Angelo kicked Lonnie in the chest and earned the point he needed to win. “Match!” Mr Haight, the Coach, pointed to Angelo. Lonnie and Angelo sat down on the gym floor to watch two other green belts spar.
“Lucky kick.” Lonnie smiled at Angelo.
“I had to even things up.” Angelo grinned. “You beat me in the races at school today.” Lonnie was Angelo’s best friend, and they did everything together.
On the other side of the gym, the red belts were working on the demonstration they would give for the black belt ceremony.
“Soon we’ll be blue belts,” Lonnie said, but he was watching the red belts across the room.
“Yeah. We have the hours, the moves and the test down for the blue belt,” Angelo said, “but I can’t wait till we’re red belts.”
“Oh, that’ll be easy,” Lonnie laughed. “We only have to earn the blue belt and the purple belt first!”
Mr Haight raised his hands in the air. “Ok. Enough sparring for tonight.” He waved everyone toward him and held up a piece of paper. “The tournament is two weeks away. This paper gives all the information you will need to have a successful tournament. Make sure your parents read it and sign it. Bring it back here next week.”
Angelo grabbed the paper and headed for the door. The tournament was the last thing he had to complete before becoming a blue belt! As he rode his bike home, he only wished grandma could see him compete. Abuela Ana was serving as a missionary far away in Romania.
Mum was stirring a big pot of soup when Angelo sailed in and handed her the paper. “This is important. It’s about the tournament.”
“How was karate?” Mum smiled and took the paper.
“It was great! I lost one sparring match and won two.”
“Yep. Now all Lonnie and I have to do is the tournament and we’ll get our blue belts.” Angelo opened the refrigerator.
“Did you know the tournament is on a Saturday, Angelo?” Mum said.
Angelo closed the fridge. “Saturday?” He frowned. He had been baptised not long ago and he was determined to keep the Sabbath holy.
“I know how much this means to you, Angelo, but Sabbath…?” Mum trailed off.
“I know, I know.” Angelo stomped off to his bedroom. Why did the tournament have to be on a Saturday? None of the other tournaments were. And if he didn’t go, Lonnie would be a blue belt and he would still be green.
Dad peeked into the bedroom. “Hey, Angelo. I heard about the tournament. Have you called Mr Haight?”
Angelo brightened. “No. I’ll call right away.” He ran for the phone. Surely Mr Haight would see the problem- maybe he’d even give him the belt without the tournament.
A few minutes later, Angelo shuffled back into his room. “What did he say?” Dad asked.
“He said to get the belt, I have to meet all the requirements. I even told him Saturday was a holy day, but he just said the gym was booked on Sunday.”
Dad ruffled Angelo’s hair. “There will be other tournaments.”
Angelo looked up at Dad. “I know. But it might be months away. Lonnie will be a blue belt way before me. I might as well quit!”
“It’s your decision, Angelo.” Dad left, and Angelo lay down on his bed. He knew Mum and Dad didn’t want him to go to the Saturday tournament, but maybe he would go just this one time.
Angelo looked at the Richmond Tigers picture on his wall. Abuela Ana had given it to him on his birthday last September. Tucked into the corner of the picture was a photograph of his tiny Abuela with a huge Romanian castle in the background. Angelo wouldn’t see her again until his next birthday.
He reached for the photograph and read the words she had written on the back.
“The work is hard here. We have lots of discussions, but no baptisms yet. Last week we went to the orphanages and arranged for the children to have needed medical care. They were so grateful. I knew that whatever sacrifice I had made to come here was nothing. I’m following Jesus, so everything will be all right! Te amo, Angelo. I love you.”
Angelo turned the picture over and looked into his Abuela’s smiling face. He knew he would not be going to the Sabbath tournament. He smiled. “I’m following Jesus too, Abuela Ana.”
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