Written on August 10, 2014…
Recently I received a hand written letter from a volunteer who had spent a couple of months with Team Rwanda. In five years, this is the first letter I have received, a letter that will remain in my journal to be read and reread during the low points of my life in Rwanda. This letter will be a ragged piece of tissue paper in the next few years.
The letter spoke of love and happiness. This woman gave as much love as she received in return.
“…love comes in all forms and produces the same effect of warmth, gratitude and inspiration.”
On Wednesday evening I was on another Brussels flight out of Kigali heading back to the US. As I opened the inflight magazine there they were, the boys of Team Rwanda. As I stared at the photo I felt to the core of my soul….love. I became all verklempt, sniffling and trying to hold back my leaky eyes. I did not want to leave. Yes, me, the one who does not have a “heart for Rwanda”, the one who has pretty much given up cycling because I cannot take the hassle on the roads anymore, me, the one who sometimes is so angry and frustrated I want to run screaming from this country.
That’s the funny thing about love; you often end up in places you never thought you’d be because of love.
I never had the normal life, the husband (make that two), children or job. I tried the traditional job route once. I was miserable and I was miserable to others. I didn’t have children because frankly, I’m just not a fan, especially a fan of the bald, drooling, crying babies.
People used to tell me I would never really know love until I had a child. They were wrong.
This morning I woke up at 3:00am to head to the airport again, this time heading from Boston to Vegas. I saw I had a message on Facebook. It was Janvier. Yesterday, Janvier, who is currently in the US racing and training with a good friend of ours, Scott Nydam, won a local race in New Mexico. It wasn’t a big race, in the grand scheme of professional cycling, it was a blip…..a blip he won. Janvier became the first Rwandan to ever win a professional race in the US. I had spoken to Janvier the night before and he was so happy. He called to give me his new US cell number. After the call I sent him a short message on FB, “GREAT job today. We are so proud of you!”
This morning I read Janvier’s message….
Thanks you Mukecuru every thing is bacouse you if you're not in Rwanda I can never now USA, Thanks lots you and coach to send me here I'm very happy because
You and Jock!!!
Recently I read a devotional called the Trademark of a True Christian. Yes, I love the baby Jesus more now too….
“One of the most important facets of love is unselfishness, which is characterized in Romans 12:16 as the willingness to adapt and adjust to the needs and desires of others. People who have grasped the meaning of this Scripture and applied it in their lives have learned what it means to be reduced to love. They are not selfish. They have learned to be adaptable and to adjust to others. On the other hand, people who think more highly of themselves then they should find it difficult to adjust to others…..They selfishly expect others to adjust to them, but they are often unable to accommodate others without becoming angry or upset.”
Everything I do I do for this team. To see Janvier and Valens sitting in 1st and 2nd at the Commonwealth Games ITT in the first group, to hear Bona’s voice on the phone from France where he rides for a new team, to welcome Gasore home from Scotland and seeing him holding his little boy and loving his family to hear Jonathan praying for his Tanto and Mukecuru and thanking God for guacamole. For all of these moments I will happily give up comfort, convenience and money. As I see people go through the motions of their lives, telling me they “wish” this, that and the other always selfishly holding on to the life they think they need instead of selflessly pursuing they life they want I wish they could live a day in my shoes. 95% of that day would feel like you’re beating your head against a concrete wall, the other 5% would be filled with a sense of hope that things are better that we are making a difference. I live for the 5% of my day.
The ironic cliché is the more you give you get. It just might not be in the ways you expect.
The greatest compliment I have received besides being a force to be “reckoned with”, is that my selflessness does not go unnoticed although I do not wish it to be noticed. If I can lead a life that inspires others than I will have had a good run of decent days.
I never set out to inspire or influence a group of Rwandan cyclists, a team or a country. I just fell in love with a group of young men who have become like sons to me and who I would gladly give up consistent water, electricity and quality of life for over and over again.
I know this volunteer is forever changed and is a part of our family and feels the love from all of us even though the thousands of miles from Rwanda separate us. We all hope she follows her selfless heart and returns to continue the work she has started and continue the impact and inspiration she has planted.