Elder Passos is devout, overly-serious, ambitious about the future, and uncertain about his place in the world. He studies English in his spare time, hoping to attend BYU. Perhaps the most poignant moment came at a time when the entire country is watching Brazil play in the final match of the Latin American Football Championships on a Sunday, at the same time as church. The mission president, an American, has insisted that church cannot be canceled, rescheduled, or skipped. Looking at the mission president, Elder Passos sees “a man who could look at an entire culture and see a game, merely, who could look at a country-wide communion and see a crowd.” As a Mormon, Passos possesses a simple, sincere faith: he believes, with all his heart, that the teachings of the LDS Church are true.
The conflict in this story centers on an investigator Josefina and her husband Leandro. For Passos and McLeod, the stakes are high regarding these potential converts: in them, the two missionaries see the chance to resolve their internal conflicts. McLeod seeks ‘faith as a principle in action’: to learn faith through the action of teaching others. Passos is seeks the potential convert, the ‘one star in a million, a golden elect’, as a way of changing lives, just as his own life was changed after the death of his mother.
Most stories written about Mormons tend to go for the dramatic: all in or all out. Good versus bad. This is not one of those stories. Rather, this is a book that focuses on the small: the little gestures of friendship that are often misinterpreted or over-looked, the simmering doubts that never come to a full boil, the nagging worries and insecurities that accompany faith. The result was something quite beautiful, a story that lingered in the mind long after reading.