May 2, 2022
In 2013, my parents, Sandra and Gabriel Ortiz, were called by their stake president to be the first service missionaries assigned to BYU-Pathway Worldwide in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Although they never thought they would use their English skills after returning home from living in America, they accepted the call.
My parents’ dedication, love, and service for their students inspired them to pursue their own education and even inspired me to become a service missionary myself! As both students and missionaries, this is my family’s BYU-Pathway story.
During their time as service missionaries, my parents witnessed students make significant sacrifices while juggling their time between family, work, Church callings, and their studies. But with the Lord’s help, they were able to succeed.
My parents often told me how these students would step outside of their comfort zones in big ways. A couple of them traveled an hour to get to their gathering (when it was in person). One of them took a piece of bread and soda to the gatherings because he didn’t have time to eat right after work, and another student sometimes didn’t get home until midnight because she lived far away.
My father, Gabriel, said, “We had to put a lot of emphasis on teaching that faith without works is dead. We’ve learned that people must sacrifice and strive if they want to achieve something that’s truly worthwhile.”
I had a front row seat to witness all of the blessings that not only the students were receiving but also my parents as missionaries. We were deeply inspired by the sacrifices and diligence of their students, so much so that my mom, Sandra, decided to enroll as a student and I became a service missionary.
From missionary to student
My mom saw how PathwayConnect had given many of her students the opportunity to improve their English. She wanted the same so that she could better communicate with her children and family in the United States.
Sandra said, “The value [my students] place on education encouraged me to sacrifice my time and study at BYU-Pathway.”
My mom patiently waited until she finished her missionary service in 2021 before enrolling as a student. Now, she’s almost finished her foundational courses (PathwayConnect)! Sometimes the amount of homework can feel like a lot, but then she looks back and thinks about her previous students: “I start to think that, if they could when they have a family, a job, and other duties, why won’t I be able to do the same?”
Everything is possible through Christ
My dad, Gabriel, believes that the greatest BYU-Pathway blessing comes from serving. He said, “One never lacks the daily bread. We live in peace, we have a family that is united, and we are all within the right path that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
My dad is constantly reminded through his students and my mom’s example that it’s all possible because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. “Jesus Christ has not only sacrificed His life for our sins, but He went beyond forgiving our sins,” he said. “If we implore, if we invoke the powers of heaven, we can understand that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ — through His enabling power — we can accomplish anything in this life.”
Because of my parents’ service, BYU-Pathway has become ingrained in my heart. I saw how much good BYU-Pathway had done for my family and for families around the world, and I wanted to be a part of it. Now as I serve as a missionary for BYU-Pathway, I see my own students making sacrifices to increase their knowledge and provide for their families. Most importantly I see how through this endeavor of service and sacrifice we are all coming to know our Savior better.
How have your service missionaries inspired you? Share below!
Contributions by Natalia Ward