Letter to my friends n°1
March 29, 2020
My dear friends, praised be Jesus and Mary!
Since the pandemic started, many of you have been asking me, “Sister Emmanuel are you okay? What are you doing? How is life in Medjugorje?”
Well, since I cannot write a long personal letter to each of you as I would like to, please allow me to gather here some news from this holy place and our house hold, Bethlehem.
As you may guess, Medjugorje is empty for the first time in 38 years plus, St. James’ Church is not only empty but locked. Now don’t ask me how Our Mother feels at seeing her dear church closed after so many years of being over crowded with her children! She will answer you herself in prayer.
The streaming of the evening Mass is always available. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxLGA4ZfWiBKzhNvGIRyhTA
There is now a curfew from 8:00pm until 5:00am and those who are under 18 and over 65 are not allowed to go outside at all. Sometimes we think we are in a bad dream and we will soon wake up. You might be feeling the same. But it seems that the world we had before has changed! The future will never be the same!
My community gathered in our house by the Blue Cross and I had to choose: either to remain with them for the duration of the problem, or to stay in Bethlehem and not visit them to avoid any risk of spreading the virus. I chose to remain in Bethlehem, for you people, so that I may send out some little videos and words of encouragement, because in this house we have the facilities to do so. It is so strange to see our little forest and tent completely empty, but on a positive note through the internet, I can share the messages to thousands of people confined at home instead of a few hundred in our garden. This also means that some unbelievers will watch our videos. It shows once more that God can always draw good things from an evil situation.
In fact, divine Providence has sent me a dear friend, Nancy, from the US, who is helping me a lot in the field of technology, internet, and thanks to her I can still evangelize a little bit in French, Italian and English. (PS from Nancy: it’s the most evangelizing job I have ever done or been a part of!) By the grace of God, Nancy has an easygoing personality which helps her to put up with me!
My dear sister Gaby was in Italy when the virus broke out, she flew to Paris on the last flight and got the second to last seat. She intended to join me after a few days, but then the authorities would not allow any French citizens to enter Croatia and BiH. But she is still helping me a lot from afar with her unique skills! She answers all my questions about where things are in the house and computer, like where is the sewing box and where do we buy chicken feed, etc. We have good laughs together on the phone.
Now Carole, who had been living with me, experienced the same problem: She had to go to France for medical reasons and got stuck there with no possibility to cross the border. So now, Nancy and I are the only two in the house.
Life is very simple here, we pray, we work, we share, we eat, we take care of the flowers and of our hens. We are excited every day to see how many eggs we get; we laugh and share by the fireplace. I must say it is a lot of solitude, but I see that it is actually God’s gift, as we have more time for Him and become more united with Him.
One thing that this curfew has interrupted, is my daily walk to the cemetery to pray my rosary for the souls in purgatory there. It’s also stopped my going to the Blue Cross when I felt strong enough, but the Lord is showing me that the most blessed places we can enjoy in Medjugorje can be created by Him in our own hearts. I guess it is the same feeling for you who, by force, are far away from Medjugorje for a long period of time. So, we share the same experience, except that looking out of my window, I can see Križevac and Podbrdo. Our dear hills which have seen you walk, climb and sweat many times! The nakedness of Podbrdo won’t last because one day, the sign will be given by the Gospa, and when the sign comes, the whole mountain won’t be big enough to contain the crowds from all over the world. So, let us cheer up together in the deep joy that we belong to Jesus and Mary, and fully trust that their plan for each one of us is the best one ever!
I miss you a lot! Each one of you are in my heart and thoughts, wondering what your situation is right now, if you are safe or in danger, sick or healthy… I have time to appreciate the friendship that God has created between us and this time of silence helps me thank God for all the gifts we have enjoyed together! I also ask forgiveness to Him for all the times I unconsciously took these gifts for granted. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I fully trust my Lord that this trial will unite our hearts and spirits as never before, as we care for each other in prayer and by all means of support.
Please don’t tire of praying because we all carry a great responsibility for those who do not know the love of God yet. It is my daily torment to think: how can a person who doesn’t know Jesus live this threat, live this trial, with no hope of eternal life? They have no idea of how dearly loved they are by our beautiful God who saved us from evil, darkness and despair. Please pray that Nancy and I may do a good job in spite of our limitations. May the Lord fill my poor words with His anointing, so the heart of His children may be touched through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I have no words to thank you enough for all your prayers and sacrifices to keep Our Lady’s messages alive and to spread them the best you can! She definitely counts on each one of us more than ever, as souls are at stake!
With all my love, in Jesus and Mary,
Your sister Emmanuel +
PS: Two of my brothers in France had it, as well as my sister in law, but they recovered without having to go to the hospital, praise God!
PPS: Here is a little greeting from Vicka, for all of us. She really misses speaking to her dear pilgrims, but so far she has not been able to be with them as she has become so frail! As you can see, she is skin and bones! She prays a lot and offers up her sufferings to Jesus for all of us. We will see in Heaven what immense graces obtained for us… We have no idea of the power of a soul so united with Jesus!
Latest news from this morning (March 29): Our dear Franciscans of St James here have self-isolated themselves! The coronavirus has entered their house through one of the priests, Fr Ante, who is now in the hospital.
The virus came from the convent of the retired sisters in Miletina where they had a retreat. This has also affected dear Fr. Tomislav Pervan, who lives there. He has been the Provincial for years in the past. May we pray for him and for all our Franciscans brothers and sisters!
May God’s plans be realized in their fullness through this difficult trial!
Jesus, you are everything to us, we trust in You! We are so blessed to have You with us, as our God and beloved Shepherd, as it is written, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want”. Please, Jesus, hasten the peace in the hearts of all your children who are looking for You in the darkness!