Friday, October 5, 2012

Melillo's Pilgrimage - San Sebastian De Garabandal Trip report


We could not wait for this day … to arrive in San Sebastian de Garabandal and spend two nights and as much time as possible to be there.  As we made the turn up the final road into Garabandal, we were shocked to see that they have widened and paved the road.     We will try to enclose a photo of the road before and after from the first time (and, actually, the last time in 2010 that we were able to travel here).  At that time, there was just a narrow and dilapidating road.  We were thrilled because we truly feel that “the time is almost here” for the fulfillment of our Lady’s prophecies.
As we approached we stopped so that Susan could get her usual picture of herself with “Our Lady of Emimgrante” (many of you know the meaning of this statue) We arrived in the small, quaint hamlet town of San Sebastian de Garabandal … our first stop (as is our habit) was to immediately to drive to the Parish Church to give thanks to Our Lady for our safe arrival.  Not to mention that each time we enter Garabandal, I must first go visit and spend time with “my Mother” … the Statue in the Parish Church … an experience I will never forget from our first visit to Garabandal.
Nothing has changed in the past two years since our last visit …. I walked in, walked up to the Sanctuary, knelt before Our Mother and immediately began weeping like a son who has come home to his mom after so long.  We spent some precious and quiet time in the darkened Parish Church … both of us … and agreeing later that we once again “felt so much at home and we had missed it so very much”.

After our individual Prayer time, we explored the newly renovated Church.  Shortly after our visit two years ago, they found that there was a water spring underneath the Church’s structure that was causing the Church, Steeple, etc. to begin to tilt.  The architects/builders got involved with renovating and securing the Parish Church of Garabandal.
The Parish Church, while it remains the same in feeling as it was on our past visits, has been renovated and is structurally sound.  While I visited with the statue of Our Blessed Mother, Susan went over to spend her quiet time with St. Michael the Archangel … someone who is very, very special to her.
After our precious time in the Parish Church. We made our way (literally around the corner) to our home for the next two nights, very anxious to see “Sari”, “Papa” and their family at their Posada.  We had not seen them since 2010 and we truly missed them.  Upon our arrival, there was a lot of hugging and laughing.   Excited to see them, I had forgotten the “small gift” we had for Sari … I quickly ran to the car and asked Susan to have the camera ready when I returned.  We had stopped at the SuperMercado down below before our arrival and wanted to get flowers for Sari.  They didn’t have any, so I grabbed a huge bunch of “leeks” (vegetables for those of you who don’t know), wrapped them in my jacket and presented them to her.  Well … the laughter broke out as it always has with them in Garabandal.  I told Sari the story and the rest was history … translating, re-connecting, and being “back home”.  The great thing was that she took the leeks I had gifted to her and she said … “this for the soup” … later you will find out that she wasn’t joking.
We spent most of the afternoon at their Posada … checking our emails, responding to as many as we could, I was trying to keep up on my daily Trip Reports, keeping our photos organized and shared with all of you … and, GETTING THE “SERVICE NEEDED” issue resolved for the Mercedes with Hertz.
After a beautiful day, dinner was to be served at 7:30 P.M.  We went into their dining room and we were treated with an incredible soup followed by large pieces of beef, fries (the best … I can’t even call them French fries), and wine.
Susan and I could not eat fast enough … we were absolutely starved (guess that one meal a day here is not cutting it).  We were joined in the dining room by a wonderful foursome from France … the husband and his wife and the husband’s parents.  And there was a couple from somewhere in Spain that, although it was difficult to communicate with English, French & Spanish … we all shared smiles, laughs and the “universal language” Susan and I love so much here … we had made new friends.
11:00 P.M. time for bed.
I woke up about 3:00 A.M. realizing we were back at a place we consider “home”.  I got up and snapped a few photos out our window.  Susan was still asleep and I had my time to reflect on the day.  It was so peaceful and quiet and serene … except for the occasional horse & cow bells that tingled and the conversations between the cows with their “RAAAAAAAAWWWWRRRRZZZZZ” … I think I have it down pat now so that this will be the new “whistle call” when Susan and I can’t find each other in Costco.  (By now, I think you all think we have “lost it” … LOL). We feel like two little kids.
I went back to sleep shortly after and morning soon arrived.  At breakfast in the morning I had a realization come to me as the basket of toasted bread was served ( Another day another basket of bread).  I remembered that as a child my grandmother used to give my grandfather a large cup of coffee with hot milk and the leftover bread form the day before.  I thought she was mad at him all the time not realizing this was the custom.  I felt bad but couldn’t wait for my eggs and fresh made bread and butter.
In honor of my grandfather I dunked my bread in the coffee. (not to bad)
We headed off for 10 am mass and sat in our usual seats at the front.  Fr. Rolando came out and Mass began.  His eyes kept darting back and forth  to us and we  knew he was trying to remember.  After his beautiful celebration, at the end of mass he announced t for us in English as that he looked at us tomorrows mass would be at 10am.
Immediately after mass we went into the sacristy and a lot of hugs and hand signals later we departed, all of us knowing we would see each other tomorrow.  We back to our Posada to get our walking sticks to help us get up to “Los Pinos” the pines where all of this began. As we departed the restaurant area the two dogs that are always there jumped up and charged ahead of us.  We laughed, since we have never in 6 years seen them leave the parking lot.  The Golden retriever we called “dog” because we didn’t know his name took the lead.  Dog which we will now call Turko (his real name we found out later) lead us right to the path of the pines. We knew how to get there but were amazed that he knew where we were going. ( I am sure he has done this before)  We started up the mountain and stopped at the first apparition site, when St. Michael appeared to the children.  Turko waited patiently as we said a prayer.
  We planned to do the Stations of the Cross and stopped at each one and prayed and recited our favorite rendition.  Turko waited.  Sometimes he would go ahead and when we arrived at the next station he would be there, waiting for us to arrive.  He never really left our side.   When we got to the pines and still had 6 stations left I gave him our snack we had brought and figured he would leave.  Wrong, even with other people there he never left our side.  After the 15th station we knelt before the apparition site and statue of our Lady and Gave thanks for being able to return home.  We got up to head to our next destination and Turko was gone.  He got us here safely.  He is our Angel of Day.
We have so many intentions today that our plan was to try to take the Rosary path up the mountain if possible, to pray for all of them.  Deacon John Giglio and Marianne, all our friends of Garabandal, Yvonne, Patty,Mimi, Uncle Joey, The Lomangino family, the Marro’s , and so many of you.  I wish we could name you all but this would be a litany, you are in our prayers.
(I am going to share this trust we have in faith.  Before we departed I had trouble walking up the incline from the main altar at our Cathedral as well as climbing a few stairs. Sharp pains from arthritis in that bad hip kept getting worse.  Since the time I touched the Madonna of Pene De Francia and felt something I can’t describe, I have not had a pain, a twinge, or a fear of climbing. I don’t know how long it will last, but if only for today I will be grateful.  Susan saw what happened and heard what I experienced and we have talked about it at length. I have had many blessings and never doubt them now. Even though I did before because I wasn’t sure then or I was afraid.   So watch, accept and trust in the graces that come from above.)
We headed up the path, getting more treacherous as we progressed.  We were determined to pray the 20 decades of the rosary for all of you and your intentions.  Half way up and we looked at our goal and it seemed miles away, but we kept going on and praying.  Before we knew it, after almost 2 hours we achieved our goal.  It was incredible, at almost the top of the mountain, walking into the clouds, towards God; we just stood there and gave thanks.  The first time we said a rosary together was in Lourdes over 6 years ago, climbing the Way of the Cross.  Today we multiplied that by four, even though the Rosary is a daily ritual that we share.
Going up and coming down we asked each other R U OK at least 50 times. The trip down was as dangerous as the trip up, but we made it without incident, Baby steps help. 
Back at the pines we sat before Our Lady and got all our intentions on paper and placed them in the depository at her feet.
We collected pine needles from under her tree to bring back and share with any of you who wish to have a small piece of this Holy place… Just let us know when we return home.
We decided to take, what we call the Padre Pio route, back, which is a road you can drive up to the pines. We have always loved this walk back to the village.
We were surprised we had spent over 6 hours climbing up and down mountains, praying, not for us, but for all of you and the intentions you entrusted with. May God answer your Prayers.
Back at Sari’s we had some computer time before and waiting patiently for something to eat, since Turko got our lunch.  Last night I had asked Sari if she made stew at lunch, please save us some for dinner.  I don’t know if she was preparing lunch for anyone, but we had it for dinner. (I’m sure she made it special)  Even papa when he walked by, he shook his head and smiled.  We were spoiled; I’m sure just like his children.
Sue and I fought over the remaining bit of stew that could feed 4 people.  No bruises but there was nothing left.  When dinner arrived we had trouble eating it, but shoved it down so as not to offend.  A little (lot) full we retreated to the lounge and got back on the computer, Susan planned our next day and papa stood at the TV and swore at the it, as the contestant lost Deal or Deal. LOL 
At 9:30 we said goodnight and returned to our room, and that glorious bed that I had been thinking about.  It was a truly incredible spiritual day at our home in Garabandal.
Nite, nite We will finish this in the morning before we leave.
I woke up and ready to go at 7am.  I was the only one in the village awake.   I felt great and ready to go.  I tried to be quiet but when I took a shower Sue awoke. (I knew that) again we asked R U OK and both laughed knowing the answer.  We decide to buy 2 single beds with no box springs when we get home.  My friend Sean and chiropractor will not like this e-mail. LOL   We packed and loaded the car and went down to the restaurant and waited for it to open.  Back on the computer and phone, I tried to get Hertz to resolve this service issue to no avail. 
I wanted my coffee and toast so we gave up.  After breakfast we got together with all our new friends to say goodbye and take some photos before we all headed to mass.  On the way we saw Fr. Rolando and walked with him to church.
During the mass, at the beginning,  he looked to us and said peace be with you in English.  The day before when he saw us he told us that he prayed for us during his mass.  How good is that! At the end of mass each day  he would look at us and repeat in English, Mass tomorrow is at 10 in English.
Today is a special day in Garabandal.  At mass they have all the intentions placed in the boxes , at the pines and in the church, on the altar, where during the mass they offer them up to Our Blessed  Mother.  Eucharistic Adoration follows the mass and we had an opportunity to add the intentions we had received yesterday.  Your intentions are in good hands.
After awhile we left the church only to run into Fr. Rolando again.  We had to tell him we were leaving today and he seemed very sad but he gave Susan and I a most wonderful blessing.  We promised we would see him next year and that in Lourdes and always  we would pray for him. We also made him our Angel of the day.
Back at our home, we sat with Sari and Papa and talked for almost a ½ hour.  We hugged and said our good byes and very sadly we got into the car and headed down this fabulous and holy mountain.
Accept each moment as it comes to you, with faith and trust that all that happens has My mark on it. A simple fiat , that is all it takes; a breathing in your  heart , " I will it , Lord".  Taken from Clarence Enzler - Everyone's way of the Cross.
God Bless you all,

Tom and Susan
P.S.  The story of Garabandal will follow along with 4 sets of photo's because of the different files for two days.We didn't get this out last night because AOL didn't work in our room.  Today I hard wired us in the modem in the lobby.  Hope fully we will get back on track. By the way we are in Lourdes, France speaking Spanish.