Teaching moments: A small beginning

It took effort to establish visiting teaching in the nations of the world as the Church began to expand. When the Church was very young in Brazil, for example, there were no organized Relief Societies and no knowledge among the members of how to establish them. So, William Grant Bangerter, the mission president at that time, called his wife, Sister Geraldine Bangerter, to be the mission Relief Society president.

She was unfamiliar with the country and the language, and she had just had her seventh child. Nevertheless she and her counselors, a sister missionary, Carol Wheeler, and a native Brazilian who spoke only Portuguese, Sister Barbierri, decided "the first thing they needed to do was teach the women how to visit each other and learn about their needs. So they said, "We're going to teach about visiting teaching."

"They decided to start with a little branch ... in the industrial part of the city, whose inhabitants were mainly poor. The presidency sent word ahead to the few sisters of that branch, saying, 'Please meet us on this night at this time in the building that we rent.'

"Sister Bangerter drove through the one-way streets of Sao Paulo ... following her little sheet of directions and reached the home of Sister Barbierri. ... [Then] they drove across a city of twelve million people and showed up at the branch, where ... there were seven humble women. No education among them. No experience in any leadership in the Church whatsoever.

"They started the meeting with a song and a prayer, and then it was Sister Barbierri's turn to teach about visiting teaching. She held a little paper; she trembled so much it was shaking. She got up and read her message. It lasted five minutes. She sat down, and they all turned to look at Sister Bangerter, who said, 'I don't speak Portuguese.' But they wanted her to be their teacher, so she stood up and said all the Portuguese she knew, a four-sentence testimony. That was the first Relief Society meeting held in that branch — a five-minute talk on visiting teaching from a sister who'd never had a visiting teacher, seen a visiting teacher or been a visiting teacher, and a testimony of the gospel.

"Out of that little group and others like them has grown a wonderful, vibrant, faith-filled body of women in the country of Brazil. They're talented, educated, intelligent, fabulous leaders, and they would never be what they are without the gospel of Jesus Christ and their faith." — "Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society," pp. 111-112.

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