November 4, 2019
In 2014, stressed with financial burdens and taking care of a young family, Oliver Toledo decided to attend the temple in his home country of Guatemala while on a business visit in the city. While in the temple, something unexpected happened that would change his life forever. “I felt the impression to talk to somebody else that was there,” he said. “… and for some reason, our conversation turned to [education], and that was the first time I heard about [BYU-Pathway].”
Because he was too far from the PathwayConnect gathering in Guatemala, Oliver decided not to pursue education through BYU-Pathway at the time. It wasn’t until years later when he, his wife, and their three children were living in Boston, Massachusetts, that he realized the program was now accessible to him.
With such a busy life taking care of his young family, the program didn’t seem like a good fit. Shortly after, he had a dream where he heard these words: “The only way to success is through education.”Oliver knew that he needed to take the opportunity to receive an education, even though it would be a difficult road and would require sacrifice and faith. “I had three kids,” Oliver shared, “I was working in a warehouse, making nine dollars an hour, working 40 hours a week, and we didn’t even have an apartment.” But Oliver, following his impression, decided to pursue higher education through BYU-Pathway.
In his second semester of PathwayConnect, Oliver’s third daughter was born and he was working a full-time and part-time job. With added responsibilities, Oliver said there were many times he would fall asleep while doing homework. However, he understood the role of education in providing a better future for his family. “No doubt the Lord saw something that I could not see with this educational model.”
Once Oliver finished PathwayConnect, he and his family packed their things in a small van, rented the smallest moving trailer available, and threw out anything else that wouldn’t fit — all so Oliver could attend BYU-Idaho on campus. “We only took our clothes and our kids’ beds and some other personal things, and we started our journey to Idaho.”
Just two hours into their drive, their car broke down — a time which Oliver referred to as a “moment of decision.” The family could either turn back to Boston or try to move forward.
Oliver expressed the emotions he and his wife felt in that moment: “What were we thinking? Now we cannot go back because everything is in the trash. We don’t have a place to go back to. What do we do? We have our kids in our car, we have our things, and we have 2,000 miles ahead. What do we do?”
He continued, “It took me a minute, while crying, then I told my wife, looking into her eyes, ‘We’re going to make it. We’re going to drive the car. I felt that we needed to go there, and we’re going to go there.’”
For six days, in a car that could only drive in first and third gears, pushing it to drive 40–70 miles per hour (64–112 kmph), the family made it across the country to Rexburg, Idaho. One week later, the car broke down completely.
Oliver said, “With common sense, the first thing anyone will do is go back and call a mechanic and do something with the vehicle. Nobody will take all of his family and say, ‘Okay, let’s keep driving.’ But that’s how we did it.” He and his family arrived in Rexburg in 2017.
Today, Oliver and his family are living in Boston while he does a temporary internship at the John Hancock Tower, which is one of the most famous buildings in Boston. “[BYU-Pathway] was the door to the future opportunities that I’m having.”
After he and his family return from Boston, Oliver will have just two semesters until he graduates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. His favorite part of the program was seeing “people in the same circumstances that [he] was in, making a future, and trying not to quit.” He said he was surrounded by people who believed that education would be the difference in their lives, “knowing that something greater will come in the future if [they] continue.”
Oliver knows there is hope through BYU-Pathway. “We make our destiny,” he said. “The Church has provided everything that we need to be successful in terms of religion and in terms of the education of the world.”
Oliver’s story of sacrifice, hard work, and faith is a story that many BYU-Pathway students share and it’s a testimony that with the Lord, all things are possible. He also attributes his success to his wife, Helen, who he says, “has been the greatest supporter of our dreams.”
Like Oliver, how have you overcome obstacles in your life to be able to reach your goals? Comment below!