My mom lived in Medjugorje for 9 months back in the 80s or 90s. She moved back to the states and then came back for a couple months and lived here with her cousin. She met my dad here.

He came on a pilgrimage. She knew the person that was leading his pilgrimage. She met him but didn’t really think anything of it.

When they got back to the states, she realized that she lived down the road from him. She invited him to a prayer group. Then they eventually got married and came back here for part of their honeymoon. 

Medjugorje special to our family. Without Medjugorje, I wouldn’t be here.

My siblings have been here. I was the last one to go. This is my first trip.

I’m 17. I’m the youngest in the family. My sister is 18 and just went in June. My brother is 20 and went to the Youth Festival.

They wanted to send us by ourselves. They wanted us to get a better experience. It’s different when you’re on your own. You enter in more. You don’t have anyone to fall back on or distract you. 

Going up Apparition Hill for the first time was like, “Wow, this is what my family has talked about for years, and I’m finally seeing it. I’m finally here, and I can see what they saw and walk where they walked.”

My parents have a picture of them kneeling after walking up Križevac [Cross Mountain] barefoot. They were kneeling in front of the cross. I recreated that picture today.

All of us in our family have now walked barefoot up Cross Mountain. It feels like a tradition now. 

Mirjana is so beautiful in person. She has this joy about her. It’s unmatched to anything else I’ve ever seen. It’s like a glow that she has. No matter how much pain she’s in, because I know that she has knee and back pain, she’s still so happy. She still looks so beautiful and joyful. 

It’s surreal that she’s serving us. I read her book a couple years ago. My parents talk about her all the time. When you see her, you’re like, “She’s a celebrity,” and then she’s serving you soup. I wish I could be as humble as her. 

She doesn’t care about being asked questions. She’s so happy to tell people over and over again. 

It’s a lot more than I thought it was going to be. I was imagining you just pray every day, and that’s about it, but it’s a lot more beautiful in person. Being able to be out on your own, it’s a totally new experience.

I could do the same things over and over again, and I don’t get tired of them. I climbed Apparition Hill this morning at sunrise. It was gorgeous. I climbed up in the dark. By the time I got up there, the sun wasn’t totally up yet so I got to sit there as it got lighter and lighter which was really cool.

I’m pretty sore, but it’s worth it. I don’t know when I’m going to be here next. 

I hope my family comes to Medjugorje together. That would be really cool, all of us being able to go here. I want to climb Križevac with all of them. 

I want to bring home a newer lifestyle that I’m going to try to force myself to keep with. This is such a simple life. There are no other problems that you have here. All you get to do is go to Mass and pray and hike up a mountain whenever you want to. Obviously, I’m not going to be able to do that back in Missouri, but making myself pray the Rosary every day, and going to daily Mass is something new that I want to try. That’s my biggest takeaway, a new vigor to want to go to daily Mass and pray more and make Our Lady proud.