Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Adventures Under the Mango Tree

I'm a sucker for the story of the person who gives up their American life and trades it in for a life of service. I read Kisses from Katie on my way to Ethiopia and I read No Greater Love after coming back. I grew up on the stories of Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong and Corrie Ten Boom (which isn't the same thing, but talk about your self sacrifice). So I was very excited to be asked to review Adventures Under the Mango Tree by Lilian Ann Klepp.

Back Cover Copy
Hearing the tremendous needs of orphans in Sudan, an ordinary woman in Wisconsin prayed, "Lord, what can I do?" His answer was life altering!

"Sell all you have and give it to the poor," He said. Acting in faith and with a heavy burden for orphans, author Lillian Klepp and her husband, Dennis, sold everything they had and moved to war-torn Yei, Sudan. There they opened Harvesters Orphanage and Christian School in a place ranked worst in the world for women and children's well-being. Together, in the midst of a civil war, they battle chronic malnutrition, poor schooling, cancer, malaria, and poverty.
Adventures Under the Mango Tree is Lillian's journal of touching stories with heartwarming photographs of the precious orphans they help, the dedicated people who love them, and the often life-threatening struggles they face together.

When I accepted this review, I was in need of inspiration. I needed the reminder that laying down one's life is a calling. Something. It's no secret that I've been in a dark place, but books like this typically pull me out of them, at least for a bit.

That said, I think I read it for the wrong purpose. I wasn't particularly inspired. Maybe a little terrified. My take-away message was ....yep, it's hard and it gets harder and there are moments of joy, but mostly it's hard.

Tell me about it.

I don't doubt the hearts of these people and I fully believe their stories are inspiring to them and their experiences very real, they just didn't translate to the page. Analyzing it as a writer, I think this was a case of telling more than showing (as opposed to the adage "Show, don't tell."). Analyzing it as a super-tired adoptive mother, it may be a case of I may not have rebel armies coming at me, but my service is hard, too. And it may just be that I wanted to finish the book and feel like it was time to move to Ethiopia to help the moms keep their kids. And I didn't. It may read better for the non-jaded. I hope it does. It just didn't do much for me.

Edited to add: And then my daughter comes to me talking about the compound she wants to build and what do I hand her? This book. 

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