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My name is Zlatica, I am twenty-four and I come from Slovakia. As a little girl I was smart and full of life. I had many interests like sports, music and theater. These hobbies filled up my days, showed my talents and made my family very happy with me. Unfortunately, my parents kept pushing me to do more and more, so much so that everything that had given me joy at first became necessary to satisfy their expectations. I wasn’t learning anything about the faith at that time, but about following the expectations of society which, for me went something like this: “You have to do everything better than everybody else!” All of my security and self confidence was built upon this phrase so I became more and more ambitious and arrogant. At home, my family wasn’t very united and we didn’t know how to talk to each other. I started trying to escape from all the arguments my parents were having. I needed to find some peace. I was very sad and I blamed everything on my father and his problems with alcohol. Everything that had given me satisfaction before wasn’t interesting to me anymore. At this point I began to be attracted to everything that was prohibited or unknown and I began to look for new friends. At the age of thirteen I started to drink and smoke cigarettes and that lead me, little by little, all the way to using hard drugs. I hid myself behind many masks and changed my personality depending on the situation. I tried living away from my parents a few times, but when I couldn’t take care of myself anymore, I would go home offering empty promises to change. At home I told my parents many lies. I stole and rebelled against them until they kicked me out of the house. I was filled with anger towards my family and towards myself. At that time, I was living with a guy and I was escaping from reality more and more. I believed in other religions that were filled with spiritualism and New Age ideas and I lost track of what was real and what was just fantasy. I felt emptier every day. After some time I ended up living on the streets; I had hit rock bottom. I had lost my family, my friends and all hope. Sadness, loneliness and drug use had destroyed me. I realized if I had continued to live this way, only death awaited… but I could not accept that my life could be finished in this way so I took my mother’s advice and entered the Community. In the beginning, I could not believe that my life would ever become normal again. I didn’t trust myself, or the other girls, and I didn’t believe that I had the strength to accept the rules, the work and the prayer. My guardian angel was always at my side, though. She was the first person that made me feel truly loved and forgiven even when I made mistakes. The trust that she had in me gave me the strength and the hope to change. With her help I made my first steps towards Jesus and prayer. I left behind all of the strange beliefs I had and chose to follow the hope I found in Jesus and the Gospels. The desire to live started to grow inside me and I began to smile again and feel joy in my heart. Jesus was healing me. His love and forgiveness was helping me realize how precious I am and how to give of myself to other people. With the help of true friendships, I removed many masks I had worn and through choosing the truth, I am becoming a new,free person with the will to give back all that I had received. I thank the Community because I have finally found what I was looking for: true love and faith in Someone that truly saves and gives life to us.

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