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John H. Groberg, a middle class kid from Idaho Falls, crosses the Pacific to become a Mormon missionary in the remote and exotic Tongan island kingdom during the 1950's. He leaves behind a loving family and the true love of his life, Jean. Through letters and musings across the miles, John shares his humbling and sometimes hilarious adventures with "the girl back home", and her letters buoy up his spirits in difficult times. John must struggle to overcome language barriers, physical hardship and deep-rooted suspicion to earn the trust and love of the Tongan people he has come to serve. Throughout his adventure-filled three years on the islands, he discovers friends and wisdom in the most unlikely places. John H. Groberg's Tongan odyssey will change his life forever. Written by
Mary Jane Jones
Rats really did eat the soles off John H. Groberg's feet; they split open when he stood up. Later in life he was diagnosed with skin cancer on the soles of his feet. His doctor was curious about how he exposed the soles of his feet to the sun, and he explained that the treatment for his injury in Tonga had been to sear his soles with the heat of the sun. See more »
The film starts with a dance at Brigham Young University in 1953. A couple sing the song "Rip it Up". That song was first recorded by Little Richard in 1956. See more »
I'm sorry that the adolescent ravings of the previous reviewer appear first. His profound failure to "get it" is an embarrassment.
First of all, this is about a young man of "white-bread" heritage casting aside all he has and all he is, even leaving the love of his life for two and a half years, in order to immerse himself in a culture about which he is totally ignorant so that he can offer them the greatest gift he has to offer: His faith.
Rather than "looking down" on the people he has come to SERVE, he bears great hardships, and exerts himself in ways he could never have conceived, in order to connect with these people. He comes to love them, profoundly.
And their love for him in return, even those who have reason to be suspicious of him, is a testament to his sincerity.
Please recall that this is a TRUE STORY. Whatever you might think of John Groberg's religion, or his motives, the fact is that these things actually happened in just this way. He DID travel from Idaho to Tonga, he did live among the people there, he did come to gain their trust, he did bring to them a precious gift of faith, and he did return often throughout the rest of his life, with his wife and family, to be among these people whom he loved.
That anyone could be so callously dismissive of this truth is a sad commentary on our "post-Christian" society.
But I found this film to be deeply moving and very satisfying, and I recommend it highly to those who enjoy inspiring film.
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