I wanted to write and let you know about an exciting thing that has been developing here, sort of ‘on the side.’ There is a little field near our house on the corner of the shopping center. When we arrived here I noticed a group of guys would play soccer there a few afternoons a week. Eventually, I rocked up there and asked if I could play. I thought it was just a pick-up game, but after a week or so I found out that it was an actual team and this was their practice. I continued to play with them and they’ve really welcomed me in. The senior team is made up of guys mostly around 20-25 years old and they have a junior team of high school guys that also trains with them. All the guys live in Masiphumelele, one of the townships where Living Hope works.
I’m really excited about the relationships that are developing. A few weeks ago, after practice on Thursday, they had told me that they were playing on the Sunday coming up and asked me to come. I told them that I would try, but they called me again on Sunday to make sure I was coming. I couldn’t tell if they wanted/needed me to play, or if they just wanted me to come. Well, I got there (I came prepared to play just in case) and they just wanted me to watch, but it was so cool, because they sort of wanted to ‘show off’ for me. Since then I’ve taken one of the guys, Monde, to dinner after practice. That helped me to get to know him better and also gave me more insight into the lives of the other guys. Now, I see the guys all the time when I’m driving through Masi, so it’s cool to stop and chat. This week they made me stay after practice for their Team Meeting. That was neat that they wanted to include me. They are starting in a new league, which they would let me play in, but it doesn’t make sense to get registered at this point. They are also playing a gambling game on Sunday that they said I can play in, but I’m running a ½ Marathon in the morning, so I don’t think I’ll be up for playing that afternoon! (The gambling game is basically where they challenge a team to play them for R100, which is about $13. Each team puts in R100 and the winner takes all. This is how they pay for their equipment. Since they are the best team in Masi, they win a lot of money, but most teams won’t play them anymore.) It’s just so cool that they’ve welcomed me like this. I’m obviously really different from them, but they haven’t allowed that to stop them.
Now, I’m praying for a vision of how to take these relationships further and really work Jesus into the equation. This Wednesday I’m going to use some of my soccer ball money and take Monde, another guy on the team that he’s supposed to choose, and Sonwabo (who is a Life Skill Educator in Masi and is the Youth Pastor at Masi Baptist Church) to a professional soccer match in town between the home side Ajax Cape Town and the Orlando Pirates. The Pirates are one of the traditional favorites in the country, so it should be a big crowd. I’m really excited about the opportunity to further the relationships and try to connect Sonwabo with these other guys. I think Monde could be a potential volunteer for Living Hope, so I’m hoping Sonwabo can reel him in. Please pray for this time and for my continued relationships with these guys. I want to support their team and them as people. I’ve even considered trying to get some of them to the States to play for a college program and get a great education. If one of them came back to South Africa with an U.S. education, he would have immense opportunities open up. That could affect multiple people and generations. Please pray that I would know how to support these guys and that God would give me the opportunities to share with them.
And pray for the ½ Marathon on Sunday morning. It’s called the Milkwood. It’s supposed to be a spectacularly beautiful course along the beach from one of the lighthouses. Sarah and our flat-mate Mandy are going to be running the 10K. One of Evan’s friends, ‘Uncle’ Richard, is going to be with us also, but he’s preparing for a Marathon next week, so I’ll only be able to keep up with him for about a mile, at best.