The young Mormon missionary planned to spend preparation day shooting hoops and eating at Wimpy's Burger, but his senior companion had other ideas. We can do that in America, he was told.
And with that, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel began to understand the people he was serving in Italy.
"I was interested in their world," he said. "When you understand their world, you actually end up appreciating them more."
Years later, Holzapfel applied that experience to his study of a vastly different place.
The Old Testament is full of complex language, jarring stories and cultural unfamiliarties.
There are tyrants, wild beasts, blood sacrifice, slavery and prostitution.
It's a world unto itself, and not an easy one to comprehend. But it is possible to understand and even love the Old Testament, and those who dismiss it deny themselves a gospel perspective unique to this ancient text.