2014 March & April


3/03/2014:Wow! Funds have been donated for specific projects; the funds will not stay in our hands very long!

We bring a local carpenter to the two sisters to add a shutter to the secon window.

Anica introduces us to Bernard, he is a relative!!We never knew any relatives existed! He lives not too far away and wants to help out.

Bernard is a policeman; we are told that he and associates raise funds for food and firewood sometimes.

Mary asks “can you fix the clothesline? Can you fix a pathway so the ladies do not slip and fall?
Can you fix the gate?”

Ilka is happy that we have come; Mary listens to the stories of the aches and pains.
We and the carpenter move to the next village where remodeling is to be done.This house (Jagoda’s) needs a door and a window.
3/5:We see that a camper is being advertised for sale and is located just above Mostar!!

We phone the owner in Switzerland who gives us directions and tells us “how good condition the camper is in”.

We go look; it has been unattended for more than two years and looks like it may have become home for the different animals.

We pass.


Jelka has called; her new greenhouse is really producing and she has spinach (baby) for us along with lettuce and other greens!!

On one of our last visits we had met with a neighbor named Mario; he has a twisted foot and asked if we would have a soft shoe.We then brought a neat pair of green motif running shoes and Mario is delighted.

We spotted him on this trip while he was making a scavenging round of the neighborhood.

We find Dragica and a few of the daughters at home; we leave a photo of friends and ask that they be included in the family prayers; Dragica and family do a family rosary each evening.Powerful.
We have arranged a meet with Dijana; a donor has directed us to plan for a new roof!Dijana is busy getting quotes on materials and labor; she is the best on making every Bosnian mark count.
On our return home we head for Nancy and Patrick’s and just happen to arrive when everyone is sitting down for lunch!

Well, we guess we could.

Nancy had told us about a Ukrainian priest who is collecting Rosaries (as well as funds to print out directions) for the poor in the Ukraine who may now be praying so very very hard.
We have an accumulation of donated Rosaries which we have brought (as well as an envelope).


Nancy accepts the Rosaries but wants us to meet with the Ukrainian tour leader in Medjugorje who is doing the collecting; maybe Sunday?
And speaking of Rosaries we have mixed emotions when we hear that some of the clerks (not their faults) in the souvenir shops are spending their days in the shops (not too many pilgrims here right now) re-labeling the goods.The ‘Made in China’ labels are replaced with “Made in Medjugorje’!


3/13: Alexandra has returned from a very very long visit to the States!!Not as flattering photo as we had hoped for but the smiles are all genuine.

We are so surprised at the wonderful mobility progress; no sign of any walker!


From our balcony we spot Rasim scrounging for sellables.
A tub has been found as well as other pieces of metal; will everything fit on the bike?
Rasim will get it done.
The cottonwood tree in front of Villa Regina Hotel, near the old Columbo’s has been cut down!!
We will miss the shade; but it is even harder to use the ATM at the Unicredit Bank.We won’t miss the pollen and then the fluff put out from this tree each year. The pollen affects many with allergies and the fluff which spreads out looks like a snow storm as it collects on the ground.
Poor Marko; his dream for the last 6 years has been to initiate an NGO so as to apply for grants from the different countries.He has now done it!
The NGO path is steep with unexpected rules and charges.
Marko furnishes us with a breakdown of expenditures. Marko will apply for Roma gypsy related grants.
Ana and mama Beljo have a spring bouquet for Mary!Mama has phoned to see if we might have any seed potatoes?

And fertilizer?

A little flour?

Money to buy some?

The garden has been spaded; the rows have been made ready; all that is needed now is some fertilizer and some seed potatoes.We make the deliveries along with some flour and stuff.
Bob and Beverly.
We are so very grateful to Bev Appleberry and the group that came with Bev for the great gifts of clothes and toiletries left behind.
Father Michael D. is here again; Father and the group with him fill us with awe. Father celebrates Mass for the Deaf & Mute and we and everyone around us at the Mass just seem to hang onto his every unspoken word!Thank you Father.
Ann’s back in town!!
Barry and Ann are here for too short a time but while they are here they are ‘put to work’ in the music box.Good friends.
Joseph, Bob, Ann and Barry enjoy the really mild weather in Medjugorje.
We usually walk past Kathy and Luka’s pansion on our way home from church.Today we hear it is Luka’s birthday and Kathy has baked a cake.

We stop to wish a Happy Birthday and we manage to get a piece of wonderful birthday cake.

The name has been changed (used to be Kathy’s Kitchen) but the cake is as good as ever!

We all meet with Amanda after the St. Joseph Feast Day Mass and we will be getting some ‘baby stuff for the needy moms’!
Bridget, a pilgrim to Medjugorje shows us the wonderful gift that she has been given; her rosary has turned to a golden color!
3/20:Well, it is the 20th and people are hungry again. Sabahudin has phoned to see how we were; to say that most of the food has been eaten; that if he had only 300 Euros he could make a trip to Italy!

We stop at the farmer’s market and pick up some fruit and veggies.

Sales, youngest son of Malena and Mirisad, was not quite sure of what to do with the orange; he finally decided to just bite in and go for it.It was fun!
Zorica insists that we visit her ‘pantry’ and check out how little flour she has remaining.
Gabriel and Gabrielja are really glad to see us; they are getting ready for school; they need writing books (1/2 KM (.50) and some of the kids do need shoes.
Our friend, Ing, has sent some bracelets to pass out to the kids and they are a great hit.
The joy of being loved; Gabrijela also takes a turn.
The school kids have gone; we go into Stolac and pick up the rest of the groceries. The women in the camp have asked Mary privately “can they have some feminine products”?

You know.

Dijan is home from his morning classes; the food is divvied out to everyone.
Mediha and the other women have all changed ‘outfits’ during the time we went to the grocery store.The dentist visits for Mediha have been OK’d and she has appointments on Monday and Tuesday at 6 PM.
Behara checks her bag again; yep, it is still empty.“Am I to get anything”?

Kemo (granddad) comes to the rescue and puts in a bottle of shampoo.

All is peaceful and contentment.

We go to take food to the group at Domanavici; Marijano greets us.
A sunny day! Marko, mama Rabija and Marijano are comfortable with coffee and the computer.Marko has the final Romani NGO papers and everything is just about on ‘GO AHEAD’.

However any NGO demands an outside accountant; they have been told it is usually 300 KM a month but this fellow will do it for 300 KM a year.

We will check on it.

Today we go to make a visit to Sister Krunoslava. We have a box of items for the Holy Family House as well as a donation sent to us by one of Medjugorje’s pilgrims, Betsy.
We admire the new 3D wall art by the arts and craft group here.Sister shares some stories with us about new arrivals; new needs; new challenges.

Inspiring, heartbreaking.

Saturday morning after Mass; Nancy introduces us to Olga who has been living here for two years. Olga is Ukrainian and is a tour leader: she is the one collecting the Rosaries and funding for Father Petar.
Yes, Mary admits, I do speak Ukrainian. It turns out to be a fun time.We pass over an envelope along with our prayers for the people in the Ukraine.
A pilgrim group has left Medjugorje and has left so many items behind for us to give to the needy in this country.Wow!
Later, while sorting through the gifts, a note is spied in one of the shoes, Diane, one of the pilgrims explains about lost luggage being found but in the interim; new clothes and shoes had to be sought and bought in the Chicago area.Now those items and all of the other items are to be distributed to our local poor.

Time out for crying and thanking.

Remember Zorica and Sevki and their 6 children expressing a wish to be baptized?We passed the query along and it was discussed in Zagreb at a priest conference but no one is comfortable.Lots of “what ifs”.


The four children old enough to attend school do go to the Catholic classes in their school; all the kids in that class get a grade of ‘5’ (our 100%) from the teaching nun.
A priest has volunteered to do the baptisms!!We do not know who or how many are to receive the Sacrament of Baptism but the priest does say “who am I to judge”?
And we do not know the extent of the ceremony.Are there to be; should there be godparents?

Are there to be; should there be Certificates of Baptism?

Are there to be; should there be
symbolic gifts?

3/26 Well, Mary is off with Sister Muriel to do some contact work with the poor; Mary will come home all rejuvenated from being with always charging, always happy Sister Muriel.
3/27 Today we are off to Stolac; our first stop will be at Don Rajko, one of our favorite priests. Mike Stanton and friend, Jimmy, travel with us.
Father is expecting us and has set out a fine breakfast.
It is very hard to say “No” to Father; he just keeps filling everything.
Sister is cooking in the kitchen; Mary is taking the photo, we guys are just enjoying.
Mike and Jim amaze Father and us with their wonderful charitable donation!
Then we are off to Niki and Teresa’s place.
Janja is so happy to see Mike.
Jim and Shocky bond as the two outdoors kind of guys.Both Niki and Shocky really admire Jimmy’s jacket.
Later, we all look in on an extended Romani family at Domanovici; Mike does a photo with Rabija.
3/28Today we are going to the 4 corners area just outside of the village where a round about is being constructed.
We meet up with the fellows looking for day work; we have ‘stuff’ to share; the fellows share some stories with us.We buy food at the nearby store; the fellows are so glad to get that! Smiles all around.
Oh, oh.
The church bells are tolling for Sima; one of our favorite friends here in Medjugorje.
The bells will toll maybe 3 or 4 times a minute until the age of the deceased has been reached.
A blue border to indicate that the person has never married.
The following day is Burial day and we find a spot at the cemetery. We sit beside a burial place and, of course, we start thinking.This one looks like it would take 4 caskets.
The procession is here. We have been friends with Sima (and her sister, Vinka) for years. They emigrated to Canada and worked there and now have a house in Mothers’ Village.We miss Sima.
Everybody will miss Sima.
Fra Svet has travelled down from Zagreb to read the Holy Gospel for Sima.
4/06: A marvelous group in the music box today; Belinda plays so beautifully on her violin; usually and maybe also, Belinda is at the Italian Masses.
4/11 We three start our food deliveries for Easter; a large family here; they have their own animals and poultry but very little cash filters through.
We have boxed kids clothes, mama goes through the boxes to see what will fit.
Everyone seems to be hungry and on the look out for something to eat.
But still, a gift of eggs is given to us.
Next stop; the house is looking nicer every time and we do thank those ‘givers’ who are helping this family.Father is elsewhere suffering from the stress of the war.
This couple has 14 children; the sometime paycheck just does not stretch far enough (and sometimes the paycheck is months and months non existent).
We make a stop in Stolac and chat with Sanel about his upcoming trip to the States!
Today we go to Sergio and Tanya; the parents are not at home but the 4 kids and grandmama (wheelchair bound) are. We unload
and Mary measures Sladana’s foot for shoes to be delivered and compliment her on her pretty skirt.
We take the kids picture from the car as we leave.
Next is a new addition to our route; grandfather comes to help us tote the bags up the hill.
The children are adorable; mama is so very grateful for the food and especially that we have brought 2 packs of diapers!
4/12 afternoon:
The trunk is packed; we all go to ‘Joseph’s family’; they run to get the wheelbarrow; everyone unloads.
We still have time to go back to the store and then make a trip to Domanovici.
Rabija is looking kind of tired; lots of medical problems and requests for help. We pray that the medical ID cards will soon be available.
We are leaving; Alexander is running after us. “Mari, Mari, the bananas, the bananas!”We are shown the empty banana bag! “Where did the bananas go?”
Morning dawns; the dumpster near the school is being checked over. We see that plastic bottles are being gathered.
We get a call from the dayworkers; we will be there in the morning.
18 fellows today at the day workers waiting area.
We have packed up the food bags to the brim….
and we have ‘hot items’; a few shoes, some pants, some underwear!!
The fellow in the red jacket is kind of isolated; he has come South hoping to find work; no work this week (rainy); funds are exhausted; can he get 20 KM to return North; we find a way.
Then an Easter food delivery to Jelka and family.
And Jelka (and family) have some greens and veggies for us to take!
Jagoda receives her food package and some of the goodies we picked up from Jelka.
The ‘guys’ want their Easter picture taken…
Joseph is returning from a walk over the hill where he has just taken a case of milk to Jelka that we had forgotten to leave.
Then to Dragica and daughters; we find that the tobacco leaves have all been sold; the greenhouse has been planted; rosaries and prayers are being said as a family every night.Share the joy and the faith and the blessings.
Now that Joseph has gained the experience needed to handle the milk we take that and other stuff to Anica and Ilka.
Ilka is not looking her best today but does communicate.
Anica has a nice housecoat on as well as a big smile.
4/15 We bring a donated foam mattress that we have just been given; Nike is looking forward to Spring and to be taken to the river by his buddy, Shoky. This mattress will be great for lounging around on the bank after a dip.Everyone is glad to see the food.
We take a food load to Gordon and family; we hear that Mama has a job at a new plastic processing plant just down the road.Always wonderful to hear that a family has some source of cash coming in.
The Holy Family House is just over the hill in Mostar. We have some items to leave there.
A pilgrim friend, Betsy, has asked us to take a gift to Sister. That gift is to be used to tailor two pairs of trousers for one of the ‘special needs’ wheelchair bound boy.
Mrs. Beljo gets her family Easter food delivery.
We ask for a picture of all the family present and all oblige.The shop where Ana has a job is not always able to open for business. Ana is available whenever they do call.
We are so very happy to see Marina with a big smile. Ivan is aiming to be self sufficient and not dependent so much on the taxi business.Thanks to a good hearted group in the States, Ivan is expanding the chicken and pig pen; has planted a field of potatoes and attacking and leveling the rocky mountain in back of the house.
Their greenhouse is showing a lot of promise.
We have a new stop to make this Easter; it is such a blessing that we can do this.
and we have Easter food packages to share with this family at the Capljina Village dump.
The house is looking rather modest;
but the home owner is rather proud of the way they have made the insides so homey.
and a present has been saved for us!We are grateful.
4/19: pre Easter!We wake up wondering if our prayers will bear fruit (or cakes and cookies)?

Yes, the doorbell rings and we are given a plateful!

We are happy.

And more stuff arrives!
Five smiling faces all eager to do the egg cracking game; we love it because they have also brought us the eggs!
We are sure that, over the centuries, all sorts of schemes have been played out to ensure the superiority of one egg cracker over another.Here we spot a rather smallish egg being used (not a chicken egg; mayhaps a pheasant egg). They have a harder shell.

We quietly bring out our porcelain egg.

4/24 A new sign has been installed as you enter the church grounds.“Watch your belongings” in 6 different languages.
We three are invited for coffee and conversation to one of the local families. This family is very close to Joseph.Dzelko drives taxi.
Dzelko’s supraga, Ruza, is off work from cooking at Columbo’s today so it has worked out nicely.
Amela and her youngest brother, Abel; both as lively as ever.
We were here last on March 20 and here it is already April 24!Where have you been?

Did you forget about us?

We are glad that we have been missed, most of the kids are in school, these kids are certainly glad to see us.
June 2012; Fika and daughters are overlooked by the city government in the portioning out of the new Mostar housing units.Fika and family are really special people to Janet, Joseph, Sandy and Mike, OSCE and to us.

The husband was killed in an auto accident; Fika went North to the in-laws to live but was rejected and had to return to the Neretva River shack life.

April 2014: Six new units have been added to the existing 24 and now Fika (on the left) has ‘papers in hand’.A wonderful blessing; Hvala Bogu.

We will visit.

The units are all in this pattern; separate entrances for the upstairs families.
4/25Well, one of the fellows phoned us to say that “there is no work this week because it has been raining”.

We say we will be there on Saturday morning at 9 AM.

We go shopping, heavy bags are packed; we plan for 40.


Our blessed mother is looking good what with two of her big time admirers pictured with her!
And how shall we celebrate?The fellows are happy to see us; we have food…


and some shoes and some clothes!
4/27 Kathy and Evie give us big smiles when we say that Janet may visit in September!
A trip to Domanovici.
We packed bananas in separate bags so each kid has control of his own bunch!Life is good!
And Marko; we are going to name him; the ‘Accomplisher’.He has the stamped medical cards for all of his family; all that is needed now is a few funds to get this year’s approval stamps and then the family has medical coverage!

A bargain!

We hear that one of the families from Capljina have moved into the 3rd floor accommodations at Domanovici; we are not sure which of the pictured group have made the move but we leave extra bags of food for them.
Oh, oh. A sign has been posted that this branch of the UniCredit bank will close down on May 23rd. Its records will be transferred to the nearest branch which is Citluk.
We first met Marianne in 2007; she will be here for only a short time then back to Sri Lanka.
Shanthi is on her first trip here; she will be returning to England.The two will be our neighbors for that short time.
Interesting write-up in a local online news: A number of areas in the paving and blocks around the church contain fossils of interesting ancient sea creatures!

The link has a good explanation in English and a neat series of pictures detailing the areas around St. James Church. The sites may be identified by the arrows in red or the circles in red.



4/30: A sad morning; we read in the on-line news out of Mostar that the youngest child of a Roma family has died. We have interacted with this family in the Capljina area; at the shacks at the Village dump and in front of the Robot store where mama (Malena) & children come to beg (she is sitting in the van); the child (Hamdo) has somehow suffocated.A tough life.
Some of our readers may remember this Malena; this is a June 2013 photo when we all spotted Malena in front of the Robot store and shopped a bit for her.
There are two ‘Malenas’ in the van picture; the lady outside the van is ‘our’ Malena from the Stolac camp.Malena and husband, Mirisad (and family), are the ones next in line to receive a camper trailer. Malena has been calling us quite often to remind us; we have been searching on an almost daily basis.
We will print out an advertisement of a trailer in Mostar for Mirisad to check out and see if that is the one for his family.

As of May 1st St. James church will depend more on simultaneous translation of the evening program via FM 94.3. So bring a good radio or a capable phone (with FM radio to punch in the frequency) to hear same.