I write this from the bus in the process of bringing me and my companion to the northmost point of France, right on the Belgium border.
Hello everybody! How has your week been? Who even bother to reads the generic greeting anyways? It has been a little while since I have wrote to everyone and I apologize!
This last Tuesday we didn't have much of anything planned so the day was largely spent talking to people in the downtown region of Dunkerque. Don't let the usage of downtown deceive you into thinking it a bustling metropolis- it is just the location with the highest concentration of people. And as much as I love these strange Dunkerquoise and really love sharing what I have to share with them... after a whole day the notion of halting strangers in the streets loses some of it charm. With the few hours left of the day we took a brief peach-filled break and then went back to talking. Then I bumped into F. in all his floral-printed glory. He has the look you would expect from a high school ceramics teacher who was a big fan of the 60's. Though a very clean and proper version of that guy. So I flag him down and introduce myself as an American who is taking two years to his life to share the things that have changed his life. He recognizes and asks me if I am one of the "Mormons". I responded with a yes and started explaining that we were probably not who he thought we were. His gray ponytail nodded a few times and he excitedly explained that he had already read the book and loved it. I clarify that he was actually talking about the Book of Mormon for which we are named.
And there I felt quite an unusual feeling. Like when you run into someone who loves the same obscure movie as you, only 10 times stronger. It was that feeling, that bond I made with a ponytail sporting Frenchman on the street over our mutual appreciation of a book, that inspired me to write a little about books. And that book in particular!
My dad recognized the value of reading and in an effort to instill a love of literature in his kids, he resorted to blatant bribery. After normal efforts to encourage us to read failed his inner attorney kicked in and he created a point-reward system. One of his children would read a book then report back. After passing the quiz thrown together by a skim of the Wikipedia plot summary we got some points. The points were redeemable in exchange for clothes, food, shelter, fatherly affection, and other basic needs. [I joke]. More importantly we could also earn real prizes! Like cash, or games, or toys, etc... At one point I was 'making bank' (as the kids say) off of my voracious appetite for books. I lost myself in all kinds of fantasy worlds. Brian Jacques whispered me away to medieval abbeys populated by mice and badgers. Anthony Horowitz entertained adolescent me with poorly written teenage spy fiction. Orson Scott Card (before he went a little too banana nut balls on us) exploded Ella Enchanted was as enchanting as the name implied. J.K Rowling marked me and my whole generation. The stories and thoughts and questions that books have brought me have really shaped who I am today.
And one of those very special books would be The Book of Mormon. My grandfather (And I only have two of those so it is already pretty special) gave me this book when I was 8. I did not really read it at the time because I was 8 and had important 8 year old things to do. Like those other books I mentioned it has made me think, made me ask questions, imagine, wonder, wish, not understand, and think about the author(s). Though in a different way than other pieces of literature. This book has answered many of the biggest questions I could ever pose: why I am here? Is there something after? Who is this Jesus guy everyone talks about? What will really make me happy? This book doesn't always have the most exciting plot, nor the most relatable events, nor the slickest cover. Though this book has made me feel something that no other book has or ever will. And that is coming from someone who used to be paid by his father to read. That is coming from someone who adores books. Someone who thinks they are the best thing ever. And during some 7000 hours of inviting people to read this book I have really come to understand just how important this book can be. So I testify of the importance of this book to everybody. What it means to me and what it can mean to you as well. Book of Mormon: Definitely a must-read.
Cliffhanger resolution: F. invited us to his house where we spent an agreeable 30 minutes together! He decided that he would reread the book and really think about what we told him. And we will see him sometime later this week.
See you next week friends!