PRICE, UT—The Church established the Relief Society visiting teaching program more than 50 years ago in an effort to help female members learn to love each other and administer to each other’s needs. According to local woman Kelly Bolton, the program is a complete success. “By welcoming visiting teachers into my house once a month, I have learned how to be selfless and sacrificing,” she confirmed.
After a last-minute call on March 31, Bolton agreed to let her visiting teachers, Sisters Melissa Carter and Joanne Cleaves, come over “for just a quick visit.” Bolton, mother of four, then rearranged her schedule to accommodate her visiting teachers. “I don’t want to be difficult,” she explained. “And I know how much it means to Melissa to get 100 percent on her visiting teaching every year. I couldn’t be the one to break her record. She really wants that Lladro statue of Christ that [Relief Society] President [Millie] Thackeray gives to every woman who does all her visiting teaching for the year.”
Before the 5 p.m. appointment, Bolton cleaned the house, cancelled her son’s dental appointment, and asked a neighbor to pick up her daughter from ballet class. “My sister Rachelle called just before [Carter and Cleaves] were due to arrive, and she really wanted to talk,” said Bolton, “but I just couldn’t hang out on the phone and leave them in the living room. That would be inattentive and irresponsible of me. I have faith that Rachelle will be okay with her postpartum depression until my visiting teachers leave. God will take care of her while I’m helping them out.”
Despite their promise to be on time and to “just pop in to see how you are doing,” Carter and Cleaves were 15 minutes late and stayed for 55 minutes. Their visit included a broad range of conversational topics, including Carter’s incredible visiting teaching record, her ambition to become a flight attendant, the amazing place down the road that does Carter’s nails for less than anywhere else, the mean lunch lady who obviously hates Carter’s daughter Brianne, Cleaves’s new cat, Cleaves’s son Dakota’s swimming trophy, Brother Cleaves’s wonderful barbecued ribs recipe, and the Cleaveses’ new gorgeous living room carpet and paint.
“I just didn’t want to burden them with all my problems. It didn’t seem right to use my visiting teachers that way,” said Bolton, explaining why she didn’t bring up her sister’s depression, her daughter’s recent ADHD diagnosis, or her worry that her husband would lose his job in his company’s impending layoffs. “Melissa and Joanne love to talk about themselves so much, and I feel it’s my duty to create a safe, comfortable environment where they can share their feelings with me.”
“I just want to tell all women of the Church that the visiting teaching program is inspired,” said Bolton. “My visiting teachers have taught me all about service and how to be selfless and giving. I am more than happy to help Melissa and Joanne grow and progress. Women serving each other—that’s what the visiting teaching program is all about.”