Life in the township of Ocean View is going great, and I'm apparently beginning to blend in. On my way home from the office, I was walking up the street to Treswill's house when I heard several voices shouting, "Coach John! Hey! Hey Coach John!" So I glance over my right shoulder, and see Zimo and several other Academy boys running up to me. After a quick exchange of greetings, they expressed how surprised they were to see me casually walking around. Worried, I asked them if I stood out too much like a tourist. They quickly said no, that I looked like a coloured person...then they added that I look like a cat. Apparently, a cat is someone like... a cool cat, who no one ever dares mess with. So that's kind of neat, I suppose.
Yesterday, after I went to Hillsong Church with Casey, Kieren (his 4 year old daughter), and Jamie (one of their friends), and later to the market in Muizenberg, I headed over to Fish Hoek to use an internet cafe there. As I pulled over into the nearest parking space, a jeep full of Zimbabweans pulled up behind me and started honking. Mildly confused, I put the car back into gear and went forward into the next open space. Their honking subsided and became a mix of bright smiles and thumbs up. Thinking nothing of it, I got out of my car, glanced both ways and crossed the street, and approached the cafe's entry. As I neared it, a grizzled, middle-aged man sitting on a stool smoking a cigarette said, "... 'ip my 'at to 'oo fo' dat."
Intrigued, I asked him to repeat himself and he said in his thick white South African accent, "I'd tip my hat to you for that."
By"that" he apparently meant my pulling forward for the Zimbabweans. He proceeded to tell me how they didn't deserve anything and how, in fact, they (Zimbabweans in general apparently), had driven a taxi that he was in and dropped him off in the middle of nowhere and blah blah. He then summed it all up by saying that he'd tip his hat to me for doing such a nice thing for them. It never ceases to amaze me just how our little unintentional actions almost always seem to get noticed. Which definitely serves as a fantastic reminder to me that as a coach here with Ubuntu Football Academy, the boys look up to me. Just as I looked up to my coaches, I'm now a role model for these guys! There's a poem I read a while back that reminds me of how we are all role models to someone, and even when we think no one's watching, Someone always is.
A careful man I want to be –
a little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
for fear he’ll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes.
Whatever he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be –
that little chap who follows me…
He knows that I am big and fine –
And believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see –
that little chap who follows me…
But after all it’s easier,
that brighter road to climb,
With little hands behind me –
to push me all the time.
And I reckon I’m a better man
than what I used to be…
Because I have this lad at home
who thinks the world of me.
So please be praying for me and the other Ubuntu Football Academy staff (Casey, Mike, Sean, and Treswill), that we'll continue to invest in and mentor to these youth here. Pray for continuous good health for all of us, as well as the Academy boys. And be praying that the weather warms up! I'm currently writing this in a little surf cafe in Kommetjie while outside, 30mph wind gusts, rain, and cold temperatures blow in from the Atlantic. Also, be praying for protection for me and staff as well, and for favor from everyone we encounter!
Thanks and God bless!
Outreach Coordinator - MTAG