2013 the day before Christmas

Joseph, Bob and Jim; Mary is taking the picture. We are here waiting in front of ‘Charley’s’ shop for a shipment of roasted lamb and roasted pork!We worry: will it fit in the car?

Will it be cut up?

What will we do with the unmentionables if we get those?


It has arrived! Jim tells us “don’t worry about a thing.” But Jim worries:

“will it be enough?;

will Mary do her magic?”


It’s beautiful!Two boxes of roasted lamb and one box of roasted pork; the ‘unmentionables’ are bagged and are suitable for boiling!

We worry; who will want those?


We just kind of smugly smile; we look at the goodies and then we stand around and stare for a while.
And then Mary interrupts; hands the camera to Joseph and she gets into the picture!
We head for the Village of Stolac; our first stop will be at Janja’s.The two adult children have multiple sclerosis; mama has had a stroke.

No one there can now knead dough or actually cook.

Mary has gone into Janja’s house, discusses the gift from Pilgrim Jim and returns to the car ‘teary eyed’. We ask about it later: Teresa had rushed to greet Mary with such enthusiasm; 16 kisses on each cheek!Teresa has told Mary “we were hoping you would come; you always light up my heart”
Schecky, a Muslim friend of this family, and his wife are busy in the kitchen helping their neighbor; frying the traditional fish and making the fasting meal for Janja, Teresa and Niki!Extra lamb is parceled out for those givers to take to their home.
Next we drive to the Romani gypsy camp; 24 members here of an extended family.Mary has called Kemo, the grandfather, to alert him to our upcoming visit.
We have brought along some Catholic Croatian magazines and those are passed out.
The children have cards and letters for us and for pilgrims who have visited them along with us. We ooh and ahh and are so touched.
The families are told about the pilgrims who have made this trip and the gifts we are passing to them possible.Prayers are said and more are promised.
Fresh bread is always brought as well as something to go along with it.But today is to be so special!
Today that something is wonderful roasted lamb and roasted pork served individually to each of the children and adults in an aluminum ‘take home’ dish!Wonderful!

Hvala Bogu!

Hvala Jim!

An important bonus! Some new friends who work in the store where we have started to buy the warm winter boots have donated clothes!!We pass them on and we highlight a couple of the girls’ jackets!!

First up is Behara!

Very shy, very quiet, very sweet.
It does fit and all of us pause to admire.
Mary, Mary, can you tell them thank you, thank you and tell them that Behara says thank you.
And we have something else from our new friends!“What is that in the bag?

Can I touch it?

Is it for me?

“I love my new animal.I just love my presents”.
And more!We have been given a jacket which we think will fit Adla, daughter of Pasionka and Safet.
We always work hard to get any response from Adla.
“Adla, what do you think?

Do you like your jacket?”

Adla nods yes.

A big, big step.

Adla and Behara are the center of attention as they model their new jackets for us!Thank you good friends.
Ok, time for the meat to be passed out!Does anyone want the head?

Yes, yes.

Does anyone want the innards?

Yes, yes.

We dish it out until this crate is empty.
Dejan gets his share.
Adla comes forward for a share.
Zorica steps forward.
Sabahudin takes his turn.
We make sure that Kemo and Fadila, the grandparents, get some beautiful pieces.
It is done! We all clap and cheer and then everyone claps and cheers! Then we ‘hams’ sing “we wish you a merry Christmas”.
We drive next to the old mental hospital area; very run down; some of the buildings have been abandoned but we are aware that an older fellow is living in one of the rooms.
We know that this building has an occupant; he or she may be at home because we spot shoes at the entrance.We call but no answer.
Mary has not brought any brooms; Joseph and Bob are kind of glad.
Stockings are hung …. will Santa find his way?No, it is treasured food being protected from the animals?
Some of the other rooms are checked out but there is no one there.
We have arrived at the right room but find no one to greet us. We spot some candles and a spot where someone might be sleeping.
There are used candles; bread and pork and lamb are wrapped and left.
Bob looks for other signs of life ..
Joseph checks out a couple more of the rooms ..
Mary checks out the ventilation in the building …
and then we go to another building on the same property; at least two families are living here. We call out and Grandmother appears.
Rabija has just returned from her work (begging) and is thrilled at the sight of the meat!
An assortment of meat is packed and handed over along with the bread.
One of the two sons is at home and joins in the distribution; he and his family live on the second floor.
Darija, the wife of Marko, and children join us but maintain a respectful distance from the mother in law. We are surprised to hear Alaxander (4 1/2 years) ask for a toothbrush and paste!
Hey, we still have an animal head; would anyone here be interested in that?Yes, yes!

And we get a request for an electric stove so that they can bake bread.

The psychiatric hospital is in a front building and these families piggyback on their electric!

The second floor family does have a hot plate.

We do leave food for the ones absent from this meeting.
Now we go to visit the two elderly sisters; Anica and Ilka.Ilka is losing her sight and Anica has lost some of her capabilities.

It is wonderful that Jane Dowd (St. Luke Home Care) is visiting and helping with the medical issues.

We explain what is being brought; neither sister has had any schooling and have been sheep herders all their working lives.They recognize and love the smell of the roasted lamb!



“this day is so blessed”
The stove is on; the pot is steaming; we take a peek but it is only water.
Ilka has a surprise to show Mary and us guys! She has decorated the outside of the house with Brsljan (green shrubbery branches tucked in just under the eaves); a very very old custom here!
It must be like our hanging up our stockings!Surely we have come in response.

Merry Christmas!

Onward. But first a stop on the road to re-organize the trunk so as to parcel meat out to the next stop, the day workers. Lamb, but not pork, will be packed to respect the Muslim belief. 15 pans are planned for because most of the fellows will have gone back North; there will be no work available here for a bit.
There is still one head to pass along; who will be the lucky family?We look and giggle and think “wipe that smile off your face”.
We are parked not too far from the home of Dijana; should we call? Surprise; we spot her car on the road and we phone to ask that she turn around.

Hvala Bogu.

Our interim stop will be at Jagoda’s.Jagoda is almost blind and not able to cook.

We have arrived at a good time;

Jagoda is outside and needs help to get back into the house without slipping.
And can we carry in some fire wood?
We can.
Oh, my.
Further up the lane is the home of Jelka and family; that hard working family always can use protein.
Joseph remembers his animal friends and finds a treat for them.
Then to the 4 corners area just outside of Medjugorje.We had alerted the fellows that we would be there; the meat is ready.

We pause at the bakery and restock bread.

Not many fellows here so they will get double portions.

We have brought the winter boots for those who we have phoned and who we knew would be here.Some fellows ask for the list & sign up.
Still meat left! We can think of three more places; first on that list is the Oasis of Peace; Father Maximillian is there with 6 or 7 others in that community.We know that they never buy meat; the garden is their main source of food.
Father Maximilian has celebrated the English Masses while Father Kevin was away in Italy. We are very grateful.
Father is called and asked if he would be interested in a lamb and pork meat package.A big yes, yes.
We meet the Sisters in residence; we admire the Nativity and the tree.
Bob manages to get a plate of sweets to take home.
Today, the 24th of December is Mary and Bob’s 9th anniversary of their move to Medjugorje.Father gives us a very special blessing!


Naturally we want to check out the kitchen and see what’s cooking.
Time to go; we say our good byes,But, as we drive away and almost out of sight…we look back and spot Father giving all of us a blessing!

A wonderful ending for our day!