Posted by: brittany marie | June 24, 2008

quiero jugar en un partido

This past Sunday I got schooled by about twenty eleven year olds on a grassy soccer field in San Martin, El Salvador. I wasn’t that I couldn’t play; just I was not as talented as the children on the opposing team. They were like miniature FIFA stars.

 

But that’s how that country runs. I’m pretty sure that all El Salvadorian children come out of the womb kicking a soccer ball and screaming, “¡Gol!” I’m not even sure how great their national team is or when they play or if I could even see them on ESPN or such…but I know that it’s important to the kids.

 

After that game where my team was defeated by fiercely competitive children, there was another game between the older men. I don’t often see groups of older men and younger teens engaging in a serious sports game. They played hard and it wasn’t until Will, now nicknamed the “Rey de Fútbol,” joined that game that either team scored. He raced across the field with very little effort for a man of his age, and took command scoring seven goals.

 

The best part was how laid back the whole Sunday afternoon had been and how people sat in small groups, filling in the shaded grassy areas around the field’s perimeter. They talked, laughed, watched. The sun overhead was slightly crazier than the Georgia sun, as were the clouds…and there were moments bathed in bright severe heat and dark soothing breezes.

 

And on the field, United States missionaries confessed their lack of fútbol prowess but continued to run all they had into every kick and pass. The El Salvadorians didn’t laugh or mock but played as if all were equals. Everyone played their heart out.

 

It was and is a beautiful thing.

 

For me, moments like that are scattered throughout all of last week. It occurred in the hospital visit, the last-minute skits, nightly debriefings, and wordless exchanges…the times of dish washing, book binding, and garden work…even in the promise of a small orphanage in San Martín, El Salvador.

 

The crash and flow of two cultures and distinct languages was eye-opening for me. Because in that chaos of sorting through contrast and comparisons, there was a unifying bond that soccer/fútbol can never create. I have always “known” that my God was one of all peoples. But now I have “experienced” the fact that my God is one of all peoples.

 

That’s the easiest thing to convey right now. I could list every detail of my week here. I could write up the names of those I met, what I did, how I succeeded and failed…but the experience of it all can’t really be translated. It will show through in the future as I bring up stories, remember funny moments, and contemplate the lessons…but as of now, there is no way I can impart my understanding as a whole, to be easily absorbed by the recipient.

 

I am not sure how much time will be required before I can fully process my time in El Salvador. Patience is close by though, and I have no desire to smash through this confusion because I think I am learning important truths and finding that I have never had all the answers.

 

Praise the Lord.

 

Da me fe.

 

 

 

 

 

Exciting note:

 

On the return trip, I got to see the national fútbol team of Panama in the El Salvador airport. Sadly, my flight was boarding and my zone was the last one and just called, so I never had a chance to get a picture with them. Even sadder, well, for them, not me, was their loss the previous day to the national team of El Salvador in the qualifying games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It will be held in South Africa.

 

I want to go.

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