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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: lulu.com (November 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1105296946
  • ISBN-13: 978-1105296949
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I read almost all of this book in one late-night sitting.
Caroline
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is curious about both the good and the bad of Mormon experience.
Rachel
I think that is what made it so grueling, and even unique in my life experiences.
TM

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Caroline on November 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read almost all of this book in one late-night sitting. I got up the next morning and finished it. I was pulled in somewhat by the personal identification I made with it, but mainly because of the crystalline story-telling. It just kept pulling me along, but in such a limpid, natural fashion, that I didn't even realize how late it was. That's for the literary side of it--it's beautifully written.

From a content perspective, the book is one of the few (if not the only) published accounts of missionary experience that I have read that is absolutely spot-on. I was out on my mission to another South American country at the same time John Williams was out. Being an American plopped down (with very little real preparation) into those fragile political situations during the Reagan years is something that I've never seen described. Williams evokes it without making a big deal of it. I was plunged right back into that affect in a really authentic and pure way.

As for the account of being a missionary, it's spot on to the experience. I appreciate that he does not deride or ridicule his former self (which would certainly be easy, twenty-some years later); at the same time, he doesn't sacralize the experience--except to the extent that human relationships and human suffering in and of themselves are holy ground. When I came home from my mission, the imperative (all but unspoken) to only express the "faith-promoting" when telling about the mission experience was a huge burden. When I got home and tried simply to tell the truth about my time on the mission, I was met with active hostility from other members of the church. In some ways, it made me actually lose touch with what was positive about my time in South America.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Thayne R Forbes on October 19, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
John gave a copy of his manuscript a few years ago to get my feedback. I never served a mission, so I wasn't sure what to expect from a book about that experience. I probably expected stories of spiritual witnesses or of young kids doing stupid things to relieve stress. And those are both in there. But there is also the uncomfortable story of a boy trying to serve his church in spite of severe personal hardship, and soldiering on, day after day, to reach his goals. Some of the stories are surprising, some of them are shocking, and every story makes you turn the page to see the next.

If you buy this book, do yourselves a favor, and set aside a whole weekend to read it. You'll need some uninterrupted time.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Carpenter on October 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having served an LDS mission myself, the stories in this book rang very true. My mission (in the United States, not Bolivia) was very different than John's, but I know many former missionaries that served in Latin America and John's stories match theirs.

But, the key to this book is the story of growing from boy to man. From not understanding the language to being fluent. To being lost in a strange land to being at home with people he didn't even know existed two years earlier.

Additionally, it was a fun, light read. I never felt bogged down and every time I said, "I'll take a break at the end of this chapter," I was pulled into the next chapter by the narrative.

Thank you, John for sharing your personal experiences with us all. Well worth the time to read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on November 2, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book to be a very well-written book chronicling the author's years as a Mormon missionary in Bolivia. Williams manages to pull off the difficult task of conveying the events and emotions that he experienced as a young man without coming across as overly sentimental or overly judgmental. He details the struggles, the frustrations, and the joys of serving a mission in a way that I have rarely seen. I have had three siblings serve missions --- one in the Spanish-speaking ward of Santa Ana, California; one in the San Pablo region of the Philippines; and the other in the Sao Paulo region of Brazil. Although they speak about their mission experiences, I have only seen glimpses of the rougher times; for the most part, my siblings prefer to gloss over the rougher patches by theorizing about a higher purpose. Rather than try and affix a meaning to what he experienced, Williams respects the reader enough to let them make up his/her own mind.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is curious about both the good and the bad of Mormon experience.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By TM on April 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For a normally verbose person, oddly I don't have adequate words to describe my reaction to this book. But I'm going to try, awkwardly.

My mission was, bar none, the most difficult experience of my life. And, at various times, I've had a lot of challenges in life. I was in a horrific marriage for 15 years, the victim of a near constant onslaught of verbal and emotional abuse. I've been through very serious health challenges with each of my three children. I'm now helping to raise my son's daughter after his marriage collapsed and he got primary custody of the baby. I'm not listing these things in the expectation that these experiences made my life harder than anyone else's, because I think we all face our challenges, make serious mistakes, and grieve. I'm listing these things to no one suspects that my overall life must be really easy, if I view my mission as the most difficult thing I've ever experienced.

No. The fact is that missions are really, really hard.

The difference between these life challenges and a mission was that, in some ways, I could, at least momentarily, escape some of these problems, even if it was just by going to work every day. I had another life, a different life, outside of the sometimes all-consuming problems of the day.

There was no such escape as a missionary. I think that is what made it so grueling, and even unique in my life experiences.

My mission was different than John's. I served in southern France, the Toulouse mission, which has gone in and out of existence since then. I had running water, no parasites or huge spiders. But I also had next to no baptisms, like every other missionary there. I knocked on doors for the bulk of my mission. Most of those doors were rudely slammed in my face.
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