Friday, October 14, 2011

Visiting Teacher - that's me

Visiting Teacher - what does it mean?  I've been assigned my list of Sisters and their families to visit, along with a companion Sister.  Now what?   Connecting with companion sister in an effort to coordinate schedules with her and how to go about setting up the visits.  She agrees to phone the sisters and set up appointments, we agree to a date and so it's on ... my first experience (in this context anyway) with visiting teaching LDS style.

I'm inserting a video here that I viewed today .. After  .. my day long experience earlier this week with my companion sister in visiting teaching sister families.  As I watched the video, I enjoyed laughing at the different ways to short cut in visiting teaching experiences and then somewhere about 3/4 into the video a shift in direction happened and what had been amusing examples became something else, and my laughter shifted to tearing up and crying.  My husband, sitting across from me on his laptop, engaged in his own online endeavors, looked up in surprise to ask me what was wrong, and I found it impossible to explain that while nothing is wrong, I also cannot explain why I am crying.  He was touched and moved that I was touched and moved.  Some things just really don't have words in the moment that explain or describe the emotion/feeling level.  If the video moves you in similar direction, maybe you can add a comment as to how you experienced the video.  My post will resume after the inserted video.

Resuming my post.  I receive surprise phone call at end of the month from one of the sisters, and I recognize her name.  She announces she along with her companion are to be my visiting teachers.  I'm taken off guard, didn't expect the reverse, with sisters visiting me in my home.  It's a bit of a drive from town to our outlying community, and I go into immediate concern for the cost and time factor for the sister.  I know, I know - - that's not my piece to be concerned about, even so, I am startled by how quickly I shift gears to having concerns about her.  Explaining that this month has been all about family visiting us and us visiting them, we aren't going to be available this day nor likely till next month.

 I'm also a bit taken aback as I have one of those quirky things about people visiting my home which I consider my sanctuary and safe place from the rest of the world.  Okay, I think to myself, I can manage this - once a month, the sisters will call in advance, it will be fine.  After all, we have had the Home Teachers, the Missionaries, Relief Society President, and drop by visit from member couple who live in the community -- much more visitation than I'm use to having in my home.  Typically our social connections (unless immediate family) are conducted outside of our home, making this a bit of a different approach to me to have people in our home.  I'll adapt.  Interesting.  So, once a month visits from 'my' visiting teachers might actually be kind of fun.

Meeting up with my visiting teacher companion, she has scheduled our visits with our families to take place most of one day.   We meet up and get started.   She gives me a bit of overview of each family, and I'm pleased she has phoned them to arrange the scheduling as they will know her whereas it is  unlikely they would know me.  It is a good easing into it arrangement for all parties.

First visit, an elderly couple, her Mr. having health difficulties and they have an in home care worker who gives Mrs. some respite.  She uses that time to get done her personal things that are not about caring for another.  Good arrangement for all, I think to myself.  She is very focused while still being quite gracious about getting our visit completed so she can move on with  the other things she has scheduled for this respite time.  I recognize from having seen them at church on Sunday meetings that she is also supportive to her daughter and daughter's first born baby.  

Second visit, a blended family.  Mr. has health difficulties to the point of being disabled, therefore Mrs. is the primary income-producer in this family.  Both have children from previous marriages as well as their children together.  He has had a couple of earlier marriages and is heavily invested in characteristics leading to his disabilities.  Mrs. seems okay with the nature of their relationship, has substantive enough earnings, does lean on church resources.  

Third visit, grandparents caring for one of their children's children.  Mr. and Mrs. long term marriage, hardy couple, retired from their respective employments, have seen a lot of living and life situations, seem strongly independent.  As they are advanced enough in years, it is astonishing to me that they have taken on 5 children this late in their own lives.   

Fourth visit which did not happen that day will involve a long time married couple in the midst of divorce. 

Fifth visit happened accidentally with a social visit on Sunday with elderly couple members who live in our outlying community.  Another couple, long time friends of theirs and new grandparents, had stopped by and we all shared a pleasant visit.  Recognized Mr. as Counselor to Bishop and when he is sitting in the front, looks quite forbidding to me.  Learned from his wife that he is actually very shy and the talk he gave a few Sundays ago was the first talk ever that he has given.  That completely changes the picture for me, and in the future as I see him sitting in the front by the Bishop, I will not register his composure as forbidding, rather a degree of discomfort.   As it turns out Mrs. is one of the families I've to home visit, she received phone call while we were there from my companion sister to set up appointment, inquires of me if I have been called to be visiting teacher; yes, I reply; and she tells me to consider this visit as a home visit, says does not need anything.   

My sense of the visiting teaching experience is strongly colored by my former career as social worker, and making home visits are not foreign to me.  I sense a need to find a proper blend and balance with my honed skill set nudging me in a pattern familiar to me to assess family situations in line with church resources.  In my mind there might be a small challenge for me in recognizing and appreciating this is a membership community not as comfortable with community or government resources, preferring instead resources as outlined by the church.  

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