Grandma: Does It Count?

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Many years ago, I was called as the Visiting Teacher Coordinator. The Bishop asked me to meet and we sat down in his office. He pulled one of the Relief Society books that explain the kind of calling I was about to receive, and started saying: “In a ward with a large number of women, a sister may be called”¦. Blah blah blah”¦ make sure it is done effectively. Additionally, visiting teaching supervisors may help the blah blah blah blah She may be assigned to blah blah blah .”

Me: Bishop, with all due respect”¦Are you going to continue saying blah blah blah or you are going to take the time to explain? He laughed, apologized and read it properly.

I am sure some of you will agree: Home and Visiting Teaching are probably some of the most challenging programs in the Church and depending on your location, there seems to be many ways to get it done including a phone call, email or a simple letter .When I moved to a new ward many years ago, the Relief Society boasted 100% Visiting Teaching success but only 10% of them were actual home visits.

After serving many years as a Visiting Teacher Coordinator, one question seemed to be asked over and over and over again, yes you guessed well:

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“Sister Cheeky Mormon, does it count?”

Why is it that we are so worried that our visit, email or phone call “counts”? Why is it that it seems to be our primary concern over the welfare of the sister or family we are visiting?

If one thing I admire about Jehovah Witnesses is their amazing willingness to visit and preach the Gospel. They”re great at doing that and I think we could learn a thing or two from them in that aspect. Often times, I wonder if we are worried about whether it counts because we are either concerned that we will be nagged to death about having it done so we want our leaders off our backs rather quickly so we get it done reluctantly OR we seem to have the false impression that having it “count” will make us look more spiritual as we pat our backs saying “well done, its over”.

For once, it would be so nice if the primary focus could be shifted to the sister or families we visit instead of ourselves. There are many souls within our wards who are in desperately need, not only of a VT or HT but a friend, a guardian angel even a savior.

I am not sure if we often times, we realize how magnificent and precious is to be a Visiting Teacher or a Home Teacher or simply a Brother or Sister and how much we can truly bless the lives of others. Compassion isn’t something we are born with but instead is something we learn from life and experiences. It makes us who we are…

My grandmother, an illiterate Italian descendant was a grumpy, feminist, outspoken and opinionated lady that taught me the most powerful lessons in life. She wasn’t the typical grandma who bakes cookies and speaks softly. She was instead the one that counseled me as a young child that if I do happen to get married to ensure “Not to cook every single day otherwise your family will get used to your cooking and with the excuse that you cook oh so well they will enslave you in the kitchen forever”. She was one of a kind.

One of the things I remember the most about her is seeing her compassion in action rather than words. She would literally give of her own substance to someone in need without thinking twice, even if that meant she wouldn’t have any for herself, many of the families she helped throughout the years through little secret acts of compassion wrote me after her funeral and told me she was the answer to many prayers to Heavenly Father when they didn’t have anything to eat. I was moved.

Many times I thought how is it that my grandmother developed such love and compassion towards others? I think the answers lies on the fact that she grew up as an orphan and at the age of 13 she had to work to take care of her siblings on her own because there were no relatives willing to adopt her or her siblings. She was illiterate because as a young child she also had to take care of her ill mother who was dying of cancer and because of that, she couldn’t attend school.

You see, you learn life lessons from every single person you meet in life no matter their background, education, life or religion and she was definitely my most near example of Christ-like behavior. Oh, how I love her and miss her.

There are many wounded hearts in our wards that cry at night without us knowing, many fake smiles that pretend that “everything is great”, many people with health conditions or serious financial difficulties, many hearts who feel neglected, abused and abandoned, many who carry heavy burdens and dark secrets. People just like you and me who need US”¦a helping hand, an ear to listen”¦Don’t we want to help them? Don’t we wish to be there for them?

Often times when I feel too lazy to do what is right I wonder, what would grandma do or say if she was here? And I almost seem to hear a loud voice in the background saying: “Rats! Stop worrying about if it counts or not for heaven’s sake and get the d*** visit done, someone needs you NOW!“

And I smile.

 

4 thoughts on “Grandma: Does It Count?”

  1. Love it. Your grandma sounds like a wonderful woman and I agree! We need to stop worrying about whether it counts and focus on the people!

  2. Thanks for this post. I don’t recall who said it but a few years ago there was a RS President who said we should worry less about whether it counts and enjoy the experience. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Visiting and home teaching is at its best when it helps the people being visited. These things are not a chore to be checked off a lost, they are the primary way the leaders know who is in need. We should not ask “Does this visit count?” Instead, we should ask ourselves, “Did this visit help?” If it helped, it counts.

  4. My HT companion and I have a running joke on this, especially with one of our families that would rather we not visit. When we see husband or wife in church, they’ll say “Good morning Brother, we’re great, and there’s nothing we need. Check off this month”.

    Your grandma sounds like a delightful woman, who understands that numbers, on their own, are meaningless.

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