An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Mormon authorities heralded home teaching as an inspired replacement for ward teaching almost 50 years ago. At first, home teachers were a husband-wife team. George and I developed  a good friendship with the young couple who visited us with their babies and invited us to their home. We kept in touch with the McLeans for several years after moving from that ward.

Within a year or two after the home teaching program was implemented, wives were no longer assigned as home teaching companions. The new program began to resemble the old ward teaching program. As an adolescent, I had hated ward teachers. My grandmother stayed with my brothers and me in the evenings while our dad worked, and we would beg her to say we weren’t home when the doorbell rang the last night of the month. She agreed to once, but was mortified by our not-very-muffled laughter from the bathroom where we’d locked ourselves. From then on I had to sit and endure Brother Watchful’s questions about whether or not I was being a good girl. Couldn’t he see that I was too homely a junior high kid to have any choice about the matter?

Since reaching adulthood, I have never locked myself in the bathroom nor crawled out of the living room to avoid our home teachers. Mostly I have enjoyed their visits. I’ll always be grateful to Brother Donne who was YM president as well as our home teacher. Brother Donne stopped by one afternoon bringing a church publication about depressed youth. He was concerned about suicidal comments our son, Techie, had made. George and I pooh-poohed the comments Brother Donne repeated. Techie was just kidding. But when I read the pamphlet, I recognized the symptoms of suicidal depression and we got help for Techie.

A memorable home-teaching experience occurred when my dad was living with us. Dad loved our home teachers, especially Brother Seenyle who was his age, and we enjoyed Brother Gabby who was our age. Usually they visited us first and stayed an hour. One day, we were last on their round. As Brother Gabby chatted away, Brother Seenyle appeared restless, and finally asked Dad where our rest room was. Dad took our home teacher to the bathroom and I noticed a large puddle on our leather sofa. I didn’t want to embarrass Brother Seenyle, so when he returned from the bathroom, I jumped to my feet, thanked a puzzled Brother Gabby for coming, and walked to the door. Maybe I shouldn’t have hid the accident from Brother Gabby. It might have been a blessing for more visitees than ourselves if the incident had been reported and Brother Seenyle released from his home teacher calling with a vote of gratitude.

Our current home teachers only visit once every few months. I understand. Both have demanding jobs and heavy family and church responsibilities. And they realize their visits aren’t likely to improve our attendance. But I’m glad to see them doing yard work and driving an elderly neighbor they are not assigned to visit. That is probably the effect church leaders hoped to accomplish when they announced the concept of home teaching.

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Comments on: "Home Teaching–You Gotta Love It" (4)

  1. Anonymous for this said:

    I probably would have done the same thing for Brother Seenyle (love the name, btw!).

    I home teach someone in my ward that I know will likely probably become fully active in the church. This individual is a single parent and has to work full time to support the family. The children do what they want and are headed for trouble.

    I visit this individual as often as possible and try to assist when and where I can. I invite this person’s children over to my house and let them know they can come over anytime they need to.

    For me, home teaching is more about serving than anything else. I have home taught inactive people who will never become active, but I love them anyway. Inactivity in church does not and should not lessen a person’s importance.

    • Inactivity in church does not and should not lessen a person’s importance.

      Anon: Thanks for your great comment. You have definitely caught the spirit of the home teaching program!

  2. This is painful, this intrusiveness into a family’s home. No thanks.

    • Alice:
      Since Mormons don’t have a paid clergy, the home teachers kind of substitute for a visit from the pastor. Active Mormons don’t consider the visits intrusive, but less active members (and kids) sometimes do.

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