Friday, December 5, 2014

Dealing with Visiting Teacher Dodgers

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward Relief Society
From: Ramona Barnes, Ward Visiting Teaching Coordinator
Subject: What to do when your visiting teachee keeps dodging you

I call, I text, I stop by. When she doesn't answer, I stand on her front porch and belt out, Love at Home. When she still doesn't answer, I hot glue 50 packs of M&M's to her front door. I follow her on social media. I follow her to work, to the dentist, and to the mall. I wait in front of her bathroom stall at Nordstrom. But still I get nothing.

At first I thought it was me. But, in talking with friends, I've realized this kind of reception is common among sisters. So, what's a woman to do when she gets rejected time and time again?

Here are a few tips I've learned through my colorful history with visiting teacher dodgers.

Think Outside the Box

Oftentimes our less active sisters dodge their visiting teachers because they don't like the idea of visiting teaching. They're deluded into thinking it's just some time-consuming, boundary-invasive imposition that saddles a sister with a couple of nosey, fake friends.

For example, a few years ago I was assigned to visit an inactive sister in our ward. I tried everything. Texts, emails, treats on her doorstep, notes on her car. Nothing. Not even so much as a text to tell me that she acknowledged my existence.

I decided to think outside the box and not even try to entice her to be "visit taught." Instead I posted on Facebook that I was dying to get a pedicure, thinking she would jump at the chance to go with--because, even though we've never met--I knew she would be dying to get a pedicure. She blocked me.

Since I could no longer reach her on Facebook, I went to her house and rang the bell. When she didn't answer, I banged on the door. She opened it and told me to go away. Undeterred, I refused to leave until she agreed to go for a pedicure. She threatened to call the police. I went back the next day. And the next. She got a restraining order.

I'm still hopeful. A restraining order only means I have to observe a certain physical boundary, meaning I can keep doing creative, outside-the-box sorts of things, just from 30 feet away. (In her case I have to wait outside the bathroom at Nordstrom.)

Learn About Her Life

Real friendships take time, work, and constant communication. But a visiting teacher can't wait for all that. Without warning, the ward boundaries might be realigned or the Relief Society presidency might change. In a matter of months a visiting teacher could be assigned a whole new set of best friends.

For that reason, a successful visiting teacher needs to whip out her detective skills. Thank goodness Heavenly Father has provided us with the technology! Social media like the online ward directory, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are terrific tools for getting to know your visiting teacher dodger. (I'm Facebook friends with my inactive sister again, thanks to that fake profile I set up.)

If you're not inclined to sign up for any type of social media, try staking out her neighborhood. Interview her neighbors under the guise of a census taker or Homeland Security, or hang around her kids' school so you can strike up a conversation with her when she picks them up. Even better, pick up her kids, then she'll have to talk to you if she wants them back.

Be Persistent

I know how hard it can be to always have your texts, calls, and messages ignored, especially by someone you really care about but haven't actually met. But if you want any measure of success with a visiting teacher dodger, persistence is key.

My work on that inactive sister is paying off. When I saw her in Nordstrom yesterday she didn't even swear at me. She just walked out of the bathroom, rolled her eyes, and went on her way.

Photo courtesy of InsanaD

If you would like to stop receiving these emails we'll assume you're dying to get a pedicure.


  1. If Ramona is like this with apostates, I'd hate to see what she's like with boyfriends!

  2. If she seems to think the visits are invasive, rude, boundary crossing, and outright disturbing, just remember that the Savior set the supreme example for us when he went after the lost sheep. Yeah, the sheep was just over the hill a bit munching on some grass but if the Savior hadn't gone to get it it may have wandered off with the goats and made choices that would have led it into an unwholesome lifestyle.

    Manifest Destiny over other souls, that's what the Lord wants for us. Do your duty no matter the cost or felony warrants for breach of privacy.

  3. Unfortunately, Ahab, there are hundreds of Ramonas lining the walls of the Mormon single ward dances.

    Dee, yes, and it's always for our own good. Ever notice how the meanest people are always doing things "for our own good?"

  4. This is another scary thing I didn't know about.

    1. Yes, and fyi, the men stalk in pairs too - as Home Teachers.

  5. Donna, that graphic is downright creepy!

  6. I know women like you just described!!

  7. We don't have visiting teachers because my mom was never lDS, but we do have home teachers. our present house was chosen in part because of the nicely-occluded front of the house, making pretending we're not home easy. My mom doesn't even care, though. She'll pound away on her one of her Steinways as they're knocking and ringing away. Only my dad feels the obligation to hide -- unless he's had a few, in which case he invites them in, but they don't stay for long.