I loved the examples of Visiting Teaching and learned so much about the goals of Visiting Teaching. After all the lessons, and lessons, and lessons on Visiting Teaching, I didn't think I could learn anymore.
I loved learning how VTing got started: "RS leaders appointed a visiting committee of four sister for each ward. [Their] most visible responsibilities were to assess needs and collect donations. . . . Generally the sisters who were assigned to go visiting went with baskets in hand, receiving items such as matches, rice, baking soda, and bottles of fruit. . . " (106). Now maybe I knew this and had forgotten, but could you imagine going Visiting Teaching and asking for money and goods!? It's cool they they did this, but I'm glad I don't have to! I also thought, 4 women? That really is quite a burden to visit all the women in a ward with only 4!
I liked reading how Eliza R. Snow "counseled visiting teachers to prepare themselves spiritually before they visited homes so they would be able to ascertain and meet spiritual needs as well as temporal ones. . . ." (108). I don't know if Eliza R. Snow was a visiting teacher at the time of this instance from the life of my great-great grandmother after her husband died as recorded by her brother, but Eliza's actions demonstrate being guided by the Spirit:
One day Sister Eliza Snow with Sister Smoot took a walk together, when they came to my Sisters house in the 20th ward, she felt impressed to call in. My mother was in the house at the time attending to Margaret, Sister Snow had never been in the house before, she did not know that Margaret was sick, she was led by the spirit of the Lord, she laid her hands on Margaret’s head and blessed her., that she would live and the Angels of God would preserve her. Her enemies would not have any power over her and she would conquior her enemies. Her words seemed to strenghten her faith and she began to amend from that time, and prospered. She also blessed my mother. . . (page 30 of Gibson Condie's Diary -- typescript. A holograph can be found at the FHL in SLC, the years are 1864-65).I also read in the chapter an example about a woman who "had been detailed by the Relief Society . . . to watch over and administer to the sick woman. . . ." In modern day, we would interpret "administer" as just "minister" or "care for"; however, I wonder if in that instance, it was to actually bless, just as Eliza R. Snow blessed my great-great grandma. (For more on the topic, see Stapley, Jonathan A. and Wright, Kristine, Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism (January 1, 2011). Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 37, pp. 1-85, Winter 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1754069). Daughters in My Kingdom does not go into the topic of "female ritual healing," which I would like to know more about from an official Church standpoint, but this is at least a start in understanding the topic.
In 1916, VTers were "asked to discuss a gospel topic each month as well as providing a temporal service" (108). I know we often leave VTing assignments with a "Let us know if there's anything we can do to help!" but what if we actually took that seriously as an ASSIGNMENT to provide a temporal service? Wow. If we did this, I think we'd better connect as sisters through temporal work, just was we should connect with our children/families through physical labor. I think we'd also open up emotionally more than we do.
In 1944 (8 years after the start of the Church's Welfare plan), the assignment of RS sisters collecting funds was discontinued (108). That did make a lot of sense because it was as though there were two Welfare plans: RS Welfare and Church Welfare. With the consolidation, things would be more efficient. I don't know when collection of Fast Offerings came about, but, again, it seems like an unnecessary duplication of efforts from the brothers and the sisters. Even today, the RS President still plays a BIG role in the Welfare plan, just as she did a long time ago.
I enjoyed the section on seeking spiritual guidance and was reminded to do better in that area (114). I also liked the Questions Visiting Teachers Can Ask on page 115. They are pretty personal, but if we go about first being a friend to those we visit teach, then those are natural questions from a friend to a friend.
1. What worries or concerns do you have?
2. What questions do you have about the gospel or Church?
3. Would you allow us to help you with _____? Note, it doesn't say, "Let us know if we can help! :) :)"
I liked Sister Smoot's advice: "My desire is to plead with our sisters to stop worrying about a phone call or a quarterly or monthly visit . . . and concentrate instead on nurturing tender souls" (117).
I loved Pres. Kimball's quote: "You are going to save souls, and who can tell but that many of the fine active people in the Church today are active because you were in their homes. . ." (117). I've witnessed this and know it to be true. I'll have to have my friend write a post about it.
Reading about the great efforts of visiting teachers from the past encourages me to be a better visiting teacher. I'm impressed at how temporal visiting teaching was, yet now the main focus seems to be spiritual. I loved the stories in this chapter; they were so encouraging and made me cry. Overall, I think the feel I got from this chapter is to be a friend with a Gospel message. I think we do a pretty good job at showing up, but do we really connect? Do we really show we care? Do we show real charity? That is what I need to focus on. Wonderful chapter; so much great stuff in it.