Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup

The World Cup is being played in South Africa! For those Americans and Canadians out there, the World Cup is the soccer, sorry football, World Championship played once every four years. And unlike the World Series it actually involves teams from all over the World, even the US has a team. Ok, so many of you Americans do know what the World Cup is, maybe I'm just spending too much time with my English friend Dan Waspe and his brother, Rupert, who just happens to be visiting his brother in South Africa while the World Cup is taking place (coincidence?). I must admit that without Dan and his brother, I probably wouldn't be paying as much attention to the World Cup as I am, but any reason to be able to dress up in the stars and stripes (and maybe get under an Englishman's skin) is good enough for me.
From Soccer
Dan and his brother Rupert at halftime (I think Dan is saying this is the greatest day of his life
Until he found out his brother got him tickets to the Eng v. Slovenia game a week later.)

I had the good fortune of being invited to go to the Chile v. Honduras game by Dan. The game was played on the 16th of June at Mbombela stadium just 40 minutes from where we stay. As many of you know from our other posts about Kruger Park, we are just minutes from one of South Africa's greatest wildlife habitats and that theme plays out in the stadium. From the support structures that are meant to look like giraffes to the zebra stripped seating area.
From Soccer

From Soccer

I've read and heard from many that the vuvuzellas are incredibly annoying and hurt your ears, and yes, the vuvuzellas were humming, but to be honest to me the loudest noises at the game were coming from the speakers (in typical African style) before the game and at halftime.
From Soccer

We got to the stadium just over 3 hours before kickoff because we were told you needed to be at the park and ride at least 3 hours before the game to make sure you get to the game before kickoff. A group of about 50 of us arrived at the park where we were greeted by ticket takers telling us the stadium wouldn't open for another 15 minutes. We were literally on the first bus to arrive at the stadium!
From Soccer
This is how many people were in the park when we arrived (they all came on our bus)

Three hours before game time finally arrived and we were allowed to enter. They asked to look into our bags to make sure we weren't carrying any contraband (aka anything that has a logo on it that isn't Coke, Sony, McDonald's, Budweiser, MTN, or one of the other "official sponsors"). We were then asked to walk through a metal detector. Dan carried his 4 year old son through with him and was told by the attendant, "The red light went off." Dan said, "Ok," then walked away. I was next in line and told to stay put while she called over her supervisor. When her supervisor arrived she asked, "what does it mean when the red light goes off?" The supervisor responded, "that means the person is carrying some kind of metal. You should ask them to make sure their pockets are empty and tell them to walk through again." By this time Dan was long gone. Let's just hope terrorists aren't the first to arrive at sporting events! My walk through the metal detector was uneventful.
From Soccer

With 3 hours to kill before game time we decided to walk around and see the sights, eat our sandwiches which we were allowed to bring in, and take in the World Cup atmosphere. This consisted of joining in cheers with the throngs of Chilean fans there and trying to decipher what the Hondurans were saying. Think back to my 2 years of Spanish in high school, I'm pretty sure I heard, 'tengo' and 'taco.' Which means I have a taco. Now I'm not sure, but I don't think the Hondurans were cheering about having tacos. The Chile cheer was much simpler. One fan would shout, "Chi, Chi, Chi." The rest of the group would answer, "le, le, le." Then in unison we would all shout, "Viva, Chile!" The other cheer was, "Ole, ole, ole, ole, Chile, Chile," and no not the Sven and Ole kind, but the bullfighting, "ole" as in Oil of Olay.
From Soccer

We were asked to engage in some soccer banter; luckily I had two Englishmen with me so I didn't need to say much, and I had read on the press guide that both teams had a player named Suazo, that would key their attacks. So every once in a while I would say, "It all depends on how Suazo plays." And regardless of the fan base I would get nods of agreement.

The final score of the game was 1-0 Chile. One goal in 90 minutes. It was exciting, but not like American sports are exciting. The thing I think Americans will never get about soccer is that it routinely can and will end in a tie. Without even so much as an overtime or a shootout? In America we want a clearly defined winner!

So the reason we had to take the bus to the game is because there is no parking area at the stadium. You can't get dropped off or picked up outside the stadium and there is no walking on the roads that surround the stadium. So after the game 35,000 fans poured out of the stadium and waited for buses to come pick us up. We ended up waiting for 2-1/2 hours. I have since heard that with subsequent games at the stadium they have streamlined the exit process with better marked areas for where each bus will pick up and where they will be going. In the end the biggest reason we didn't get on a bus sooner was the 4 year old we were carrying with us. For some strange reason Dan didn't want to try to push to the front of the line and risk getting hit by a bus?
From Soccer

From Soccer

In the end I'm glad I can say, "I was there" (the official FIFA slogan at all ticket sales outlets). All in all my first professional soccer match and first World Cup game was fun. Although, unless the US gets to host the World Cup again it might be my last match for awhile. We also ended up going to the fan park in Nelspruit that night to watch the South Africa game. It was packed, cold, and South Africa lost, badly, but we still had a good time.

From Soccer
The official Coke theme song for the world cup

From Soccer
Me with Marc Damour and Tyler Ralph, supporting South Africa

I think I might have even impressed my English friend Dan enough for him to root for the US, should England find themselves out before us.

From Soccer

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Taste of Africa

Great thanks to everyone who supported our Taste of Africa night at Grace Church on June 1. We had about 60 people attend. Highlights of the night included seeing nearly everyone eating authentic African cuisine (including chicken, pap, soup, ifisashi, and chakalaka) with their hands, so many great questions from the audience about our experiences and Hands at Work's support for orphaned and vulnerable children, and fun prizes. In all, over $2500 was raised to support essential services like home visits, education, and food security for orphaned and vulnerable children in some of the poorest communities in Africa.

Jed's dad, Wally, and my mom, Gina, along with
other family members helped prepare dinner

Ladies from Grace Church volunteered to take tickets and help with clean up

Materials describing Hands at Work in Africa were distributed

Centerpieces like this one, including a variety of South
African goodies, were given away at the end of the night

Me and Jed in our "africa" T-shirts

For more information on how you can help, go to and click on "Get Involved."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Megan's Wedding

The wedding weekend was fantastic! We went to Elbow Lake Lodge and such a great family time. Megan was gorgeous, and we're so happy to welcome Blake into the family. What a great guy!

Emily Law took beautiful professional pictures, and you can see them on her Flickr account by clicking here. The following are a few that Kim and I took...

Dress Rehearsal

Megan and Blake with Pastor Holly from Grand Forks

Wedding Day - Kim doing Megan's hair

Bridesmaids almost ready to go!

Me and my cousin Billy

Megan and Uncle Bill

The real thing


Husband and wife

The reception

Brooke and Jed

My cousin Ryan, Holly, and Lilly

Mike and Sisi Kimmie

Pops and Gram

The best picture I got of Megan's dress

Dancing the night away

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wedding Photos

Going to Megan's wedding prompted me to look at our wedding photos. (We'll have been married for 7 years this July!) Thought you might enjoy these...

Brooke and Jed

Dad and Brooke

Kim and Brooke and Jon

Pam and Wally Heubner

Gina and Jeff Rittgers

Dolly and Jim Grillo (my grandparents)

Marlene and Orv Rittgers (my grandparents)

Eloda and Leland Krumwiede

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

MN So Far...

Here are a few highlights so far.
My birthday, which was planned in detail by me and included (all in one day!)...
A walk with the fam in the woods

It's woodtick season, hence the pants tucked into our socks.
Classic Minnesota fashion...

Mama and me

Foosball with brother-in-law Michael and "little" brother Jon

Me and Kim drinking, ahem, virgin margaritas

Fishing with Jed on Spirit Lake (a.k.a. by mom as the "South Bay of Vermilion")

Blowing out 30 candles

Kimmie's baby shower
Teacher Megan leading games with the aunties and cousins

Megan's bachelorette party at the Twins' game

Me and my sisi

Brand new Target Field
All photos of our time with Jed's family are conspicuously missing. That's because we don't have a camera right now and these are all from my sister's camera. We'll have to get pics from the other side of the family soon.