2014 Jan & Feb

The third of January, 2014.Father Svet is visiting in the Village!

Just for a short time but we see that he looks more relaxed, healthier.

Hope our observations are all true.

One of the highlights in the DVD, “MOTHER OF PEACE” by Christina G. was the testimony of Artie Boyle (leftmost). He had been suffering from Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma.He and buddies are back again on a gratitude pilgrimage in thanksgiving for his miraculous cure.
1/4 The 14th birthday of Andreja; we go into Citluk to the Hotel Brotnjo; this is probably our favorite place to eat.
We have called ahead to announce the celebration. The staff surprises us with a free cake with fireworks!!No wonder we like this place!
A decision is made to document the cutting of the cakes by Iva so as to ensure that Bob gets a proper slice.
1/9 Bob accompanies others to go to the dental office in Mostar. Bob is invited into the ‘inner’ waiting room where he is served cappuccino and delicate cookies!“I don’t know why anyone would be afraid to go to the dentist!”
1/10 Friday and we decide to go to the camp and review homework before Dijana arrives on Saturday morning.
All of the kids want to show us just how good they are reading!It worries us that Dejan, who is in grade 3 is only reading at perhaps, a first grade level.
1/11 We are invited for lunch to the Mahers, Frank & Sheila! This couple has moved here recently from Andorra.

(The lifts for Bob’s shoes should have come by now.)

A lovely home; a lovely table; a lovely couple.
1/18 Jelka phones; “come see me; the baby spinach is ready for plucking; the cabbages are picked.”Oh, oh.

The family needs funds to plant the next season’s crops.

We go and do.

And we have more news! Lucia (our physical therapist) in Citluk has told us about a family now in Medjugorje; the father works in Germany; his grand mama has recently passed away and some things from her home are no longer needed.

Would we be interested?

Yes! Yes! A small electric stove, table and four chairs and a bag of mama’s clothes are available!

The clothes are perfect for the two sisters’ wardrobe (if they had a wardrobe).

We are grateful.


Tanja, Sladana and Sergio have finally had a proper roof installed on their dwelling!
They have struggled with this; Janet has struggled with this and had arranged for it to be done through “Help for the Hungry and Homeless”. Sergio kept thinking he could do this (the provided funds dwindled away) but finally it was recently contracted out.
OK, so there are no windows and no doors and no inside steps or stair well but look at the space and the potential; everyone is very happy!Darko, the contractor, had agreed to complete the job within 30 days. We will turn over the funds at satisfactory completion.


We have some food and stuff that we can take to the Camp in Domanovici. Of course Darija and baby Snjezana are quite happy we have come.
They have painted one of the rooms; how very cheerful!Alaxander may look like he is praying and we would like to think this, but he is asking for pencil and paper.

We see that the electric stove has been delivered; is looking good and we smell something baking!

Mary chats with Tila. We see that the table and 4 chairs have also been delivered and have found a good home.
1/26: Sunday afternoon and more of the fellows are back and available for day work. We have stocked up on food at the local Konzum grocery and have bagged it. Mary phones the fellows on the list who have not yet received their boots to let them know to meet us in front of Bob’s favorite bakery.

As we are passing out the food and the boots (and bread from the bakery behind us); a security guard from the Konzum area has seen the action & drives over to let us know that these people are lazy thieves.
We are to cease this and move on!! He is kindly told that he is out of his area; we are on commercial property; that he should tell his own family that they should not rent rooms out to these fellows if he is going to talk like this!
Joseph has his new rain gear on and really looks good against the bakery backdrop. This bakery has poppy seed and walnut rolls!We will go in again.
1/30 Sabahudin has phoned; asking about all our health conditions and mentioning that they are a bit hungry.We schedule a visit;
and of course we bring food.
and a pair of warm winter boots for Sabahudin and for each of the men in the camp.Thank you John and HHH.
The food is parceled out according to the size of the family.
Mediha asks for a private conversation; Mary obliges and they go off. We hear that Mediha has always been uncomfortable with the gaps surrounding her front teeth; that she has gone to a local dentist and that he can fill in those gaps for 250 KM!!

“Could we help”?

Sunday the 2nd of February and we chat outside after the Mass in the chapel.

We meet Ivan and family from Malaysia; they have been here just a couple of days. On Friday the father had a stroke and was transported to the hospital in Mostar where he has passed away.


The family will return home but Ivan will stay and arrange for the father to be transported home. Ivan has previously lived in Medjugorje for a time and has been an active tour leader.


2/5 We meet in the morning with Dijana to get some last minute information about one of the kids (Dejan) that she tutors on Saturday mornings.Dijana has high heels on and we must take the photo!
Feb. 5 We have an appointment with Dejan’s teacher ( Dejan goes to the Muslim side) in the Stolac school.Nina (the teacher) queries “you know there are two sides to this school?”

We assure Nina that we do know there is a Muslim wing and a Catholic wing.

We hear later that the teacher was so worried that we were coming to complain about something.


The principal (most speak English) comes to the meeting and introduces himself. We asked for this meet in order to understand the potential of Dejan; Dejan feels that he has had all the schooling which he needs; always saying “I will withdraw from school; I will quit the remedial tutoring”; his aunt Bisera echoes the threats. In this country one cannot obtain a driver’s license unless at least 8th grade is completed.There is a ruling (called Sejdic Finci) from the UN that Bosnia & Herzegovina is to change their Constitution so as to recognize the Romani and the Jewish as citizens and to allow their participation in the country.

That ruling is not being accepted by our politicians here.


After “school” we head for the camp; the sheep herder waves and wants us to stop and chat but we must go on.
We have to get to this welcoming group; Bob takes a picture.
Bisera (Actually the aunt and guardian of Dejan) tells Mary that what was talked about at the school meeting may be made public so that all may hear and help.A nice interaction.
On to the camp at Domanovici.The camp is on the grounds of the ‘Home for the Elderly and Disabled’; we snap a photo as we go in.


The kids are laughing because we have spotted the wash tub; Mary is complaining that the water is hot but she does not know if any of us will fit in to the tub.
Clothes and hats and shoes and food and stuff have been brought and the kids get to model some of the clothes.We have more stuff in the car!
Alaxander is loaded up and we all begin to wonder if he will fall over.
We start to take bets and keep adding on.
Ajlana is fitted for a new (well, maybe not quite) coat with a hood!
Success. Ain’t I somethin?
As we drive out we stop to check on one of the residents of the home; For a while we thought it was he who was sleeping in one of the deserted buildings here. No, it was another fellow, Mario, but he has died a few months ago.We admire the basket weaving and leave a bit of food.
We have paused at the Regina Restaurant and we spot Darko, the contractor who finished off the roof at Sergio’s.Do we have time to look at some of Sister Josephine’s projects and some of his nearby projects?


We would love to meet Sister; Darko promises to phone us when Sister is in the Village.

We are impressed! We are invited in by a few of the residents and we gladly accept.Darko also builds individual homes and we think this would be so great for the Romani in Stolac!

We will email OSCE; the wonderful ‘pushers’ for that project.

Some house plans are printed for us.

Ginger and Ralph join us for a chat over lunch at Columbos’.
Woof and Ann are also here.
We all get together.
A periodic visit is made to Joseph’s family (referred to him by Father Rajko) years ago. The family has grown very dependent on outside help; not our most pleasant place to stop and give.
Food, cash, clothes, shoes and stuff are brought.We all wonder at the lack of smiles in this family, the lack of responses.

We will keep trying.

Father Kevin has ‘gone it alone’ for 45 days; all of a sudden we have Father Terry, Father Ed and Deacon Bill on board!Yeah!
Deacon Bill favors us with a homily.
Mary goes along with Sister Muriel to Siroki Brijeg; a meet has been arranged with one of the local Franciscans, Fra Zeljko Barbaric.Six foot five, English speaking, full of energy; goal is to have a Catholic School in the area!

Who ever heard such a thing? In Bosnia?

Fra Zeljko also has a goal of travelling to Boston!

A thirst for learning; we will put Father on our ‘wheat list’.

Mary exclaims; does God have a place for you!
Have either of you been to Fra Jozo’s creation that is now so under used?
No, we have not.Mary says “I am going to give you a tour”!

Let’s go.

We snoop around a little bit on the outside and marvel at the beautiful artwork.
And a resident is found to guide the tour!
We marvel at the grandeur; at the unused potential; at the millions which this must have cost in donations.


We stop for a prayer at our blessed Mother of Peace.
We ooh and aah at the inlaid floor; artisans were sent over from Italy to do this area.
And the Chapel with its inlaid floor!Wow!
The auditorium with the stage which can be lowered and raised!There are still, in residence, 25 or so young ladies, some of whom travel to Mostar for their education.

Wouldn’t it be great if a college e.g. Franciscan University of Steubenville could partner in this facility; this university already has satellite campuses; one in Austria; one in Louisiana; maybe more.

Fra Zeljko would not need the whole space for his beautiful project.

Fra Stanko and Slavenka (one of our very favorite tour guides) are all set for Father to give an English speaking group a talk; we look forward to this.Enjoyable; we are grateful along with the group.
Gerard is chatting with Father Ed.
Nancy, wife of Gerard, stops for a minute.
We guys must be in training for something but we do hope it is not to be professional grocery shoppers.
The ‘guys’ (day workers) are gathering under the roof (raining a bit so few jobs available). We have told them we are shopping for food.

They are very interested.

And we have pants, jeans and jackets!
Back at the camp in Stolac; Pasionka is out with the baby girl.
We get a close up of Azi.
“Stepping out with my baby”.Amela is modeling an outfit for us!
A group picture is called for.
The stove is burning; the clothes are all hung out; the windows have curtains; food has arrived!
The tables have been set up; the car is unloaded; Empty bags are passed out to be filled; we all take our places!
Let’s see; 96 bags of pasta divided by ?? is ??.The kids rush to do the counting.
Gabriela wants to teach Mary a dance she has learned for school; we enjoyed taking a little movie of this; Bob wants to know when he should call 911.Oh, there is no answer.
And we have saved some groceries for the two families at Domanovici.Everyone is sick; most have a fever; we are sure it is not from overeating.
We (Mary) chat more in depth with Marko. The families are quizzed as to whether they have medical cards. No.Do they have Bosnian ID cards?

Marko explains; he has strived for 6 years putting together documentation for the local government offices.

Lord, lead us today to someone who needs you.

Marko brings out his portfolio; we recognize many of the papers and offices and procedures which we have had to go through to get our residence cards. Marko and Co. are already registered as a Romani Association and has been trying to be registered as an NGO (or something similar).

If he could do this then he could hire others to enable them to get residency and health cards.

We are all fascinated that he could get this far! What would be the next step?

An extension has been granted by the local government office to the end of February, 2014 for the papers to be turned in otherwise they will all have to be repeated.

Funds are needed.

We arrange to meet at the government office the following week.

Every so often it seems that we find the “wheat among the chaff”; something in someone just stands out. It could be unusual honesty, unusual intelligence, unusual determination, unusual potential.
We have the feeling that this life or these lives can be ‘turned around’ or, by giving a needed help, that a self sustaining path can be found.
It is Monday and we call Marko to make arrangements.“Can it be true; can something really be done; I have not slept” says Marko.

We arrange to meet on Tuesday.

Marko has a cell phone found in a dumpster; Marko restored it to health.

On our way out of the area we stop and chat with this craftsman; we have a few treats to leave and we ask for the price of the basket.20 KM ($15).

OK; we buy it.

A picture is asked for with the basket; we will have this printed for him.
Pilgrims from New Jersey, Connecticut and North Carolina. First time here.We are thinking we probably could have sold 7 of those baskets.

A fun group.


Everybody wants to get into the picture. Recognize anyone?If you click on the picture you will see a bigger image.
The 25th: a wonderful day, a big day, a special day to finally meet Sister Josephine of Ireland.We have always heard of Sister Josephine; we have seen and admired her projects; her building of houses for the poor and the displaced. That charity is called “Housing Aid Bosnia”.

Darko. the contractor, has called; we have talked with Sister and we will meet this morning at Columbo’s!


Father Joe is part of the team with Sister Josephine
as well as cousin Marian.A wonderful conversation; they have been active here for over 25 years; one might say they ‘wrote the book’!

We could learn so very much.

Later in the morning we make the meet with Marko.We make the rounds of the different offices required and we hear compliments about Marko from the government staff.

We pay the required fees.

Marko along with mother, brother and sister came to Bosnia from Germany around 1997 having been promised housing here.

Marko had 8 years of schooling in Germany plus 2 years of vocational education.
A sharp guy.

Oh, oh. A roadblock (but we expect some).This will be a farming oriented project. A friend who has promised the use of his land finds he does not really have the needed official land papers.So we go to Plan B; another friend of Marko’s will lease him the land by the year; the land has already been planted; both will benefit from the harvesting.

We pay for the lease and submit documentation to the government office.

Come back Monday. OK.

Marko speaks German and Croatian, Italian and some English!

He is a ‘fixer’ of things mechanical and some electronics!

We love do’ers.

We have a lap top computer which we pass on to Marko; an English keyboard but Croatian utilities have been installed.

Perfect for Marko’s applying for grants!!




Before we leave this town of Capljina we stop at the local nursery; we fill up the trunk with new shrubs and pesticides for the old ones.
oh, oh. This is reminding Mary of Naples, Florida.Wednesday, the 5th of March, we will travel to a nearby village to examine a camper trailer offered for sale.