A Marriage Workshop and a Reimagined Song

by Jonathan

Happy Friday, y’all! So, fun fact: one of my songs just dropped on iTunes. 😃 Recorded by Nashville indie artist, Hetty, Follow Close is based on Psalm 63. It was written during our time discerning whether or not God was calling us to Cambodia. 🇰🇭 It’s a bit more artsy than my version… ha!

Buy Follow Close here!


Elizabeth and I are also excited to announce this hour-long marriage workshop that we did over at Global Trellis. We hope this encourages and blesses marriages around the world!

Same Same, But Different

by Jonathan

I am thrilled to announce that as of September 1st, I have officially joined the member care team at Team Expansion!

We’ve talked about this transition before, but since even I’m confused by my life lately, I thought I’d explain again. Also, since this position is a support-based position, we remain entirely grateful for your prayers and financial support. If you’ve ever thought of making a one-time gift, or partnering with us a monthly giver, those links are below. To get back up to fully funded, we’re needing to raise about $300/month, so any bit helps!

Team Expansion has about 350 workers in 50 countries. As part of the member care team, my role will be coming alongside of some of those folks to provide pastoral care and empathetic coaching. I’ve committed half of my client hours to Team Expansion workers, while the other half will be available to cross-cultural workers from the broader missionary community.

Doug Lucas, president of Team Expansion, explained my job like this:

“By helping to care for our field workers, Jonathan is the equivalent of a field ‘medic’ in the military. When our troops yell, ‘Medic!’ we hope he can already be in the theater of operation, wherever he is needed. In addition, we’ve asked him to help us make ready the field workers before they depart, as well as to properly care for them when they return.”

But what about Ozark? Yes, Elizabeth and I are teaching missions classes at Ozark this semester, and if you’ve been following along, you know that we’re loving it.

We hope to stay connected to the wonderful people and students of Ozark long past the end of this semester, and we plan to continue training future cross-cultural workers here. But at this point, it looks like our official capacity at Ozark ends, as planned, in December.

In the meantime, we’re looking for housing in the Joplin area, and waiting for our shipment (aka homeschool books) to finish its journey across the Pacific.

We are so grateful for you, our friends, our brothers and sisters. May the love of the Father, the presence of the Son, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit be very near to you this day.

As always, thank you for praying and thank you for sending!

— Jonathan T.

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This link describes the work I am tremendously privileged to do, both with Team Expansion and the broader missionary community: www.seeingtheheartsofthehurting.com

To make a one-time donation or set up a recurring gift, please visit https://seeingtheheartsofthehurting.com/donate/

This photo was taken during our first year with Team Expansion.

The Day We Didn’t Go Home {A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

We were supposed to go home on August 6th. We had tickets and plans, we had dreams and ideas. But when we left Cambodia back in March, we did not have an awareness of how COVID-19 would turn the world upside down.

So we’re not flying home on August 6th. As a result of passport issues, visa issues, entry requirements, finances, and a whole host of reasons (everyone has them), we’re staying.

For our family, August 6th is now Stay Day.

Does your story include a Stay Day? Perhaps for you it wasn’t a Stay Day as much as a Leave Day. Do you have a day that marks when life quaked and plans tumbled? Do you memorialize a Stay Day or a Leave Day? Should you?

We hope to remember our eight years in Cambodia on this August 6th, and every August 6th afterwards. It will be a sort of anniversary; a blend of stories and laughter and tears.

Like so many memorials, it will be a funky mix of mirth and merry.

On Stay Day, we’ll remember the day we didn’t go home.

Sure, America is home too. Or at least it was. And it will be again. I’m speaking for myself here, of course, because my children will have their own stories, and they’ll need to tell them. Their relationship with America (and Cambodia) always was and always will be unique. Different than mine.

But some things we shared.

Like the eight years around a thick, Khmer-style round table. Well, more like seven. The first year we had a cheaper wooden rectangular table that got eaten up by termites so big you could hear them feasting: lightning-bug-size table chompers.

We’re shipping the Khmer-style table to America, so every Stay Day we’ll gather around it and remember.

We’ll remember the scent of frangipanis, and we’ll probably try to buy some. We’ll feel the feel of traditional kramas, the checkered scarves Cambodians (and my daughters) use for everything.

We’ll probably order Indian food and remember Mount Everest, the local restaurant in Phnom Penh that taught us to absolutely adore Nepalese and Indian food.

We’ll look at old photos of a younger family riding tuk tuks, playing on the street, trying to figure out cross-cultural living.

We might search YouTube for Khmer dance music, and we will probably laugh about the incessant, LOUD, and DRUNK karaoke that permeated our house during wedding season.

We’ll watch old videos of moto rides through our neighborhood, and we’ll remember the kind old man who laughed at the four white foreigners driving a moto through flooded streets and belly laughing. I wonder if he knew how much it reminded me of riding a jet ski.

Maybe we’ll check Google street view and meander past friends’ houses.

On Stay Day, we will remember. And we will pray.

We’ll pray for Cambodia, for our friends there, and for the Church that’s blossoming into its identity.

And Lord willing, we’ll do this every August 6th: the day we didn’t pack up, weigh all suitcases to 49.9 pounds, quadruple check passports, and jet across the Pacific.

August 7th won’t find us staggering out into the scents and smells of Phnom Penh. We won’t un-mothball our house and turn it back into a home. We won’t schedule reunions with local friends. We won’t visit favorite haunts and coffee shops.

Instead, we’ll mourn what was, and we’ll be grateful for it too.

Mourning is a wetter way of expressing gratitude, after all. 

And we’ll move on, whatever that means.

God remains the God of the past. He will always be the God of the past, and he will always care enough to ask the same question he asked Hagar, “Where have you come from?”

He is the God of Stay Day, August 6th, but he is also the God of August 7th and 8th. And if he’s true, if he’s real, he’s got us, and he holds us in his strong right hand.

And he will hold us on every Stay Day, and every day after that too.

 

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Do you have a day like this? A Stay Day, or something like it?

Do you need one?

Here are some more thoughts about creating shared meaning and the importance of family rituals. As folks who regularly celebrate “shared meaning” through Sacraments, I hope these ideas will resonate and inspire.

May our families be places where we remember our stories, together.

The End of All Things {an Easter poem from A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

Darkness and grief, shadow and death
The Hope that had been
Sags low without breath

Weak and alone, absorbing the pain
The one who was Love
Endures for my gain

“Forgive them,” he prays,
“Jews, Romans, all!”
Redeeming us from our sins and the fall

“It’s finished!” he yells
For his sons and his daughters
His life and his mission now lead to his slaughter

Giving it all, keeping naught in reserve
The Lamb takes my place
Taking all I deserve

The darkened sun hiding, the women are weeping
The earth loudly cracking, the curtain now ripping
Blood and water are dripping

The death of the Lamb is obscene, but predicted
The fog of great evil begins to be lifted
But first, the end of all things

The son of God dies.

“He left us!” they cry, confused and alone
“Our friend and our brother, terminated by Rome!”
“Our hopes have been broken, our dreams have been pierced.”
Disciples sit trembling, ashamed of their fears

Three quiet days come and go without Word
The King is nowhere and faith seems absurd
But behind the scenes now, the deep magic stirs
The plan before time finds its time and occurs

The broken world groans, the stone starts to move
Rome’s power now fractures, the Light’s breaking through
The splinters that pierced, pierced more than just flesh
They tore holes in despair, pushed back the darkness

Ascended!
Enthroned!
The King wore his crown
Taking authority, striking Death down

Conquering sin, the grave, and all hist’ry
He gave up his life so all souls could see
The dawn of new life and eternity

The Kingdom has come!
The Lamb has been slain
Our sins have been wiped
Along with the stains

The Kingdom has come!
Christ is risen indeed!
Right here and right now, the
Beginning of all things

 

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You can listen to the poem here.

 

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What I’d Say to the Missions Committee [a podcast from Global Missions Podcast]

If I were standing in front of a missions committee in North America, these are the 5 things I’d say.

This podcast with the guys from Global Missions Podcast was recorded years ago (aka last month) in Phnom Penh. Basically, I tried to brew together all the stories (good and bad) that we’ve experienced, along with the plethora of experiences (good and bad) I’ve heard about in the counseling room, let them all steep for a bit, and then serve it as a nice cuppa to the imaginary senior pastors and missions committee members.

Things like, Let your workers share vacation photos without making them feel guilty. Recognize that your short term trip does NOT mean you understand what life on the field is like. Thank you for sending and praying; we need you. And stuff like that.

— Jonathan Trotter

Check it out here: https://globalmissionspodcast.com/128/

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