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Amy’s so-called book is actually the dutiful fund-raising letters back to her church community that sent this terribly green girl out to China to convert to her sappy brand of Christianity Chinese people who only wanted to perfect their English. The church organization sent her to China but apparently could not see to it that her living accommodations were clean and free of rats, bats and palm-sized spiders. Amy writes her letters to remind her organization’s supporters to keep sending money. Yes, she has a Master’s Degree, but the woman seems clueless about “finding food” and is shocked that the Chinese spit in the street. And to make it all even worse, her sister narrates the work extremely fast and all on one tone blah blah blah. I lived in San Francisco many years and studied Mandarin at the Chinatown extension of the junior college. [I have also lived in Spain and Germany, both free of such unhealthy conditions as poor stupid Amy saw fit to tolerate to the glory of God.] Of course I could see great differences between educated Diana Chi’an across the street, the polished Chinese-American legal secretaries I worked with, the grocer’s son who was late for our date, and all the little grandmothers who pushed to get on the bus.] I do know how difficult it is to speak to small-scale merchants, to ask for what you need and then learn how to cook or use it. There is always a harpy who won’t let a girl sample the lipstick colors [Germany] or touch the gorgeous tomato [Paris]. In Madrid, I bought mouthwash to clean my floor; it was among the cleaning products and looked like Spic-n-Span. Still, people around the world eat vegetables and some kind of starch. The veggies can be steamed, boiled or sautéed if you have a little oil. Noodles can be boiled. The Chinese surely have systems for cooking rice. And once Amy and her buddies figure out how to cook for themselves, she doesn’t describe any of that. No, interesting descriptions are thin on the ground. They get very sick and also suffer what I believe was a spider bite. So we are treated to pathetic descriptions of grim hospitals. For a lovely listen, I recommend Mao’s Last Dancer, which describes a young man’s home-sickness, his fervent prayers and struggle to perfect his dancing, tremendous success around the world, and eventual embracing of Christianity. I trust that for would-be missionaries, Amy’s letters will provide food for thought.
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