Our Global Veterans Stories with Sara Troy and her guest Peter Michael Johnson, on air from August 8th
Set mostly in Latin America, it’s a semi-autobiographical tale of an idealistic, naïve Peace Corps volunteer who suffers a series of traumas abroad, leading to unlikely friendships. At 23, Peter has enlisted in the Peace Corps and finds himself teaching beekeeping in a tiny village in Paraguay. When a lynch mob kills several people in his local village after a disagreement over harvest proceeds, Peter flees with his 12-year-old homeless friend in search of safety—taking him through an indigenous community, a Mennonite colony, a squatters camp, and finally the lawless, chaotic city of Ciudad del Este, where he meets a kind transgender sex worker.
Nearly two decades later, a midlife crisis compels the protagonist to return to Paraguay and find the friend who had helped to save his life so many years before. Through this journey, Peter discovers some hard truths about himself, his faith, and the fluidity of memory.
- Lessons learned in the Peace Corps
- How living abroad can foster spiritual growth
- When helping hurts: How good intentions in charity and international development can hurt the people we set out to help
- How his experiences in Africa and Latin America helped mature his understanding of love
- Interesting facts about the small, seldom-visited country of Paraguay
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Peter Michael Johnson grew up in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Alabama. He studied English and philosophy at New York University before serving in the Peace Corps in Paraguay, where he taught beekeeping to rural subsistence farmers. After the Peace Corps, Peter moved to Senegal to compete on the amateur beach wrestling circuit. He has worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations for most of his adult life. His writing (all focused on his experience in Paraguay) has appeared in literary journals including Dappled Things, Seven Hills Review, and Rock & Sling and in a feature-length essay in the April 2017 issue of Christianity Today. He makes his home in Southwest Florida with his wife, Ashley, and three children.
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