Tom, one of the other men on the team, was sick on day two; leading up and during his sermon at church. He was dehydrated and whatever else the case was; really, he wasn’t feeling well. Because of this, it really makes no surprise to me that I woke up at 5:00 AM Monday morning with my stomach making noises that I dare not repeat. After the prior evening’s milk/cookie and Skype event with Darco; I awoke the next morning to realize that the milk was a HORRIBLE idea, and it resulted in some massive dehydration and all around fact of this: I was sick. No breakfast, couldn’t keep it down. Living off of peppermints and prayers [prior to, the toilet was also...hmmm...questionable in forms of operation; thank you gravity fed water]. I got into the breakfast group, and already anxious about the soccer clinic later in the day, and nerves were the least of my issues. Thankfully, those who had traveled several times had some great medicine designed just to kill the bacteria that had entered my system. Plenty of water and a few pop tarts later; I was almost human.
After a rough morning, I found myself out and about with the crew at one of the local churches; we were painting the church. However, we quickly learned that the paint we’re using was oil based, meaning if it got on your skin; it was going to take a while. So, our crew left after painting the building in a record time, covered in paint and smiles. Furthermore, Marco was kind enough to get me a Pepsi, at no cost; trying to balance out the 8 Q’s beverage of the night before.
I also do this in the States, but for a specific price. We can negotiate….
At lunch I still wasn’t feeling the best, but I was getting rather envious of the fact that some of the people in our group were riding on the top [literal] of the bus that we were in. I’m an adult, I wanted to ride on top [which sounded so much like an adult]. However, the other adults [the real ones] informed me that I couldn’t because I had to run the clinic first.
Thankfully, to edge out the nerves; the crew found a coffee pot and I had my first cup of coffee since getting down here. Instantly my stomach felt better, I felt better, and the coffee was absolutely amazing!
We started with the rain, trying to figure out how to get into the building for the clinic [indoor field]. Indoor field was under construction, no use. The outside field was…dirt and puddles from the previous nights rain. I headed out with the crew, and helped set up the sound system. Found Marco, my security blanket, and we took off setting up three drills and watched 90 kids show up.
That’s when the ‘PLAN’ unraveled into chaos.
One of the local pastors contacted me and said through Marco that he had a club team that was wanting to come in and learn from a “Master Coach from the United States”…amazingly; that was in reference to myself. So, while the kids were running their drills, I was ‘teaching’ this entire club on proper call control and the advantages of size and skill of the mental aspect of soccer.
The futbal club looking for answers…
I’m not sure if any of that stuck; I was winging it at that moment. Finally, I asked them a simple question:
Do you want to play the American’s?
That started everything. Of course they did! So, we cleared the field of the nino’s and nina’s, and brought in the best eleven of this team, and the “best” eleven of the American’s down here. Two halves, fifteen minutes a piece.
It was a muddy, wet mess. The Guatemalans were better ball handlers [duh], but we understood the usefulness of getting the ball to stop in the water puddles. At halftime the score was 0-1 in favor of Guatemala. Now that the entire schedule had been shot to pieces, we decided that I would preach at halftime, give them a second half of game, that way they would stay for the second match and hear me speak.
With Marco and myself, both covered in mud and sweat; we just started to talk to the group. The cops had shut down the road behind the field, so traffic wouldn’t interfere, the masses of people were outside their Chicken Buses listening to the PA system, and I simply told them the story of this: this site. The divorce. Homeless. Broke. Nothing. I gave a testimony to them, showing them that I was in many of their boats, I cried the same way they did, prayed the same way they did; I was a “great American” who was as humble as they were. While the children enjoyed it [I think], it was this club team that I nailed; they were in the age range of 16-18 both male and females. Along the front, these girls were just broken, devastated, crying their eyes out because they could relate. It was at that point one of the local pastors came up and gave an invitation to the masses to follow these footsteps, to find this man named Jesus Christ, and dare to be different.
We had 90 there; 25 raised their hands to follow through in this process. The majority of those hands were from that random club team that showed up. Even more fascinating for me, as a person who works primarily with women’s soccer, is looking at the female players up front, and seeing the tears, broken hearts, the realization that I am no different then several of them. These kids came to play futbal, and left with a new life. I was hoping that even through this past years process, that I would be able to use that this week. When I mentioned the word, “homeless”, suddenly there was no laughter or games going on, on the side. Everything focused up front.
They could relate.
Afterwards our crew found ourselves at Pollo Compero again for dinner; I chilled with my security blanket(s), and dined on fried chicken and ice cream. Afterwards, we spend a little while at Casa De Mi Padre, and because soccer was over…I was granted my wish. I was able to ride on top of the bus, and I can tell you this; there is nothing more amazing then riding on top of that thing. You can see everything from an elevated angle, no exhaust fumes. Needless to say that it has quickly become my home. The youth do not even ask if I’m getting on top, one of them just asks for my for my bag prior to myself hopping on top.
As the day wound down, with a BUNCH of worn out gringos, I was able to take a moment and just process the insanity that had taken place throughout the day.
I think the best thing I could write is simply this:
Years and years ago I found myself heading to college, to study to become an international missionary. We all know that it didn’t work out that way, and truthfully I caught some flack from family members because I didn’t “follow God’s will”. I can say this; years later. I’m standing on a futbol field with a bunch of players from Guatemala, wanting to learn more about the game, curious about this man known as Christ, and just want to play.
It is safe to say that God does what God wants to do, regardless if we’re ready and willing.
No caption needed.