Lisa K. and I returned home last night from our 10 day journey to Croatia and Medjugorje, where we had the joy of meeting so many of our 40 Days for Life family and saw the Holy Spirit working powerfully through their campaigns. Marian asked us each to write a little reflection of our trip, which I am happy to do.
I think I need to start from the beginning, in order to let you all know how God is working so mightily for us through 40 Days for Life!
Last summer a customer of mine gave me a wooden rosary from Medjugorje in Boznia-Herzegovina. I had heard of the place as a pilgrimage site, but had never really had a desire to go there myself. I began using that rosary daily and on the third day was suddenly overcome with a desire to go to there! This happened while I was taking a shower of all things! I actually began to whine like a little kid (out loud…in the shower!)…asking for God to make a way for me to go. As soon as I got out of the shower, I ran downstairs to ask my husband if he would mind, (if I could save up my own money) if I went to Medjugorje! He said it would be fine, (he probably thought I would never be able to save up the money, so he figured he would be safe, LOL!) Anyway, that was going to be my plan….no matter how long it took…I would save the money and go on a group pilgrimage to Medjugorje.
Three weeks later, I went to the 40 Days for Life international symposium in Orlando, along with Lisa K., Marian and Beth. 40 Days for Life leaders from all around the world attended this conference and I had the privilege of being one of the presenters. Right after I spoke, I met the leader from Croatia in the lobby of the hotel. She asked me if I would come to Croatia to speak at their national meeting. I really didn’t know where Croatia was, and didn’t know anything about the country…and was confused as to why she would want me to come there to speak! I said to her, “Why would you want me to come? I don’t speak Croatian, am not a speaker, and have never even traveled outside of the USA!” But then, something clicked in my mind, and I asked, “Wait a minute…isn’t Croatia near Medjugorje?” She answered that it was only a 2-hour drive from Croatia, and said that if I came to Croatia, she would take me to Medjugorje! At that point I think my jaw hit the floor, and I told her the story of how I had suddenly got the desire to go, and had just prayed for a way to go!
So, God is the One who arranged this trip…and I now see why! It was a life-changing experience to see how the Holy Spirit is alive and working in the hearts of the people in Croatia! There are only about 40 campaigns in all of Europe…and 26 of them are in Croatia! They are incredibly organized, with the 26 local leaders reporting to the regional coordinators (Petra, Lidija and Marija), who then report to the national leader (Ante). They begin and end EVERYTHING with prayer. They put God before everything else. We had Mass everyday, Eucharistic adoration and a visit to a shrine…along with many informative presentations and discussions. Watching the joy and the unity among them made me feel as though God had plucked me up and set me down right into the middle of the early Church in Jerusalem, where all the believers were selling their belongings and sharing with one another. These people traveled from their own towns to be together for FOUR DAYS! I felt like such a part of them, that I cried when the conference ended…knowing that I had to leave and may never see them again. It was a truly beautiful experience. As a “spoiled” American, accustomed to comfort and affluence…to see these committed believers, who have suffered so much from the war in the 90’s and have just recently been freed from Communism….was a truly humbling and inspiring experience. Through this experience, God reminded me of the IMPORTANCE of this battle to end abortion. God REALLY cares about this! This issue goes right to His Heart…and so we cannot give up or become complacent. It also helped me to realize how united the family of God is. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, and came from totally different cultures…we had a strong bond in our love from the Lord. I felt more at home among them than I do when I am among non-believers of my own culture. It was beautiful, (or as they say in Croatian…”Lijepo”).
And as for our three days in Medjugorje…it was a gift from God. I carried the prayers for my family and friends to the top of apparition hill and cross mountain…and through the difficulties of climbing in the heat and on the sharp rocks…thanked the Lord for the opportunity to share in a tiny way with His suffering. Being immersed for three days with believers from all around the world, speaking so many different languages…but united in our love for God, was wonderful!
So thank you dear 40 Days for Life family, for reading about my experience. I hope we can once again unite in prayer, fasting and peaceful witness to bring an end to abortion in Pittsburgh! The campaign begins on September 27th and ends November 5th. The schedule is posted and I am ready to sign groups up, so let me know if you are ready to choose your time slot at the vigil at Planned Parenthood. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May God bless you throughout the summer!
Your sister in Christ,