BEFORE THE INCEPTION of charitable organizations for impoverished people globally, the Mennonite Central Committee was an early innovator for overseas development. Pax (Latin meaning peace) was one of its programs designed specifically for volunteer single men of draft age.
This is a story of one man’s journey as heavy equipment operator with training in Texas and Peru, then to Paraguay building roads. In a unit of five, he worked to connect Paraguay’s most isolated Caucasian settlements to the outside world. Along the way, he experienced high-flying adventures, met curious Paraguayan locals and learned some life lessons lost to many young men.
Part memoir and part history, this is an account about the power of faith, the virtue in productive work and the rewarding consequences of dedication to the ideal of serving humankind.
Philip Roth, springing at the age of 20 from rural South-Central Pennsylvania, set out on a life changing experience which combined widening social awareness, increased mechanical knowledge, and a new strengthening of faith.
Now, sixty years later, Phil has written, with gentle humor and great humility, the account of his service work in Paraguay in 1954 to 1956. He and 9 other young men were sent by the Mennonite Church, with the blessing of the US Draft Service, to give two years to building a much needed road which would increase access to the outside world for three struggling Mennonite agrarian settlements.
The heat was intense, the mosquitoes fierce, and modern amenities scarce; but the humane discoveries, augmented by valuable learning experiences involving all things mechanical, as well as moments of pure faith gave Phil the story of a lifetime.
You will be gently awed, frequently amazed, and occasionally inspired as you read this book.
Rebecca Brown: retired librarian, book illustrator and painter