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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm A Hunky

I write a lot about my husband's Russian heritage. I find it fascinating really with the history, the culture, the food, etc., I am also proud to be a Hungarian aka a Hunky. I have a deep appreciation of my parents, Nagypapa and Nagymama for bringing me up teaching me about my ancestral culture. I think with their guidance, not only has it taught me to be appreciative of my own family's history, but to be also open minded and appreciate other cultures as well.

My Hungarian culture goes back to a town so small that most people would not be able to find it on a map. Someone sort of have to know it is there to be able to find it. When I was nine years old, I had the privileged of visiting a few European countries, one of which was Hungary. Thankfully my Dad did some research and found this town. So on a warm, summer day in August the family made the drive from Budapest to the village my ancestors came from.

The town in itself didn't change much since the turn of the century to when we saw it in the early nineties. I know this because my Great Grandfather took a photo of the entrance of the town to perhaps to remember before he left to America. I remember being a nine year old kid and just staring at the dirt roads, the Eastern Rite church that seemingly guarded the small village and the little houses that had clay tile roofs. To be honest, I was in awe. I knew my Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandparents had walked on the very same road I was on. They saw the same things that I saw. And as my hands ran across the white picket fence that surrounded the graveyard, I knew that my family was in there too.

My Dad knew very little Hungarian, but enough to get us around. We found the priest's home and my Dad asked if we might see the inside of the church. My God was the inside of the church beautiful. The icon screen was adorned with the most amazing icons that seemingly reached from floor to ceiling. I remember having mixed emotions as a kid of, "Oh no not another church" (we had seen about a thousand different churches in Europe by that time) and in awe that "My family worshiped here." I am thankful now as an adult that my kid self, took in the experience and sat down at a random pew to one take it all in and two to experience sitting in a pew as if the liturgy had started in my ancestors church. While I was sitting in the pew, I remember looking down at a small liturgical book. Being a curious kid, I opened it. On the inside of the book, was the handwritten inscription of my last name. It was my Great, Great Grandfather's liturgy book. I was so elated that I showed my family. We were all pretty excited about that finding. I then put the book down as the priest had to close the church to venture off into the village for some more exploration.

Now my memory is hazy on this and I am not sure if the Priest or another relative of mine knew about this, but we were told that there was also a statue out in a pasture that was dedicated to my Great Great Grandfather who was once a judge in the town. We easily found the dedicated structure, as it was quite noticeable in an empty field and the statue was not a statue at all, but it was a beautiful Byzantine cross with the depiction of Jesus on it. I was proud of it as my Great Great Grandfather must of meant a great deal to the village. Afterward, we made our way back to the entrance of the village where the cemetery was located. We promptly found the grave of Janos and Mary (my Great Great Grandparents) and the family together said a small prayer over their grave while my Dad cleaned off the surrounding area.

The trip ended a few days after that and although I did not appreciate everything that I saw like I would now, the memory of that village ingrained into my memory. My only regret from that trip is not asking for that liturgical book. So a few days ago, I found the village's very small website and emailed the mayor of the town asking for the contact information of the priest. My plan is, to ask if I might have that book. I would also like to help the church in any way by donation of money or see if my own church could donate anything that they could do without. I know that that small town is struggling today and anything that could be donated would help out the church or the people of that village. If I do get in contact with the priest (and I will get in contact with him somehow) and he would rather keep the book because of the historical value, then I would obviously understand. It wouldn't hurt to ask.

My hope is to one day return to my small village. To appreciate it in its entirety. I would love to attend liturgy in the church, as this church started my religious roots. I want to see the graveyard again and hopefully see if the cross that was dedicated to my Great Great Grandfather still stands. I just want to take it all in again, because although I am an American, I am a Hunky too.

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