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The Power of Kindness

Here we uncover long lost mysteries, feel the power of living kindness and experience the realness of America! Enjoy!

I was so EXCITED!! We were actually arriving in Detroit! The place where Dad’s Great Grandfather had also arrived, now more than 100 years earlier!!! This was the place, where we would finally uncover the mystery of finding out if we still had living relatives here in America! 😀

We arrived on the outskirts of Detroit just as the sun set. We were staying our first night with one of Dad’s old work collegues. First we went shopping a little bit for food and flowers and then we drove to “Tim and Sue’s” House. The moment we arrived we felt welcomed. Tim and Sue were such lovely, friendly people. To top it off they had the CUTEST DOG EVER!! Her name was Casey. She was a little old (12 Years Old!!!)  but still played like a 2 year old!! We spent the next hour talking and playing with Casey. Then Tim introduced Lalika and I to the Theatre Room!! (aka. The Basement). Their basement was the coolest and comfiest place EVER!!

They had cozy couches, board games, bean bags everywhere and there was the huge TV!!!!! It was SOOOOOO COOL!! We immediately picked out a Movie: Journey To The Centre Of The Earth 2. It was an Awesome Movie!! It went for about 2 hours! When it finished Tim said we could go in their HOT TUB (aka The spa)! In this COLD WEATHER it was PERFECTLY WARM!!

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We spent the next hour splashing around having fun in the Tub. After showering, we watched a second movie “What a Girl Wants”. It was a great movie. Halfway through Mum came downstairs and said dinner was ready! We were surprised!! We hadn’t seen anyone making any dinner soooo, what could be for dinner? Then we saw it: TWO BIG BOXES OF PIZZA!! Tim had gone and gotten Pizza for dinner while we were watching the movie!! That was the best dinner ever! After dinner we spent another 2 hours talking beside the cozy fire with Tim and Sue and sipping tea. By the end we were sooooo tired we just climbed up the stairs and fell into the comfy bed that would be Lalika’s and mine for the night. We were asleep in seconds. 

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This explains why we only woke up at 9:00am the next morning!! Tim and Sue were going on a Vacation the next day and Tim had work on that day so we could only stay the one night. Nevertheless we had the BEST TIME EVER!! After packing our things and having breakfast we said thank you and goodbye and went on our way.

But we didn’t go far. We went about 5 minutes and then stopped at the nearest Library. Mum and Dad had work to do and I had reading to catch up on. So we spent the next two days there, sleeping in the Library Car-park at night and using the Library by day. It was fun.

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Can you see our RV parked outside?

After the two days we drove on, finally making it to the City of Detroit. Our connection lead was a very kind Hungarian Priest, who gave us the key clue to solving the mystery of our relative’s descendants.

We spent that day looking for our old relatives. In the end, our search led us to Woodmere Cemetery. There, with the help of a very kind helper (helpers are needed in this cemetery because it is on 250 acres of land) we were given confirmation that our relatives had been buried here!! We received a map, jumped into the car and drove quickly to the sites. We found the section where my Great-Great-Grandfather and his wife, my Great-Great-Grandmother were buried. Lalika and I ran ahead until I noticed a headstone with the name that looked familiar. Then I remembered, back at the office, the helper had brought out a piece of paper that showed who was buried next to my ancestors. I had remembered their last name and now I saw it on a headstone which had to mean that the headstone WE were looking for would be right there next to it!!! I turned my head and sure enough there it was!! It said: HERE LIES JOHN AND ANNA KAPONAY, GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN!! It was so moving. When Mum, Dad and Lalika arrived we all started crying. We finally found them, after Months (and Years) of Looking and Searching! After our tears dried up, we took a few photos with the headstone so we could send them to relatives in Hungary and Australia.

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We walked back to the car and drove to the next section of where John and Anna’s Daughter was buried: Irene. After Irene married she took James’ name: Molnar. This was that essential clue which we were missing. So instead of looking for Kaponay, we were looking for Irene and James Molnar. We parked and began looking. You see, the guide in the office could not tell us where the Headstone’s exact location was. All he could tell us was what section it was in. So we spent the next 20 minutes looking for them. Finally, I heard a cry from Lalika and my Mum. They had found them. Dad and I rushed over. Sure enough, they were there. THREE of them! Irene, James and their son, James Jr, who actually ended up dying before both of his parents. 

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Turns out, that after all we do have living relatives here and John and Anna Kaponay have living descendants here in Detroit. Thanks to my brother’s great detective work, he was able to uncover the right James from 15 other potential James Molnars. His mind worked like an algorithm in a social networking site, matching us with his ex-wife on our first attempt to call. It was from Dorothy’s recollections that we were able to bring to life the living memories of our family.

While we didn’t get to meet, it was heartwarming to know, that a branch of our family lives on in the US with 3 daughters, all of whom have children. 

Standing here in the cemetery, we now had one more person’s name to look for. This was the hardest challenge of all. You see this little girl we were looking for, was a baby when she died. It was Irene’s first child: Margaret. A little baby who died in Infancy. The problem was her name was engraved on a little tablet on the floor with Millions and I mean, Millions of other little babies who died in Infancy. So after parking at this huge maze, we began searching. While Mum, Dad and Lalika looked at a little piece of paper which said who Margaret was close to, I began looking near the other end. I saw a big tree and thought it was very nice. I decided to walk over to it. Just as I nearly reached the tree my foot hit something hard that was covered in leaves. I thought it was just another tablet on the ground that was near this beautiful tree. But as I stepped another step I felt that I needed to check it out. I turned back and then cleared the leaves. My eyes opened wide after I saw who it was. There, engraved on a little rusted tablet on the floor, was Margaret Molnar. After reading the name about 10 times I finally realized I had found Margaret. Then the excitement set in. I called out and Mum and Dad and Lalika immediately came running. They couldn’t believe I had found Margaret!! Afterwards, as we drove away from her grave, after sitting in silence with my hand over her name, I came to a thought. Did I believe that it was a “coincidence”, perhaps an “accident” that I had found Margaret? “No,” I said quietly to myself, “No it couldn’t be a coincidence or an accident. It was meant to happen. I was meant to find Margaret. Now that I think it over again, I believe it was Margaret who showed me.

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 We all felt the loving energy of our departed relatives lead us on in our journey of seeing the world. Our next stop was about 5 minutes away. The old home of Anna and John Kaponay. The house was still there, but these days the neighbourhood is considered dangerous, so not many people seemed to live there anymore. 

The Postman happened to be delivering the mail just when we were there, so Dad struck up a conversation with him, asking about the area. He explained that during the day it was like any neighbourhood, quiet and nice, but he wouldn’t be caught walking around there at night; that it was unsafe because of the drug addicts and violence. It was sad to hear this, as I knew this was once a living, thriving, exciting community, where families were happy and helped each other.

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After looking around at the house and the neighborhood a little longer, we drove off to our next stop, only 10 minutes’ away, The Holy Cross Hungarian Church. We wanted to meet this Father Barnabas who helped us out with our search and say thanks. When we arrived he was so nice to us! He immediately gave us a tour of the whole Church! It was HUGE!!! It was more like a Cathedral. First we went to the originally built section where they used to hold mass, then he showed us where they hold Sunday School for the children. He showed us The Grand Chapel! It was magnificent!! Filled with gold, light and beauty!! We took a photo there with him. Then he showed us the magnificently huge ringing bells!!!!! Oh my, they were awe inspiring!! And then came the best part! He let us RING THEM!!

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They were so harmonious, big and loud!! We rung them 5 times each and then stopped. Afterwards Fr. Barnabas showed us where he lived in the church! It was a very nice cozy home and had a warm light of energy in it. We weren’t quite sure why the invitation and what he did next, took us completely by surprise. He took us to his kitchen and went directly into his pantry. He started asking us if we were hungry, how our journey was going and how we were placed for food. We replied that everything was fine and that we had enough, but without listening to our response, Father Barnabás started packing out his pantry and giving us presents!! First it was a whole box (6 cans) of organic soup! He then went to his refrigerator and started pulling out all the cakes he had received from the weekend’s gathering, including a bunch of sweets and candy! My Dad and Mum protested, however to our delight he didn’t listen and emptied nearly everything he had into a bag for us.

As the weather had already turned  quite cold over the previous three days in the surrounding areas of Detroit – something we actually felt quite acutely in the R.V. at night, where the temperature in the car had dropped down to a chilling 4ºC or around 40ºF –  we noticed him foraging around in his coat closet. From here, he pulled out two jackets and said, ‘do you have winter jackets?’ and without letting us answer, he gave us two cool-looking new winter jackets, which we gratefully accepted. The next thing he gave us was totally unexpected and at the time, I didn’t know how critical a gift it would be to get us to our next destination. He said, “ It must be difficult for you to continue this journey of giving of yours, how are you placed for money?” I think instinctively my Dad said “that we are alright”, but at this time, I knew we were getting very low on funds. He reached into his pocket and started saying to my parents that “With the holiday seasons coming up, you will allow me to give you this gift and not protest”. I noticed that he had pulled out his wallet and was trying to give my Dad a number of crisp new notes. My Dad and Mum were genuinely surprised at his overwhelming generosity and I could see that what he had offered had thrown them a little. They both expressed sincere gratitudes for his complete wholehearted kindness and I could see that tears were starting to well up in my mother’s and father’s eyes. It was $80 cash!!! At the time I didn’t really understand why they were so emotional, but I learned later in the day, that we did not have enough money to get us to our next destination and that my Dad had calculated that we would be roughly $80 short. When I found this out, I understood exactly why they had reacted so emotionally and it made me think of the significance of the sum of $80. Why?…Well, without this money, we might have been stuck at least three days in a truck stop in the middle of a rapidly freezing Pennsylvania, before more funds would have reached us. This act of unconditional kindness and giving from a man we had spoken to on the phone a couple of times and only just met, was truly incredible…well, words just don’t do it justice in expressing here just how I felt at the time and even now, the words to describe the real energy of love in him escape me. 

Father Barnabás was one of the kindest people I had ever met and his generosity was real and a turning point for our Journey of EnergeticXChange. It reconfirmed for me that our journey was indeed supported and intended to continue and I know from speaking with my parents later, that it was also a turning point for them, giving them such a boost of energy, that my Dad went on to Blog a number of key learnings we had all learned about ourselves throughout this journey. And to let you know about the $80 and its real impact, we arrived at our friend’s place in Connecticut with the gas needle almost on empty. My Dad estimated that there may have been an extra 10 miles left in Husky. To Father Barnabás, I will be forever grateful and I carry him in my heart, wherever we go!

It was now time however for us to leave The Holy Cross Church and Fr. Barnabas and drive out of Detroit. We parted with sincere expressions of thanks and gratitude for our meeting and a warm glow in our bodies. As we pulled away from the curb, Father Barnabás waved us on and Lalika and I watched him, catching a final glimpse of him as we turned the corner, heading towards the Interstate.

As soon as we drove out of the street the church was located in, we were able to appreciate the urban decay that had taken hold of Delray. The buildings on the main road leading to the interstate ramp looked as if they were from some post Apocalyptic disaster movie and it was eerie too, as there was no one on the streets in broad daylight. Worse than this however, was the bitumen we were driving on that they called a road. It had holes and warped tar mounds on it that looked like small hills. My Dad had to approach the interstate ramp at about 5 miles per hour as the road was so dangerously neglected, that it could have seriously damaged our R.V. He took a zigzagging approach from left to right, with sharp acute turns to avoid the worst of it. As it was, even this slow approach had Lalika and I bouncing around in the booth seats in the back, but once we had made it to the top of the ramp, the road was magically perfect at the exact point that it became the Interstate.

That late afternoon, we drove with a purpose, trying to get as much distance between us and Detroit, before it got too dark and before we got too tired to travel on. We drove, out of Michigan, and into Ohio via the way of Toledo, before making a slight South Easterly directional change that would take us to the 80. We made it into Pennsylvania just as it had turned dark, where we made a short-stop for dinner in a little truck stop, off Highway 80. Here we had a quick dinner and we decided to heat up some of the soup that Father Barnabás had gifted us with, as it would be quick. We ate this with a really warming feeling in our hearts and bellies and we drove on.

It was starting to get quite late and at some point I must have nodded off to sleep. When I woke, I noticed we were in a parking lot of a budget brand motel chain and I asked Dad what we were doing here. He said that he just couldn’t drive on as it was 1 am and he had asked the hotel night manager whether it would be alright for us to park in their car park, to have a few hours’ sleep. The manager was so generous that he said that not only was it alright for us to park there, but that we could freely use the rest rooms and informed us that there was a buffet breakfast in the morning that we were more than welcome to take part in. This only topped off a day that was overflowing with human kindness and generosity, and with that we climbed into our overhead cabin bunk and quickly fell asleep.

In the morning, Lalika and  I were excited at having breakfast in the hotel and we went inside to have a quick breakfast. My parents decided to eat the food we had in the R.V. but Lalika and I got to eat freshly made shortstack American style pancakes, which we both love. As soon as we were ready, we pushed on, as we still had 421 miles or 677 km to cover to get to our family friend’s place in Connecticut. We rang Kinga from the road and found out that she would only be arriving home later in the evening, as one of her many jobs, supporting herself while she studied, was to be a care provider for an elderly lady.

We drove for quite some time along the 80 until the mid-afternoon, where we pulled into a rather picturesque rest stop on the highway. We had a quick lunch together of some salad, hummus, some pesto we had made and some fresh bread…it was really yummy. My mum then said that because we had to give Kinga some time to get home, that we should use the opportunity to bake some Hungarian cheese scones, so that we could greet her with a fresh snack for supper when we arrived. I thought this was a great idea and it was perfect for my Dad too, who took the opportunity to have a recharging nap. I helped mum prepare and mix the ingredients and once we had put the scones into our hot oven, I went to play with Lalika in the beautiful grassy area of the rest stop, which was bordered by an even more beautiful forest, that was now well into its autumn colour change.

The rest stop was set in a beautiful little valley surrounded by dense deciduous forest and when my Dad woke up, all of us stood outside and watched the sun start its descent behind the hills of the forest, as we marvelled at the subtle changes in colour that reflected off the fiery colour of the trees. It was here that I noticed how quickly the sun was setting these days, as it was only 4 pm and we were starting to lose the light of day.

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Reka at Rest Stop

With the scones out of the oven and cooled, we were now able to drive on. We filled up at a gas station, with what I now know was our last $80 in the world and we noticed that Punxsutawney was only 15 miles away. My Dad said that he would have liked to have seen it, because he told me about a movie called ‘Groundhog Day’, which was set in this small town. We talked about it and decided that it was too risky, given that we may not have enough gas to get to Kinga’s place, which turned out to be the right decision, because this side-journey probably would have left us without gas somewhere on the interstate, just outside of New York City.

So we decided to take the direct route and as we left Pennsylvania behind us, heading towards New Jersey, we were farewelled by a beautiful and spectacularly intense red sunset at the back of our car. We marvelled at its brilliance and warm afterglow as we headed towards New Jersey. Pennsylvania would become one of my favourite states and this was only the first taste of it. Later in our journey we had some great adventures that I will share with you down the track.

By thetime we crossed the state line into New Jersey it was dark and it was impossible to see the surrounding forests. We pushed on through New Jersey, into New York and at one point the Interstate took us back into New Jersey before crossing into New York and finally we reached Fairfield Connecticut at about 9 pm, the place where our friend Kinga lives. Kinga was very kind and had prepared a soup for us for our arrival and we ate this together, along with the scones that we had baked. We stayed five nights with Kinga, in this little haven enjoying her company, her friendship and her TV – which for Lalika and I was a rare commodity! We talked, had fun exploring the neighbourhood and nearby parks, taking walks out to the beach, dipping our feet into the Atlantic Ocean, and really enjoying the warmth of being with our friend, Kinga. The weather here had not yet felt the sting of the seasonal cold change and we even got three days of beautiful sunshine, where the temperature got as high as 25ºC or 77ºF.

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On the fourth day of our stay, while Kinga was at work, we decided to walk to a store called “Party City”. Party City sells Party Supplies and all sorts of accessories for all types of parties, so if you want supplies for a party, you know where to look (I am not being paid by Party City, but would gratefully accept a sponsorship for this inadvertent advert). I just really enjoyed being in the store and seeing all the things they had). Anyway, Party City also sells Costumes and Lalika and I were determined to  get “Halloween Costumes” as Halloween was closing in. As you can appreciate, we are Australians and while some people now celebrate Halloween in Australia, we had never done so, given that this was so typically an American traditional holiday. So we really wanted to know what all the fuss was about and truly celebrate our first REAL Halloween while being in the US. We spoke with my Grandma and she was only too happy to gift us with some new costumes. To my Dad’s dismay, we spent the next two hours trying on costumes!! I can’t go into detail as to the fun we had!! Finally, we found the right ones. Lalika got a Black Superhero Costume, while I got a Dark Angel Costume. I was awesomely happy! As we walked the 7km there and the 7km back to Kinga’s place, we took a few pictures of the decorations people put up in front of their houses for Halloween. We  had never seen such efforts being made for the arrival of Hallow’s Eve or what is All Saints’ Day for my Grandma, so this was a great experience, that will not be so easily forgotten. 

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The hanging zombies and spiders were freaky fabulous, but many houses also had funny jokes posted out the front, bringing the fun effect to Halloween. 

After showing Kinga our costumes, we had a really yummy dinner together, which Mum and Dad cooked earlier in the day.

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Those five days with Kinga added some of the best memories to our journey!! Then sadly, on the morning after the fifth night we packed up our bags. Saying goodbye to Kinga was very hard, but I trust we will see her again soon. Lalika and I nearly cried, we didn’t want to leave (and it wasn’t just the TV), but we were also really excited about what we were going to do that day, as it was going to be our first time in The Big Apple. New York City, here we come!

TO BE CONTINUED! Stay tuned for my next blog! See you next time! 

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  1. […] experience of kindness was when the very next day we walked some 7 km in the searing Caribbean heat of the midday towards […]

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