Friend to Friend


Elder Rex D. Pinegar

Elder Rex D. Pinegar spent his “growing-up years in Spanish Fork, Utah, first on a fruit farm, then, later, in a home in the city.” Rex and his twin brother, Max, were the ninth and tenth children in their family.

“We grew up respecting our parents. My father was in the insurance business. In those days the insurance agent performed all the services. He collected the premiums, he paid the claims, and he kind of nurtured people along. Some policyholders didn’t always have the money to pay their premiums, and my father would often pay the premiums himself so that that family would have insurance protection. He’d say, ‘They can’t pay it; we’ll make out.’

“Father was a good man, but he had a problem keeping the Word of Wisdom. Some people would have called him an alcoholic. He had a drinking problem for thirty-eight years. Mother would say to us, ‘Honor your father, and someday he will honor the priesthood.’ And he did. When Max and I were sixteen, Father made the decision to stop drinking, and that was it. For the last twenty years of his life, he was just what Mother had told us all our lives that he would be.

“Mother was the strength of the family. She held us together. She was a great woman and one source of our faith.

“When I was eleven, the Fourth of July was a real big event in Spanish Fork. World War II had begun, and the whole town was having a parade to send off the men who were leaving to serve in the war. The night before the Fourth I went outside to play. I sat on the porch, and my mother said, ‘You’re not going to go anywhere, are you?’ I said, ‘No, I’ll stay here.’

“Then my friend Mark came across the street and said, ‘I have a big box of firecrackers. Let’s go up to Janet’s and show the girls how to light them!’ I forgot that my mother had asked me to stay home. The only thought in my mind was to go up to Janet’s and light some firecrackers.

“We lighted all the firecrackers that would light, and the remainder we put in a cardboard box and set on fire. Mark and I were both burned in the resulting explosion. In fact, our faces, chests, hands, and arms were burned so severely that it didn’t look like we were going to make it.

“Sister Hill, Janet’s mother, came out when she heard the explosion, and she saw five kids on fire. Somehow the fires were put out, and she calmly took us into the house, knelt us down in the living room, and offered a prayer. Then she called the doctor, and we went down to Dr. Moody’s office.

“He operated on my face to put it back together. Before he started, I asked my father to give me a blessing. Dr. Moody was also an elder, so the two of them administered to me. My father said in the blessing that if I would have faith, the Lord would make me well. You have to remember that at that time my father was an alcoholic. But when he said that the Lord would make me well, I knew it was true.

“Then Dr. Moody began to work on me. I didn’t have any anesthetic because they were afraid of shock. into my mind came the words of one of my mother’s favorite hymns:

O how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day;
So when life gets dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.

(Hymns, no. 31.)

“I couldn’t speak, but I could hum. For the whole two and a half to three hours while the doctor was trying to fix my face, I hummed that hymn. When he was finished with me, I looked just like a mummy. My face and arms were all wrapped up with bandages. It appeared that I had lost the sight of one eye and severely damaged the other. My hands were as black as shoe leather, and they were hard and crinkled.

“All five of us were healed and back in school in the fall. Janet had a severely damaged finger, Mark had burns on his face, as I did, and on his arms, but we were all back in school. Someone in the ward had placed our names on the prayer roll in the temple. To Mother that was tantamount to saying, ‘Don’t worry, if your names are on the prayer roll in the temple, you can just count on being healed.’ And we were.

“I’ve thought a lot about where our faith came from. I think it came from a lot of places. Certainly it came from our Heavenly Father. Why would the hymn come into my mind? There’s something about hymns that strengthens us; we remember the words and have good feelings when we sing them. Our Church leaders helped build our faith also by teaching us and by working with us.

“Sometimes our greatest faith is brought about after we’ve made an error. Had I just obeyed my mother, the explosion never would have happened. None of us would have been injured.

“The scriptures say that the Savior learned obedience through the things that He suffered. I don’t think that He suffered because He sinned or made mistakes but because He understood the gospel; He felt pain and anguish more deeply than those who bring punishment upon themselves, as we did when we were unwise and disobedient.

“I think that if children just learn to have enough faith to obey, perhaps they wouldn’t have to exercise so much faith to be healed, to overcome a hurt, to get back in the good graces of parents or teachers or others. They could avoid having to learn to obey by suffering. Obedience provides strength because if you obey, you feel confident in going to the Lord and asking for His help. And I think if there is ever a time when children need to feel confident in going before the Lord, it is now.”