Valerie joined the church several years ago. She was pregnant, and came to church alone. Her husband had no interest in the church. She hoped that some day he would show some interest, and in the meantime was hoping to raise her first child in the gospel. Her parents and brother were also hopeful future recipients of the gospel.
I was fortunate to be able to help the missionaries in teaching Valerie, and was honored to accept an assignment to be her first home teacher. We taught her the new member discussions, and began the regular home teaching routine. Things went well, and then her daughter was born.
After the birth of her daughter, Valerie did not come to church for several weeks. This was understandable as it was her first child, and she would not have the help of her husband during the meetings. We talked her into getting her child blessed, and to her joy, her husband and her parents came to the church on the week of the blessing. Maybe this would be the event that would bring everything together.
A few weeks went by, and neither Valerie nor her family had made it to church. Attempts to line the missionaries up with them were respectfully declined. Regular home teaching visits continued. The only meaningful progress was in our developing the beginnings of a relationship with her husband. When we first started our home teaching we had to meet Valerie at the church. But over time, her husband eventually allowed us into their home. He did not participate, other than in brief chitchat when we first arrived.
After about a year of this, Valerie’s father got cancer. She sought the help of our bishop, who gave her father a blessing. After what appeared to be a successful surgery and some treatment, her father did quite well for a time. The family was very grateful, and even came to church a couple of times. Maybe this would be the event that would bring everything together.
Missionary efforts with her family never gained any traction, and after a few weeks Valerie stopped coming to church again. Our home teaching visits continued, and we enjoyed going to her home. But not much progress was made.
Her father’s cancer returned, and attacked his aging body aggressively. Another blessing was given, but lacked the optimism of the first blessing. Soon her father passed away. Her mother took the death quite hard, as did Valerie. They both came to church a few times, and missionary discussions began with her mother. Things seemed to be going so well. Maybe this would be the event that would bring everything together.
Valerie and her brother tried to keep the family business – a TV and VCR repair shop – going. They enjoyed doing this, and thought it was their way of keeping their fathers legacy alive. And then, without warning, her mother sold the business. This angered Valerie and her brother, and caused a lot of hard feelings in the family. I don’t think Valerie ever got over this. So much for the missionary efforts.
The home teaching continued. But now it seemed that we were mainly listening to her complain about her mother, and observing her spiritual decline. We really did not know what to do.
After about a year of this Valerie got in a serious car accident. A head on collision that badly broke both her legs, and her pelvis. Her stomach was violently shoved up into her chest. Her survival was in question, and if she made it, she may never walk again.
The surgeries were successful, and her healing began. She was in a hospital bed in her home for several months. Our ward was pretty impressive during this time. Many meals and visits were made. Meaningful service was given. Her husband’s heart was visibly softened. I was proud to be a member of our ward, and to be in the middle of helping this family. Maybe this would be the event that would bring everything together.
Valerie eventually healed up enough to start moving around. We hoped to see her coming back to church again. When we made the invitations, she admitted to getting back into her smoking habit. We tried to convince her to come anyway, but she declined. We tried to get her on one of the missionary stop smoking programs, but this she also declined.
Our home teaching continued, and Valerie continued to fall. She looked worse and worse with every visit. She admitted to having some kind of addiction, but did not want to tell us what it was. And one day I met her husband at the grocery store, where he told me that they were getting a divorce. A few days later I went by there house and there was a ‘For Sale’ sign out front. Nobody was home. That was nearly a year ago. I have not seen or heard from Valerie since. We do not know where she is. She stopped by one of the families in our ward a few months ago and asked for fifty dollars. She did not look very well.
I had such great hopes!
Maybe something will happen that will bring everything together for her.
We love you Valerie.