"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter..." Isaiah 64:8

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tinkuy Olympics 2012!!

I’ve always know that I’m a competitive person.  But something about the Tinkuy Olympics seems to have made me even more so, bringing out my true colors alongside my red, white, and blue.  Saying that I want to win is an understatement.  I cheer to win, I fight to win, and I even pray to win (is that cheating?).  But even so, winning is not the main goal.  There is a much more important objective.  The Tinkuy Olympics are actually about blessing some really sweet kids that live really hard lives.  They’re about giving joy to children whose lives at home might lack it and through all that showing the love of Christ…all the while trying not to get tooo competitive. 

August 9:  So my prior estimate was correct. My team got their butts whooped… big time. On Tuesday we lost every event we played. We didn’t manage so much as a bronze. I am a competitive person. My dad has a t-shirt that says “If I can’t win I don’t want to play” and I’m inclined to agree, so it was a very humbling experience to lose again…and again…and again. To make matters worse when my team and I were hugging out our failure I was overcome by a bout of homesickness. I started crying. I was absolutely humiliated. The kids thought I was crying about losing and kept telling me “es solamente un partido” (it’s just a game) and “vamos a ganar maƱana” (we’ll win tomorrow). Finally I managed to sputter out, with Josy’s help, that it wasn’t about the game, that I just really missed home. Suddenly I was surrounded, no longer with just my team, with children telling me I’ll be home soon, and please not to cry and that they’ll miss me when I leave… naturally that made me want to cry more…but I’m too tough for that so I swallowed my tears and put on a smile, but I don’t think they were fooled because even the older boys who usually ignore me gave me a hug goodbye at the end of the day.

The following morning we climbed a waterfall. Yea, climbed. After hiking a vertical trek that would have killed me if I wasn’t so prepared from our trek up Machu Picchu Mountain we reached a waterfall, but the kids weren’t satisfied with just looking at it they wanted to keep going up. So up we went clinging to slippery rocks for dear life. The boys were really helpful offering hands to Cindy, Adele and I as we tried to follow them up a path seemingly only used by mountain goats. However, the constant state of panic paid off when we reached the top and were standing before an even larger waterfall. The kids proceeded to splash around and swim in the forty degree water and although I didn’t get in for fear of catching an even worse cold I did get a large wet huge from Justi that left me shivering for much of the hike back down. Regardless, it was quite the adventure and I couldn’t have asked for better guides.

Then the afternoon came…the final day of Olympic games…my teams last chance at a victory. I’d been so preoccupied with our little excursion that I forgot to dread it, but it turns out I didn’t need to because my team won a gold medal in the three legged race and a bronze in the egg in spoon race. And although we are still beyond dead last for the overall medals won, it was so much better than nothing because the kids in my team had something to raise their spirits.

Tomorrow is the closing ceremony for both the Olympics and our stay here. It’s going to be a very fun, but also a very emotional day I’m sure; especially for Josy. But we have a great day planned with international foods, [frankfurters from Germany, PB&J from the US, cucumber sandwiches from Great Britain, mango lassies from India, and vegetable sushi (which I helped Cindy make!) from South Korea]dancing, and the award ceremony where we will give out the medals and announce the team that won the most overall. Then next thing you know I’ll be on a bus on my way to the Lima airport en route for my home among the hills. Despite my homesickness, I don’t know how I’ll handle the goodbyes from my students and my fellow teachers and new friend Cindy. I guess I’ll cross that bridge tomorrow.

August 9: We started the Olympics last Thursday by picking teams. It’s absolutely ridiculous how nervous and excited I was to see who would end up on Team USA. As I drew names out of bags, teams India, Great Britain, Germany, and South Korea, cheered for their new members. So did I. Because my team was AMAZING. I didn’t know all the kids, but I had several from last time, including Luis (see my last post) and his older sister, Maribel. I took them into our team meeting and began to plan our t-shirts, cheers, and dance as we made flags and banners to wave during the game. The excitement in the room was contagious. I finally sent them home eager to come back the next day and make shirts.

When the kids arrived on Friday, they immediately lined up outside of their team’s classroom. They were so excited about the Olympics that I began to get nervous that their expectations would be too high and they’d be disappointed. Back with Team USA, Brayan designed our team shirts and we got busy decorating them with sharpees and fabric paint. I was thrilled by my team’s unity. They all wanted identical t-shirts so no one would doubt that we truly are a team, in mind as well as in dress. Pedro begged me to be careful as I outlined the stripes for him to paint. Maribel and Heydy used tape to make their lines perfectly straight. And Brayan spent over 3 hours on his. Their perfectionism was adorable.

On Monday, my team arrived clad in their new t-shirts, and I made them even more patriotic with ribbon and facepaint. As I lined them up for the parade in my cowboy costume, Pedro came up to me and whispered in my ear. “I’m nervous, Miss.” So I gave the team a pep talk before handing them their flags. As we marched around the neighborhood to Rocky and Shakira, my team chanted “USA, USA, USA.” And the other teams were just as cute and excited.

We all entered the school to our team’s national anthem and then gathered around the patio to watch each team present a dance. These dances were pretty much the cutest thing ever. From square dancing to traditional German and Scottish music to India’s dance to Jai’ho, to K-pop, each team was ADORABLE. And my team’s performance of Cotton Eyed Joe was also stellar. It was a great day, and no one could wait to start the games the following afternoon. I’m sure that the volunteers were every bit as excited as the kids, if not more so.

The first day of games were just as fun as I expected, but they were also extremely stressful. I didn’t realize that the kids would feel so much pressure to win. My team wasn’t too discouraged after losing the academic relay, but after a close loss in volleyball, they were getting upset. They were so cute as they played, apologizing to me every time they made a mistake and looking so serious and focused. I screamed and cheered with my team on the sidelines, looking like an idiot with my American flag facepaint, flag nails, and team shirt that was at least 5 sizes too small.

The day got better, though, once we started the soccer tournament. My team got the unlucky draw in our 5 team tournament bracket and would have to win 3 games to win the gold. The first game was very evenly matched and very stressful. After 3 five minutes sets with no goals, they went to penalty kicks. Brayan, my star player who had been stuck playing goalie would finally get a chance to shoot. But the poor kid was so nervous that he made a terrible shot that ended up hitting the crowd and not the goal. Alarmed, I hoped he could relax enough to successfully block the other teams shots. He pulled through and we ended up winning that game.

The next game was even more stressful. I yelled and screamed and cheered so much that the parents who had come to watch were cracking up. After another tie, this time 2-2, we went to penalty kicks yet again. After scoring 2 to the other teams one, my team erupted in cheers. But somehow, Jimmy (the ref) messed up and announced South Korea as the winner. Kids from every team freaked out. I almost burst into tears (I can’t remember ever being so into a sports game in my life). Thankfully, Jimmy sorted it out, and we were declared winners, moving on to play India in the final. In yet ANOTHER close game, we had to resort to penalty kicks. Brayan pulled through as goalie for the third time, and we won the gold. Saying it was an exciting victory is definitely an understatement.

After that, we finished up the day with a silver in tug-of-war before heading home to get some rest. The next day, I decked the team out in paint and ribbon once again for our last day of competitions. Wednesday’s games were somewhat less stressful, and I looked slightly less ridiculous, this time dressed as a Native American instead of an American flag. We won gold in jump rope and the egg in spoon race, and Elizabeth surprised us with a bronze in shotput. My kids were so eager to watch and cheer, and even though we came in 4th place over all, I couldn’t have asked for a better team. They had a blast and I can’t wait to give them their medals today. But while I know the closing ceremony is going to be so much fun, I know that the day will be overshadowed by the fact that today is my last day here. So it will be bittersweet.

Team USA with their shirts before the opening ceremony

Cody with Raquel and Rosio from Team Germany

With Elizabeth and Nikol before the opening ceremony

Cody with some girls from her team

Team USA after Day 2 of competitions

opening ceremony parade

Abel with the torch and the Olympic rings

Brayan preparing to block a penalty kick

Day one of competitions with Eli and Nikol


Tony said...

I can't believe you all pulled all of that off in such a short time. I was worn out from just reading it!!!

writingdianet said...

Oh my goodness! What a week you all had. It sounds like a blast. I know you and the kids will never forget it. How wonderful that there were so many volunteers during this time to make it all possible!