Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Book Review: Eighteen Months

Foreword (as if I'm writing a real book):

This book is written by a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints about the experiences of women missionaries for the church. If you are not a member of this church, I would still recommend Eighteen Months, mostly to women, because you will still appreciate the issues of relationships, faith, and love. If you have questions about the Mormon church, check out Mormon.org.

I bought Eighteen Months: Sister Missionaries in the Latter Days at Seagull Books, at a special event, and my copy is signed by the author, Melissa Baird Carpenter. She is my sister-in-law and goes by Missy most of the time. Missy has a Masters in English, is a talented writer, and has always wanted to put together a collection of essays by sister missionaries. Last fall her book came out and it is wonderful! It will get you all fired up and you might even decide to serve a mission yourself. You can see how it would be perfect for prospective missionaries, but I was so inspired I'm thinking about opening up a savings account for Aaron & I to serve a mission when we retire.

I loved reading the variety of stories from sisters who served all over the world. You get stories from South America, Europe, Asia, and the US. It's like mini-slices of the world's cultural pie. Another thing I liked about Eighteen months is that it doesn't sugar-coat missionary work. You see all the exhausting hard work. You feel the emotional toil and heartbreak as these sisters pour out their souls to the Lord in prayer. There are great stories of investigators who change their lives and get baptized and there are great stories about dissapointments and people who aren't ready for the gospel of Christ. But you are hooked by the stories either way.

The essay titled, Being Sister Frandsen, by Rosalynde Frandsen Welch is one off the most well-written pieces I've ever read, although not quite as compelling to me because I was distracted by her beautiful prose, and by all of the big words I didn't understand.

I enjoyed The Bold Rooster and Four Months on the Island of Terceira for their cultural views, and for their stories of sharing the gospel even when people are not receptive.

When I got to Missy's essay, I thought it would be a story I had heard before. But I learned so much. Her relationship with her Guatamalan companion, Hermana Mildred Tejada, was formed in the early days of her mission and has lasted to this day. They haven't seen each other, despite Missy's attempt to attend her friend's wedding. Turns out you shouldn't travel to a foreign country when you are eight months pregnant! But time and distance can't dimish bonds formed in the mission field. And now, my sweet, 5-month old neice is named Milly, after Missy's treasured companion and friend. It was wonderful to hear some of the experiences that helped to form this life-long relationship.

I thoroughly enjoyed Eighteen Months: Sister Missionaries in the Latter Days and would recommend it to anyone who follows the Gospel of Jesus Christ and wants to share that message with the world around them.


Jennie said...

Sounds very interesting, I have always admired women (and men) who serve by being missionaries. Thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Should you happen to be chatting with your SIL, you could always mention your friend who reviews LDS books on her widely-read book blog ... hint, hint :)

Lindsay said...

That sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks for sharing what is on your nightstand :-)

Michele said...

This sounds like a a really great book! My husband did not go on a mission and he and I have talked about also serving after we retire. Thanks for posting about this!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Ha! liked the foreword/disclosure.

Sounds like an interesting book. As a non-Mormon, I don't think much about the women missionaries -- one always pictures the boys dressed in black pants and white shirts -- so it would probably be quite interesting!