All home teaching visits should go so smoothly.
On a pleasant pre-autumn evening, home teachers Val Randall and Lynne Mercer arrive at the home of Duane and Rori Jenson in the Bountiful (Utah) 24th Ward. The Jensons are there with three of their children who are still living at home plus a married daughter with her husband and their daughter, a toddler. The group sits comfortably in the living room with the home teachers. The family dog joins them.There is a good deal of laughter. And there is some good-natured banter about the athletic rivalry between BYU and the University of Utah. (The home teachers are ardent Utah fans, while the Jensons are true-blue Cougars.)
But soon the attention of the group focuses on an object Brother Mercer holds in his hands. It is a cylindrical-shaped wasp catcher obtained at a local hardware store.
"This is an interesting device; do any of you know how it works?" he asks. Within the catcher is a piece of cotton with a scent on it, he explains. When the sun warms the cotton, the scent emanates from the catcher, attracting the insects.
"They crawl into these little holes and come up and try to get to the smell," he explains. "Once they get caught in there, they really have a hard time getting out."
He compares the scent to temptation and the wasp catcher to the consequences of sin. "If you get far enough into sin, drawn by the temptation, it is difficult to get back out. Is there a way out? If these wasps work at it, they can get out of the trap. So it's not hopeless, but it's very difficult."
It's important to know that one can overcome sin, Brother Mercer says.
"But it's better not to get trapped in the first place; it's better, if you fly by and accidentally smell it, just to keep on going," says Brother Jenson, thus re-enforcing the message of the home teachers.
The visit concludes a short time later with Brother Randall offering a prayer and a blessing on the home.
The scene, one would hope, is not too uncommon. But it illustrates the good that comes when home teachers fulfill their callings not just faithfully but beyond the ordinary.
"They've been good home teachers," Brother Jenson said. "Lynne has been with Val for not quite a year now. Prior to that, Val came with Mark Peterson, who is on a mission now. Mark would come with him and give a lesson sometimes. And if I was requiring help around the house, Mark would show up." After a pause and with a twinkle in his eye, he added, "And sometimes Val!"
Brother Jenson reflected, "Val is a jovial person and can bring joy into the home. And Lynne we really like to have come because he is a Democrat, and that's a novelty around here."
Joking aside, Brother Randall and Brother Mercer have established a rapport with the Jensons that grows with time and with repeated expressions of caring and extra effort.
"I guess we love our families; that's the main thing," said Brother Randall, a former bishop in the ward. "We enjoy it."
"And we have a good time together," added Brother Mercer.
"I think that's the most important thing, that if you love your families, you'll have fun with them and you'll be apt to do what you can to help them," Brother Randall said.
Brother Mercer added: "Val is very comfortable with people. And he tries to approach it in a way other than the traditional `Let's-go-read-a-lesson' manner."
"Well, you can see how Lynne does it," responded Brother Randall. "The lesson went really well tonight."
As for the object lessons, the pair said they are not bashful about borrowing ideas from others that have been successful. The wasp catcher idea, in fact, was suggested to Brother Randall by Steve Love, who was recently released as the high priests group leader in the ward. It had been effective for him in his own home teaching.
Brother Randall in turn gave the idea to Brother Mercer, who taught it during the visit to the Jensons.
Extraordinary home teaching: According to this companionship, it starts with loving those whom you teach.