Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let The Games Begin!

We have a TV! While the young missionaries are expected to give up TV viewing for the duration of their missions, senior missionaries do not have the same restriction. I guess the reasoning is that if we haven't figured out how to manage our time by now, we wouldn't be on a mission. 

Well, we got the TV several months ago, thinking that we could watch the news occasionally. Turns out "occasionally" means hardly ever. We just don't have time to turn it on... but tonight we're glad to have it! The London 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies broadcast began at 9 p.m. tonight. The Visitors' Centre is closed for the evening and we are glued to the screen.

Sitting in our flat watching the opening ceremonies, we've been told we're two of a billion people worldwide who are tuned in. AMAZING! It's a fabulous celebration of all things British. I'm struck by how much England has become my home during the past six months. I'm surprised by how the portrayals of British history and current events evoke such deep, personal feelings of appreciation and gratitude for this country. We've only lived here six months, but England has definitely found it's way into my heart.

We won't be attending any of the events or competitions. I don't know if we would have the energy to cope with the crowds even if we did have the time and money to go. Besides, the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics were such a magical experience, I'm not sure anything could ever top those Olympic memories for me. However, we got to hold one of the beautiful official Olympic torches a few weekends ago, just before it was used in the torch relay - an opportunity made even more impressive tonight as we watched the final torch enter the stadium and light the magnificent new Olympic cauldron.

Holding the 2012 Summer Olympics torch.

Sisters Cabrera, Rodrigues, Corbett and Boman

What a sight, tonight, as the teams of 204 nations entered the stadium toward the end of the extravaganza! Countries who have long histories of hatred toward one other, countries torn apart by war and by natural disaster, countries old and new, all gathered together in one common cause:  to reach for new achievements and triumphs of human performance and endurance and strength and courage. The excitement, the enthusiasm, the energy of the competitors was contagious. And, for the first time in the history of the Olympics, every participating nation is allowing women to compete. 

As we watched the parade of nations toward the end of the broadcast, I couldn't help but reflect on the number of countries that are near and dear to my heart.  With the growing availability and ease of air transportation, the world is a smaller place. Traveling with Clog America during the last decade, we've met people from all over the world as we have participated in International Folk Dance festivals. In each country we've visited, the festivals have brought together groups from all of the world. Most festivals are much like the Olympics, except on a smaller scale and without the competition. They come together for a week or so, living in the same housing area, sharing their meals in a common center, traveling to outlying areas to perform together in the afternoons and evenings. Groups of dancers and musicians from anywhere between 10 and 70 nations converge at each festival to share their cultural heritage in music and dance. I have felt the passion of these groups as they recreate historic music and dances, as they tell the story of their culture and their nations. It made the introduction of nations personal for me tonight.

And then the United States of America arrived. Hurray!! So proud to be an American!

I loved seeing all of the teams at their finest tonight. All those countries, with all their differences, coming together in one great, united experience. Inspiring. I pray the events of the next two weeks will go off without a hitch. There will be winners. There will be losers. Hopefully, there will be nothing but glorious memories  of athletes who tried their hardest and did their very best and reaffirmed again the limitless capacity of the human spirit and body.

Let the games begin!                                                         ~Pat~

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