Sometimes Missionaries Get Sick

Sickness in a third world country can be scary. Last September I watched my husband battle a 103 degree fever and a pain level of 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 (meaning the worst pain he had ever experienced). He was sick for about two weeks, and I was scared. I remember just standing there in the room, staring at him, with no thoughts whatsoever.  I hated watching his temperature rise and his pain increase to unbearable levels, regardless of the medicine I had given him. I felt so helpless.

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Prayer Requests on Repeat

I’m asking for prayers for the Trotter family once again. It has been a difficult month. After Jonathan recovered from meningitis, we gradually eased back into our normal work and study schedules. Then we (excitedly!) welcomed my parents for a visit to Cambodia (and thoroughly enjoyed them).

But as strange as this may sound, Jonathan is fighting a massive ear infection. What started in the outer ear has progressed to something else. He’s got unrelenting ear pain and pressure, plus a fever, aches and chills, and occasionally that pain-induced nausea that he’s all-too-familiar with by now. He’s not sleeping much because of the pain. He’s on oral antibiotics, antibiotic ear drops, and over-the-counter and Rx pain meds, but he’s still not getting better. Is it good news that he’s not worsening?? (Oh, and our doctor friends tell us he will need to go to a clinic tomorrow if he hasn’t improved.)

This is discouraging for him, as he wants to work but is stuck in bed with intense pain. Much of the time I find him covering his ear with his hand. It is discouraging for me, as I watch my husband battle the most debilitating pain he’s ever experienced twice in the same month. When I signed up for this missionary gig, I always assumed that if anyone would get sick, it would be me. After all, I’m the one prone to migraine headaches and intermittent stomach pain, plus I’d heard so many stories of missionary wives having chronic illness/fatigue. I did not expect him to get sick.

Both our girls have fevers now and have not slept much the past 2 nights (which means that mommy hasn’t been sleeping much either). The kids are all complaining of ear pain to a certain degree, and everyone is sad that we had to say goodbye to the grandparents last night. This morning I told Jonathan that I never want to swim in the ocean again! (He would tell you it was the best break he’d had in a LONG time, though.)

We have been repeatedly told by long-term missionaries that we are in the middle of the hardest time of year, starting in October with Pchum Ben (Hungry Ghost Festival) and continuing all the way through the end of November with the Water Festival. These are big pagan celebrations, and as much as I prefer not to focus on this reality, dark spiritual forces do exist in this world.

We were told that there is more illness and more discouragement during these months. I have been vigilant in guarding my mind and warring for a good attitude since learning about this difficult season. (It’s a bummer that it corresponds to my favorite season in the U.S.) I have the hope that this difficult season will end this year, as it does every year.  I struggle against the sins that are crouching at my door; however, I have very little control over physical sickness, despite our best attempts at frequent hand sanitizing (ahem, ER nurse and germophobe wife). So please pray for us, both for our family’s health and for our spirits.

We are generally happy and healthy people, and I feel very needy to be requesting your prayers so soon after our last crisis. Yet we know we need them. I am confident in the prayers of the believers. On the last night of Pchum Ben, Hannah woke up 3 times, crying over her bad dreams. By the 3rd time, I finally got the hint, and prayed with her that her bad dreams would go away. After that she slept soundly till morning.

So here we are, once again, being quite honest with you, our friends and our family, about our need for prayer. We trust that you will answer our requests for prayer. But more importantly, we trust that God will answer the prayers themselves.