2016-2017 WINTERTIME

We spot Alexandra in the front pew of the chapel in Medjugorje;  Joseph is seen quite a ways back.

[photo thanks to www.marytv.tv]

On another day we see more friends in the Medjugorje chapel; Jim Brown in front, Chris just behind, Sister Muriel two pews behind.  We note Daniel is wrapped in plastic; Daniel is the fellow who sports the large wooden staff.

[photo thanks to www.marytv.tv]

The Romani Gypsies who were moved to the new housing are full of despair; no way of making a living in this isolated spot.
Maybe if they move to Germany there would be a future.  If funds for visas or passports could be found, they would try.
Jim Brown had made a donation to Joseph;
Joseph is sympathetic and uses that funding!
A visit is made to the Stolac camp; food and clothing is distributed; prayers are offered.
Another day; this time our friend, Pepe joins in.  Pepe first pilgrimaged to Medjugorje in 1987.  We met his mother and father in Medjugorje six or so years ago; delightful family!
Now we have joined forces and Pepe is helping with some of our deliveries!  Wow.
Pepe (on the right) passes out food to Fadilia as  Bahara and Safet look on.
Amela is happy to get her own goody bag!
This issue of Medjugorjecalls.org spans a time line of 4 or so months.   We have tried to break it down into “chapters (or vignettes)” for some individual families so that it might be a little bit easier for you  to find the information about your favorite family.
Ivan and friend have butchered a pig and are now portioning out some pieces of the meat for our families.
Each year lambs, chickens and pigs are purchased which are ready for butchering.  Some of the meat, especially the pork, will be held for the smokehouse; some will be delivered immediately.
Some is smoked for two or three months and then delivered; some for much longer and processed into prosciutto.
This is an organization and home for recovering addicts; sponsored by the local Medjugorje Parish.  We have seen such good works done by these fellows for the local families as well as for the pilgrims.
Parts of the meat goes to the Merciful Fathers in 3 stages; first delivery is fresh cuts and soup bones,
2nd delivery is smoked pork; 3rd is the prosciutto!
The fellows are happy to receive each delivery.
We are so very thrilled to note that Darren and mom are back in Medjugorje again.
Darren is the boy in the wheelchair who we often have seen in church and who likes to be situated as close to the altar as possible.
[photo thanks to www.marytv.tv]
As sweet a person as could be and now so very happy that he can walk!
Our friends, Frank and Sheila, are sitting just behind.
[photo thanks to www.marytv.tv]
Darren’s miracle started to happen on Apparition Hill through Mirjana, the visionary!

It has been a very hard winter in the area around Medjugorje.  Families who we interact with report that they have not seen freezing cold  temps like this in the past 50 years.  The cold has required the usage of so much firewood not only to keep warm but to forestall the water pipes from freezing; interruptions of water have been common.

Blitva (Swiss chard) is a staple green and can usually be depended on to re-appear in the fields at this time of year.


The cold weather has wiped that source of food out.  Most families are affected.
A good photo of Marija and Katarina with their dad, Ivan.
Marija and Katarina are each eligible for financial assistance with a University education; qualifications are tough but both are eager to show they can do it!
Funding will be found.
   But surprise; the Vasilj family has veggies in their greenhouse; blitva, onions along with smoked bacon slabs and eggs!  Can we use any?  Sure!  They will share!.  Ivan will deliver 5 crates of blitva to the 5 Roman gypsy families in Stolac along with a slab of bacon cut into 5 pieces and some eggs.



Katarina (on the left) is Ivan and Marina’s youngest daughter and an “A” student. Today she is the official translator for the group. Good job Katarina!

Pepe joins the team! Everyone has to speak English now. Pepe is the official photographer for our mission.
Always a need here.  This extended family has plenty of bellies to fill; anything to eat is always welcomed.
Today is special.
 It was impressive to hear Mary’s conversations with one of our families (Dijena); (translated to me afterwards).

That family’s current goal is to expand the pig pen so as to allow the doubling of the number of pigs (now at three).  One pig was sold this year along with one calf.  The cow is being impregnated via the service of the local vet; the extra milk is available for sale.  The same scenario is happening with the female goat, also being impregnated, also furnishing milk and cheese.


An inventory of 10 or 12 ’rounds of cheese is in the refrigerator; can we buy any?  Each ’round (about 2.2 lbs.) could be had for 10 KM ($5.00); we offer $7.50 if delivered to the Holy Family house in Mostar.  Sounding good.  Must have been inspirational because the following day when Dijena was in the government building in the nearby town of Ljbuski;  Dijena mentioned that she had cheese and milk for sale and many of the staff were interested and ordered same!  Some may want deliveries each Monday!
The family’s manure producer. Next season the manure will be bagged and sold.
Another path to self-sufficiency!
Animal manure has been spread on the field; the ‘tractor man has been called to deep plow and now the husband, Zeljko, is roto tilling that field. When and if funds are available it will be ready for planting; every thing happens in steps.
Dijena,  Blazenko, Zeljko & Ivan
Dijena is the family motivator; Zeljko (husband) came home from the war different from his entry; Ivan (the older boy) was to be the hero of the family before the auto accident and now he requires continual help, not even able to continue in school.  Blazenko is doing good in school and loves it!

Some families have already ordered their manure for the fields. Some families still need that.   Dijena has manure available and it could be sold.  It has to be ‘mixed; it is too hot to apply directly.  The Beljo family needs some and have a car to move it;  Ana (the young daughter) has just passed her driver’s ed and we will pursue that transport by her and her brothers.


We think that the neediest family we deal with is Janja, Teresa and Niki who live in the village of Stolac.  This is the family we have reported on before; mama is bed ridden.   Outside help is needed daily for mama for bathing, toileting, medicine injections (3 times a day including at 2 or 3 in the morning).  A neighborhood Muslim woman helps with that task.  We find the funding.
Niki loves his room. The windows that were replaced a few years ago are still holding up and keeping the cold air out.
Niki is no longer ambulatory (Muscular Dystrophy) but gets around in the house by crawling;
Teresa also is afflicted with MD and moves around by holding on to the wall or anything (but getting weaker);  Niki and Teresa must be in their fiftys’.

Nutrition is becoming a problem for Janja. She has only 3 teeth and is a diabetic.
Who is comforting who? They always find something cheery to say.

When Teresa was asked for their needs she was not shy about asking for her annual garden needs (fertilizer, plants (tomatos, potatos, onions,cabbage) (pic attached); she takes care of the garden via sitting. Friends will plant everything for her.
Teresa let us know their washing machine has failed; the repair man was called but could not fix it.

Teresa loves her new washing machine and it works well. Thank you all for helping get this much needed item.  And Niki has asked for an electric razor.  Sima (Joseph’s local translator)
gives a big hug to Andja; mom of our newest family.  The husband has disappeared from their apartment in Mostar; no one knows what has happened.
Andja and two teenaged children have had to move to grandmother’s house in this nearby village.

Andja has been going to a village in the south of the country to pick oranges.  Now that seasonal opportunity is over.
The son, Josep, has graduated high school;  The daughter, Ana, is taking the bus to Mostar to attend a nursing curriculum.  We did find help through the late
Kathie Majerchin.
Thank you Kathie.    Sveta Obitelj means Holy Family.
This is a rehabilitation center for the physically/mentally challenged.Sr. Krunoslava & Pepe meet for the first time.  Marija and Katarina have brought over 100 eggs from their home to Sister.and 5 big boxes of fresh greens in the middle of the winter. What a treat!  Everyone is smiling, so that’s a good sign.One of the deliverers is our bright university student.  Marija volunteers at this Holy Family.   Mirjana (sitting) is engaged to be married; will be moving to the village of Tihalina when that happens.
Silvia, the youngest of 6 daughters, is now in grade 10.
This widow, Dragica, has done a great job of raising her daughters. Mirjana has been the bread winner in the family but that will soon end. Another daughter,Kata, works around home when there is no seasonal planting job.  Drying tobacco for the market.  Visiting wholesellers are now few and far between; maybe this will be bought, maybe not.Ivan has picked up the mother, Dragica, and they have gone to the farm supply store.
The men from the store help load Dragica’s needs.  It has been a lot of work digging up the rocks and prepping the field for planting.This greenhouse was paid for by pilgrims and how wonderful it is to see a beautiful selection of Spring greens on a cold winter day.  Andreja (on the right) is Ivan’s youngest son and the translator for the day. Good job Andreja!Mirjana is a hard worker and will be missed; this will be her last season in this field.

Family photo (left to right)
Nikoli, Ivan, Jelka and Mario.
Jelka fell on ice and now uses a cane to get around.

Jelka uses their old house for housing her chickens, cooking food for the pigs and storing crops for later use.Jelkas husband, Ivan, thanks you for all the help over the years.    Mrs. Beljo is getting her garden ready. She will be growing veggies again for the family for the year and for selling to us for our food distribution.Mrs. Beljo gets 6 small chickens to add to her existing 5 chickens and one rooster.    A few years ago Jelka and Ivan got help building this green house and now in the winter they have fresh greens.   Now a new crop is being raised.No Lowes or Home Depot for this family. If you want tomato stakes then you go out and harvest them.    Fat Tuesday was a happy day for about 40 unemployed men (mostly Muslim) in the Medjugorje area.  It all started 12 years ago when we first met the men and started to treat them to a bagged lunch once a week and on Holidays.
(Pic from 2009) Since we returned to the States for some much needed medical rehab we are able to do this ministry just a few times a year. This has always been a special group of people to us. It is a group that does not get to interact and / or benefit from the many pilgrims who bring assistance to Medjugorje.
Pepe is on the left and is ready to serve lunch.  They call me their “sister in-law”; they call Bob “their brother”  … what a wonderful way to be referred to by our Muslim friends.   The lunch this time is full of protein. Each guy gets one half of a roasted chicken.  We always loved this roasting place in Lljbuski and we got a ‘deal this time!Marina, wife of Ivan, cuts homemade cheese from Dijena into wedges….  Marina hard boils 120 eggs; 3 for each of the 40 bags.Ivan and Pepe start the assembly.   milk, bread, oil and bananas are added to the bags.These fellows come to the Medjugorje area for work. Their former places of employment were bombed out.  One fellow we met was a college professor and now he is picking grapes and spreading manure.  Everything falls into place.  Pepe reports that the men were very orderly,  polite,  hungry and very grateful.
Let’s do this again soon.