Whenever some one says a family doesn't want Home Teachers I have to wonder what kind of Home Teachers they've had? Who wouldn't want Home Teachers? Unless they've had lousy ones. So what do we do then? Excuse ourselves because we failed a family and they don't want us to fail them any more?
Years ago I was sitting in for a regular member of the Ward Council when it was mentioned that so-and-so and so-and-so refuse Home Teachers. I was appalled! This was the first time I'd heard of such a thing. I asked if those two families might be assigned to me? There was some reluctance. I never knew whether they feared for my well being as I was willing to enter a hostile environment; or, if they were reluctant to give up the excuse not to visit those folks. After some persuasion I prevailed and was assigned Sue and Jan, both of whom had non-member husbands. I was handed their information with a caution, "Whatever you do, don't tell them you're their Home Teacher!"
"You want me to lie them?" was my response.
"Then, I'll take it from here. Thanks!"
I knew Sue, she'd been baptized a Catholic so she could be wed to her husband at the Vatican in Rome. Still, her membership was on our records as well. That afternoon my wife and I went over to see Sue and Roger. They were probably the most wealthy folks in our Ward. Sweetie and Sue had known one another for a long time and we were welcomed in with open arms. We sat down and had a bit of a conversation at which point I announced that I was their new Home Teacher.
"We don't do Home Teachers!" was Sue's abrupt reply.
"You do now." I said.
"No we don't." She countered.
"Are you kicking us out?" I asked.
I thanked her for not kicking us out and explained that the role of Home Teacher was to watch over and care for those in his charge. Then I asked, "Don't you want to be watched over and cared for?"
"I don't mind someone keeping an eye on the house when we're out of town." she stated.
"I'm your man!"
"I don't want the gospel crammed down my throat!"
"I'm still your man."
We hammered out a few more details and were off and running. Over the course of the next years I did watch her house when she was out of town and weeded her flower beds and kept up her lawns and made regular visits. Sue and Roger took us out to dinner once and every month Sue baked us a pie.
Roger came down with bone cancer. He suffered with a great deal of pain. At Christmas time I stopped by with some goodies and found him watching a video tape of the Tabernacle Choir singing Holiday songs. Tears were streaming down Roger's cheeks. I made some remark about out touching their music was and Roger explained, that though that was true, it wasn't the reason he was feeling such emotion. He went on to explain that he'd grown up on South Temple and had lived next door to the Richard's. If the Thomas kids and the Richards kids weren't climbing around in the belfry of St Madeleine's they were crawling through the rafters of the Tabernacle.
"I love the Latter-day Saints they were such a big part of my youth and now you've given that gift back to me."
I never baptized Roger, nor did Sue ever return to activity in the Church, but I was their Home Teacher.
Now on to Jan, the other member who didn't want Home Teachers.
Jan was a bit tougher nut to crack. Members of the Church had so embittered her that she wouldn't even speak to us. Now I'm not saying there was no fault on her part, but I am saying that we are sometimes less than kind to those who don't conform to our standards. Her husband Ron, however, was very welcoming. If Jan came to the door, we stood on the porch. If Ron did, we were invited in for an enjoyable conversation, but Jan never came into the room. I suspected a few times that she was eaves dropping around the corner. Then Jan came down with lung cancer. We never saw Jan again. Ron still welcomed us and we always asked about Jan. Her prognosis wasn't good. Sweetie'd heard that fresh vegetables, especially cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower were good for cancer patients. Every Saturday, she made a big salad with heavy emphasis on those three ingredients. Using a whole head of each, plus the lettuce, onions, carrots and such, made for a big salad. Enough for us and for Jan and Ron. Each Saturday for months we took them a salad. Ron always thanked us warmly and told us how much Jan loved that weekly treat, that lasted for several days.
We never did have a conversation with Jan. Rarely saw her. Just before she died though, she phoned and asked if I would speak at her funeral. She didn't have much else to say. There wasn't much to say. In her own way she had acknowledged and expressed appreciation for Home Teachers.
I don't suppose Lamoni was too keen on having Ammon come around either, but he accepted Ammon's service and devotion. Ammon wasn't in it for Ammon. He was in it for Lamoni and he was clearly in it for the long haul, at considerable sacrifice to his own convenience. He never pushed anything upon Lamoni. He just cared for him, until Lamoni sought for more. What a classic example.
I would have been so easy for the Sons of Mosiah to say, "Well, the Lamanites don't accept missionaries." And left it at that. Are we willing to make such a puny excuse?