Saturday, June 17, 2006

Badminton and church. Not at the same time.

I'm suffering from boo-boos today. Friday I went back to badminton practice for probably the 3rd time in about 5 weeks, which is way more than I want to miss, but I've been occupied a fair amount lately mostly w/ caring for my sweet but fatigued wife during her times of persistent morning (read: all-day) sickness.
Anyway, I had remembered that there was a badminton tournament in June and wanted to participate, but I discovered on Fri night that the spots were already full for the tournament taking place the next day. Oops - a little late! But one of the organisers of the tourney, who has kind of taken me under his wing, got me in anyway, so I showed up the next morning at 8:50 am to discover that my partner (this was a doubles tourney) was his wife. OK, cool - he's quite skilled so I figured his wife would be pretty good too. I was actually not disappointed - she had a good array of shots and loved the drop shot, while I favor the smash and drive shot (smash is what it sounds like; drive is a medium-range, med-speed shot that passes low over the net). We were thus a pretty good team.
Our 1st match turned out to be against the #1 high school girls doubles team, but we went for too much and played dumb so we lost. But the next match was easy so we got out of the round-robin into the quarterfinals, where we had another easy match. In the semifinals, we took on two early 40-something women and had a tough match but still won fairly comfortably 21-16.
The final match was against two other women of the same age who had won all their matches but one by the score of 21-3. Ouch. We kind of figured that they were going to be too much for us so we decided a worthy goal would be to get to 21-4. Full of confidence, right? Funny thing is, we came out flat and didn't play well in regards to their own style, so we fell behind 18-3. Our goal was looking pretty bleak by that point, I must say. But just about that time, I got into The Zone. I can't describe The Zone well, but you know when you're In It. And I was In It - we scored 10 straight points w/o dropping service. I discovered that using my relatively superior athleticism (read: RELATIVELY) to jump and smash the birdie and to be alot more aggressive would reap benefits. (Here's a pic of us after the tourney. Guess which one was sweaty and disgusting?)

Anyway, that was nice - it felt good to make some headway whereas we had been so frustrated before. W/ that, we couldn't score again, but 21-13 wasn't bad at all.
At the final line-up to say "sayonara," they were handing out the awards. I was in the B group. A group was, obviously, the most skilled players (and I would have less than no chance therein). B group was next down, and when they announced my name to get the #2 position and I walked forward, most everyone said "Oh cool!" like it was incontheivable that a gaijin (that's "gringo" in Japanese) would do so well in badminton. I was bemused, but it's a heckuvalot better than them grumbling and throwing stuff at me. Definitely.
And that's the thing about being the famous "Alan Sensei" here on Kikai - I don't mind being the center of attention most everywhere just b/c of my skin and auburn hair b/c almost all the time the attention is good-natured interest.

Anyway, what else is going on? Rainy season is letting up a LITTLE but is not done yet.
Today in church there was a guest pastor from the next island over, Amami, who knows the Irish JET ALT whom we had visited in October. His sermon was pretty long - dang near 40 minutes. I'm getting better in understanding, and it seemed a fair amount of it was devoted to talking about ministry in the Ryukyu islands, or rather church logistics and other STUFF. OK, fine, but how about talking about the Bible? He eventually did...Mrs. Tokumoto came also to church specially to hear this guest pastor speak. Don't know why she finds him any more interesting than the regular pastor, but OK, whatever. Today was the best-attended Kikai church service I've been to - there were 11 people there, including me but not Aub who wasn't feeling well. Impressive!

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