I want you to be happy. I'd heard this soundless voice before.

"Well, I'm mostly happy," I thought. "I like the sisters, but I can't imagine why you have called me here. Sometimes things seem really weird. And I'm only working in the kitchen."

Something within me wanted God to say, "It's all a big mistake. I'll take you where your gifts will be appreciated, back to your friends and family, to your freedom."

But God didn't say that. Instead, he wrapped me in his love and washed me in peace.

I didn't yet know how many more questions would arise over the next 20 years, questions that wouldn't have easy answers like the one Sister Elvira supplied the next morning: "No showers. Fill the bucket with water, then stand in the tub and pour the water over you with an empty tin can."

When I squeezed Sister Elvira's hand in silent gratitude, she pulled back. "Don't touch," she said. That rule, too, would haunt me in unanticipated ways.

Mother Teresa expected me to become a saint. I didn't yet know how close I would draw to her, then how thoroughly I would disappoint her. I had no idea that love would surprise us both.

For the moment, all I knew was that a crucifix bobbed against my chest each time I moved. God had called me. I belonged, didn't I?

Adapted from An Unquenchable Thirst (Spiegel & Grau), by Mary Johnson. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Johnson.

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