Ultimate in the US… So Far

I started to play ultimate (disc, ultimate frisbee) at Valparaiso University. While running around campus, I was asked by two ex-swim team hippies to join their game. And so I did. This might say more about my personality than I’m willing to admit, and you’re free to add your input in the comments.

The hippies and I had fun, and the legitimate rules and strategies went out the door simply because no one actually knew them (and the Google search engine was not widely popular yet). Ultimate at Valpo was just known as “4 o’clock disc” and was open to any able-bodied person. It was glorious and entertaining and social and epic email stories were woven by one Adam Ortman (thank you sir).

However, I walked away with precisely 1.5 types of throws and was full of bad disc habits.

Fortunately, that changed when I joined club ultimate in Hong Kong. For five years (minus two years of injury) I played and competed in tournaments with HKUPA, which vastly improved my ability. Those five years were also glorious and entertaining and social, but this is a post about my US ultimate experience.

Kristin and I are now back in the US, and we’re eager to continue playing ultimate. USA seems to dominate the world, so I’ve been a little intimidated by this prospect.

After 12 days in the US, we’ve played two games. The first was with the South Bend club in Indiana, and the second with a group mainly composed of engineers from Hamilton-Sunstrand (United Technologies) in Rockford, IL. Though I know they are not anywhere near the level of top club play, it’s been fun and has put me at ease regarding US Ultimate. It’s shown me that I’ve learned a few things while in Hong Kong, and I know that I can keep up with some good players.

Our next stop is Princeton, New Jersey, and I hope the club team there will be a good fit for me. I’m not as nervous, but I’m sure I’ll be challenged in lots of ways. For now, I’m thankful for all the groups that have helped me along the way – Valpo for helping me fall in love with ultimate, HK for teaching me how to play competitively yet still have fun, and South Bend/Rockford for giving me a smooth transition to the US game.

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A Change of Pace

We’ve left Hong Kong, but it still feels like a holiday and that we’re going to return someday soon. I’m sure the reality of it won’t really sink in until Kristin and I rent a U-Haul and finally move all our stuff to a new flat in Princeton. For now, we’re relaxing and settling in to a new pace of life.

Hong Kong was extremely busy. Everyone even said so. All you have to do is ask, “How have you been lately?” and the default answer will most likely be, “I’m really busy!”

While enjoying some froyo with our friend Andrea Bremmer (another former Valpo student), Kristin mentioned that she’s going to miss the buzz of life that is always zooming in Hong Kong. I hadn’t really thought of that before. I knew that I would miss my friends, the ultimate scene, the food, and the church communities we were part of, but I didin’t realize how much I had adapted to the “big city” life.

Elkhart, Indiana, USA (‘Merica!) just isn’t the same. There’s family here, which is amazing, but life is just slower. Instead of waking up late and staying out late, we’re getting up early and going to bed early. Part of the problem is jet lag, but moreover the reason for our elderly-like sleeping schedule is that everyone just goes to bed early here. There’re no late night activities or late night socializing over drinks at a pub.

It’s weird. But that’s just the way it is. I guess this is one area I’ll have to continue to adapt my frame of mind. For any of my friends in HK reading this: Enjoy the crazy-busy pace while you can!

Love Dare – Day 38

This challenge is all about making your spouse’s dreams and desires come true. There were a lot of small suggestions provided such as buying flowers or gifts to commemorate something or cooking a special meal and making it romantic. However, the dare also pushed readers to think bigger. For example, it asked me to think about what my wife’s long-term goals and dreams and try to initiate steps towards accomplishing one or more dreams.

I spent a fair amount of time pondering Kristin’s big dreams and desires before the truth dawned on me – I’m currently helping her achieve her current, most important dream!

We’ve closed up our life in Hong Kong, and we’re moving to Princeton, New Jersey so that she can complete a Masters of Divinity degree at Princeton’s Theological Seminary.

In many ways, I have changed on behalf of my wife. A new country. A new home. A new job. A new set of friends. A new routine. Numerous people have also told me that I’m quite the good husband to be able to do this. On the other hand, I don’t feel like it is a burden at all! In fact, I’m happy to make all of these changes and adjustments. The reason for this is simple and two-fold: I love my wife, and I know that we are following God’s plan for our lives (at least we hope so!).

August 27 will mark day 01 of our new life in Princeton, and I hope it’ll be a wonderful start in helping Kristin accomplish her dreams.

Love Dare – Day 28

My wife went home from work sick today. We chatted briefly before she settled down to take a nap. I felt bad and decided to not bug her so she could actually rest. It turns out that though she did sleep for a little while, she struggled to stay asleep and ended up increasing her online Tetris skills!

Today was a long, but productive day at work, and I only had about an hour at home before my evening’s man-time with a friend (Aaron). Although I wanted to just sit and enjoy some down time with Kristin, today’s dare was calling my name.

Is there a need you could life from my spouse’s shoulders by doing a sacrificial act? Whether the need is big or small, purpose to do what you can to meet the need.

Instead of chilling out, I decided to take on the big stack of dishes that accumulated in our kitchen sink. Kristin and I talked a little bit while I worked, and she was able to lie down on the couch. It wasn’t a major sacrifice, but I know that Kristin was dreading the idea of doing dishes, and I was glad to help her out.

In the end I was still able to relax long enough to catch an episode of Modern Family while Kristin rested in my arms. (Cue the “Awwww!!!”)

Love Dare – Day 27

I didn’t know how to get around to today’s dare, so I did what any great husband would do – I sent a text message.

Before you judge me, let me set the scene. Kristin and I planned a day with friends. We accompanied our friend Julie for a hike on Dragon’s Back trail, and then we relaxed at Shek O Beach. After that we had a couple more friends over to our flat, where we made dinner and played games.

There was plenty of time to talk to Kristin, but there wasn’t an opportunity where I could get her alone and have a heart-to-heart. Hence, the text message. The ironic part was that soon after I sent the text, Julie found out about it.

We were on the train discussing our dirty flat and apologizing to Julie for its messy state. As we were talking about this, I mentioned that Kristin doesn’t like clutter, but has a high tolerance for germs. Unfortunately, I ranted a little too long about how Kristin needs to keep the bathroom clean. Only a moment later, I hear Kristin blurt, “That’s it! I know what your high expectations are!”

Julie was looking rather confused, so we had to explain my text message questions to Kristin. Since neither of them know about the love dare and since I want to keep it a secret, I had to stand there and look like a weirdo for my seemingly bizarre and random questions. Another day accomplished!

By the way, I did not win at Catan today. I came in a solid third place out of five.

Love Dare – Day 19

Before I get to writing about Day 19, I thought I’d get back to 18 since it was postponed.

DAY 18

I was going to cook for my wife, but we decided to eat out all day instead. Kristin knows that I can definitely cook, but I think the point of the love dare was to have intentional conversation with your spouse so that you learn a little more about one another.

Hong Kong was dark and full of heavy rain most of the day. It was perfect for an inside, date day and a TV show marathon. But first, we settled in at a Starbucks (literally across the street) and chatted. The conversation was so lively that I went through a grande Americano and a blueberry muffin and started in on a second coffee before we even picked up the books we brought. Nice!

We spent the rest of the day together and continued into the night. We really lived it up: take-out sushi for lunch, Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, live music for dessert, and then a long walk home. Although I didn’t cook a meal tonight, it felt quite romantic, and our attention was certainly on one another. Therefore, I will count Day 18 as checked off!

DAY 19

It was not so much a dare, but rather an altar call to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I was a little shocked, but also thought it was cool in its boldness. The reason the book took this tack on the dares was this paragraph:

The hard news is this: love that is able to withstand every pressure is out of your reach, as long as you’re only looking within yourself to find it. You need someone who can give you that kind of love. “Love from God” (1 John 4:7). And only those who have allowed Him into their heart through faith in His Son, Jesus – only those who have received the Spirit of Christ through belief in His death and resurrection – are able to tap into love’s real power. “Apart from me,” Jesus said, “you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

The dare reflect back on the previous dares, and see if I was trying to practice unconditional love on my own accord. However, I am all to aware of my shortcomings, and I know that I desperately need His help!

Day 19 accomplished.

 

A Sojourn to Louisville

My trip to Louisville, Kentucky took longer than expected. There wasn’t a crazy story involved. Rather we simply sat on Hong Kong’s tarmac for 2.5 hours, which caused us to miss our connecting flight and stay overnight in Chicago.

The cool part is that my family made a trip from their home in Rockford just to have dinner with us. I couldn’t believe my mom’s reaction when I called…

“Hi mom, it’s Grant!”
“Oh my dear heavens! What are you doing calling me?”
“So Kristin and I are stuck in Chicago overnight. I know it’s a long shot, but I wanted to let you know that we’re free all night if you want to come visit.”
“Your brother Scott and I can leave in 30 seconds. Is that too soon?”
“Shouldn’t you tell Scott about the visit?”
“I’m sure it won’t be a problem!”

The conversation was a little longer, and I might have exaggerated a bit. And my mom doesn’t actually use the phrase, “Oh my dear heavens!” However, it conveys the way I felt and the fact that my mom was willing to drop everything and drive 1.5 hours each way just for dinner. That’s pretty cool and a sure sign of love.

It kind of reminds me of the father’s reaction in the story of the Prodigal Son. No explanation was needed from the son. No coercion or questioning. The father just dropped everything and made his son feel like the most important person in the world. It was the kind of gesture that few people in the world are capable of demonstrating. [Just to be clear, I’m not necessarily saying I’m like the prodigal son in every way!]

So, mom, if you’re reading this. Thanks for loving Kristin and me. It was well-received 🙂