In a campsite of the Mennonites (a Christian denomination) in the Colorado Mountains, I had an amazing experience – through people who I had never met before.


A scenic view from our cabin – it touched my soul.


The camp chief’s family and us.
The first experience that touched my heart was with the camp chief who invited me for a private conversation in his office. There he said that it was nice to see how I had involved my family in the training camp before the Olympics. He had a specific proposal – they wanted to support my family by offering us free bed and food in their campsite. That is exactly what happened, we lived there for seven days for free.
At times there were approximately 200 people at the campsite who showed great interest towards me as an Olympic athlete. Several times I got to tell my story and give autographs. The camp chief even ordered fan shirts that all the camp members will be wearing during the Olympic marathon.
Another experience that touched my soul was with people from Texas who also stayed at the campsite. During the short period we had several nice conversations. Upon leaving they gave me a modern GPS watch. Inadvertently, I started to think about what would happen if I didn’t impress them at the Olympics. However, every now and then I am reminded of the words that were said to me when giving the gift: you have a nice family and enjoy the competition.
My new friend from Texas and a crying baby.
It could be said that one of the most selfless people at the campsite was Mary the cooking lady. She is one of the people who has dedicated her life to making other people’s lives better. She also had a gift for us that touched our souls. In a small paper bag I found a book that she herself had written. The motive behind the book was to give rather than to take.


Mary has been among the staff “only” last 28 years.


Why were you so kind to us? How did we deserve all of that? What can I give back to you? I can explain the motives of these people with nothing else than the words of Jesus Christ: love your neighbor as thyself. 
Rocky Mountain Memmonite Camp is on the left side of the picture.