WAYNE'S APRIL COLUMN
BRINGING THE MESSAGE TO AUSTRALIA
By Wayne Weible
Reluctant to go; that aptly describes the mood as preparations were made for the long air flight to Australia for an extended speaking tour on the messages of Medjugorje. Not only would I be ten thousand miles from home but it would be for 24 days. In addition, my health was not in the best of condition causing some concern to the extent of possibly cancelling the trip. Mentally, because of work-related stress, I was hesitant to go. Yet, it was a challenging part of the mission and I looked forward to being in Australia again, which gave an excitement that trumped the negatives. After multiple sessions with a myriad of doctors and medical personnel, I was cleared to go.
After a flight to Los Angeles for a quick one-day stopover to visit good friends Bob and Elaine Starbuck, I arrived in Sydney early on the morning of February 27, crashed for the day and was up at four the following morning for a flight to the city of Hobart on the island of Tasmania for the first talk that evening. I was met at the airport by the lady who had organized this stop, Maree Tifton. She was instantly a friend as we got acquainted over coffee and pastries, followed by a quick tour of this beautiful resort before getting settled in my motel for the stay.
Ironically, the tour would start at the Queen of Peace Croatian Church in Hobart, a sure sign for me that I was meant to be there for this tour. I was instantly at ease and reminded that with God, there are no coincidences. What better way to begin the long trek than at a church named Queen of Peace in a Croatian community? Maree had done a good job in publicizing the event. It was a great start with an enthusiastic crowd.
It was then back to Sydney the next morning to meet up with Julie Powell and her husband Chris, who would be with me for the remainder of the tour. Julie was the overall organizer of the tour. She had journeyed to Medjugorje on our November 2013 pilgrimage with the express intent of convincing me to bring the message of Medjugorje back to Australia. Julie is a beautiful soul filled with the Holy Spirit. She was sure she could organize the tour if I agreed to come. By the end of our pilgrimage, I could not say no to her even though she had never undertaken such a task before.
The plan was that Julie and husband Chris would drive their caravan to each stop, living within it while I stayed in a local motel. I became instant friends with Chris as we journeyed on to the first stop in a place called Warragul. I would be in a rustic cabin in the countryside for five days and we would travel to each stop for the talk. It marked the beginning of 10 consecutive evenings of talks. We went to Ballarat, Bendigo, Mooroopna, Albury, Wagga Wagga and capped by three nights in Melbourne with the finale being a day-long conference.
Surprisingly, I felt great physically throughout the marathon of talks. More importantly the final one-day conference topped it off as a large crowd filled the site for several speakers. It marked the end of my third visit down under and plans are already underway for a return. I am so thankful to Julie and Chris for the travel and super company, to John Canavan, who took charge of printing and distributing my latest book and to the many others who contributed along the way.
God willing, there may be a fourth visit to this great country so like the United States in many ways. One of the remarkable traits of people who have either been to Medjugorje or read about it is the sustaining of the conversion experience. There were a large number of people who remembered my last visit there, which was in 1991. Of those, one stands out. He was a gentleman who was a Seventh Day Adventist Protestant who came to one of my talks on that last visit. I gave him a Divine Mercy medal at the time. This time, he came as a converted Catholic and proudly showed me the same Divine Mercy medal I had given him, which he wears faithfully around his neck.
Despite reluctance, physical health problems as well as personal hesitations, the mission goes on.
May the peace, grace and love of Jesus be with each of you.