Sunday, June 27, 2010


        Germany Celebrates its 4-1 win over England tonight

I just talked to my dad on the phone the day before yesterday.  "So, how's the world cup treating you?" he asked.  I smiled, and told him he would have no idea how much it has affected us.  Literally.

The last game that South Africa played was vs. France on the 22nd of June (5 days ago).  South Africa upset France (3-0) and scored two goals within 20 minutes of each other.  I was driving my friend, Monica home to Cosmo City, and suddely saw people in the streets, blowing vuvuzelas, dancing, lifting up their hands, screaming, cheering, smiles that radiated... sheer happiness.  All because of a goal...  It is an image that will be etched in my memory forever.

There's nothing for me like watching TV and seeing my countrymen cheering for your our home team.  They do the familiar things I've seen done in every pro sports game in the States, but nowhere here.  They pulse with a familiar clueless, fearless happiness that makes us seem arrogant to the's just who we are as Americans!!

Our national flag....?  Don't most Americans know FLAG RULES??  No toughing the wearing as a garment... no acting like it's a cape...?   I guess not.  Being outside of the States the flag police don't follow you.

What rips my heart up is seeing the Mexican fans.  Almost everyone looks familiar, maybe because we're from California, but also because my family genes are so heavily Mexican.  Right now, as we speak Mario is watching the game for Mexico vs. Argentina.  Argentina is ahead 2-0 and I don't have the heart to watch anymore.

Still, we are having a rip-roaring good time watching soccer here, but I hate to see loss...witness it first-hand.  Especially on this level.

The World Cup is bigger than the Olympics in most underdeveloped countries.  They see it as a chance for their team to bring their country dignity.  It has to be one of the reasons I root for the poorest country.  Truthfully, I didn't know who to root for when the USA was playing the LAST remaining African country in the Cup, Ghana, a country with so much poverty (About 28% of the population live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day) that the USA seems like giants next to them. Still, soccer equalizes them and the field becomes its own country, each inch being contested territory.  In the ninety minutes of play, the only thing that matters is strategy, endurance and teamwork.  The refs are thrown in to make the game interesting, but most of time they just make us angry!!

Italy (the defenders of the cup) have just been knocked out for good.  German just knocked out England tonight... Mexico is still in, but the USA was just knocked out by Ghana.

As far as the love of the game, I have almost none.  I am caught up in the superhuman desire of the players to play well and to win.  The fans are next in my heart, all cheering (in the flipping freezing cold) their beloved teams with fervor that would make cheeseheads blush.  The whole atmosphere is beautiful here.  Cars are flagged out... people are dressed head to toe supporting.  Tonight at church a young friend was wearing a pancho.  A real one.  I was so jealous, and so encouraged at the same time.  

We have welcomed the world here...and it's been wonderful.

We still have two weeks to go-- I'll keep you posted as much as any girl (who doesn't care for soccer) can.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Yesterday we went to pray for my friend, John, who just had replacement surgery on his knee.  He really looked great, and his wife, Helen,  looked stunning (as usual) and smart, so she, Joy and I went to  the hospital cafeteria for a cup of coffee afterward.

We all got talking about movies, especially one I had just seen.  It was quirky, cute, but not everyone's cup of tea.  

Helen shared with us that they had just attended a live production of "The Boys in the Photograph" in Johannesburg's  Civic Theater.  Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton, the musical is based around the fortunes of a Belfast-based football team.  The review from Helen was astounding.  She gave it ten stars, and only said that the greatest disappointment was a gloomy subject matter.... but to hear her review was wonderful.   

She praised the sets (moveable and uniquely changing to highlight the story); the acting (all Joburg actors); and the incredible songs (performed with ease and passion).  Helen missed her calling.  She could have been a theater critic.  

It reminded me of my father-in-law, Chev Rogers, and his career on (and off) Broadway, in New York City.  I briefly mentioned that it is why Mario refuses to see stage performances here, or anywhere, for that matter.  He's seen the best of the best.  

Chev left his family to pursue his stage dreams when Mario was only five, but he kept in close contact throughout Mario's life via letters and phone calls (one of the treasured possessions Mario still keeps is a stack of letters from his father).   Mario tells of his childhood as an ordinary boy with an extraordinarily talented father.  During the summer holidays,  Mario would occasionally visit him in New York City.   Remarried to Alice Evans, also a broadway actress, Mario would be escorted into their private and exciting world, during the days when Broadway was really Broadway.  No microphones, no bodyguards...just actors pumping with passion and fire and magic... bringing two shows a day; sometimes three.

By the time I met Chev and Alice (in 1986) they had done several first-run plays (mostly musicals) performed on cruise ships and had several "acts" in local establishments.  Their personal play that they wrote ("All I Dreamed...and Then Some") had just gone through several revisions, and were grieving the loss of a viable buyer.  Still, they received me gladly into their lives and home (a Manhattan apartment on West End Avenue).  At the time, Chev was working at the American Place Theater and Alice was working for a hand therapist, both of them trying to pay the rent.  Still, they vibrated with the "Show Business" vibe that is so attractive and genuine...a vibe that the world depends on to be distracted from their problems...

Chev seemed a pale version of what Mario portrayed him to be.  His famous "donuts notes" we witnessed as he was in a specific donut shop on Main street... as usual, Chev larger than life.  He really was taking us back though, trying to show us a specific journaling technique while waiting for a breakthrough...a new job that would recognize his true talent....talent that was genuinely there.  

Living close up to him we could truly see that The Big Apple is riddled with broken dreams and  actors working as waiters in cafes.  Where do they all go??  The flock to other major cities and pour their hearts into the same medium...the one that stole their hearts.  Instead of the fabulous tourist crowd, local theater enthusiasts become a more merciful audience.

Alice( one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen up close), had an amazing influence on our lives ("Alicia" is what Chev called her, and so we named our only daughter).  She also belted out songs with such gusto she rattled windows.  She (still) loves and laughs with definite fervor... and still manages to be gentle.  She is literally one of my favorite women.  (Alice is performing "Wallenberg" in Westchester at the White Plains Performing Arts Center in Late October-- catch it if you can!!)

Flashback to Helen... as she relayed her strong approval of local theater, I hoped we could one day go see a show locally.    Today Mario told me that he wants to go to the Barnyard (a local theater in Northern Joburg) with our friends, Bonnie and Terry to see a show one of these days.

I can't wait.

There's hope.

Monday, June 21, 2010


What is it about a song or a piece of music that can transport us to the moment of the memory that we've attached to it?

It's amazing.

The other day, while hanging out the wash on the line, my neighbor David was playing a CD and I heard a song, Come On Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners and I was transported back to 1982, in my pink pedal-pushers and bright blue top, aiming to "stay skinny" and "have fun".  Barely out of high school, a pretty girl, but not the prettiest, shaky with insecurity being swooned by the music in my Datsun B210, including this song.  "Come Eileen, I swear on my knees, at this moment, you mean EEEE verything!!"  Not exactly words of covenant, but they were so dance-able, 80's....  Making my way to a University 45 minutes one way from my house and not even sure what I was doing there.  In my safety, there was music.  My car was tin on stereo was phenomenal!!

Oh, the wash.  Hanging here in South Africa, I remembered I am a happily married woman, walking in the calling of God.  Children; grandchildren; red Volvo.  Most of my music now is Classical, but just hearing this song was a flashback.  

Just when I recovered (and the song was over) a familiar scratchy voice cried out, "I heard you on the wireless back in 52...  lying awake intent a tuning in on you....if I was young it didn't stop you coming through....oooooh, oooh" Unmistakably the song "Video Killed the Radio Star" recorded just a couple of years later that "eileen" (1984)  and one of the most singable, dance-able accompaniments to a Friday night.  Those dark Friday nights when I pretended I was having fun and I wondered what the heck I was doing here.... Walking around aimlessly at a party, wondering what was the thrill of beer or laughter and what the heck was wrong with me that I wasn't married yet?  Why did I drop out of University...I knew more than my professors...

Oh, hanging the clothes.  

The transportation back to my old self was astounding...and I hadn't felt it in so many years.  I made my way to the fence that separates our houses.  I greeted David, a man older than myself but perpetually young at the same time.  "David, you HAVE to lend me your CD so I can burn it!"  I sadi to him.  He laughed and said "Do you not like it?"  I said "Yes, I love takes me back all the way!"  He laughed again.  "I just understood what you meant.  I thought you meant I need to burn it, like light it on fire... You want to copy it."
He lent it to me and I tried to burn it but it has copyright protection.  Oh well...  The songs were fun to listen to, but I'm not heartbroken I can't own them.

Tonight at dinner, our friend Garth and Lyn were sharing about music in their lives.  Garth asked if we had ever listened to Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes".  We admitted that the name didn't ring a bell, but he relayed a touching memory that transported him back years.  His story was so real that he literally turned back the clock and became a young man as he told it.  I could imagine that the song meant much to him.  

When I got home tonight, I you-tubed "Bright Eyes" and got the most amazing surprise.  It apparently was from the film "Watership Down", the animated parody, based on the novel by Richard Adams, that rocked the world in its day.  I saw it when I was homeschooling my kids and was previewing it before I showed them.  In the deep part of me, I was seeking God to touch us, and didn't want to show my kids anything that could accidentally get them in trouble for talking about later among home schooled kids.  Steeped in legalism and fear, God broke through that day and spoke to me.  He showed me Himself in a secular movie and prepared me to exit the arena of legalism and fear.  It was a strange day, feeling like I was about to lose friends and perhaps my own children...but fear was now revealed and I listened to God as He spoke.

Music evokes such strong memories and reminds us that deep inside us is a well of emotion.  It reminds me that I must continue to submit everything, even my ears to a God that is so great, so perfect.  In all I do now I do in freedom.  I listen with joy and thanksgiving that I am transformed.

I have been transformed by Him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Tonight our friends Bonnie and Terry asked us to come over for fine fellowship, food and a World Cup game.  A public holiday here, Mario and I agreed, seeing as our regularly scheduled City Ministry Group (CMG) would need the night off.

We went over with a little dessert, some nice wine and Diet Coke... and looked forward to catch-up and fun with the Wiggels.  Dinner was great (Butternut soup and fresh bakery rolls), the conversation was excellent (also invited were T &B's friends, Gill and Gareth) but the game....

Tonight South Africa faced off against Uruguay at 8:30 in Pretoria.  It is freezing outside-not figuratively, but literally freezing.  A whole stadium of fans dressed in Yellow and green with matching scarves, vuvzelas, wigs shouted in eager anticipation.  Uruguay (a great defensive team) was about to meet their match in Bafana Bafana.

The starting lineup for both teams were eager and hungry, and went out well, faced off and seemed equally matched.  The play was incredibly exciting, and then all of a sudden, A goal out of nowhere for Uraguay, made by pretty-boy Diego Forlán, who looked like he was just running alongside the crowd around the ball,  five or six yards outside the box.   The positioning of the goal was breathtaking, the upper right hand corner, just out of our goalie's reach.  Even as we watched the replay, we kept saying, "Where did that come from?" 
We realized the hush in the crowd, and could see the hunger stolen from our guys' faces.  

Still, it was easy to bounce back and continue rooting for our guys, but soon the play turned rough and offsides and fouls were being "sold" by both teams, but especially from Suarez, Uruguay's captain.  As we watched, the Uruguyan team defended each part of the field so well, that our guys only managed to get a hold of good play on our side of the field.  Although still lively, I keep remembering that they are ranked 83rd in Fifa's world rankings, while Uruguay are 16th.

The point where I felt tension building in the room where we watched the game was when the Uruguayan Suarez began to "sell" fouls right and left.  One of our guys got yellow-carded, making it impossible for him to be in the upcoming match against France (he had been yellow-carded the last game).  Some of the calls I agreed with, but the South African contingency yelled out at the contentious Suarez "What a moofie", and "Get off the field!" South Africans are tough.

We all felt the pain of the red card -- the same whiny Suarez ran offsides feet first into our goalkeeper,  Khune, and was brought down by his outstretched boot.   We watched the ref run on to the field and pull out the fateful color...  I was waiting for the offsides call by another ref...or at least an outraged commentary by the comentators, but nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing but Khune walking off the field and the Uruguayans being given a penalty kick.  Our new goalkeeper, Moneeb Josephs, had to suit up so fast because.... NO ONE EXPECTED OUR GOALKEEPER TO HAVE EVER BEEN RED CARDED!!!  

Diego Forlán, the same guy who scored the "goal of beauty" takes a penalty shot and easily makes it past our new goalkeeper- and I hate him for it.  He runs and struts around the field like the whole thing was fair.  He just was given the easiest, most biased call and he acts like he's done something.  

At this point, with twelve minutes of play left in the game, people began leaving the stadium.  Our room is quiet except for the guys murmuring complaints against the call.  The shots that the camera makes are of disappointed Bafana Bafana fans.  I have a feeling the ref will need bodyguards to make it out of the stadium.

As if we are not winded enough, the ref adds five extra minutes to the clock at the end of 90 minutes.  Just before it ran out, Uruguay's Alavro Pereira scored from close range, making the final score 3-0....Uruguay.  The wind was knocked out of all of us, and part of me wishes I had never watched it.

As we leave, our gracious hosts, Terry and Bonnie, walk us out into the cold night air.  We make small talk talk about the weather (it's freezing!!) Bonnie's seedlings (we parked right next to them) and cycling (Bonnie and I make a date to go on a ride together).  

When I got home, I tried calling the kids.  Neither was available for a phone call, so I began journaling, here on Brazen Princess.  I feel winded, disappointed.  Ripped-off.  

I'm not even South African. 

I don't even like soccer. 

Why do I feel so bad?  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Some say that Cote d'Ivorie would never have become a real team had it not been for Uli Stielike.  Uli, a former football star in his own right began to coach the Cote d'Ivorie (Ivory Coast) team that was nicknamed "The Elephants" in September 0f 2006.  His expertise in football (soccer) was only second to his desire to win: an unquenchable desire to win at all costs with any team, anywhere.  

Something happened to Stieleke and his family in 2007 that would change the fate of the Cote d”Ivorie team forever:  his son became drastically ill.  Not knowing the outcome or prognosis of a seriously ill family member is hard on anyone,  and Stieleke decided to leave his job to be with his family just before the 2008 Africa Cup. 

After the decision, CIV had to do some fast shuffling.   Gerard Gili, the co-trainer, took his position. To compensate for the lack of another coach, Didier Drogba acted as a "players trainer" (player and a coach). This was only the second time that a player had also acted as coach in the Africa Cup, and Didier would, they say, never be the same player or man. 

It caused a leader on the field to be a leader in real life.  His new role as team leader and co-coach was a witness to all kids in the small West-African country, and encouraged the whole team to step up alongside of him. 

If you look closely from a fan’s perspective, Didier Drogba is one of the most respected players in the world.  He’s one of the world's best performers not only for Ivory Coast but also for his club, Chelsea.   If that weren't enough to rouse the spirit of most fans, many recognize him as a singer (a rapper) and also as a humanitarian.  

Still, the reason that he is loved by fans all over is because he is uniquely personal, never forgetting them.  Even with a cup crowd, he shows his appreciation to everyone in the stands at every opportunity.   The press say he's a diva, but he's got that "normal guy from the same place you're from" likeability....

I like who he is because he seems so real, so ready to lead wherever he is.  With the tragic news of a loss of a coach, Drogba stepped up and caused a chain reaction in his team stepping up.   Today their team is known for having guts and determination in the face of adversity (Drogba just recovered from a broken arm).   They solidified in a time of crisis to be an underdog favourite in the cup today.

Speaking of today, Cote D’Ivorie played Portugal, with Ronaldo (the superhuman hero of football) and held their own, tying 0-0.   Many people thought it would be a shut out, but in true fashion for this team, Cote d’Ivorie held their own and played like men.   At the end of the game, Ronoldo payed his respects to him, perhaps wanting to catch some of his flashbulbs, so to speak.  

 Mario watched the game today, I didn’t.  Honestly, I  like the story, from a human perspective, and that's what appeals to me.
For more info on the game check out

Monday, June 14, 2010


                                                   Breakfast before the Soccer Match

If you take all of the costs that come from an international move (and they are extensive) the one that keeps recurring is giving up close physical contact with your family.

When we left the USA, we stretched our necks toward Africa, and our destiny here.  Leaving wasn't easy, but we felt a huge call of God on our lives, and we were destined to make the move to Johannesburg.  We inherited a beautiful church family with the Junction.  Craig and Suzanne, our lead elder couple at Junction, embraced us and we were brought in with love and thanksgiving.

Little by little, the costs of separation from our children, my parents, our siblings, neices, nephews... grandchildren -  appeared more distinct and more gut-wrenching.  At times days are interrupted with tears and twinges of envy when I hear another close by relish a moment with MY family.

Still, my family I cannot see tries to support us in the best way they know how- encouraging words.  Mario, y rock and family forever, is less inclined to feel the deep heart tugs that flatten me.  Instead, he "misses" like fog.  By this, I mean he misses everyone in a  misty, opaque feeling that he knows "will eventually lift".   I miss like a tidal wave... and that needs no explanation.

Our family now in South Africa is our church, and we see some of these folks as kin.  These special, close relationships that were given by God to show us that His family is so much larger than we can imagine.
I am going through pictures today of the last weekend, and see how much God has done for us... giving us family here and allowing me to feel deeply for my family there.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


In November of 2009 my friend, Nicole, wrote to me and asked a question.  The question put into play a chain of events that has just culminated yesterday.  It went something like this:

 "I was wanting to ask you about an idea one of the nurses I work with had. She was interested in getting money together to send a couple of kids from Johannesburg who would not normally be able to go to the World Cup to one of the games. (My first thought was Portia and the boys) So my question was, do you guys think this is possible? Are tickets still available? (If we were able to raise enough money, I'd want to include enough for a ticket for a family member/friend male escort since it's sure to be crazy there.)"

I emailed back:  " World Cup tickets:  they are sold here based on lottery.  You buy a chance to get your number called...and the ticket prices are pretty steep.  And, as you know now...the games will be a frenzy...and the seats that are available would probably not be appreciated by the average young kid- white or black!!  I will look into it, and let you know. 
An alternative to consider (and one that most kids would probably prefer) is to buy a FIFA soccer cup series.  The kids here have soccer fever and most do not have a ball.  They make them out of plastic shopping remember! "

I let the matter kind of drop after I found out the ticket price (and the frenzy that accompanied it) until I talked with my friend, Bonnie, who runs Hlanganani, a non-profit here in Johannesburg that supports AIDS orphans in the township.  As I told her Nicole's idea, she asked if I had considered Lebo and Honest...and Terry, her husband said that Nicole should purchase them in the States, since the USA wasn't selling the tickets at the rate that the rest of the world was.  

It made me wake up and re-think things.  If the tickets were to go to Lebo (16) and Honest (19) they would genuinely appreciate them.  They also were Makhura's...Portia's cousins, and that addressed Nicole's first idea.  I also thought of Chris, a young man who was like a son to us, but not an AIDS orphan.  It turned out, after a complicated series of events that it all happened: and at the hands of generous nurses and interns from Nicole's workplace.

To brief you on the magnitude of what was offered, please allow me to gush a little.   American nurses are selfless.  They generally care for their patients with all of their hearts, especially if they are pediatric nurses, like the ones Nicole works with.  In addition to all of this, Nicole works at a University hospital that never turns away people for the sake of money...which increases their benevolence.    Most nurses and interns are well paid, but supporting families, and even if they are moved to give usually do so locally.  So, the thought of all of these nurses and interns coming together to gift these tickets to kids they had never met in South Africa moved us all. 

When Honest and Lebo heard, they were floored.  We later told Chris he would be coming with us.  

At our World Cup party Friday night, our house exploded with enthusiasm and delight...all of the folk cheering for their beloved Bafana Bafana.  BUT when most people left, we unrolled every sleeping bag and blow-up mattress in our house and made beds for our three guys.  Portia, Darrel and Ebby would sleep in the spare room.  After a nights sleep (during one of the coldest nights in Joburg this year) the boys woke up ready to go...all bathed and dressed by 7 a.m.... the game started at 2.  

After a breakfast fit for a king and face painting for everyone, Mario took all of them to Ellis Park in the heart of Johannesburg.  There, they prepared to watch Argentina (ranked 7) vs. Nigeria (ranked 19).  They were among the elite of the world, viewing the game live and in person.

Mario said the noise and enthusiasm was deafening (he kept his ear plugs in the whole game) but that the guys wore faces of enlightened understanding about the game, the players, the field.  Such a once-in-a-lifetime gift for these young men... it was a delight to hear about later.

I spent the day relaxing and hanging out laundry, happily inside of my own home with no one but Zuzu (my dog) around.  

The MVP was definitely the Nigerian goalie, who managed to keep out most of the attacks from the favored Argentinian team, but in the end Argentina prevailed, 1-0. 

The boys made their way to Diepsloot, their home and the township of our heart...after the game.  Mario came back, exhausted and grateful.  It was quite a day.  One that will live in our hearts forever.  One inspired by the generosity of people who have never met these precious young men; one frozen in the grateful expressions of young men who got to see the World cup on African soil.... one given by God for us all to enjoy.

Check out the end of the game here:  You can see all of our guys enjoying the last seconds:

Friday, June 11, 2010


                              The living room as we watched the  South Africa vs. Mexico game

Today was a landmark day in the nation we reside in: the first game of the World Cup.

In our house, a buzz of activity as our friends came over to celebrate together and cheer on Bafana Bafana while I secretly rooted for Mexico to pull it off.   It ended in a tie ( a miraculous tie...1-1).

Our South African friends appreciate every nuance of football (soccer), just as much as Brazilians do, from my limited perspective.  Instead of shouts of joy when a goal is scored, there are shouts of joy when there's a good pass, a good call, a friendly smile at the camera.... and our house practically lifted from the foundations today with the partying going on.

I like to think that the greatest triumph was a mixture of black and white faces partying together, but I'm sure that the greatest triumph to everyone else was the South African team holding their own against a much higher ranked one.  

As I painted kids faces with flags and color, shouts permeated from the inside.  It was magnificent and exhausting.

It's been a long and exhausting day.  We hosted people who came for soccer and also for food, so there was very little sitting down time for me (and Mario).  Everyone asked me if I was tired...I looked it from the pictures we took.   I guess I was, but I also think I'm still not used to a lot of cultural differences that make themselves known during large celebrations.

I also think of my expectations of this day...that we would all diski together and have lots of fun...but it was all about soccer...and everyone else was happy about that.  I can smile and reflect with pleasure, but at the same time, I wish I could relax a lot more than I actually do.  

Tomorrow Mario takes Lebo, Honest and Chris to see Nigeria vs. Argentina, so they're spending the night.  Also, Portia and the boys are asleep in the next room.  Breakfast tomorrow is at 8:30, so I'm headed off to bed.  Having a party of this size is a joy, and exhausting.

It's a tie.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


The day before yesterday my good friend and her husband were car jacked.  Their life-blood, a delivery van was taken by force and they were left with their lives, and a large hole in their business.  Because the insurance would not replace the van without a deductible, they were uncertain of the future.  Our other friend called us yesterday and told us of a threat someone made on his life (and the lives of his family).  After praying, he and Mario pro-actively handled the situation and made it come right....  My best friend failed her driving test, which would have been a key to her becoming more markatable.  The young mother we've been trying to help become a responsible adult has been accused of stealing.  The cries of hungry and sick friends are filling our ears.

And by the way, the World Cup is beginning tomorrow - in Johannesburg.

Reality is that our nation is plagued with ills that is unfamiliar to most people in the world, especially the first world.  And we do seem to be a carefree nation enjoying the hype and the noise and the dancing that's associated with the party that is the World Cup of International Football (soccer).  We do appear in news stories and commercials to be a beautiful people in a sun-drenched land that has beautiful, barefooted children  with not a care in the world, unhurried and undisturbed... by anything.

In a way, it's true.  South Africa, with its dichotomies of rich and poor, sick and well, blessed and cursed, encouraged and discouraged is a very different country than the one we came from.  Still, we have learned to bear down against adversity and stiffen ourselves against the wind.  The survivor in us has been birthed and is a dwarfed version of the natives here.

For instance, a game as silly as soccer (remember I am not a sports nut) has encouraged young kids to "know your status" (HIV/AIDS) when most celebrities or church groups have been unsuccessful.  Today's cover story of the New York Times is about the soccer clubs springing up around rural South Africa encouraging not only excellence in the sport, but honesty in health and well-being.  Many kids have volunteered to be tested for the virus (please read my post from May if you haven't already, entitled "virus").

To see how such a huge thing such as HIV/AIDS awareness being promoted in RURAL VILLAGES here is astounding.  I have seen the most gifted doctors and speakers deliver heart-felt pleas for people to get tested, for free, but with the stigma attached to the virus, they are almost wasting their breath.

Now for clubs that tout football and fitness to say "Hey, you should get tested over there at that table" and the kids go's a miracle.

Reality is funny.  Soccer influences a nation like this one to be responsible.  It influences a world to come together.  It makes my heart beat faster (we are less than 24 hours away from kick-off).... what can I do, other than rejoice in it?

By the friend just called and said they can get a new delivery van, thanks to their insurance.  Our other friend has been successful in squelching a life-threat, and ministered the Gospel to the man who threatened him...and my friend who failed her driving test  is happy about our party tomorrow, and also happy that she can test again soon.  I'm prepared to make restitution for the young mother... aaahhh, life!!  Thank you, God, for loving us!!!

A thank you and credit to Patrick Barth from the above picture of Mpumalanga village boys playing soccer.  Great article!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


The words are like glue to my heart.  Thousands of times I've sung it and only recently fully appreciated it.  From miles away, I hear just the tune and see lips moving and my eyes become cloudy and blur my vision.
The song reminds me that our freedom came at a great cost to people and families who took the land for us....  It reminds me of my home.
It's the song of my history, my country:
O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The Star Spangled Banner was written from a ship by Francis Scott Key in 1814 while he and a few friends were on a mission approved by our (then) president, James Madison.   Their objective was to secure the release of prisoners that the British had taken prisoner during a hostile takeover attempt of Fort McHenry, an American fortress.  

At first, the Brits consented to release the elderly doctor (that Key had come for) but later relented, even keeping Key onboard until they knew the outcome of the battle.    

Key  witnessed a brutal bombardment of the fort and surrounding areas, but was able to see through bombs lighting the night sky that the American storm flag was still hanging, tattered, but there.  He etched a poem he called "The Defence of Fort McHenry" that would later be set to music and sung at countless sports events, political gatherings and Fourth of July celebrations.  

The British never took the Fort.  America beat the best Army and Navy in the world through pure guts and mean tenacity.  The same year, the White House would be burned down by the British and Dolly Madison would rescue the beloved painting of George Washington out of there for posterity.  It hangs in the restored White house today.  

If you fast-forward about two hundred years, you arrive here, today (minus four years).  We are a changed world.  On Saturday, the USA will play Britain in the world cup.  Britain is ranked higher than the USA is in football, but they were also ranked higher in 1814 so I'm not so sure who will win the match.   I will watch it to see who will actually sing the anthem, who will remove their hats, who will honour our country and solidify that we can still kick British ass.  

 In comparison, the South African National Anthem is new.  Compiled of three different anthems in five different languages, the song was made official under the scrupulous watch of Nelson Mandela in 1997. 

What America does not know is that the song speaks of healing.  First it evokes God's mercy and benevolence on a land that needs Him and has always acknowledged Him.  Secondly, it incorporates respect and (true) diversity in its languages.  Thirdly, it is a compilation of freedom songs, worship and protest songs.  Together, they are homogenized into a beautiful tune... one that speaks volumes. 

Almost no one I know has memorized the whole thing.

Lulu, my friend used to have a ring tone of a small boy singing "La-la-la-lalala, Africa...." and so on.  It was cute.  But to their credit, the RSA does well with an anthem that is only 13 years old.
What's our excuse??  Why doesn't everyone SING the USA National anthem??  Why don't they pause and thank God for the people's sacrifices that secure our freedoms??  Are they THAT in a hurry for the game to begin??  By comparison, South Africans are the same, but it's all kind of a shame.  

I wish we would sing these beautiful words.  

Just for reflection: here's the words of the RSA National anthem....  

(Xhosa) Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika     ( God [Lord] bless Africa)
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,    (Raise high Her glory)

(Zulu) Yizwa imithandazo yethu,    (Hear our Prayers)

Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.  (God bless us, her children)

(Sesotho) Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,   (God we ask You to protect our nation)

O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,      (Intervene and end all conflicts)

O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,   (Protect us, protect our nation, our nation,)

 Setjhaba sa, South Afrika - South Afrika.       (We sing, South Africa - South Africa)

 (Afrikaans) Uit die blou van onse hemel,     (Ringing out from our blue heavens,)

Uit die diepte van ons see,   (From our deep seas breaking round,)

Oor ons ewige gebergtes, (Over everlasting mountains,)

Waar die kranse antwoord gee,  (Where the echoing crags resound)

(English) Sounds the call to come together,

And united we shall stand,

Let us live and strive for freedom,

In South Africa our land.

Sing, people... sing in praise and Thanksgiving!!