[This is my] first time here. I decided in June that I needed to come for some reason. I had heard stories from other people that have been, and I just felt the call to come here.

My experience has been amazing. Completely amazing. The ambience of the place — the smells, the earthiness. It’s real. It’s all real here. 

On Apparition Hill, all my friends were going up and I was hanging back because I’m afraid of heights. I can fly, but on the ground I’m afraid to climb. So I struggled with the first few steps up, and everybody was ahead of me and I thought about turning around and coming back down.

And then I thought, “No, no, no. I need to go. I need to do this.” But it was so scary. I was just about to cry at every one of those stops. And then I got to the third Mystery [of the Rosary], and I was listening to the commentary [by Medjugorje guide, Miki Musa] of the Mystery, and I thought, “Wow, I need to offer this up.” Because I have two children that are out of the Church, and I want them back desperately, and I want Mary to bring them back. So I thought, “Okay, well let’s just offer this up. This is a good penance to do.”

And so I offered it up, and the climb got easier. I was still scared, but it was easier. 

When I got to the top, I’m standing there. I’m behind everybody still. We get to the Cross and the Virgin Mary, and I look up at the sun, and look away, then look back again. It’s spinning and the colors were amazing. And that was my answer. I was supposed to do that climb. I’m so happy that I did it. 

And I had an angel help me down. A young woman from Sicily walked up behind me and she said in broken English, “Give me hand.” All the rest of the climb down, she held my hand and helped me. She was my guardian angle come to life.