Book review: 'Do Not Attempt in Heels' shares sister missionaries' experiences

Published: Sunday, Feb. 9 2014 5:00 a.m. MST

"DO NOT ATTEMPT IN HEELS: Mission Stories and Advice from Sisters Who’ve Been There,” compiled by Elise Babbel Hahl and Jennifer Rockwood Knight, Cedar Fort, $14.99, 209 pages (nf)

Comfortable footwear isn’t the only necessary element to serving a successful mission.

Do Not Attempt in Heels: Mission Stories and Advice from Sisters Who’ve Been There” goes beyond simply being an advice book full of dos and don’ts for prospective missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It presents experiences, explains outcomes and what the missionaries learned, then invites readers to seek guidance as they apply the lessons to their own lives.

“The key to becoming a missionary who can change the dynamics of her area has less to do with copying exact methods than it has to do with taking initiative in turning to Heavenly Father for guidance,” wrote Elise Babbel Hahl, one of the book’s compilers.

The book contains 21 entries of varying lengths, plus a foreword, introduction and afterword. Each section is written by a different returned missionary and has a short bio detailing where the sister is now. A wide variety of missions are covered, including U.S. English-speaking missions and foreign missions; an entry by a performing missionary in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission is even included.

Hahl compiled the book with Jennifer Rockwood Knight. Both women are returned missionaries (Hahl served in the Brazil Manaus Mission and Knight served in the Taiwan Taipei Mission) and write entries included in the book, which is scheduled to be released on Feb. 11.

The book is laced with tender moments of sisters heeding the promptings of the Spirit, exhibiting compassion, counting their blessings and learning that missionary service involves much more than tracking numbers.

The entries are authentic and not sugarcoated. It is refreshing to hear real-life stories of days when things never seemed to go as planned, sisters who didn’t always get along with their companions, illnesses that got in the way and even the sticky situation of being distracted by an good-looking elder. Instead of being discouraging, these practical stories each end with the message that trials can be overcome and, in the end, a mission will be a rewarding experience as it occurs and after it ends.

As expressed in the afterword of the book, “Whatever storm of life may whirl around you after your return, the answer is still the same as it was during those seas on the mission: keep your eyes fixed on Christ and keep walking.”

Whitney Butters has recently returned from serving in the New York Rochester Mission. Email: wbutters@deseretnews.com

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