I read a book and I learned about Medjugorje in 2004 or 2005. I wanted to come ever since, but, you know, work and family life, for one reason or another, I just couldn’t do it. 

My sister recently passed away 3 weeks ago from COVID. I think that propelled my decision to do it. They offered me some time off from work, and I asked Our Lady, “Please, if it’s Your will that I should go, please let me go.” And She did.

I feel like my sister’s in heaven. The very first day that I got here, I went to offer a Mass for her. Of course, it’s very recent, but I feel peace in my heart. 

In the Phoenix airport, the first thing they said was, “Americans are not allowed in Croatia until the end of the month.” So basically she said, “Sorry but I’m not gonna do something I’m not supposed to do.”

And I’m like, “Okay. This doesn’t sound right to me because there are more people going– not just from Phoenix, but from all over.” Then it dawned on me, wait a minute, I’m not going to Croatia. I’m going to Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

She said, “Okay let me see the paperwork. Where does it say that you’re going? Let me see the address.” Then she started calling somebody. It took a good 30 minutes, and it was a little bit embarrassing because there were so many people waiting in line. She was very patient. That was the first obstacle. 

Then, the COVID test. I was looking for a lab in the Phoenix area, and I finally found one that did it at 11:30 in the morning. And I got my results 2 hours later so I was ready with that. Then we got to Georgia, and before we boarded the plane, we had to be tested again. There was always that little feeling like I hope I’m not gonna test positive. 

Then we arrived here, and I’ve been feeling pretty good about everything.

But last night, 3 in the morning, I think part of the reason I woke up is that I had that feeling of being afraid at that moment. I was thinking, “What happens here if somehow I get infected?” Especially when my sister passed away from COVID. 

But after the Rosary, I regained my trust and my hope and like, “Okay. This is Your will. Whatever Your will is, I’m here. I already gave You my heart, my mind, my life.” Whatever He wants to do, I let Him. I’m here. 

[ iMedj note: This year will be the 40th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Medjugorje. In honor of this, a group of locals have committed to climbing Apparition Hill every day for one year. They climb every morning, regardless of rain or snow or other commitments to climb the hill later in the day. They began June 25th, 2020, and will end on the 40th anniversary of the apparitions, June 25th, 2021. ]

I wake up around 3 in the morning, pray the Rosary, and then get prepared to go up Apparition Hill. I’m not a morning person, but this morning actually, I was ready to go. I went up to the mountain. It was really dark. That was my first time I’d ever been there. 

You experience something very peaceful, especially when you get to Our Lady’s statue and when you kneel there. I almost felt like I could spend all day there. 

There was a group of Croatian locals. It had to be at least 25-30 people. We were praying the Rosary in all these different languages. 

That they do this everyday is a big commitment because I’m sure that they’re just like everybody else. They’re busy with work and school and family life. So to make that commitment to go up the mountain every day, that’s huge. 

Myself, just praying the Rosary on a daily basis, trying to go to Mass, it’s a big commitment for me. If you add to go up the mountain and spend an hour and a half to do it every single day, it’s just unbelievable. 

For me, this is a beautiful experience and a confirmation of Our Lady’s presence in the world.