Nothing is deeper than ‘simple faith,’ a basis for her life

The day that 8-year-old Patricia Peterson was baptized, her father took her to downtown Provo, Utah. He told her, "I'll give you a dollar, and we'll go to a store and you can pick out anything you want that will help remind you of your baptism."

The little girl looked and looked. She finally picked out a set of five pictures depicting the life of Christ – from His birth through His ministry. She took them home and put them on her bedroom wall. One day while looking at them, she recognized the stirrings of the Spirit and thought to herself, "I know He's there."From that day forward, she developed a "simple faith" that has strengthened her and guided her through life's joys, complications – and sometimes heartache. Today, this "simple faith" continues to be her foundation as Patricia P. Pinegar serves as Primary general president, a position to which she was sustained in general conference on Oct. 1. Sister Pinegar had been serving as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency. (Please see May 2, 1992, Church News for previous profile on Pres. Pinegar.)

"There is nothing more profound and deep than a simple faith," she said during a Church News interview. "My faith is the foundation of my life. Maybe it is simple, but that simpleness runs deep and is so strong that it guides me, protects me and blesses me. I am just so grateful for it."

Pres. Pinegar expressed gratitude for the experiences she had while serving for 21/2 years in the Young Women general presidency with Jannette C. Hales, Young Women general president, and Virginia H. Pearce, first counselor. She spoke of the "things that happen to you when you're involved with good and faithful people."

Pres. Pinegar especially expressed gratitude for getting to know the young women of the Church – sometimes in one-on-one situations. "I was so impressed with the young women and their strengths and their abilities. I was thrilled to see how strong and good they are."

However, strong, good teenagers were once strong, good children, she explained. She spoke of a study that concluded that the things that children learn by the time they are 8 years old stay with them. "Sometimes we think, `Is 8 years old too young to take on the responsibility of choices?' It's not when we have taught them about the Savior and the light of Christ. When they receive the Holy Ghost, they will be capable of making choices – righteous choices."

Continuing, she said that if parents lay a solid gospel foundation in children in the early, formative years, when they move into the "difficult teenage years," they will be better prepared."

Pres. Pinegar related: "I asked my son, Brett, Can you remember any experiences you had in Primary, spiritual kinds of experiences?' He said,I sure do. I remember a Primary teacher. She sat down with us, and I don't remember what the lesson was about, but she looked us right in the faces and said, "I have this feeling today that if you continue to live the way you are that someday you'll be in the Celestial Kingdom." All of a sudden this feeling came over me that that's where I wanted to be.'

"She had faith in him, and she could see a bigger vision," Pres. Pinegar added.

The new Primary president and her husband, Ed Pinegar, whom she met at BYU in 1955 and married in 1956, have sought during their entire married life to build a gospel foundation in their eight children. (Please see box on this page.) But in the fall of 1986, they learned in a heart-rending way the importance of this foundation. Their son, Cory, then 17, was killed in a car accident in Provo. At the time, they were in England while Brother Pinegar served as a mission president.

"We rejoice when we talk about Cory," Pres. Pinegar told the Church News, "because we know that although he wasn't perfect, he was doing good, right things, and when it was time for him to go we felt that he was ready. But we wish he had fastened his seat belt."

Since Cory's death, Pres. Pinegar has become somewhat of an advocate for wearing seat belts – but not only the kind of seat belts found in cars. She speaks about the seat belts of the gospel.

For example, she spoke of her "little granddaughter. We buckle her into the car seat with the seat belt. She sits for about two minutes and then she starts moving and pushing and she says, `I stuck. I stuck.' If we could somehow help children understand that the seat belts of the gospel are there to keep us safe, not to confine us.

"I try to tell young people when they get in a car: `Don't ever forget to put that seat belt on. When you click it on, think, "Did I buckle up with prayer today? Did I read the scriptures today? Did I bless someone else?" If they would just think of those three things, they would be safer."

Teaching children to fasten gospel seat belts is a lifelong process, as is the Church's Focus on Children, announced in 1993 by the First Presidency. (Please see Church News, Nov. 27, 1993.) "Focus on Children needs to continue and be ongoing," Pres. Pinegar explained. "If children are our future, we must continually bless them, lift them, teach them, think about them and have them on our agenda. I think ward and stake councils need to continually have on their agendas focusing on children."

Pres. Pinegar suggested several ways parents – and members in general – can focus more on children:

  • "Whenever you see a child, tell that child something good about our Savior, Jesus Christ. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Not only know their names and say hi to them, but say, `Do you know that Heavenly Father and Jesus love you?"
  • Teach children about forgiveness. "Recently we had children and grandchildren in our home. After they left, I noticed glass on the cupboard. A vase had been broken and replaced on the shelf. I thought, I need to sit down with them and tell them, `I love you much more than anything in this house, but it would be good to tell me if something breaks so I can clean it up.'

"Then I could teach them something wonderful about the Savior. Sometimes we make serious mistakes; we sin, but if we repent, He loves us so much He will completely forgive us. He won't even remember it anymore."

  • Teach children responsibility. When Pres. Pinegar was about 9 years old, her family moved to Hawaii, where they lived for six years. "I remember that my parents expected me to do really hard things. My father helped start the first branch in Kailua. He asked me if I would play the organ. The branch had a little portable organ. I was just barely learning how to play the piano, but I played the organ for that little branch.

"My parents expected me to do those kinds of things to be involved in the Church. I think my faith grew because I felt the good feelings that come from serving, from feeling needed."

  • Be a good example. "I think that children are profoundly affected by parents' traditions, values, beliefs and practices. I believe those things are forcefully taught by example. Children learn best by example, by seeing in their parents' lives the things that they are hearing in Church. If they see demonstrated in their parents' lives the same principles they are learning in Church, that is powerful."
  • Recognize the moral agency of children. "Agency, even in a child's life, is a powerful gift from our Heavenly Father. When agency is coupled with a desire to please Heavenly Father and a belief that Heavenly Father does have a plan for us, then children can make changes in their lives that are righteous. Even if children grow up in a family where the parents aren't strong in the gospel, if they somehow receive instruction that touches the light of Christ within them, they can make changes.

"In 3rd Nephi, when the Savior came to this continent after He was crucified, He blessed and taught the children. After that was done, the children taught their parents. As we teach children truths, our children will in turn teach us, or others in our family, or friends."

  • Share spiritual experiences with your children. "Our prophet has talked to us about the importance of being a temple-prepared people, of being temple worthy. Also, he has encouraged us to have a picture of a temple in our homes and share with our children the feelings that we have when we attend the temple."
  • Ensure children understand on their level. "We need to ask questions and find out what they really undestand and then teach them more."
  • Have family home evening. "Family home evening is one of the most powerful tools we have as a family for teaching our children the gospel and for helping our children feel we really do care about them and that they are an important part of the family."
  • Help children remember spiritual experiences. Pres. Pinegar encouraged families to review spiritual moments and talk about the feelings of the Spirit.
  • Recognize the influence that brothers and sisters have on each other. "I don't think children understand their role in teaching younger brothers and sisters. Maybe that's something else we can do in families – help older brothers and sisters know how they really can be an influence in the lives of their younger brothers and sisters."

Pres. Pinegar especially encouraged all members to be involved in the lives of children. As has been said, "It takes a village to raise a child."


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Sister Patricia P. Pinegar

Family: Born in Cedar City, Utah, to Laurence and Wavie Williams Peterson. Reared in Provo, Utah; Kailua, Hawaii; and Glendale, Calif. Married Ed Pinegar, eight children: Karie Bushnell, Steven, Kelly Hagemeyer, Kristin Gubler, Brett, Cory (deceased), Traci, Tricia; 17 grandchildren.

Education: Attended BYU in general education.

Community Service/profession: PTA president, worked part-time as dental assistant during high school.

Previous Church callings: Second counselor in Young Women general presidency; member of Primary general board; served with her husband when he was president of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, and as president of the England London South Mission; stake and ward Primary president and teacher; ward Relief Society president and counselor and teacher; stake Young Women counselor and adviser; and ward Young Women president and adviser.