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High Council Speaker- Brother Wallace : "Home & Visiting Teaching"   Leave a comment

Brethren, We got the great blessing today of seeing Brother Wallace from the High Council. I seriously loved his talk, and felt for those of you that were unable to attend, you would love to read it, so here below, is the transcript. Thanks again to Brother Wallace, and the Lubbock Stake High Council!

Home and VisitingTeaching (Plainview Branch)
      Good morning,Brothers and Sisters.  What a blessing itis for me to be here with you in the Plainview Branch.  This is actually the first time for me to beattending your services, although I believe my wife has been here several timesin calling as Stake Young Women’s President, and I am grateful for thisopportunity.  I appreciate the wonderfultalk by Bro. Tombs.  I have known him andhis brothers since we moved here 8 years ago, and I was blessed to be one ofhis Priesthood leaders until about a year ago when I was called to the HighCouncil.   
     I must admit thatthere are many of you here today that I do not know, but I hope that will soon changesoon as we serve together as a Stake to bring about the work here in this partof the Lord’s vineyard.  I know itprobably feels at times, like you are out of touch in the Stake, being so farfrom Lubbock, but it is my testimony, that most of the growth of the Stake is goingto come and is coming from outside of Lubbock, within our branches.  I grew up in several small branches, one inupstate NY and the other while living in Philippines many years ago.  I also served in many very small brancheswhile on my mission, and I know that when the members work together, and do allthey can in their callings and in obeying our Heavenly Father, that each branchwill become a ward, for that is how the Lord blesses us.  I am excited that part of my responsibilitiesas a High Councilor is my assignment to the Quaker Heights Spanish-SpeakingBranch, and watch their growth as the Lord blesses them.
     With that, I also bringyou the love of our Stake Presidency, and remind you of their great concern foryou and your families.  As members of theStake High Council we are continually encouraged to strengthen our testimoniesof the Lord’s vision for this stake.  Inaddition, we are also asked gain a personal vision of our own callings andassignments while called to serve.  Iwould encourage each and every one of you, as members of this Stake and Branch togain your own personal vision for you and your families, and especially togather your families together and develop a Family Mission Plan so that you canshare your testimonies with those you love and associate with.  As you do, blessings will be poured out fromHeaven upon you and those around you, and this branch will grow.  May I also echo the words of PresidentShumway that every one of “you belongs here; that you belong in this church, inthis ward, and with these saints”.  Ifthere is anything holding you back from all the blessings of our HeavenlyFather, I would encourage you to look inside yourself and commit to do better,to utilize your strengths in overcoming your weaknesses.  I can personally testify that while it is notalways be easy, it will be worth it, and Heavenly Father will pour Hisblessings upon you and upon your families.  I support our Stake Presidency and theirsacred callings, and know that through Priesthood authority that our Stake willgrow, especially as we collectively put forth our hands, and love and serveothers.
     Our message thismonth, as assigned by the Stake Presidency is on The Blessings of Home andVisiting Teaching, and perhaps how we as individual members can gain atestimony of this inspired program.  Now,I’m not going to stand here and tell you that we all need to do our home andvisiting teaching.  Well, maybe I am,because that’s the message that our Stake Presidency wants us to give, and itis something I need encouragement with as well! I think that what President Harold B. Lee said in 1964 is very fittingto what our Stake Presidency envisions for the growth of our stake, especially inrelation to the vines.  Pres. Lee statedthat “Missionary work is but hometeaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching isnothing more or less than missionary work to Church members.”     That’s pretty simple.  As home and visiting teachers, we are as missionariesto the members, bringing our families the Word of God.
     Growing up in thechurch, I have been a home teacher since the time I turned 14, when I was assignedas a junior companion to Bro. Sharp, a High Priest.  It was during those days that I learned a lotabout preparing gospel lessons, making phone calls to set up appointments, andI have great memories of traveling to the furthest borders of our ward(approximately 40 miles), to a small, old farmhouse where a very old couplelived.  I remember home teaching Bro. andSis. Paige even during snow blizzards, when the snow was piled along the roadside so high it was like traveling through a tunnel.  I also remember warm and tasty pies and cakethat Sis. Paige would serve us.  Often,following that visit we would travel another 30 miles in another direction tovisit the Bradley family that lived on the eastern shore of one of the FingerLakes.  Our total round trip was wellover 100 miles, and embarrassingly, I often fell asleep on the final leg home.
    Before continuing, I first mustmake a confession.  And that is, that Ihave not always been the best home teacher, and even today, I still strugglewith this responsibility.  With our fast-pacedlives, it is difficult to find the time, especially with all our familyresponsibilities, with school activities and work; and even our church callingsmany times get in the way.  When do wehave time to relax?  At our house, oftenour home teachers want to visit us at times that are inconvenient.  At times, I feel as if I am bothering those thatI home teach.  I know them well enough,and talk with them often, especially at church, so, isn’t that enough?  Why do I need to go visit their homes monthly?  And well, sometimes, I feel that we are doingit just for the numbers.  Well, Brothersand Sisters, those are my excuses, so what are yours?
    These thoughtsremind me of an experience I had many years ago, which occurred before Sis.Wallace and I married, and blended our two families together, and it was onethat taught me a great principle.  At thetime I was a single father, living in Upstate New York trying eagerly to completea Ph.D. at Cornell University all, while raising my two young sons.  I was living on the second floor of a tinyapartment located in a small village about 15 miles from the campus.  The apartment was old, but had a smallbalcony with an old iron railing just outside the living room.  Being a poor student and single father, I waspretty stressed out and needed as much sleep as I could get. 
     Early one spring morning,however, around 5:00 a.m., I was awakened by a loud rattle coming from outsidemy apartment.  The noise that I heard startledme enough that I was concerned that there may be construction or something elsegoing on outside on my balcony.  As I laythere in an early morning daze, I also thought that perhaps I had been dreamingand being tired, I tried to drift back asleep. Almost immediately, the rattling startled me again.  This time, with my heart racing, I jumped up frommy bed and walked to the sliding glass door, and peered outside in time to see onlythe passing of a tiny bird.  Not noticinganything out of the ordinary, I wandered sleepily back to my bed.  About 5 minutes later, when I had almost driftedback to sleep, the rattling shook the house again.  Confused and annoyed, I walked back out to myliving room to see what the noise was. Again I saw nothing except a little bird flying away. 
     Now I was getting frustratedand being too lazy to walk back to my bedroom, I just laid myself down on the nearbycouch.  As I lay there in anearly-morning daze, I was startled a third time by the rattling.  This time, however, I was prepared to catch whoeverwas disturbing my early morning sleep.  Withoutmoving, I slowly and carefully opened my eyes and was surprised to see only atiny little woodpecker sitting on the balcony’s old iron railing.  I thought to myself, could he be making that loudracket?   
     As quickly as Iasked myself that question, the answer came with a resounding boom and rattleof the railing.  I watched in amazementas this little woodpecker quite rapidly and uselessly pecked at the ironrailing.  Once my amazement subsided, Istarted to get irritated, so I jumped up and opened the sliding glass door andscared him off into the nearby woods. This effort of mine would have been sufficient had this happened forjust one morning, but this foolish little woodpecker came back and repeated hismerciless rattling every morning for the next 2 weeks.  
     I knew that my patiencewas being tested, but this foolish little woodpecker also got me thinking aboutmy role and effort as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.  I have often pondered to myself, why did thiscrazy little bird peck tirelessly at an old iron railing instead of a nice softtree?  Am I like this little woodpecker, foolishlypounding my head against the “old iron railings” in my own life?  Am I doing all I can to increase my faith, toserve others, to be obedient and to keep my covenants?  Am I doing the best at my churchcallings?  Am I a good home teacher?  Or, am I making poor choices like thiswoodpecker by choosing “old iron railings” instead seeking out the softer woodof the Gospel of Jesus Christ and doing all I can to assist in bringing aboutthe “immortality and eternal life of man”?
     As earthly membersof Heavenly Father’s kingdom, and especially as home and visiting teachers, we areasked to be instruments in God’s hands.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostlesstates:It is not … enough for usto be convinced of the gospel; we must act andthink so that we are converted by it…  This is achieved not just by doing what isright, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ … Charity,‘the pure love of Christ is not an act but a condition or state of being.  Charity is attained through a succession ofacts that result in a conversion.  Charityis something one becomes”.  How then,Brothers and Sisters, do we become “charitable” home or visiting teachers?  Does it make it harder to be charitablebecause we do it out of assignment?  Arewe fearful to teach the Word of God?
    Alma, that great servantof the Lord in the Book of Mormon stated, and let me paraphrase him:  O thatI were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forthand speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth…!  Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as withthe voice of thunder… that they should repent and come unto our God, that theremight not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.”
     As instruments andservants of a loving Heavenly Father, our errand as home and visiting teachersfor today is clear.  God sends us an authorizedmessage, through living Prophets and Apostles and each month they speak to us,through articles in the Ensign and Liahona; which contain the living and  most current messages that we are asked tobring to those we visit and home teach.   When we are thoughtfully and spirituallyprepared, we do speak “with the trump ofGod, with a voice to shake the earth”.
     Brothers andSisters, none of us is perfect; we all have “old iron railings” which may be shortcomingsthat impede our path to receiving the full blessings of the gospel.  Some of these “old iron railings” come in theform of excuses we use to avoid strengthening our commitment to the gospel.  They come in the form of disobedience to thecommandments, or by not reading our scriptures or praying daily, by not havingregular family home evenings, or by not serving others by doing our home andvisiting teaching.  
    Perhaps we struggle with our role as a home and visiting teachers, anddon’t think that what we do makes a difference. Perhaps it doesn’t, but more than likely it will make a difference.  We usually never know how what we do impactsthose whom we serve!  I remember back towhen I was living in New York, and was assigned to serve as a senior companionalong with my oldest son.  Just like inmy youth, again I had to travel over 40 miles to home teach, this time a singlemother living out in the country.  I remembercomplaining silently to myself that it was a long way out there, but, havingbeen a single father, I knew somewhat of her needs and felt a particularresponsibility to her.  My son and I hometaught her for over a year.  We didn’t doanything really special for her, we helped out on her house or moved a fewthings here and there; we gave her a blessing or two, and taught her a fewgospel lessons.  But we didn’t know theimpact we had in her life until just before we moved, when she thanked us forbeing great home teachers.  Did I doanything out of the ordinary?  Did I “go forth and speak with the trump of God, witha voice [that shook] the earth”? Probably not, but just my actions of being there was enough to show thatI cared, and that she felt and was loved as a daughter of God.
    Am I now perfect in my home teaching? No, but I shouldbe.  And it shouldn’t be that hard forme.  I am assigned to home teach myBishop and his family, and the family of a member of the Stake Presidency, and aSister that wants no contact from the church, and to a brother that is also assignedto visit our family as well.  It shouldbe easy for me then, shouldn’t it?  But Istill struggle to be a good home teacher. 
     In 1998, PresidentThomas S. Monson stated the following regarding home teaching:  Let usreview the counsel of the Lord and His prophets concerning this vital endeavor.”…Priesthood holders [are assigned] ashome teachers to visit the homes of members every month.  They go in pairs; often a youth holding theAaronic Priesthood accompanies an adult holding the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Thehome teaching program is a response to modern revelation commissioning thoseordained to the priesthood to “teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch overthe church … and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to prayvocally and in secret and attend to all family duties; … to watch over thechurch always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is noiniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying,backbiting, nor evil speaking.”
     President David O. McKay admonished: “Home teaching is one of our mosturgent and most rewarding opportunities to nurture and inspire, to counsel anddirect our Father’s children. … It is a divine service, a divine call. It isour duty as home teachers to carry the divine spirit into every home and heart.To love the work and do our best will bring unbounded peace, joy, andsatisfaction to a noble, dedicated teacher of God’s children.”
     Finally,I have another personal story that relates to us, as Member’s of HeavenlyFather’s Church, and our need to follow righteous pathways and do what isright.  I was born and raised in upstateNew York, and during my high school years, our LDS ward was blessed with prettygood athletic young men.  One year, wehad a very good Young Men’s softball team. We beat everyone we played within our Stake and within our Region.  As a result, we were blessed to travel to theChurch Area Championships in South Carolina. What a great adventure for my friends and me!  Our leaders, which included my father, loadedall of us and our equipment into 3 station wagons (which were the precursors totoday’s mini-vans and SUVs), and we made the long journey southwards fromUpstate New York.  As luck would have it,we met our athletic match in South Carolina, and failed to move on at thetournament.  Disappointed in the loss,but happy with our adventure, we began our long journey home late in theevening after the tournament.  As luckwould have it, our vehicles were soon enveloped by a thick fog that slowed ourjourney down to almost a standstill.  Concernedfor our safety, our leaders stopped and pulled off to the side of the road todiscuss our predicament (remember, it was the mid 70s and we had no cell phonesin those days).  Perhaps somewhat foolishly,they decided the best course was to continue onward into the foggy night.  In making that decision, they all agreed tofollow the lead car’s taillights, thus ensuring each other that this would besafest in keeping the cars together.  We traveledthis way for several hours, and when the thick fog lifted, we discovered thatall three cars had somehow become separated in the fog.  Without anyone to follow, our car pursued itsown path and headed towards home.  Soonafter our arrival home, the second car drove safely in.  But the third car was nowhere to beseen.  After almost 8 hours, the thirdcar, with a very exhausted driver and youth arrived safely home.  But where had they been, we allwondered?  Had they broken down on thehighway somewhere, or had they just pulled to the roadside and slept for awhile?  Reluctantly and feeling somewhatembarrassed, they explained the reason for their lateness.  According to the plan, their driver had been followingthe taillights of the car in front of him. Somehow, in the thick of the fog, he had become confused.  As soon as the fog lifted, they realizedtheir mistake when they sheepishly noted that they were completely in the wrongstate, and that what they thought were the taillights of the lead car, hadactually been the taillights of someone heading in the opposite direction. 
     Brothers andSisters, how many times do we follow the wrong taillights?  How many times are we led astray, and followpaths that lead us to a loss of the Spirit? Only by keeping the correct taillights in front of us, will we beblessed.  There are times when the taillightsare easy to follow, and there are times when Satan tries to confuse us bylaying thick fog between us and the taillights. Heavenly Father’s joy in this life is that we wade through all the thickfog, discern the correct taillights to follow, which lights, of course, are thedoctrines and principles found in the True and Everlasting Gospel of JesusChrist.  Those lights are followed bybeing obedient, by keeping our covenants, by reading our scriptures and prayingdaily alone, and together as a family, and yes, one of those taillights we needto follow leads us directly to those that we home and visit teach.  The Lord promises us in the Doctrine andCovenants that He is “bound when ye do what I say; but when yedo not what I say, ye have no promise.”   
      I have a firm testimony of home and visitingteaching.  Again, I am not always thebest at doing my home teaching, but I am very thankful to those of you thatare, that emulate the Savior.  Our example of what home and visiting teachersexemplify, as even the Savior himself said: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, dothnot leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which islost, until he find it?  And: “Either what woman having ten pieces ofsilver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house,and seek diligently till she find it?” We may be home and visiting teachers to lost souls, but every soulis in need of nurturing.  I am thankful for home teachers thatwatched over my mother in her last years while I lived and raised my familysome 2000 miles away. 
     Bare a strongtestimony of the calling of a home and visiting teacher.  Testimony of the love our Savior JesusChrist, and the restoration of the Gospel on this earth.

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