Sunday, October 14, 2012

Home Teachers

Home teachers are people who are assigned to pretend they care. Some keep up the pretense rather well. Most do not. Some never bother to show up. (Most of mine have shown up.) Some say they will show up, but never do. (I've had my share of these.) Some offer to help, but never get around to it. Some become genuine friends. (I had one of those right after I got back from my mission, years ago.) Most (that I have had) are polite, putting in their time for whatever reason.

I think this is the major reason. Pushing for that 100%. You can usually tell these. They are the ones who call (or show up) within the last few days of the month on a consistent basis.

This is what is done in the church, therefor we do it. We think we know why. We honor Brigham Young for beginning this inspired program. (But, then, we have no idea what it was that Brigham Young actually expected the men to do, nor do we know that it was not popular, because the people did not like the idea of such invasive questions.)

These are the ones who feel compelled to have 100% home teaching. The visits are superficial (most home teaching visits are, anyway, in my experience – no matter what category most of them fit into). They may be at the end of the month, at the beginning, or any points in between. The impetus is to put on a face to the world (church) that theydo 100% home teaching, that they are righteous and holy. Perhaps they are striving to go up the ecclesiastical ladder.

I think men are less prone to this factor than women, but this is definitely one. Gonna be punished. Gonna look bad. Who knows when these home teachersshow up. They may get home teaching done quickly just to say it's done.

I have had home teachers who:
were genuine friends before they were assigned -
became friends because of the home teaching position -
set up a time and date, but never showed up (they followed this pattern on a regular basis) -
came, and we had stilted conversation before they got to the crux of the meeting – a lesson in a magazine that I could read for myself (and probably already had) -
helped us with things we genuinely needed -
helped us grudgingly -
helped us, apparently willingly.

My favorite home teachers.

The one after my mission came because he was assigned. In other words, he didn't know my roommate and myself before this time. But he seemed to genuinely care. We had “real” conversations.

Then there was the one who would set appointments, but only showed up for the first one. I don't know how much he genuinely cared, but when we needed him, he was there. This includes the formidable task of moving us from southeastern Arizona to southwestern Utah – freely and without complaint or hesitation.

In northern Arizona, we rented from a man and his wife. Very low rent ($300 a month). When we moved in, the kids and I helped finish a room that was being added onto the trailer we were renting. For that, we got free rent for at least a month (maybe two).

And, he made me a deal: I could work for him to pay for $100 of the rent each month. He was writing a book, but he was mostly blind. He could not type because of lack of feeling in his fingertips. I worked for him 12 ½ hours a monthas his eyes and as his typist. (He was not physically well enough to do more than a couple of hours of work at a time.) When my niece died, he lent me money to get up to the funeral (another couple lent me a car, because mine was not good enough to go that far, in my opinion. They were neither home nor visiting teachers). I paid him back through work.

Soon after I moved in, he told me that they had assigned him as my home teacher. He asked if I'd accept him as my home teacher. When I told him yes, he asked if I wanted a monthly visit. I told him, “No.” If he was there when we needed him, that was enough. And he wasthere when we needed him, both he and his wife. The amount of help they gave us was incredible, considering that he kept calling himself, “useless,” because of his poor health.

We called them Grandpa and Grandma. They had had a toddler killed in a car accident years before (a drunk driver hit them). She had been born a year afterI had been born. They “adopted” me, and told me I was the replacement for that child. Not exactly, because one cannot replace someone who was lost, but this was their view of myself and my children. They even took me to her grave and showed it to me. They had many children, by the way. All of the childrenwere grown by the time I met this couple.

I wish I still lived in that area. I would love to be going over there, helping Grandpa type his latest story. (He had been typing a history when I moved into the trailer, but by the time I moved out of that area, long after moving out of his place, he wasworking on historical stories.)

Their hearts were “as big as all outdoors”.

I don't like “lessons” from either home teachers or visiting teachers. I don't think God ever set up a program of people mechanically teaching or of being assigned to care. I believe He can and has used the program to help those who need help, but that's only because we are not living Zion.

If we were living Zion we would not need to be assigned to care. We would naturally care. We would notice those who needed what we can give, because we would be open to the Spirit pointing those people out to us. I have had such people come into my radar when I was in a position to help. I have also been on the receiving end of such help. Even now, some people who were truly inspired to help us have been pulling me out of the pit of despair with their very real help. I don't even know these people in real life. They are internet friends.

I suppose my point in all of this is that we should be living in a way where “assigned friends” are not necessary, where we are living in such a way that God brings to us those we can help in whatever way their souls ache. We should not have to teach someone a monthly lesson. Instead, we should be loving them and praying for them. They can (and should) study the scriptures for themselves, forgoing the middle-men to God. We should help because of the love of God that resides in our hearts.


  1. Hi Toni,

    Thank you for this post on Home Teachers. I truly found that it gave me a lot to think about.


    1. Thank you, OMNS. I always hope that something I say will help someone in some way.