2013 June

Mary is back home in Medjugorje so some friends are invited to come and see if Mary has learned to cook any new dishes while she has been away in Canada.
While we waited a bit and then we head for the Hotel Brotnjo in Citluk; there is a birthday to celebrate.
And Alexandra is all for it
We really like to ‘dine’ at the Brotnjo Hotel in Citluk and today is another example why! The waiter has decided that we should ALL celebrate (including the waiter) Sandra’s birthday today, so a nice bottle of champagne is brought to the table. We raise our glasses and we all yell “ZIVILI” (we wish you a long life)!
We squeeze in a picture of Vidan & Slavica and their 8 children. We do need to make a return visit to review their final report cards! They love showing them.
May 31: It is the day to celebrate the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Locals and pilgrims turn out by the thousands to parade through the streets and hills of Medjugorje following the priests and singing hymns.Locals set out candles and statues outside their houses to join in the celebration. Joseph has brought his statue down from his apartment to take part.
Hearts were touched! David in the nearby village of Citluk will be getting a new wheelchair more suited to his weight and age. We have been helped with a donation from the ‘Help for Hungry and Homeless’ Charity in the States and a charity put forward by Ellie and Hara in New Zealand!
Yes it does feel like Christmas. We and Medjugorje do miss Hara and Ellie; they have been ‘shining lights’ for us and many others here.We do know that, sooner or later, Katarina will be insisting on coming here with her parents. She must be hearing so many stories about their lives here!
Do you remember Ana Beljo? Ana is one of the triplets in the Beljo family. This family is one of the first families who we (and some angels) started helping; a bathroom, a kitchen, a bedroom, food to deliver, school books to buy!Now the kids have all graduated. Ana, on her very own, sought out and applied for her ‘first job’ as a sales clerk in a souvenir shop here in Medjugorje.

Ana told us that the owners have promised to pay at the end of a month.

And they came through! We have been seeing Ana at the 7:30 Mass and this day Ana has come to us with a gift for each. She has just received her first paycheck; we are so very proud of her.A wonderful success story!
Days later, Mrs. Beljo and son, Dario, bring a bag of veggies from their garden to the morning Mass to pass on to us; wonderful young carrots and yellow beans and spinach and flowers etc.Mrs. Beljo is asking us to find a job for Dario.
The next day we do grocery shopping at Konzum and deliver a nice food package to the Beljos. We talk about how Ana is so thrilled with her job and with her employers and how well they think of her!We admire part of the garden where all of our goodie gifts were grown.
We enjoy coffee and the companionship of Father Bill and Aggie at one of the restaurants.Aggie and husband, Armand have made a DVD of the Stolac Romas mostly; Aggie has brought us a copy; we play it on our TV screen.

We watch it 4 or 5 or more times; it’s crying time again.

The Robot grocery store in Caplina has agreed to deliver our food purchase to the Roma camp in Stolac for a fee of 20 KM! A bargain!
And the kids help with the unloading!
The items are stacked for the pass outs.
Me and my brothers helped!
Dean has gotten a ‘class picture’; he is in the front row, second from the left. This is from the Bosnian (Muslim) side of the school.Stolac and Caplina have been told by the courts that they must de segregate by the end of 2013. But just this month that ruling was set aside on a technicality.
Sabahudin invites us into his new camper home; we admire the decorating scheme; the sisters have helped!
Kata (Katarina), daughter of Ivan (our driver) has gone on her class trip to Croatia and has returned with a present for us!It’s all candy and with a lovely sentiment from Kata.
Kata is one of a group of 22 kids graduating with honors from the 8th grade of the school here in Medjugorje. These kids are singled out for exemplary behavior & who particularly excelled in curricular and extra curricular activities.The cream of the crop!

Kata is front row; 3rd girl from the right.

Next stop; Citluk High School!

Sunday we are outside waiting for the Croat Catholics to finish their 11:00 AM Mass before we enter for our English Mass. We see Kata coming out of the choir door and she is coming over to say good day (Dobar Dan) to us; Kata has done the reading at today’s Mass!What a girl!
Some more of our favorite pilgrim people! It is Maureen O’Brian and some of the pilgrims in her group.Our thanks to all the group for the gifts they have left with us for the poor.

Marija ( another daughter of Ivan (our driver) has come up with another humanitarian project! This time it will benefit ‘Holy Family Home” in Mostar; we interact with Sister Krunoslava there and Marija has been one of the group that has visited there with us.

Marija must have been really touched by the residents of that Home for the physically and / or psychologically disabled.


Marija has created banks with slots for Medjugoreans and its pilgrims to donate funds to help.

Translated it means ‘the Smile of Angels’. On March 5 Marija was interviewed on RADIO MIR!

We are so very proud of Marija!

We will keep you posted.


“If we step outside of ourselves we will find poverty,” says Pope Francis.
And now the time to deliver the donated funds is at hand!June 12: Our cavalcade of three cars are heading for Mostar. We are going to party with dessert and treats and music and singing and then dessert again!


Well, I never! A cake made from individually wrapped candies. It was beautiful!Created by Marina (wife of Ivan).
We snag Barry and Anne to drive a group along with us. They bring their joy, talent and happiness sharing to all of us and to the staff and to the residents! Thank you!
Sister Krunoslava is chatting with Marija. A big day! Donations for the Holy Family House have been counted and there is 3200 KM! Today the funds will be presented to Sister Krunoslava!

A special wheelchair is needed for one of the twin boys and these funds will be dedicated towards that!


And Marija’s ‘support group’ have come along with us. Wonderful girls!
Joseph sits along with the patients; he certainly has a heart of gold!Hope we all remember that Joseph comes back with us.
I am hoping that they will forget to take Joseph with them.
Mary and Sister K. want to be part of the support group too.
The room is huge; the table is big; everyone has more than enough room; some of the visitors circulate bringing love to each.
We all head up the stairs to visit those who were not able to join us in the dining room. Zorana is in her 20s and is so very happy to have all the attention.
Aldin and Eldin are 3 1/2 years twins. Muslim boys abandoned after birth by a mother unable to cope; Sister K. tells us that no one (except our Medj. groups) ask about them or visit them. Sister K. is glad we are here.

The medical device in this picture was delivered by our friend, Janet. The needed funds were raised through Sandy and Mike Tobin’s charity organization in Florida! Costing $16,000.00!



tel 352-564-2463

more of these medical devices are needed!

Smilja (head nurse) explains that this device is the reason that Aldin and Eldin are still with us and have improved so greatly. It is used multiple times a day to clear the throats and the lungs of the two boys.A local hospital asks to borrow it sometimes to help with their problems patients. Sister K. always sends it with one of her staff who wait there and who brings the device back to its home base!


It is way past time for a trip to the other side of Mostar; a trip to Matthew’s and the humanitarian org called ‘Miracles’./
‘Miracles’ specializes in the replacement of limbs. Arms and legs are still destroyed in this country when kids (and adults) come across an explosive mine.There are teams of experts in BiH whose job is to clear the paths and the fields and the bombed out houses of these explosive devices left by various factions in the recent war.
We say a prayer for those whose lives have been affected.We are at the tree planted in the memory of Arthur McCluskey of Ireland whose charity has supplied many of these replacement limbs.
Today we are going with Father Bill and some of his group to visit the Roma camp in the Stolac area. We stop at the Robot general store in Caplina to pick up a few groceries. There is a different group of Roma in this area who we have visited at their houses at the village dump but this lady has been missed. We talk with her to find out her home location. Mary returns to the store to buy and bring lunches out to her.
We arrive at the Stolac camp!

Fr. Bill is introduced to the Roma group and a blessing is offered to all who wish. We are aware than many here love the image of our Blessed Mother and have asked us for religious statues and pictures.

Sabahudin is first in line and kisses Father’s hand in thanksgiving.

There is so much silence; some in the camp say that it might be the Pope!Photo by Allison
Mediha takes her turn.Photo by Allison
Families come up together for their blessings.
Many probably have not been baptized and may just be learning about such things through their children who go the Croat Catholic school.
Zorica and family have their turn.
Gabriela has her turn.Photo by Allison
Pasionka and family are very moved by this experience.Photo by Allison
The end of the school year is celebrated with awards!I also have to say that I worry less about the Church’s identity since Papa Francesco was elected pope. He is continually urging us to go to the peripheries of life, to the margins, to the poor. There we will often find very messy lives.

Quote from Michael Sean Winters column in the National Catholic Reporter (June 11, 2013).

And we are partying!
Yeah! The ice cream is dippable (and droppable)!
One manages to drop her ice cream; the chickens will love her!Photo by Allison
Everyone helps to pack and pass out the food!
Yellow wax beans and carrots are among the goodies!
This has been a learning experience for us and a teaching opportunity. We stress no mixing in the bag/s of the fresh meat with the raw veggies.
Dragica has sold us enough potatoes so that each family gets at least one crate.Photo by Allison
Now it is time for the house visits.Photo by Allison
and for interaction with the kids; we see so much improvement in general health and in attitude!Photo by Allison
Play time; cling timePhoto by Allison
and smile time.Photo by Allison
A beautiful day with beautiful people!Let’s play ball!
Not the greatest picture but Zorica wants to show that her 3 children did, indeed, go(for the first time) on the class trip; here they pose with two of the teachers.
We stop at one of our favorite restaurants and most of us order pizza.When we are not ‘posing’ we are ‘reminiscing’.
Mom and daughters; Robin and Lauren heading for home, reluctantly, we hope.


We do pray that our visitors have had a blessed time in their visit to Medjugorje.
June 24 (Nativity of John the Baptist); Father Svet is the main Celebrant; powerful as usual.
Mary finally has a “Fan Club”! The girls were impressed with the clarity of the church announcements and wanted to meet up with Mary.
The Sanor family, originally from India but now in Ireland get together with Mary and Bob and Dick O’Leary to pray the Rosary on the benches outside the church after Mass.There is Christopher & Vijaya and the children; Aaron, Aishwarya and Soundarya.

How delightful!

Some of our good pilgrim friends have asked us to interact with Esma and Suvad. Consequently we have funds, baby clothes and stuff to pass on. We find them in an abandoned house on the grounds of an old psychiatric building. Suvad has had to sell the car so are even more isolated; the good item is that they do have free electricity.Esma is in good spirits and Suvad gets her to the doctor once a month! We brought shoes and socks; Suvad ran around and got the sizes from the other families there and we mostly matched them.
There are three families in the house; one mother is pushing a carriage around the property.We go to the grocery store and come back with three packages of food so all three families will have something to eat.
The kids are at the bread immediately.
We find out the the big building there houses over a hundred psychiatric patients; we always thought there was no one there.
June 27: Long skirts and sandals have been donated and they are to go to the women in this Stolac camp. We say we need someone to model these. Quickly Mediha and Fadilla are ready to show off their new clothes! Thank you Jennie.
We are in Stolac to pursue a remedial Summer School; we have gone over some of the kids homework papers and all is not A’s and A+’s.We will need a place and a teacher and an approval from all involved.

We will ask Sanel whether he knows any teachers.



Everyone is approving!The kids are enthusiastic! The parents are enthusiastic! Bisera says “take him, teach him. I give him to you! he will try very hard”.
June 28: Sanel has called back; he has located a teacher! We arrange for an interview at the Orchid office in Stolac.We chat with the lady; she is a substitute teacher for the school system; good.

She has no transportation; can we bring the kids to her? Not so good.

We go shopping. We need books and crayons and flashcards and stuff!
At one of our shopping stops we meet up accidentally with one of the families we interact with. They are Serbian. We ask Mama whether she knows any teacher or mother who would be good at this task.
She made a few phone calls but no luck. Then she says I will do it for you!


June 29: today we head out to the mountain village of Posuje to look at an empty trailer. Ivan has phoned the owner and made arrangements to meet and view.

A long trip. The seller has the trailer behind a 4 foot high fence; the sliding gate is closed and locked. The relative who has the key is called but he wants us to return tomorrow, he’s busy.



We stop and have a cappuccino at the coffee shop where Antonija and Mirjana have found employment.

The two girls are thrilled and looking great. Seven days a week, 8 hrs/day; Each girl gets 400 KM ($300) a month plus medical insurance.

Antonija calls home and asks Mama if she has any veggies to sell to us; we will be there shortly.We have arrived and three of the sisters are at home. Silvia has an injured arm!
The new greenhouse is just loaded with veggies; we buy some ripe ones.
We each carry a bag of veggies and stuff to Jagoda; she is sweeping the yard and setting aside twigs for winter heating.
We have food and stuff to pass on to Janja, Teresa and Niki.Mary takes a snapshot of Joseph, Teresa and Bob sitting under the shade of the grape arbor.


My name is Amela.
I am six years old as of July 5th.
Today is July 1, 2013.
This is my first day at school.
Welcome and thank you all who made this possible!
Gospodja Mary is looking over my cousin Dean’s homework and looks kind of pleased!I meet my new teacher, Teta Tanja.
Morning school has now started; I think it will be from 7 am to 10 am 5 days a week!All us kids are excited!

And 6 of us kids will be attending!

We meet up this morning with Dijana and family in front of the church. The father, Zeljko is now in the psychiatric hospital in Mostar with a nervous breakdown; he has been further diagnosed there with diabetes, prostate, incontinence and high blood pressure. He had been set upon by a group of 10 who beat him quite severely.
A walk is taken to a nearby restaurant where 4 pizzas are ordered (and mostly consumed).What should they do? What could we do?

Joseph helps bring a little cheer to Dijana and her family.

Remember me; Amela? This is Friday and Gospodja Mary is here to see how I am doing in the Summer School. She will be so proud of me.(Amela has been so shy and reluctant to talk; now she is just bursting and has shown us how she has mastered A, B and C and also 1, 2 and 3!!!)
It’s towards the end of the school class; everyone gets a turn at reading and we are impressed (mostly).The kids are happy; the teacher is happy.

The weather has been beautiful.

Communing with nature. We turn around on the bench and spot a couple hundred sheep and goats making their way into the ravine.
The end of class day. The mothers and kids pitch in and fold up the benches and table.
They carry them home each day for safe keeping.Great.
And then we go to the camp and unload the items we have brought.Mothers ask whether we know how to cut hair? We say ‘no’ but we are thinking there are two families we interact with; one mama is a hairdresser and there is one girl who has graduated from hairdressing school.
Project Kamperi!Sabahudin has his new (used) home; six more to go!

We have scaled back our first hopes; that we would base the size of the trailer on the size of the family. Now we think that the families would be happy even if it is only a little bigger than the first trailer. Still we must figure around 30,000 KM ($24,000) for all together.


Click to viewClick to view Click to view Click to view Click to view Click to view

to go!