Monday, April 13, 2009

Gutter Ball Rejoicing

On Saturday, our family went with our PIBC staff/student fellowship group to Andersen Air Force Base for some bowling. We're fortunate because one of the men in our group is retired military so he can get us onto the base. We were disappointed that only three students in our group decided to join in the fun; regardless, we had a blast. Bowling definitely brought out some cultural differences.

Lane One: Comprised of our family: Mother, Father, Christian (17), Katie (12), and Noelle (9). Whenever a ball went into the gutter or only knocked over a few pins, Mother or Father would immediately offer advice and instruction on the proper techniques of bowling and how one might improve the next frame. When most pins were knocked over, you would have heard much praise and encouragement from Mom and Dad. When there was a spare or a strike you would have heard great rejoicing in a manner that would have been approved by Miss Manners. And finally, there was careful attention paid to keeping accurate scores and a definite desire among all participants to know one's score. At the end of the first game, the Sorensons all wanted to play another game to improve on the score in the first game and to compete for the highest score in the second round!

Lane Two: Comprised of three Micronesian students who had only been bowling a couple of times in their lives. (There are no bowling alleys on their islands.) Immediately you would have noticed a most unique way one student had of releasing the ball--sort of a two handed throw (perhaps this was due to her insistence on using a 14 pound ball!) Then you would observe the incredible hoots of laughter and glee when the bowl rolled into the gutter. These hoots, which shook the building, would have definitely been frowned upon by Miss Manners. The level of excitement coming from these students soon resulted in several observers meandering over to observe the goings-on. I think there was more excitement and joy resulting from a gutter ball than a strike. Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of excitement when, to the students' great amazement, a strike was achieved; however, I really don't think the happiness resulting from a strike was any greater than the happiness resulting from a gutter ball. At one point, Karyn wandered over because she noticed that one student had been bowling multiple times in a row. When she asked about this, the response was, "Oh! Sometimes we bowl for each other" (this coming from the student with the lowest score). Often, each student would bowl three times in a row, then the next would do the same, and so-on. Clearly, there was no interest in competing as individuals since there was no real way of keeping score. As is typical in Micronesia, the group was more important than the individual. Without a doubt, the students truly enjoyed their experience of bowling; however, when asked if they wanted to play a second game, they opted for eating in the cafe instead. As unique as bowling is, food is the greatest form of pleasure for a Micronesian, any day!