The Lord will guide those who trust him, listen to the prophet

Elder Andrew Wayne Peterson is embarking on a new mission as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, but he will continue to rely on the same faith and trust in the Lord that has helped him through previous challenges and opportunities.

While he is a devoted husband, a father of eight children and a dentist, Elder Peterson still finds time to willingly give service to the Church and in the community.During a Church News interview with him and his wife, Christine, in their Salt Lake City home, he referred to 1 Nephi 3:7: "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

Elder Peterson said: "We need to trust in Him and realize He is always there. We sing in the Primary song, `Heavenly Father, are you really there, and do you hear and answer every child's prayer.' We bear our testimonies that he does. He is there and will lead and guide us if we will turn to Him and have the faith to listen to a prophet."

On Sept. 13, Elder Peterson accepted the call to be a General Authority extended by President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency. Since then, Elder Peterson and his wife have renewed their commitment to continue to rely upon the Lord in all things.

Sister Peterson recalled how hard it was to keep the calling private until her husband was sustained in General Conference on Oct. 1: "It's hard because you can't come home and talk it over as a family and share it with your children. So we went around for three weeks with that knowledge inside and not being able to share it. You do a lot of soul searching and spend a lot of time on your knees.

"It was nice when we could finally share that with our children and our parents. They didn't know until the moment his name was presented in the solemn assembly."

In the conference session, the new members of the First Quorum of the Seventy weren't announced separately; their names were read along with the names of the other members of the quorum for a sustaining vote.

"So some of our children didn't catch it," Sister Peterson said. "And when he got up to go up to the front, some of them said, `Why is Dad going up there?' "

Elder Peterson said: "For the family to have this coincide with the sustaining of President Howard W. Hunter was the highlight of the weekend. In a small way, to be a part of that experience will be unforgettable for the family."

Elder and Sister Peterson's need to keep the new calling private and his duties during the day as a General Authority also resulted in a 7 a.m. birthday celebration complete with decorations and gifts for seventh child, Anne, that same Saturday. That confused the children, ages 7-21, who didn't understand why the change from typical celebrations that were usually later in the day.

Elder Peterson began life in San Francisco, Calif., June 8, 1947, a son of Wayne Leo and Virginia Parker Peterson. When his father completed dental school in San Francisco they moved to Payson, Utah, for two years, then to Salt Lake City when he was 5. He is the eldest of six children.

Andrew Peterson and Christine Swensen lived in the same ward when they were young. But it wasn't until they were at Highland High School - he a senior and she a sophomore - that they really noticed each other.

"I can remember when Cupid struck," Elder Peterson said. "My senior year had just started and I was riding home from school on the back of a motor scooter. Coming from Highland toward where Christine and I lived - we lived through the block from each other - as I passed by, she turned and waved. It was just like a bolt of lightning went through me."

They dated until he left for the North Argentine Mission, and then wrote to each other while he was gone.

When he returned home in September 1968 they picked up their romance and were married June 20, 1969, in the Salt Lake Temple.

"We had to wait five years, but it was worth waiting," Elder Peterson said.

After they were married, he continued his studies at the University of Utah and then took his wife to San Francisco where he attended the University of Pacific Dental School. Sister Peterson was a registered nurse and worked in a hospital in San Francisco until he graduated.

He had decided in ninth grade that he would follow in his father's footsteps and become a dentist.

"My father put no pressure on me; he said do what you want to do," Elder Peterson related. "I was close to my father and mother and wanted to be like my dad. So choosing a profession, I'm sure in large part, had to do with my relationship with my father."

At the time of his call to the Seventy, he had a private dental practice, separate from but in the same office as his father.

Elder and Sister Peterson have always found time to serve others. One of the first things they got involved in was The Partners of the Americas where the Utah organization worked with Bolivia. While a missionary in Argentina, Elder Peterson had the opportunity to visit southern Bolivia as an assistant to the mission president and came to love the people of that country.

The Petersons continued their service to Bolivia until Elder Peterson was called as president of the Mexico Merida Mission in 1981.

When they returned to Salt Lake City in 1984 they got involved in the Community Service Council. That led to an invitation to Elder Peterson to serve as chairman of the advisory board of the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center at the University of Utah. The center brings together faculty, staff, students, alumni and community in community service.

He has also enjoyed working with the Boy Scouts of America as a Silver Moccasin Junior Leader Trainer for the Great Salt Lake Council. An Eagle Scout himself, he has spent 10 days each of the last four summers teaching leadership principles to Scouts at a camp in Utah on the East Fork of the Bear River.

Being actively involved in family, career, Church and service is demanding for the Petersons and has required specific planning.

Sister Peterson explained: "We're a team. Sometimes our motto has been, `Divide and Conquer,' because we can't both be everywhere all the time. We do a lot of evaluating to determine what is most important."

Elder Peterson added: "We have also involved our children as much as we can. So with the Bennion Center, when I go out on service projects, the children go with me."

Even when Elder Peterson was a mission president, he and Sister Peterson found a way to avoid a conflict between Church service and their family of young children.

Sister Peterson said: "I thought, `Where is my place? Do I travel with my husband or do I stay with these little children. I couldn't picture leaving them all the time. We did a lot of praying about it and decided the mission was a family experience. Yes, I would go with him, but so would the children."

Since there wasn't an adequate school available for English-speaking children, Sister Peterson taught her children. She taught them in the car and in hotel rooms, as well as in the mission home.

Part of the education was reading books together as a family. Elder Peterson remembered an experience on one trip: "We finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows just before a zone conference was to start. We all cried as the dogs died and then went over to the zone conference and everybody thought, `They're really in the Spirit today.' The mission was a wonderful family experience."

Family involvement has continued during his service as a stake president, regional representative and in other Church callings.

"It's just being a team," Sister Peterson repeated. "You have to keep regrouping and re-evaluating."

Elder Peterson said that it is important to listen to children; they can teach parents who listen as much or more than the parents teach them.

"We're grateful for our sweet children," he said.

He learned more about the value of children as teachers when he served as Star A teacher in Primary for a year and a half after he was released as a stake president.

"That was some of the finest training I have ever received," he said. "I had those beautiful children teaching me more than I was giving them. The Lord loves His children, so we need to be very careful in the incredible stewardship that we have of being parents and in teaching children and youth."

Elder Peterson concluded that it is important to trust in the Lord and listen to the prophet "who now is inviting us to go to the temple as another prophet invited us to read the Book of Mormon and another invited us to lengthen our stride. We have a prophet now who has issued a call and if we will be temple worthy, have temple recommends, go to the temple as we ought to be, and if we will trust in the Lord, the Lord will lead and guide us and help us to find our own spiritual Brass Plates just as Nephi was guided to the plates that blessed him and all of us."

Additional Information


Family: Born June 8, 1947, in San Francisco, Calif., to Wayne Leo and Virginia Parker Peterson. Married Christine Swensen June 20, 1969, in the Salt Lake Temple. Parents of eight children: Joshua, 21; Ashley, 20; Megan, 18; Daniel, 16; Jennifer, 12; Natalie, 10; Anne, 9; Andrew, 7.

Education: Received bachelor's degree from the University of Utah in 1970; doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Pacific in 1974.

Employment: Private dental practice in Salt Lake City.

Church Service: Regional Representative of Millcreek and Coalville regions, 1993-1994; national vice president of Sigma Gamma Chi, 1992-1993; Primary teacher in Monument Park 2nd Ward, 1992-1993; president of Salt Lake University 3rd Stake, 1988-1992; counselor in stake presidency of Salt Lake University 3rd Stake, 1984-1988; president of Mexico Merida Mission, 1981-1984; counselor in bishopric of Monument Park 1st Ward.

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