Relief Society: Ministering one to another
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Each month the Church News publishes a message to complement the Relief Society visiting teaching message found in the Ensign magazine. The article on this page is based on the March 2011 message about the Relief Society being organized "Under the priesthood, after the pattern of the priesthood."
Every month the Ensign magazine includes the visiting teaching message for sisters in the Church to share with each other. In the center of each visiting teaching message is a section that is called, "What can I do?" These questions are designed to help strengthen the bond between visiting teachers and the sisters they visit, creating the opportunity to discuss personal experiences and apply the principles of the message.
While discussion of the monthly topic is helpful, it is this ministering and the relationships built between women that are the most important aspect of visiting teaching each other.
Sister Barbara Thompson, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, encouraged women in visiting teaching when she said, "Take the time as you visit to listen to each other's stories and find ways to help each other."
Lori Morgan of the Spencer Ward, Kaysville Utah South Stake, shared the story of her mother's visiting teachers who, for years, ministered to her, becoming more than just a monthly visit, but lifelong friends:
"While I was growing up, Bev and Betty were my mom's dearest friends. They were at our house often, and I remember them laughing together, showing much care, and always cheering my mother's heart. It wasn't until years later that I learned they were my mom's visiting teachers, and were truly the only link my mother had to the Church. These darling friends were there for my mother always. They loved her and my mom felt that, without a doubt.
"As the years flew by, even though my mother never became active, Bev and Betty were a constant presence in her life. They even kept in touch with us, her children, through letters and Christmas cards.
"When my mom passed away in 1983 at the age of 56, it was easy to decide who would speak at her funeral. Mom's precious friends, who started off as her visiting teachers, paid a wonderful tribute to my mother and their love was felt through their words. Surely, this was the beginning of my testimony of visiting teaching; and the lovely, eternal friendships that result from this very program."
The "What can I do?" questions for the month of March are:
How can I help the sisters I visit enjoy the blessings of Relief Society's sacred work?
What will I do this month to increase my ability to receive personal revelation?
"Much of the essential Relief Society work we do doesn't happen in meetings. Let's focus now on learning about visiting teaching. Because we follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, we value this sacred assignment to love, know, serve, understand, teach and minister in His behalf. This is one duty we have in the Church where we are certain to have the help of the Lord if we ask for it. This is one responsibility that is certain to increase our faith and personal righteousness and strengthen our own homes and families as we become partners with the Lord. A sister in this Church has no other responsibility outside of her family that has the potential to do as much good as does visiting teaching." — Sister Julie B. Beck, "Relief Society: A sacred work," October 2009 general conference.
"I have witnessed the ... miracle in the lives of many women in different parts of the world. They embrace the gospel, and Relief Society helps them strengthen their faith and grow spiritually by giving them leadership and teaching opportunities. In their service, a new dimension is added to their lives. As they progress spiritually, their sense of belonging, identity and self-worth increases. They realize that the whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for us to reach our fullest potential.
"With the work of Relief Society sisters, we help build up the kingdom and strengthen the homes of Zion. No other organization in the Church can do the service Relief Society does. Thousands of families are recipients of the service provided by loving visiting teachers who extend a comforting hand, a listening ear, an encouraging word. — Sister Silvia H. Allred: "Every Woman Needs Relief Society," October 2009 general conference.
"The Savior has asked us to do the things which He has done, to bear one another's burdens, to comfort those who need comfort, to mourn with those who mourn, to feed the hungry, visit the sick, to succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and to 'teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.' To me these words and actions describe visiting teachers — those who minister to others.
"Visiting teaching gives women the opportunity to watch over, strengthen and teach one another. 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."
— Sister Barbara Thompson, "And of Some Have Compassion, Making a Difference," October 2010 general conference.