Sister Thompson: Visiting teaching will bring blessings
It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
As women look to the Savior’s example of compassion and love, they are more able to make a difference in the lives of others, said Sister Barbara Thompson, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, during the General Relief Society Meeting held in the Conference Center on Sept. 25.
“Compassion means to feel love and mercy towards another person,” she said. “It means to have sympathy and desire to relieve the suffering of others. It means to show kindness and tenderness towards another.”
By looking to the example of the Savior, women are more able to minister one to another as they act as visiting teachers, Sister Thompson said. She spoke of the blessings that women bring to others as they serve as visiting teachers, as well as the blessings that come from serving others.
“Visiting teaching gives women the opportunity to watch over, strengthen, and teach one another,” Sister Thompson said. “Much like a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood is charged with the responsibility to ‘watch over the Church always’ and ‘to be with and strengthen them,’ a visiting teacher shows her love by prayerfully considering each woman she is called to serve.”
Blessings individuals bring to others as they serve as a visiting teacher
Sister Thompson spoke of women in the Church she has met while traveling throughout the world. As she visited various areas, she witnessed faithful sisters caring for each other, regardless of challenges they were facing.
“Long distances, expense and safety issues make in-person, monthly contacts impossible in some areas of the Church, but through the power of personal revelation, sisters who truly seek to love one another and are watching over and strengthening one another, find meaningful ways to accomplish this call from the Lord.
Regardless of circumstances, women of the Church are able to still feel closely connected because of fervent prayer and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Sister Thompson said.
“Inspired Relief Society presidents counsel with her bishop and prayerfully make visiting teaching assignments to assist him in watching over and caring for each woman in the ward,” she said. “When we understand this process of counseling and revelation, we better understand our important responsibility to minister and can more confidently rely on the Spirit to guide our efforts.”
Sister Thompson spoke of the increase in unity and love among sisters as they take time to minister to each other, rather than just check visiting teaching off their list of things to do.
“The beauty of visiting teaching is not to see 100 percent on the monthly report; the beauty of visiting teaching is seeing lives changed, tears wiped away, testimonies growing, people loved, families strengthened, people cheered, the hungry fed, the sick visited, and those who are mourning, comforted. Actually, visiting teaching is never done because we watch over and strengthen always. ...
“Sometimes the message will be the most important thing you share on a particular visit. Some women have little spiritual enrichment in their lives except for what you will bring with the message. … At times the most important blessing about your visit will be to just listen. Listening brings comfort, understanding and healing. Still another time you may need to roll up your sleeves and go to work in the home or help to calm a crying child.”
Blessings individuals receive as they serve others.
Not only can sisters bless others through visiting teaching, they are also able to receive blessings in return, Sister Thompson said.
“I can honestly say that when I went visiting teaching, I always felt better. I was lifted, loved and blessed, usually much more than the sister I was visiting,” she said. “My love increased. My desire to serve increased. And I could see what a beautiful way Heavenly Father has planned for us to watch over and care for one another.”
Other blessings from visiting teaching include forming friendships with women individuals may not have known otherwise, acting as an answer to someone’s prayers, as well as personal revelation and spiritual experiences that are closely connected with visiting teaching, Sister Thompson said.
“I have experienced some of the most humbling, joyful and spiritual experiences of my life as I have sat in the homes of women in my own ward and around the world,” she said. “We have taught one another the gospel, we have cried together, laughed together, solved problems together and I have been lifted and blessed.”
But not all experiences related to visiting teaching are warm and wonderful, Sister Thompson said.
“Sometimes it is hard,” she said. “Such as visiting a home where you really aren’t welcomed or when it is difficult to meet with a sister with a very busy schedule. It may take longer to build a good relationship with some sisters. But when we truly seek to love, care for and pray for the sister, the Holy Ghost will help us find a way to watch over and strengthen her.”
No matter the reaction of a sister, Sister Thompson said, visiting teaching is set in place to help assist the Lord in helping the sisters of the Church.
“The women we visit teach have been entrusted to our care,” she said. “Let us have love and compassion and thus make a difference in the lives of those who have been entrusted to our care.”