If Not for Our Home Teacher …

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“If Not for Our Home Teacher … ,” Ensign, Feb. 2001, 52

If Not for Our Home Teacher …

My father was a hardworking man with a desire to have his own business, a business he conducted with his own truck. Our living conditions may not have been the best when I was a boy, but he took good care of us.

I suppose it may have been because he took his responsibilities so seriously that he worried so much. Eventually he developed a bleeding stomach ulcer that put him in the hospital. Medical knowledge and approaches were very different then, and because the doctor felt that stress was a factor in my father’s condition my mother was counseled to shield him from bad news when she visited him twice each day.

That was difficult because with his truck parked, money became tighter and tighter. Soon there came the day when there was only enough gasoline in our old car for one more trip to the hospital. That morning, Mom made some sandwiches out of jam and bread, loaded us four children into the car, and drove to the hospital. Of course when Dad asked how things were going, Mom told him everything was fine, just as she had every day. After morning visiting hours were over, Mom took us to a nearby park, fed us the sandwiches, and let us play until her afternoon visit with Dad, when she assured him again that all was well.

After we returned home, Mom searched through the cupboards for any food she could find. She came up with just one can of vegetables we didn’t like. Four hungry children watched her, the effect of those bread and jam sandwiches long ago worn off. What plans she had for that can of vegetables I do not know, for as we stood around her waiting expectantly, there was a knock at the front door.

The gentleman who stood there when Mom answered inquired: “Are you Sister Child?” It had been some time since my mother had been addressed as “Sister” because we were not active in the Church. But the man at the door introduced himself as the bishop. He brought two bags of food into the kitchen, then made several trips back to his car for more. “You will need some money for gas, and here is a check for the rent,” he said, handing the money to my mother. I cannot be sure how he knew that eviction was imminent or how he knew of our plight at all.

My mother has always been a strong woman, but she started to cry. “How can we ever repay you?”

“Don’t worry,” the bishop said. “I’m sure we will be able to use that truck of your husband’s someday.”

When my father finally came home, he found that our home life and Church activity had been forever altered. My father continued to develop a trucking business that lasted more than 40 years and served the Church on countless occasions. In time my parents served in many callings in the Church and sent sons and grandsons on missions. Perhaps this is the best way some debts can be repaid.

How did that bishop become aware of our family’s plight? As far as I know, the information was relayed by our conscientious home teacher. How tragic it could have been for our family if he had skipped his home teaching that month. What would it have meant for the activity of seven children (and later 25 grandchildren) who so desperately needed what he represented? I am grateful that he followed the example of Heavenly Father in loving others all the time.

Illustrated by Michael Malm