Write What You Know, Know What You Write: A Review of Bradford Tice’s “Missionaries”

On my way out to Utah last week to attend my sister Melyngoch’s farewell and see her off on her mission to Sweden, my plane was delayed in Denver, and I violated the budget my husband and I agreed upon just hours before and bought the Atlantic’s summer fiction issue. (The Zelophehad family is not noted for the ability to delay gratification.) After a hilarious story by Marjorie Kemper about a priest who gets into massive debt trying to help his poverty-stricken parishioners entitled “Specific Gravity” and Tobias Wolff’s excellent “Bible,” I flipped to Bradford Tice’s rather tiresomely predictable story about Mormon missionaries. (Religion is clearly in the air, even among the secular MFA crowd.) Read More

My Calling to Welcome Others

It was the first Sunday I attended my new college branch. I wasn’t even officially a member of the branch yet — I had driven Seraphine down to school a week before I got to move into the dorms. But the branch president asked to speak with me after church, and I was happy to. I was excited to be moving forward in life, and my first ward/branch away from my family was a big step. I very much wanted to fit in, be comfortable, make friends, and everything else.

The branch president was a wonderful man (still is, actually — I just saw him again about a month ago), and we had a wonderful “welcome to the ward/getting to know you” type conversation. Then, at the end of it, he blew me away with a comment something like this, “There are going to be lots of new people moving into the branch, and I want you to make help them feel welcome.” I don’t remember his exact words, but I do remember the distinct impression that it was a calling, even if not an official, set-apart one. Read More