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TEACHING LESS-ACTIVE FAMILIES     I learned something new and important while home teaching this week. My home teaching companion is a very well known college professor with a lot of experience dealing with people, and as we drove up and parked at our appointment, he said to me, "Listen, and let him talk".  He also said that good home teaching is helping people and being their friend, and that just does not work if the home teacher is consumed by the "teacher" role, and just talks and talks, not giving the person taught the opportunity to express himself or discuss various issues that might be important. I realised that in past visits I had tended to behave in the traditional "teacher" role - I had my lesson prepared, had my scriptures, my Ensign, and I went in to TEACH! I ended up being very  gung-ho about teaching, went at it with gusto, and ended up doing most of the talking (like in a classroom situation), and there wasn't much meaningful interaction. I was getting home teaching done, but I don't really know how much I was able to help. So this week, as I got out of the car,  I realised what I had been doing wrong and decided not to follow the lesson I had planned. I left my Ensign and scriptures in my bag, and decided to just listen and let Jim* talk. 

    After letting us in, Jim expected me to do my usual thing, except we said , "Let's talk. We just want to find out what's going on in your life and see if we can help in any way".  So after a bit of small talk, Jim really opened up. I guess nobody had ever offered to listen to him about his worries and concerns in a friendly and non-judgmental manner, so we ended up spending a lot of time with him that  evening...listening. It helped us as the hometeachers too, giving us the opportunity to really get to know Jim and what  his concerns were. I think it is really important that home teachers cultivate the ability to listen because it lets us learn a lot about the people we are teaching, which in turn allow us to be better friends and better help them. It is also important because it lets the teachee know that the hometeachers really care about  him or her instead of being just another statistic. So my humble advice to all the Brethren is, please LISTEN. 

A faithful home teacher in Michigan, USA

  We moved to our present location in 1995, Snow Lake being the third community in a triangle of towns making up the Flin Flon branch of the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake. Each town is approx 200 km from each other. I was assigned to home teach in The Pas 210 km away. There are five families there and at the time only one of them was active. After several months, we were suddenly drawn to the Marchenski family. A husband and wife who had lost two teenage children in tragic accidents in recent years. Other children lived 200 km away in Winnipeg. They had last been to the temple 26 years ago. Sister Merchanski came to church in August 1966 and wanted to talk. This was when we learned of the tragedy in her life. Right away we challenged her to prepare to return to the temple and have the work done for her children. By October she had a recommend! Brother Marchenski took a little longer.  We noticed the change when we were teaching a Temple Prep class in their home. Although he took no part in the actual lesson, he listened and at the end took charge and asked for a closing hymn and prayer. We had him!:) It took a while, but by July 97 he too had his recommend. It was our privilege to take them both to the Toronto Temple in August this year. There Bro Marchenski stood proxy for his son for baptism and endowment. Sister Marchenski performed the work for their daughter. This was not a difficult assignment. Just needed someone to show that they cared. 

Brian Margetson, Flin Flon Branch,
Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake, Canada

  I teach a family that went inactive shortly after baptism.   They like the church but don't feel comfortable at the ward.   They always appreciated our visits but finding an available night was difficult as they were often out of town visiting relatives.   They would promise to visit church and never did.  We would try visiting unannounced,  and ending up having nice chats with their non-member brother who was the only one home.   Finally we gave up.  This lasted for nearly six months I'm ashamed to say.   Then one day our Stake High Counselor asked to join me after church in visiting "lost" ward members.   We stopped at the home of this family.  Again we meet the non-member brother.  I ask about his job delivering pizzas and other small talk.  To my surprise the Counselor was impressed,  "you really know this family" he said.   I explained the situation and resolved to visit the member family that week.  We did and their first response was "We missed you!".  Shortly afterward they called me asking for a ride to church.  They are not back to full attendance yet but we feel renewed in hope and faith to continue teaching this family. 

Gary Kibble, Elders Quorum President,
Yorktown Ward, Yorktown New York Stake, USA

* Names have been changed.
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