June 6, 2009

hotel peterson

the title is not an exaggeration. my house is sometimes more like a hotel than anything else.
and i love it that way!

for as long as i can remember, my parents have had an open-door policy -- anyone and everyone who needs a place to stay are welcome in our home. as you can imagine, this has provided many exciting and educational experiences.

we have hosted in our home diplomats from foreign countries, strangers from different states, loved ones from all over, and foreign friends who quickly become as close to us as family. the last description is a perfect fit for our most recent guests. during the month of may, these beautiful ladies came into our home and found a perfect fit in our hearts - my new russian sisters:

inna and masha quickly became our adopted family. mom says that when you love someone, showing them they can trust you, they will usually open up their heart and love you right back. that is what exactly what happened with these beautiful ladies. we had more fun than i can possibly tell you.

you see, inna and masha are from a town in russia called omsk. the reason they came to utah is because of a program funded by the library of congress, the open world program (click here to go to their official website). my family has been greatly blessed to participate by being one of the many host families around the world. thus far we have hosted businessmen and women, diplomats and royal figures, lawyers, and others coming from kazakhstan, kyrgyzstan, tajikistan, uzbekistan, and russia. each group to stay in our home has left an impact on our hearts. we get to know the individuals -- with or without verbal english communication -- and have fun learning about each others' culture. there have been times when the people we were hosting could not speak more than a couple of words in english. it is definitely stressful when all you have is charades to figure what a person wants. here is an example of that -- last year these two women from kyrgyzstan taught my parents how to make one of their traditional dishes without being able to explain anything in english. everything was done in a 'show-and-tell' manner... consequently we didn't actually get to eat until close to 11:30pm that night.

. . . good memories. and regardless of stress, there have been more amazing experiences than i can count because of the open world program.

well, last month when inna and masha came from omsk, russia we learned that they both spoke english fairly well = *blessings*! right away they were easy to love and fun to be with. they spoke in their most elegant broken english and were extremely happy and excited to be enjoying america. their favorite activity was unquestionably the shopping. spare minutes were used to shop at tj maxx, ross, nordstrom, ritzy stores in park city, and many other shops. their giddy squeals were a constant, telling us over and over again how amazing the prices in america are compared to the expensive prices in russia. anywhere they went, all the store clerks were instantly at their beck-and-call. their style was impeccable and rarely was it inexpensive. however, i do believe their two favorite stores were nordstrom and tj maxx -- visited twice and three times, respectively.

these wonderful russian ladies, including gulia, have brought new meaning to the phrase "shop til you drop" and boy did they know how to put it to good use. thankfully, we were able to have fun doing other things besides shopping.

i'm not going to lie, we had the most wonderful meals throughout the time inna and masha were in our home. and of course, dad insisted we play our traditional new-friends-at-the-table family game: fork and spoon. it was terribly entertaining.

the last day inna and masha were with us was packed with fun things. of course shopping was among the day's festivities! then, after lots of shopping, mom and i took inna, masha, and gulia to the olive garden. it was so much fun!
there is a tradition that on the last day our foreign visitors are with us, all the host families gather to see our darlings graduate from the open world program. by this point, we have become quite attached to one another.

i will never be able to thank my parents enough for the life lessons i have learned because of their willingness to host individuals from all walks of life in our humble home. i am especially grateful for my new russian sisters -- i love them.