My First Book is Out!

My first book is finally out!!! It’s taken about five years to write, revise, cleanup, format, edit, and publish, but Giraffe Tracks is available as of today! I’ll have it on its own webpage soon, but the webpage isn’t ready yet, so for now I’m linking to straight the store from my blog.

So far, it’s available in:

Softbound book

Hardbound book

PDF download

Kindle book

or you can Read a Sample

I was hoping to release the audio book at the same time as the book release, but couldn’t have it ready in time.

If there is a format that you would want to buy it in that is not listed above, let me know. I’d like people to be able to buy it in whatever format they want, even if it’s .doc, .jpg or even .mov (that would be interesting). If you’re willing to buy it in a certain format, I’ll make it in that format and sell it at the same price as any digital text format.

I’m publishing it through Willowrise Press, which is my family’s independent publishing company.

Anyway, please buy it!

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book, so you can get an idea what it’s about:

By the late 1990’s, South Africa was in the midst of heavy political and social turmoil. With the ending of Apartheid in 1994, which was a legalized system of racial segregation which heavily curtailed the rights of the black population, the country was left in a dangerously challenging situation. The white population, who had enjoyed relative wealth, government protection, and exclusive employment opportunities, were now forced to share those resources with the massive majority population of native black Africans.

Native Africans, who had been socially, economically, and physically oppressed for centuries, were now allowed to leave their reservation-like townships and come into the cities and suburbs. Having been held back for so long, black Africans continued to experience severe poverty. As new opportunities were thrown at them, poverty-driven crime rose to a frightening level, leaving sour feelings in the hearts of the country’s general population. It became a time of anger, reunion, bitter feelings, fear, and hope.

Giraffe Tracks is the true story of an LDS missionary serving in the Johannesburg, South Africa Mission only a few years after the ending of Apartheid. Using compelling stories, humor, and spiritual insight, the story demonstrates that even in a land overflowing with crime, poverty, and racial hatred, peace and joy can be found through the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the powers of evil shake the foundations of human society, the truth and light carried in the testimonies of the Lord’s missionaries can change hearts, heal minds, and turn fear and hatred into faith and love.

Missionary Work

On this blog, I occasionally share aspects of my faith, and I try to word things so that what I say will make sense to a general Christian audience. For this entry, however, I would like to speak specifically to members of the church. I do hope that those of you who aren’t members of the church will read in order to understand why we do so much missionary work.

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, and as most people know, we are a very missionary-oriented church. We share our faith constantly. A friend sent me a Facebook message explaining that they were giving a talk in church on Sunday about missionary work, and sent these five questions to friends for their input. I’m sure mine was longer than it should have been, but this is a subject I am very passionate about, though it’s also the gospel principle that I struggle with more than any other.

Here are the questions:

1.What is missionary work?

2.Why are we as members so afraid of sharing the gospel?

3.What is a ‘member missionary’?

4.What can we do as individuals to be better missionaries?

5.What does visiting teaching have to do with all of this?
Here are my answers:

1.When we truly care about a person, our greatest desire is to help that person know the truths that will bring them the greatest happiness. The truths that will bring them the greatest happiness are the truths of God, Jesus Christ, and their plan for our eternal progression. We are God’s children, and the gospel is the way for us to become like Him and live as He lives.

2.For me personally, I think my biggest fear in sharing the gospel is that I will somehow come across as self-righteous, as if I think myself somehow beyond the person I am speaking to. I don’t want people to think that I am some religious fanatic. Especially among friends or co-workers, I would hate to have them think that I think myself better than them.

This is really unfortunate, because I can think of nothing that brings more joy into my life than seeing someone accept the gospel at my suggestion. It would bring more joy than saving a life or preventing a suicide. That is difficult for people to understand who haven’t yet accepted the gospel, but it is true.

3.Honestly, it’s kind of funny that we have the term member-missionary. I suppose it’s mainly because we don’t do missionary work as well as we should. If members of the church would do missionary work as we should, there would be only be two kinds of missionary work: missionary work, and full-time missionary work. Member missionary is a redundant term. If someone really understands what it means to be a member of the church, they will do missionary work without even having to be asked. But I guess we all struggle with that.

4.I think one of the best things we can do to be better missionaries is to be authentic. It’s so easy to hide our true selves behind a pretended mask of being normal, or just like everyone else. Of course we aren’t better than everyone else, but we do have knowledge and a lifestyle that is very different than the rest of the world. Why should we hide it? If we simply live the way that feel comfortable and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, we will have a lot more opportunities to share the gospel.

5.Being a guy, I’ll address home-teaching, though the principles are the same. I love home-teaching. I struggle like everyone else to get out and do it, but I love it. To me it’s an excuse to get out and visit friends. I’ve always been the shy type, and though I love to go visit friends in their homes, it’s hard for me to come up with an excuse to do so.

Home-teaching gives me that excuse. I can hide behind the calling when I ask to come visit. Then when we arrive, I can have an enjoyable comfortable visit. Being the home-teacher is an extra bonus, too, because if my friends need help with anything at all, I’ve got a whole ward to back me up.