By Chelsea Chambers
Photography by Ashley Fritsche
Idaho calls to many people—the fresh air, wide open spaces, and bustling urban areas make it the ideal place to raise a family, start a business, and find adventure. For the Esfandiari sisters, coming to Idaho was a move made purely on faith and the trust that something better lay ahead. And, in fact, that is exactly what happened.
Sara Esfandiari and Soraya Meija Esfandiari came to the Gem State from Yorba Linda, California nearly half a decade ago. Annual road trips to visit Soraya’s Idaho-based in-laws planted the seed but faith was what inspired the move.
But before Idaho, and even before California, the twins and their family sought to escape the mayhem of the Iranian Revolution. And like many stories, tragedy and hardship often precede our true paths to happiness and are marred with challenge and uncertainty.
“We are identical twins born in Iran, in the city of Tehran. Our family moved to the U.S during the middle of the Iranian Revolution,” Soraya reflected. “Ayatollah Khomeini and his religious supporters had recently overthrown the existing government and seized political power. Hundreds of thousands of people had their lives turned upside down. Our grandfather was the “Minister of Interiors” to the Shah of Iran. He was brought to the US on a political asylum.”
“Our immediate family was in search, like many others, for a plan to escape the chaos. We were leaving our home, our family, our wealth, our friends, everything we held dear—all because our country had been persecuted by religion gone wrong.”
“We were about 8 years old when we faced many challenges to get over to the U.S and we truly believe that God had protected every step. We arrived at LAX with 5 suitcases and our big dolls. We spoke very little English.”
As the twins and their families stood in these uncertain spaces, they remained open—to a new country, a new religion, and to what lie ahead for each of them. Rather than allow the barriers of newness to define what they would become, Sara and Soraya plunged into their new school—a private Christian school across from where they lived—to open doors they never thought to open. And this faith, this trust in their paths is what brought them here today.
Active in their church and their communities, they enjoy camping and exploring Idaho’s beautiful natural spaces, yoga, and reading. The sisters and their growing families all live in Eagle and love being able to see each other whenever they want. They no longer live in fear of persecution and look to their past challenges as stepping stones to the amazing lives they now lead.
Soraya would like to give a shoutout to the Nights of Unity non-profit organization that helps bring the word of faith to women in crisis. Visit them at: nightsofunity.org/