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Heaven Up Here Paperback – November 28, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
If you buy this book, do yourselves a favor, and set aside a whole weekend to read it. You'll need some uninterrupted time.
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.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is curious about both the good and the bad of Mormon experience.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic mission memoir. Perhaps one of the most honest books about missionary work I've ever read. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jon B
A clear-eyed guide to the everyday life of a Mormon missionary, based on a diary kept at the time and kept honest by the writer's sharp sensibility.Published 9 months ago by Myron Jenkins
One missionary's experience depicting his 2 years in Bolivia in the mid 1980's. This is his personal experience. A good description of the missionary experience in South America.Published on March 14, 2014 by NW Reader
You had to have been there (or pretty much any S. American mission) to fully get this. It brought back a flood of memories. This guy does not exaggerate. This is really how it was.Published on January 24, 2014 by Greig Locker
Amazing book. The back of it tells what it really is. It doesn't tear down the mission experience. It doesn't glorify it in an unrealistic light (*cough*Eye of the Storm*)... Read morePublished on August 18, 2013 by Brittney Cramer
A must read for anyone who wants to know what the LDS missionary experience is like in a 3rd world country. Read morePublished on August 15, 2013 by Jabberwock
I served the same time as John in Bolivia and "Heaven Up Here" took me back to Bolivia - the highs and lows. Read morePublished on June 5, 2013 by Mark Parratt
Having served as a welfare missionary in Bolivia right after this author, this book brought back a lot of memories. Read morePublished on January 19, 2013 by Sci-Fi Fan
The author should be happy to know that "Heaven Up Here" has the honor of being the first purchase to be loaded onto my new Christmas Kindle. Read morePublished on December 27, 2012 by mattinak