I finished Belonging to Heaven this afternoon. I was in tears as I read the last few chapters. It was such a moving, emotional, wonderful story. The first half of the book covers the experiences of George Q. Cannon when he is sent to Hawaii with a small group of men to be missionaries for the LDS church. He goes to the island of Maui and immediately decides he needs the learn the language and teach the natives rather than the English speaking immigrants. I loved how the feelings of a young, inexperienced, yet driven missionary are expressed. It is amazing what he was able to accomplish. I loved all the description of Maui. As he traveled around the island and visited different places I could recall many of them from my visit to that island.
The 2nd half of the book focuses more on the life of Jonathan Napela, one of Hawaiian men who befriends and helps Cannon during his mission. Napela helps Cannon learn the language and later with the translation of the Book of Mormon. He then takes on a leadership role in Maui and Oahu as the church grows in Hawaii. Napela sacrifices a lot for his faith, his love of the gospel and his family. I especially appreciated the detail included about the Hawaiian culture and beliefs. The image of walking the rainbow when our time comes to leave this life is so beautiful.
I am very grateful for the notes often included at the end of chapters giving further information about people or events. They really helped fill in more of the story.
This book wasn't a page turner for me. It wasn't a book that I had to read in one sitting. It moved slowly and sweetly through the history of these men. I found myself reading little bits here and there and enjoying each episode in their life. It is such a strong story of service, sacrifice and love.
This was the first Gale Sears book I have read and I plan to pick up more of her books.
I received this book from the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for a review.