Runtu’s Book: Heaven Up Here

Each year thousands of scrubbed young men and women set out to bring Mormonism to the world. Beyond the faith-promoting stories told among Mormons and the parodies of Broadway musicals, the reality of what it is to be a missionary–why they leave home and family, and what they do–is a mystery to most people.

Heaven Up Here is one young American’s account of leaving his family in Southern California to spend two years preaching in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. Neither an attempt to glorify the missionary experience or tear it down, the book recounts the good and the bad, and the struggle not only to survive brutal conditions but to make sense of it all.

Beginning with the discovery of a body on a bridge on a cold winter night, the book brings the reader into a world that is far different from the stereotypes and PR images. Beneath the white shirts and ties are young people trying to bless the lives of others, even if they don’t understand how.

Heaven Up Here (Paperback version)

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Heaven Up Here (Kindle Version)

Heaven Up Here (Nook Version)

Reviews are in for the book:

Amazon (5 stars)

Barnes and Noble (5 stars)

Quirky Girls Read (Rating: A)

28 Responses to Runtu’s Book: Heaven Up Here

  1. […] Runtu’s Book: Heaven Up Here   […]

  2. Jenny says:

    Loved it, Loved it, Loved it! Thank you for writing it.

    • runtu says:

      If you have a moment, I’d appreciate it if you rated or reviewed it on the site where you bought it. That would mean a lot.

      • Jenny says:

        OK! Done! I had to post it under my husband’s name since it is his Amazon account that my Kindle is registered through…but he really liked the book too, so it is all good! Anyway we gave you five stars at Amazon darl’n.

      • runtu says:

        Thank you so much! I just read the review, and I’m smiling. I’m so glad you liked the book. You’ve made my day.

  3. […] Runtu’s Book: Heaven Up Here   […]

  4. aintnomonomo says:

    Here’s the review on my book blog:

    I also copied the review over to Barnes & Noble.

    Loved it!!!!

  5. […] Runtu’s Book: Heaven Up Here   […]

  6. […] of the narrative, though, is the lack of retrospective editorializing. I happen to know that the author is currently an ex-Mormon, and that he didn’t stop believing until many years after his […]

  7. David says:

    Awesome book, I loved it! It brought back alot of memories of my mission in the Dominican Republic. The living conditions in the DR were definitely better, but there were alot of similarities…the intense focus on numbers, the conflicts between Dominican and American missionaries, the crazy missionary stunts, the poverty, etc. It surprised me how in your mission people got sick so often…I was sick a couple of times, but not nearly as much as you and your companions were. You would think the church would do a better job of addressing that. It also sounds like more people got sent home in your mission than mine…I’m sure the same crazy stuff happened in mine, but I never heard of anyone getting pregnant or falling in love with members or being sent home for something other than illness. Anyway, thanks for writing it up and publishing it. I will definitely recommend it to others 🙂

    • runtu says:

      Thank you so much! My book isn’t intended to be about what all missions are like; it’s about my mission. That said, I think there are some common experiences we all had, so in that sense it should resonate with anyone who served a mission. I’m really happy you enjoyed it.

  8. […] Runtu’s Book: Heaven Up Here   […]

  9. It’s not they fault leaving home, families and other to promote a faith that they imposed to them without knowing why and how? . To be clear with you they are all brainwashed by a strong philosophy they throw or deposit in they minds like an excellent depot of trash. It’s very powerful their philosophy on people even the wisest and educated people . ..

  10. Paul Plumb says:

    Sorry Lauriston – I did not leave home and family to promote a faith that was imposed on me. No – I joined the church at age 19 and had several very spiritual experiences before going on my mission. Then I had a lot of spiritual experiences on my mission as I taught people the doctrines and principles of the gospel. Then I returned home to eastern Canada to my family who never joined the church, and have served in many positions in the church since. My experience with those who try to live the gospel and serve in the church has been a growing experience and these dedicated and faithful people are some of the most wonderful people I have ever known.

    I have now been a member of the church 49 years and my experience is that the vast number of people that fall away from the church do so because they no longer keep the commandments. I have been studying the gospel and the church organization for all of these years and I have yet to ask or had a question given me that I have not found a good answer. Of course that requires that you are open minded and your comments would suggest you are not.

    In the words of Moroni I would exhort you to read the Book of Mormon and while doing so remember how merciful the Lord has been to all men from the creation of Adam until now, and sincerely ponder them in your heart. When you have done that, then ask God in the name of Christ if these things are true; and if you will ask with a sincere heart, with real intent to know, having a faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it to you by the power of the Holy Ghost

    But don’t suppose you will receive any kind of answer at all unless you are willing to apply all of the above paragraph.

    • Before all, I want to let you know all what you ask me to do like reading the Book of Mormon, pray and ask is program. Are you a program in yourserlf or a brainwashed? I make you know that I have been reading the entire of book of Mormon 3 times already, but I will not be able to do it again like a program. I have been closed this book their is almost 10 years. I have never read from it, and I found it’s not really a book of God, this program you are trying to get me into is impossible. I relate to you that the book of mormon is an auto fiction’s book invented by your pretended prophet Joseph Smith. It’s nothing else. I am not a zombified like you do, your autoprogram won’t get into me again. Go to those who may become amazing from your all lies in the name of Jesus Christ. What’s ugly in all the mormon I meet it’s they courage to keep lying in the name of christ. Don’t you even ashamed to keep lying in the name of God? The mormons are the nasty people I never meet in the whole world, your courage to lie, it’s what made the difference between the mormons and the others churches…lie lie lie lie again.

  11. Jenny says:

    Mr. Plumb’s statement “…my experiences is that the vast number of people that fall away from the church do so because they no longer keep the commandments” is naive and silly.

    I was a faithful member all my life, married in the temple, raised six children in the LDS faith, sent children on missions, and watched my children married in the temple.

    I can assure you that my husband and I did not leave the LDS church because we no longer kept the commandments.

    I also know many exmormons just like me. I don’t know who Mr. Plumb is hanging out with but before he makes blanket statements like the one he made about why people leave the LDS church, I suggest that he actually go to an exmormon meet up and meet personally the many many many people who are leaving.

    I think he might be very surprised who is there, and the reasons why we left.

    • Susan says:

      Took the words right out of my mouth Jenny. That is something that was always told to us in young woman’s and prbably as far back as primary that people that didn’t come to church or left the church were sinners and had committed some sort of horrible sin (like drinking coffee lol).

      It is just ignorant and judgemental to say such things that people leave the Mormon Church because they have sinned.

  12. What Mr. Plumb said about exmormons leaving his church for not being kept the commandements has been an autoprogram into his head. I was a faithful black man and has been served a mission, but I just leave the church because I have been discovered that the mormons are not lived what they are teaching, it’s like a autoprogram. As black I have been victim of their bigotry stuff not from the members but from my mission staff. They feint that they’re promoting Jesus-Christ but they even offense him by their bigotery teaching. So how can Jesus deliver a racist Gospel to these people like the mormons prophets pretended to be and then Jesus was himself originally black? Is Jesus Christ a racist against himself? The mormons doctrines and his clergy are like some imposture founded only on lying it’s what made them survival. The lie on every way. Mr Plumb is brainwashed like every Mormon. It’s all a program, like go head and go shopping, noting more…

  13. This is all a program or a robot program! Avoid me to this autoprogram installed in the head of all of you like a depot’s trash. I discover the truth and the truth makes me really free. I won’t get anymore again the chains on my mind,my neck, my hands, my feet, please prevent me from all them, keep them for your brainwashed and mind control…

  14. Susan C says:

    John thank you so much for writing your book. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though it was pretty painful to read. My brother served there during the same time period and I have heard more than my share of “brown out” stories 🙂 I served in Guatemala a few years later and while I didn’t experience near the poverty and illness that you and my brother did, the whole pressure to produce numbers,guilt and never feeling worthy were pretty much the same. I was called as an hermana de bienestar but my mission president pretty much didn’t let us do much bien estar because that might make his numbers go down. In all honesty, that is where I have the most regret in retrospect. I was sent to work in a third world country with so many people living in horrible living conditions and lacking in education and we were basically told that we would bless their lives more by joining the Mormon Church. Pretty sure that learning to purify their water so their babies wouldn’t die and how to produce food or learnn to read/write so they could find a job might have served them a lot more.

    Thankfully, I have found some small ways to give back and help atone for my sins of not doing more to help while I was a misisonary.

    Thank you for your book! I might have to dig out my missionary journals–nah probably not 🙂

    • runtu says:

      My wife was an “hermana de bienestar,” but for the most part she did not engage in proselyting. I think it’s disgraceful that your MP would not let you do what you were called to do: help people who need it.

  15. Brad says:

    Hey Runtu,
    Loving the book so far. You have any pictures of your mission on the www anywhere?

  16. Truthy says:

    Runtu — my son was just called to Bolivia on his mission and it made me accelerate my purchase of your Kindle edition. Looking forward to reading it!

  17. […] (I mean, I also know of many folks for whom the mission was a traumatic experience that either broke their testimony or created the cracks that would later spread. We don’t hear a lot about the negative aspects of many missions because of a variety of reasons, that Runtu discusses not only on his blog but also in his book, Heaven Up Here.) […]

  18. Res Ipsa says:

    Stayed up all night reading this book when I got the Kindle version last year. Couldn’t put it down. Nice job.

  19. . says:

    Enjoyed the book. I served in Bolivia in that same time period, having arrived in country just before you left, and knew a few of the people mentioned. John, you sure had more interesting experiences than I did!

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