On Saturday the long awaited Mormon Youth Conference occurred. Last week I asked you all for some ideas for what to do with the kids and you were extremely helpful. So, thank you for that! I've already had a couple of friends in the U.S. mention that they raided the comments of that post for ideas for their own youth activities they are putting together this summer. And now those friends are probably stalking you and worshiping pictures of you asleep in bed. YOU'RE WELCOME.
We gathered the twenty plus teenagers at the dock in the morning and boated off to an island that has a small WWII German lighthouse at the very top of it. It was a one mile or so hike through thick jungle before we got there.

Afterwards, we took the boat to another island with a long white sandbar beach jutting out from a small jungle cove where we had a giant barbecue and played in the water for the rest of the day.

All was fine until I was invited threatened by a child with a machete to take a bite out of this DISGUSTING clam.

I'm pretty sure I now know what it feels like to chew on someone else's salty lips. SPOILER ALERT: it's not pleasant.

Despite eating human flesh, I honestly could not have asked for a better day. Our main goal was to come back with as many teenagers as we started with (and preferably the same teenagers). And I'm proud to say that we absolutely met expectations!

The main reason this day went so well is because, despite any other jokes I've made about them, these kids are remarkably wonderful people. They all pitch in without being asked and without complaining. When we got to the island, they hopped out, formed a line, and unloaded the boat before doing anything else. Then a few of the kids took over barbecuing and getting the food set out. They cleaned everything up without being asked, too. And they did all of this while laughing and playing and including each other.

When I compare them with myself when I was their age, it's sort of embarrassing. Partly because if I had tried to barbecue something when I was 14, that island would be considered a "crime scene" by the end of the day. But also because I think my adolescence was probably much more strewn with whining.

We gave a couple of the kids rides home when it was all over. One of the 16-year-old girls was in the back seat of the Stormtrooper and Daniel told her how impressed he was with how helpful and well-behaved Palauan kids typically seem to be. She said, like it wasn't a big deal, "uh-oi. That's because in Palau we're just one big family and everybody learns when they're really young that we all need to pitch in and help each other."

It was adorable. And once again I had confirmed that the biggest thing I'm going to miss about Palau is getting to interact with these kids.

Then Daniel and I got home and argued for thirty minutes about who had to take the garbage out and face Leotrix.

~It Just Gets Stranger