I didn’t always have a testimony of the home teaching program, but over the last five years or so, I have gained a strong one. Ever since getting married, we have always been blessed with strong home teachers who came monthly, bore rich testimony, and blessed our lives. I remember a few in particular…. The first home teachers, who were so important to us in that first year of marriage, especially when Courtney was having so many post-delivery issues. They were the ones who appeared at the hospital before I had even told anyone we were in trouble. I still tear up a bit thinking of how much that meant to me, that I could go home to care for my newborn daughter and know that Courtney was being watched over. They stayed with her until I got back, and although it has been almost seven years, I can still picture in my mind the scene of turning that corner with them near her, supporting her, and making her laugh.
I know Courtney won’t agree with this one, but I remember the one who came when Courtney and I were in the Primary in an old ward. I don’t even remember his name, but he came every month, shared his testimony, and otherwise was a part of my life. That was a dark time in a new ward where we knew no one, and he was the one person who made me look forward to going each Sunday because I knew he would be watching for us. His service made me feel needed and valuable and was key to my spiritual growth at that time.
And of course in our current ward. I admit that when I served as the EQP, I made it a habit of self-assigning good home teachers to me. I figured that we needed that help with the burden of our callings. Many favorites…. Travis (who was both a home teacher and a companion later on) is still a good friend. He and his companion, Raj, were incredible for us. It wasn’t unusual for our visits with them to drag on well into the evening as we laughed together. Particularly funny to us is that Travis is big, white, and hairy. Raj? Short and Indian. It was about the oddest odd couple you ever did see. And there are more. Many more.
But my mind right now is on Matt and Kiffen, our current home teachers. We’ve known Matt for… three years? Four years? He’s been our home teacher for about that long, too. And Kiffen has been around for two years now, but is moving in a week or two. They came by to give their last lesson, and I admit I didn’t pay attention. I let my mind wander down the road of memory, stopping to smell the roses every now and then. I can honestly say that I barely remember any of their lessons, and not because they were insignificant. Rather, I forget the lessons because everything is so much more memorable. Myron, who honestly hates just about everyone, climbed up into Kiffen’s lap of his own accord today and let Kiffen help him say the prayer. He also hugged Matt. Katherine, who has loved Matt as long as I can remember, used to actively sit in our front window with her face pressed against the glass watching for the home teachers to walk down the street. She still beats us all to the front door and often will run out to meet the home teachers halfway up the sidewalk to embrace them.
I remember the near countless times they have partnered with me in blessing my family and the equal number of times they’ve blessed me as well. I remember the examples. I remember Kiffen’s tie folded neatly and stuffed in his pocket. It was his way of “wearing” his tie without actually wearing it. And Matt taking off his shoes and leaving them outside. I once asked him why he did that, and he mentioned that he didn’t want to, and I quote, “bring anyone inside the house with him.” I should point out that he’s a mortician and those are the shoes he wears to work where, as part of his regular duties, he does embalming…. We were quite okay with him leaving the shoes outside.
I remember the birthday presents they gave to Katherine two years ago. Matt has performed in several Liken movies, and he gave Katherine two of his favorites. To say that the kids memorized those movies, Myron included, would be an understatement. They’ve just always shown that they loved us, especially our children.
During today’s visit, I kept watching Kiffen. I’m sad to see him go as my home teacher even though I know he’ll be around for much longer as a dear friend. Hopefully he’s around for a while, anyway, before grad school pulls him away. He’s told me this before, but he still keeps track of most of the people he has home taught. He still calls them, e-mails them, checks up on them. I look forward to him checking in.
I wish more priesthood holders in the church recognized home teaching for what it can be. I wish more people, home teachers and families alike, opened themselves up to the rich blessings that are available to them through this program. Like I said, I didn’t always have a testimony of home teaching, and there are still times that I grumble a bit about some of the inconveniences, but I watch someone like Kiffen and Matt, people who in so many worldly ways aren’t anyone of major significance, and all I can think is the incredible impact both of them have had on my children, my family, and me personally. Their service has changed us for the better, made us stronger, and brought us closer to the Savior.
They have built us by loving us, by caring about us, and by devoting even that small portion of the month to us, and it has meant the world to us.