2009 January

*Father Jakov and Bob have brunch and a meet.

Can you spot the “ham” in this picture? Actually Luka, Ivan, Andreja, Marina and Kristian are “showing off” the beautiful prosciutto about to be cut into for our lunch today!!

Some of our wonderful Medjugorje friends are wishing us a safe trip to the States!

And here comes Father Jakov, our good friend!

We go to the States!

Our dear friend in America, Vivian, who was not doing too well and prompted our return visit to the States.

As long as we are here, we may as well get checked out so we go to a “walk in clinic”, our lungs get x-rayed and the doctor decides that Bob has an excess calcium buildup around the aorta et. al. So now Bob has to go for extended exams and procedures. He comes out looking pretty good!
We meet Kathy Ogle who recognizes the Lady of Medjugorje medal that Mary wears and is so happy to meet us and to find out more about our lives in Medjugorje!

And we are so happy to meet up with Kathy.

We were so fortunate to be staying right around the corner from the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
We were fortunate, too, that the Holy Rosary was recited there each morning a half hour or so before Holy Mass. And that Perpetual Adoration of the Eucharist was available in the nearby Chapel 24/7.

That meant that we could each continue our Catholic practice of gaining a Plenary Indulgence for a soul in Purgatory each day as we had been doing in Medjugorje. We do feel saddened when we are in areas where that is not possible.

Social Time! Family Time! Bob’s family gather in Ocean View, DE for Christmas celebration! We are so pleased because some of the family we have not seen for almost 30 years!

Here we are with nephew Chris from Wichita, KS!

Back in Baltimore!

At church we met up with Dick Vandenberg (pictured on the right with Dick’s wife, Loretta). Dick was so pleased to be our friend and to learn more of Medjugorje. The first day Dick pulls out a Holy Rosary from his pocket and tells us that it was a gift which originated in Medjugorje. That it had been blessed during an apparition of Our Queen of Peace and had turned to a golden color. Many Rosaries do that here in Medjugorje.

Vince (from Australia) is glad that we are back! Vince buys weekly veggies and eggs which we sell for a couple of the local families who we help.

Oh, oh. We missed the outdoor creche at St. James. Set up completely different and at the front of the church. The Cenacola fellows and other workers are busy today taking down the rest of the buildings. You can see how large some of the logs are!

The elaborate Nativity usually inside the St. James church was not set up this year. Brother Josip’s mother passed on during this period and he was usually the main Franciscan who took care of this task.

We go to visit Ivan and family; we always have such a good time there; this is a happy home, a happy family. We have brought some surprises from the States.

A pizza party at Columbo’s! We fill up a couple of tables and it is all on Joseph W.!!! Yeah!

Ivan excuses himself to drive a couple of pilgrims.

He comes back to report that he has found a pilgrim’s wallet on the street!

A couple of us take an inventory of the contents and then Ivan goes to the parish office, to the Info center, to the police. No one has any info.

OK, this is out of order. We placed this pic here because he funded the pizza party! And because we love him!

Joseph said he wanted to do this party because he so much enjoys the politeness and happiness of Ivan’s family!

Ivan calls a Split (Croatia) number in the wallet. It is the brother of the owner of the wallet. The brother is a Croatian fellow who emigrated and lives in Australia and is now visiting Split.

They want to drive to Medjugorje to retrieve the wallet! It has quite a bit of money, credit cards, licenses in it.

They meet in Medjugorje; the wallet owner wants to reward Ivan; Ivan asks him to say an “Our Father” for Ivan and family. The wallet owner presses a reward in Australian dollars into Ivan’s pocket!

We are all set to receive one of the Franciscan priests! He will be coming to, once again, bless our home.

We think we have everything we need: a crucifix, holy water, rosemary branch to sprinkle the holy water, a candle, a “fire starter” to light it, a “snuffer” to put out the flame.

The priest comes, blesses our home and gives us our 2009 door decal.

Edgar goes with us to visit the Beljo family (tata, mama, triplets) and to drop off some food. Ana is delighted to see Edgar again; he helped fund a half of a pig for the family and for a wood burning stove! Thank you Edgar.

Ana has picked up a lot of English and is able to compose poems and to converse a little in that language. She also takes Latin, German and Italian and is a grade 9 student. Wow Ana!!!!

We ask for and review the kids’ report cards; Bozo and Ana promise to improve, but Dario gets 5’s. Congratulations Dario!

Bozo poses for a solo shot (a teenager request) and asks if we would bring prints. We promise.

Night time: we take a shot of Apparition Hill from our balcony. Lights have been added while we were away! It does now look like a giant Rosary.

Tuesday and we head out to the “4 corners” area of Medjugorje to buy lunches not knowing how many of the day workers will show up. Our first time in 5 weeks so we have only 4 fellows.

We head out to Caplina To Hotel Mogorjelo to see if there really is an Insurance Office headquartered there (there was not).

Nikolina (the new manager) is called out to help the 3 foreigners (Joseph is with us). Nikolina insists that we sit and have a chat and have a cappuccino (and, a little later, her special cheese cake (boy, was that yummy).

Nikolina has spent 6 or 7 months in Utah and is delighted to have Americans to talk to. She wants our input; so we do tell her that we have come there a number of times to eat in the restaurant. We were disappointed because we usually found items on our bill that we did not order. We think she will straighten that kitchen management out. She is a doer.

Ivan has smoked our (Mary & Bob’s) half of a pig in the smokehouse behind his home. We check it out and take a box with us to distribute to some of our families.

Liza Walter and Blessed Jose Gregario Hernandez

Elizabeth Meier writes: “Please pray for Liza! We’re asking for the intercession of Blessed Jose Gregario Hernandez. He was a South American who was a doctor when he was alive. He appeared to Liza the day of her first diagnosis and she didn’t know who he was, till the next day when a priest gave her a prayer card and she recognized Bl. Jose on the picture! I’ll ask Liza to write the story on the website- it’s so interesting. Please pray for Liza’s healing!”

Sister Muriel (of St. Joseph the Worker) and Mary are off to the mountains to do an interview and assessment of an elderly lady who is getting too old and too frail to live alone.

Mary goes along to do the translating and to help with the assessment.

OK, they have gotten to the top of the bottom of the next hill and must walk up the rest of the way. Walking helps Sister and Mary handle a couple of hairpin curves on the way up.

They have found her!! The lady hopes that she is a candidate to enter St. Joseph the Worker’s retirement home for the indigent poor.

Note the “shower facility” in back of the lady; the blue bottle is filled with water and then the piping brings the water down to the showerhead; I think that I would kind of wait till late Spring: the outdoor toilet is on the far left.

Today we travel to Vitina to touch base with the family with 6 daughters (no sons and father has health issues).

We are shown the family pictures of the weddings of two of their oldest daughters; the first had been planned for quite some time and every one is smiling in those photos.

This is the second wedding which was not anticipated and very few funds were available for it. This photo is the bride and groom and their mothers.


Edgar helps us to put the food bags together and to feed the “day workers” at the 4 corners area. 21 fellows today and they all wish us a Happy New Year and welcome back.

Sat. Jan. 24: We are told that one of the “day workers” has found a dead man in one of the abandoned unfinished buildings here in Medjugorje. How long he has been there and how he died we are not told. They have such a sad life.

Father Rajko phones us this morning to thank us and to those pilgrims who contributed to his parish’s Christmas food bags. Many more families were helped this year.

We also discussed problems besetting one of many of his parish families.

We arranged for a meet later this week where we will pass on funds to Father and to the sisters. Sister Slava (on the left) is the housekeeper (diabetic). Sister Alojzija is the school teacher (Joseph is funding a number of the poorer kids lunches).

Then we head for Janja, Niki and Teresa’s place; we have pork for them and other foods. Niki is not at home, has been taken out for a drive by one of his Muslim friends. We are told that the doctor said that he could have a beer every 2 weeks or so!!

The family needs fire wood so we (and Joseph) help a little.

Then on to Gordon and family (7 children). We have gifts donated from the Tennies family from Wisconsin and we also take a little food for the kids. A wonderful hard working family making do with few resources.

Thank you dear Tennies family. This family lives in West Bend and mom (Suzanne) was one of those involved in the bus accident here two years ago.

Mary lines the children up, checks out the artwork they want to send to the Tennies family and then (oh, oh) asks to review their report cards.

We go over each report and talk to the kids about them. They are really good students and we are proud of them.

We love to bring them books and “arts and craft” stuff. They love it.

They write a thank you note and all write their names on it.

Another Tuesday and the number of fellows, including one lady and some Croatians has increased now to 32. Some of the fellows hang around asking for more food because of no work available.

We have to tell them that we have doubled the size of the food bags and that we have tried to take everything into consideration.