annalena tonelli

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Stronger than Death, Book Cover Reveal!

I wrote a book.

I’ve actually written many books, from the cloth-covered book about animals running a race I wrote in elementary school, to the several novels that are completed and gathering dust on my hard drives (for very good reasons!), to my self-published books the Djiboutilicious cookbook, Finding Home, and two editions of Welcome to Djibouti.

This coming book has been the work of my heart for almost five years. It is the biography of Annalena Tonelli, a woman who faced disease, terrorism, massacres, lonely isolation, and chose love over fear.

“People would call her a doctor, a missionary, and a nun. And they would call her a saint… Should Annalena be made into a saint? That was how I thought of her, at first. I only knew the high points in Annalena’s life. I knew nothing of the dark valleys, her secret and controversial compromise. I knew she had accomplished something remarkable, something about tuberculosis but also about love and faith…”

It is the product of collaboration with Matt Erickson, so many people I interviewed all over the world, those I followed and pestered, and the Plough Publishing team.

A few months ago I shared the book cover in my Stories from the Horn newsletter.

Now, I want to share the cover here, too.

You may have already seen it, if you’ve visited the Plough, Indiebound, or Amazon, but let’s make this the formal “cover reveal”.

Are cover reveal parties a thing? Like for pregnant moms and gender reveal parties? I feel like they should be, with balloons and a cake a fireworks. Well…oh well.

There is so much I want to tell you about the book, like who endorsed it and some behind the scenes stuff. Like how I’ve been changed through this project. Like how it feels to write a book while dealing with cancer. Like all the ways this book connects to current issues from Ebola to cross cultural relationships and humanitarian aid, to conquering fear and talking about race and faith. I love the way this woman turns these conversations upside down in surprising, even shocking ways.

But for now, here’s the cover! No drama, no explosions, no band playing in the background. Just me and my excited little heart.

(Number 1 new release in Kenyan History!)

You can preorder it here

Plough

Amazon

Indiebound

What could be stronger than death? Only a love bigger than fear and bigger than hate. We need this message more than ever.

Legacy of a Nobody: Annalena Tonelli

annalena tonelliAnnalena Tonelli was shot in the head and killed on October 5, 2003.

Please take 26 minutes and watch this incredible documentary about the 33 years she spent loving Somalis.

This film was particularly moving to Tom and I. Beautiful scenes in Boroma of places we recognize, reminiscing about ten years ago. With Annalena’s murder, our lives in Somalia began to unravel.

(In the scenes where she is speaking into a bus if you look real careful you might see my husband’s reflection in the bus window. That was the first day he met her.)

The documentary was produced and directed by our good friend Matt Erickson (also seen in the bus window reflection).

Annalena was a beautiful woman with deep compassion, vision, purpose, and love. The movie does a wonderful job displaying this but it is also a powerful testament to the strength, vitality, joy, and courage of the Somali people she worked with as they have continued and expanded her work.

The movie shows hardship but also beauty, disease and medical progress, violence and those who fight for peace. One of my favorite scenes is of two women pounding grain together – hard work and they are laughing. This is Somalia, Somaliland. So much stronger than al-Shabaab, so much more enduring than famine and terrorism.

*update: this week marks 11 years since her murder. No one has been arrested or accused.