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My name is Matea and I come from Slovenia. I am twenty-five, and I have been in the Community for four years. I remember every day that even before I entered the Community I always wished to live this way, surrounded by many good and generous people. But I also realize that the Community has done much more for me.  It took me to an encounter with God.  My family is Catholic, and I remember that since I was little I’ve always gone to church. I come from a small village where my family owned a farm with a lot of animals. I helped my parents with work, and my life was pretty busy, remaining simple and peaceful, at least in appearance.  But at home and in our relationships there was no real peace, dialogue, or true respect. I can’t think of a single day where things went smoothly, without arguments and conflicts among us.

I think that our greatest poverty was the lack of communication and that we never were able to all sit around the table for meals and in peace. My mother drank, and already from the time I was in elementary school, I experienced many difficult and heavy situations at home, even though I tried not to show anything to my schoolmates. Because of this I was always closed at school. I never laughed and didn’t feel like I fit in. I told lies about how I felt and what I did at home because I was ashamed that I had to get up at six to help my mother with the animals and the land.  However, I loved going to school until my friends started teasing me about being a peasant farmer and I began to feel inferior and crushed.

So I started to pretend that everything was ok, forcing myself to smile just to feel like one of them, but inside my fears grew and grew.  This way of living caused me to suffocate my anger to the point that I didn’t show my emotions anymore. I had never had a good relationship with my elder brother and we never spoke much because I was younger than him, but when we started to go to middle school in town together, seeing that we shared the same hurts at home, we started to escape together using “light” drugs. I had always been afraid of addicts and bad people in general, so I never would have thought that I would end up like them, but evil crept into my life very cunningly.

Smoking joints and drinking with my friends, I had thought that I had found a solution to all my problems. I didn’t even think about them anymore, even thogh by now I had lost every hope that things at home would ever change. The only person I was able to talk about my difficulties was one of my teachers who helped and consoled me.  But all the same I kept falling deeper and deeper into the drugs, and starting to take “heavier” drugs I also managed to burn this relationship. I was very good at hiding my addiction.  I justified myself saying it was my family’s fault. On the other hand, I still tried to help them but I was very weak and I couldn’t bear the burden for us all.

My father was always ready and willing to listen to me and help me, but I was totally closed and my judgments prevented me from speaking to him. I never told to my mother anything, because I didn’t want to create problems for her and it seemed to me she wouldn’t be able to help me anyway.  The person God chose to help me return to the right path was my little sister, who was always very attentive to what I lived.  Observing me, she realized that I needed help and was able to give it to me, relying on a priest with whom she had been to Medjugorje with several times before.  Inside I had a strong desire to stop using drugs and to start to live normally, so when, thanks to her, I encountered the Community, I went to the meetings for people who want to enter, and then decided to enter.
Walking in faith and truth, I saw how badly I had judged my family, considering them guilty for what I had become, but in actuality I was responsible because I had made the wrong choices.  It made me sad when I realized the fact that I had shared this path of evil with my brother, and that he was still there, lost in the drugs and desperation. I have never stopped praying for him and for his salvation. The Community is teaching me to live the truth, to speak and to be with the others, and I thank all those who had and still have, even today, a lot of patience with me. I’ve suffered very much, but I believe that this is the right path, because it’s the path that has brought me back to the Lord.

The greatest difficulty for me was to face myself, with my poverties and my weakness.  I needed a lot of time to be able to let the real “me” emerge.  But today I feel I am a totally new person thanks to those who love me, who forgive me, and who suffer with me and for me. I have discovered the existence of a love that never betrays: the love of God.  Many times I’ve thought that I do not deserve what God and the Community are giving me, but thanks to a lot of prayer, sacrifice, and light I can see that this is the path to happiness. I thank all those who have helped me along my walk, and I thank God with all my heart for everything that He does for me.

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