The other day, our family was invited to help out some good friends and missionaries with a group with whom they were hosting. One of my favorite things in missionary business is hosting and working with groups. This was perfect! It was a group of girl high school soccer players from Ohio. They needed some help with transportation and translation. They got a whole lot more, whether it was expected or not.
We had a great time as they hosted a number of soccer events. They put together a couple of clinics, played in tournaments, worked with a summer program for kids on vacation(it is summer down here on this half) did some physical labor, and played against the formidable cadets at the national police academy. That is where the title comes into play.
As the team arrived to the police academy, they were greeted by a solemn and serious batch of guards at the entrance. You see, it is a formal thing to be in the police force here in Peru. It is kind of like a military battalion complete with the hierarchy, salutes that never end, and just a lot of structure and respect.
They entered the compound to find every cadet lined up around the outside of the field in an “at ease” position in the blazing heat as if they were dried from the sun and could not move. It was impressive to the girls to say the least.
|The cadets lining the field|
With the band playing, the mood of the game became just that. A one sided crowd , cheering for their fellow countrymen, or better put, country women. The US girls were up against a team of the finest of the academy. Soccer was the game, and it was about to start.
As the teams prepared to take the field, the US team was a bit on the short side of the numbers. They had 11 players, and that included their adult sponsor, and my amazing wife. Teri was invited to go watch the game. She went, not planning to play, just watch.
Nobody wants to borrow players from the other team. It would not work in war, so why would anyone think it would work in a soccer game? So Teri was now part of the team.
The game commenced and during the first half, the other team scored twice. This left our girls a bit behind, but without a doubt that the game was not over. They mustered up a bit of enthusiasm and turned up the game a notch or two.
It was in this part of the game that Teri, my amazing wife and superstar soccer player got a pass, turned and launched the ball from the left side of the field, up and over the stretched out hands of the goalie to have the ball sneak into the top right corner of the goal. The crowd of opposing cadets did not go wild. Who needs a cheering crowd when you have a pile of screaming high school girls? It was their first goal of the game and it was scored by my girl…notice a bit of bragging in my word inflection.
The game went on until the last remaining seconds, when another one of the US girls scored to tie the game. Again, the girls went wild. The timekeeper blew the whistle shortly thereafter and ended the regular portion of the game. It was now time for PK’s…Penalty kicks. It was on!
As five players on each team were chosen, they each, in an alternating fashion shot rockets towards the seemingly helpless goalie. After the first round, it was still tied. Three of each team made their shots and two missed. One more player was chosen from each team. Their player missed and left us with an opportunity to win. Our player blasted a shot to the back of the net to win the game. Much more screaming ensued.
It was a great game. It was made even better by the situation; The cadets in their formality and kind greetings, the pomp and circumstance, the competitive game, great attitudes, and a lot of fun and sunburn. However, the best part for me was that Teri, my superstar wife, who hadn’t played soccer in a long time, was able to pitch in to help these girls go home with a wonderful memory of beating the police squad in a high stakes game of soccer.
|The champions at the awards ceremony after the game|
Although soccer was the platform for this group, it was not the overall purpose. They are all gifted soccer players, but better yet, they are using their gifts and talents to reach people for Christ. I am convinced that there is no better way to reach people than living your life by using your God given talents and passions to SHOW people that living a Christian life is really attractive. Our family has put our entire ministry into this philosophy. In a world that is closed off to Christ, hearing about it just does not work. You have got to show them with your life and actions as well as your words. However, in the case of these young soccer players, our cafe ministry, and our motorcycle mission, the words usually come later.