March 15, 2017
PathwayConnect is more than a means to start a university degree.
Those who enroll in the program quickly learn that it’s inspired purpose is not only to help students get started on their educational path, but to also improve their lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Amanda Hayes is one such student who not only understood that purpose, but took it to heart. On August 22, 2015, she and her husband, Russell, were sealed together in the Kansas City Missouri Temple — just one year after starting PathwayConnect.
“I had no idea the effect PathwayConnect would have on me,” said Amanda. “PathwayConnect has helped me redirect my life in a way that has changed it forever.”
Getting on the Right Track
When Amanda first married Russell in 2006, she knew nothing about temples. Being raised in a Lutheran home, she was not familiar with the teachings of the restored gospel. Although Russell was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he had not attended church for many years.
Eventually, Amanda met with the missionaries and was baptized soon following the birth of their son, but her activity in the Church was short-lived.
Amanda recalled, “I was newly baptized into the Church, but I didn’t yet have the conviction that the gospel was true. I knew I needed to be at church, but I kept thinking to myself, ‘I just can’t keep up anymore.’ I stopped going, and I didn’t go back for years, not once.”
But things began to change in 2012 for Amanda and Russell.
“We were really struggling in our marriage,” said Amanda. “Our priorities weren’t right, and we weren’t working toward the same goals — we were pursuing moments of immediate happiness that didn’t last.”
Soon, the couple found themselves on the brink of divorce.
Not knowing where else to go, Amanda and Russell both turned to the Lord and sought His guidance. During that crucial time, Amanda realized she needed to change.
“I had a confirmation that I needed to be at church, and that we as a family needed to be there together,” said Amanda. “After talking with Russell, we decided to stay together and change our lifestyle.”
The Search for Gospel Knowledge
With new conviction, Amanda and Russell set out on the gospel path. This time, however, Amanda was determined to learn as much as she could. She searched for ways to better study the gospel; she even asked her bishop if she could join the youth every day for early morning seminary.
It was during this search that Amanda learned about PathwayConnect, and she was hooked from the moment she heard about it.
“I was convinced,” said Amanda. “I was determined to do PathwayConnect. I was going to complete that program and nothing was going to stop me.” She enrolled as soon as possible.
Life with PathwayConnect still wasn’t easy, but Amanda’s conviction to complete the program led her to some of the most spiritual experiences she had ever felt. And although she didn’t know it at the time, what she learned would later help her on her way to the temple.
Working Toward the Temple
When the time came during her last semester to choose topics for a self-improvement project in one of her classes, Amanda chose to focus on temple attendance.
“Before PathwayConnect, I had no desire to go to the temple,” Amanda admitted. “I didn’t understand it.”
As she began to study the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets, however, something changed within her. “The desire to prepare myself to go to the temple was incredible. I had never felt anything like it in my life,” Amanda explained. “It was a persistent sense of urgency to get sealed to my family.”
Together, Amanda and Russell set goals to prepare to enter the temple. Later that year, they walked through the doors of the Kansas City Missouri Temple for the first time ever to be sealed together as a family.
“The spirit there was amazing,” said Amanda. “I was standing, looking at myself in a mirror, and the way I saw myself changed. I felt like I had overcome this great battle — it was empowering. Being there changed me, I knew I would never be the same again.”
Looking back, Amanda is amazed at the blessings she received along her journey to the temple. From the verge of divorce to being sealed with her family, she has seen a complete transformation. She knows the Lord was guiding her the whole way.
Looking to the Future
Now, Amanda is working toward a bachelor’s degree in marriage and family studies online through BYU-Idaho. Her life is still full of twists and turns, but she knows she is heading in the right direction. Many things may change in her life, but her dedication to the Savior will not be one of them.
Amanda has found great hope from her experiences. To those who may find themselves in difficult situations in life, she counsels, “Don’t doubt yourself. Heavenly Father knows who you are, He knows what you need, and He loves you. He is going to lift you up and empower you to be able to accomplish what He intends you to do. Don’t let doubt overcome you.”
Making a goal to enter the temple had a huge impact on Amanda and her family. How have you seen the blessings of the temple in your life or in the lives of those you know? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below!