Petusha and Patasha, two imaginary tiny girls who lived in stories I once told our girls when they were small, came alive again this week for two little girls in the Czech Republic. Traveling in the car, waiting in McDonald’s, and riding the tram all became opportunities for fresh stories.
A new character was added while munching on french fries. Honey, the butterfly needed help after having flown into a deep shirt pocket; and, of course, Petusha and Patasha were there to save the day by building a ladder out of french fries.
Together, these two precious girls and I shared the laughter and imagination of the sweet story. With laughter still ringing, the girls ran off to slide, run and jump in the nearby play land. Joining Brian and me at a nearby table, their precious mama kept watch.
The delicious day came crashing down. An irate grandma was furious at the fact that one of the girls had touched the cheek of her grandson. For you see, these two beautiful Czech girls are also Roma, which was enough for this grandma to begin to raise her voice in objection to their existence.
Many Czech people despise the Roma (Gypsies), seeing them through prejudicial eyes and hate-filled hearts. This grandmother was no exception. With vehemence she proclaimed that the oldest should be slapped across the face and that their mama should go back to where she came from (America) and take them with her.
The conversation raised in intensity as the grandmother yelled, Mama defended, and the girls became more frightened. We could not understand a word, but wanted so much to swoop in and protect both Mama and girls.
With angry words thrown over her shoulder the grandmother and boy marched away, leaving a shaking mama and sobbing, scared little girl wondering if the awful woman really would have slapped her. Trembling ourselves at the encounter, we did our best to comfort and love.
Mama, Renee McLean, is a missionary with ReachGlobal. She has adopted two gorgeous Roma girls. Together they live in Prague; and we, Brian and Diane, care for them in our roles as pastors to missionaries. We are in this together. And, as much as I, Diane, want to build a ladder of french fries to rescue Renee and her girls, we cannot. However, we can care, love, support, comfort, and grieve, all the while carrying this precious family to our heavenly Father in prayer.
Trusting Him, we pray His protection over Mama Renee and her sweet girls.