2013 November

Nov 3: We ‘socialize’ on Sunday with friends; Irene, Mike and Pamela.
Nov. 4: ok enough of the ‘partying’; today is a work day.Alicia and Allison are sorting again in the garages.
Danjela and Jelka arrive; they are delivering some bags of home grown cabbage; we will be passing it on to a couple of the Romani camps.Danjela is happy to announce that her 2nd baby in on the way!
Tuesday: we get invited to go to Mostar with a group from the States; Father Bill Kiel is scheduled to celebrate Holy Mass at the Franciscan main church.Father will be celebrating a “Healing Mass”; we are excited and grateful to be included.
On the way to Mostar everyone prays the Holy Rosary then Ana (the tour guide) gets to say a few words; then Mary gets to say a few more words and then Bob gets to say a few!We have almost arrived!

There are some beautiful boulevards in Mostar and this is one of them.

Bob and Loretta share a few words (and a hug).
This Franciscan church, as so many churches here, was bombed out during the war in the 1990s; this chapel has been recently rehabbed!
The first reader! 
Nancy gets to do some of the Readings.
Father Bill celebrates Mass in the Chapel as expected; a beautiful celebration; we feel so fortunate to be present at this Healing Mass.
After the Mass we had been scheduled to do a quick tour of the Mostar Bridge and the bazaar on the ‘other side’.But we are short on time.

We are scheduled to go to the Holy Family and to the adjoining Nazareth House.

The group has put together fancy make up bags for the 11 nurses and aides (AND FILLED THEM).

The nurses loved them … thank you!

We all meet with Sister Krunoslava and staff at Holy Family.These two facilities are under the umbrella of Caritas (similar to Red Cross) and directed by the Bishop of Mostar.

The two buildings house permanent residents who are physically / mentally handicapped as well as a large number of unfortunates who come during the day.

Then we head for the Arts and Craft area; always so inspiring and thought provoking. What can we think of or supply that will add more unique products to their shelves!The workers here actually receive a paycheck at the end of the month, not much but probably the only paychecks they have ever received!
Hey there is a line up, a queue, at the cashier. Sister Krunoslava tells us later that this group was so very generous and so caring.
Bob is called on to do some on the spot conversions from dollars to Bosnian Marks.Carol Ann waits for the good news.
Cecilia and Father Bill pray for one of the twins who is currently wearing the vest for his medical treatment.
Nurses, nurses, we are loaded with nurses! 

There is Cecilia and Loretta and Smilja (the head nurse at Holy Family) and Peggy!

And look who is rolling in; back from school; announcing that he has gotten 5s’ again; the highest mark for school kids here.A custom made back and side support is needed for this resident; he is growing out of his current harness.
We all migrate to the common room and meet up with more of the permanent residents.Sister K. is great at optimism!

We also meet with a lady who has been ‘salvaged’ from under a local bridge by Sister K. and a couple staff. The lady’s feet appeared to be gangrenous and local doctors recommended amputation of at least one. That lady has been brought back to health!

Darn! They will be leaving us. Maybe we will see you again next year?
Sometimes for one reason or another, your(?) donated clothes may be washed and then dried on our balcony!

Thank you for this opportunity!

This group gathers in the choir box for the Thursday Mass at St. James Church.
Jacintha, mom and dad have been starring in the music box for a short bit; now it is time to go home to Canada.
Father Bill and Father Kevin are going to Columbo’s for coffee.
We are going to Stolac. We make an initial stop to tell the group that firewood will not be delivered today as the seller had promised; but soon. We have brought a trunk load of bags of cabbages; the families will preserve it for the winter.

Then we head for the shop just down the street; we need 7 large plastic barrels (one for each of the households here) to preserve the cabbage for the winter. Done.

We chat with the owner who tells us that individuals from that camp frequently come to the store; “they are a fine respectful bunch”.We ask about a generator which could furnish power for lights and maybe for a TV?

We order it; it will go to Kemo (in lieu of a camper).

Gabriela agrees to teach all of the kids in the camp math addition! The flash cards are passed on to her; when every kid “passes” then we start on math subtraction.Gabriela is eager.
Huge slabs of concrete have been dumped nearby; the men are pounding the slabs in order to reach the iron rods buried in them.The men (as well as the women) will work at just about anything in order to earn a few pennies.


Then into Stolac itself to leave funds with the sandwich shop for the kids school time lunches. Done.
11/8 Off to Mostar! Sister Olga in the Arts and Craft room had asked for decorative and frilly items; we had a bunch.Delivered.
We take pictures of some of the labels on wheelchairs which are needing to be replaced. There is also a problem with the forced air mattresses which were bought two years ago for the new beds. The air pockets are leaking and collapsing; on some the air compressor is too noisy and the residents cannot sleep soundly.
11/9 We have an 11 AM appointment with Father Rajko in Stolac.We made it! Joseph gets a cup of corn from Father and goes to celebrate with the deer!
Sister Slava is baking bread and making espressos for our little group; thank you Sister.
Father Rajko has helped author a book about the history of his parish; of course it is in Croatian but surprise!! he has it also in English!What a guy!
Father asks “would you all like to visit my church?”.Yes, Yes.

This is our first time.


One of the beautiful altars.The main altar, a gift of Herzegovina Americans was built in 1910.
We get the best seats in the church and Father gives us a beautiful special blessing of St. Elijah the Prophet (the patron saint of this church)!
We admire the rest of the church and then we go to the hall and then to the parish museum. This used to be the schoolhouse!
First items we spot are the ethnic costumed man and woman!Maybe we can copy these in a smaller version for a Romani couple (adults or kids) to increase their ‘take’ from the tourists who visit the gravestones next to the camp?

Any sewing volunteers?

Joseph and Mike are having a chat about something; they might be considering borrowing that 2 man saw just beyond them; we all have been looking for that item to enable the Romani men (or probably the women) to cut up some heavy logs.
Irene and Mike discover the Lourdes replica!Beautiful!
Heading for the camp. Dijena and daughter, Zeljana, have been there for a few hours already. Irene pitches in to tutor English.Some Saturdays Dijena also brings son, Ivan, to help.

The kids now get a lot of personal individual attention.

Today seems to be Cabbage Delivery Day; bags of it are delivered to Joseph’s family; mama, Slavica, handles the wheelbarrow. 
The promised heater and the electric fry pan are delivered to the Romani family ‘camping out’ at the Dumanovici Psychiatric Hospital grounds.OSCE of Mostar has been working with this group and with their local Mayor to try to obtain land and housing.
Cabbages and other food stuff are also accepted with smiles. Marko may look pretty rough in this picture but we have seen the ‘other’ side of him (and his brother) as they ‘clean up’ and attend meetings with the politicians.

A lady from the OSCE (an international organization to help developing countries) in Mostar called us the other morning to see if we are in frequent contact with this group of the Romas and to see if we could continue to help. OSCE tells us that they are hoping to firm it up with one of the European countries to get this group land and housing not this winter but before the next!

11/11: The second load of firewood is finally delivered (the 4th promised date) to the Romani group in Stolac. We were happy to hear that OSCE of Mostar had also delivered firewood for these families; there is probably not enough for the whole winter but what a feeling to know that that worry is taken care of for a time!
It’s now the rainy season; we snap a photo of Mediha (and nieces and nephews) near her camper happily watching the action.Everyone (except Dejan) needs rain boots! Bisera (Dejan’s mom) says his boots are still good from last year.
Mediha invites us to take a peek at how she has decorated her camper!Neat!


Mary teases her that now that she has a ‘dowry’ perhaps there will be a husband?”Maybe”.


And then to Gordon’s family; only mom (Drazena) and the youngest (Luka) are at home; always a good sign.This family has become almost self sufficient; the Mayor of Stolac had promised some building supplies but that was over a year ago.
New sign boards have been installed around the perimeter of St. James Church.
A number of languages are offered.
A heavy suitcase and an accompanying bag is delivered for the Feast of St. Nickolas to Joseph’s ‘family’.Joseph has merged the gifts in conjunction with his regular periodic food delivery to this family.
Mama is already at the trunk; the kids stream down to do their part in food handling.
We see that the kids have made their own ‘makeshift’ swings; the foam does not make for a good sturdy seat but the kids cope; maybe Dad will finish off this project.
Well it is Saturday and we make a visit to the Stolac camp; Dijena and daughter, Zeljana, are tutoring the children.
Some of the children must be taking art classes!We are presented with some beautiful originals!
All in the camp are worried about Grandma Fadila.A trip has been made to the doctor; the pills are being taken; it is high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Mary looks at the doctor’s report and tries to explain.


We say a prayer.Dear Blessed Mother,

Never was it known that anyone ….


The generator has arrived at the store just down the street.We go, along with Kemo and Sabahudin, to get a demonstration and to finish off the bill.


We are so very pleased to finally get pictures of David and his new custom fitted wheel chair; it arrived in time for him to be able to ‘show it off’ at his sister’s wedding.Thank you dear Ellie and Hara way over there in New Zealand!
It’s Sunday; we have gone to the noon Mass and then Eng (from Singapore but very often in Medjugorje) is treating Joseph, Mary and Bob to lunch at the restaurant!Enjoyable!

On the way home we stop at the Divine Mercy Hospice; Sister Muriel and Mary Walsh (St. Joseph the Worker) have built this facility and we want to have an up to date tour!

Mirjana, the head nurse is on duty and welcomes us.

and look who has just arrived; it is Sister! This facility has been blessed by our local Bishop; its altar has been consecrated and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament has been approved!

All is peace!

The whole team of 2 is here! Mary Walsh also arrives. Do they have a red flashing light? How can they tell when we, if ever, show up?Can’t we get away with anything?

No, it is all a happy, happy coincidence.

We go to the Chapel for the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; Sister Muriel opens the Tabernacle.
OK, back to sorting for the December rush; Bob is getting pretty good at estimating sizes and colors; Mary, of course, is better.
Remember when we were featuring a wonderful fund raiser by Maja (a local Croatian 16 year old girl); that she placed contribution boxes around Medjugorje asking for help for this Holy Family House and all the angels she had found there? 
Well, her gift to the Holy Family facility enabled Sister Krunoslava to buy 2 beds with mattresses and 4 sets of linens!Winnie the Pooh we love you! We love Maja too!


The Bosnian Minister of Health recently toured this facility along with a group of interested and dedicated government medical personnel. The love, cleanliness, caring, even the facility smell were all pointed out to be a ‘norm’, a ‘model’ which “all other facilities in BiH should aspire to and try to match”.
Remember Suvad (38) and Esma (17)? We are still in touch; Esma has delivered a baby girl; they live now in Mostar; Suvad has a job!
St. Nickolas has agreed to come early to this family; we pass on this bag of donations; wonderful gifts for the baby also.
We find another reason to celebrate: we are at the Romanza Restaurant (in the Mostar vineyards); one of our favorite places!The place is popular, the place is quite crowded. Two of the waiters get into a tiff about where we will be seated. We are ‘prized’ items!

They are cautioned; “we have come for peace and quiet”. Apologies are offered frequently during the rest of our meal!

“But lunch was supposed to be on me!You are making me really sad”.
Who wouldn’t love you?Who wouldn’t care?

Time to go see Janja, Teresa and Niki in Stolac!

“We knew you would come”, yells Teresa!

“We have been praying hard” says Janja.

Niki’s highlight of this time is having his picture taken with his good buddy, Joseph!Happy St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th)!
And we don’t leave here empty handed!The family has a bottle of fresh pressed pomegranate juice for us and also three pair of hand knitted booties.

We find homes for these gifts.

Thanksgiving Day and we plan a special meal; we will have friends join us!We receive an early morning email! It is from our friend, Sanel, in Stolac.

The email starts off with a poem:

“Not what we give,
but what we share.
For the gift
without the giver
is bare.

Happy Thanksgiving! May you and your family be blessed on Thanksgiving day and throughout the rest of the year!

Hope you are making some turkey and please send my best to the rest of the gang”.

Did we, during the month of Ramadan say to our Muslim friends ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ to show them that we acknowledge their tradition and wish them well as they observe the holy time in their calendar.
(Huffington Post)

We were neglectful.

Sabahudin has phoned us to wish us well and to, gulp, tell us that the camp is out of food and that they are hungry.Could we?
We could.Their van is used to help transport some of the food from the store in Stolac.
Our Pope Francis was also trying to remind us recently when he said “indifference to the needs of others is, indeed, immoral”. 
Abel and Gabriel are certainly glad that we have come!
We meet with Dijena this morning; it is the end of the month and it is ‘payday’ for Dijena and for two of her kids.We had arranged for Dijena to pick up cabbages and some greens from Jelka; Dijena will keep 2 bags; she will take 6 bags to the Romanis’ at Stolac and we will take 2 bags to go with food packages to the Romanis’ at Dumanovici.
We shop for groceries for the two families at Dumanovici.We divide the food between the trunk and the back seat.
Family portrait time!
Sausage, hot dogs, salami, cheese, chicken back, breasts, liver as well as ground beef are brought for the protein.
Flour, oil, shampoo, toothpaste, lots of laundry soap.The room is more than comfortable and we are so glad that we had brought the space radiator!

No oven is available for this family to bake bread but we have the info on how to bake bread and pita and pancakes in their electric fry pan!

They are loving both!

And on the second floor; mama, the other brother and family. They are also receiving a food package.
Our thoughts have been with Janja, Teresa and Niki. Last week the wood floor under their cooking stove had caught fire and thrown panic into the family. Teresa called for help to neighbors and everything turned out well…except that tile had to be purchased and installed as well as a back splash. 
Teresa reported that a 540 KM job has been done; the fellow will charge them 300 KM; they had 100 KM for him and a promise to pay before Christmas.We received an unexpected donation and were able to cover the 200 KM.

Thank you Agnes and John.

We wrap up our November visits with a trip to Gordon and family; the kids are growing more rapidly than we realized.
Camper report; 4 delivered to the camp at Stolac; 2 more to go!We reached out further North into the area of Sarajevo but snowfall has put a pause to this project.

We continue to search.

 Good news from our parish here at St. James Church in Medjugorje.The monthly magazine called Glasnik Mira is now available online!

It is in Croatian but you can still love the pictures.

And even more surprising; the parish also has the weekly parish bulletin online! 
Thank you Denis and Cathy for Mary’s TV!And Mary’s TV has added (and we hope that it will be a permanent addition) a presentation of ‘Today’s Homily’ which they are recording each morning!So many times we have wished to review or to share some of the fabulous homilies presented here in Medjugorje!