As Soon As I Fell, a memoir
Kay and I are excited this week to offer an opportunity for Djibouti Jones readers to win a free copy of As soon as I fell. Simply head over to Kay’s website and subscribe to her blog and, using the email you submit, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of this beautiful book. You have until Friday October 10 and Kay will contact the winner by the following Monday.
Hard work. Beauty. Brokenness. Family. Grief. Rage. Forgiveness. Hope. Honest. Brave. Gospel. True. Tears.
I started making a list of words that could describe Kay Bruner’s memoir As Soon As I Fell and stopped with tears as I read the last page. I stopped not because this small list captures the depth of the book but because I had actual tears in my eyes.
Kay moved to the Solomon Islands with her husband and children to work on translating the Bible into the Arosi language. She set off for the adventure, eager to pour out her life on behalf of the people, the project, and her family. Here was a meaningful life filled with purpose and self-sacrifice, enabling her to live out the ‘perfect, good girl’ image Kay had cultivated all her life.
But along with adventure, a welcoming village community, and progress with the translation work, Kay discovered loneliness, sickness, political coups, dangerous sea voyages, and an abiding sense that she was never good enough. For years Kay manages to mask the pain but on top of her struggles she discovers her husband has turned to a pornography addiction, his own attempt at handling the stress, and she sinks into a deep depression.
Ostensibly a ‘missionary’ book because of their work translating the Bible, this is not a missionary book in the traditional sense. Kay doesn’t offer how-to’s in sharing her faith or play-by-play descriptions of the labor-intensive task of translation. As Soon as I Fell is about a husband and wife coming to terms with their unique strengths and weaknesses, their sin and learning to forgive. In a way, it is an inside look at expat life. Behind the scenes of what goes into making a translation project work there are (mostly) mothers cleaning, cooking, educating, fighting to stay sane and keep their faith in extreme locations. This is a powerful and evocative book about the discovery of grace, about hitting rock bottom and learning, finally and deeply, that the love of God is sufficient in all our weaknesses.
Even while she struggled, Kay exhibits grace, possibly without recognizing it or intending to. She is lonely and weary but she is able to delight in the beauty of her surroundings and in the warmth of the people, in her children. The book is full of descriptions of the sea, the vegetation, the food, and local customs and Kay writes about these aspects of their South Pacific life without a hint of bitterness or regret, a testimony to the power of grace at work in her.
For dreamers and idealists and those who plan (or used to plan) on changing the world, for struggling marriages and lonely expatriates and those battling depression, for people curious about the nitty-gritty, not always pretty realities of life in an island village, and for anyone hungry for an honest story of healing and hope, As Soon As I Fell is a book to love.
I have joined the long defeat
That falling set in motion
And all my strength and energy
Are raindrops in the ocean.
The glory of the long defeat is that in the end comes victory. Like Kay discovers, as soon as she fell, God carried her.
Kay is a licensed professional counselor living in Texas and her website is a wealth of resources covering topics from pornography to healthy living and dealing with fear and depression.