Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Review - "Peculiar in a Good Way" by Mary Ellen Edmunds

Mary Ellen Edmunds (a.k.a. MEE) is one of my favorites!

I LOVE the way she teaches the gospel so simply, and yet so full on truth and real life!!

In her book, Peculiar in a Good Way, she writes of different ways that we, as Latter-day Saints are uncommon and different from the rest of the world.

Some of the chapters in this book are entitled: “Can You Cook?” “Extreme Makeovers” and “Follow the Prophet.”

Sister Edmunds shares gospel doctrine and personal experiences so delightfully that you cannot read the book without laughing – at least twice – in every chapter!

What I loved most about this book is her ability to explore our peculiarity and then happily invite us to do even better!

Above all, I love that she comes across REAL, as you and me, with a whole lot of terrific insights about wonderful, everyday stuff!

I share one of her personal experiences that I really loved:

“When I was first a missionary, I went as far from home as I could without staring back. It was about 10,000 miles from Utah to Hong Kong. After spending a few days with President and Sister Taylor at the mission headquarters, I was assigned to Taiwan, a zone of the Southern Far East Mission.

“I arrive not knowing any Mandarin. I had spent a week in the Missionary Home in Salt Lake City, but although that was a fantastic experience, there was no language instruction.

“Mandarin did not sound like a language to me. It was like little bursts of noise, and each noise had a tone, and it was all new and strange to my ear. If was as if the people, including little children (who would really show off!), were singing a strange, unrecognizable song.

“Slowly but surely I began to learn how to get the right tone on some of these “noises.” Like many missionaries, I unconsciously nodded or bobbed my head to try to emphasize which tone I meant. If you saw a video of those early efforts, I think you would laugh. Or cry.

“Gradually I could say hello to people and understand a smattering of words. I even learned a little song from the children, only to learn later that I was singing I was a monkey, swinging from tree and eating bananas. Oh well . . . it seemed to entertain them.

“One of the first long tings we were to learn was how to tell of Joseph Smith’s experience in the spring of 1820. Each morning, my companion, Jan Bair, and I would ride our bikes to the outskirts of Tainan and she would help me go over and over this “Joseph Smith Story,” memorizing and improving it little by little.

“And then one day she said, ‘You’re ready.’ Oh! I actually didn’t want to be ready! It meant she expected me to share it with someone!’

“I admit it was hard not to pray that no one would let us in their home on the beautiful day in November. And it was hard not to pray that even if someone answered the door, they’d tell us to go away.

“Eventually we were in the home of Sister Lin, and she wanted us to teach her. Sister Bair began, and I did my best to put the right Chinese words on the flannel board (THERE’S an indication of how long ago this was – it was 1962). I couldn’t read any of the words on the flannel strips, but I had written on the back what went where, and when, I even had arrows so I wouldn’t get them upside down.

“At some point it became very quiet in Sister Lin’s small living room, and Sister Bair was smiling at me. It was time.

“In that terrifying instant, a realization came into my heart. At that moment in my life, all I could do was the best I could do.

“And so I began to say my little noises the best I could, likely bobbing my head around ever so slightly as I went along.

“Here was the miracle: the Holy Ghost was able to take me little noises over to Sister Lin, and they entered her ears, her mind, and her heart, she heard: A young boy named Joseph Smith went to a grove of trees to pray, and the Father and the Son appeared to him . . .

“Can you imagine my feelings? Can you imagine the joy and wonder of it all! All I could do was the best I could do, and that was what He was asking.”

Mary Ellen Edmunds, Peculiar in a Good Way, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006.

Other books I have read and LOVED by Sister Edmunds and that I HIGHLY recommend:
Love is a Verb
Thoughts for a Bad Hair Day
You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don’t Need: The Quest for Contentment

1 comment:

  1. Ooo. Another good one is "MEE Speaks".
    I will have to get a copy of the one you posted.
    Looks wonderful!