It’s Still Halloween in Hawaii

Sunday was a full day for me, and Sundays are already quite busy.

sf.picI 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.

pumpkin.pic_hdAfter 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

高丹玉

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To Buy or Not to Buy

What do you hope happens by the end of the year?

To be honest, I hope I buy some more long johns to wear here in Beijing by the end of the year. I only brought one pair from the US and I don’t think it will be enough. I strictly do my laundry once a week so wearing the same long underwear every day or close to everyday will get a little funky.

I am currently debating whether I should click the ‘place your order’ button on my Amazon shopping cart that contains 4 books and 1 pair of long underwear. The price of the order itself is quite low, but the shipping cost to get it to China is another story. Grrr I don’t know what to do. I am trying to justify it by saying I need the long underwear for the winter ahead, as well as winters following, and these books have been on my reading list for over a year. I really want to read them.

I pretty sure I can’t buy these books here in China and whatever long underwear will probably not fit me. I did ask one of my Chinese friends where they buy theirs. She said online. sigh… I have no idea if a pair of long johns meant for Chinese customers will fit me! At least with Amazon a lot of their customers are from the West and there would be a better chance of it fitting me.

Any suggestions on what I should do?

Bible Verse of the Day:
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
John 8:12 NLT

Song of the Day:
In Your Arms
by Nico & Vinz

高丹玉

P.S.
Happy Halloween! I am not going to be celebrating it here. I have heard of Westerners dressing up but not very many of them do. Probably because they already have enough people staring at them and they don’t need another reason! I assume most Chinese people know of Halloween, given that a number of them watch American and other Western television shows, but they have never adopted the practice.

I was skyping with my mom this morning and we thought that for Halloween next year I could possibly be dressed up as a Dutch milk maid or my family dog, Taz, who is an Australian Shepherd.

Autumn Has Arrived

The AQI of Beijing was incredibly low once again today so I decided to go out and take photos with my DSLR camera on campus. More specifically, the lake. To me, it’s more like a large pond. But anyway, it was looking good on this great day. The wind was blowing and it was a bit chilly, so I think that deterred some people from coming outside. Which means less people walking into my photos. Here they are:

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Can anybody guess the practical function of that stone fish in the center of the frame? Leave your guess in the comment section!

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With all of this wind and the chillier air that we have for more than a few days, I figure that autumn has arrived. In California, we don’t really have cold weather for very long. As soon as it gets cold, it warms right back up. This winter in Beijing is going to be quite different for me.

You can find 2 more photos from this day on a photo challenge post of mine.

Bible Verse of the Day:
I know the lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
Psalms 16:8 NLT
Source: Bible.com

高丹玉

I think I joined a softball team?

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My lunch: chicken, rice, bok choi, and a fried egg. A flat price of 9 RMB (~$1.50).

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.

4.picDuring 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.

Origami I made today in my Chinese folklore class.

Origami I made today in my Chinese folklore class.

Song of the Day:
Stuntman by DANakaDAN

Bible Verse of the Day:
Taste and see that the lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Psalms 34:8
Source: Bible.com

高丹玉

National Day Golden Week 2015

IMG_8549Today is the last day of my week long break from school. October 1 is National Day for China and the following 6 days are National Day Golden Week Holidays (Click HERE to learn more). So, in observance of National Day, the schools of China, or at least Beijing, are out of session. A lot of Chinese citizens come to Beijing during this holiday, so all of the tourist attractions are a bit more crowded than the usual summer mob. A number of non-native Beijingers return home, as well. As this is one of the times that gathering with family is enjoyed.

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Photo Cred: David

For the first day I had off, which was Thursday, October 1, I went to Beihai Lake with David, a guy from my church here in Beijing (Information about the church coming soon). The weather and air quality index (AQI) were fantastic. For three prior days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, it had rained a large amount, so it washed away all of the smog. Thursday was also really windy, so that helps a lot as well. It was one of the better parks I have been to here in Beijing. I feel it was better than Summer Palace but that may be because it was a smoggy day when I went to Summer Palace and I was also lugging around my camera and its bag and that is never very enjoyable.

On Friday, David and I met up again and went to 798 Art District, which is on the east side of Beijing. I was expecting mainly street art, such as graffiti and a few other things, but what we saw was art galleries, higher-end (not incredibly fancy) restaurants and dessert shops, sculptures along the sidewalks, as well as some graffiti. The weather and AQI on this day was also relatively really good. Way less windy compared to the previous day as well.

Overall, those two days were really enjoyable and the two of us did not spend a lot of money, which is always good.

I did not do much at all on Saturday. I just watched a bunch of videos on YouTube, watched a movie that I cannot seem to remember at the moment, and ate at the cafeteria of Peking University.

Sunday was a pretty good day, too. Sundays are currently my favorite days of the week (I would have to say Wednesdays are my favorite weekday). This is because I attend church at 11 am, go to lunch with some of the other attendees, go back to the dorm for about an hour break, play ultimate frisbee, then wrap up the day with dinner with fellow frisbee throwers. The AQI was not very good. When the AQI is at a certain level, one should be careful and try not to overwork oneself playing sports. So all of us throwers were mindful of this and also drank plenty of water.

On Monday I played wit20151005_170343h majiang (麻将) (also spelled as mahjong) with my Beijing Normal University (北师大) teacher, Cao Yan (曹燕), her hometown friend, and his roommates. This was my second time playing the game. We played for about 7 hours. We also ate dinner during that time frame, but we you are playing that game, it does not feel that long at all. I did not win any rounds at first, and I was unreasonably nervous. I was like that the first time I played, too, which was back in the States. After awhile, I got the hang of it and started winning  a bit. I think I won about 3 or 4 rounds. I really enjoyed playing the game with them all. And right now, I am longing to play the game.

I met up with some peo20151006_105912ple from church on Tuesday and went to a “national park” about 40 minutes west of Wu Dao Kou (五道口) by city bus. In America, national parks are a more grand and official place. This national park that we visited felt more like a regional or county park. It was not grand. Don’t get me wrong, it was not bad. It just was not, you know, grand. We ate lunch together, rode back to Wu Dao Kou, ate Korean-styled shaved ice desserts (雪冰 [literally ‘snow ice’]). I ate the chocolate flavor, some other people ate the green tea flavor.

Today is Wednesday. I don’t have much going on today. I do have bible study tonight at 7 pm. I ride my bike to it, since it’s really close. It takes me less than 10 minutes to get there. Today’s AQI is 336, which is really high and labelled as “hazardous” (Click HERE to see Beijing’s AQI and HERE for Los Angeles’ AQI). When I went to go eat lunch today, I did wear my mask on the way there and back, so I do take some caution.

Song of the Day:
My Love by The Bird and the Bee (To see the not-so-great music video, click HERE. You should click there just to hear the song, not to watch.)

Bible Verse of the Day:
The lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.
Proverbs 15:29 NLT
Source: Bible.com

Alright, I am signing off. I hope you have a wonderful day here on God’s canvas.