I can't even thank you all enough for diving into this great program of youth exchange and hosting me as your first exchange student ever, not including the Japanese girl who stayed for 10 days. You did what Rotary asked you to do: you opened your home and hearts for me. You let me grow to be a part of this family, you treated me like one of your own kids (for my siblings I came to be one of your sisters).
But you didn't do just that. Actually, you did a lot more. I know what your plans of what to do and where to go were modified just to make my time here even more special. At home, you had to reorganize things to make me fit into your home. Also, you took me where I had to be and where I wanted to go (for example to Salem to my friends' house or to Portland), when it took an hour or two out of your time. It wasn't just me that you welcomed to your house when you decided to host, you also welcomed many of my friends. I want you to know that all of my friends liked you a lot. Often after my friends had visited here they told me, "I wish my host family would be like this." For me this shows how amazing of a host family you are, even though this is your first time doing this.
I'm grateful that you trusted me and let me go with my friends, even when I couldn't give you all the details on what I'm going to be doing and with whom. This is definitely one of the biggest things that made me so happy during my time with you: the trust we have on both sides. I want to thank for the limits you set for me; they protected me and showed that you care about me. It made me feel both loved and safe in your home.
My sisters, my bungholes. You have no idea how excited I was to become a big sister. Being "the annoying little sister" my whole life, this is the first chance I've ever had to be a big sister. And you know what, I LOVED IT. At first I thought you were a little odd, and to be honest, one time Tera almost scared the shit out of me (pardon my language, but that's just the best way to describe that particular situation, which has it's own story). But soon after, maybe two weeks, I was familiar with you and the relationship we have right now is "hella rad". Mikayla, sharing a room with you has been pleasure. I don't know how I will manage in my next host family or back in Finland without you rocking out every morning or cracking me up by being so tired and sleepy. Tera, thank you for being the annoying little sister for me, and I don't mean this in a bad way, because it was awesome and just what I wanted. We had really good times and you're just hilarious, weasel. Thank you for letting me learn all about being a big sister. Mikayla, thank you for showing me how to be a big sister; I really can't think of myself as a big sister to you, as we're only a year apart. I love you both and I will miss you so much. Again, you have no idea how much.
Steve, you are amazing. The way you and Renae parented me is what I want to do for my own kids. I didn't only learn how to be a big sister and a role model for them. Because of this opportunity of being not-biological kid, I got a chance to learn what raising kids is like from a different perspective. You've really nailed it. In everything you do, you don't do it just for yourself, you do it for Mikayla and Tera. I feel a little like a fool for saying this, but I just have to: Thank you for being the best dad for Mikayla and Tera, and for me, too. If I could give an award for the funniest guy in the USA, I would give it to you Steve.
Renae. I don't even know where to start. You probably already know how much I admire you. You have given me so much good advise for life, I'm sure that with your advice alone my life will be perfect as it can be. It took me a little bit of time to get used to you, to take you in as my host mom. But I slowly adjusted and now you really are one of my three moms (my life has blessed me with many moms, such as my biological mom Tuula and my neighbor back in Finland, Niina). There's really not a lot left to say, you know it all already. Thank you for listening to me, supporting when I've felt weak and sad. Thanks for all the good laughs we've shared, foods you have eaten with me, and all the punches you've given me when the Volkswagen beetle drives by on a highway.
Last but not least, thank you Lacey, for being stinky in your litter box (or toilet, as Tera wants me to call it) during all the times I'd been sitting in front of the computer for way too long.