Victory for Honduras!

Soccer is King in Honduras. Every little brown, barefoot boy kicking a tattered ball between two rocks in the street dreams of one day playing for the Seleccion, the Honduran national team. On game days, nearly everyone, from toddlers to middle aged men and elderly women, proudly don Honduran jerseys and hang flags in anticipation of the big event. When the game begins, the streets are deserted. The only people who are not at home watching the game are those who decide to watch it at the mall or local bar on the big screen. Then, for ninety minutes, life in Honduras stands still. They agonize together over missed goals, and scream with joy when the team scores. Even if you are not watching the game, you know when Honduras scores; fireworks sound and shouts ring out after each goal.

Last night was a big night in Honduras. It was the last chance for their beloved Seleccion to qualify for the World Cup, something that they had not been able to accomplish since 1982. In order to make it to the 2010 tournament (which is held every four years), two things needed to happen: Honduras had to beat El Salvador, and the USA had to tie or beat Costa Rica, the team that was competing with Honduras for the final spot.

All of Honduras watched both with nervous anticipation. Honduras played well and beat El Salvador 1-0. But Costa Rica came out fighting hard, and scored two goals against USA. Team USA managed to score one point, but the game was quickly coming to a close. In the final seconds, they managed to head in one last goal to tie the game! Shouts and fireworks erupted all over the country, celebrating the USA's goal. Honduras was headed to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years!

On our way home from church, we watched in amazement as the streets filled with people shouting, dancing, and celebrating the victory. Cars blared their horns and pedestrians banged on our roof and waved flags in front of our car.

When we arrived at the house, we turned on the television to watch more of the celebration and catch the replays of the game. Suddenly all the channels went black, signalling the start of a government broadcast. We turned to the Honduran channel in time to see the President make a live announcement, congratulating the team and yelling, "Viva, Honduras!" Then he declared the next day a national holiday!

The country is united in a way it has not been in months, all because of a soccer game. Honduras has taken some hard hits this year; unemployment reached 30%, a 7.4 earthquake struck, and the removal of the President tore the country apart. But today, we celebrate!

Next month's elections are quickly approaching. Please pray that the results of November 29th's election will be recognized internationally and that Honduras may begin to heal, one victory at a time.
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