Recently my (Chadwick) brother Andy was able to visit us here for a week. It was a blessing to share our life here with him, and introduce him to some of our good friends & church family. We packed a TON into his days here, wanting to maximize each moment. We saw Vienna, Gyor, Budapest, and even climbed around the walls of Eger Castle.
One part of our time together wasn’t planned very well ahead, because it involved visiting a small village near Eger, Mezőkövesd . I cannot fit all of the details into this post, but there were so many cool things we were able to see/hear/experience. There are amazing people everywhere you go, and on this particular trip, they all came out to say hello.
Many years ago, a cousin had visited the area to investigate our family roots and discovered a local historian, János, who knew quite a bit. That cousin has a wife who is native Hungarian, however, so we didn’t know what to expect from our abilities to communicate. God seemed to work out the timing so that we arrived at the exact time as another patron was visiting – one who spoke great English and was happy to stay and translate the entire 3.5 hr visit! We were welcomed as if we were family ourselves, and our children were each hugged by the older Historian’s wife as if grandchildren (she even gave them chocolates). We sat and heard stories of how our great-grandmother had worked/owned a restaurant there, and how she’d married a farmer – with the ceremony in a nearby village we also drove through.
After a great visit, and tour of the Farming Equipment & Hungarian History Museum János has run for a long time – our new friend László (the other visitor who arrived with us) helped us find and gain access to the local Jewish Cemetery. We were so thankful for his help, as this involved walking down the street to have a Hungarian conversation with a local chicken farmer. Finally, we were able to enter. We weren’t sure of which specific graves might be direct relations, but we found a few with names we knew had lived in that area. It was a humbling experience.
As we paused for a moment there, we shared a short prayer for our families and the generations coming after us. I imagined our great-grandchildren, and what stories they might hear about “Great-Grandpa Chadwick”. I’m not too worried about their ability to locate my grave, but I’d love for them to know where my heart was throughout my life. I want them to know our roots go deep in the Love of God. I’d love for them to know the stories they’re connected to in Hungary, in Scotland, in DRCongo, in the US, and anywhere else we can learn. Mostly, I want them to know – no matter what country they were born in, or what part of the world life takes them to – their most important heritage & identity in this family is “Child of God”.
It reminds me a bit of when Joseph & Mary had to travel for several days to register in the town of their ancestors in Bethlehem. We know there were at least 28 generations between King David and Joseph, and there was no family apparently anxiously waiting to welcome them. I wonder if Joseph wandered a bit, looking for the places from stories he’d heard of passed down through the generations. I imagine him as a father – looking into the eyes of his newborn, and wondering how these moments might be remembered by future generations.
Whether you’re old or young, with many children or none – may we collectively own our task of living today in ways that help communicate the Love of God as revealed in Jesus to the generations following in our footsteps. May we remember that Love is best expressed not with words alone, but tangibly, by entering into the lives of others in ways that may make us vulnerable. And if a visitor comes to us, humbly looking for connection – may we welcome them in God’s Love as family.
I’ll close with a prayer from scripture: (Ephesians 3:14-21)