Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review

Not long ago, my missionary team decided to do a book club and use this book.
Screams in the Desert by Sue Eenigenburg
In case you are wondering, book clubs and missionary life do not co-exist.  We planned a meeting to talk about when we could meet.  Three out of ten of us showed up and in the end we decided that none of us had time to read a book, much less discuss it.  The coffee time was fun though!

But, here I was with this book lying around my house.  It was exactly the kind of book I never read.  Non-fiction.  Give me stories!  I will devour stories!  Give me something that is supposed to improve the way I do laundry, cook, and carry tea at the same time, and I will let it get moldy (Loja, Ecuador is a very wet place).

At some point while we were on the field my soul took a nose dive.  I know I don't have to explain this in depth, you all have been there.  I shared the gospel and received blank looks. I took a language test and failed.  I made a budget and we had two hospital visits in a month.  We faced an upcoming loss of 50% of our support.  Our local church was critical, fellow missionaries were critical, even God's Word had become acid laced criticism.  Have you ever noticed how in those LOW lows, that nothing at all seems to be encouraging?  Not even encouragement?  That was where I was at.

On top of that, my Kindle broke.  Then the Kindle app on my computer broke. Life couldn't get harder.

The only book I had left in my house to read was that book study book that was getting a little mildewed around the edges.  I read for escape.  How could I escape if all I had to read was a book about missionary life?????
Well, if the book is written with humor, encouragement, and God's Word, it might not help you escape your circumstances, but it might just pull your soul from the "depths of despair" (I love Anne of Green Gables, and no one ever said it better) and into walking again in God's love and grace.

Screams in the Desert by Sue Eenigenburg is not going to go down in missionary history as being great Christian literature.  It wasn't written with that purpose.  The language is simple, the word pictures are also simple.  The lessons that Mrs. Eenigenburg pulls from Scripture are not complicated.  She is not CS Lewis.

But she is a mom.  She has lived our lives.  She learned a new language, walked the streets as the only tall white woman, she went shopping in stores that only sold rice and chickens with the head still on.  And she did it all with her young children in tow.

On top of that, she did it all with a sense of humor that she passes on through her story telling.  She knows exactly what a mom whose soul has taken a soul-dive needs.  Humor and God's Word.  The balm for soul weariness.

Screams in the Desert is written as a devotional book, and that is how I use it.  Each morning (or whenever I have a moment to sit down) I spend ten minutes reading the short (mostly humorous) story and the scripture that goes along with it.  The guided prayers at the end of the chapters are also beautifully written and often help me when all the words I might have are just... gone.

In my opinion, this book is worth the price just for chapter 18.  "Little shoe in a big city".  But there are 51 other chapters in the book to give you a weekly years worth of encouragement from God and from a woman who knows where we have been and what we might be feeling like.

My one word of warning is to read the book with you favorite Bible translation by your side.  The passages are printed in the book using "The Message".

It's your turn now.  Have you read Screams in the Desert? If so, what did you think of it?  If you had to share a story/experience from your life that would encourage a weary missionary mom's soul, what would it be?


  1. Ahhh!! I found this book in a free pile at our language school this last year! And your right, she doesn't scrape the heavens with grand insight, but it's down to earth and helpful! Just knowing you aren't the only one dealing with some of these things! And my! I hope you've been able to fix your kindle!!! And yes, I hear you about the mold:)

  2. Never read it, but it sounds good! I just added it to my Amazon wish list... thanks for the suggestion!

  3. I have it on my shelf, but have yet to read it. Good reminder to get it out when we get back from our short trip to the States!

  4. Ironically I just randomly came across this book and started reading it about two weeks ago! I agree with everyone else that it isn't anything earth shattering, but it is just nice to relate to someone on the normal day to day things and to get a good laugh out of the circumstances of overseas life! And I totally agree with you Becka about the translation. I wish she would have used an actual translation rather than a paraphrase. Also, I think the questions at the end of the chapters are quite good. They make you think through how you're doing in so many different areas and help you recognize areas to address or pray about in order to move to greater health on the mission field.