2013 December


*December 1: We are so very happy to welcome Jim Brown back to Medjugorje after a very recent heart operation!How nice to start off the month to see such a recovery!
And Christina is back also! Yeh! Yeh!
Some more of our Medjugorje family!
12/2We (and St. Nicholas) go to visit Anica and Ilka.

The chimney does not look too inviting so we enter through the gate.

“The gate is falling off its hinges. Did you come to fix the gate?”

We are invited in to the ‘summer house’!
The gifts are looked over closely!
Joseph, of course, sees work to be done and tidies up the place!
The two sisters always have problems lighting up the stove’; pilgrims have brought us wood stick matches from the States!!!We have brought emery cloth (sand paper type) but the matches here will still not light up.

Ilka is shown the strike area at the sides of the box. It works!

Is Joseph really going to part with the booties which were given to him and leave them with the ladies?“Yes I can”.
Ilka is smiling; that is a really good sign!
We do find a homey spot to leave the eggs and the candles.
Where is Anica? Let us go see what Anica is doing.
Anica is looking for her shoes.Come Anica and see what St. Nicholas has brought for you!
The stove has been lit; the pot is on the stove; Mary checks to see what is brewing.But nothing is in the pot yet except the water. St. Nicholas has brought lots of gifts; some can be added to this pot!
Who was that bearded man? Did he leave me anything??
And we have other chimneys to check out; other people to see.
Jagoda greets us. “Did you bring me bread?” This is the lady who for years we always found in bed crying for the Lord to take her and to end her suffering.

Jagoda exclaims “I can not see you but I can tell by your voices that you are the people who always bring me bread!”

“When I have any food my little cat goes after that rather than bother with all the mice; either way please hang this up for me.”

12/5: It is the day before the feast day of St. Nicholas. Mary’s in the kitchen; there are 60 pieces of chicken breast to be braised and then slow cooked overnight.

Wonder where my helpers are?


The guys are hiding out in the garage; 60 bags to pack; each bag will have a head of cabbage, pate, tuna, sweet treat, milk, bread, socks, a soap bar.
Finally it’s Dec. 6th (St. Nicholas Day) and we are at the corners before dawn!Our first client appears!!
And we have stunning help!Joseph will pass out the bags.

And then Malama and Christina will be in charge of putting a hot roll and a chicken breast in each bag!


We have a chat and a large bag for Skul; he had put a request in this past month for clothes for his 4 1/2 year old daughter; thank you, dear enablers, for helping us with this.Skul has more requests; can we help him emigrate to another country?
Bob’s holding up the line again! “It must be in here somewhere!”
We are surprised to see a neat jacket on Kristian (one of the day workers); we read “Medjugorje Praise be Jesus and Mary”! We do spot Kristian sometimes at the Croatian early Mass and there we get to exchange greetings.
Oh, oh. Bob is reminiscing again! Holding up a pair of cargo pants one can just imagine he is thinking about that time in Naples, FL when we, along with a group of friends, were entering the country club restaurant to enjoy an evening meal.

We were not seated because Bob was wearing similar cargo pants; we all were asked to leave!

Here we are showing the pants to Senad to check for fit. He is a good guy; we ran into him a few weeks ago when we spotted him going through one of the dumpsters for a possible meal.

We had some wonderful leftovers then from a meal in Citluk which we passed on to him.


Do you think this will clash with my cap?
We will certainly print this one out for the brother.
Bob and Mary study the listings; some of the fellows have signed up before in hopes of getting a pair of shoes; 40 or so are on the list but we have only 6 pairs of shoes.We see that some fellows have really poor shoes; plus there is a great need for clothes. We do have some to pass out.The fellows do not ask for a specific size; it is always a range of sizes; they tell us they can always add socks if the shoe is too big (if they have socks).


“Has anyone heard from Tom?”Kristian and Stipica, brothers, are just checking on one of their favorite pilgrims.

Kristian reports that new and unused diabetic supplies (testing strips) have been found in one of the dumpsters; would we know of a family who could use these?

We do. The brothers are happy that they can give something back.“Oh and we could really use size 40 and 42 shoes.”



Rasim, one of our favorite fellows and a splendid worker. When he is in the food line then we know that work is really scarce. We have hired him at one time or another for landscaping tasks. One time there was a cloudburst (heavy rainfall); he continued to work in that even though we wanted him to stop.A pilgrim had brought us a new Coleman pouched rain suit; he gets that today!
Rasim’s wife died this year from a long bout with cancer. The daughter was the caregiver and now has asked the father if she may get married. Rasim has given his blessing for this to happen. Now it will be just he and his son.

We have favored him with a gift just before Easter for 8 years; we remember his tears the first time we did that.

It’s Saturday; the big day! The Romani camp at Stolac awaits us. We arrive with two trunk loads of gifts; each household will receive at least one piece of filled luggage!We have been looking forward to this for months!
Zorica wants this bag; Mary might not want to part with it unless we get documented proof!(I don’t think they are really fussing.)
The clothes and the gifts are being distributed; everyone waits in anticipation!
We have boots and / or shoes for everyone in the camp. We missed the father-in-law of Zorica; his wife and his wheelchair bound daughter were not able to obtain a visa to enter Bosnia. He has returned to Italy.
OK, that is done; now the food. Joseph hands one of the first bags to Behara.
We will visit each household; first one this year will be Zorica: Amela is looking stunning in her new jacket and new shoes.We are always so surprised to see the sisters and the brothers take such delight in seeing the happiness of the gift receiver; they truly love one another.
Gabriela models some of her St. Nicholas gifts for the camera.The parish in that area has a celebration today (St. Nickolas Day) and passes out small ‘goodie bags’ to the children during that celebration.

These kids ‘missed out’.

Our hearts ache.

Rafajel is beaming over his stuff.
Gabriel tells us “I am the new cool fellow”.
“All my children have new shoes!!”
The family of Mirisad and Malena and their three children are just bubbling!
Bubble, bubble.
Bob and Bisera admire Dejan’s enjoyment over his new coat!
Adla says “do you see my doll?Do you want to hold her?”
Ezel has a new little ball that, when he throws it; it flashes so many beautiful colors; he has never seen anything like that and is fascinated; (we have not seen it before either).
More interaction and activity then we have ever seen from this household.
Bob says “Fadila has positioned my hood and now she is checking the texture of the coat (or could it be that I am that irresistible)”.
12/8Father Harvey and John B. are on the chapel altar.
12/9Lunch at the Grace Restaurant (near where Columbos’ used to be).

We really like this restaurant.

12/10 Father Maximilian and Bob; Father is here with the “Oasis of Peace” community. He handles Italian, German and English speakers! It is special to see those signs at the confession booths.

Father was conscripted into celebrating our English Masses 4 times while Father Kevin is in Italy. Father M. tells us later that was his first English Mass in 10 years; and he did so beautifully!

The stones to build up our Bethlehem have arrived! How will they ever move them; can we help?
Christmas trees are beginning to appear!
We love it when we attend the early morning 6:00 Advent Novena Mass when Father Marinko has the lights in the main church turned off and only a little light at the altar!!
Father Maximilian and Mary are on the chapel altar today.
12/11A group of pilgrim friends come over to our place to do a viewing of the new DVD by Christina G. ‘Queen of Peace’.


Our good friend, Margaret, does the reading in the chapel this morning.
John has joined us for a day. Joseph and John are on a milk run; bringing stuff to the unfortunate.
We four guys are looking over the unfinished room at Dijana’s. The sidewalls are looking good but water drops are dripping from the ceiling! Much work has already been done but this house does need the roof finished off.


12/14: We stop to food shop at the Robot store & look who we find!!It’s Melania; always grateful for a bit of food.

We are grateful to have run into this family in Caplina.

And onward to ‘Joseph’s family’; a big family and one that the local pastor had asked Joseph to help 4 or 5 years ago.
Josip claims a bag.
And he’s off!
12/16 Today it is the Beljo’s family; the first local family who asked us for help. Ana is so grown up; she has a job at a local souvenir shop and is doing well. We are surprised to find her at home but it seems as though she may have been laid off for a week or so as government labor inspectors are in town.
The Christmas tree is admired! Dario has a job at the ‘handicapped’ shop in Citluk; not a paying job but a chance to do crafts and socialize with others. Good!
Mrs. Beljo has a gift for us to take home; a creation by Dario Beljo!
12/18 St. James church is beginning to look very festive.
Our next trip is to Jelka and family; she works so very hard and does feel that God has favored her with so much.
A stop is made at the home of Mario & Marijana, a family of 9 and so hard working. Here we are shown mama pig; she has just had a delivery of seven!

What a blessing!

At the grocery to pick up food for the next stop and Srgio appears! All are surprised as that is to be our next stop.Mama Tanja has had a caesarian; mama and the baby boy have come home and all is well.

Srgio helps to pick out the food supply, but need a lot of help!

Diapers are needed for this household in two sizes; the family includes a 2 year old.The baby does not yet have a name; they will be thinking.
The baby does not mind being nameless.Wake me when you have decided.
The family is happy for the gift from God and also for our arriving.Grandmama is wheelchair bound but is always upbeat.
Does everyone notice my new green boots?And my diapers?
Joseph and we still have time to go shoe shopping! We will look for warm work boots.We have been given a Christmas gift to buy 50!, yes 50! new winter work boots for our population at the 4 corners area (the day workers).
The sales ladies are putting the order together.
Us guys look around to find Mary; where could Mary be?Oh, someone has brought in sausages and Mary is testing them.
Did you all hear that burp?
The ladies have almost finished putting the order together.
Still time enough today to go grocery shopping and then to pass them on to this house; only two of the seven kids are at home Mama is working at Mothers Village; Dad has not been home for quite a while.
The young ladies at the shoe store had asked for our business card.We get a phone call and the families have clothes to pass on; could we use them?


Dec. 20 and the outside of the church entrance is beginning to look very spectacular!
This year the village will be built directly in front of the church rather than off to the side.What a splendid entrance.
Today we are making a stop and doing food deliveries at the Roma group at the village dump in Capjlina.
This location is kind of a transit area where some people stop for just a few days. We always need to put something extra in the trunk just in case.
This is Aisa and Izet; year round residents; Izet is not too happy when we parcel out food and stuff to all the people.He is kind of a hand full.
Let’s see how Aisa looks in this red one.
Looking good!
How to divide?One potato, two potato,
We walk a little further up the path.Another extended family.
It’s Sunday the 22nd; we have phoned a number of the day workers on the list; we have boots; meet us in front of the bakery!Yummy bakery so we pass out food bags also (and Bob latches on to one of the poppy seed cakes.)
We are checking over just how the manger for the birth of Jesus will be presented.I just have to rearrange some of this.
This week we have been asked by a ‘frequent visiting’ pilgrim if we know anyone who might be short of a good meal this Christmas season! Could he help?YES!

It’s December 24th & we are blessed with two lambs and one pig all cut up and cooked and ready for serving!

This page is getting so very lengthy and now we want to add this day’s exciting adventures! Nobody is going to want to read all this!Twas the day before ChristmasYou could click on the above link and spend some time there. Come back by a click on the ‘December’ link.

While you are there please join us in a prayer for the giver.


We pick up other precious gifts; these are greetings mostly from the Romani kids.
It’s Christmas and gifts appear for us! Drazen likes to bake.


Martina and Mom ring our bell (and they bring a tray)!
Merry Christmas from all of us to you all!
and from Nancy…
and from Sister Muriel and Mona and the Belgium family…and from Karel and Stephen …
and Joseph…a and a favorite family
and Sister Emmanueland from St. James Church
Our apartment is all set for the annual blessing by the Franciscans; the candle is lit; the rosemary branch is in the holy water; the crèche is present.We are ready!
the 29th and we are invited for lunch to a favorite family; Ivan & Marinaand the sons.
and the daughters.
and the parents.
Touching the void in our hearts.Each year the ‘Orchideja Humanitarian Group’ in Stolac rushes in to fill that void.

The ‘others’ get to have their Christmas party, gifts and pictures with Santa (Sanel) Claus.

Sign right here Father Kevin; you now have your 10 year Bosnia & Herzegovina ‘green card’!Super!
12/31 We have received a number of CD players from kind souls in the States.Three of them will go to this camp to help with school work. CDs come with some of the school books & some of our student kids had no way to play them.
Oh, oh.Sabahudin has called and let us know that the camp is all out of food and they are kind of hungry. Can we help?

We stop at the farmers market; potatoes are down to around $5.00 a bag!

We load up the trunk.
and who doesn’t like carrots?
Now we have to go shopping for the rest of the food supply. We ask Gabriela to come and help us!
Gabriela has never been in a store like this and is kind of hesitant at first.Mary puts her right to work reading the prices; bending for the items; doing the counting; the ice has broken!

Gabriela does a wonderful job; the store clerks are impressed and so friendly!

Back to the camp; Mary shares laughter!
And we share what God has provided.
Still two campers to go! A wonderful donation has been received towards one of these!

‘Local good hearts’ in the Sarajevo area are looking for good values.