That’s when the real challenge started. “We traveled from place to place for over a year,” said Pamela. “I remember how we slept under bushes and walked long distances.” When the family arrived in Kenya, they stayed for three years but again found their surroundings too meager to sustain them. They traveled to South Africa, but the only way the parents could earn money for food- even though both are university graduates- was to stand all day as car guards, hoping to earn tips.
Although Pamela had adapted to different cultures and languages during her travels, she suddenly started to notice how she was treated differently because of her race and language. She felt confused about who she was. “I didn’t know where I belonged,” she said. “Socializing with other kids was hard for me.” After three years of trying to have a stable life, Pamela found herself on a new path with her family.
“We decided to move to Canada,” she said, “but when we reached Zimbabwe, we found we were required to return to Pretoria, South Africa. Shortly after our return to South Africa,a neighbor and close friend referred our family to the missionaries.” Little did the family know how the gospel of Jesus Christ would help them deal with trauma and life challenges.
It took more than one set of missionaries to convince the entire family to join the Church. But once they did, the blessings began to flow. “My dad changed completely,” said Pamela. “Living the gospel helped me realize God's hand in my life and the tender mercies my family had received. I saw how God had been so merciful to me and my family.”
As Pamela reflected on how God had preserved her family over several years, she wanted to pay Him back. Her gratitude led her to serve a full-time mission in Zambia, South Africa.
While on her mission, Pamela caught the vision of becoming self-reliant. This prompted her to volunteer to help with the Perpetual Education Fund in her hometown. Later she was invited to attend BYU-Idaho Pathway. As she pondered the idea, she was prompted to come to the United States to get her education.
“I looked through the LDSBC website and felt the College was the place for me,” she said. A big challenge would be to get a passport. “I had been a refugee all my life and didn’t have an ID,” she said. After multiple prayers and mounds of paperwork, a miracle occurred. “I received special permission to travel for five years,” she said. “I also received my visa.”
Money was another concern. Her family saved all the money they could to pay for one year of education at LDSBC. Pamela needed more. She applied for an academic scholarship, and it was awarded to her. She saw firsthand again how faith can overcome fear.
“Studying at the College has helped me stand on my feet and apply myself in the workplace,” said Pamela. “I have learned new ways to apply and interview for a job, and I have gained many skills that will help me be more marketable. My education has helped me see that God is in charge. Now I don’t separate the gospel from secular learning.”
As she sees her dreams come true, Pamela has felt increased desire to help refugees. “I want to help Africans change the way they see themselves,” she said. “I want to help them heal. I want to empower refugees to be motivated, to see the better lives and futures they can have. I want us all to be in a good place in our lives.”