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Kirby: Home teaching — spying for the Lord

Published August 2, 2014 9:15 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I try to get my home teaching done every month. Doesn't always work out that way. Lots of excuses for not doing it. My favorite is that I just don't feel like going.

For non-Mormons, home teaching is an LDS Church member visiting program wherein a couple of guys from the ward drop in once a month to see how you're doing.

Recipients of these visits regard them in a variety of ways: a welcome spiritual moment, an annoying interruption, actual spying for the bishop, etc.

The tenor of the visit depends largely on the personality of the home teachers. It can be a solemn mini-lesson on some church topic, or just a cookie-munching bull session that basically verifies the family is alive.

Anyway, home teaching is a semi-big deal for Mormons. You hope the families you're assigned to visit are cool, and you hope your own home teachers aren't a couple of tedious scripture squirrels.

A couple of weeks ago I was assigned a new family to home teach. Actually it was just one guy. I'll call him Junior because that's his name.

Junior is a recognizable character in our neighborhood. He lives four doors down the street from me. We first met when his Rottweiler wandered into my kitchen for a drink.

Although technically LDS, Junior has only come to church once. He's much more active in drugs, crime, alcohol, domestic violence and the occasional police raid. He's been to jail at least three times that I know about.

His yard is equally colorful, sort of Appalachian holler retro. At any given moment, a half dozen disabled cars occupy the driveway. Automotive parts, tools, building supplies and old appliances fill up the rest of the space.

Here's the thing. Junior is a nice guy. I like him. He's helpful, friendly and interesting. He knows I'm an ex-cop and I know he's an occasional felon. Doesn't seem to get in our way, though.

I saw him out in his yard last week. I pulled over to let him know that my HT partner and I would be coming by to visit once a month. Thoroughly pierced, inked and baked, he was still interesting to talk to. We chatted about life in general until he abruptly stopped and apologized.

Him: "S*&#, man. Sorry for f%$&@ swearing."

Me: "Junior, I'm your f%$&@ home teacher, not the language police."

We fist bumped and agreed to get together later in the week. It didn't work out. While I was looking forward to visiting Junior, so were the cops.

Seems my new home teaching assignment borrowed someone else's vehicle and their debit card. Unified Police Department officers raided his house with a warrant and hauled a bunch of stuff away, including Junior. Then the health department sealed the home as uninhabitable.

I'll probably have to go visit Junior in jail now. Or I could just count the drive-by as a visit. Technically I did stop by to see him.

Doesn't matter. I have my own new home teacher worries now. A few days ago, new ward members "Bill" and his son dropped by some cookies and introduced themselves as our new home spies ... I mean, teachers.

Bill knows I work for The Salt Lake Tribune, and that I'm not entirely rational. Meanwhile, he works full time in a highly responsible position at LDS Church headquarters.

Hmm, this could get really complicated.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.