Title: Short Poppies
Author: Deb Brammer
Series: New Beginnings, book 1
Major Themes: Cross-Cultural Ministry, Mission Work, New Zealand
Synopsis: Levi and MacKenzie went to New Zealand on a short-term mission trip—and found themselves in way over their heads!
A couple of months ago, I was tagged in someone’s Facebook post. I went to see what it was about, and found questions about terminology used in New Zealand, versus American terms. I ended up being in contact with the author, who also lives in New Zealand, and got very curious about her books. The New Beginnings series especially sounded interesting, since it has to do with Americans working in ministry with Kiwis—basically what we do! As I like to do, I started at the beginning of the series, with Short Poppies.
Levi was shocked to find his position in Victory Road Church terminated. Then, he found himself in New Zealand on a six-week missions trip. He set himself some lofty goals for the trip—would they be met? The other person on the short-term mission team was MacKenzie. Though she was nearly engaged to Mike, she felt a strong pull to go to New Zealand on this trip. What would she end up gaining through it? Both are determined to make a difference for God.
An unexpected medical emergency changed the trip for Levi and MacKenzie. Both found themselves bumbling through unexpected responsibilities, learning things about themselves and how they related to others. Both had to make the choice to work together, no matter what.
I found myself getting quite upset at Levi’s attitudes. He started out the trip acting very full of himself and his abilities, and sure that he knew the best way to do things. Little did I know, however, his deep dark secret—and I also didn’t know how God would work in his life through the course of this mission trip. MacKenzie was the opposite. She was so loveable from the very beginning—even though she didn’t know what she was doing, either. She had a different blind spot, one that was obvious to me, and to Levi, for a long time before she could see it.
I enjoyed the humorous touches sprinkled throughout the story, from the rubber snake to the tone-deaf pastor leading singing (all too real, in our experience!), and the giant that made David quite cross. There were also a lot of serious thoughts. At one point, Pastor Bob told Levi, “Christian consideration trumps ego.” What a good thing to keep in mind! I also really appreciated the advice given to someone who fell into sin and thought they had ruined their entire life: Begin again. During the time I was reading this book, I was talking to someone who had walked away from God and is now coming back, and expressed that she didn’t know how she could right the things she had done wrong. I shared with her the advice given in this book, to begin again. It seemed to fit her situation well.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the challenges these Americans faced when trying to work with Kiwi culture. So many of their experiences were similar to ours when we came here! Though both countries speak English, it’s definitely a different English in a lot of ways, and that can make communication challenging. That doesn’t even take into account the difference in culture. Short Poppies is a good book for people who are interested in intercultural missions. This author has written what she knows, and it shows. This book feels so real, I wouldn’t be surprised to run across Friendly Bay Bible Church and its people.
WARNING: Teen pregnancy and abortion are discussed.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy this book: