Missionary: Possible: Preparation Tips from New Testament Heroes

When my cousin's husband announced his book was being published and he needed people to review it, of course I jumped at the chance. Now please know, I am not an automatic lover of all things done by friends and family.  When friends/family invite me to their performances, they know they are going to get my honest opinion - good or bad. Same goes for reading their books. So...

If you follow our blog much, you know I'm not a big fan of Church books. Not that I don't believe in my Church, but my testimony is my own - based upon my studies and my experience. I don't need to strengthen my testimony by reading others opinions of the gospel. 

That being said, I enjoyed this book. I really did. I found myself, many times, thinking - I learned the same thing on my mission. Or, oh yes, missionaries so need to know that. Or, I want the Young Women I serve with to read this. I highlighted parts of the book. WHAT??? True story.  Each chapter has a section for taking notes. Eric asks questions and you have the opportunity to answer them. I answered questions. I took notes.  WHO AM I???

What did I like about the book?

  • There's no beating around the bush with his message. He gives an intro of what he wants you to do while reading. He reminds you as you read. He has a summary at the end of what to do now. There's no softening up the message. Eric speaks the truth. He gives his real life experiences (good and bad.) He says things the way they are.
  • I really like how he chose Paul and the book of Acts as his example of missionary work. There are many other prophets, apostles, and individuals in the scriptures who are dominantly used as examples of missionary work. I liked this change. I like learning more for myself about Paul and others in the book of Acts.
  • This book was written for youth. Throughout the book, there are footnotes - some marking references for quotes, some giving additional commentary, some giving snide commentary. There may be times, if an adult reading the book, where you might think, come on, move past the snideness, this is the gospel... but this is written for youth. I currently serve with the youth. This book speaks their language, which I think is so important. You need to speak on the level of the youth if you want their attention and you want them to learn, all the while presenting the truth of your message, the importance of your message, the seriousness of your message, and the proof that you ARE still an adult and that you ARE teaching them. 

If I hadn't marked it up with personal notes, I'd start passing this around to the Young Women right now. I'm just going to have to get another copy for them to pass around. This is a Church book I will actually recommend.  Good on ya' Eric.

And of course, I made him sign my copy at our recent family reunion.



Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

We read so much about all these groups popping up - religious groups, political groups, cults (and no, I'm not saying any of them have one thing to do with another, so don't go thinking that...)  But I don't hear much about North Korea.  And I wonder why we don't. A while back I read "The Orphan Master's Son".  It is a fictitious story of happenings in North Korea. Nothing to Envy is a true story.  It is accounts of people who grew up in North Korea. How they got out. What happened after they left.

I find it amazing how people fall victim, as they do, to a powerful leader. How, in the case of North Korea, they could believe in their leaders as a god, I find it fascinating that people can have sooo much control.  Yes, you are starving, and, well, I'm putting on weight as I eat what I want. Oh, and hate the Americans - they are evil and never help. Ignore all the black market US goods being sold. We didn't receive them as free aid and now are making a profit even though we know you can't afford it. And, yes, keep working at your job, even though you have not been paid in over a year. I am in awe of their ability to survive.  And then to want to return after escaping to a better place. Just, wow.

I definitely recommend this one. You'll appreciate what you have, if nothing else, after reading.


The Snow child

This book was just "meh" for me. It was an obvious storyline. It sort of dragged. I did listen to the story, reading would have gone much faster and may have helped. But I found myself wanting to stop part way through and start listening to another book on CD in my car. I held out hope that I'd be surprised by the outcome of the story, but I wasn't.

So I didn't dislike it for being a bad story, a poorly written story, an inappropriate story - anything like that. I just didn't care for the story. I just have so many books I'd like to read right now; it is disappointing to finish a story unsatisfied, and wishing I'd read something else instead.


As You Wish: Inconveivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

PLEASE read this book. No, sorry. PLEASE listen to this book. Oh my goodness! I laughed my socks off. The story is full of narrations by most of the cast of the film, The Princess Bride, led by Cary Elwes, aka: Wesley.  I went out and purchased the Princess Bride book and am reading it now. Did you know it isn't an original story? But an abridgement of the history of a real place? And the characters are said to be real people - there's a historical museum full of items from the original, historical, people. Pretty cool!
This book is full of so many fun experiences from the making of the movie. You really get to know the actors who played the different characters.
I will be honest, having not had a great experience with Mandy Patinkin, I sort of cringed at somethings he'd said (or the actor reading his letters said, since he is one of the few to not read his own contributions) because having seen one side of him, I just couldn't imagine the side he was professing to display. But the rest, just awesome sauce!
I'm really excited to finish the "abridged" Princess Bride and then rewatch the movie after listening to this book. Oh, please listen to it. You are sure to love it too.


Yes Please

I'm not going to read every book written by a celebrity. But I've decided that when I do, it is best to listen instead of read, when they rad it themselves. I loved all but the last chapter (only because the last chapter is read to a live audience and I felt that laughter was forced sometimes, and there's always that one person in the audience who wants to have the last audible clap or laugh.)  She's a funny one, Miss Amy Poehler. I've not seen her series Parks and Recreation, but I am adding it to my list of must sees. Guest commentary is great throughout the book as well. Funny, funny!


The Abraham Enigma

The sequel to The Moroni Code, this was our "extra credit reading for May's book club. I liked the "adventure" angle to this book. It was fun to learn about Egypt and the pyramids. The discussion we had was fun because some friends in book club shared their own experience with Egypt. If I can hire a full protection entourage to accompany me, I'd love the opportunity to explore Egypt myself. I'd be OK without the adventure the couple has in this book, but their exploring I'd enjoy.  Honestly, I finished the book in less than two hours, so another quick read- so this would probably be perfect to read on an airplane flight.


The Moroni Code

This was our book club for May.  The author also attended our meeting to discuss his writing.  This was definitely a quick read. The book isn't too long.  As much of the storyline relates to employees of the LDS Church (FYI: I'm an employee of the LDS Church), it was a little weird for me to read. I'd cringe every once in a while when something was mentioned that was implied about employees of the Church, some stereotype.
The author, while working as an editor at Deseret Book was challenged by a coworker to write a book (she, the challenger, was supposed to write one too, but didn't.) He'd played around with writing his own book for a while (he's published a number of collections of the writings of others.) This is his first published piece.
It's a quick read, a book like DaVinci Code (a comparison the author himself makes in the story) where a mystery it to be solved.
The author also disclosed his interest in the translation of the Book of Mormon, which he talks about in the book. That's much of the theme of the book. Translation, code breaking (as mentioned in the title), blackmail.


Reconstructing Amelia

This is the book I really wanted to have us read for book club. I definitely recommend this one. But the reason I didn't was because of the gay storyline. I hope that isn't too much of a spoiler to reveal. I don't think it is though. It is brought into the story pretty early. 
I'm currently working with a group of teenage girls, none of which are gay, but many of which are experiencing bullying in some fashion. Bullying can be a difficult thing to identify.  When trying to discuss with other leaders, a comment was made that if you look for it, you'll find it. Another was made to the effect that they are teenagers, and don't necessarily know better. I don't agree with those comments though.

This book is about a mother searching for the reason behind her daughter's death. She wasn't looking for bullying, but she found it. She learned more of her daughter, and learned of more bullying. Using the excuse that they were just teenagers and didn't know any better? Isn't that why teenagers have parents? To teach them how to behave? How to treat others? Teenagers can be a reflection of their parents. Just as we learn political beliefs from our parents. Religious beliefs. We also learn behavior. As you read the story, and read about the parents behaviors, you can't doubt the behavior of the youth.  You can't help but feel sorry for many, feel encouragement for the characters trying to break from the ill example of their parents, feel sorry for the ones who are too pressured by their friends even when they know they are doing wrong. 
I'm learning how I can help in these situations, situations where youth cannot use the excuse of age for their behavior (remember how young kids are the most caring and friendly? how sad to think it can completely go away in a few years.) I'm learning how to truly teach  unconditional love and acceptance and friendship. 
If you read this book, I'd love to know your thoughts. The situations are definitely different, but what a great discussion could be had per this book.


The Nightingale

I've read a couple Kristin Hannah books, so GoodReads recommended this one to me. I think I need to set about reading her other books this summer. I definitely enjoyed The Nightingale.  A story of courage, of standing up when no one around you supports your ideals. When your country is at war, when your mother is gone and your father doesn't support you and sends you away... a few times - sometimes it is those with the most difficult struggles who become the strongest, the courageous. Being underestimated, for sure, can be an advantage for women, and this story shows. This is one I spent too many late nights finishing, but I'm glad I did.


The Kitchen House

This is another story I considered for my book club month. An eye opener book. It is fictitious, but the author shares much of her research, the true accounts she bases the book's characters and story lines off of. Such a different time.  Such a different attitude. Such a different (and wrong) way to view people.
It is a story of slavery. Unlike many, I can't blame all former slave owners for their  actions. Honestly, many didn't know better. Think of things you grew up with. A simple thing - politics. How many people have based their political beliefs based on what their parents believe. I remember having an argument when I was 11 or 12 with my friend about politics. I don't think either of us really knew what we were arguing. I'd heard my parents talk about their side, she'd heard her parents talk about their side. And we both belong today to the political parties of our parents.  I can't speak for her as we aren't as close as were as kids, but mine have evolved a little as I've had my own experiences and developed my own opinions. But the base remains the same. People in the south, they were raised with slaves, with people doing the work for them. I think it is important to recognize that, while the majority of slaves were black, yes, not all were. It was a society of the wealthy thinking they were better than anyone else, regardless of skin color. No money, no equality. Also, for those serving as slaves. Some wanted freedom, and tried for it. Some wanted freedom, but were to scared to do anything about it. Some found happiness in their lives as they were, and they lived a happy life as they could.
As my friend and I grew up, we started to form our own opinions. In the story, as people grew, as they experienced, depending on that experience, their opinions may have changed. Some for the worse, some for the better, some wanting to make changes, some to scared to make the changes. Again, it is fictitious, but I think it is a powerful story. A story of our history. A story to learn from, and perhaps gain courage from for ourselves and things we may want to overcome or change.