Sister Afton Pettigrew was one of the best Primary teachers I ever had! In many ways, she changed my life. Even today I still remember one special lesson she taught about the Holy Ghost when I was about eight.
I was a pretty lively child. I didn’t like having to sit reverently through a whole Primary lesson. On this day, she couldn’t get me to understand what or who the Holy Ghost was. To me, a ghost was a scary thing, and I thought the Holy Ghost was something to be afraid of.
Then Sister Pettigrew said, “Ronnie, I’d like to have you stand in front of the class and read a scripture for us. It’s 1 Kings 19:11–12.”
I didn’t want to stand in front of all those Primary kids and read a scripture. But I took the Old Testament she handed to me and began to read what the Lord said to the prophet Elijah:
“Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
I finished reading and looked up. Sister Pettigrew could tell I was a little confused about what I’d read, so she explained. ”That means that when the Lord speaks to you, He won’t speak in big, loud ways, like wind storms or earthquakes or fires. You’ll hear Him speak very quietly, like a still, small voice in your heart.”
Then she said, “By the way, Ronnie, you have a very pleasant voice. You read and speak very well.”
I couldn’t believe it! Not only did Sister Pettigrew teach me about the Holy Ghost, but she also helped me see one of my talents!
I was a changed boy after that. I learned that the Holy Ghost speaks to us through thoughts in our mind and peaceful feelings in our heart. I tried to remember to listen inside me for those thoughts and feelings. If I was doing something wrong, like not being reverent in Primary, I listened. Or if I had to make a decision about something, I listened. Sometimes the voice was very soft. I had to be quiet on the inside and on the outside to recognize it. And if I didn’t listen the first time or the second time, it became softer and softer until I couldn’t feel it anymore.
Listening to that still, small voice also helped me find and improve the talents Heavenly Father blessed me with.
Today as a grownup, I still think of Sister Pettigrew and how she helped me. How grateful I am for her and for all our Primary teachers all over the world who teach children how to bring Heavenly Father into their lives and how to grow their talents.
When I became a General Authority for the Church, Sister Pettigrew came to shake my hand. What a joy it was to see her again. I hope she knew how blessed I was to shake her hand.