December 16, 2016
Julie Mamales’ trials helped her understand the power of a helping hand, which led her to a life dedicated to serving the homeless. After finding BYU-Pathway, her desire to serve has grown even stronger, and her purpose in life has never been clearer.
Julie Mamales usually kept to herself while she did laundry. When she walked through the doors of her local laundromat in Huntington Beach, California, she assumed that rainy day would be no different. Exhausted, she quickly checked her pockets for loose change, and began to load her clothes into a machine.
She started to think harder and harder about the situation with each shirt she tossed into the wash. A month earlier, she found her way back into church activity again, and although she hadn’t lived an easy life, she appreciated the support of her new ward family. Even so, her burdens seemed particularly heavy that day. She tried to brush those thoughts aside as she turned the dial to start the machine.
“Hey, sister! Do you need anything?”
Julie turned to see a woman standing behind her. She had a vibrant smile and arms covered in tattoos.
“No, I’m fine,” Julie said as she nervously tucked her hair behind her ear.
“Well, I’m Cassandra, and I feed the homeless down on the beach. Would you help me give this food away?”
Julie could sense from her old blazer that Cassandra was homeless herself. She hesitated for a moment, but she fought off her anxieties and went with her.
That day on the beach with Cassandra, feeding and helping the homeless, would only be the beginning of Julie’s own energetic drive to serve others.
As a child, Julie suffered abuse — physically and emotionally. She spent many years battling feelings of unwarranted guilt, shame, and self-doubt. For much of her youth, she felt backed into a corner, and at age 16, Julie left the Church.
Over the next few decades, trials seemed to follow Julie wherever she went. Social anxiety, diverticulitis, vertigo, and thyroid cancer were just a few of the challenges she endured. By 2013, she was praying for a fresh start.
Thanks to a pair of persistent sister missionaries and a series of caring visiting teachers, her prayers were answered. By 2014, Julie returned to full activity in the Church.
She knows that this didn’t happen by chance. Thanks to the guiding love of her Father in Heaven, she had found her way back to the gospel.
“I know it was Heavenly Father,” said Julie. “He was putting people in my way to get me out of my comfort zone — placing me in a position to progress.”
It was soon after her reactivation that Julie met Cassandra and began her service to the homeless. When BYU-Pathway came into the picture, however, an even stronger fire was lit under Julie’s desire to serve.
The Challenge and Motivation of BYU-Pathway
In September 2015, when Julie first heard about PathwayConnect, she “still felt so new” to the doctrine, having just returned to church. But through a friend’s encouragement, Julie soon found herself sitting in her first weekly gathering. Now it was her turn to be on the receiving end of service.
“I was scared to death because I felt like I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew that I wanted to learn more about my faith,” said Julie.
PathwayConnect wasn’t easy for Julie. She often felt anxiety around large groups. Additionally, due to health issues, Julie missed several gatherings during her first semester.
However, none of these issues stopped Julie.
“I always thought, ‘I have to do this. I can’t quit, because if I quit, I’ll regret it the rest of my life.’”
As she learned more about the Savior through projects, gatherings, and homework assignments, her desire to serve grew even stronger. She began collecting canned food from Church members to take to the homeless shelter, and even found time to attend local interfaith donation activities to collect food for the homeless. Like the Savior, she saw the world through the eyes of those less fortunate than her.
“I feel so close to the homeless, because I can relate to them. I’ve always been one step away from living on the street myself,” said Julie.
The Biggest Transformation
Julie strives to emulate the Savior’s perfect example of service. She becomes so involved in His teachings, in fact, that the scriptures seem to lift off the page and come to life during her weekly gatherings.
“When we were reading the end of the Book of Mormon when Jesus Christ was preaching, I felt like I was there, sitting on a rock, watching it happen. Each time we read about the Savior, I always learn something. BYU-Pathway is the right place for me to be.”
Julie is continuing her education in the BYU-Pathway program, especially because she’s interested in learning more about her faith. She feels that the more she studies about the Savior, the more motivated she is to help change the lives of others — which in turn has made the biggest transformation in Julie.
“My life has changed. I don’t know how to describe it, but there’s been a change of heart — even if it’s a slow change of heart. I know that PathwayConnect has made me so much more compassionate and loving, but I still have so much more to give.”
Julie completed the PathwayConnect program in July 2016. She is currently enrolled in BYU-Idaho online and well on her way to completing an associate degree in family history research, presented and coordinated by BYU-Pathway.
Has PathwayConnect motivated you to serve others in some way? If so, please share your experience in the comments below.