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Monday, July 26, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Helping Hospice

Lois, Amber and the kids have been going to Thabong every Tuesday for the last several weeks.  There is a hospice organization there that cares for patients in the last stages of life.  Obviously most of their patients are suffering from HIV/AIDS, but a few of them have cancer or other illnesses.  Lois and Amber help care for the children whose guardians are in the hospice program.  They provide some play time, food, and a Bible story and craft.  Most importantly, they want to connect with the children and give them hope in a situation that may seem desperate.

A good friend and supporter of the ministry here was led to donate some funds for coats and blankets.  While it doesn’t get as cold here as in the Midwest winters, when you live in the conditions prevalent in the townships, it doesn’t have to get too cold before people begin to suffer.  Especially those whose health and diet don’t allow them to produce sufficient body heat on their own.  To people such as these, a warm coat and blanket is a tremendous blessing.

Last week Lois and Brian went with Lawrence and Trish (friends of ours here) to a store where you can purchase cheap blankets and used coats.  They were able to get a good supply, and we decided hospice would be able to tell us who needed them most.  This morning we went out to Thabong where we were joined by 4 of the 8 hospice employees.  Two went to the east side of Thabong with Brian and Lois, while we went with the other two to west Thabong, Hani Park, and Extension 18.  Here are a few of the stories we saw today:
-One theme that was repeated several times by the two guys we were with was the overwhelming number of patients, the lack of staff, and the general lack of resources and ability to meet all the needs they encounter.

-At one house we were supposed to be giving a coat to a man in his 40’s.  When we arrived we learned that he had passed away two days before.

  -The hospice workers do things like change bedding, wash clothes and bedding, change dressing on sores, provide food, and take care of other daily needs.  They see about 3 patients per day, because of the time it takes to walk to the different locations, the fact that any washing is done by hand with water heated on a stove, and the fact that the patients typically crave human contact so badly that they try to keep the worker there as long as possible.

  -One of the hospice workers told me that usually the patient’s eyes will absolutely light up when they arrive.  Many times the sick individual has no family at all, or if they do, the family doesn’t “waste time” on them because they know the person is dying.  That applies to food and other things as well.  The family may choose not to feed that person since they feel it is a waste because the person will be dead soon anyway.

  -When we arrived at one house we couldn’t find the patient.  Some neighbors said she was probably gone for some reason or other.  Just before we left a young woman came out of the house with a 3 year old girl.  She told us the mother had passed away three days ago leaving the small girl and a 14 year old boy.  This young woman was just a casual friend of the mother’s, but there were no relatives or anyone else to care for the children, so she stepped in.  A relative of some sort is supposed to be coming from Lesotho, but since that is another country, it may or may not be possible for them to take the child.  They have contacted the social workers, but they can’t do anything until the relative arrives.  I told one of the workers that he’s probably seen this type of situation hundreds of times – he said “No, thousands.”  The lady said the young girl was confused, and she was just waiting for her mom to come home, not understanding that she would not be coming home anymore.

  -As we left that house, the social worker told me it is a good thing the friend is taking care of the child.  He has seen many cases where a child is left alone like that and eventually someone finds out and comes and rapes the child – regardless of the age of the child.

There were many other houses we visited.  These are things we’ve seen and heard about before.  By far, the worst part of this job is seeing so much need, and knowing that you can’t fix every situation, that you can’t help with every problem.

On the other hand, it was a blessing to see the people who were able to receive the coats and blankets.  At every house we left a gospel tract in Sotho.  We are greatly privileged to be the ones who can be a part of this ministry on the ground.  So many of you have faithfully given to support us, and to support the work.  I wish I could communicate to you how wonderful it is on those occasions when you can make a real difference to someone.

I’ll finish this story with a quote from Brilliant the other day.  He said “Uncle Lou and Sister Amber, all the things you do for us we really enjoy.  We have a good time with you, and we love Bible study.  But of all the things we enjoy, the one we enjoy the most is Lunch Time.”  In the midst of such great spiritual need, don’t neglect to reach out to those with physical needs as well.  True faith is exhibited by our actions, especially to those in need.  Thank you to those who have answered the call and been a part of the ministry so far.  Rest assured that you are making a difference for eternity.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Setting High Goals

Yesterday we had Brilliant (aka: Bridge) and DJ in to help us make a batch of bricks.  Since we had already planned for them to come to a church here in town where I was to be preaching on Sunday morning, we asked them to have a sleepover at our house, saving us some time on Sunday morning by avoiding another trip into Thabong.  Plus, we really enjoy spending time with them, so it was a good chance to kill two birds with one stone.

After bricks Amber made a great supper, then we settled in for a game of Ticket to Ride - Europe.  Last Sunday when the boys were at our house we had played a couple games of Blockus.  Since Ben, Brilliant and DJ are all novices, whereas I own these games so have played them many times, I have a distinct advantage.  This very same advantage allowed me to win both games of Blockus, as well as our game of Ticket to Ride.  DJ came in 2nd all three times, and then Ben and Bridge took turns coming in last.

Since Bridge came in 3rd last night, he felt he was making some progress.  In fact, so much progress that he declared very strongly "Next time, I'm going to come in 2nd".  Which was quite funny considering that normally when someone uses that tone of voice it's to proclaim their intention to win.

...ok, maybe this is one of those "you had to be there" stories.  Just indulge me this one time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Keeping Ben Busy...Part Deux

The following letter is from Ben Stangl, my cousin who is here for the summer.  He summarizes the last few weeks very well, so I've gotten his permission to publish his letter to family and friends here on my blog...

So, what happens here day to day? While our days are full, they are not busy. The tempo here is a lot more laid back than in the states. From what I have experienced, I think I have an idea for the cause.
In the states, when I plan my day or a trip into Omaha, I have some sort of idea of how long it will take me to accomplish my tasks. On top of that, I have an expectation that those tasks may be accomplished even that day.
Here, things just take longer. Longer may mean not today, not tomorrow, and possibly next week sometime- if you’re lucky! I won’t just leave it that. Here is what I am talking about.
     Sand was supposed to be dropped off one morning so we could continue mixing concrete for the wall. It showed up that afternoon instead and it was better late than never!

     The O’Tools have been attempting to renew their VISAs since before I arrived. I have babysat their children while they make multiple visits to home affairs, up to four times in the same day. After filling out one form, they are given a second one, which leads to a third. Then there are the background checks, fingerprinting, police certified passports, and more which home affairs neglects to inform them about until each subsequent visit. Over a month later and with the VISAs expiring on Sunday, they have been assured temporary VISAs, until who knows?

     In anticipating the container arriving in port from the states about the first week of June, we had to patiently wait as it sat in port in Israel because the workers at the shipyard here were on strike.  It finally arrived the first week of July.

     Also before I arrived, the O’Tools signed up for a phone line for internet access. Over a month later, the company finally made it out for the install. I’ve been taking an online class in the evenings and was quite inconvenienced to access the internet elsewhere. Since then, actually as I type this we have lost access for the second time this week. On the brighter side, the company has the courtesy to text a message when their service is down haha! 

          After making a phone call to see what time the order of steel was supposed to arrive Friday morning, it was discovered that it wasn’t going to be sent until the following week. Well, instead of spending our time building, we went to pick it up.
·       After the fall of Apartheid (the oppression of the black population and separation from the whites) it was determined by the new government that the power grid was structured so well that even a surplus of electricity could be generated, at that point in time. Not only were no new power plants constructed, but some were shut down. Now, 16 years later, there exists a severe shortage of electricity, and the old power plants cannot even be reopened because the people have stolen and scrapped them for salvage money and building their
own huts. So, from time to time, you will find your supply to be restricted. We lost power for about a day, but for some reason, it was just restricted to this side of town. Perhaps the cause was different than what I just mentioned. Either way, try keeping a schedule when you discover that not only can you not cook, but you must hassle with a generator to keep your perishables from spoiling. I will say, candle light dinners all of sudden become all the rave!   

     Then there’s the water supply. I’ll start by saying that I’d much rather be without electricity than water. Just count the number of ways and times you use water during the day! There are a couple of causes the water will be off. When a city does not pay its dues, then the government decides that they just won’t receive any water. This is like what happens when you don’t pay your utilities bill in the states, only it’s the entire city. Another reason you’ll go without water is because of main breaks, and you know when it does. We’ll be driving home one evening and the street will be flooded, so we fill all the sinks, pots and pans, and bathtub. In fact, the other night Louie walked into the bathroom and found Meredith running water in the bathroom sink.  She turns to him and says “Don’t worry Dad.  If the water goes out we can take a bath in the sink tomorrow.  That’s why I’m saving this water. Brian has been in the engineer’s office trying to get RHI’s meter and hook-up underway, and has heard him reprimanding workers for the way the water lines are constructed and why they are breaking. Which brings me to my next scenario…

·       Two days ago, after Brian had to go and get them, a couple of guys showed up with a backhoe to dig for our water hook-up. It turns out that they could only devote half a day to our project, so they left with a huge hole dug- right under our fence. (We had to block it up, not to keep people out, but to keep Louie’s German shepherd in as he guards the containers.)We were told that they would be back the next day to finish the job, which would have been yesterday- would have been, only the city hasn’t paid the supplier of their equipment, so they have no water meter to install.

·       Today we went to make more cinder blocks right after lunch. We had to get started earlier than usual because we have increased our molds from 66 to 99 and we weren’t quite sure how much longer it would take us. After we finished de-molding the cured blocks, we were getting set up to start filling them, but discovered our power source, from another building, had been tampered with. Since this room had no lock, someone had broken in and stolen the wire from the breaker box to the outlet- about three feet worth. Of course, this was a slight delay to have to get the proper tools to fix the problem and then to rig a lock to secure it from happening again!

These are just a few of the things that have happened, so far. I don’t mean to come across as if everyday life is a pain and a despairing inconvenience. These things may cause frustration or even disdain if allowed too, but remember what I said earlier about expectations? Here, you can attempt to plan a day’s events, but inconveniences are so frequent that you must, to a much greater extent than in the states, attempt to factor them in. They become a part of daily life that is unavoidable and not so unexpected. Again, for example, when taking a trip along a highway route, the possibility of road construction is a reasonable factor. But here, how could you ever imagine that the construction was to install speed bumps, on a highway?!? These both greatly impede travel and your ETA!! Ok, you can now tell that not only is this not written from a dismal perspective, but it is almost entertaining to get to see and experience the inconsistency of the unexpected.

Actually, I don’t think I ever officially answered the question of what happens day to day. As much as we all know that it often depends, I think that I’ve conveyed enough that here, plans and goals may quickly change. That being said, in my next update I will try to compile maybe some more common things that do happen on a regular basis and some more of the occasional occurrences that keeps life interesting.

So long!  Ben

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Musings

The other day Meredith pipes up with "If we have another baby, we should name it Noodle-in-my-soup."  Then, nodding satisfactorily, as if she had just invented sliced bread, she says "Yeah, that's a pretty good name for a kid."

That was not an announcement about any upcoming changes to our family.


We just broke ground on the first house.  We spent yesterday and today digging foundations for the first staff house (which will be the Niehoff's house).  The footings need to be about 20 inches deep, and then the whole area needs to be dug down an average of about 10 inches in order to level and put down a good rock base.  Since the house is roughly 1,400 sq. ft. it leaves us with lots of digging to do.

When moving this amount of soil by hand, it gives one lots of time to think.  And it struck me today, that in Kenny Rogers "The Gambler", why would anyone ever take this guy's advice.  If he has to bum a cigarette, whiskey, and borrow a match, he apparently isn't a very successful gambler.  So then is his advice wrong?  I don't need to know when to hold 'em, or when to fold 'em?  I don't need to know when to walk away or when to run?  I should count my money whilst I'm sitting at the table?  Will there or won't there be time enough for counting when the dealing is done?  Help me out on this one, please?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Irony

We got a bill recently for our PO Box in Ankeny.  Does it seem strange that the only way to pay for your PO Box is to bring a check in to the Post Office.  The United States Postal Service has no mailing address. At least not for services like this.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Camping Out

On Monday, our container arrived from the US.  It had been delayed due to a workers strike here in South Africa, something that seems to happen on a monthly basis.  You can see from some of these photos that there is a big job ahead of us, unpacking and resorting everything that came over.  Fortunately we have two other containers that are only partly full.  Our container will get everything for The Village, such as clothing, dishes, and household furnishings.  The Niehoff's container will get all the construction supplies, tools, etc...

Meredith couldn't wait for the container to get here, since many of her things were packed away on it.  When she finds out a goodly portion of those things are school books and supplies, we'll see how happy she is!

On Tuesday we spent most of the day unpacking and reorganizing.  We had to pull lots of things out of our containers, then start tearing into the RHI container.  DJ and Brilliant were there to help, and a huge help they were.  By 4:00 in the afternoon we started to dread the job of putting everything back into the containers, only to pull it back out again the next day.  You can't leave anything laying around here or it will grow legs and walk away in the night.  I suggested that in order to save some extra work, we could just camp out at the property that night.  DJ jumped right on that idea - apparently it's been a long-time dream of his to go camping.  Brilliant was a bit more tentative, but warmed up to the suggestion pretty quickly, once he cleared it with his father.

My plan was to lay out some bags of joint compound powder for a more comfortable sleeping surface.  Brian started telling us we should sleep on top of the containers.  Since I have a habit of talking in my sleep, I figured sleep-walking isn't too big a step (no pun intended).  Sleeping 10 feet in the air with no rails or safety harness didn't exactly appeal to me.  But then Brian said he would camp out with us if we slept on top, so I had to agree.

About 5:00 we wrapped things up and headed home for showers.  It hasn't rained here for well over a month, and the dust is something terrible.  I gathered our little grill and cooking supplies, then ran to the store for hot dogs and chips.  We had left DJ and Brilliant at the containers to guard everything.  When I got back I found out the guard from the abandoned store across the street (yes, the very same store from this story) saw us leave and then saw the boys still inside the property.

He came walking over to the property and came just inside the gate.  He yelled to the boys to come over and DJ waved and said "hi".  He said "Don't you talk to me from over there.  Come here now."  DJ and Brilliant started walking toward him and he pulls out his gun.  Apparently he thought they were tsoties (gangsters) who were getting ready to walk off with some things.  Once they got close enough to recognize faces, he realized they were the two guys that had been helping us and they made some small talk together.  It's nice to know that someone is keeping an eye on things, at least a little bit.

We had a great time.  Ben played some guitar, we sat around and talked.  Brilliant told us about a Boogyman movie he had watched once.  The boys asked us some questions about sharing the gospel in the township, and then we called it a night.

On top of the container we laid some plywood, since the metal is corrugated.  Ben slept on two bean bags, I slept on an area rug and blanket, Brian and Brilliant were in sleeping bags, and DJ rolled up in a winter coat and comforter.  When we shipped over a container last time we had a whole bunch of old hotel comforters.  Each of us used a couple of these folded up a few times - since it is winter and all.  It probably dropped into the 40's with a light breeze.  Every time I moved in the night it opened a little crack in the blankets up by my neck, funneling that light breeze right down into my cocoon.  So needless to say, I woke up a few times during the night.

After talking to everyone the next morning, I wasn't the only one who woke up several times.  Brilliant had brought the leftover potato chips up with him, and every time he woke up he grabbed a mouthful of the chips.  Ben woke up thirsty, but we hadn't thought to bring the water up.  We did thing to pull the ladder up after us, you know, just in case.  Ben didn't want to wake anyone up so he shimmied down the  side of the container using the door for handholds, then shimmied back up ninja-style.

But the night passed without event, although the fact that Ben could climb over me, down to the ground, back up and over me again without me ever waking up says something about my watchdog skills.

The next day we got everything picked up, packed away, and the containers all locked securely.  I'm not sure I want to make a habit of sleeping on plywood.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Preaching in Kultwanong

Lately in my personal reading I've been going through the book of Luke.  It has been a long time since I've read through this Gospel, and although all the stories are familiar, it is amazing how fresh the Scriptures are every time you read them, no matter how much you "think" you know the passage.

The video posted here is a preaching opportunity I had recently.  It is in Kultwanong, a township about 15 minutes from Welkom.  Another Christian organization here in town reaches out to preschool aged children that are HIV+.  Once per month they host a support meeting for the caregivers (mothers, grandmothers, etc...) of these children.  At these meetings they hear a gospel message, receive training on caring for their children, and encouragement to know that they are not in this trial alone.

I chose to speak on Luke 14:15-24, where Jesus tells the parable of a rich man who hosted a feast and sent many invitations to various members of the community.  When the time for the feast came, everyone had developed some lame excuse for why they wouldn't come.  Take a look at the excuses given and you tell me whether they are poor or not.

Because these people rejected the invitation, Jesus explains that the servants of this man were sent everywhere, compelling people to come and join the feast.  Maybe in the US we've lost touch of what something like this means, what with the unnecessary busy-ness of our lives.  Here in SA, especially in a township, culture is much more similar to what Jesus' audience would have experienced.  The rejection of God's invitation seems so much more poignant here - really, who would turn down an invitation to a free feast?  But that's what these people have done.  The fact that the master 3 times sent out his servants illustrates God's desire to see people come to the knowledge of the truth.  John MacArthur puts it this way "God is more willing to save sinners than sinners are to be saved."

My question to you is the same as my question to these people here:  Are you rejecting God's free invitation?  Who in their right mind does this?  Yet thousands - millions even - are constantly telling God "no thanks", "I've got too much going on", "I don't want to give up things that I think I would have to give up", "I will come on my own terms", or "I will get to heaven based on my own good works".  What kind of sense does this make?  Are you the one starving who is still rejecting God's free invitation to His feast?  If so, come to Him today.  Put aside the lame excuses that you know don't cut it.  Put your faith in Jesus Christ today.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - The "Once-in-a-lifetime" Game

Being as we are in South Africa, and being as the World Cup only happens once every 4 years, and being as there is a stadium less than 2 hours from our house, we determined that it would be regrettable if we didn’t partake in the national festivities.  There were 5 games hosted in the Free State Stadium, 4 during Round One, and 1 during Round Two.  Round One is pool play, during which 4 teams in a pool play round-robin style, with the top two teams in each pool advancing to Round Two.  There are 32 teams in the World Cup, making for 24 Round One games in total in stadiums across South Africa.

Round Two and beyond is much more exciting because every game is an elimination game, where the loser goes home for the next 4 years.  The Round Two game hosted in Bloemfontein was to be the winner of Pool D vs. the second-place team from Pool C.  The United States team was in Pool C, and since England was also in their pool, odds pointed to the US placing 2nd in their pool and playing a game only an hour and a half from us.

Unfortunately, the US was a bit too successful, placing 1st overall in their pool and pushing England to the Free State.  Germany succeeded in winning their pool, setting up a rematch of World War II.  And before you think that I’m exaggerating, I actually stole that quote from the TV commentators.  In fact, when we were in Bloemfontein for the game, there were both England fans and German fans milling about everywhere.  The bars were packed, both sides were trying to drown out the other with their traditional football drinking songs, and generally trying to show more patriotism than the opposing team’s supporters.  The best show of support came from two middle-aged gentlemen.  They were walking around through the crowded streets carrying inflatable WWII Allied bomber planes above their heads – you know, just as a reminder.  And speaking of reminders, it felt a bit awkward, as an American, mingling with such overwhelming numbers of Brits and Krauts, until I remembered that we kicked them both around a bit in 2 different wars each (Revolutionary, 1812, WWI & WWII).  After that I started to hold my head a little bit higher.  God Bless America!

So, obviously you can tell that we purchased tickets to the Round Two game in Bloem, and last Sunday we made the trek south to attend the game.  Of course, living in Africa, taking in two competing European teams in the world’s most popular sport – everywhere except in the US, anyway – we needed a bit of a taste of home.  So we stopped for a pregame meal at McDonald’s.  Yes, they do have McD’s in Africa.  It seems Americans are also winning the international war against healthy eating.

While we were there we overheard a guy talking on the phone saying he sold his ticket for about $450.  Brian & I looked at each other and we were both thinking the same thing - $$$$$.  We briefly discussed scalping our tickets until, through continued eavesdropping, we learned that he was pulling the leg of whoever was on the other end of the phone.  I’m not sure if that person fell for it, but I sure did.

After a nutritious Mega Big Mac, fries, and a Coke, we made our way over to the stadium.  To get there we had to go along the river walk, then through the mall.  The streets and walkways were crowded to overflowing.  We overheard one guy say this was the first time he had seen bars in Bloemfontein open on a Sunday (Bloem is a very conservative Afrikaans city).  To get a seat at one of these bars you would have had to get there bright and early.  Citizens of the UK are famous for their pubs, and citizens of Germany for their steins and lagers.  Needless to say, the two groups could really put it away.  It looked like they figured the amount of alcohol they consumed would be a direct corollary to the outcome of the game.  Although I want to point out that the friendly competitions we observed appeared to be very good-natured.  Soccer fans are like Canadians – they are great to be around even though they are weird.

This whole scene was marred by vuvuzela’s  - those infernal horns that are a South African soccer tradition (you can see my earmuffs in some of the photos).  It was clear that foreigners were taking a liking to them as well.  In fact, I heard one sports writer relate to those things with the term Stockholm Syndrome – you know, when a kidnapping victim or hostage begins to sympathize with his captor.  Here is his quote "I like the World Cup, so the vuvuzela sound has become Pavlov's dinner bell for me. I hear them and think, "Cool, the World Cup's on!" By the way, you know something is historically annoying when you can compare it to a hostage sympathizing with his or her captors and the comparison actually works."  These things were everywhere and the fans from both teams seemed to relish the challenge of out-blowing the other team.

Eventually we made our way toward the security lines and into the stadium.  Just outside the stadium was a stage for a cell phone company.  They had various competitions and were handing out free prizes to the winners.  Of course, while standing and watching we were lured into a dancing competition where Brian and I both won World Cup game kits (face paint, a wet-wipe for removing face paint, and ear plugs…all neatly packaged in a nice camera case).  That’s right, Brian and I won prizes in a dancing competition, although for the record, it we were dancing independently of one another…and there were only like 12 other people at the stage at that time.  We only had to dance for like 3 seconds before he awarded us a prize.  Sorry, due to the brief duration of our dances, there are no accompanying photos or video. 

We finally made it into the stadium and spent the next hour just observing the fans of the various teams.  I’ve been to many professional and college sports games, and soccer fans are the greatest ever.  The atmosphere was electric.  Whenever you have two countries competing, especially when two of those countries have been historical enemies spanning the last several centuries, the stakes are artificially raised.  German fans were sporting their black, yellow, and red in their hair, t-shirts, flags, and in any other way you can imagine.  We saw several pairs of lederhosen, and some dirndls, to the point that one might have mistaken it for Oktoberfest.

The English fans were in fine form, displaying their patriotism by wrapping themselves in the English Flag, not the Union Jack, but St. George’s Cross.   We saw several suits of chain mail, and lots of very bad teeth – although I don’t think those were part of any costume.   Both groups of fans were singing all their traditional songs, chants, and cheers.

After watching all this meelee for quite some time we got to see the teams warm up.  This in itself was very cool, as you got to see just how talented these guys are with a ball – Wayne Rooney for England flipped the ball up a couple times with his foot, then kicked it up over his shoulder, caught it with his heel and flipped it back over his shoulder to keep juggling it without it once ever touching the ground.

Finally the two teams came out for introductions and their national anthems.  I’m no expert, but the two anthems were pretty typical of the cultures of their countries.  Germany’s is more or less saying “We are better than the whole world.”  England’s is saying, over and over again, “God save our queen.”  And people wonder why we left to start our own country?

Once the game started things went back and forth, until Germany finally took an advantage and scored.  Then they quickly scored again, silencing England’s fans.  Before half was called England had gotten one back.  England also scored a second goal that hit the top crossbar, bounced at least a yard inside the goal, then was grabbed by the German keeper.  The referee declared that it hadn’t crossed the line and play resumed.  That probably would have turned the tide a bit, but Germany capitalized on the break, proved themselves to be superior - at least on this day.  The final tally ended up Germany 4,  England 1.

Soccer is one sport that is waaaayyyy better to watch in person, because you can see the whole field and see openings that you just can’t catch on TV.  I think the collective energy of the fans also has something to do with it too.

At halftime my cousin Ben started feeling the ralphies coming on and went down to the little boys room.  After half an hour or so we started to worry a bit so I started looking for him.  I walked around for about 20 minutes and couldn’t find him.  While I did miss some of the game, it was actually pretty cool because I got to hear all the English fans cursing and leaving early and all the German fans arguing with the concession stands to keep serving beer past the time limit. In addition to expanding my vocabulary, I was able to stand in one of the tunnels right above field level and see the players close up, telling the security guy that I was looking for my sick cousin.  So that was pretty great.  Ben also took advantage of his minor illness to get a good seat right behind the goal for most of the second half.

As the game was drawing to a close some of the fans started to seem a bit roudy.  We actually left about 3 minutes early ourselves, not wanting to deal with tipsy drivers.  The upshot of it is, South Africa is doing an amazing job hosting the World Cup.  It is an experience that I will never forget and one that we are thankful we were able to participate in.  After all, how often does the world’s biggest sporting event land on your back doorstep?

For an interesting story about two South African friends of ours who went to a Bafana, Bafana game, click here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - The Voice of Reason

Brian's quote of the day:  "I'm probably going to electrocute myself.  Maybe I shouldn't do that."  This from the same guy that gives his son rides in a cement mixer (check it out at the Niehoff's website).  For the record, this quote took place as we were working on building a ladder rack for the RHI truck.  He was welding and decided that the welder needed to be welded.  I know, sounds crazy, like two opposing mirrors that reflect each other for infinity.  It probably would have done more than electrocute him, possibly even causing a rift in the space-time continuum.  So you can thank Brian's reasonable thinking for saving the entire universe today.