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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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How Coffee Saved My Life...

And Other Stories of Stumbling to Grace

This is a well-written and soul-(stirring memoir by Ellie Roscher, who has a master's degree in theology/urban ministry from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. She recounts the year she spent in Lascano, Uruguay, where she ran children's programs. She has to get used to simple living in a poor community for example, collecting shower water in a bucket and reusing it to flush the toilet once a day. She considers having a successful four-sentence conversation in Spanish a small victory.

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Roscher's memoir contains excerpts from her journal, along with thought-provoking quotations from an array of writers, spiritual teachers and theologians. The author relishes time spent with the children and is encouraged by a soulmate who helps her polish her Spanish. She sees this year abroad through the lens of grace: Grace happens when I am offered love and joy in the time and place least expected. Grace interrupts and overwhelms with its irrationality and abundance. Thanks to this perspective, Roscher returns to the U.S. with a fresh appreciation for the connections with people who gave her the chance to become a true citizen of the world. This book is a rousing read and a cross-cultural gem.


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