2013 October

Dijana has phoned us; we arrange a meet near Capjlina with her and Blazenko.The money given last month is all gone; the daughter, Zeljana, is in a Mostar school but only after a series of disappointments and expenses.

We have some funds set aside (from a specific donation) for this family and we pass that on plus something extra for food shopping.

Hey, it’s catching; Slobodanka, (at the Capjlina gypsy dump) has a crate of fruit and cabbage to donate to us “for the poor people”. The poor sharing with the poor!
We are invited into the home and we marvel that it is spotless. Slobodanka tells us “just because I live in a dump does not mean that I have to be dirty”.

We think that Tom, (a pilgrim from Canada) is probably thinking about ‘downsizing’ once he returns to his home in Canada.

Slobodanka shares a photo of her 1 & 1/2 year old grand daughter (who lives elsewhere). This home is shared with her brother who is recovering from a lung operation.
A neighbor shows up and we share with him also (and we listen to his story).
We arrive at the camp near Stolac and are greeted with big smiles.
Gabriela has just injured her hand a bit; it’s bleeding. So the hand is washed, Mary applies antiseptic cream to the spot and produces a band aid. YEH!We leave the tube with Gabriela.
Food has been brought so Tom, Joseph, Mary & Bob line it up on the tables.
Amela gives us a big smile from the truck; we have arranged for Kemo to drive to a produce stand a short bit away from the camp and there we pay for 8 bags of potatoes.Kemo will take it back to the camp in his truck. A win win.
Teresa in Stolac had phoned to see if we are back and tells us that she has made a good deal for some firewood.Joseph has gathered funds for Janja, Teresa and Niki’s firewood so we head for that house.

We stop at the store and pick up food and stuff because we cannot come empty handed.

Janja has a bad cold so we will not stay too long.
But we are asked to stay long enough to have the tall guy (Tom) reach up to harvest the grapes.Delicious. Then we are given 2 bags of grapes for the poor people.


Sunday, Oct. 6: we arrive at the English Mass to note that there is an ethnic celebration starting up. Singing, dancing, we miss most of it.
Sunday afternoon: Joseph picks up the children of our driver. The parents have gone to Zagreb to visit with their married daughter and her husband.The store is called ‘BINGO’ and it has a restaurant attached to it which, we are told, has the best pizza around Medjugorje!

An inexpensive fun afternoon.

Luka demonstrates the local custom of catsup and mayonnaise added to the pizza.
Jelka, Ivan, Mario and Niki pose for a picture; we are here today to buy some cabbage, broccoli, spinach and other greens.
Joseph and Mary look over an advertised trailer; who is it suitable for?
Hey, it is suitable for Bisera and Dejan!!We arrange for the purchase and delivery from Mostar to Stolac; Mary calls the camp to alert them to the delivery; we meet the sellers at a gas station just up the street from the camp; pay the bill and receive the papers; then we head a few miles to the camp.
Bisera says “I never expected to have anything like this in all my life”!
Bisera and the others learn how to open the windows and everything.
“my life is full”.
That is that (To je to).We have brought food for everyone; we get help for the unloading.
Well, help from almost everyone.
Mirisad and Malena need a better place to live; now that Sabahudin has his own ‘pad’ and can move in with his sister, Mediha, when the weather turns colder; so there is an empty house!!Various pieces of doors and flooring are placed over the stony floor and voila!
An exterior door has been found and will be installed by Mirisad.
Oct. 12; we meet up with George and Ruth; he is a doctor, she is a teacher!We are so very excited! We pray that they will return soon to Medjugorje.
Hey, another camper is located; this one a bit above Mostar.
We are blessed again with a group of pilgrims; Matt and Kathy (two on the left) we met in 2009 when they came to Medjugorje. Now they are back along with Kathy’s sister (Anne) and her 3 children.Stephen (a family friend & the tallest) is going to study ‘Comparative Religion’.
Shoe me! The group has again brought shoes!! and other desirables!!
Stephen and Bob are kind of deep in discussion about stuff that happens here in Medjugorje!
Anne (sister of Kathy) and we are comparing notes as to when we all first visited Medjugorje.Anne came in 2004 and her tour leader was Helen Sarcevic.

We need to check and see whether we were in that same pilgrim group!

Mary and Matt do the toasting. Maybe it is to his brother, Gabe, who has sent a contribution with the family.
Kathy and Joseph have a side chat.
O37]Joseph is guiding the movement of the new purchase; this will be for Zorica, husband Sevki and their 6 kids.
Everyone step back; Bisera will be doing the pushing!
Pasionka and son, Ezel, watch and wait hoping, maybe, for their turn to have a trailer.
Zorica seems thrilled!
and does a pose for a picture in her new home.
We got it!
We go to visit Sabahudin’s house construction which is now to be turned over to his brother and family.They have found or have been given a sofa and are thrilled with it; that is the first (and maybe only) furniture to be moved in!
Bisera would like to have a private conversation.
Bisera has a knack for decorating.
Mediha and Fadila hard at work.
Pasionka and Safet’s new baby girl, Azi, is doing just fine….
but they did have a scare with the middle child who had to be rushed to the hospital earlier in the week.
Mary is checking up on the school books and on the school work.
We are dreaming again! OSCE has been meeting with the Mayor in Stolac to have him approve a land gift to this group of Roma. Legally he has to make it happen but feet are dragging.Once the land is designated then the Swiss Caritas (something like our Red Cross) may build some units.

Units were built in Mostar but that took 7 years and the construction did not give room for expansion or gardens or etc.

We are going to ask for individual houses but who will listen?

Did we ever tell you about our nephew, Jimmy Ryan?He has just finished the walk of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago in the northern Spanish countryside). Jimmy hiked the 810 kilometers in 28 days!

Pilgrims have been trekking this route for over a thousand years!



Safet & Pasionka have been funded for a car; it does not seem to be as good a value as we had hoped for; it already needs to go into the shop!
We guys all kind of put our hands in our pockets and just shrug.
A stop is made at the local farmers market.We head for a particular stall which is owned by a mother whom Janet befriended years ago; we try to carry on that assistance.

The young son is suffering from diabetes.

Mom says “first tell me all about my Janet”.


Dresses and socks and sweaters are bought for the two ladies in Vitina.
Dijana has been hired to visit the sisters one day a week, Dragica’s daughters will do the same.Dijana has had nursing aid experience for this same population.
A chat is held with Ilka; two men have been around asking questions of them and the sisters are afraid someone is after their land and their house; where will they live?The two men are probably census takers which is going on in Bosnia now but we will check with the new pastor.
Unmentionables have been included!The perfect gift!

We have not seen the sisters for 3 or 4 months (before our trip to the States) and they thought that we had abandoned them!


A joyful reunion!
We call for Anica and, finally, a response is heard
A fresh can of Gold Bond Medicated Powder has been brought; the socks are off; the feet are treated soothingly. Anica and Ilka will be getting a ‘make-over’!
Joseph checks the wood pile; Dijana has taken responsibility for chopping wood into smaller kindling just the size the sisters have been asking for.


Joseph had, a while ago, organized a crew again and brought them out to cut wood, to collect the trash, to cut the grass and weeds, to fix the leaking water faucet; what a guy!
Trailer #4 is on the road; we complete the transaction just up the road from the camp.
We arrive at the camp; Pasionka is sweeping the ground just outside her entrance.
This camper will be for Mediha.
Mediha gets a tour and instructions of the trailer’s features.
Mediha sits on a cushioned bench at her own table in her own home!We have never seen a smile like this one.
Fabric has been bought for Fadila to make some colorful new skirts; we are anxious to see the results!


One of Kemo’s neighbors has given him pomegranates to give to his visiting friends.
Mary gets to have a comfortable table to lay out the kids school work and to read the comments from the teachers.
Rafajel reads from his book…..
while Tata looks on admiringly!
Gabriela is ready just in case she is called on, and she will be.
And Amela wants everyone to see what she can do; she is amazing.
Darned if they do not look studious.
Next trailer stop; Bisera and son, Dean.Dean is still missing some school books and we later find that the closest source will be in Mostar on the Muslim side.

We take pictures of the books his teacher has temporarily loaned him.


Mary is reviewing Dean’s books and school progress. The teacher has loaned some books but, unfortunately, the answers have been written in by previous users. Maybe sometimes right, maybe sometimes wrong.
Bisera’s decorating talent shows in the bedroom.
Allison takes over the job of running interference and distancing some of the kids from the trailer where Dean is the current star pupil.
We (Joseph, Allison, Mary and I) go into Stolac to have a coffee and a chat with Sanel. Funds had been left for school lunches for the 5 kids; 4 are on the Croat side; 1 is on the (Bosniak) side. The credit has been exhausted prematurely.
We head for the lunch counter where funds had been left; we find that one of the kids has gone for lunch again and again.We meet the cook!
Sister Aloysius has popped in for a takeout; we exchange greetings.We have to re-think the lunch strategy.
We have a gift for the Orchid Humanitarian group and we find a lot of re-decorating has been happening. The stairway is covered with photos of those who help them and those that they help.Allison explores the stairway photos; Allison has arrived earlier than her group and is helping us organize our clothing stacks in the garage; a job which takes us a week is done in one day!!!
And who do we catch sight of on the wall? Zorica!
On a tree lined boulevard in Mostar sits a re-habbed bombed out building
This is now a dental clinic!We are here to meet the staff and to pick up a price list.
Our first visit and it is impressive! We have ventured into Dentistry gifting and some of the kids (who require dental work) will be examined here. We don’t have resources for everyone but we can do something.Six children are now being assisted with two of the kids needing braces.

This is the place for that.

Subsequently we meet the owner and chief orthodontist, Gordan Jurisic.A tour is offered and accepted; fabulous!
Maja is assured that it will not hurt us a bit.
Allison’s mom has made us scarves; they are soft, they are luxurious, they are wonderful!We are holding on to these.
Today we head for the Beljo residence. Mrs. Beljo is the lady who had triplets; two of whom will always be dependent on the family or on social handouts.We stop and shop and take a trunk load of groceries. Mrs. Beljo always insists on us going to the garden while she picks treats for us.
We have gotten a deal on over ripe bananas at the grocery store. We have some other grocery items and so make a stop at the camp at Domanovici.

No one in sight for a bit but then we spot a face watching our arrival. The families were hesitant to make their appearance in case it was a visit by Social Services.


Maybe they worry about being moved back to the village dump area; maybe they worry because none of the kids are enrolled in school.

The two brothers are not here; they have gone off to attend a Roma meeting; a good thing.

Darija asks for firewood and some kind of a stove; winter is coming and there is no heat and nothing to cook or bake in.



A commode is spotted behind the house; how ingenious! It seems to be cemented on top of the unused abandoned cistern. Maybe walls will be erected around it?
Another example of ‘make do’! 5 liter jugs are grouped so as to catch the sun’s rays; a wonderful way to have warm (sometimes even hot) water!
The bananas are a big hit and each kid manages to wolf down at least three.
We make the food delivery and visit with the second family in the building; they have one of the better spots (or have made it into a better spot).

This lady, Tila, is the sister of Marko and both do sketching.

Tila had shown us some of their hand drawn sketches before and we have been pondering as to how to forge that natural talent into an income for them.
Later we talk among ourselves and decide that they should have an electric room heater and an electric fry pan (deep enough to make goulash etc.). They are not being charged for electricity and no one would have to worry about hooking up a stove to, possibly, a non functioning chimney.


On the way back to Medjugorje we pause when we catch sight of a few donkeys. Allison wants to take pictures.Don’t get too close Allison!
Run Allison, run!
A stop is made at the larger Farmers Market in Caplina. Joseph is looking for good firewood at a good price.
The firewood is needed for the camp in Stolac; we remember that Sergio collects his own firewood in the forests but may have knowledge of a good wood supplier. He does.It is Saturday & we are grocery shopping in Caplina and Sergio joins us (we get to take a picture of him in his newly acquired auto). He phones the supplier and we make a deal.

8 or so meters of wood will be delivered to the camp on Monday!

Joseph and Allison are loading the carts; Mary is at the meat and cheese and bread counters; Bob is probably over in the cookie section.
The 4 wheels of the carts here in Europe all swivel so one can move easily to the left or right!
The store sends a vehicle to carry the heavier stuff. Tables are set up for the ‘grocery bar’. Dijana (in the red top) has come with us and (we are hoping) may agree to come to the camp to help the kids to be great in their school work.
All is ready; now we share.
We ‘take over’ Zorica’s trailer home! Dijana is tutoring in the kitchen area; Mary is tutoring Amela in the hallway and Allison is tutoring English in the further room.All is peace.
A little later Allison has the attention of Gabriel and Gabriela for the English session.
And there is a big wonderful surprise for the camp to share with us!!The ‘doers’ at the offices of OSCE in Mostar had told us earlier that they had put in a request for assistance through the OSCE offices in Sarajevo.

It has happened!

Here Zevki poses with their new set of good pots along with a new wood stove and 16 blankets!!!


Zorica shows us one of the 16 fleece blankets and their new tarpaulin!The gift is from the ‘United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’.

Four sets of these items were delivered to this camp; oh,oh, they forgot Bisera.

But OSCE has said they will try to obtain a set for her.

Family life can be beautiful.
Behara and aunt Bisera. Bisera (Dean’s mom) shares a triumph with Mary! Bisera has gone to the principal in Dean’s side of the school to complain that the other kids received their books but Dean; nothing!So impressive that the principal went to the locker and got a new set of books for Dean (all except the English)!


Mary and Allison had shopped for these books in Caplina only to be told they had to find them in the Muslim section of Mostar. That trip was on the schedule for the coming Tuesday.

Behara (daughter of Malena) just loves the new trailer homes and asks Mary “will you get me a home just like this?”.
Diana wants the new job! The kids want Diana! Diana plans to bring her kids along to increase the pursuit for knowledge.
Father Kevin’s homily this Sunday was on the prodigal son; this painting was displayed to reinforce the message. Stephen (in charge of the music) is just carrying it for Father and is not the subject of anyone in the painting.
Father Michael is back in Medjugorje again; Father has a parish in India. Father tells us the he has written to us several times, but we do not get snail mail and we encourage him to send e-mail.
And Mona is back! Mona leads a group from, mostly, the London area. We hear that this is her 101st pilgrimage to Medjugorje!
Monday Oct. 28 has arrived and we are at the camp to look over the delivery of firewood (Sergio has also come).We are pleased and order a second load for the following Monday.


Three big piles are dropped and it is only a few minutes before the women take over the distribution.
This one is on Joseph but where is he? He is holding hands with the kids and dancing in a circle to the tune of ‘Ring around the Rosie’.We love the part where “they all fall down”.
And we have a new face in the camp! It is the father of Sevki (husband of Zorica); father has recently arrived from Italy. We hear that the wife and wheel chair bound daughter will also be coming.We hope they have Italian pension/s which could come with them.
A stop is made at the family of Vidan and Slavica and their 9 children; this photo was taken a few months ago but it is such a good shot.
Another day: A trip is made to Mostar to check in at the Immigration office, to pick up papers from a court approved translator and to make a trip to Holy Family and meet with Sister Krunoslava.Sandy and Mike (Florida) are still doing so much good and charitable work here; they have brought two wheel chairs for the twin boys here and another aspirating device.

Big, big investments. Thank you and may God Bless you all!

The craft room is visited and it is busy, busy. Unique items are offered for sale.
It is not the elves who are working hard; it’s the children who are able to, can & do participate in making the different objects; the workers can thus earn a nominal amount every month.
And haven’t you always wanted a couple of bird houses!
Love and empathy can be seen in every corner of this building!!
The kitchen staff may have to prepare for 60 or more lunches for the children who come in for the day and even more for the full time residents.
A discussion about the electric dishwasher; there were two; one has failed completely; the other is gasping.
A visit is made to the second floor where the year round patients are living; smiles are given; prayers are offered; we realize how blessed we are.
Smilja (the head nurse) lovingly tends to the bed ridden.
Then it is just a short walk to the main Franciscan Mostar church. We go for information to the parish office; the ceiling murals there are so striking!
This is the bronze entrance to the side chapel.
The main church entrance is closed for “lunch break” but one of the friars is recognized as a guide who has previously shown us the archives at the lower level.Pilgrim groups are welcomed to book Holy Mass in the chapel area and can certainly arrange for church tours.
Bob has been left at home to wait for a phone call; a stop has happened at one of our favorite restaurants; we have a good meal and a good conversation.
Today a visit must be made to a couple of families; never go empty handed so a stop is mad at the grocery store and meat, cheese, etc. is selected.First stop is to Jelka’s. It is such a treat to see the new greenhouse. Jelka and family have scrounged the neighborhoods and managed to erect a structure. We had found funds a while ago for the plastic sheeting but never expected it would be as nice or as big as this!
Allison, Ivan and his wife, Jelka, can be so very proud of their accomplishment.
Not too often that we see a smile out of Ivan; Allison seems to have gotten to him.
It’s Thursday, the end of October and we finally meet up with Carmencita.Janet has emailed us about the meet; they have been friends for years.

Carmencita has brought us a bag of badly needed socks and a nice contribution for our ministry! Thank you for remembering God’s poor in this area.

And one of our favorite groups are here from Canada,Edgar (one of our long time pilgrims) has remembered us with an “envelope”, Christie has brought hand made rosaries from her husband Bob. Raymond has also brought rosaries made by Jeanette which we will receive this Sunday! These will be shared with priest friends from poor countries. Thank you all!


4 trailers have been delivered! 

2 more trailers to find, pay for and deliver!