A JOURNAL, KEPT SECRET
Borrowed Trousers, Diary of a Mormon Missionary draws the reader into the thoughts and feelings of a cowboy from Alberta serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Texas and Louisiana, from 1937 to 1939. He suffers hardship and sickness, and falls in love while the woman he had planned to marry waits at home.
“No breakfast per usual . . . got a cold, covered in chigger bites, sun burned . . . lost six pounds . . . found a used car lot and got in the back seat of a big car. Slept sound . . . I know the Lord blesses me in my efforts . . .”
When Maggie Rayner's mother gives her the journal her father wrote before she was born, she discovers a man she never knew.
Rich in the culture of place and era, his journal tells the story of living in poverty amid bedbugs and cockroaches, when he can afford lodgings at all. Woven within are his interactions with various missionary companions, all struggling to subsist on one main meal a day. Sometimes together, sometimes alone, they walk and hitchhike throughout both states, tasked with collecting tithing from existing members for the multi-billion-dollar corporations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and with finding new members. Sick and suffering, they are pitted against each other by their leaders to baptize the most members.
Halfway into his mission he falls in love while the woman he had planned to marry waits at home.