Joanne: The first time I came was in 1988. I was a lot different than it is now. There were no hotels, no roads, we walked everywhere through the fields, and there were tobacco fields here which there are not anymore. We stayed in people’s homes. I came with my parents and my sister and my life changed. My life just changed immensely — my prayer life, my spiritual life. Then we got married a year later and I didn’t come back [to Medjugorje] until 2015 with my friends. Jo didn’t really want to come. It’s our 30th anniversary so this is why he’s here now.
So I said, “It’s our anniversary. What are we going to do? Where are we going to go?” And he’s like, “Well where do you want to go?” And I said, “You know where I want to go.” So he said, “Okay.”
And here we are together, finally, after thirty years.
Jospeh: I’ve always been interested, I guess is the best word for it. It’s a very unique place. I’m a little taken aback by the number of people. Hearing the descriptions for the last almost thirty years. It was described as much quieter and peaceful. It’s peaceful. You can get a lot of peace, but it’s not a peaceful environment just with the sheer number of people.
So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised and keeping an open heart and an open mind to what’s to come.
I hadn’t been to confession in many, many years. The priest helped me through it a little bit which was nice. He didn’t make eye contact with me which was even better. He was patient and told me to take my time and however long I needed to get it out. He was willing to work with me.
We haven’t been to Cross Mountain yet. We’re looking forward to the climbs and being on the mountain and seeing that.
I think it’s beneficial [for our marriage]. Probably before getting here it wouldn’t have been my first choice for an anniversary trip, but now that I’m here, I’m glad I’m here.
Joanne: We just started here so we’re looking forward to what’s coming up. But it’s nice to be away from home, away from everything, and really just spend the time in prayer and peace and not think about day-to-day things.
I’m looking forward to going back to Cross Mountain. I like that climb, and I like getting up there. To me, it’s awesome. It’s spectacular. You don’t know until you get up there how big that cross is. It’s a peaceful place. There’s a lot of places to just go off on your own and just sit and meditate.
I loved Tea With Rosie. I never did that. That was a first time for me. That was great. I love her. She was great.
Mary’s Meals I went to visit. I’ve always wanted to. I donate to them all the time. And I got T shirt.
Joseph: I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to [coming back to Medjugorje]. Getting here is not the easiest thing in the world but that’s okay. It’s part of the sacrifice.
Joanne: One of my prayers here is that I’m begging the Blessed Mother. I want to come back with my son to Youth Festival next year. He’s 20 and I think he would love it here. That’s one of my main prayers here.
I think [Medjugorje] is good for the both of us together as a couple. I think it will bring us closer in prayer. I have a lot of prayer groups with other people.
Joseph: Joanne is much more involved in the day to day activities of church life than I am. I observe, I attend mass, but I don’t get into the weeds as much and as often as Joanne does. I’m sure my participation will increase somewhat at home; get me back into praying a little bit more.
Joanne: It’s a whole different way of living your life — a whole different way of thinking, different way of praying. I love it here.
One of the fruits that I brought back from Medjugorje, I started in my church, every Wednesday night, we say the Rosary for peace [peace Rosary]. We do that every Wednesday night in our church. We’ve been doing it now for maybe ten years.