ENCOUNTERS…..

It is Monday, May 16 and I am a few hours away from boarding my flight to Chicago and then my flight to Rome. The weekend was just incredible and included 5 hours of signing books at the Basilica Shrine of the  Immaculate Conception in Washington!  It was amazing beyond telling – but I will tell you another day! – and I had a terrific time. I met so very many fans of EWTN – big fans, of course of “Joan’s Rome.”

I will post some great pics from Sunday, Pentecost, when I get back to Rome but after I finally tell the AHN reunion story. In the meantime…….

ENCOUNTERS……

Twice last Thursday, May 12 I had very serendipitous encounters, one with a very dear friend from Iraq, Fr. Douglas al-Bazi, and the second encounter was with someone I had now known but will not forget, Jazminne Diaz.

In late afternoon I went to the Washington D.C., EWTN studios to tape a segment for Raymond Arroyo’s show, The World Over. As I entered the offices, whom did I see on a big screen but a very special friend from Iraq, Fr. Douglas. I had heard he was in D.C. to give some speeches and I’d read in Wings that he would be on Raymond’s show! I was just delighted!

I learned Father had to leave immediately after the taping so I literally stood outside the studio door and when the “on air” sign went off, I got to hug an extraordinary person, a man who has made a powerful mark in my life, who perhaps does not know that he taught me what being a Christian can mean. He has taught me what it does mean to so many in the world and that is, being a Christian and following Christ can mean following His path of suffering. In Father Douglas’ case, that meant being abducted and tortured by terrorists. An astonishing story of faith, of hope, of human courage and yes, of love for one’s fellow man!

Sheila Ryan, an administrative assistant at the network, took this photo as Father exited the studio:

Joan Lewis and Father Douglas Bazi

That was – that is – Fr. Douglas’ story. A story he told me in his native Erbil, northern Iraq on my first visit to the country. A story he is telling on many travels, a story he came to D.C. to tell. What I’ve written here is a mini nutshell version of my experiences in Iraq with Fr. Douglas and again, last year, when he was in Rome with a group of Iraqi students!

Here is his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/douglas.bazi/about

My second encounter came several hours later, at dinner with my friend and hostess during my D.C. stay, Kathy Carroll. On our way home to Alexandria after the EWTN taping, we stopped in Springfield, Virginia at Maggiano’s restaurant for dinner. One of the nicest young ladies I’ve met in a long time, Jazminne Diaz, was our waitress.

Lovely and smiling and extraordinarily helpful, Jazminne, Kathy and I started a conversation that went through the evening, in bits and pieces as she served us and so many others. Kathy told her I had just done a TV show and that I was in Washington to promote a book and we showed her a copy. She asked a number of questions, wrote down the title, and we spoke a bit more, learning more about her as well. At one point I gave her a holy card with Pope Francis’ image – cards I always carry in my purse to give to special people.

She told us about Maggiano’s relationship with the Make-A Wish Foundation (employees wear a button on their uniforms) and Kathy and I became part of the restaurant’s effort to help this great organization. For over a dozen years Maggiano’s (a chain restaurant – find one near you) has offered Eat-A-Dish for Make-A-Wish. You can fill out a form, make a donation and to goes to Make-A-Wish.

Kathy and I decided we might have the courage to share a beautiful cheesecake dessert, and when Jazminne brought it to us, there was a lit candle in the middle, her way of making our evening even more special! She said this was to celebrate my book!

Kathy took a lovely photo of such a special moment and a special  person  – I found that photo!  If you go to Maggiano’s in Springfield (Va), ask for Jazminne and tell her I said HI!

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