2009 March

* Anita and Oscar Overcamp have arrived along with their group of mostly Americans; this is part of the group.

Eric Overcamp (the son) became ill at the airport in Germany so could not make the trip.


The group is mostly German based and have brought us a huge suitcase.

We find jackets and sweaters and children’s’ clothes and boots…..

we are so excited!

AND… a beautiful giant slow cooker. We could not find one in Bosnia and have been looking for one for over 2 years!

Mary will be able to slow cook lamb and beans and potatoes and soups for periodic hot meals for the day workers. We are truly grateful!

We find that this has been a “youth project” put together by Bonita Snyder; thank you for all who had their hearts in this.

Feb 2: One of the local English speakers has a medical appointment so we are off to Mostar for it.

Men’s shoes wanted! Sizes 40 through 49 (8 through 15). Previously worn is beautiful. It would be nice of you to bring some along if you are traveling to Medjugorje. Please do not try to mail as they never arrive.

Tue., Feb. 3: off to Metkovic in Croatia; we will get back in time for the lunches. We buy medication for some of the families.

It has rained for the past 5 days which means there should be more fellows than usual; (there are 36).
The pilgrims in the Anita and Oscar (and Eric) group have included some jackets and sweaters; we decide to pass these on today.
We have had many requests for men’s shoes; shoes that they can wear into the fields. Today we have 3 pair (used of course). 15 or so fellows look on hopefully. Mary hears a couple of the fellows talking; that “they have not eaten in 3 days”!

Lunch (at the 4 corners) today includes two donuts and a crepe pancake which two families we help in Vitini have sold to us. Four of the fellows hang around hoping for leftovers. We chat and find that one fellow has been here for 8 years, one for 4 years, one for 2 years and one his first year. The last one is quite shy but tells us that his daughter is in school in Mostar; he asks for help for her so that she may continue.

The fellows tell us that Bosnia has not given help to the 1990s’ war fighters (Muslim) while Croatia does furnish a war veteran pension to their side.

Thurs.: still raining so we have a pierogie party! Participants are Agnes and Kathleen from Ireland with Mary W. in the center; Mary R. is in charge of the spatulas.

Hey Bob, are we doing it the correct way?

And so that you do not think that life here for Agnes and Kathleen (and Mary) is just one party after another today they are off to the mountains with St. Joseph the Worker (Mary Walsh) to deliver food and interact with the hungry and the lonely.

St. Joseph the Worker is our favorite charity!

Mary Walsh visits with two of the ladies.

Hvala Bogu (thanks be to God)! This lady clasps her hands in prayer upon seeing Mary Walsh coming to visit. A local “social services” rep had told St. Joseph the Worker that they would be taking care of this lady but now we find that no one ever came!

Hunger is a problem and an additional problem is with the feet. Her toes are swollen and some are black (blood related). One toe has crossed over the next and walking has become a problem.
St. Joseph the Worker arranges for a doctor to visit the following day. The crisis is taken care of.

Another day and off to the hills again.

Sister Muriel and “buddy” (one of almost 300 to whom St. Joseph the Worker delivers food and solace).

A neighbor lady brings out a plate of four thin pancakes (palecinke); Mary reports that they were exceptional!

OK, follow me down this path.

And the couple is found! The husband (92 years) looks after his wife (90s’) who is floor bound. A sad situation; Sister brings food and some joy.

Regroup, get the food bags and restart.

But stop and smell the new buds.

A little paint, a little duct tape, a few flowers…..

Patrick is here for a time and is helping on deliveries!

We need to watch our steps as we leave the home of one of the ladies.

The St. James altar during Lent looks so beautiful with the large crucifix.

Tuesday 3/10: Rain last night but clear this morning; maybe most of the fellows will be finding jobs today. Patrick helps us to put the food bags together and then we all go to make the sandwiches et. al. Whoops, we underestimated; 38 meals to pass out today including three ladies.

Wednesday and we are off to check on some people with Janet and Vesna.

One of the ladies needs to be coached on her recovery techniques from her breast cancer .

Afternoon and Janet and Mary meet with Dr. Frank (a podiatrist from the States) at the Merciful Fathers Center in Medjugorje. Father Svet joins us along with 10 out of 30 of the fellows who live at the Center.

The fellows get free help with problems that they have with the feet, arms, legs and backs. Dr. Frank is very “hands on” and creates some on the spot fixes using duct tape (Janet had a roll in the car).

One fellow had a leg an inch shorter than the other and was amazed to find out that this was the reason for his back aches. Dr. Frank built a support for placement in one of the shoes.


We all want to have our picture taken with Dr. Frank and his wife, Debbie.

Dr. Frank’s hometown newspaper in Athens, Ga. has written an article about this visit!

Thursday and Mary is off to the mountains with St. Joseph the Worker (Sister Muriel). Patrick is the third member of the team today.

One of the ladies is telling Sister Muriel just how she is going to fix the food which Sister has brought. So much love, so much faith.

Mary gets a snap of the old Turkish fortress on the nearby mountain peak above Ljbuski.

Mary comes home and shows off items that she has bought or been given today. One of the ladies had recognized her as a customer from last year. Mary gets a hand made sweater as well as an assortment of socks. The daffodils and rosemary were gifts.

Robert is back and gets to do the readings at St. James today (Thursday). He is here with a group of pilgrims from the States. Jim Lightner, our friend from the bus accident, is here leading the group. They have brought some medical supplies for us.

Surprise! Virginia C. is also with the group. We chat after the Holy Mass.

Saturday and we have promised St. Joseph the Workerthat we would ride out to the two sisters and check out the sagging gate. It is getting harder and harder for the ladies to open and close it as it scrapes on the ground and rock. We need to find a gate wheel or maybe have one welded.

We have brought some things and food with us. They are thrilled with the new sweater and socks!

These ladies are realists! They are suspicious of everyone except those approved by the priest or by St. Joseph the Worker! It is common in this country for people to put in claims to try to get the properties after the death of the owner. If the person produces proof of bills paid, even orally, that person may end up with the land. We hear of that happening constantly.

Joseph (USA) and Vince (Australia) take turns chopping firewood; Bob is doing a little carrying of the cut wood to a dry space; Mary is raking and picking up.

The sweater has an inside pocket and Mary has slipped a fiver in there to be discovered. And they do!

One of the sisters asks for a pair of black shoes like Mary is wearing. The flashlight we had brought has failed them and we take that to try to repair it.

We ask about their chicken who we saw had always fended for him (or her) self. A skinny little thing. Two weeks ago, during the snowfall the sisters “were starving” and the chicken helped a little.

St. Joseph the Worker has asked us to figure out whether St. Joseph should provide some chickens. There is an old coop (in bad shape) on the property; we will try to assess it. The ladies have had trouble with foxes (or weasels) but the one chicken did survive.

BIG demand from the Tuesday fellows for shoes that they can work in (the fields); that is running shoes or work shoes or sandals; they are not fussy. AND they do not expect new ones; we are ALWAYS looking for men’s shoes.

Friends in New Zealand have offered a donation!
The hardware store in Ljubuski village has men’s black rubber boots on SALE; Italian made for 8 KM ($6.00).

We buy 11 pair of 46s and 47s and we will go back and pick up 42 pairs of smaller sizes. YEAH!
Hope that they have them on Monday.

Still have need of used men’s shoes.

we spend the donation before we get it hoping that is OK. We shall pass out the boots along with food bags on the next Holy Day.All of our boots are either black or dark green.


Tuesday afternoon (and after the lunches with the fellows) we are invited to Vinka and Sima’s for lunch along with Father Jakov. Lemon meringue pie has been especially baked for the guests.


Thursday: St. Joseph Feast Day: We prepared; we have numbered small string tags (1 through 50). While Joseph and Fem are putting sandwiches together, Mary and I explain to the fellows that we will ask for their shoe size. Mary writes that info on the back of the tag we give it to them and I list it on a prepared sheets. They are to turn in their tag to get a pair of boots; some today, the rest on Wed. 25th (Annunciation of our Lord).

Thur. Mar. 19, Feast of St. Joseph: We make our big sandwiches today, milk, pack of hot dogs, pack of soup mix, pack of corn meal, sardines, dessert, bananas and a bit of candy.

We planned for 50; we get 49! We pray that St. Joseph is happy about this.

We have also brought children’s and women’s shoes today; the fellows sort them through and they are all gone in just 10 minutes. The fellows will mostly take them home for their families.

Friday: Mary is off to the hill country.

Happiness is seen when Sister Muriel is coming with food!
This lady has a difficult time; in order to see she has to physically raise her eye lids. Difficult to even cook when one’s sight keeps getting interrupted.

Sat, March 21 and 1st day of Spring. Fem joins us for breakfast after Holy Mass then we pick up Vesna (for translating) and head to Vitina. Fem is to interview a local lady for a school thesis.

Mary has asked the lady and she is quite willing to be interviewed. She is a former professor of languages and is still tutoring in French, Italian and Latin. A very interesting artistic woman.

While the lady is being interviewed, we meet up with Danjela and Jelka at the two sisters home. We want to have a garden plowed and planted for them and two of the families who we help have volunteered to do it!

We stop by the parish priest’s house and arrange for him to meet Danjela at 3 this afternoon. Father will have to give the OK for this to happen so that the ladies will not feel threatened.

We chat with the ladies in this one room house with no windows. No place to sit so Anica squats on the floor. Mary asks Jelka whether the water we brought last time was OK; they reply that the water “was divine”! We have brought more today.

We have brought eggs, spinach, candies, milk and some other stuff. Mary has shared part of our veal roast and veggies with them (that just came out of the new “slow cooker”!)

They have need of some “cotton undies”, a sweater or two. They want to hear about the visionaries and the latest message; Mary obliges.

We pick up Fem and Vesna and drop them off at home. We drop off a crate of Blitva (something like spinach greens) at Nancy and Patrick’s. We will go there Sunday for a get together Chinese dinner; we will make sweet and sour pork in the “slow cooker” early in the morning and bring that along!

Thank you Bonita Snyder and the youth group for the slow cooker.

There is a widow here in the Village who has recently lost Marija, her 15 year old daughter. For the past 5 years the daughter has been in and out of the hospitals and has had numerous operations on the brain. Special collections have been taken up at local Holy Masses for the operations, most recently in Germany. Marija’s classmates have also raised funds for this purpose.

Now Marija has passed on; the widow still has two children to raise and will be returning to work as a cleaner here at the school. We hear good things about her; understandably she is having a bad time financially and emotionally now. This will be one of our Lent projects – to go to visit the family and see how we can help.

Thank you Suzanne for helping us with this.

Bob has the slow cooker, Ante, Smilja, Ana and Jozo are part of a group invited to Nancy and Patrick’s castle for a Chinese dinner!

Deanna and Ante plan strategy for the seating arrangements.


Vince gets kitchen duty as does Smilja and Linda.

Linda, Fem, Patrick and Vince get the head table.

Deanna and the Castle Kitchen Staff are in the background. John (Ireland), John and 2 year old son are chatting at the table.

Lynn, Rose, Candy and Heather (New Jersey girls) smile for the camera.

Nancy presents Annie and Johnny with a “honeymoon cake”; Annie and Johnny are here staying at the Caritas (Alabama based) House for a month.

Patrick (of Nancy and Patrick) gives Daniyal a hug. Daniyal is here for a bit from work in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Tues: Mar. 24: Another whoops! Nice day and we figure that more of the fellows will find jobs today. The plan is for 22 lunches but do take back ups to build more lunch bags just in case. Well, there are 48 fellows (and women)!! The last few lunch bags get rather skimpy but the people are happy.

Later in the afternoon, Fem and Judith came to our place and helped slice cheese and pack lunch bags for Wednesday.
Thank you so much.

Missed out on the visit to Medjugorje by a rep from the American Embassy in Sarajevo. Heard that Janet, Father Kevin and Father Jakov are at the meeting. The Embassy rep is meeting with reps of the three religious groups in the country to push the idea of helping one another.

Wednesday Mar. 25: Feast of the Annunciation. A big day! A Holy Day so we will be packing lunch bags for the “day workers” (and passing out boots). Linda will be renewing her dedication to the Lord at Holy Mass at noon. Mary will be taking photos and later we will drop by Linda’s for lunch.

Food is sorted out and bagged; all set for 50; backups for another 20. Not enough room in the taxi. We will send Ivan (our driver) back to the garage to bring up the boots.

The front pew people are ready for today’s Holy Mass.

Linda Atkinson and Father Kevin at today’s Holy Mass. Linda is renewing her consecration.


Joseph joins us for the bread slicing, meat packing, sandwich making. 94 fellows today (our largest group in the 3 years). We do well, get a few English “thank you’s”, a few ” thanks to the Gospa” (in Hrvatski).

The identifying string tags are collected and the boots are passed out; many sad faces on those fellows left out but they agree on “next time”.

Earlier in the week socks (thank you Joseph) and underwear are bought at the Ljubuski farmers market and we pack one or the other into the boots.

John and Deanna are present for lunch after Holy Mass. Joseph, Mary and I are late but food is saved for us; thanks to the cooks!

John Finn (Ireland) is here for a bit dealing with a project “Center for Youth Pilgrimages Medjugorje”.


All night adoration at St. James church (the 25th of each month).

Thurs. 26th: Mary and I are off to the hills with St. Joseph the Worker food deliveries. What a blessing!

Prayers, hugs and food are included with the home visits by St. Joseph the Worker. Thanks, Mary Walsh, for inviting us along. This is sister #1.

This is sister #2. These two sisters take life one day at a time.

On the way home we stop in Caplina and pick up 72 discounted milks, a big big bag of cooking beans and a good sized bag of peanuts in the shell. This will get portioned out.

Friday, March 27: off into the mountains! The 2 Mary’s ‘ eyeballing the basketball hoop!


Is there anything that these 2 Mary’s can’t do!