"For I Know the Plans I Have for You"
Hello! Happy New Year’s Eve! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and I’d like to take this opportunity as this year wraps up to thank everyone who made my 2016 possible. This year has brought me incredible success, and despite a fair share of ups and downs, I have learned much about myself and who I want to be. I’ve found a voice public speaking, having the opportunity to give countless faith witness talks, to Skype into classrooms, and to even travel and speak at schools. I’ve had a blast traveling to conferences and retreats, to the United Nations Headquarters, to see Dr. Jane speak, and to meet so many wonderful people. I’ve had many victories: starting a pro-life group, meeting with Cardinal Seán, receiving a provisional patent on the Green Highway Project, reaching 50 subscribers on my Youtube channel, and a handful of other opportunities to spread my message. But as Saint Mother Teresa said, “God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.” This year has been a year of exponential growth in my faith, and I am forever grateful to everyone who has got me here.
I would like to take a second to thank all of the beautiful friends that have come into my life this year. To be quite honest, at this time last year I didn’t have the friendships that I desired, and I desperately prayed for beautiful friends and sisters in Christ to walk this journey with me. My prayers were answered, exponentially beyond my expectation. I have found so many families and beautiful sisters in Christ, in the people that I encountered at Discipleship Week, P3 and Steubenville, the amazing JGI NYLC, SHHS cross country, and so many others. Words cannot express how much you all mean to me.
Here’s a quick wrap up of what I’ve been up to in these final weeks of 2016:
Firstly, I am very excited to say that our Operation Christmas Child boxes from Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s have been delivered to Rwanda! Twenty-seven children will now have a box of basics necessities with school supplies, toiletries, books and Bibles, and new toys, but best of all, they have a glimpse of hope in Christ.
Next, I already expressed my appreciation for the friendships I have formed at the Jane Goodall Institute, but I am also SO thankful for everything that this past year on the NYLC has brought. Even just thinking about you guys makes me smile!! I cannot wait for this next year with these amazing human beings!
I wrote a blog post for Dr. Jane’s Good For All News entitled “5,000 Hours of Service. 32 Youth Leaders. 1 NYLC.” It describes our impact of this year and highlights some on my favorite moments. Out of all of the blogs I’ve written, I think this is my favorite and I’m the most proud of it, so please consider reading it if you haven’t already!
In the week before Christmas, I had two wonderful early-Christmas surprises! First, I was honored with a 2nd place award from Turkish-American TV for their Youth Peace and Harmony Video Contest. I am so grateful for the opportunity to describe what my vision of peace is. Everyone at TATV was so incredibly kind, and I am so thankful for this opportunity!
My video submission can be watched here, but here is the full video of my video, my award ceremony presentation, and the announcement of my award:
A few days before Christmas I also heard back from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing, announcing that I have been selected as one of the 50 high school girl national winners out of 3500 applicants! I will be traveling to the Bank of America Headquarters in Charlotte this March for the National Awards. I am so excited and I cannot wait for March!
This year has been a very packed year, filled with new people, new opportunities, new travels, and its fair share of obstacles. Everything has happened the way that it has for a reason, and I place my trust in God alone. I am excited to see what 2017 will bring, and I am ready!
Happy New Year and thank you!! You are all always in my prayers.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11
Olivia R. Colombo