What better way to start off the September page than with a pic of my birthday party and my desserts?
Sept. 8: Joseph, his brother Mark along with Mark’s wife, Susan, joined us to go to a neighboring village to meet with friends, Jozo and Smilja and children, Ante and Ana. A delightful home surrounded by thousands of plants growing in bags growing on the ground and on the roof!!
We meet with Christine who is here from New Zealand. Christine has brought gifts for us from Hara and Ellie (who moved from Medjugorje to NZ).
Christine took this one and emailed it to us; we want to get a camera like Christine has!
Charlotte and Walter [friends of Father Bernie (and now our friends too)] have brought us medical supplies.
Sept 20: Oh, oh. Sister Angelica has arrived with her group and are staying at the Hotel Regina (near where Columbo’s used to be). Sister was Mary’s teacher in the boarding school in Canada.
Sister Angelica and some of the group visit us at our place and some use the email and / or the Skype computer phone.
We go to visit more of the group and to give a little talk at Hotel Regina; our pictures did not turn out as well as we would like.
And we are still there.
We have not left yet. We hate to go because many of the group have brought us cans and packages of Starbuck and Tim Horton coffee.
Thank you so much. We think of you every morning over our cups of great coffee!
Sept. 28: Do you recognize Father John Chisholm? Father is always dressed so distinctively. Father Kevin has gone for a three week visit to the States and Father John is helping for a bit. Mary is helping schedule the priests for the altar during this time.
Oct. 3: An announcement was made at Holy Mass that Father John would be doing a Divine Mercy Service in Surmanci on this Friday. He used to do this almost every Friday during his time here. The little church was packed for the 3 hour service!
Oct. 5: Sunday: 8 hour lunch at Mary and Bob’s. Eddie Kelly is with us also and we get to find out about his life long love of music.
Oct. 6: It is one party after another! Another 8 hour lunch at Darek’s (from England).
Who would have thought that 4 grown men (and Mary) would be sitting around, eating, drinking, sharing, arguing(?) over the finer points of scripture, tradition and interpretation?
Jamison Irish Whiskey also joined us.
Darek’s unit is in the same building as Zenofy and us. We really like Darek’s pad; it is so masculine and appealing; he has decorated it so well.
Tuesday, Oct 7: We are out there after 7:30 am Croatian Holy Mass extending “good mornings” to our Croatian lady friends. Vicka (the visionary) comes over and we exchange greetings. What a blessing on this day, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary!
We get Ivan to drive to Citluk and get us keys made for two of the doors. He comes back to tell us that the lady key maker has cautioned him that the keys might not work because the key she is making the copies from is not an original key (she can only make copies from an original key)!!
Mary and I each receive our page of “do list” from immigration. First we must go to the bank and each pay the designated 80 KM. We do a number of the other requests and then back to immigration. Don’t we know that we should have been given the sheet which says 100 KM? So we follow that and also ask the bank for a refund of the 80 KMs. No one knows what to do because it has already been credited to a different account. We make out forms, each pay a 14 KM application for refund of fee and , after two more trips, we are now eligible to travel to Mostar and receive our refund!
Oct. 9: Larry and Mary Ann, our good friends from the States have arrived and we all go to Ivan’s for a welcome party!
Friends of Ivan (and family) long before we knew either.
Everyone wants to get into the picture!
Kata and Maja show us their piggy bank. All of the kids have decided to save some of their lunch money in order to have a surprise for older sister, Kristina, when she graduates soon from University!
Oct. 15: We have visited Gordon and family up over the mountain and in the Hudovo section. Seven children, all who seem so interested in learning whatever they are exposed to; parents who love them and who are finishing of their house, little by little, for the past seven years.
We have been given a selection of clothes from our “States” friend, Suzanne, especially for Gordon and family!
AND, a selection of clothes from Rory and Tracy, friends from Ireland!
All of the kids get right down to work, drawing with their new colored pencils and sketch pads. We bring some home with us.
This past week an American Deacon regained his voice once he got on the plane to Medjugorje. He tells us that he has not been able to speak, let alone carry on a conversation, for some time.
This past week also, a German lady, in a wheel chair for more than 10 years, got out of the chair and climbed Cross Mountain! She had help that day but, since, has been able to be without help and without the chair!
It seems that so many rosaries change color and so many pilgrims see the sun spinning and dancing that even our local Bishop explains the first part by saying that it is probably just the minerals (or something) in the mountains.
And a priest tells us at the start of his homily that, just the day before, at the top of Cross Mountain that he and his group saw the Virgin Mary above the Cross above the clouds!!
Oct. 17: We go to see Jelka, our veggie grower, to see how the house remodeling is coming along.
Oct. 17: We heard this morning that Veseljko Juka has been struck again by a car at the Medjugorje “4 corners” area and is now dead. We have known him for 2 and 1/2 years; he was the only Croatian Catholic to be in our food line for most of that time. We fed him, we clothed him, we gave medicine to him, Mary cried with him and would loan him a mark or two when he needed it. He had told us that we were the only ones who cared about him.
Death announcements are posted on trees or on boards throughout the Village. If a young person dies the border is blue; if a Catholic then it will be black; if a Muslim then the border will be green.
Dominic (from the Manchester area of England) has forwarded us a donation from his work as a disk jockey. We are so grateful to him and to all who contributed through him.
Each year the school here in Medjugorje has a “bake sale” known as “Day of Bread.”. It is to be a two day event this year. The older children go to school on an early morning schedule; the younger children go on an afternoon schedule.
The weather is nice enough so that table have been placed in the school yard for the baked goods. Some of the “go getter” kids take open baskets among the crowds exiting the Holy Masses. We can all choose what we like and make a donation.
Last year the proceeds enabled the school to buy a TV for the school; this year the goal is to buy cabinets.
Maja, Ivan’s daughter, goes to a relative who has the “NO 1 Pension”. She explains, that as he is a relative, she does not expect any payment for the goodies that she and her classmates are displaying to him; just take whatever he and his guests desire.
Well, of course, they have hit the “Mother Lode”. Her class has raked in more money than any of the other classes!
We decide to have another look at the buildings being erected in back of the “Hercegovina Winery Restaurant” (just outside Medjugorje going towards Ljubuski). The restaurant is now closed and will re-open at the end of this year (hopefully) in this new location.
It’s a “WOW’. The stonework is beautiful. Millions must have been spent here already. This is the reception and hotel area. We see it as a “conference center”; self contained with its own guest rooms, guest houses, church, restaurant, amphitheater, play ground, scenic!
The chapel will get blessed and then be put to good use.
These are some of the individual sleeping units.
The architect was so pleasant and helpful to us.
Each bed will have mattresses; you will not have to sleep on it as pictured.
The center will have 2 receptionists waiting to welcome you.
The restaurant has seating for 600 on three floors (and on the outside terrace).
We look around for the wine cellars.
We do find the fabulous kitchen.
And the brick pizza ovens and the overhead track hangers for the heavier pieces of meat. A metal pan will finish off this area and roasting will be done here (I think).
We check out the swings and the teeter totters and the slides and the round a bouts.
Oct. 22: Oh, oh. We see that we must appear at immigration re-applying for another one month extension until Sarajevo sends word that our papers are ok and we get our year renewal. We go to Mostar; the fellow asks “what do you want, what are you doing here, I did not phone you?” We say we might have missed your call and do we need the one month extension again? “No, no, you just stay away until I call you”.
Pierce and Sue come to visit. They are staying right now in one of the units here. They are regulars to Medjugorje.
Oct. 25: Father John has gone but we find a priest, Father Paul Dillon, who will do the Divine Mercy Service this Friday. It may be the last one this year so we are eager.
You can see the Icon of the Divine Mercy above the altar. Its story and its connection to the Sainthood of Sister Faustina is fascinating and we will put a link to that history soon.
Surmanci has a relic of Sister Faustina mounted in a beautiful wood. The relic was sent by Rome.
We meet Tom Laney from Nova Scotia and enjoy his company and conversation a number of times. We will be exchanging email messages..
Oct. 27: Fr. Mark joins the photo op!
Oct. 28: Busy day today. We receive a load of veggies and park them in our building’s stairwell. We need to go to Holy Mass, then pick up a passenger and all of us go to Mostar.
Then we need to get back in time to make sandwiches and stuff for the day workers lunches.
Tuesday, Oct. 28: We are helping a priest here with his immigration papers. We call Mostar immigration as to whether Father needs to show up for the one month extension re his year residency. “of course, he must come in today”, So, after English Holy Mass, we taxi to Mostar; the fellow is glad to see us but we cannot get the extension today because the manager has taken an early lunch break (2 hour usually); come back tomorrow. We wait for a bit ( we go to the top floor, have an espresso and take a few pictures of bombed out buildings ). & then get an OK to come in anytime this week or next.
Lunch Day for the “Day Workers” 24 meals today: a jumbo meat and cheese sandwich, a double pack of “flat crackers” (Bob likes these), milk, soup pk., cabbage heads, a pound of spinach. We also had little pks. of catsup and mayonnaise for them to grab. Some waited to see if we had brought shoes or something. We had two pairs of size 9 (42) and they were so grateful to get those.
We decide that today we must find a way to help one particular day worker. In his 50’s, he had worked in a plant in the north part of the country for 24 years. The plant was bombed out and he came to the Medjugorje area to try for day jobs. He fell (from the roof on the job) and broke his arm in two places. He “holed” up in his room and has now re-appeared. He has been asking us for help to get back to his home area and to enable him to apply for disability; he is eligible for 300 KM ($240) and “he can live on that”. We find a way.