‘Freetown’ Reawakens Memories for One Real-Life Elder Who Escaped from Liberia

Marcus Menti at the premiere of Freetown. Image via ldsmag.com.

This article was originally published in Utah Valley 360 by Rebecca Lane. Below is an excerpt.

The first two times Marcus Menti saw “Freetown,” a religious thriller about missionaries trying to escape the unrest of the Liberian Civil War, he couldn’t stay for the whole movie.

As Menti saw the fights and felt the intensity of the missionaries trying to escape the civil unrest, the stress of the situation and disturbing memories flooded back to him. The memories because Menti was one of those missionaries.

“The images are revived and refreshed in my mind, so this is the first time I’ve never had to leave the theater as this movie was being played,” Menti said. “This is the third time I’ve seen it. I think as time goes on I will feel strong to relive those images. It’s been a faithful and enduring exercise.”

Menti currently lives in Magna, Utah, but the things he wrote in letters to his mission president in 1990 have had him reliving past events. In 1990, Menti was one of the zone leaders (a missionary leader in charge of other missionaries in a specific area) serving in Monrovia, Liberia.

“I remember one of those nights we were asked individually to give accounts of what our experiences were as we journeyed,” Menti said. “And I remember writing down in a journal everything that had happened. All of those things were collated or compiled and sent to the LDS Church headquarters.”

Menti didn’t know that someday his and his fellow missionaries’ story would be made into a movie, but he knew the story would eventually be shared. Which is exactly what happened when Director Garrett Batty discovered a write-up about the missionaries on churchofjesuschrist.org. The bibliography led him to the letters written by the missionaries to their mission president.

To read the rest of the article, go to Utah Valley 360.

Bridget is a newsroom writer at LDS.net. She graduated in April 2015 from Brigham Young University in communications with an emphasis of public relations. She served a Spanish speaking LDS mission in McAllen, Texas. She is a skilled pianist and an expert baker of chocolate chip cookies.