2014 September & October

Sept. 25:We have some food, some shoes, some tarpaulins, some reasons to visit the camp at Stolac.
  The tarps will be good for maybe two years to help keep the rain away. 
And then to Domanovici.Shoe time!

Food requests; shoes request; funds request………

  We measure, sometimes it is accurate, sometimes not.

Smiley faces!All is good.
Even Snjezana manages to come up with a smile (a little later).
Marijano smiles and shows off his new contacts; he tells us of running out of the solution; of the problems getting the contacts in and out; but he is happy to see so very much better.And now food!

Friday, Sept. 26:

Iva (daughter of Ivan, our driver) is defending her right to a Bachelor’s degree for graduation!

Professors have gathered to review her written material and to ask and hear just what she has learned!

It is make or break time.


It has happened!Iva graduates with a 5!

The highest mark possible!

Congratulations Iva!

   Iva comes visiting and to show the printed proof!
Our last chance this month to take a snapshot of Iva and Luka; Luka will be going soon to start his trek through the University!
9/29Kurban Bayram (sacrifice holiday)
commemorates Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son, Isaac.  Many of the day workers will be taking the bus North to be with family.

We will pass out food now before all have gone.

A double celebration; St. Francis Feast Day is on the 4th!


The fellows queue up; we have food and clothes and toiletries to pass on!And a good selection of pants!
9/30Dado is a local fellow; relatives have a pansion here, but Dado spends a lot of time in London.

We enjoyed his greetings before early Mass whenever he was in Medjugorje.

Dado is missed.

Oct. 1st:  Ray, Joseph and Bob are here at the Stolac Camp today; two truckloads of firewood are being delivered (thank you to Help for the Hungry and Homeless) and the    camp might need us in case the women get too tired unloading!

We will push the local guys to handle the task.

      Behara has found a book “HELLO KITTY” and has been waiting to share it with Mary.
Fadila has some new problems to share with Mary.
 There, one of the two trucks has been emptied!
   Bob did not even get dirty; Ray worked too hard.
Then we all journey on to the house in Domanovici.

Marijano and Marko welcome us.

Finally a smile and communication from Alaxander; he has found some treasures; a mobile with some buttons to impress us; a plastic snake to scare us!
Marko and Joseph are thinking about ‘going through some of the bags of inventory!There is a search on for a special USB cable and a wheel for the lawn mower!
Sat. Oct. 4th.St. Francis Feast Day!

The new path and street signs are being installed in the village!

This is known as “Gospin Terg.”

    The statue of St. Francis is placed in front of the altar.
A local family is remodeling and have a bunk bed to donate to an organization in Citluk!Can we use it?

We know just the perfect family for this; three young girls in the family and this is a 3 bedder!

We get it transported to a garage under our apartment.


Oh, oh. A three bedder needs three mattresses and three sets of sheets; we go shopping.
Sergio and Tanja load it up and take it home; the other items follow.
   Gabriela’s school jacket needs ‘freshening up; it has been put thru the washer and will be delivered ‘like new.
While the jacket is drying, some of us head for Mostar.We have lunch at one of our favorite spots there; the top floor of the Mega Market.
Oct. 8     (Vatican Radio) “No one is to be a “leftover.” No one is to be “excluded” from God’s love and from our care”. This was the heart of a video message sent by Pope Francis to participants in the annual meeting of the Catholic Charities USA, October 5-7 in North Carolina.

Our thoughts are with the Romani kids going to the Catholic side of the school. School books were delivered as late as  Oct. 6.

The Muslim side got books on time.

One of the day workers has passed us a note and then is following it up with text messages.He and his family need help.  The family home up North had been flooded out completely; everything has been ruined.
Oct. 10:The day worker sends us text messages.  We arrange a meet in front of the church before the 7:30 morning Mass; he will be there.

Mary makes a ‘breakfast to go’ for the day worker.

Can we help?

We give three fold what is asked.



Oh, oh, the text messages continue.


Oct. 11:Franjo, our computer guy, is called to do a fixit on our computer.

Zeljana and Mother, Dijana, happen to be here to show us pics on Zeljana’s laptop!

Franjo is happy to help with the tutoring.

  Chocolates are passed out to celebrate the new knowledge.Everybody smile!
Oct. 12:Father Maximillan, such a beautiful smile; no coaxing needed.
Tara is here and we are so glad to see her.  We have to figure out a good name to describe Medjugorje pilgrims who keep coming back; year after year (maybe stilgrims).  Thank you Tara for your help with the poor and needy in this country.

Tara has brought us a box of mens’ suits along with other goods!

Brenda is here for a bit and two ladies  accompany her this time.
10/13:That time of year; Flu shot time.

 The vaccine has been ordered; the doctor is around in case one of us has a bad reaction; the nurse is quite busy but takes the time to administer a shot to Mary.

Then Mary gets to ‘practice on the three of us guys.  We all get the needle.

Then we relax a bit at the restaurant.

Thursday, 10/16:Maggie and Allison are here!  Yes!

They will be doing ‘good works on the outskirts of Medjugorje!

First task:

Mostar to visit the kids and Sister Krunoslava at the Holy Family Home.

Joseph is the working driver!
What’s cooking; a visit is made to the kitchen; everyone is busy busy.  Good.

Thank you to the pilgrim who shared this book with us.  It is the story of the author who progressed (gradually) from the New Age movement (with its crystals and ouija boards) to the Catholic Church.
One of the ‘heroes in the book..

 Father Philip Pavich was here for some years as the English speaking Franciscan ministering to the English speakers.

  This book relates some of the experiences and the long long confessions time which assisted the author, Moira Noonan.

Maggie and Allison share love with the twins.
Baby blankets recently donated and brought by Patricia (Canada) are given to Sister Krunoslava.
We go shopping.
Oct. 17:A stop and food delivery is made at Jelka’s family.


We want to see how the newly built pig pen, smokehouse, septic tank, retreat house(?) is coming along.Is it in budget?
No, we are a little shortThe neighbor, Mario, has helped with the work; a two story project!

We did not have money to pay him.

And we do not really have the septic tank completed or the concrete for the stairs paid for.

Bob and Mario; we first met him when he requested a pair of running shoes.
His handiwork!“Fires will happen here in order to smoke the pieces of pork hanging above.”

Mario asks whether we can help with his house next door.

We get a tour.

Jagoda, Jagoda, where are you?
We leave food at the door. 
and then we stop by at the Hospice of Divine Mercy!Where is everybody?
Hello. hello. Is anybody here?Wonder if the car is still here?

Wonder if they are coming back for me?

There she is.Admiring the new chairs and wishing it were a beach front property.
Oct. 18, SaturdayThe ‘girls are smiling now.  They have a box full of homemade sandwiches! They also have a box of homemade cupcakes!


First stop; the Stolac camp!Zeljana is out of the car sporting the biggest smile!
Maggie discovers that Behara is ‘taller than she is!
Where are the school kids?We want the school kids to line up and let us take a picture!

They do so gladly.

“I used to have my hair braided like this!I used to have my hair in this color!
The table is brought forward. 
Come to the banquet.
Sprinkles on the top; white frosting; chocola (Bob loses interest and goes looking for the yellow or the white ones).Chocolate only.
We have learned that there are no regular ‘meal times.It is not uncommon for the kids to be going to school at noon without having had anything to eat yet.

We accept, now, that when the kids see food; they eat it.

I just knew you would come back.
Bobbing for apples!Scary because the face has to go into the water and a bite made to get the apple!

Fun time. Eating time.

  A plastic tub has been brought; liters of water has been bought; apples are available!

The kids and the adults really get into this; maybe it will become a tradition for this camp?
The ‘little guys are held up.
An apple a day bring smiles into play.
The kids are having a hard time believing that kids in other countries actually do bobbing!
The chocolate cupcakes which Allison and Maggie have baked are a wonderful treat!A big hit!
Who wouldn’t love you.
The fun continues … paper plates have been brought; glue sticks and crayons are placed on the table.Artistic cutouts are available;  who will make the very best Halloween Mask?
Will there be a prize!Who will win!

It is decided that this will be a fun time.

Bisera and Dijana are checking out the competition and deciding just when they will push right in and do their own mask!
We do pray that Gabriela and the other children will remember these fun times and the wonderful pilgrims for the rest of their lives!
Talent is on display;
Gifting is glorious.  No language barrier here! 
1st Prize Winning Entry!
New skirts have been brought for each of the women!
 My precious daughters, I will repeat it more slowly; look at my eyes; I want two of these beautiful skirts!One of you will go without.
I am sure that my Halloween mask is the very best one. 

You guys are welcome to try but it will be hard to beat me.

Oh, oh.  Time to bring out the school books and the school papers and any marks from the teacher received so far.And the kids love this part also and are really anxious to show off their accomplishments.
Patricia (Canada) has brought us hand made children’s blankets; they are colorful and beautiful.A number of these have gone to the Holy Family Home in Mostar and some are being passed out here!

What a blessing!

Thank you to the Creator.

Thank you to the creators.

Our pilgrim friend, Tara, has brought us a box of men’s suits!Could we use these?

Will they fit someone?

Some suits have been brought here; three of the fellows are fitted here.


After the workday a stop is made at a newly opened restaurant in the area; there is a porker on the revolving spit!  It sounded good, it could have been perfect and convenient.

The meat is disappointing; a little tough;

 a bit not done yet.

We struggle.

Sunday Oct. 19th:Peggy and Mike.  Our paths intersected in Florida where we both have a big appreciation for the town of Ave Maria!


Fred has come with the group; we enjoyed meeting with him….
and the group!  We now realize that they had sat directly in front of us at the Mass and that Bob had passed them some of his Medjugorje Chapel cards with the hymn of ‘we come to you dearest mother’.
Monday, Oct. 20:We are off to Metkovic with Ivan and Marina via the brand new highway; so new that the toll stations are not yet populated!
Tuesday, Oct. 21Allison with Mr. & Mrs. Beljo.

One of the first families we interacted with around Medjugorje.

Running shoes have been brought for two of the triplets at the Beljos.The boys have been asking for shoes such as these for almost a year!

Thank you dear pilgrims.

We still have some of the men’s suits to find homes for!Mr. Beljo is one of the lucky recipients!

He has asked before for items like this and for church shoes.


Thank you Tara.

This could be the new you!
Ivan helps to bring in some of the food items.
And then we drop in on Marina and family.
We must stop at Dragica’s and the daughter’s house today; two of the daughters go on Tuesday of each week to visit with Ilka and Anica; to take a bit of warm food and to see what the latest need could be.We will settle the bill.
A good sign.  The family raises tobacco and this is one of the steps to making it saleable.It has to be hung to dry.
AntoniaWe have brought a box of ‘booze; some of which Bob had probably been sampling.

  Supplies are needed for Antonia’s upcoming wedding.

We proceed to the home of Anica and Ilka.Ilka is fearful that she will be losing her sister; the neighborhood cemetery is on her mind.


All Saints Day will be on Nov. 1st; will we take her to the grave site and help straighten the area?Everyone says ‘yes.

The stone needs repair as does the stone lid; we negotiate the repairs with the local caretaker of the cemetery.


Anica is continually praising God and asking him for mercy.
What can we do to make you all more comfortable? 
Oct. 23:   Bob is having a ‘makeover for an afternoon ‘tea.
  We have invited our pilgrim friend, Enda, to join us this afternoon at our apartment.
Seamus, Mary and Aidan will also join in.
Another pilgrim friend, John, is joining the get together.
October 23, 19:10 (Medj time)Father Chisholm, walking from the Sacristy, collapsed on the sidewalk (next to the tiny temp post office) on his way to the pansion.

Father had pains that morning as he was trekking up Cross Mountain at the third station but recovered and continued up for a little more.

Father Chisholm (age 92) certainly loved Medjugorje and Our Blessed Mother.

We have always been so impressed and so inspired by Father. On Fridays he would go to the Divine Mercy Church at Surmanci and officiate the 3:00 Divine Mercy Services on his knees!


Fr. Chisholm spent six years in the apparition site of Medjugorje as chaplain to the English speakers; Father held three doctorate degrees.

Father belonged to the order of the Holy Ghost Fathers (CSSP).


Oct. 24, FridayJust what does that mean; that this is ‘housecleaning day?
Allison and Maggie are doing a ‘before snapshot.
Dijana is re-coating the fire bricks! 
Three of the dream team!
OK, but just for a moment; we must get back to work! 
Beauty under the surface; layer by layer!
Antonia and Dijana marvel at the transformation.
Antonia and Katarina are in charge of the wood pile; kindling is needed so they will chop chop!Then it is brought into the house and stacked properly!


And Mary helps.
Ilka is grateful. 
But concerned.  Her sister, Anica, is struggling.
As a reward each of the team gets a personal close hug.
Oct. 25:Meanwhile, Allison and Maggie have been on a secret project; time and time again they have asked about newspapers, more newspapers, where do we get more newspapers?

Finally we have spotted this fellow in the corner but hate to ask.

Saturday; so we will make a special trip to the camp at Stolac.    Fadila comes to greet us and we see that she still has that sparkle from “accepting” the two skirts!
Behara is anxious to show off her newly acquired doll.Behara loves pink.
A mysterious box is brought out.
Are they spiders?Do they move?

We eat them?

Hey, pretty darn good.
Protein sandwich, hot chocolate drink, and sweet treats  are enjoyed before noon.We like this breakfast!


A Halloween Piñata is brought out; a squash with eyes and nose and mouth?Who ever heard?
It is for hanging it on a tree and whacking it?We whack it with a stick?

That seems easy.

We do it blindfolded?

One at a time?

It flew some place.  How did it do that? Is there a motor or a balloon inside?
How does it jump up and down?
Maggie!  It is Maggie!  She has hold of a rope and she is pulling it up and down and causing it to swing. 
Send for Gabriela!Gabriela will know what to do!
Gabriela whacked it and it split open and candy and gifts are pouring out on the ground!Everybody dive!
What a day!What a time!
Gabriela, the heroine of the camp!
A day of memories.
Mary, Mary, do you all have to go?
Marijano has never seen ‘how to do art’  books such as have been brought to him.
‘Spider cookies are passed out by Marko.Food bags have also been brought and passed along.
The kids will enjoy their big big balloons!
Maggie and Zeljana and Allison and Dijana;not just talk, talk,

Doers and Givers!

10/26:We hear that a ‘relative has ‘come by Jagoda’s and has taken her away;  we need to find out more.


27thToday we head for a visit to a group of Romani gypsies living next to the river deep inside the village dump area.

No water; no electricity.

A pause is made to pick up food for the families there.

Admir & Svetlana have been met before; Samir is 3 years old now and we remember him in the plastic tub!A new addition to the family, Sanja is 4 months.


Two new lads have moved into the camp and are setting up housekeeping; first step; invite a neighbor to help you to build something.One of the lads, Rambo, (15 yrs. old)  is in the yellow shirt. His brother Mario is out working.
The first house is habitable; next job.. work on a second home.
Maggie holds the baby, Samir; Indira and husband, Amel, are glad for the company;

Her husband gets kind of rough if she does not produce at least 3 KM a day to keep him in cigarettes.

Allison takes a turn ‘burping the baby; she will help to educate the mother.
Food bags are passed out.
Personal attention and concern; the baby is not very lively.
Everybody smile.
Then out of the river area; we continue on to Sergio & Tanja and family.Grandmother’s wheelchair has seen better days; duct tape has kept it together.
Recently bunk beds were donated, mattresses were purchased; we want to see how that came out.Oh, oh.

We did not receive the ‘floor for the top bunk.


  The 2nd mattress will be going on the floor for now.
10/28:Vince (remember him, Australia); one of our favorite pilgrims has just had his beautiful sweater ‘recuffed by Maggie and Allison.
10/29:The cabbage is in!

Let us go picking.

The team goes to Jelka’s cabbage fields.A hut is spotted in the midst.

Maybe to get out of the rain for a few hours or a weekend or two?

Jelka says, “stay here for free!”

It certainly is livable.
Ivan, the husband, is already in the field; maybe since sunup?
Here, let me do that!
Maggie and Allison lift the feet high so as not to step on any of those cute little snakies.
A restaurant we have not yet tried!We get an order of roasted potatoes ‘to go!

Wonderfully delicious!

10/30:Oh, oh.  Dijana has called to tell us that the social center worker has told her that “Ilka walked to the neighbor’s and said that Anica was really bad; they called the social center; The social center may or may not have called an ambulance; we need to find out more.
 We have promised the ‘day workers that we will come this morning and pass out some food bags.
Bob, Allison and Maggie are part of the team today.
A couple of boxes of bread; great aroma; kind of crusty.
The tall fellow’s name is Kristien; always asking whether we have heard from his ‘brother, Tom!
Did I show you where it hurts;  I could certainly use some pain medicine if you have such a thing; oh can I go to the Dentist?. . . . . OK.
 We have shopped more; now we need to pre pack food bags for Monday’s trip to the Evangelical Church.
Joseph, are you sure you brought the right kind of rice?
It’s evening and Martina, a local girl in our Dental Program, dropped by to express appreciation for being in that program (tomorrow is the first year anniversary of her braces being installed).
Mary passes along an envelope for Father Eamonn; Father Rory looks on, approvingly. Father Rory was telling what a wonderful job Father Eamonn is doing in Dublin.  He is assigned to the Divine Mercy Church there and has recently set up a food bank for the poor in that area.Eddie Kelly has given a donation to be passed on and we add a little bit to that.

Meanwhile in Medjugorje (next to the movable post office) we spot a Romani mother and son checking out the dumpster, maybe in hopes of a meal.


We realize the dumpster (rollaway) outside of our apartment building is being checked out regularly.
We note that bags of our discarded and dumped veggies (e.g. peppers) are disappearing by morning time.


Friday, Oct. 31:We hear from Dijana.

Dijana and Kata (Dragica’s daughter) have taken Ilka to the local cemetery; flowers were placed; candles were lit; the area was cleaned.  Ilka is happy.

No one has come to see Anica.  Dijana and Kata drive to the Social Center (they were not answering the phone); go to the health clinic; go to the ambulance service; go to the doctor.

By the time they return to Anica’s home the ambulance is there and the doctor is there.

Anica is in bad shape; gangrene in the leg; the leg is cleaned, medicated and wrapped.  The doctor will return in two days if Anica moves to the other house; she will not go into the stone house.


Nov. 1, Saturday:Mike Stanton has arrived;  we do look forward to this pilgrim who comes at least once a year.  We met Mike on our first trip to Medjugorjeand he has been our dear buddy ever since.

 We will get together for a project again this year.

And Gary Appleberry (Magnificat Tours);a heart of gold (and we take advantage of that heart)!

 Thank you, Gary and Bev, for all that you do (and all that you bring).

Nov. 1st means that it is All Saints Day.  The local custom is to have Masses at the cemeteries; many have relatives in the outlying cemeteries so that between attending multiple Masses and hosting visiting relatives; so many are busy.We are rescued! Alexandra volunteers to drive!
Today Alexandra drove the ‘girls to the two sisters; expected to ‘stay in the car’ but, Alexandra, always searching for new adventures decided to come to the little white house to see if she could help.Not a comforting sight to view.


There is concern about how Anica and Ilka are coping;  Anica is, more or less, quietly suffering. 
Ilka might not be a good role model.  On visits Anica is very hungry, very thirsty, very unclothed warmly, very uncovered.Ilka worries about what will happen to her once Anica is gone.

 Anica always prays to Jesus (and through the Blessed Mother (Oh, Gospa)) for mercy if it be His will (“I hope I am worthy and have led my life to your satisfaction”).

Anica and Jagoda (in another similar stone house) must be about the same age,
Their prayers are different but both beautiful.

Jagoda (an earlier photo) always prays for a speedy exit and release from this world (“take me now”);



Maggie and Allison find the water spout very handy; Ilka is maybe making sure they turn it off properly so that it does not overflow and cause flooding in the neighborhood.
Monday, Nov. 3 and we have promised a “food bag day” to the ‘really poor in the village of Capjlina.
The Evangelical Church lends us their space to distribute; their staff to phone the list of needy Muslims, Romani gypsies and anyone else.  Their volunteers along with our volunteers combine to make it a wonderful day of sharing.
We have a list of 52 families; we prepare       for 60; everyone gets meat along with a bag or two depending on the size of the family. 
The volunteers are ready! 
Numbers have been given out to the crowd; we will go sequentially.
Faces are recognized; greetings are exchanged; handshakes in abundance.
Dijana finds out how school is going.
There are some used clothes which have been put out by the church; a good place to shop free.
An ‘older guy who we know (Bob’s generation) so Mary runs up the steps for a personal greeting.  Mary may be yelling down “Is anyone working?”


Part of the ‘working crew! 

  We are getting our pictures taken!

Planning ahead.This fellow has been here before;  this day he has brought a wheelbarrow to help him move his goods!

Life is good!

One of the ladies in the lineup has requested a private meeting.
We all gather after the workday in the church conference room.

The lady has been diagnosed with cancer of the ovaries and is told that she requires chemo treatments.

No one has a job.


The lady does have a Croatian medical card.
But no money for gas to get to Split in Croatia to the Croatian clinic.

Dijana shares her wisdom and personal experiences in this field. It helps.

We pass on a gift to start the process.


  A little later, Joseph drives the 3 ‘girls back to the home of Anica and Ilka.
Snug as a bug…
It had been hoped that Anica would be eligible for a hospice ending but we hear “not hospice material; they have land they could sell”;
maybe he is right.
The land had been offered to the local church; they were not interested.
Anica is dehydrated and needs some nourishment. 
Warm clothes, a few cups of milk and yogurt, affection and prayer.
Joseph helps with the lifting; the bed clothes must be changed.It takes the recommendations and signatures of two doctors as well as a Bosnian Medical card (which she has) to get a resident into the Hospice.

Anica may be eligible but….

Kata has turned 16!Kata is taller than Mary!

We sing ‘Happy Birthday!

Lots of repeat visits this month to the camps.Lots of problems this month.

A return trip to check on the two babies in this camp.

Lots of activity!Dinner is in the pot on the outdoor cooker.
   Mama looks on while her child is receiving a new pair of shoes! 
Daddy is helping. 
Please come in.
And I welcome you to my place!I have just made Turkish coffee if you would like to join me.

 This fellow has created the heating stove at his back.

  We came to see how the children are doing today; we have brought some food to share.
Are you angels?
And who comes ‘walking down the lane?  It is Marko.This is where he used to live before the fire and before the flooding.


We have to say goodbye.

Dreaming again.Empty newly built homes to peek into.
On the way home we were going to check out the new swimming pool and the beach environment.Closed for the season.


Dijana picks up Mary after the morning Mass; they will do more shopping; fresh bedding is needed for Anica.
Ilka does not want  her side of the bed to be touched.
 Father Bill Kiel, Nancy and their group have finally arrived to Medjugorje; we lose the close comfort of having Maggie and Allison so near to us; plans had been made for them to be with their group.Pictured are Dijana, Ilka, Father Bill and Mary.
Father Bill, Nancy, Joseph and Allison listen to Mary talking about Dijana.Dijana (and Mary) are pushing the local Social Center, the priest, the doctor, the nurses to “do something; Anica is one of their own”!
The ambulance arrives.  Anica will go to the Mostar hospital; Ilka does not want her to go.Someone has to come to do the paperwork else she may not be seen.

Dijana says “I will go”.

Dijana follows the ambulance; 4 hours at the hospital; the leg is exposed; rotting flesh; horrible stench; the staff is horrified!

Cleaned, re-bandaged, injection of fluid; nothing more can be done; send her home.

Dijana is home by 11:30 PM; exhausted, gagging.We do pray that someone like Dijana is present in all of everyone’s’ lives.

The best description would be a “righteous warrior”.

The daughter, Zeljana, can truly be said to be “following in her mother’s footsteps_.


Please say a prayer.