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