04 October 2014

Visiting Teaching and Its Stories

The more I live outside the US, the more I realize how US- and middle-class-oriented LDS church culture can be.  Here's today's example.

During the Women's Meeting on Saturday, President Uchtdorf talked a little about visiting teaching and emphasized that it's more important to actually do your visiting teaching* rather than just getting it checked off.  Definitely.  I liked this quote:
Yes, visiting teachers need to be faithful in making their monthly visits, all without missing the most important why behind this commandment: to love God and fellowmen. 
When we treat God’s commandments and our part in building His kingdom like something to check off on a to-do list, we miss the heart of discipleship. We miss the growth that comes from joyfully living the commandments of our Father in Heaven.

But I felt really disconnected from his example of two women visiting a third woman who had gotten behind on her housework because of illness in the family.  Yes, it was a good story and the two women provided needed service, but it also assumed that the woman who needed help had plenty of food, a house to clean, and a source of income.  It took some time but it was actually fairly easy to meet her needs.

I haven't been assigned as a visiting teacher here (I assume because I don't speak Spanish), but I often go along with my husband when he is home teaching.  All of the families he visits live in a very poor area of Guadalajara where housing, food, and employment are the biggest concerns, not cooking, cleaning, and errands.  There are a few things we've tried to do, but I've rarely heard a talk at church that gives me ideas to help in these situations.

Of course these things come up in the US, but somehow it seems that fast offerings often work better in the US and many US wards will have a relatively larger number of financially stable members.  The stories often work in the US and they're encouraging to a lot of members. But when the stories don't apply to so many members around the world, it would be nice to hear some different ones. Because I don't know what to do when I visit someone who is desperate for work.

*Visiting teaching and home teaching are two LDS programs where members visit each other to make sure everyone welcome and supported in the congregation.

1 comment:

  1. I love your thougths on this. My visiting teaching companion is a dear friend of mine who immigrated illegally from Guadalajara area (Tonala), because it was almost impossible for her or her husband to find employment. They still struggle with employment here because of their legal status and limited English, but every time I hear stories that resonate mainly with my own culture and experience, I think of so many faithful members I know, like my husband's family in El Salvador, for whom the story makes little sense. As the main English-Spanish interpreter in my ward, I often find myself struggling to bridge not just the language gap but also the cultural gap.