Sunday was a full day for me, and Sundays are already quite busy.
I started off the day with my second softball game. I arrived at the Peking University soccer field a bit before 9 am, and the game started at 9:40.
I fielded fine throughout the game like normal, but my batting hasn’t been very good since I started playing in China. The first game I did not get on base at all. That didn’t feel very good. I batted 3 or 4 times, either struck out, thrown out at 1st, or I caused the 3rd out. This game did not start off well, either. First time up to bat, I hit the ball towards 2nd base and the base, which caused the runner ahead of me to be out, which was the 3rd out. Second time up, I hit a wimpy pop fly foul ball that was caught, leaving my head hanging low as I returned to the “dugout.” I hoped that the team was not losing faith in me. Third up-to-bat, I whispered encouragements to myself. I. Had. To. Get. On. Base. Preferably not by being walked, but I was willing to accept any method.
I hit the ball right over the short stop’s head. I briefly expected him to jump up and catch it, but even as he jumped, it was out of his reach. Yes! I finally made it on base during a game. A few batters later I made it to “home plate” and scored. I returned to the dugout with my head held a little higher and shyly high-fived my teammates’ hands.
Right after the game was over, which was supposed to end at 11 but went a bit overtime, I left the field and rode my bike to church. I was late, so I saw the last few minutes of the sermon, but I did get to see the baptism of 5 christians, 1 whom I know.
After the church service, I went to lunch with some of my favorite people from church. It was a great lunch. We ended up ordering battered and fried pumpkin in honor of Halloween. This was all on Sunday, November 1, but me and another American, David, mentioned that it was still Halloween in Hawaii, so the eating of pumpkin was justified. We enjoyed eating the pumpkin, which is a common dish in southern China, I believe. I first tried it in Southern China, in Rhea’s hometown, and I really liked it.
I took this picture of David eating pumpkin while pumpkin glasses he brought.
A couple of hours later, I went to Tsinghua University fields to play ultimate frisbee with a lot of members from church. It is always good exercise and a good time to connect with people from around the world. We all usually play for 2 hours, and eat dinner after word.
Overall, it was yet another good Sunday. I also missed this last Sunday, since I was on my trip to Henan. It was good to be back. It almost feels like they notice when I am gone, which has not happened in a long time.
Bible Verse of the Day:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8
Song of the Day:
Kill Em With Kindness
by Selena Gomez
Today I played my first slow pitch softball game in China. Or ever. I have played 5 years of fast pitch softball, so everything is very alike. The only thing that I still have yet to get used to is batting. And by the way, they use the same sized softball I am used to playing with. We do not play with a cantaloupe-sized softball like my grandfather used to.
One major difference that I have noticed playing slow pitch here in China is that there is no real strike zone. The only way to tell if a pitch is a ball or a strike is a mat that is located directly behind home plate. If the pitch lands on the mat, strike. Anywhere else, ball. I am not sure if this method is used in the States or not. My other guess is that they do not have a qualified umpire to referee the game. Based on the equipment and conditions these college students work with, I would not be surprised if the latter is true (somebody please inform me of the truth in the comments section).
The arc of the pitch is the factor I am not used to. That is something for me to practice on and improve.
About the conditions: we play ball on an astro turf soccer field. The neighboring university apparently has a baseball/softball field, but not us. The field as fences and nets around the borders, with two games going on at one time, with their outfielders overlapping a bit (softball practice squeezes two more games onto the same field). A majority of the players do not wear cleats, myself included. You can wear what ever pants you like. I, as many others did, wore denim jeans. I chose this apparel because my sweat pants are high waters on me now. But the pair of jeans I did wear were generally loose and allowed me to move freely. Before the game, we warmed up in a field of weeds and foxtail plants (I do not know if there is a more proper term for those plants).
Here is two differences I have found between slow pitch softball in China and what I am used to:
A foul ball can be the third strike
Not only do runners not slide, but they are not allowed to
Instead of exchanging high fives or hand shakes with your opponent at the end of the game, they bow. They also bow to the referee.
As for my performance in the game, it was poor (I did better during practice). I did not get on base once. I batted a total of 3 times, a caught pop-fly, strike out, and thrown out at 1st base. To be fair, the sun was in my eyes while batting. But honestly, that’s just an excuse for me being out of practice of this sport that I truly enjoy. That’s honestly why I play it. It is not to win, but it is to enjoy it. To enjoy learning about it. To enjoy playing it. To enjoy exercising.
The game score was 7-8. The other team won. It was a good 7 inning game.
Bible Verse of the Day:
All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.
1 John 4:15
I had four hours of class today; 2 hours of Chinese language learning and 2 hours of Chinese Folklore and Culture. After class, I decided no to go straight to lunch because that is what everybody does at 12:00 and it can become incredibly crowded at the cafeteria. So, in the meantime I decided to walk around campus because it is a nice day. It’s a bit windy, but here in China, winds coming from the North blow a lot of the smog away. The AQI today was lower than 50 (as low as 21!), so generally a really great day. I walked around campus, took some pictures with my phone, and checked if any people were playing soccer on the soccer fields I know of. There were more people playing basketball than soccer. 12:30 pm came along and I went to the cafeteria. Sure enough, not as many people. There were still a good amount of students there, but I did not struggle to find a seat.
While returning to my room after lunch, I decided I was going to go out and try to join a pick-up game of soccer. No exceptions. I had to at least try and ask somebody if I could participate. I had to or else I would spend 10 hours during the whole afternoon and evening on my computer. After the decision, I changed into appropriate sporting attire, got some water and headed to campus on my bicycle. I arrive and I stand right outside of the entrance of these two small soccer fields. All of the sports fields I have encountered in China have been astro-turf, aka not real grass, and these Peking University’s fields were no exception. Both fields were being used. One field had 6 people, so I figured they did not need an additional player. The other field had 13; perfect! I could even up the teams. I stood there on the opposite side of the chain link fence for 5 minutes, trying to time when I was going to ask somebody if I could play. I didn’t want to ask when the ball was too close to the goal that I was near and I also didn’t want too many people to hear me. The time to ask finally came.
“我可以参加吗?” (Can I participate?) I said to the goalie. He yelled at somebody across the field, asking if I could. The other guy shouted back some answer.
“_______, 不好意思. 对不起.” (Something that I could not fully understand but he was talking about a team. I am sorry. I am sorry.)
I did not play soccer today.
After I was rejected, I ran around the track 2 times before I remembered that there was another pair of soccer fields on campus. I packed up my things and rode my bike there.
Baseball! Correction; Softball! Yet another correction; Slow pitch softball!
I saw soccer on the other pitch, but when I saw softball, my decision was made. I parked my bike and stood outside of the chain link surrounded fields once again. I was standing by the home plate area. There were a lot of people on the field. Who was I going to ask? My second chance arrived.
“我可以参加吗”? I said. I hoped it was the last time.
“可以啊” she replied. Yes! I was in. I walked around in order enter the field. Two girls approached me, including the one I originally asked. We spoke half Chinese and English. Both of them were perfectly capable of speaking English with me but I just wanted to practice my Chinese. A few other people came over while I briefly introduced myself and they told me things I needed to know about their group and such. At some point, I was going to go to another team, because I told them I was in a certain department, but as soon as I said I had played on the diamond for 6 years, they were happy and did not want to lose me to a different team. One thing lead to another and ended up on first base with a glove on my hand. It is where I belong, really. After a little while, I headed over to home plate and tried batting, which I knew was going to a bit different since I have only played fast pitch. I hit a few balls here and there, but I will still need to work on figuring out what is and is not a strike. More time passed by, and a guy on the team asked me if I wanted to play in a game against the medical department team.
“什么时候?” (When?) I asked.
“现在.” (Now.) He replied. I figured I had no where to go so I agreed to join. The assigned me to first base and the 8th batter position.
During the game, I fielded well and batted alright. I was having trouble swinging all the way through, which has always been a problem for me. So my hits did not go very far. I got on base every time I was up to bat except once, when I was thrown out at first base. I never scored at home plate, for I was always on base when the third out occurred.
We played until past 5 pm. After it was all over and wrapped up, I was invited to come eat with some of them. My choices at that point were to either go with them or eat by myself at the cafeteria. I chose them of course. We all rode our bikes to the west side of campus (we were playing on the east), and ate at a non-crowded second floor restaurant. Many topics were discussed, including my interest in buying a set of team jersey, hat, and pants. It will cost a little more than 300 RMB (~$50). I told them I would think about it. I currently still deciding. They also invited me to come play with them this Sunday at 12 pm at what they call Freshman Cup. You apparently do not have to be a college freshman to play, just a newcomer to the team.
I have a selection to make. The first option is to go to this Freshman Cup at 12. The other option is to go to church at 11 am and frisbee at 4 pm, just like my past Sundays have been. I want to go to church and especially frisbee because there are only so many weekends left were it will not be too cold to play, but the same is true for baseball. I make my decision on the point of why I came to China: to learn more Chinese and to bond with Chinese people. There aren’t too many Chinese people at church and frisbee. And besides, I think this Freshman Cup is just a one day event. I don’t think it will carry on to the next few Sundays.
Overall, today did not go how I had expected. I prepared to play soccer, but played softball instead. I am not saying softball is better than baseball, but I was certainly glad when my hand was put in a glove.