I grew up hearing about a lot of people from my parish going to Medjugorje. As I got older, my mom and I were like, “We definitely have to go.”

I was graduating college and had some free time before graduate school so we were like, “We’re doing it. This is the year. It’s time.”

I struggled the first few days with, “Why am I here? What do I need to get out of this?” I wasn’t sure if I was fitting the role I needed to fill. I was filled with a little bit of doubt the first few days. I wasn’t letting myself fully experience everything that Medjugorje has to offer. 

Then, what really struck me was Miki [our local guide]. He was talking, and he kind of brushed over the typical miracles like smelling roses, the spinning sun, and he said, “The biggest miracle is the Eucharist.” That really stuck with me.

For the first few days, you’re trying to experience it, but you’re looking at the sky like, “Has anything happened? Is Mary popping up?” I found myself trying to see things, trying to find a miracle that I didn’t need to find because it was right there in the Eucharist.

Going to Mass and appreciating the Eucharist for everything it is was definitely a turning point. I feel that my experience has changed so drastically since the beginning. I haven’t looked up at the sky in like seven days. I’ve found miracles in the places they were meant to be found, not from my own superstitions. It’s definitely been a journey.

Everyone I’ve met here, you see such a passion for the Church, for Our Lady, for the Eucharist, for Our Lord. It’s infectious. You can feel it radiating off them. So many of the locals we’ve met devote their whole lives to the mission of Medjugorje, and to get the message of this place to the world. They’re all inspirational in their own ways. They have a deeper devotion for Our Lord and Our Lady that I didn’t even know existed.

I have doubts in other areas of my life. I’m from a science background. I studied science throughout college. If anything, I should be the one being like, “Well that’s not scientific. We can’t explain that.” But what can’t be explained can be explained by Our Lord. Science can’t define it so our faith must. I came and I didn’t have any doubt in my mind.

Hearing Mirjana and the visionaries, they can’t make it up. They see Her. She’s here, and She’s present. I think we all feel Her in our own ways, even if we can’t see Her. There’s something special about this place that you just know She’s here.

I grew up Catholic. I went to 12 years of Catholic education, but what I’ve learned here, maybe it’s just the wording, it’s something different. You could be the smartest Catholic, but you come here and you’re going to hear things differently, you’re going to understand things in a better way. 

I’d never thought about how to offer up your suffering. That’s been something I will definitely take away. My family has been riddled with a lot of health issues, but now it’s like, “Okay, it’s not all for nothing.” Yes it sucks, but how can we offer it up for the souls in purgatory, for other people? This is not all for nothing. This serves a great purpose. Miracles have been made through people’s suffering. I had never learned so much about that until coming here. 

Someone was talking about Vicka and how she was asking for suffering. Who does that? If we only understood the power of it, we’d all be willing to do it. To hear that testimony really struck me. I was like, “Enough with the complaining.” Suffering is a gift in its own way, and if you just look at it in that context, it’s really special.

I’m very grateful that my mom and I got to experience this together and have an accountability partner when we go home and someone to remind me of everything we experienced and everything we learned. It was special too because we got to go on our own journeys in our own ways. We didn’t do everything hand-in-hand. I had my own individual moments, and she had hers, but we were together. 

I feel closer to her now than I probably ever have. It brought a lot of honest conversations to the table. We both kind of felt the same, that we were pretty good Catholics, then we came here and we were like, “Oh my gosh. No we’re not. We have so much to learn.” We were both feeling that way. 

There’s a lot to learn going forward and there are still a lot of graces yet to be received from this trip that I think will come to fruition years down the line. I’m glad we had this experience together. I think there’s still so much building on top of it to be done. I’m looking forward to that. 

I hope we can spread all the love and everything we’ve learned to the rest of our family. I don’t want to leave, but I guess it’s time to go home and spread the word.