Category Archives: language

“Photographs and Memories”

NOTE: I had some another place that I blog and I decided to delete it, but I wanted to keep the memories. So I’m combining everything on to this blog.

It’s been a long time coming…I think
Monday, March 16, 2009

I get a bit confused about what I wrote on my myspace blog and what I put in a facebook note. So here is a sample of the last 6 months of my life. In the past couple of months, I have:

  • Traveled around the middle of Italy, the seaport of Croatia, and to Medjurgorje.
  • Survived working with Stella and at SEV.
  • Had my heart bruised and somewhat hurt.
  • Been frustrated with the way that the world works.
  • Spent Christmas in Texas for the first time in countless number of years.
  • Spent New Year’s Eve with friends.
  • Tried to OD on rock shows, Tex-Mex, and boba before returning to Korea.
  • Sold a lot of books and still had a small library.
  • Had a meltdown in Japan – I think it’s because I’m Korean.
  • Ran into a fellow RPCV from stage in Peace Corps Morocco while in the Incheon airport.
  • Remembered why I dislike all American airlines, except for Southwest.
  • Spent time with friends I haven’t seen in like 3 years.
  • Sold my car.
  • Caught on most of the American television that I’ve missed in the last 5 years.
  • Tried to send everyone that I could think of a Christmas card (in Korean, of course).
  • Lost about 40 pounds in weight limits on international flights between Korea and the States.
  • Started to do daily Rosaries, honestly.
  • Reread a good portion of my books in my personal library.
  • GUILTY SECRET: Read the Twilight books and they’re worse than adult romance books.
  • Forgot to get a t-shirt from Connie and David.
  • Got called “Aunt Carrot” by one of my nephews, even though “Eun Sook emo” and “Karen” are easy to say, but not “Aunt Karen.”
  • Embarrassed myself while attempting to get over #3.
  • Moved back to Korea.
  • Now teaching at an public elementary school in Song-pa.
  • Moved in to a new apartment.
  • Moved all my stuff that I had stored around Seoul into my new apartment.
  • Started laughing more.
  • Was told that I was a terrible dresser and I need to go on reality tv to learn how to dress, wear makeup, and get my hair done properly.
  • Decided to go to Russia for vacation this year.
  • Tried to let go, especially of past hurts.
  • Was told that I wasn’t Christian.
  • Voted for McCain and got Obama instead.
  • Thought about getting a “What the FOCA” t-shirt but it was too expensive and I only had 100 pounds free on my ticket.
  • Probably needs to go through ESL classes again.
  • Still haven’t seen Breaking Benjamins live.

“Deep In the Heart of Texas”

NOTE: I had some another place that I blog and I decided to delete it, but I wanted to keep the memories. So I’m combining everything on to this blog.

My Texas Vacation
Thursday, February 26, 2009

So since some people will be curious/interested in my vacation here are the highlights of things that I experienced, saw, enjoyed, really disliked about being back in Texas the last two months. Enjoy or don’t enjoy, it’s up to you.

  • I loved the wide variety of food. And yes I had Tex-Mex alot.
  • Yes, you can be a tourist in your own city and with your friends. Especially if they lead busy lives.
  • And it can be extremely frustrating to try and keep the barage of information on the changes straight that everyone has experienced. I may ask for a bunch of powerpoint presentations next time.
  • But it was still great to catch with everything that was/is going on in their lives.
  • I didn’t visit as many museums as I thought that I would have.
  • I enjoyed baking more than I have ever before, mostly likely because it’ll be a while before I get the chance to bake again.
  • Going to rock shows with Zharleen was great because we pretty much have the same taste in rock and anytime she says that the band is good, I know to believe her.
  • It’s frustrating when people try to talk me into doing things because I’m not the same person that they knew before.
  • On one hand it was nice not to drive but it’s annoying to have to look for rides places. At least my friends like to go to Mass and out to eat.
  • I forgot how much I liked Chickfila.
  • Tex-Mex and southern style barbeque never tasted so good in my life.
  • Yes, I still had Korean food, while I was here. How Korean, am I?
  • I spent many hours reading through my library and it was extremely enjoyable.
  • Somehow I’m leaving without a shirt from Connie and David.
  • Somehow I didn’t meet Popple and I’m really not sure how that exactly happened.
  • America is no longer expensive to me.
  • It was interesting how many people that I met that had lived or worked in countries that I have lived or visited and how much I could remember of that language.
  • Mass at Holy Rosary is what Mass should be like.
  • I’m in America and I still can find Wonder Girls and their dance moves.
  • Christmas in America is like nothing else in the world.
  • I didn’t take as many pictures as I thought that I would have.
  • What was the channel that I was supposed to be able to watch NHL games, I looked hard and I still couldn’t find it. That made me sad. I was only able to watch the Winter Classic. That made me sadder.
  • In some ways American television (actual shows, not reality junk) has gotten better (actors, writing, direction), but they’re all procedural shows, except for BSG, The Office, Firday Night Lights, and the stuff on CW.
  • I saw only two movies while I was here and I don’t think that any of them were up for awards this year.
  • I really don’t like the abundance of celebrity dirt/news/reality shows.
  • Galveston makes me sad to see everything that’s still affected by Ike.
  • For some reason, I watched a lot of trailers for upcoming movies, I really want to see GI Joe, Transformers 2, Race to Witch Mountain, the Soloist, Fast and the Furious, Gigantic, X-Men Wolverince Origins, Terminator Salvation, My Sister’s Keeper, Harry Potter 6, Game, Fame, Brothers At War, Duplicity
  • It is a bit boring to be the only one not working or studying especially if you don’t have a car.
  • I miss not being an “exotic”.
  • In addition to Eun Sook, Karen, Karina, Katya, Karrie, I will also now answer to Aunt Carrot.

“Random Thoughts”

NOTE: I had some another place that I blog and I decided to delete it, but I wanted to keep the memories. So I’m combining everything on to this blog.

25 Random Things About Me…
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

  1. I was too busy reading to do this when I was first tagged.
  2. I love the fact that it only takes 2 hours tops to do a load of laundry if you have a dryer.
  3. I don’t like drunk idiots at rock shows.
  4. I don’t like huge groups of people.
  5. No matter where I’m at in the world I still listen to Around the Horn and PTI.
  6. I like to stand out in the opposite way, i.e. I don’t like WonderGirls.
  7. I don’t like coffee unless there’s a LOT of chocolate milk.
  8. Root beer is my favorite drink.
  9. I am a huge mushball.
  10. I’m a goober…anyone who really knows me knows that this is a fact.
  11. I sold over 150 book at Half Price books and I still own a library.
  12. #11 doesn’t scare me at all. In fact, I know that I’m missing a lot of books to my collection.
  13. My dream house has a huge library (the Beast’s would be ideal) and an amazing kitchen.
  14. My patience for children is amazing but my patience with full grown adults is quite limited.
  15. I’ve decided to have one big travel trip a year. 2009 will be Russia, I think.
  16. There’s no place like Texas and I miss it when I’m gone.
  17. I don’t watch American football except for the Super Bowl or when I feel homesick.
  18. I could watch Food TV all day long, except for Rachel Ray.
  19. I think that teachers, fire fighters, and police officers should be paid more than athletes, actors, and musicians.
  20. I’ve eatten mostly junk food since I’ve been back.
  21. I miss going to the Christmas market.
  22. I was awestruck when I saw the Pope live and in person.
  23. I know a priest in Scranton, PN who has a secretary named Pam.
  24. I’d rather be hot than cold and anything under 70F/18C is cold.
  25. The perfect day is curled up on a rainy day with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate, and good music in the background.
  26. To make certain people happy, here’s an additional 5 things. Enjoy.

  27. Psylocke is my favorite comic book character for the obvious reasons and because she’s just cool.
  28. Hockey is my favorite sport, followed by soccer/football and a distant last is curling.
  29. Sleeping is one of my favorite hobbies, don’t wake me up unless you really have to.
  30. I may not pay too much attention to sports during the year, but I will for March Madness, the World Cup, the Olympics, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs
  31. You can bribe me with books, chocolate, good food, or sleep.

Femi Omoni
I don’t see anything about comic books in here.
Theresa Spooner
Thank goodness for #18. I’m glad you oppose Rachel Ray as well.

Bunmi Ishola
I want Beast’s library too. #24 is totally me. And I agree with #19.

Caroline Scherrer
I agree. Rachel Ray is the she-devil.

Karen Eun Sook Spooner
It is the first 25 RANDOM thoughts…

Bill Chong
‎#17 is the same as me. Soccer!!! The best sport God gave us!!

Karen Eun Sook Spooner
Happy, Femi?

Jennifer Thackston Johnson-Cooper
We don’t like Rachel Ray around here either. Something about her voice. And a lot of her food really sucks.

Karen Eun Sook Spooner
That and she’s lied about her childhood to make herself more marketable.

“Breaking All the Rules”

NOTE: I had some another place that I blog and I decided to delete it, but I wanted to keep the memories. So I’m combining everything on to this blog.

Graduation 2008.11.21
Friday, November 21, 2008

I had to work during the graduation today at SEV. And if there’s anything that I would put at the top of things that I loathe and dread, it would be graduation. But while I was a graduation I found this list of rules that a student wrote and it was a bright spot in a sad two hours. This is what was written:

No Lo
1. no eat in the room
2. no spiking Korean
3. no fighting
4. no runing
5. no shouting
6. no kicking chair
7. be quite
8. no punching
9. no drinking
10. listen carseful

Words to live by I think.

“Seven Nation Army”

NOTE: I had some another place that I blog and I decided to delete it, but I wanted to keep the memories. So I’m combining everything on to this blog.

Day 13 – Ancona, Loreto, Lower Assisi
Nov 3rd

There wasn’t too much except for the poor drug smelling dog who would much rather play with us than do his job sniffing out drugs. That and he went insane after one truck, which of course meant that the Italian police really, really wanted to talk to him.

In Loreto, we saw the Basilica which houses three of the four walls, the roof, and the floor of the house that Mary was born, raised in, and conceived Jesus in. Seeing this house/shrine and the Eucharistic Miracle and the Pope were my top three moments of my trip I think.

In Lower Assisi, we went to one of the Basilicas that was built around one of the churches that St. Francis restored by himself with his own hands. While we were there, Father Jose and I wanted to see the altar of St. Clare and so I had to use my French, because I don’t speak Italian and the women didn’t speak English or Korean to talk the women into letting us see the altar.

We had to wait a while to go to the hotel because Charlie and not me, I promise, was lost, so we had to wait for him to show up.

Day 14 – Upper Assisi
Oct 4th St. Francis & St. Clare Basilicas, San Damiano

This was the day about visiting as many churches as possible. We went to

St. Francis Basilica was massive. Everywhere you turned around there was something to see and to marvel at. In the basement, there was a museum of things that were from St. Francis’s life. At the top of the Basilica, there was a lawn with some bushes trimmed to spell out “Pax” with the tau cross, the one that St. Francis used and preferred.

St. Clare’s Basilica, which was a little disappointing because it really wasn’t as well kept as I thought it would be. It was a bit smaller than the other Basilicas that I have been to. The frescos had been chipped away. In the basement was a shrine of things that came from St. Clare’s life and her tomb.

The house that St. Francis was brought up was turned into a small chapel. But you could still see the room that St. Francis’s parents locked him inside in the hopes of making him “sane.”

During lunch we went to another Basilica, this is the church (then) that St. Francis and St. Clwhile he was are were baptised in. We unfortunately got there too late to go down through the catacombs. Inside the Basilica there was a statue of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows and to see her there with the seven swords stabbing her just made me cry. In a side chamber, there were these amazing fresco paintings of the late Pope John Paul II. My favorite was titled “Strength in Weakness,” it showed the Pope praying while kneeling during the latter stages of Parkinison’s disease and the disease taking a toll on his body, but not his Faith.

Of course there was a Father John moment: he touched one of the paintings and of course the alarm went off. So then he was trying to turn it off, but there was nothing he could do. I thought that Guy was going to kill Fr. John, but then he had this sign of resigned understanding that it was Fr. John on his face.

After lunch we prayed the rosary in the Church of Mary over Minerva. It was a converted Roman temple dedicated to Minerva, the outside of the church looked like Roman temple, but inside there was a beautiful altar of Mary with Jesus.

In the afternoon we made the hike to San Damiano, which became the original chapter house for the Poor Clares. We weren’t supposed to take pictures inside San Damiano but thanks to Fr. John we were able to.

Day 15 & 16 – Assisi, Rome, Seoul
Nov 5 & 6

So everyone had to leave for a flight either at 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. and of course my flight wasn’t until 4 p.m. So I left my luggage at the airport and went to St. Peter’s Square to attend the Pope’s General Audience. After I made it through the security, and there was enough security to make sure that nothing happened to the Pope, there was about one Swiss National Guard member, Italian military member, or one Roman police officer to every three or four people. Eventually the Pope drove around St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile. I was so close to him that he waved at me and of course being the goober that I am I completely forgot about the camera in my hands until it was almost too late to take a picture of him. And the same thing happened when he was giving his speech. I just stood there thinking about how amazing Pope Benedict is and how lucky we are as Catholics to have him as our Pope that it took a while to remember to film what he was saying. At the end of the General Audience, he invited everyone to sing with him “Pater Noster.”

On the plane back to Seoul, I proved how much of a Korean girl that I am…I was so happy to be on a Korean Air flight because I was craving kim-chi and Korean food, but really I just wanted kim-chi.

I was so tired from my very long day that I didn’t care that the taxi driver took the long way back to SEV.

“Croatian Rhapsody”

NOTE: I had some another place that I blog and I decided to delete it, but I wanted to keep the memories. So I’m combining everything on to this blog.

Day 6 – Split, Vrebic, Medjurgorje
October 27th

We arrived early in the morning in Split, the wake-up call was 6:30am. Ugghhh. I really hate early morning wakeup calls. Once again we had to keep Fr. John from falling into the port…surprise, surprise I know.

The bus ride to Vrebic was something either out of a painting or a movie. The pictures I took aren’t the greatest, my camera’s a bit old and not that good anymore. Fr. Jose and I talked for most of the bus trip, so that’s another reason I don’t have too many pictures of Split or the ride to Vrebic.

Our Lady of Lourdes in Vrebic, I honestly didn’t understand too well, my Slovak to begin with isn’t that great and there are some definite linguistical differences beginning to emerge between the Slavic languages. But the basics that I could understand is that there was almost the same miracles there in Vrebic that occurred famously (at least to the Catholics around the world) in Lourdes, France. Miraculous waters that heal whomever drinks them. The guy at the shop near the Shrine was impressed by my Slovak until I didn’t have any Croatian marks, then he switched to English and wasn’t too impressed with me anymore. :o(

We finally arrived in Medjurgorje, after a weird check point, but with the tensions between Croatians and Bosniaks, I do understand. After a small tour around the parish of Medjurgorje on the bus, we finally arrived at Mirijana’s house. I was greeted by her daughter’s dog, which was fine with me. After an amazing lunch of traditional Croatian food, we had a walking tour of Medjurgorje.

St. James’s Church isn’t the most beautiful Church that I’ve ever attended Mass in, but it’s definitely the most honest. No one was there because they were doing the bare minimum to be a “good” Catholic, everyone was there because being Catholic and striving to do all that God asks of them is the most important goal in their lives. The 6pm Mass was beautiful: you actually arrive at 5pm and everyone there does International versions of the Rosary, different priests from around the world with lead the recital of the Mysteries in their native language and the rest of the people with complete the prayers in their own languages. So if you aren’t too sure of what I’m talking about, it goes like this:

The priest in their language: “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Everyone else in their language: “Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.”

Around 5:50pm, the is an appariation of Mary at the Church. Then at 6pm the Mass begins, the majority of the Mass is in Croatian, but the Gospel is read in the languages of the priests that are present at that Mass. So that night, we heard the Gospel in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Korean, Maliali, Polish, Portugeuse, and Spanish.

I met one of the cutest babies ever. His name is Benjamin, he’s from France. He has the cubbiest cheeks with the blackest onyx eyes. By the end of my ackward, rusty French conversation with his mom and a session of peckaboo, he was able to say goodbye to me in Korean.

Day 7 – Medjurgorje (Vicka)
really October 28th

We got to sleep in (8am…yeah!!!) and then we had an unbelievable breakfast cooked by Mirjana’s sister-in-law (fresh bread, Croatian cheese, real French bread, and tea). After that we walked to Vicka’s house to hear the latest messge that she received from Mary. It was one of the most interesting experiences because if a visionary just received a visit from someone that is very known and highly thought of in your religion and had something to tell you, wouldn’t you want to hear the message NOW? She had several translators (German, English, Korean, French, Spanish, etc.). The first time she spoke in Croatian and someone translated in German; the second time she spoke in Italian and two people translated into English and Korean. There wasn’t any pushing or shoving to get closer to Vicka or to get one of the very few seats. The people there were, without being asked, making room for those who were older, very young, or in obvious bad health and even asking if they could take a picture for someone in the back. It was just the complete opposite of how people usually act nowadays, it was very refreshing to witness this.

We then went to this place that was set up for young people who wanted to spend some time in Medjurgorje but didn’t have a place to stay. The garden there is beautiful and is open all year round (I think) during daylight hours, the only thing that they ask is that you don’t speak while you are there so that you don’t distrurb anyone else’s thoughts, prayers, meditation, etc. There is a tiny little chapel that barely holds thirty people but the amazing thing is that this was built by people who at one point in time lived there, sort of like St. Francis of Assisi.

After the English Mass, we went back to Mirjana’s for lunch and her sister-in-law (you’d think that after spending so much time eating her food and trying to get her to let me help by at least clearing the tables I would know her name, but no I never learned it).

That evening I had probably the longest reconcilation that I’ve ever had. It was funny the priest that I was talking to was stationed in Korea during the 1960’s and he knew the area that I’m living in right now and where a friend of mine is stationed.

Day 8 – Medjurgorje (Fr. Jozo Zovko)
October 29th

So at the English Mass the celebrant was a priest originally from Rwanda but now serving the diocese of Las Vegas and serioudly he gave one of the best homilies that I have ever heard. It was AMAZING. He didn’t just absently mention the Catechism when talking about finding another rubric for how to live your life, he showed it and really talked about it. I honestly wished I had my copy of the Catechism right there, that and that he was my parish priest.

After the English Mass, we went to “Whatever,” Bosnia to see Fr. Jozo Zovko. On the way there Miki, our wonderful tour guide who put up with his fair share of random questions from Fr. John and myself, told us more about the history of Croatians and Bosnia.

The village is not really named “Whatever” but several years ago a friend of Miki’s, another guide, was taking a group to see Fr. Jozo, the priest that was traveling with them offered to help her by standing in the middle of the bus and relaying everything that she was saying to the back of the bus. Because to be honest the buses in Bosnia are EXTREMELY old and they have to carry people around very curvy nountains with plenty of blind curves. Not as bad as the souq buses in Morocco traveling from Marrakesh to Ouarzazate or Ouarzazete to Agadir but bad enough. The real name is Siroki Brijeg.

Siroki Brijeg is a quiet village that once had a Franciscan monastary. During the communist era some soliders went to Siroki Brijeg and demanded that the priests take off their habits and renounce God. They all refused. The brothers even sent the young men who hadn’t taken Holy Orders yet home so that they wouldn’t be killed. But the young men refused because by going home they felt as if it was the same as renouncing God. So they stayed. The soliders came back and this time they were threatened with death. The priests and boys said to take off their vestments would be the same as taking off their skins and they would rather die than to renounce God. One solider refused and his commanding officer shot him in the head. Another killed himself rather than kill the men. And a third tried to shot the men without killing them. After the soliders shot the priests, they shoved them in to a “cave,” which was more like a coat closet under a staircase, set the cave on fire and then cover the entrances so that none of the villagers could help the men.

This event help make the Franciscans even more popular. And made the Catholics in Yugoslavia even more determined to stand up to Communism.

Fr. Jozo said that this event helped influence him to become a priest and later on to fight the Communist government to protect the six children who saw the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjurgorje. He was imprisoned for 3 years because the government hoped that that would stop all the talks of apparitations in the village of Medjurgorje, but it didn’t because Fr. Jozo had nothing to do with what the children were saying.

He had this amazing speech that touched on everything from the DaVinci Code, priorities in life, prayer, prayer life, the rosary, pilgrammages, sin.

So now Fr. Jozo does talks for pilgrims and runs an orphanage for children of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, particularly young women. There apparently is over 45,000 orphans because of a civil war based on religion, ethnicity, and nationalism. It’s so sad to see that is the case in so many parts of the world. But to see all that Fr. Jozo has done makes a difference in their lives and in other people’s lives to see what happens to the children that are left behind after the politics and convictions move on.

On a much different note, we had lunch at the national tennis training center where some professional tennis players first began training. Once again my Slovak came in handy when everyone was curious about how much the drinks were.

Day 9 – Medjurgorje (Appariation Hill)
Oct 30th

So what else do you do on a say that has had a wet, dark, overcast morning? You walk up Apparition HIll and do the Glorious Mysteries. BUt to be serious, there’s a simple beauty in walking up the Hill and looking at the sculptures that have been pretty recently placed o help guide you as you pray the Rosary.

The was this small grotto of sorts filled with mementos and crosses and thank you from previous pilgrims that have climbed Apparition Hill. MIki was telling us the story of the statue that is on Apparation Hill. A Korean family’s only child, had epilepsy and/or autism, and the son could never be left alone. The mother had such deep faith that she felt/knew if she and the boy did a pilgrimage to Medjurgorje there would be great rewards. So tehy went to Medjurgorje intending to stay a week, but at the end of the week when the rest of the Korean pilgrims were supposed to leave, she and her son stayed behind. She ended up staying a month. At the end of the month, right before she was about to leave, she decided to do one more prayer session up Apprarition Hill. When she went back to the hotel, her son was behaving like a normal boy his age. When they returned to Korea, the tests all came back normal. In gratitude to Our Lady of Medjurgorje, she and her husband donated a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Medjurgorje with the inscription in English and Korean asking for peace for the world and reunification of the Korean peninsula.

There are many stories like that from pilgrims and each one stays completely unique, at least to me, and it also shows that if it is worth it then it’s worth everything.

Day 10 – Medjurgorje (Mirjana)
Oct 31st

After breakfast we were able to liten to Mirjana tell us her story. Afterwards we were able to ask her questions. Two things that stood out for me were:

  1. The reminder that it is easy to be caught up with the apparitions of Mary, but the real message that should be taken from her visits are the words and the way to Jesus. And she made a comment about how pilgrims sometimes seek her blessing and she always tells them that her blessing is nothing compared to a priest’s blessing because he is in a sense an extension of Jesus.
  2. So many other visionaries entered religious life and for her and the other visionaries of Medjurgorje to marry and to have children. She talked to us about her own personal philosophy on family and raiding children. It was good to hear someone that has been so touched by God that still has a family.

I apparently had the depressing question of the day when I asked her about how she lives in a world with its fair share of hate, war, anti-God stances, etc.

I’m glad that she was more than willng to take the time to talk to us. I can’t imagine how exhausted she must feel from everyone that comes to Medjugorje that wants to talk to her.

Day 11 – Medjurgorje (Rehab house)
Nov 1st

There is a rehab center near Mirjana’s house, there we listened to two young men tell their amazing stories.

The first man (I sincerely can’t remember his name, I want to call him Merko, but it’s wrong) is a Bosniak, an ethnic Croatian who is Muslim and lives in Bosnia. He is the only child of a family that lost his father during the war. He adored his father and he loves his mother but not too the same level of his father. He didn’t listen to his mother, started drinking at an early age, and breaking the law. Eventually his family had an intervention and gave his the option of jail or this rehab plan that they heard of in Medjurgorje. He comes from a pretty wealthy family in Bosnia, so he was always the first to get the newest thing. But at the rehab center everything there was built by the boys and girls that lived there. He accepted Jesus into his life, but when it was time to visit home he was extremely nervous about how everyhome back home would react to his conversion. When he was home, at first everything was great his family and friends were excited to see him and to see him reformed and changed for the better,but when his rosary accidently fell out of his pocket and there was a change in everyone’s attitudes. His family and friends were happy that he was rehabilitated but they wanted him to give up Jesus, saying that Jesus and the rosary were not necessary for his recovery. He was only required to stay at the rehab center for 3 years, but he’s beenthere for 8 years and counting so that he can help others who have fallen down like him.

The other young man that spoke to us, was from San Antonio, and had a very similar story as the first man but he came from a very Catholic family. He actually entered a sister rehab center in Florida, and to shake things up so that the patients do not become too complacent every once and a while a patient is sent to another location. That’s how he ended up in Medjurgorje.

If you saw the place in Medjurgorje, it’s amazing to see that every building and place there was built by the residents. It’s amazing to see what has happened there. I heard that there is an 87% success rate, using onl prayer and physical labor (gardening for food, maintaining living areas, managing the store, etc.). Most places in the United States that rely on psychotheraphy and drugs apparently have less than 20% success rate.

Day 12 – Medjurgorje (Blessed Virgin Mary), Split, ferry to Ancona
Nov 2nd

Early the morning we went to the rehab center again. The entire place was packed with people. Some of the residents were performing songs when we weren’t praying the rosary together. It was like the 6p.m. Mass, the rosary in several different languages. I didn’t see the Blessed Virgin Mary when she appeared, but I really wasn’t looking, I was just more focused on feeling the experience of being there. There was an honest difference in the air. It was more than the peace that you feel and experience all the way to and through your bones, it was just more.

As we were leaving for Split, we saw the Miracle of the Sun. I could see/stare at the sun without it hurting my eyes. The edges were a pale blue and there was a faint cross in the middle of the sun. The sun was dancing in the sky. I’ve heard about this miracle several times but to see it is something else.

We slept on another ferry to Ancona, Italy. This time is was much more crowded than before. But since I was rooming with Beth and Pat, we got to be in one of the bigger rooms with the bathroom inside of the communal showers in the hall. There was nothing remarkable about this trup, partly because it was the same exact ship that we had taken to Split. But we had to keep Father John from falling in again.

“Roma, Roma, Roma”

NOTE: I had some another place that I blog and I decided to delete it, but I wanted to keep the memories. So I’m combining everything on to this blog.

October 22

So starting 22 October 2008 until 6 November 2008, I traveled from Rome to San Giovanni Rotondo to Lanciano to Ancona to Split to Medjurgorje to Ancona to Assisi to Rome. And now that you understand all that, here’s some of the highlightsç

  • I went to the Angelus at St. Peter’s Square and was blessed by Pope Benedict the 16th.
  • I saw the Sistine Chapel.
  • I saw the Eucharistic Miracle at Lanciano. That’s where the host turned into flesh and the wine became blood. Jesus and I have the same blood type, AB negative.
  • I slept aboard a ship twice and both times I didn’t fall out of my bed!
  • I went to Medjurgorje.
  • Gabby should be excited I haven’t forgotten all my Slovak and Croatians could understand me!
  • I met some amazing priests from around the world.
  • I saw the Miracle of the Sun as I was leaving Medjurgorje
  • I met two of the visionaries of Medjurgorje.
  • I stayed at the house of one of the visionaries of Medjurgorje.
  • I heard two awesome Francisan brothers, Fr. Jozo and Fr. Danko, talk about being Catholic.
  • I learned how to really meditate on the rosary.
  • I climbed the Holy Stairs on my knees.
  • I had the time and space to actually think about some very important things.
  • I saw the incorupt body of Saint Padre Pio.
  • I cried at the foot of Our Lady of Sorrows.
  • I climbed Appariation Hill.
  • I went inside two of the three churches that Saint Francis of Assisi restored by himself.
  • I bought 10 pounds of books (shock).
  • I ate way too much Lindts chocolate.
  • I listened to the stories of two former drug addicts and how they changed their lives.
  • I now have penpals in France, India, Las Vegas\Rwanda, Oklahoma.
  • I had to carry an OU bag.
  • I was the official photographer for the unofficial photographer of Vatican City.
  • I have almost all my Christmas shopping done.
  • I got adopted again.
  • French is nothing like Italian.
  • If I don’t get married, I have an invitation to join the Poor Clares.
  • I met the mothers\aunts of three eligible Filipino bachelors.
  • I improved at sleeping through ridiculous noises at night.
  • I met someone who takes WAY more pictures than me.
  • I ate my fair share of gelato, pasta, and pizza.
  • I really missed my computer and the Internet.

Day 2
October 23

We were able to sleep in until 7:30am (craziness right?!) We headed back to Rome and spent the day in Vatican City, officially the smallest country in the world. While there, I became the official photographer to the unofficial photographer of the Catholic Church, Father John. He’s an Indian priest that is serving the diocese in Scranton, Pennsylvania and he has a secretary named Pam (most of you should get the “joke”).

To be in St. Peter’s Square that the Pope gives blessings and canonizes Saints, is just an amazing feeling. And St. Peter’s Cathedral is unbelievable, it was literally built on the bones of St. Peter (the “rock” that Jesus said he would build his Church on and handed the keys to heaven to – which is why most of the statues and paintings of St. Peter has him holding keys). Then we split apart, some went shopping, so went to the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica, and some went to the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel. I went with the group to the Vatican Museum and it was unbelievable the treasures that were there and how well perserved they were. It was definitely not a place where you would want to break something. Which in the main room was a poor museum worker trying in vain to get everyone to stop talking and not to take pictures. I think that it was torture for poor Father John not to be able to take pictures.

We then took a tour of the Purgatory Museum and saw relics that came from people who visited relatives and friends asking for prayers, pilgrimmages, etc. so that they could leave purgatory. After Mass, when we left the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, there was this growing huge storm of birds. It looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s the Birds. I was a bit freaked out by the sight of that many birds.

Day 3
October 24, 2008

This day was all about beautiful Italian churches and cathedrals. We went to :

  • Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Health
  • Church of Mary Major
  • Church of Peter in Chains
  • Church of St. Gregory
  • Church of Saints John and Paul
  • Cathedral of John Latern
  • Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem
  • Church of the Holy Stairs

In addition we saw the Colosseum, the Imperial Forum, the Victor Emanuel Monument, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine.

The Church of Peter in Chains has the chains that St. Paul was imprisoned with and executed with. The chains were cut and then were rejoined by themselves.

St. Gregory’s had a beautiful statue dedicated to Mother Teresa.

Who ever designed the churches and the cathedrals that we saw today was brillant. The paintings behind the altars weren’t even paintings, they were mosaics so that they wouldn’t fade. And I could take photos inside without worrying too much about ruining works of art as long as there wasn’t a wedding occurring.

I climbed the Holy Stairs (the stairs that Jesus was condemned on) on my knees. As you’re climbing up you can see drops of Jesus’s blood. The first five steps were fine, the next five were okay, the next several were doable, and the next thirteen steps were painful. And even now I still have bruises from climbing the stairs on my knees.

Because it was Saturday, it was the day of weddings, especially in the afternoon, it was hard to enter a church that wasn’t having a mass. Sorry. But I thought at first it was a funeral because everyone was in black but then when you entered the church, it was obviously a wedding.

While we were around the Palatine, there were some questionable men dressed as Roman Centaurions walking around trying to pose with (mostly female) tourists. But my favorite was the Roman Centaurion that was constantly talking on his cell phone.

There still wasn’t any internet.

Day 4 – Rome, Monte Cassino, San Giovanni Rotondo
25 October 2008

We woke up extremely early so we could have mass and then head to the Vatican so we could attend the Angelus with Pope Benedict the 16th. We had time to spare between the time we arrived in Vatican City and when the Angelus started, so I went to Italian Mass at the Church of Mary of the Rosary, which as of right now is the most beautiful church that I have ever been in. The ceiling was decorated with stars in constellation patterns, there were beautiful mosaics on all the side altars, and beautiful stain glass windows. The beauty of the Italian Mass (in my opinion) is that they’ve retained alot of Latin in it’s everyday Mass.

I have to admit that the tourists that went to the Angelus annoyed me. While the Pope was speaking, it was almost impossible to hear him because it seemed like everyone was speaking, not even attempting to whisper, St. Peter’s Square sounded more like a pub than an Angelus.

After we left Rome, we went to Monte Cassino – the monastery of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. It was an impressive shrine to the brother and sister Saints, but most of the statues were outside and it was raining.

San Giovanni Rotondo is where Saint Padre Pio’s shrine is at. We stayed at this extremely nice hotel. The food courses were delicious, so pretty much everyone was looking forward to the dessert course. When the dessert course arrived, if someone had taken a picture of our faces, it would be one of the funniest things that you saw. I think that all our jaws were on the floor. We had just had handmade tortellini, fresh garden grown vegetables, homemade bread and then we were served two slices of canned pineapples with chocolate or strawberry sauce on top. Our driver, Pepe, was just shaking his head, muttering that this was not an Italian dessert.

Day 5 – San Giovanni Rotondo, Lanciano, Ancona,the ferry to Split
26 October 2008

The weather while I was in Rome was amazing, about mid 70s to low 80s, sunny, with a little bit of a breeze.As we started to go eastward, the weather changed and it started to get chillier and not as nice.

COMPLAINT: (feel free to skip): Fall in even the Mediterranean is a bit chilly, so thin blouses, capris, and slide-on shoes are not ideal for a walking pilgrimage that takes place mostly outside. And if you’re a bit older and have problems walking, you shouldn’t be wearing slide-on shoes to begin with, much less in countries with cobblestone roads and dirt roads.

I’m sure that the designers of the new Saint Padre Pio Basilica put a lot of time and effort into the design and to make sure that it met all the criteria to be a proper place of worship, but it didn’t look like a Catholic Cathedral to me. If you told me that it was a protestant church, I wouldn’t have blinked. Very bright colors and odd (at least to me) shaped.

We sent into the old church that Saint Padre Pio used to have Mass in and to see all the pictures of people that he help when he was alive and since he’s been in Heaven is amazing. There are pictures upon pictures, young and old from all around the world and from different times. We were able to have Mass there. It was just an unforgetable experience. After Mass we went to the English bookstore and watched two movies of footage that Padre Pio didn’t want released in his lifetime. And to see him as he was and to hear what he had to say about his life and the things that he did, gives you even more proof that a saint is simply a humble servant who truly hears the Word and Will.

After touring through the museum on Saint Padre Pio’s life, we actually were able to see his body and it seriously looked like he had just died yesterday. But he’s been dead for a long time.

Then a long bus ride to Lanciano, where the Eucharistic Miracle is housed. Apparently in the 1800s a young priest who had doubts that the Eucharist was and is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus was celebrating Mass in Lanciano. As he was sharing the Liturgy of the Eucharist, he said something like, ‘This is the Body of Jesus, I think.’ And the host turned from the piece of bread into flesh in his hand and the wine on the alter turned into blood. During the 1970s with the help of technology, scientists did tests on the flesh and blood and determined that the flesh and blood came from a human being. In the 1980s more tests were done and the flesh is actually from the human heart; both the blood and flesh are from someone that is AB blood-type; and is a match to the blood that is onthe Shroud of Turin (the cloth that was used to bury Jesus after He was crucified).

We then made our way to Ancona, I was asleep, so I’m really not sure what Ancona looks like except for the port. After some confusion over passports, we made it to the ferry. We had to keep an eye on Father John to make sure that he won’t fall into the harbor, even though he assured us that he could swim, his father through him into a well back home in India when he was a small child to teach him how to swim. I love Fr. John but he is like one of the kindergarteners that I’ve taught, you always have to have an eye on him because if you don’t, in one second, he’s gone and you spend at least fifteen minutes looking for him.

After a delicious Croatian meal (the tomato cabbage soup, fresh fish and greens, and chocolate walnut cake) we (Fr. Jose, Fr. John, Beth and I) took a walk around the deck. Both Fathers were very disappointed that we couldn’t go up to the captain’s area. And there was a sign for the Lido bar, but way that the arrow was pointed, the bar was somewhere in the Adriatic sea.

I slept very well that night because I was rocked to sleep by the ferry. Which was good because wake-up was 5:30am