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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
Deseret Book, the publisher of the biography on which the movie is based, never previously sold film rights to any of their books. Deseret Book is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and John Groberg was one of the presiding elders of the Church at the time of the sale. There was, therefore, a great concern as to how the Church would be portrayed which had to be satisfied before the rights were sold. The deal was completed, in large measure, because several key members of the production team were active members of the Church. See more »
When John Groberg is talking to his girlfriend, Jean, about the moon, he says that the light traveled 93 million miles to reach her, but that is actually the distance from the Sun. Of course, the light originated from the Sun not the moon, so he is correct. See more »
I loved this movie!!! My father is Tongan and my mother is Samoan (the first island Elder Groberg landed at the beginning of his journey). Even though I was born and raised here in the US, I have been exposed to my Polynesian roots and love and embrace both cultures of who I am (Polynesian side and American side).
I have to say that my family and I LOVED this movie. It is refreshing to watch a beautiful movie without all the sex, violence and vulgar material that permeates our society today. This movie is about True Love on so many levels - the love between Elder Groberg and his future bride Jean, the love between the Tongan people and Elder Groberg and the love between Our Lord and his children. No, I'm not Mormon, I'm actually an Assembly of God Christian, however that does not overshadow my appreciation for this movie.
The depiction of the people of Tonga is accurate. They are a lighthearted and loving group of people who love to laugh and find joy in the simple things of life. They are all about respect and honoring one's family. The scene of the first funeral brought back memories for me as it illustrated exactly how these kind people handle the departing of a loved one. When my dear Grandmother Siu passed away in 1994, my family and I traveled back to Vava'u (an island within the Kingdom of Tonga) to lay her to rest. The unmasked grief and crying as depicted in the movie was exactly how my grandmother's funeral was. The crying and grieving took place for 1 full day (24 hours - day and night) while different groups of people from all the villages on the island, came to pay their last respects.
Hats off to Disney for going out on a limb to bring the story of one young man's journey of faith and trials and tribulations of his mission to the big screen! Well done!
26 of 31 people found this review helpful.
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