Ludmilla is a humble widow living in Prague, Czech Republic. She has survived two political regimes, the German Nazis and the Russian Communists. Her life has not been easy; she has seen much sorrow. However, over the years, Ludmilla has come to  view her kitchen table as an altar of blessing. Because of her generous heart, her guests have found her cozy kitchen a place to rest, share food, drink, heartache—and, often—friendship.

A bronze plaque close to her house number invites passersby, often strangers, to come in, sit at her table and rest awhile. Some of the visitors have become friends who freely share their burdens and blessings.


Ludmilla does not discriminate in extending hospitality. All are welcome. Race, gender, age, creed make no difference to her. Today a friend Sima has come to visit her. She is burdened and freely shares her problem with Ludmilla.



Now you have a quick summary of the story above. You can see the full story and hear Ludmilla and Sima’s conversation on this 5-minute video:





Once upon a time

my Grandma Longenecker and Aunt Ruthie

welcomed strangers into their home.

They didn’t post a bronze sign, but they had an open door policy.

They hosted Phuong Le from Viet Nam, their first refugee “daughter.”


After Grandma died my aunt carried on the tradition

opening her door to refugees fleeing oppression.

Vietnamese, African, Serbian families

found food and shelter in her home.


I never met the woman whose last name was Zisalihovic. My sister Jean met her though and has recounted this true story to me.

What I Know for Sure

My aunt probably did not press her ear to the bedroom door to hear the widow’s prayers. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have stomped in bellowing, “Stop, this is a Christian household. You cannot pray to Allah.”

Laced-curtained window to the left, similar to the one mirrored in the reflection, stayed open while the Serbian woman lived there.


But I am certain she would have invited her and her son to Bossler Mennonite Church where they would be welcomed, even if the mother wore a burka instead of a prayer covering. They would have heard about the gospel, a message of love and grace.

Lutheran Social Services, who facilitated the effort to shelter refugees, gave my aunt a porcelain plate to honor her efforts. This gesture reminds us that regardless of race or religion, everyone needs a place to call home. Check the original blog post for more details

Ruth M. Longenecker handwritten note: Quote from St. Augustine
“What does love look like?”


Take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.   Romans 12:13 NIV


Do you know any kind soul like Ludmilla? One like my grandma, aunt, or mother?

Tell your story here.