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Through the Outhouse Floor: and other real adventures of missionary life Paperback – April 10, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Barbara Thomas with her husband, called Zaire (now D.R. Congo) ?home? for ten years as they worked with the Komo church to translate the New Testament into the Komo language. Barbara still enjoys books and foreign languages as a librarian for the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics in Dallas, Texas.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (April 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595441750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595441754
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,803,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara Thomas was born in Toledo, Ohio and raised in the adjacent small city of Rossford. Her first exposure to the world beyond her small town were the foreign ships that would dock at Toledo Port to load grain. Education was highly valued in her family and her father, who had worked at a gas station and garage to pay for his college classes, was determined to send all his five children to college, including the three girls. Barbara attended Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio majoring in International Studies. Feeling a call on her life to serve Bibleless people without a written language, she pursued linguistic studies at University of North Dakota where she met her future husband. They were soon on their way to the Komo people of Zaire (now D.R. Congo) where they began to work with the established church to translate the scriptures into the Komo language. Through the Outhouse Floor is a memoir of her years working with her husband and raising two boys in the rainforest. Tortoise and Crocodile and other folktales of the Komo people of the Democratic Republic of Congo is a collection of Komo folktales translated into English. Barbara Thomas now works as a librarian at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics in Dallas, Texas helping to train others to carry on cross-cultural linguistic work.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By William D. Ward on June 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
As I have just spent time in Kenya and Southern Sudan, what Barbara has written really resonated with me. She has confirmed so many things which I have observed firsthand and have heard about for years. Although there have been changes in technology in Africa since she left, the people are the same and many situations have not changed. I think that Barbara Thomas' book could be of great benefit to many people, both those preparing to go to work in Sub-Saharan Africa and those concerned for people living under such conditions. In our Western comfort zone, it is so hard to understand how people cope with the challenges they meet in developing countries such as in Sub-Saharan Africa. Barbara Thomas' stories help us understand these issues.

I heartily recommend this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jon Cheek on December 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Many people think missionaries are saints. Barbara gives you peek under the halo to allow you to discover that missionaries have the same doubts and conflicts the rest of us do. They just hand them over to God quicker.

Anyone interested in the mission field should read this book.

My only criticism is that I wish they had included photographs. But after reading about the hardships endured, it is understandable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jill M. Clark on June 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
A couple weeks ago I needed something for a two and a half hour plane ride and took this book which I'd just acquired a few days before I left. I'm so glad I did! Barbara's story is very readable and she must have a good memory or took very good notes in her journal years ago as the book brings to life the part of Africa in which she and her young family lived and served. I was given a better understanding and appreciation of the work of missionaries as I followed her account of their lives away from the States. It also made me thankful for the many things I take for granted in my daily life -- even the commode! I recommend this book to all who are interested in the mission field -- whether short term or long -- or have a heart for the people of one or more African countries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pennsy on April 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Here's a thought experiment for you.

What if Garrison Keilor and Erma Bombeck had a daughter, married her off to a former Navy Submariner, and sent them both to Africa to translate the Bible into a language that until recently had no written tradition?

You might wind up with a book as honest, compelling, and funny as Through the Outhouse Floor by Barbara Thomas.

In the preface of her charming memoir of a missionary family's life among the Komo people of Zaire, Thomas relates a conversation that informs the tone of all that follows. Soon after her arrival in Africa, she commiserated with a more experienced missionary about the inadequate preparation she had received for the difficulties of her new life. "Why didn't they tell us what it's really like?" The answer was that writing about the daily difficulties and anxieties of life in the mission field had always been considered an unseemly sign of weakness - an admission of human failings among people whose ministry can at times seem something more than human to those of us who choose to stay home in the land of iPods and liposuction. It has not been considered "fashionable" to talk about such mundane details.

Ms. Thomas' writing fills the void with rigorous honesty. She and her husband Paul both discerned a call to mission work early in their lives - before they had even met they wanted to carry the Gospel overseas. Once they were wed, they began the long preparation for work as linguists in Africa - translating the Bible into Komo.

This is a self-portrait without pretense. In their home, a case of Malaria is as common as a head-cold. She and her family are tormented by insects, bullies, international conflicts and local bureaucrats. Privacy seems non-existent.
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