My LopeLife: She learned the language of God’s love
Editor’s note: My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. To be considered for My LopeLife, please submit a short synopsis of your suggested topic to GCUToday@gcu.edu with “My LopeLife” in the subject field.
By Izabela Fogarasi
Special to GCU Magazine
When I was 11, my parents moved our family across the world, from a small town in Serbia to beautiful and sunny California.
People move all the time, so what’s the big deal, right? But here’s the thing: I had lived a very comfortable life in Serbia.
I lived in a small town where I knew every corner of every neighborhood. I lived in a culture where everyone was friends with everyone. I was always playing outside and went inside only when it was time to sleep.
There was no limit to my freedom, and I adored it.
On August 7, 2010, this picture-perfect life went from regular routine to cherished memory in just one day. My life took a complete left turn when my father accepted a job in California. There wasn’t anything wrong with my new home. It’s a great place. It also was safe. The people weren’t scary.
But there was one problem: I couldn’t speak English. The only three things I knew how to say were “Hi,” “Bye” and “Thank you,” and I had to begin middle school three days after the big move.
I tried my best to convince myself that it would be OK, but even after all these years I still can clearly recall the blank, weirded-out looks I received when people would notice how red and tear-stained my face was.
I went to my classes terrified that my teachers would call on me in front of everyone and I only would be able to say, “I, no English.” Whispers and giggles instantly would fill the room after I would improperly say that one, short sentence with my thick Serbian accent.
Thankfully, the crying stopped, and after about three years I was able to pick up the language pretty well. But the uncomfortable, lonely and lost feeling still reappears, even to this day.
As time went on, things began making more sense, but I never stopped wondering why all of this had to happen. I questioned God a lot – His character, His intentions and the purpose behind my family and me having to go through such a rough experience. Out of all the kids on the planet, why did I have to get picked to move to a completely new country and relearn everything about life?
I began questioning these things more than ever when I came to Grand Canyon University. Ever since I could remember, I wanted to be a writer, so it was not much of a surprise when I chose to major in English despite my rough relationship with it.
But right when I arrived in Phoenix, it seemed as if the language barrier had increased. At one point during my freshman year, I felt as if I couldn’t speak or write English properly. I forgot how to say some of the simplest things and how to spell some of the shortest words. I barely could engage in a conversation and be understood.
I was feeling lost all over again until a friend randomly asked if I wanted to go to The Gathering on a Tuesday night – but to God, it definitely wasn’t random. The Lord wanted me to be there that night, to hear the message He had been trying to tell me for so long.
That night, I encountered the Lord’s presence stronger than ever before. The message was, “How can I be lost when You have called me found?” It was repeated so many times and spoken so clearly, it was impossible for me to ignore it.
The only way I knew how to respond was by crying. I cried because throughout all those years, I neglected the fact that when I had felt all alone and completely lost, the Lord was right there by my side.
When I felt as if no one could understand me, He knew exactly how I was feeling. When it seemed absolutely impossible to build this new life, He filled me with His strength. God knew exactly how to uplift me and comfort my heart because He is the One who created it.
It has been nine years since I left my home country, and I finally can say that things aren’t completely upside down. I am in my third year at GCU. My parents and my brother have steady jobs and are settled in.
We all have managed to learn the language, make friends and achieve personal goals. Things definitely have become brighter. I even have a little niece who is at that cute stage where she is beginning to form words – in both English and Serbian although her English is actually better – and if she doesn’t know them yet she simply will point at objects until we make sense of what she’s trying to say.
I never thought I would be able to relate to a toddler, yet this is exactly how the past nine years of my life have felt. I might never find out why this had to happen to me, but that’s OK because I serve a God who does know.
If there is one thing I have seen repeatedly in my life and especially in my time at GCU, it is that God moves in miraculous ways. Just as my little niece eventually is able to grab hold of whatever she is pointing at once we come to her aid, so will I be able to grab hold of all the things I wish to reach and accomplish because God always will be by my side, leading me.
He always works for the good of those He loves, and the one thing I always will know for sure is that He loves me so much.
ABOUT IZABELA FOGARASI
Izabela Fogarasi is a junior majoring in Professional Writing and double minoring in Literature and Communications. Besides writing, Izabela loves to drink coffee, sing all day, read and color. She also enjoys spending time with friends, going to the beach and, more than anything, loves eating her mom’s home-cooked Serbian meals.
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