Featured article from June's Spirit of Medjugorje

My Life Has Never Been the Same
By Marie-Adele Hayes
      My life was upside down and I was a mess, when a gentleman approached me after Mass one evening and said that Our Lady wanted me "to have these rosaries." I started to cry because they reminded me of my deceased husband's, which I buried with him. The man returned shortly with material about Medjugorje, and invited me to their meetings, where I met many wonderful people. 
     After some time, even though I didn't really believe in it, I decided to go to Medjugorje. I wanted to see what it was all about. After all, all my new friends had gone and couldn't stop talking about it. On this trip, everything that could happen did, and then some! Every fear I ever had materialized – and I found the Lord is the only one that you can trust. 
     This was about thirty years ago, and Yugoslavia was still under Communist control. I made the arrangements and was to meet up with a tour group in Chicago. We were to fly on a Yugoslavian plane to Zagreb and then on to Dubrovnik. On the plane from Dallas to Chicago, I experienced excruciating pain in my upper jaw. I found out later that one of my implants had just come away from the bone. This pain continued on and off through my two-week trip. Then when I reached Chicago, I could NOT find any one in my travel group. (My tour group never did materialize!) 
     When it came time to board the plane, they informed us that we would need to board a bus to get to the plane. I was the last person on the bus, so I was the closest one to the door. When the door opened, there stood a very large Jordanian plane with Arabic writing on the sides. At that time, they were hijacking Jordanian planes and even had killed some of the passengers. Needless to say, no one wanted to get off the bus. We were told it was all right, just to go get on the plane. My sister later asked me, "Why did you go? You were still in the U.S." I don't know; it never occurred to me to stay. 
     We soon realized that the Yugoslavian crew members couldn't read Arabic. The plane appeared to be very old; you could actually see outside in some of the cracks along its insides. Later in the flight, an attendant came back and took about 12 of us up front temporarily to the first class compartment. When I asked why, he said that they needed to balance the weight. I also asked him what was going on up front, and he told me it was better I didn't ask any more questions. We were never given anything to eat or drink on this 13-hour journey. At one point in the flight, I was speaking to a Protestant girl who was also on her way to Medjugorje. She was trying to learn the Hail Mary so she could say the Rosary. While I was helping her, suddenly the plane dropped about 1,000 feet. Everyone was screaming, including me (this had been one of my worst fears). My new friend turned to me and said, "Why are you yelling? The angels have surrounded this plane."
Mt. Krizevac (Cross Mountain)
Mt. Krizevac (Cross Mountain)
     We finally landed in Zagreb, and my luggage had not made it to the plane. All the other people boarded a plane for Dubrovnik, but my ticket had me on another flight at a later time. As I sat waiting, I just watched the soldiers with their guns, all through the airport. Finally I was off for Dubrovnik. When I arrived, a gentleman was waiting with another couple and said that he would place us on a bus for Medjugorje. The bus ride was about two hours, and when we got to Medjugorje, we found out that they didn't have any room for us! We were sent to Citluk for the night and they told us that they would find a place for us the next day. I was glad to have an American couple with me, especially a man, because the Communists didn't seem to have respect for women. I was becoming weak – I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since I left the States over 24 hours previously. The man at the hotel desk called a cab, and he took us to a restaurant. We all had a gourmet meal for about $3.00 each. I couldn't believe it. Back at the hotel I took a shower and realized that all I had to sleep in was my underwear. (My clothes never did arrive until the night before I was supposed to leave. I just washed things out every night and miraculously they were dry the following morning.) 
     The next morning, a police car arrived to take us back to Medjugorje. The man would not speak other than to open the car door and say "IN" in a very disdainful voice. Looking back, I wonder why I wasn't afraid – I was in a very dangerous situation. The Communist policeman took us to a small house, where I was to stay for a week. It was Holy Week and I couldn't have been in a holier place, but neither did I know or care back then. I was thinking only of myself, and I was not very happy about what had already happened. I just wanted this week to pass and get back home. 
     I awoke the next morning only to be able to see a Cross on the top of the mountain. It was a beautiful sight to see every morning. I couldn't get over the peace that is in the village of Medjugorje. I climbed Mt. Krizevac, went to Adoration, said the Rosary, and went to Apparition Hill. I also was able to visit Father Jozo in a neighboring village and hear him preach. All of this I thought was wonderful, but it didn't seem to make a great impression on me, at least not at that particular time. The family I stayed with was lovely, even though they didn't speak any English. They couldn't have given me more – they shared everything, and if they didn't have enough they would make sure we got first servings. It's hard to believe how these poor people were so very generous. I watched so many elderly women working in the fields and grape orchards. They would be there early in the morning and still there late in the evening. What really stayed with me was that outside of Medjugorje, no one seemed to smile and I never saw any children playing. They would walk in the street in a straight line with their hands behind their backs. It all seemed very strange to me – almost like a dream. If this was what Communism offered, why would anyone want to be a part of it? 
     The other couple left and I was alone again for the rest of the week. I spent my time climbing the mountain, praying in church and looking in a few store windows. I couldn't believe how, with all these soldiers all over, there still was an unbelievable peace in Medjugorje. I never felt afraid. I ran into my friend that I had met on the plane, and she told me that she had seen blood coming from the Cross on Mt. Krizevac. I had heard this had happened to a very few individuals, and I was delighted for her. She seemed like a saint. I have often wondered what happened to her, as I never saw her again.
     The night before I left, there was a full moon. It was breath-taking. I associate the full moon with blessings, as all my children were born on a full moon. I went to Mass on Easter morning and then got ready to leave. A guide was to take me to Dubrovnik, show me around the town, and get me to my hotel where I would spend the night before my flight the next morning. In the afternoon, he arrived and the woman of the house started yelling at him, but I didn't know what all the fuss was about. When I got in the cab, another young lady was sitting in the front. I was happy, thinking that I now had company again. She said nothing, so I assumed that she couldn't speak English. When we finally got to Dubrovnik, after my guide had checked me into the hotel, he told me we would then go into town. I left with both of them and my hotel key (thank God) with the name of the hotel on it. When we got into town, he told me that the girl was his girl friend, and they were going to spend a few days together. He showed me the bus I was to take that would take me back to the hotel. After he left, I started to get afraid, as I didn't speak the language and didn't know where to go. The town looked beautiful, but for me, all I wanted to do was to go back to the hotel. I found an English-speaking cab driver and showed him my hotel key and asked him to take me there. When we got back to the hotel, he asked for much more money than the meter called for. I told him that I didn't have that and the meter didn't say that amount. He became very, very angry and said that it was double on Sunday. I was about to cry. He locked all the doors so I couldn't get out. I saw some people walking toward the hotel, so I unrolled the window and started to yell. He told me to get out. I threw some money at him and ran as fast as I could. Shaking, I went up to my room and locked the door. After I had gathered my senses back, I decided that I would call down to the lobby for a sandwich, as I didn't want to leave my room. The phone was dead! All night long I kept praying, "I believe in God, etc." I prayed that prayer over and over again all night long. Finally, dawn came, and I went downstairs to get my passport from the desk clerk and tell him to call the cab for the airport. 
     When I got to the counter at the airport, the clerk looked at my ticket and just said, "Sit down." He was trying to show me something in a book. They had no computers, just loose-leaf books. When I tried to tell him my plane was about to leave, he just repeated, "Sit down!" Now I was close to tears and was shaking. As the airport lobby thinned out, I saw what looked like a cafeteria and decided to sit there. I got a cup of coffee and started praying – I don't believe I have ever prayed that hard before or since. I kept asking the Lord to PLEASE HELP ME! After sitting there for what seemed like eternity, a man came up to me and, in perfect English, asked if HE COULD HELP ME. I started to cry. I told him of my situation, and he said I needed to get to a computer, which was in the basement of the airport. He took me downstairs to the computers, and he and a woman started talking in some language that I didn't understand. He started yelling and she was yelling right back. Finally, she started typing and then handed him another ticket. He told me I had a seat on the plane and I would be going home. I really started crying then. Back upstairs, he asked me if I wanted something to eat, and I realized I again hadn't eaten in over 24 hours. He took me to a restaurant in the airport and we ordered breakfast. Then it really got weird! He didn't have any money, and after I paid the bill, he told me that he was from Germany and was there just for the weekend and didn't have any luggage. He told me to stay in the airport and not to leave, no matter who or what tried to get me to go outside. He said I was safe as long as I stayed in the airport. He asked me to walk him to his plane and act as if I had known him for years. He also wanted to carry my luggage, but I wouldn't allow him. He had his arm around me and kept asking me to join him. I thanked him and repeated that I just wanted to go home. He asked me to stay there and wave to him as the plane took off. After the plane left, I returned to the lobby of the airport. It was almost deserted then. I sat there and a policewoman came and sat a few feet from me. She followed me wherever I went in the airport, even to the bathroom. 
     Around 2:00 that afternoon, I heard English being spoken. I could never express what a beautiful sound that was to me. I ran to meet them – a group of Jewish couples who had been touring Europe and heading back to the States. I told them briefly what had happened. They said not to worry, that I was with them now, going back to the United States. The Lord had heard me and I was going home! The trip back was wonderful. I sat beside a nun who introduced me to a famous healing nun who was also on the plane. I kissed the ground when I got back and thanked God for all His goodness and also allowing me to be born and raised in the United States. I thank you, Jesus, for all your blessings and forgiveness. 
     From the time I got back home from Medjugorje, my life changed for the better. I have met so many wonderful and blessed people. I no longer travel in the fast lane, but I enjoy life like never before. I have a peace that didn't exist for me before, and I do everything I can to keep it. I know now that Jesus is in control of everything, and nothing is going to happen unless HE allows it. What happened on that trip had to happen; otherwise I would not have attempted to change. I trusted no one and believed in nothing. 
     I did ask my cousin, who is a Jesuit priest, about the gentleman in the airport. He thought he was a spy for both countries, who probably thought that I might be one also, because a woman would never travel in a Communist country by herself. Angel or spy, he got me out of there, and my life has never been the same. God works in mysterious ways! 
     Editor's note: Marie-Adele lives in Plano, TX.

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