To the Editor:
About two months ago we noticed an article in the Journal-World describing the Meeting for Peace and asking people to act as host families. The requirements of a host family were fairly simple: provide guests a place to sleep, breakfast, and transportation to and from their events. After much consideration on our part, for we are very busy, we decided we could do this with little or no hardship on our part.
Oct. 12 arrived and we met our three house guests. None spoke English and we spoke no Russian. Thoughts raced through our minds, ``What had we gotten ourselves into? Had we made a BIG mistake?''
Upon arrival at our home, using non-verbal communication, we showed them their rooms and their beds, the bathroom and how to use the facilities and bid them goodnight. At this point one of them took us by the arm and led us to our dining room table. WHAT NOW? The other two went to their rooms and brought gifts and presented them to us, then the third got his gifts. Christmas in October.
Smiles, thanks and tears are a universal language. The ice was broken.
We could literally fill this page or pages with the experiences we had this past week; the conversations, through interpreters, with them; the insights that we learned about their life, their standard of living, their desires as individuals; their curiosity of America; their questions of us and their reactions to our answers.
The required tasks went out the windows! We squeezed every minute we had available to share together in this historic event. We attended their conference functions; they attended our church and social functions; they helped tend the livestock; they helped with household tasks.
We want to thank the citizens of Lawrence who were so receptive to our guests, wherever we took them. And a special thanks to other hosts who gave up their English-speaking guests for a night so that we might visit with our guests.
It was an experience which we will treasure for the rest of our lives.
We would like to close with two quotes, through an interpreter, from our guest from Alma Ata, as we celebrated her 55th birthday in our living room. ``Governments and hard-headed men start wars, people don't. But people fight wars and die. We don't need wars.'' And the second quote accompanied with tears, ``Ten years ago I never dreamed I would live to come to America, let alone sit in your living room and talk like this tonight.'' What more can we say?
Doug and Ginny Beene,