Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Conversations with the Church Kids

Throughout my year in Palau I have had many enlightening conversations with the Palauan teenagers at church. I've written them down as they've happened with the intention of sharing some of them with you one day. Below is a sampling of a few of my favorites.

One note: Everything the kids said in these conversations was said seriously---straight-faced and without any sarcasm.


(14 and 18 year-old boys)

Boy 1: Brother Eli, I have something very important to tell you today.

Eli: Ok. Should I be sitting down for this?

Boy 1: You are sitting down. You are driving a car.

Eli: I know. It's a figure of . . . never mind. What's up?

Boy 1: There is a seventh grader at my school and she is now becoming PREGNANT!

Eli: WHAT?!

Boy 1: She will have a baby and I don't even know how many!

Eli: Wait, she's going to be pregnant or she is pregnant now?

Boy 1: She is pregnant and will be having a baby in not very long.

Eli: And she's, what, twelve years old?

Boy 1: Yes.

Eli: That's terrible. What do you think about that?

Boy 1: Well I think it will be hurting a lot to have a baby and I'm going to be nice to her because she probably has a hard life now.

Eli: Well that's a really good perspective.

Boy 2: Brother Eli, is it even possible to be getting pregnant when you are only twelve years old?

Eli: Apparently, yes.

Boy 2: How is a girl's body able to be getting pregnant?

Eli: Do I look like someone who knows the answer to that question?


(14-year-old boy)

Boy 1: One time I was in Hawaii and my older brother was looking at ALL the ladies.

Eli: You don't say?

Boy 1: But I was not because I was only 9 years old so I didn't like the ladies. But the ladies really liked me. I didn't start liking the ladies until I was maybe 14.

Eli: Didn't you just turn 14?

Boy 1: Yes.


(8-year-old boy; my first Sunday in Palau)

Boy: What's your name?

Eli: Eli.

Boy: Are you a lawyer?

Eli: Yes. How did you know?

Boy: Because you're wearing shoes.


(14-year-old boy)

Boy: Brother Eli, I asked this girl to be my girlfriend for all of the whole week.

Eli: Oh? What did she say?

Boy: She said that she is having to give no because she already has two boyfriends this week.

Eli: Oh, I'm sorry buddy. How are you holding up?

Boy: My whole entire life is shattered and I don't think my heart will go on.

Eli: Celine Dion called; wants her lyrics back!

[Boy staring]

Eli: I'm sorry. This is no time to joke.


(14-year-old girl)

Girl: Brother Eli, did you know that I had a boyfriend last week and we were hot topic for the whole week!

Eli: Wow. I did not know that. What happened?

Girl: We had to break up because we just have all of the different opinions.

Eli: Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that. 

Girl: It's ok. He is my first cousin.


(14-year-old boy)

Boy: Brother Eli, did you know that at my school my teacher made fun of me in front of my whole class because I'm a Mormon?

Eli: Really? How did that make you feel?

Boy: Well at first I started crying but then I remembered that she has really black teeth so then I started laughing.


(11-year-old girl)

Girl: Brother Eli, how many babies do you have?

Eli: Huh? Zero. I have zero babies.

Girl: You don't even have any children AT ALL?!

Eli: No! You see me almost every day. Have you ever seen me hauling around a bunch of babies?

Girl: I just thought that maybe you had children but then you gave them all away because you do not have a wife and you can't take care of them.

Eli: What would make you think I had any kids in the first place?

Girl: Because you're just getting really old.



(14-year-old boy)

Boy: Brother Eli, is it really true that you are leaving us this week?

Eli: It is really true.

Boy: Why are you leaving? Is it because it is too hot?

Eli: Basically, yeah.

Boy: [suddenly teary-eyed] . . . do you think you will remember who I am even after you are not here?

Eli: Of course I will.

Boy: . . . will you promise to be writing all of the time to us?

Eli: Absolutely. 

Boy: . . . will you also pray for my dad even when you are in the U.S. that he will be comfortable? [his dad has terminal cancer]

Eli: Every day.

Boy: I'm going to miss you because you are like my big brother but you have really white skin.

Eli: [choking back tears] Yup . . . me too, pal.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Awww that's the sweetest!

    and yes, I can confirm you know someone is a lawyer if they are wearing shoes.

    1. and especially if they are tassled loafers.

  2. There you go again, making me laugh and then cry. You were so smart to record those conversations. Those kids are going to love hearing from Brother Eli, but I bet you'll love hearing from them even more.

  3. Laughed like a maniac and then burst into tears. Why must you do this to me? The people in this cafe probably think I'm unstable.

  4. These kids are the best! And don't worry, you still have tons and tons of time to have bunches of babies! Being male you have your whole intire life! Maybe you're just waiting for puberty, and I bet that's right around the corner! FINGERS CROSSED!

  5. So, I just looked down! Guess I'm a lawyer too!?! Darn!

  6. This is one of my favorite things you have ever posted. I'm so going to miss hearing about those kids! They sound wonderful!

  7. Culture shock coming up - kids here aren't that innocent when they're 5!

  8. Dear Eli. I am half-Tongan raised in the lower 48 by a bunch of crazy-eyed white people. I didn't meet my Dad(the Tongan half of me) til I was 24 because he had been called away on a super secret mission for President Carter and was locked in an underground hatch on a magical tropical island. Every 108 minutes he would type a super secret code into an brady bunch era cash register and push a button so that the world wouldn't explode. You're welcome btw. SO I always wondered what it would be like to live in Tonga if I moved there today, because I'm brown on the outside but crazy-white-girl on the inside. This Palau experience you've had has given me a bit of a window into that. Thanks for sharing with the rest of the class. PS.. I wonder what Daniel is doing right now.

  9. Hilarious and touching. Those kids have so much faith and so many misconceptions! I'm sure you've been a fantastic leader to them and they will miss you a lot! Also, the kids in the US say equally ridiculous stuff, so if you get another calling to work with them you'll still be fueled with plenty of material, however they probably will read your blog, big ruiners.

  10. That is adorable. Last week end, I was trying to entertain this kid that was sitting next to me on the plane and also travelling alone. I suggested plying tic-tac-toe, to which he gave me a demeaning stare and showed me how I could play on my phone so I would stop bugging him.

  11. But then I remembered her teeth were black so I started laughing.....and I did too!

  12. Don't you just want to pack them all up and take them home with you?

  13. Let your boy know that there are people who read about him and are praying for his dad too. I just did.

  14. Oh how sweet. You are one lucky guy. I wish I had an opportunity to do what you did. Good luck.

  15. I want to marry you. You have such a sweet heart and endearing nature. I'm Baptist but I can convert to Mormon. ;) Keep up all the excellent work. You are a joy to read. And I am so glad that someone out there is making me believe in humanity again.