You don’t have to live in South America very long before you find out that soccer is big. I mean REALLY BIG! They have several different teams in Uruguay that compete all the time. There is a game on TV 24-7. There are also games going on with adults and children constantly in about any open grassy spot. Then there is the World Cup or “Mundial”. That’s when the best players from each country form a team and compete internationally. Uruguay hosted the first World Cup in 1930 and won. The stadium which was made for this occasion is called the Centennial Stadium or Estadio Centenario. Right now teams are competing all over the world for the right to play in the World Cup next summer in Russia. Last week, Uruguay played its final qualifying match against Bolivia, and we were able to go with our friends, the Duffins. We got to go to the Estadio Centenario and root for the home team. It was incredible. First, they have about a 20 foot fence with razor wire around the playing field. There is also a moat of about 10 feet with the riot police stationed in full battle gear all around the stadium. The players enter from an underground tunnel. A little different than what we are used to.
Now for the game. It was a once in a lifetime experience. The Uruguayan team was quite sluggish until they scored the first goal in their own net. Yeah, they kicked it right passed their own goalie who was pretty much asleep. If I were the coach I would have told him he needs to buy a ticket if all he is going to do is sit and watch. At the start of the second half, they came out and really got busy. Their best player is Luis Suarez. He is one of the best players in the world. He is actually hurt right now but still scored two unassisted goals right in front of us. Talk about a once in a lifetime experience!
They also have noise makers called vuvuzelas. They are basically a real annoying horn. They blew them all night. If I ever go again I’m going to take some $5 bills and buy the horns from all the kids around me. In the end, Uruguay scored six goals, four in the net of Bolivia and two in their own net. They were already more or less qualified so I think they were a little flat. Just the same it was quite an experience to go to a World Cup qualifier. Oh and by the way, the USA lost out and won’t be playing. Too bad for them.
On Wednesday we had to put some mosquito nets in a couple of houses. One of them was Elder Cheney’s house. It is always fun to see him. We showed up unannounced and the house was real clean. The Spirit there was also real strong. They were in a hurry to get out and go to a Charla so we hurried and got done and then took a couple of pictures. The one with them walking away is one of my favorites.
On Thursday we started the 33 and Melo inspections. This is about 1,000 kilometers on a two lane road filled with big trucks and crazy drivers. Our stops at the missionary houses on Thursday were real fun. The missionaries had real clean houses and bright smiles. On Friday we inspected the Melo zone. This is our last time on this trip so we may not see some of the missionaries again. It was kind of sad. We took some pictures to give a flavor of how the missionaries are doing. They were all so excited to tell us about whom they are teaching and how things are going. Even though the trip is long we do really enjoy it.
One of the houses did not have keys to open the door of the house. We took the lock off and started looking for a locksmith during the siesta. That is quite a challenge in Uruguay. We did find one that was very happy to help. We told the locksmith that we would send the missionaries by later to get the keys, but the locksmith knew where the missionaries lived and just dropped by and put it back together. They were such nice people. They know one of the Bishops in 33 and are more than happy to help the missionaries.
The Capilla Abierta ended at 7:00 P. M., and we had a three hour drive, so we hurried and got out of there. Wrong! Remember we were in Durazno, home of El Gaucho, the best sandwich in Uruguay. So even though we were going to be late getting home, we went with all the missionaries and enjoyed “El Bauru” one more time. It was fun spending time with the missionaries and saying our goodbyes. The road home was filled with a lot of slow trucks so it took awhile but we got home safe and sound.
We are also trying to invite more of our friends over for dinner before we go. Last week we had Gabriela and Valaria over. They are two single sisters that have helped Renee learn Spanish. We had a fun night and will miss them. We took a picture of them but can’t seem to find it.
The weather is warming up nicely and most of the days are just beautiful. We have so many friends here and enjoy every day. It is going to be sad to leave. We love you all.
Love, Gordon and Renee