aren’t special, they’re routine because we (all of us) make a routine out of it due to needing to get our tasks completed. The visit in the OP was elevated to special because, in the end, it wasn’t about the assignment, but became about friendship and help and meeting a whole range of needs. It isn’t diminished because the visit was assigned. It isn’t of little value just because it seems small. It isn’t terribly uncommon, either. It’s what we all seek when we decide to comply with the commandment to Come Follow Me.

  28. One more reason to admire Kevin Barney (as if there weren’t enough already). Thanks for you example, Kevin in this and many other areas.

  29. Thank you for being a good home teacher. All of us need to do better.

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