And Then Our Cat Died

by Elizabeth

I’m not even sure how to write about this. Four months ago we bought a cat for our children. He was a beautiful stray who had been rescued by the Humane Society, and we fell in love with him. He was our little Lion King. He filled our yard with life and light. And we thought he’d be a part of our family for a long time.

But it wasn’t to be.

Gryff was a wanderer. He was constantly trying to get into other people’s houses. Sometimes he succeeded. He left us often, and most of the time he came back on his own. But nearly as frequently, we received calls from people as far as 3 streets away to come pick him up at their house.

Still, we were ridiculously in love with this cat. The kids liked to study outside with him. They liked to draw pictures of him. They liked to snuggle him. People often commented on how sweet of a cat he was.

He had started staying out at night and not coming back till the next morning. We were expecting this; he was supposed to be an outside cat. But then he didn’t come back, and we also didn’t receive a call from anyone. Eventually a neighbor stopped by to tell us what had happened — another neighbor had seen the accident and told her.

A car hit him on the road near our house. We weren’t at home when it happened. But when we found out, Jonathan went looking for the body and helped us bury him. We cried and even wailed over Gryff’s death. It was a deep pain and a deep loss. He was our first pet. We didn’t know how sad it would be to lose a pet.

Now we know.

A mom doesn’t want her kids to suffer, but she can’t stop the suffering. I wish my kids didn’t have to lose Cambodia. I wish they didn’t have to lose their cat. But as much as I wish to prevent them from experiencing pain, I have no power to do so. It’s one of the most difficult parts of being a parent. All I can do is walk through the pain with them.

So we held a funeral for him. We talked about the silly things he did. We talked about the annoying things he did. We talked about how much we loved him. We honored his place in our lives for just a short time. He helped us settle our hearts in America, and for that I will be forever grateful.

It’s been a week since we buried him, and there’s still an empty spot in our hearts. In the beginning we couldn’t bring ourselves to spend time in the yard without him. It was too sad and lonely. The first few days without him were especially rough. We watched with our own eyes as my husband shoveled dirt onto his body. Still, we kept expecting him to show up at the back door, begging for food. Other times we thought we could hear him meowing.

For days we couldn’t bring ourselves to clean up his water bowl and food bowl. I still haven’t put away the blanket he slept on. And at first I didn’t think I could ever buy my family another cat. I could not give my heart to another creature, only to lose it again so soon after. But after visiting some friends whose cats are just as loveable as ours was and learning how many cats they’ve lost over the years, I’m beginning to think I could possibly welcome another cat some day. But not yet.

So we are slowly adjusting to life without our beloved kitty. After all, there are still birds to feed and plants to water. God’s good, green earth still grows even in the midst of death. Through the pain — and maybe because of the pain — our hearts and souls grow along with it.

A Book is Born: Serving Well is now available!

It’s here!Screenshot (4)

Elizabeth and I are thrilled to introduce you to our new book, Serving Well. It is our deepest hope that this 400+ page book will encourage and equip cross-cultural folks through the various seasons of life and ministry.

It’s available in print and Kindle version here. Our publisher is also selling the book with a 20% discount here.

You can read the Serving Well press release (with book excerpt) here.


From the Back Cover
Are you dreaming of working abroad? Imagining serving God in another land? Or are you already on the field, unsure about what to do next or how to manage the stresses of cross-cultural life? Or perhaps you’ve been on the field a while now, and you’re weary, maybe so weary that you wonder how much longer you can keep going.

If any of these situations describes you, there is hope inside this book. You’ll find steps you can take to prepare for the field, as well as ways to find strength and renewal if you’re already there. From the beginning to the end of the cross-cultural journey, Serving Well has something for you.


Early Reviews for Serving Well
Serving Well is an important voice in the search for honest, experienced conversation on living and working cross-culturally in a healthy and sustainable way. Dig in!”
– Michael Pollock, Executive Director, Interaction International and co-author of Third Culture Kids

Serving Well is more than a book to sit down and read once. It is a tool box to return to over and over, a companion for dark and confusing days, and a guide for effective and long-lasting service. Elizabeth and Jonathan are the real deal and Serving Well, like the Trotters, is wise, compassionate, vulnerable, and honest. This needs to be on the shelves of everyone involved in international, faith-based ministry.”
– Rachel Pieh Jones, author of Finding Home: Third Culture Kids in the World, and Stronger Than Death: How Annalena Tonelli Defied Terror and Tuberculosis in the Horn of Africa

Serving Well is a must-read book for missionaries and for those who love them. This is a book you really need if you are ‘called to go, or called to let go.’ In Serving Well we read both the spiritual and practical, simple and profound, funny and compelling in chapters written by Elizabeth and then Jonathan Trotter; hearing from each their voices and their hearts, the struggles and the victories, ‘the bad days and the good days’ of preparing to go and serving well overseas. Their down-to-earth yet godly insights were born from living overseas and from authentically wrestling with the ‘yays and yucks’ of missionary life. They draw wisdom from both Scripture and sci-fi authors, Psalms and funny YouTube videos, encounters with Jesus and encounters with cops looking for a bribe. Take two books with you to the mission field: the Bible, and Serving Well.”
– Mark R. Avers, Barnabas International

Serving Well is deep and rich, covering all aspects of an international life of service from multiple angles. It is full of comfort, challenge, and good advice for anyone who serves abroad, or has ever thought about it, no matter where they find themselves in their journeys. It is also really helpful reading for anyone who has loved ones, friends or family, serving abroad–or returning, to visit or repatriate. Jonathan and Elizabeth Trotter are both insightful and empathetic writers, full of humility and quick to extend grace–both to themselves and to others. Their writing covers sorrow and joy, hope and crisis, weariness and determination. Best of all, from my perspective as someone who has worked with TCKs for over 13 years, it contains an excellent collection of important advice on the topic of raising missionary kids. Choose particular topics, or slowly meander through the entire volume piece by piece, but whatever you do–read this book!”
– Tanya Crossman, cross cultural consultant and author of Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century

“Overseas workers face a barrage of junk when they arrive on their field location: identity issues, fear/anxiety issues, and faith issues. I have worked with missionaries for well over a decade now and see how these common themes cry out for a grace-filled approach to truth and authenticity. The Trotters live this out loud, intentionally seeking a way to minister out of their own pain, striving, humor, and failure. Keep this reference close at hand!”
– Jeannie Hartsfield, Clinical Counselor, Global Member Care Coordinator, World Team

“This book is the definitive guide to thriving in cross-cultural ministry. The Trotters have distilled years of experience into pithy chapters filled with helpful tips and wise insights. Put it on your must-read list.”
– Craig Greenfield, Founder, Alongsiders International, author of Subversive Jesus

“In this must-read missions book, Jonathan and Elizabeth unearth the underlying motivations of the cross-cultural call. Penned with copious compassion and startling transparency, Serving Well is sure to make you laugh, cry, and, in the end, rejoice as you partner with God in His global missions mandate.”
– David Joannes, author of The Mind of a Missionary