When I was a young mother, the Relief Society was rearranging all of the visiting teaching. I was assigned a new partner, Belinda, who was older than me and had been divorced and remarried. I didn’t think we’d have anything common. And two of the three sisters that we were assigned to seemed to have lots of problems- emotional, physical, social, and financial. They both had gruff personalities that left me intimidated and even a little frightened.
But that first month that we had our new assignment, she called me up and invited me over to her house. She had an idea for a craft we could make for the sisters we visit taught. I brought my baby over and her two girls, ages 4 and 5 played with my baby while we women “worked.”
Belinda suggested that we should start out with a prayer and so we prayed to learn to love our sisters and to be guided as we prepared our lesson so that we could know what God wanted them to know and what we could do to help them.
I really enjoyed the time away from my colicky and needy baby who was briefly happy, having these two older girls dote on her. And making the craft was so much fun! While we worked, we discussed that month’s lesson and what seemed most important to us, and decided which of us would present the lesson to each sister.
I found that while Belinda had led a very different life from me, she was a very faithful woman from whom I could learn a lot. I enjoyed her company immensely and had a wonderful time that day.
On the day we went visiting teaching, she drove. She made sure that we prayed together as companions before entering each sister’s home. I won’t tell you that it went smoothly. It was difficult for me.
The sister with many emotional needs was off-putting to me and I couldn’t wait to leave. The sister with the physical disabilities made me equally uncomfortable.
But month after month went by with Belinda and I getting together to talk, discuss that month’s lesson and do a craft or bake cookies for the sisters, and of course to pray for them. And little by little, the visits with the sisters we were assigned to were much less scary and even enjoyable.
I could see them opening us to up and warming up to us. I could see them beginning to rely on us and that we were receiving inspiration on how to help them and to say the right things at the right times to buoy their spirits and give them courage in the face of adversity.
In fact, all of the friendships were blossoming. Belinda and I were getting together much more frequently than once a month and calling each other on the phone just to chat. Our families were getting together to share Family Home Evenings.
We even had a garage sale together. We weren’t just visiting the sisters we were assigned to monthly. We each, separately, might drop by to say hello to them or call them up to talk.
Eventually, the assignments were changed again, but Belinda and I continued to stay in touch with each of “our” sisters. A year or so later, my family and I moved out of state. When we went back to visit for the holidays, I still called Belinda and we would go visit “our” sisters.
One year during one of my visits, one of “our” sisters was in the hospital and she died just a few days afterward. I was sad to lose a friend and yet so happy that I had been given the opportunity to come to know and love this woman.
I was so grateful to have been part of the Lord’s work. I know that I was an instrument in His hands to bless these women’s lives. And because of it, my life was also greatly blessed. I’m glad I had the courage to get over my initial intimidation and trust Belinda. It has become a wonderful memory, and she is a wonderful friend.