Sunday, July 01, 2007

Visiting teaching

I know some of the folks who visit my blog aren't Mormon like me, so here's a brief explanation to get you up to speed. The women's organization in the Mormon church (which happens to be the oldest organization of women in the world) is called the Relief Society and one of the things the Relief Society does to look after the physical, spiritual and emotional welfare of its members is visiting teaching. As a visiting teacher, I'm assigned three women to visit once a month, at which time I present a brief inspirational message based on scriptural teachings, as well as spending time just visiting and assessing any special needs. Usually these visits are done with a partner, but I'm currently without so sometimes I take Jimmy or I go alone.

Over years of visiting teaching, I've found that I've developed fast friendships with the women I visit that go far beyond my official duties. Just last weekend, we had one of the ladies I visit over to dinner with her husband. They're retired hay farmers, have six children, are both in their eighties, and I love listening to the wisdom of their life experiences. The husband is eighty-seven and still bikes twenty miles a day; he's my inspiration to get back on my bike after this baby comes and start training for another triathlon!

This is one of the reasons I absolutely love my church; it's tremendous to be involved in visiting teaching, developing friendships and caring for other women and their families. I feel humbled to be an instrument in God's hands by giving compassion, companionship and service. I also get visiting teachers who come visit me. This week my two fabulous visiting teachers, Heidi and Becky, were there for me: within a day of me finding out about having gestational diabetes, they had both visited me, bringing a mason jar full of wild sweet peas and some cute baby booties, as well as their shoulders to cry on. They were also my painting angels; on Friday they finished painting Jimmy's new big brother bedroom! I was overwhelmed with their kindness and generosity.

I paid that forward this weekend by visiting one of my ladies who has cerebral palsy. It took us several months to really get to know each other when I was first assigned to visit her, but recently things just clicked and now we're really friends. I took her a little present yesterday, and then this evening I went back with Jim and another man from church who gave her a special priesthood blessing to provide relief for some pain she's been having in her knees. It took some doing to coordinate getting them there to do the blessing, but it was worth it to see the look of peace on her face when they finished. I sure love visiting teaching; what a gift to have these connections with other women.

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