Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Will Never Forget this Day

"I will never forget this day." 

How do I even begin to put into words the events of the past few weeks?  The blog would be pages and pages and would most likely only cover a few days.

How do I capture the feelings and experiences of two young Rwandan men during their stay in America?

Obed, experiencing his first adventure in America captured it perfectly with these six words....I will never forget this day.

Obed and Kiki have been in America since August 11th where their entry hung in the balance for a few nail biting hours and by the grace of one accommodating Immigration Officer in the San Francisco airport.

In just over two weeks they have helped pack up a warehouse filled with the decades of cycling memorabilia of their coach, traveled to Wyoming spending a week at a ranch in the middle of nowhere (Population Savery, WY--25), training on spectacular roads leading to the Continental Divide, riding horses, driving four wheelers, having cook outs on the Rim, seeing their heroes of cycling at the Tour of Colorado and taking pictures and signing autographs with the fans who have multiplied exponentially due to the New Yorker article in July.  

This morning as I awoke before the sun to catch my flight back to Colorado from Massachusetts I listened to a voicemail from their host in Colorado, Geoff Cooper.  Geoff picked up Kiki and Obed last Thursday night and took them home with him after the Coors Classic/7-11 Reunion in Vail.  Geoff asked if there was any way Kiki and Obed could stay a few extra days with his family once I am back in Colorado because there are so many more things they want to do and they have been having such a great time.  

I knew they were loving their Colorado adventure when talking to Kiki the other day to tell him my plane had been delayed a day due to the Hurricane. He told me Obed wanted to talk to me.  Obed never wants to talk.  Obed does not like to "speak" English.  On the phone?  The thought of actually speaking English causes him a bit of distress which we have been working on every day he's been here.  Obed wants to talk?  Obed? 

Obed gets on the phone and with the enthusiastic voice of a 12 year old boy says, "Kim, do you know gondola?"  

"Yes, Obed, I know gondola?"

"Kim, we ride gondola, right now, gondola." And then he bursts into laughter.

"Kim, you are good?"

"Yes, Obed very good."

"Kim, I miss you."

Kim melts here....

This afternoon I'll get to Denver and jump in my car to head to Boulder where we have a fundraiser ride at 5:30 and I get to see the boys.  They have become mini celebrities and are such admirable and humble ambassadors for their Team and their country.  They are what is good about Rwanda.

Imagine being 10 years old again and having all those first time experiences as only a child can have.  Imagine experiencing them through the eyes of an adult and with all the prior memories of that experience.  This has been my last couple of weeks.  I am fortunate to relive all the amazing adventures of my childhood through Kiki and Obed.  I get to see things for the first time....again.

As we sat around the fire after a day of cycling, horseback riding, quadding and our rim cook out, looking up at the Milky Way which you actually can see when there are no city lights, people or traffic obscuring your view, Obed smiled at Kiki and coach and quietly said in Enlish...

"I will never forget this day."

Neither will I Obed....
Obed & I mugging it up for Kiki & Coach