Sunday, April 10, 2011

Visiting Teaching Conference

For our Visiting Teaching Conference this year, we decided to do something light and fun. I found a cute "ant-themed" idea online at The Idea Door and tweeked it to meet our needs.

For the invitations, I envisioned red gingham for sure, but I could NOT find cute ant stamps anywhere in town...and I didn't have time to order new ones. I contacted two friends in my ward (congregation), who I know have just about every rubber stamp made under the sun, to see if they had any cute "picnic ant" stamps like this one I found here:
Kerry told me she had just a plain tiny ant stamp. I said "Perfect! I'll take it!" I was planning to pair it with a large fruit stamp anyway, and I knew just the one! I found this adorable watermelon stamp on clearance at Hobby Lobby. Using the two stamps together, I made these simple invitations:
And these envelopes:
Here's a closeup of the outside:
And the inside:
Once the invitations were done, I started having fun finding more "ant" and/or "watermelon" themed ideas. Look at these adorable cupcakes I found on this website:
I decided to skip the coconut and just use a "grass" icing tip. The fruit candy was ordered online here, but I had to add my own "seeds" with black icing.

I also found these cute giant ants at Hobby Lobby (they are actually salt and pepper shakers) and picked up three sets for our display table which included a red gingham tablecloth, picnic basket, etc.

For "handouts" we attached a cellophane bag full of chocolate covered raisins (ants) to the poem and calendar found here and placed them in this cute picnic basket:

Here's our program:

RELIEF SOCIETY PRESIDENT - Welcome to our Visiting Teaching Conference. We are so grateful to have all of you here today. This is an annual event for all the sisters in our entire Relief Society. For the past couple of years, we have made an effort to present a very spiritual program...blah, blah, blah

(INTERRUPTED BY ANTS)

Seven "ANTS" enter the room marching and singing. They’re wearing all black clothing and black antennas. They march to the front and sit down holding their poster board sign. (For the seven ants, we used the remaining members of our RS Presidency and our Visiting Teaching Supervisors.)

SONG; SUNG TO THE TUNE OF “THE ANTS GO MARCHING"

The Ants go marching two by two horrah, horrah

The Ants go marching two by two horrah, horrah

The Ants go marching two by two ‘cause that’s what Visiting Teachers do.

And we all go marching out, to the homes, of the sisters, that we love

Boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom

The ants go marching two by two horrah, horrah…

(repeat as long as needed then fade out)

This is a photo of some of our "ANT" signs. I just printed them on standard 8 1/2 x 11 paper from the computer and then glue-sticked them to card stock. We glued the song lyrics, speaking parts, and quotes to the back just in case we needed reminders.

Story told by Relief Society President:

There once was a community of ants, and within that community was an LDS ward of ants, and within that ward, was a RELIEF SOCIETY of ants, and in that Relief Society were seven sister ants named:

1. “Persist-Ant” (Persist-Ant stands up, holds her sign and says “I never give up!”)

2 “Observ-Ant” (Observ-Ant stands, holds up her sign and says “ I always notice what my sisters need.”)

3. “Pleas-Ant” (Pleas-Ant stands up, holds her sign and says “I just love Visiting Teaching. I so enjoy being around the other sisters!”

4. “Dilig-Ant” (Dilig-Ant stands up, holds her sign and says, “I take my assignment very seriously. I read the lesson on the first of every month so I have lots of time to ponder it. I also have a standing appointment with my sisters.”

5. “Obedi-Ant” (Obedi-Ant stands up, holds her sign and says, “We just do our Visiting Teaching every month no matter what because that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

6 “Serv-Ant.” (Serv-Ant stands up, holds her sign and says, “I love to serve the women in the ward. Christ said, ‘When ye have done it unto the least of these…ye have done it unto me. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my Savior.”

7. “Ignor-Ant” (Ignor-Ant just sits there clueless in a daydream.) Relief Society President repeats, “IGNOR ANT!” “What?

Every month the sister ants would march out of their ant hill two by two to go to Visiting Teaching. You could always tell who was who even though they looked very much alike. (Each ant stands and acts her part in turn.)

Persist-Ant was always the first to get her visiting teaching done. She wasn’t easily discouraged when plans fell through. She would reschedule, send a note, make a phone call, or even drop by with a home baked treat just so her sister’s knew they were loved. Persist Ant never gave up on her sisters, even if they weren’t easy to get in touch with.

Observ-Ant was very aware of the needs of her sisters. She could tell when they needed an extra hug or phone call. She noticed when they weren’t at church and always let them know that they were missed. Observ-ant noticed details and it enabled her to better love those she served.

Pleas-Ant was easy to pick out. She always wore a big bright smile. Everybody knew and liked Pleas Ant because she was so fun to be around. Her sisters looked forward to her visits because they knew how pleasant she was…always leaving them in a better mood.

Dilig-Ant was so effective in her assignment., she worked harder than anyone! She was so diligent that she not only read the Visiting Teaching message, she would read the whole Ensign. No matter what assignment she was given, she always did a good job.

Obedi-Ant lived the gospel. She was a wonderful example because she applied the gospel teachings and actually practiced what she preached. Her example of obedience was an inspiration to the sisters she visited.

Serv-Ant was often quiet but always doing something for others. She would help with housework, offer rides to the doctor, volunteer to watch little ones, read to the elderly, and more. Serv-Ant never wanted to be thanked or repaid for anything she did. She truly enjoyed serving others. When others would ask why she was so happy, she told them it was because helping others made her happy.

Finally, there was ignorant. She didn’t have a clue. “What?”

Sisters, this is just a cute fictional story. Even so, I’m sure we each see a little bit of ourselves in every one of these examples. I want to complim-ANT all of you who are already doing an excell-ANT job in your assignm-ANT. Please remember that as a Visiting Teacher, you are "Import-Ant' (hold up sign). Today, you may want to ask yourself which kind of ANT are you. Maybe you are a combination of several of these. Most importantly, what kind of ANT do you want to BECOME?

VISITING TEACHING COORDINATOR:

(Each ant stands as her name and description are given. Then she reads her quote.)

Persist Ant

How many of us have tried many times to reach a sister or to find her at home and then given up when they haven’t been successful a few times? Pray with your companion. Keep making appoints and keep them. Invite the sisters to Relief Society meetings and activities.

“Elder Bruce R. McConkie has so eloquently taught us that service is essential to salvation. I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. Progress is not created by contented people. It is up to us, you and me, to be uncomfortable in complacency, to refrain from being spectators, and to be players in the game of life. The Lord has chosen His people to perform a mighty work. Our home teaching, our visiting teaching should be more than going; it should be doing with Christian love. It can be done; you can each do your portion of the work because you desire it.” Elder Russell C. Taylor, The Joy of Service, General Conference, October 1984

Observ Ant

We can observe the good in people. We need to look for the best in the sisters we visit teach. We need to see beyond the physical and try to understand her heart. Report any concerns to the Relief Society President.

"It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulty in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from such individuals that all human failures spring." -- Alfred Adler

Pleas Ant

We need to visit teach with the right attitude. It should be an experience we look forward to. Put on a smile when you go to a sister’s home! Remember her birthday and other important events in her life.

"To be successful, it seems to me that a visiting teacher would wish to have high purpose and remember it all the time, would want to have great vision, a terrific enthusiasm that cannot be worn down, a positive attitude, of course, and a great love. . ." Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball page 525

Dilig Ant

As Visiting Teachers we need to fulfill our callings to the best of our abilities. Be sure to give a message each month. We need to get to know the sisters we teach and say hello to them when we see them, sit by them in church and be their friends, not just be a once a month visitor.

“The first-line support to the families in the Church organization is priesthood home teaching and Relief Society visiting teaching. These functions provide two important services. They keep the bishop, the quorum leader, and the Relief Society president adequately informed of the physical, emotional, temporal, and spiritual condition of the membership. They also have teaching opportunities and serve as a resource to provide some of the training to the families as they prepare for self-sufficiency.” Elder L. Tom Perry, The Need to Teach Personal and Family Preparedness, General Conference, April 1981

Obedi Ant

President Brigham Young "All the sacrifice that the Lord asks of his people is strict obedience to our own covenants. Blessed are they who obey when the Lord gives a direct commandment, but more blessed are they who obey without a direct commandment. Do your visiting teaching and report your visits to your district leader.

"I hope that home teachers and visiting teachers will experience two things: first, the challenge of the responsibility that is in their great calling, and second, the sweetness of results from their work, particularly with those among us who are less active. I hope that these teachers will get on their knees and pray for direction, and then go to work to bring these wandering prodigals back into the fold of the Church. If home and visiting teachers respond to this challenge, I honestly believe that they will taste the sweet and wonderful feeling which comes of being an instrument in the hands of the Lord in leading someone back into activity in His church and kingdom.

"I am making a plea for us to reach out to our brethren and sisters who have known the beauty and the wonder of this restored gospel for a brief season and then for some reason have left it.

"May all home teachers recognize that they have an inescapable responsibility to go into the homes of the people and teach them to live the gospel principles more faithfully, to see that there is no iniquity or backbiting or evil speaking, to build faith, to see that the families are getting along temporally. That is a very serious responsibility; it really is. But it is not a heavy burden—it just takes a little more faith. It is worthy of our very best effort." (Instruments of the Lord," Ensign, March 1997.)

Serv Ant

When ye are in the service of your fellow being ye are in the service of your God. We need to go the extra mile when the need arises. Cook a meal, take her children for an afternoon, give comfort when needed. There are so many ways to serve.

Opportunities to lose oneself for the good of others present themselves daily:… visiting teaching; time for compassionate service; giving comfort to those who need strength; serving with diligence in Church callings;… Truly, the day of sacrifice is not past.” President Ezra Taft Benson, This Is A Day Of Sacrifice, General Conference, April 1979

Ignore Ant

Finally, understand your duties as a visiting teacher. If you have questions, lds.org is a great place to turn. You also have a Visiting Teaching supervisor, Visiting Teaching Coordinator, and Relief Society President to turn to. They all want you to succeed

I don’t know what’s going on.

Discussion:

We decided to spend the last ten minutes or so as a question/answer period. Here are some of our discussion questions:

1. Is it ever okay to be released from a Visiting Teaching assignment or partnership?

2. Do I always need to bring a gift to my sisters when I visit? What are some thoughtful, inexpensive ideas?

3. How important is it that we share the lesson every month?

4. Should we begin and end our visit with prayer?

5. What if I can't go during the day or night when it's best for one of my sisters?

6. Is it okay to bring young children?

7. How long should we stay?

8. What if my partner can't go?

9. What should I bring?

10. What constitutes a visit? When is it okay to send a letter, e-mail, or phone call?

11. How do I report my Visiting Teaching?

12. What should I do if my partner dominates the entire visit and only talks about herself?

Have fun planning your Visiting Teaching Conference! Feel free to e-mail your ideas to me for posting on this blog at colleendrake@gmail. Thanks for visiting!

14 comments:

  1. Seriously, how are you so cute?! That is the most adorable thing I have ever heard! & If I ever am in charge of relief society things & I just might borrow your cute ideas!

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  2. Rachel, I'm so glad you liked it. It was tons of fun! Borrow anything anytime. :)

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  3. I was just called to be the visiting teaching coordinator. I have been stressed out thinking of good ideas to get the sisters excited. something cute and adorable! As I prayed, I came across this one yopu made. It is so perfeect! I think I want to use it all. I hope that is fine. Thank you for inspiring me to do my calling.

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  4. Love this! I am so going to use this for our VT conference (I am VT Coordinator). I am not a crafty person so have to rely on the genius of others. Thank you so much! I can't wait to share this site with everyone.

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  5. You are a God Send ... I lost my husband last month and am still trying to get my life in order ... I was just told I am in charge of the VT conference March 1 ... THANK YOU!!!!!!

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  6. I'm so sorry to hear of you loss. Service in the church will be one of the best ways to deal with your grief. Best wishes for a successful VT Conference, and please let me know if you have ANY questions.

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  7. I'm a new Relief Society President and our ward is struggling with V.T. So I plan to have a conference in March...I LOVE this idea, so cute, and light, the Sister won't feel preached to, just loved.

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  8. You are a gem, very creative... Thanks for the great idea, although I have to try and find something alternative.

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  9. This is so cute! I'm planning our VT conference, and was looking for inspiration online, and voila! Thank you for sharing with us! :D

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  10. I just been called called as Visiting Teacher,I'm one of the brain storming sister,I came up with an idea inspired by yours. Our visiting Teacher Conference is Jan. Of the new year, so excited will keep u posted....

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  11. I just been called called as Visiting Teacher,I'm one of the brain storming sister,I came up with an idea inspired by yours. Our visiting Teacher Conference is Jan. Of the new year, so excited will keep u posted....

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  12. A very positive approach for a VT conference. I want to use it for ours.

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  13. You're idea is the answer to my prayers! Thank you so much for sharing with us. Our V.T Conference is next month.

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  14. Thank-you for this idea. So helpful. I tweeked this to fit our ward and received lots of positive feed back. I wanted to share the video I made that I emailed to the sisters that would be the "ants" to add to the idea I can't find a way to post it here so just a thank-you.

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