Estela Marquez, an advisor at BYU Multicultural Services, delivered Tuesday’s devotional. She shared several personal experiences and challenges, speaking about enduring to the end and trusting in God.
Marquez grew up in some of the poorest areas of Guatemala. Her oldest brother was the first in her family to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the rest of her family soon followed.
Marquez is a first-generation college graduate. She used $60 gifted to her by her sister for graduating high school to apply to La Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala in studying chemical engineering.
“I know that if we are humble and wait upon the Lord, He walks with us when things go well and sustains us when things seem too painful to endure, too difficult to accomplish or too dark to go through,” Marquez said.
Marquez detailed some struggles of her own life. After marrying her husband, an earthquake destroyed their home and community. Later, Marquez’s husband felt inspired to speak out for the rights of exploited laborers, who were working under inhumane conditions for low pay. This involvement brought danger to the family living in a country with political and social violence. They soon had to leave their home after multiple assassination attempts. They left the country as refugees under diplomatic protection.
“Throughout all of our experiences, one thing has remained constant: our faith in Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ––our commitment to be His disciples, and to remember the covenants we made with him,” Marquez said. “He had mercy with our imperfections and walked with us, especially when we were losing our strength.”
Marquez’s time as a refugee reminded her of the importance of keeping an eternal perspective. The family wandered from Guatemala to Costa Rica, then Costa Rica to Mexico over six years. The gospel of Jesus Christ provided direction, understanding and comfort.
“The Lord’s hand guided us as we tried to create a future for our family. When things became difficult, I would remember Isaiah’s promise that the Lord would strengthen us so we could keep walking and not faint,” Marquez said.
After settling in Mexico, another earthquake affected their family and community, prompting the decision to move to the United States. This was a hard decision because no one in the family knew the language, the culture or the environment. This took a leap of faith.
“Sometimes it feels like the difficulties we experience in life pile up on us one after another,” Marquez said. “It comforts me to know that God is merciful and He does not let us have more than what we can bear.”
Throughout the trials in her life, she was lifted up by those around her. After losing her oldest daughter Berta to suicide, Marquez said she felt like a broken vessel. Friends, family members and total strangers came to minister to the family and provide much needed comfort.
“I want you to know that you are not alone in your journey,” she said. “God has a plan for each one of you. He knows you and what you need. His arms are ready to encircle you and carry you during your difficult times.”
Next Forum: Melody Barnes, Lawyer and Political Advisor
Melody Barnes will deliver the forum address on Tuesday, September 22, at 11:05 a.m. The devotional will be broadcast only; there will be no attendance in the Marriott Center.
Her remarks will be broadcast on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, Classical 89 FM (89.1 FM) and BYUradio (107.9 FM). A following Q&A with Barnes will be broadcast live on the BYUtv app.