Larry W. Draper and Kent P. Jackson, eds., A Missionary’s Story: The Letters and Journals of Adolf Haag, Mormon Missionary to Switzerland and Palestine, 1892 (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 2015)
In the early years of the LDS Church’s formation, it was common for worthy male members to be called to leave their families and serve a mission. Many of their stories of faith and sacrifice have been published to serve as reminders and examples for Latter-day Saints today. A Missionary’s Story: The Letters and Journals of Adolf Haag is no exception. However, no two missionaries’ stories are alike, and this is a story with unique adventures and lessons of its own.
A Missionary’s Story provides a brief but powerful history of the life of Adolf Haag. Divided into five sections, the book tells of Adolf’s premission life and includes portions from his mission journals, sent letters, and other articles regarding Haag’s service as a missionary. Introduced to the gospel in Germany, Adolf was the first of his family to immigrate to the United States. He settled in Payson, Utah, where he married and began a family. It wasn’t long before he was called to serve a mission to Switzerland and Germany, but when he arrived in the field, he was assigned to be a traveling elder in the Turkish Mission, which included Palestine. Adolf’s letters and journal entries describe his travels across the United States to New York and to London, Paris, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt, culminating in his arrival in the Holy Land.
Larry W. Draper (a former Church historian and curator at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections) and Kent P. Jackson (BYU faculty member and associate director at the BYU Jerusalem Center) have compiled Adolf’s letters and journals into a valuable text that is gracefully accented with photographs and copies of the original scripts. Through the letters and entries he recorded about his mission experience, we get a glimpse into Adolf’s life and character, including the love he had for the people he met and his dedication in doing the Lord’s will. Adolf’s mission was not short of difficulties by any means. Faced with financial and health burdens, Adolf strived to keep the Lord’s work his main priority while still caring for his family back home. His letters are full of hope as he describes these challenges, continually reassuring himself and his wife that the blessings of the gospel come through faithful service and sacrifice. Though he struggled to find people to teach along his journey, he recorded the humbling and infrequent event of watching someone enter the waters of baptism.
Draper and Jackson do a commendable job in organizing the many entries and letters that Adolf wrote throughout his mission. There are small guides to direct the reader between corresponding journal entries and letters, and these clearly state who Haag is writing to in his letters, with a brief biography of each recipient. Truly, Draper and Jackson provide an experience in which one can feel involved in Adolf Haag’s mission and in the lives of those with whom he associated. This memorable compilation is an easy and uplifting read for those who are interested in Church history, especially the missions and trials of the early Saints; however, its inspiration touches all who read its pages.