Monday, August 4, 2008

8-5-08 YSA Wrap-up

YSA Wrap-up
I had this article finished two days ago and the darn internet quite as I was saving and I lost the whole thing. I was so disgusted that I couldn't even think about trying to rewrite it that night. Here is another try at it.

The YSA conference had a costume dance on Friday night and it brought out some interesting dudes. There were ethnic costumes, lot of Hawaiian shirts and paper leis, and an assortment of other stuff that I would not have imagined.

One young man even brought an extra costume for someone else to wear and ended up giving it to one of the senior elders. It was his grandfather's riding outfit. He retired as a general in the Soviet army and this looked great on elder Palmer who was in our class at the MTC and is serving in the Yekaterinburg mission.

During the evening there were several specialty numbers from different groups. Two groups sang, two did special dances, and one young lady did a Mongolian dance. They did line dances, grand marches, the usual circle dances, and even did the limbo. It felt like a 1950's sock-hop in the gym without the bunnyhop or the hokey-pokey. They had so much fun that it was easy to forget that most of them didn't know people outside their own city before they came. The unity and camaraderie was phenomenal.

On Saturday they had field games that focused on water balloons. There was water balloon volleyball, "water balloon egg-toss", and just plain water fights. After displaying my left-curve slider and high suspension Frisbee technique, I was invited to join an Ultimate Frisbee game. Remember, I am in missionary dress (white shirt, suit pants, and tie) and trying to keep some semblance of dignity in this whole thing.

Everything went well until the score got close. At one point I was in the clear and a teammate flipped the Frisbee to me a little high. I stretched myself to my full (now) 5' 8 1/2" (I used to be 5'10") and jumped with all the force my 65 year old legs could manage (about 3 inches) and almost had it when a 6'4+ 20-something guy who was taking this game waaay too seriously crashed into me and took it right out of my hands; well, I almost had it in my hand.

At that point I demonstrated my safety roll technique, tucked my left shoulder under and rolled to a stop on the very uneven turf. After he scored, he graciously came back to give me a hand up from my still horizontal position, looking up at the sky without the Frisbee. What a sport.

Later in the day, after the talent show (more like a series of boy scout skits) they showed a slide show composed of pictures taken by various participants. I was enjoying the show until I saw THE picture. It was of an athletic 20-something stretching to catch the Frisbee with a somewhat chunky white-shirted player was suspended in air at his knees, about 2 feet off the ground. There was no head to the nameless player in the picture, but I knew it was me, demonstrating my prowess on the field and my famous safety roll that nearly cost me a trip to the hospital.

I don't think I actually broke the rib, but I definitely bruised it along with several of its fellows. I got up smiling and said, "Nice catch" when I could catch my breath, and found that I had a previous commitment and left the field of honor, holding my breath to reduce the pain. I think my Ultimate Frisbee days have gone the same place as my snow-board days; over the hill. Without a doubt, these 65 year-old muscles are not holding these 65 year old bones together tightly enough to endure much more of that. I am better now after almost 10 days. I can even tie my shoes without holding my breath.

The conference ended with a "Romantic Dance" on Saturday night, complete with dance cards. More specialty number, line dancing, and even a conga line with the the girls dressed in many of the most elaborate dresses I've seen short of the junior ball. They were beautiful.

Sunday brought a Sacrament Meeting and Testimony Meeting that lasted 2 hours+. The Holy Ghost was strongly manifested in that auditorium and I was impressed with the depth of commitment from these young people, many of whom were members of only a few months. These are truly exceptional, honest, spiritual young people and I was grateful to have been there.

What a country.

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