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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
From the Land of Pigs and Indians: Trust Him by Dr. Dean Kroeker is an autobiographical memoir that canvasses the life of the author, his wife Betty, and his family as evangelical missionaries in the Amazon Basin in Brazil. The book starts with the early days of matrimony for Dean and Betty, where she was a professor in Colorado and he was excelling in sales. After listening to a missionary from Brazil speak at a group lunch, Betty and Dean decide to take a leap of faith into the jungles of the Amazon. From there the couple is trained at a camp and deployed to their modest accommodation ('modest' being both generous and polite in its description), while their children are taught by other missionary couples in less secluded and cut-off locations. Through illness, injury, hardship, successes and, ultimately, great personal loss, Dean shares his story in its entirety.
From the Land of Pigs and Indians is a spectacular memoir with the front line view Dr. Dean Kroeker is able to provide about an extraordinary life. Some of the details are beyond comparison and it is mind-boggling to imagine such a selfless immersion into a harsh and virtually untouched tropical jungle landscape. A standout to me was when Kroeker describes a time when they hear a plane coming and know it is a “mail drop”—where a tiny plane, literally, drops a bag of mail from the air into a clearing below. In this case, the plane is too high and the result is heartbreaking, even with Kroeker infusing a somewhat positive outlook on it with scripture.
While the book focuses on the Kroekers' life in service to the Lord, as a non-Christian I walked away with an elevated opinion and respect for missionary work. I opened it knowing nothing and am now eager to read anything I can on families such as the Kroekers. But, while it is Dean writing the book, this truly does feel like Betty's story; a fascinating woman who spearheaded the entire journey, touching the hearts and minds of all those she met, accomplishing what many only dream of in the spirit of the gospel she so fully embodied.