Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » In Her Own Words: Pearl Whitlock Peterson, 1938

In Her Own Words: Pearl Whitlock Peterson, 1938

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 20, 2011

Pearl Marie Whitlock Peterson (1890-1962) of Gunnison, Utah, wrote this account in 1938.

Having been brought up by Latter-day Saint parents [Charles and Annie Petersen Whitlock, of Sterling, Utah], doubt of God was unknown to me throughout childhood and youth. The foundation thought in our home was that God loves us and, with the help of loving spirits, is taking care of us.

Gradually I learned that the purpose of life is to try us, to see if we will obey the Lord and make ourselves worthy to return to Him where we would continue to go on. This gave zest to life and made the struggle against obstacles happy and worthwhile.

After my [1917] marriage I lived out on a farm with no near neighbors. Although my husband [Clarence] was away much of the time, I never felt all alone, for, even there, I believed God was caring for me. I felt a companionship with my guardian angel.

At this time an elderly gentleman called often to visit with us. As an apostate from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was bitter in his denunciation of the Mormons.

For some time his stories and remarks had no evil effect upon me. But after my first son [Wesley] was born [in 1920] I began to dread those visits. Because he always said, “I know,” my belief seemed inadequate in coping with him.

He said, “I know there is no God. I know Joseph Smith was an impostor. I know that anyone who prays is mentally deranged.” And prayer was a common vital part of my life.

I began to wonder if all I had believed was wrong. Doubt crept into my mind and fear filled my soul: for, if there was no God there was no meaning to life – no incentive to put forth a real effort to progress and do good.

My parents had given me beautiful happy thoughts but if they were wrong, what should I teach my child? How could I give him a desire to keep clean, to do good and to seek intelligence? How could I give him joy if this belief in God’s love and care were false?

Such an overwhelming weight of oppression assailed me that I involuntarily did the thing I had always done in any desperate need – I knelt by my baby’s crib and prayed for truth. Inconsistent though it may seem, I prayed to God and asked Him whether or not there is a God.

Having asked Him, I felt an urge to read and study. To my surprise the subsequent issues of the daily paper (it was not issued by a church) and every magazine that came into our home had at least one article about prayer, the Bible or God. I studied the scriptures and prayed continually.

One morning as I was outside washing clothes, I heard the rattle of a buggy. I looked up to see the elderly gentleman coming down the hill toward our gate. In that instant a wave of joy swept through my soul and I thought aloud, “You may say anything you wish, now. You can never hurt me again because I know that God lives and that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer.” I stopped, really amazed. I tried to think just when that knowledge had come to me and how it had come. I couldn’t tell but I felt at peace. Doubt and fear were gone. Ineffable joy was mine. I realized that God had poured out a glorious blessing upon me.

I tried to tell my friends that I knew God lived and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the only means of exaltation. They seemed unimpressed. So I learned that this testimony given by the Holy Spirit is not gratuitously rained upon all people. It is given to those who manifest a sincere desire for it.

Since that day, so long ago, I have seen many signs and wonders. I have learned new truths and have found the Gospel to be the supreme plan for soul development.



  1. Splendid! I don’t know what prompted you to post this account, Ardis, but for me it’s very timely. Thank you.

    Comment by Alison — September 20, 2011 @ 9:43 am

  2. I’m glad of that, Alison. I had something else in mind today that just didn’t get finished in time, so maybe this was meant for you.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 20, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  3. Ardis, thanks for this. Indeed.

    Comment by Steve — September 20, 2011 @ 10:28 am

  4. I love such simple testimonies of truth! They have more effect on me than many who are more eloquent in their word choices. Thanks for posting this, it made my day.

    Comment by Cliff — September 20, 2011 @ 10:28 am

  5. This is a simple but beautiful testimony.Thank you.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — September 20, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  6. I think, at least for me, that the moral of this account is that we all need to gain a personal testimony. It’s not enough that we are raised in an LDS family. That is something that my wife and I try to instill in our children. They need to develop their own testimonies. We are there to help them and teach them, but they have to gain their testimony.

    Comment by Steve C. — September 20, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  7. It’s amazing to me how an experience that might seem ordinary can be rendered extraordinary just by the author’s authenticity. This was superb. In particular, I loved how Sister Peterson’s crisis drove her to work — prayer and study. And I loved that her revelation came in such a straight-forward way; a refreshing foil to the many emotionally-manipulative testimonies I’ve heard throughout my life. No weepy-eyed maudlin story here, but spiritually powerful still!

    I’m so glad she took the time to record this wonderful testimony. And thanks, “Sister Keepa” for transcribing it here for us.

    Comment by David Y. — September 21, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  8. I too am greatful that you wrote this special testimony for Pearl Marie Whitlock Peterson. I knew her personaly and I loved her very much. She had a radiance about her. She is also a distant relative of mine.
    I do have a question however. In the article it mentions that her first sone was named Wesley. Actualy her first son was LaMar. Wesley was her third son, born in 1922. LaMar was born in 1918.
    I’m trying to do a family group study on her and I would appreciate any information you might have regarding Pearl, Clarence and their family. Thank you for sharing this wonderful testimony with us.

    Comment by Sharon Anderson — February 28, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

  9. Thanks for the correction, Sharon. I do not know the family and was basing my report of her family entirely on what I could find in New Family Search — this is another illustration, if anyone needs one, why you can’t rely on NFS without doing work to verify data yourself.

    I found Pearl’s testimony and wanted to share it in her own words, as given in my source. It seemed like one of those things that couldn’t be improved upon by doing anything but posting her words. I have no other information about the family, though. I am not related.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 28, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

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