George Q. Cannon’s My First Mission recounts his mission to Hawaii. Think “The Other SIde of Heaven” meets the 1850s, back when Hawaii was often known as the Sandwich Islands. It was intended to be a faith-promoting work targeted at future missionaries, and could be used for the same purpose today. It’s short (easily readable in a Sunday afternoon), the style is relatively light, and it’s quirky and fun. It was digitized by MTP a while back, and we recently (finally) got it posted on Project Gutenberg.
Cannon, born in 1827, was a nephew of John Taylor who lived with him as a teenager and helped publish the “Times and Seasons.” He left on his four-year Hawaiian mission in 1849, was involved in hundreds of baptisms, and translated the Book of Mormon in to Hawaiian. After returning home, he became an apostle at age 33 and eventually served in four First Presidencies. (Wikipedia has a good article on him here.)
The book talks about his whole mission experience, from food and culture to miracles to issues regarding Church and mission organization. George Q.’s decision to learn the language and work among the Hawaiian natives rather than the less-receptive white population is a major theme. He was working in places where no missionary had previously gone and doing so all but independently , especially after his Mission President decided to leave for the South Pacific; seeing how he operated cut off from higher authority is rather interesting.
Possibly my personal favorite excerpt from the book illustrates Cannon’s general style of writing and its faith-promoting quirkiness: