I could feel the collective gasp of all of my friends just now when I wrote the title of this post. I know that in the past, I may not have loved visiting teaching...but today I sort of love everything, and I went visiting teaching and LOVED it, so I thought I'd capitalize on the moment.
"Visiting teaching is the heart and soul of Relief Society. The purposes of visiting teaching are to build caring relationships with each sister and to offer support, comfort, and friendship. In visiting teaching, both the giver and the receiver are blessed and strengthened in their Church activity by their caring concern for one another." http://lds.org/pa/display/0,17884,4691-1,00.html
I haven't always embraced the idea of visiting teaching. It is my nature to be social, comforting, friendly, but I have on occasion squawked loudly about being "assigned" to do this...and being expected to do it monthly. But today, I think I might have caught the vision for the first time in 18 years!
I realized that I have had great visiting teaching experiences. My first memorable experience with Visiting Teaching happened just after I got married, when we were living in Atlanta. I was assigned a visiting teaching route and for some reason had some difficulty getting my companion to go with me, so the VT Supervisor offered to be my companion anytime I needed her. So I needed her the very next month! Her offer turned into an amazing, lasting friendship and she is still one of my very closest friends.
Eventually I think they actually made us companions (since we were sort of inseparable anyway) and we visited a wonderful 80 yr old sister named Rosemary. Oh, how I loved Rosemary! She was one of those unforgettable women. She was a tiny little thing...she couln't have been more than 4'11". She was a convert to the Church, a former teacher at a Catholic school, a widow for over almost 40 years...and still teaching Primary and attending the Temple weekly at 80 years old!!! I was her visiting teacher, but I learned much more from her than she ever learned from me.
I visited a sister in Mendon who was memorable for me also. We were close to the same age, but we definitely didn't swim in the same circles. In fact, we barely spoke outside of my monthly visits to her house. But when I was there, something about her home was always calming for me. I always left there feeling better than I did when I got there. She was always so content. I've really never met anyone like her. At the time she was in that "unattainable" category for me. She was wise beyond her years, and quietly faithful, confident but not showy, and I wish now that I had flown more closely in her radar when I had the opportunity because I'm sure I could have learned a lot more from her than I did. When we moved here and I thought about the kind of person I wanted to be, she was the first person who came to mind.
Today, I went to visit a 23 year old, newly married sister with no kids. I wouldn't have guessed that we would have anything in common. (For Pete's sake, I'm almost old enough to be her mother...her very cool, very young and very fashionable mother...but her MOTHER nonetheless!) But after visiting for AN HOUR, I discovered that she is quite possibly the most interesting person I have met in a very long time! She has experienced more in 23 years than most people experience in a lifetime. The time went by so quickly that I was disappointed to leave. I am definitely looking forward to going back next month.
Today I realized that even though it's not always the most convenient thing to make a monthly visit to someone you barely know, it is an amazing opportunity to meet people we might never have met under other circumstances. I am grateful for that handful of sisters who have left a lasting impression on me because of visiting teaching. And I am grateful for the opportunity we have to change our hearts and change our minds.