Basically, it's a system in which the women of each congregation check up on each other at least monthly and make sure basic needs are being met, and that each woman is ministered to.
It's one of my very favorite things about Relief Society, the largest women's organization in the world.
It can also be a very tricky thing to manage--making sure every woman is being visited.
During the years that I was the Relief Society President, I was so intricately involved in ministering to the women in our area that I didn't worry so much about making sure I was also being visited regularly. As is always the case, we are most often nurtured as we are serving others.
So, I haven't had visiting teachers physically in my home for many years.
I think the last time a pair of them came to see me, there was carpet in my dining room, I had lots of small kids underfoot and things were FAR from refined.
The dry spell ended this morning, so I ran around tidying up a bit before the ladies arrived.
I was excited to be hosting visitors! They're fun women.
But I guess my focus should not have been on cleaning up.
And not on fooling myself into thinking that things were even one smidgen more refined than they've ever been. EVER.
They probably wouldn't have cared if there were dishes in the sink, or if the coffee table was cluttered. I know this. But I busied myself anyway, knowing that these were all things I wanted to accomplish today. Might as well get them done before company comes.
There are more basic needs to be met when people come to call.
(I thought I'd taken care of all that when I asked my husband to fix the front door last night. At almost 10:00 pm I mentioned that my visiting teachers would be coming in the morning, and it would be nice to let them in. Our front door has been broken for a while, and now, wiggling, bumping and giving the door the hip as you flick the wrist was no longer effective. I had to ask my piano student to come in through the garage yesterday. So he dismantled the door in the dark of night and removed the locking mechanism in the handle so that it would open and close. The deadbolt was still working; reduced home security would have to suffice.)
And they came!
As soon as she sat down, Madeleine asked if she could use the bathroom.
Pretty basic request, right?
Except that I had to chuckle, and after saying "Of course!" I also told her that there was no door on the bathroom. It was removed on Friday, fallen victim to the trim painting we've been doing on the main floor.
And then "Wanda and I promise not to peek if you're okay with that..." to which I hastily added "There's another bathroom at the top of the stairs."
She opted for the latter.
I wondered what she'd discover on her trip north.
And then our visit was so fun that I put the bathroom incident completely out of my head.
Until it was time to say good-bye.
As Madeleine was letting herself out the front door, the door knob twisted completely off and she stood there a little surprised with the handle in her hand. I teased her and told her I wasn't going to invite her to come back if she was going to keep breaking things (hah!) and waved good-bye after they extricated themselves from my home.
Then I bravely ran upstairs to see what shape things were in.
Here's what I found:
-one pair of teenage girl underpants on the bathroom floor,
-a pile of discarded clothing in a pile right in front of the toilet (Madeleine must have gingerly stepped around it to use the commode--points to her for not disturbing the heap)
-a lump of blanket that was dragged to the bathroom floor from the bed, and never returned
-no soap with which to wash hands (points to us--there WAS toilet paper in place)
-no towel to dry with
-(not to mention the little things, like a missing door on the vanity, since, when Dub was experimenting with painting over stained cupboards, why not take one from each room in the house to make us remember we are all but dust of the earth anyway?)
-a hot water faucet that won't turn on (cold water only in that sink)
-and a nice smattering of mildew over the window from steamy showers all winter, since the master bath shower doesn't work... the lot of us are sharing one tub.
Nothing like a visit to bring a little perspective (and humility) and some humor to the table.
They really might not come back.