Saturday, June 12, 2010

Soccer World Cup, Vuvuzelas, and Religion

The fifa soccer world cup is being held in South Africa right now, just in case you didn't know. This is very important, especially for South Africans and soccer enthusiasts everywhere, because it is a fairly all-consuming thing. It's the type of event around which all other events are planned. Billions of $'s are spent, new structures go up, cities are decorated, and even national holidays proclaimed so people can watch their nation compete. The young man who sat beside us on the plane put it quite plainly, "Soccer is my religion."

This isn't entirely true for everyone of course, and it was not likely so even for him. But still...

Meanwhile, we arrived back in South Africa a few days ago,

and while soccer awareness had barely entered our busy mindset a last week, we're slowly catching the wave. Here's the soccer fan paraphernalia table at a nearby grocery store. Those horns are called "vuvuzelas". They're very, very noisy.

Soccer is far from being our religion. But this is the world cup, after all, so a bit of cheering for our teams is in order. I spent the majority of my formative years in there's no big mystery as to who I support when the competition gets tough.

But, Africa is also in my heart.

Dwight has the same dilemma, just the other way around since he's South Africa born and raised. But he also has a soft spot for Brazil. If the two go head to head in a game, things could get interesting.

Over the next week or so, there are many teams and many games to play, so while they battle it out on the field, we'll work at getting back home and into the swing of things again.

Our plan was to arrive here and then proceed right away to Mozambique. However, there are a few unexpected delays. It turns out that security measures have been tightened during the World Cup and international pilots have to go through a screening process before private flights are OKayed. Also, the mission's Cessna is having some work done and there have been delays there as well.

So we've been held up a bit, stuck in a World-Cup-Soccer-land donned in soccer jerseys and blowing its noisy vuvuzelas.

Meanwhile, back on the mission, the second team of nursing students is due to arrive this weekend.
The arrival of fresh recruits can be quite a noisy affair too, albeit with squealing at bugs rather than honking of vuvuzelas. Personally, I rather prefer to hear the squealing. It's much more entertaining.

One of the nice things about short term teams is that they come not to watch a sport, but to take an active part in caring for and loving people. Part of that is working with people with needs, such as widows and orphans. And that sounds like a much better description of "religion" to me. (James 1:27)

Having said that, you can bet that if Brazil or South Africa make it to the play offs, we'll be donning our team colors and blowing our own vuvuzelas right along with the best of them.


PS: Photo credit to Heather for the last two photos.

1 comment:

ruth said...

Perfect verse for your post! Love that!!