Christine thanks Jesus for being a volunteer in DVI

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Christine thanks Jesus for being a volunteer in DVI
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Christine Patella, a volunteer for DVI, has finished her mission in Zambia

THANK YOU JESUS

As I gaze outside the frosted window and the snow is gently falling to the ground, it's hard to believe one week ago I was boarding a plane to leave the beautiful sunny land of Zambia. My time in Zambia as a Dominican Volunteer was filled with a bundle of blessings – joyful and challenging times. Before departing from Zambia, one of the Sisters asked what the "Golden Thread" was throughout my experience. I am blessed to say the golden thread for me was "Gratitude."

My heart is filled with gratitude. For the opportunities and experiences made possible by DVI, the sending community Dominican Sisters of Peace in Columbus and receiving community Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heard of Jesus in Zambia.

Sometimes God gives us opportunities that are far beyond our wildest dreams, past our deepest desires. It's in these moments He gets our attention to teaches us some of the greatest lessons about life and about His love for us. My experience leading up to my departure to Zambia, my time spent in Zambia, and now upon my return – I am experiencing God in ways I have never expected. My heart has been forever changed by the country, the people, the experiences and the challenges.

My prayer is for future volunteers to be open to hear God's call and to be flexible for the Holy Spirit working in their lives and in their mission. My prayer is for the volunteers to have a heart of courage and compassion – for the ability to hear the whisper of God's voice amidst loud voices in this world.

May DVI and all the Sisters who accompanied and supported me in this journey be forever blessed in their vocations – may they be filled with deep peace and joy in serving God and His people.

St. Paul says, "Eye has not seen what God has ready for those who love Him." Imagine the most beautiful thing you have ever seen with your eyes – and realize God's plans for us are even more beautiful than that. Our eyes have not seen what God has ready. God's plans for us are so amazing, so marvelous, so beautiful – that our eyes couldn't bear the plans to be revealed all at once – we may even be blinded at how bright His plans are for us – but they are revealed one moment at a time, one day at a time...

Eventually when we look back on our lives – we will remember memories – we remember the people in our lives who touched us most. We may not carry them physically with us wherever we go – but we can carry them in our hearts. People will continue to move in and out of our lives – yet God remains the same.  People leave lasting impressions on our hearts. The length of time we spend with someone or in a certain place isn't always as an indicator of how deeply they touch our lives. It's about how open we were to receiving the blessings they bring to us.

Everything and everyone that passes through our lives has a purpose. Our experiences and relationships serve as stepping stones along our journey. The reality of life is that it is an uphill journey – yes the struggles and obstacles are harder to climb- but when you carry an attitude of gratitude – the view always get better the higher we climb.

I left Zambia full of cherished memories and a heart full of gratitude for all of God's blessings.

Christine Patella

(23 January 2014)