The Merry Family

Merry Mission Journal

January 21, 2005


One of the things that has amazed us this year is how much reading we have done. We brought a year’s worth of books with us… and finished reading them in two months!

Dan and I have always been avid readers, and we have read to our girls from the time they were infants, but they never seemed to get the “reading bug.” However, when there are no movies, TV, or other distractions, they too, have discovered the pleasures of reading.

Since we have been in Africa we have read books by Pulitzer Prize winners, Newberry Award winners, little-known authors, American literary giants, and popular modern writers. Fiction, biographies, history, theology and text books are among the volumes we have perused. We have devoured books by the following authors: Mark Twain, Nicolas Sparks, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Louis L’Amour, P D James, John Leith, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Catherine Marshall, Herman Melville, Bruce Wilkinson, Anita Desai, William Shakespeare and a score or so of others.

It is true that some of the books that the girls have been reading are school assignments, but a few weeks ago Heather asked me to read a novel that she had to read for English class. She said, “It’s about a family in India, Mom, and I think that you will like it.” She was right, I enjoyed it. I have also encouraged her to read several of my favorite tomes.

Brooke asked her grandparents for books at Christmas. She has read the entire “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books by Lemony Snicket and a pile of books by Roald Dahl and Judy Blume.

In addition to her required reading, Heather has been reading “A Life God Rewards for Teens” which was given to her by her Youth Group advisor in Pittsburgh. She also decided that the youth group here was too heavy on the fellowship and too light on the spirituality, so she and Brooke have started a Bible Study for missionary kids. They choose “The Purpose Driven Life” to read together.

I love to read historical novels, and I have been able to catch up on textbook reading. I have read murder mysteries, Civil War accounts, classics, stories about missionaries, histories of Malawi, even westerns, and anything else I can get my hands on.

Dan has enjoyed reading some of the American Classics that I brought over for the kids: Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, etc. He loves World War II novels and Civil War stories. He has been doing a great deal of theological reading as well.

Our family devours newspapers and attacks any Time, Reader’s Digest, Taste of Home, Sports Illustrated,Good Housekeeping or other magazine that makes its way here from the States.

There is one series of books that the whole family is currently enjoying. The Carvers brought us Alexander McCall Smith’s series of “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” books. They are charming accounts of life in Africa.

What have we learned from all this reading? Well, I don’t think that the results of reading are quantitative, or can be measured. All I know is that each book we read has helped open our hearts, minds and eyes to the world around us. Maybe we look at life more fully because of the ideas we get from reading. Maybe we understand human nature better, or maybe we won’t make the same assumptions and mistakes that the characters in the books did. There is one thing that we all agree on – books are a blessing!

Beth Merry

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