A quick Journey through my life in
Missions, Music, Education and Work
Any discrepancies you find are to be blamed on “OldTimer’s” Disease. If there is another version of the story; mine is the correct one. “That’s my story and I am sticking with it.” If I embellish in any way, it will be to make me sound even more amazing than I could hope. Above all, I hope to write this in a way the is not only informative but, also, entertaining.
Never let it be said that a life serving God is boring:
I have showered under a waterfall in the jungles of India with wild monkeys running around, spent the day at the southern tip of India watching the sun rise on the Indian Ocean and set in the Arabian Sea. I swam with dolphins on a tiny fishing boat in the Bay of Bengal, rode horseback in Belize, toured with a music group across Honduras, was on national television in Dominican Republic as a clown, snorkeled in the Caribbean, walked through coffee plantations in Panama, Central America, spelunked in Missouri, North Carolina and Kentucky. I have picked olivine crystals from the lava rock at the summit of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, bathed in Lake Atitlan, watched Niagara Falls from the Canadian side, baptized in the Arabian Sea and more…
My First Mission Trip was in 1985 where I went with a group from Abundant Love Fellowship, Cahokia, Illinois to Guatemala. After that, I was hooked. Since then, I have worked missions in every country in Central America at least once. I have also worked in Mexico, Canada, Dominican Republic and toured US presenting the Gospel of Christ. I have lived in India, Canada and Honduras studying and performing in missions.
In 1989 I attended a Discipleship Training Course (DTS) in Miami, Florida followed by an Arts in Ministry (AIM) in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada where I majored in Theater, Dance, Mime, Clowns and Analogue Sound Recording. After this, I returned to Miami where I joined the staff as Arts Coordinator, eventually helping to start the YWAM base in Orlando, Florida. During that time I commuted between Orlando and Miami for about a year; eventually settling in Orlando.
I have used various venues such as Preaching, Worship Ministry, Children’s Ministry. I trained Church Youth and Mission groups in Clown, Drama, Dance, Puppets, Sound Reinforcement, Computer Graphics, organized and led various teams and tours throughout North America.
On various trips I worked with teams to build Medical Centers in El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama – Central America and Costa Rica, and a feeding center in Brownsville, TX. I helped dig two wells by hand in Colima, El Salvador and built block houses for 60 families (Desplazados) who had lost their homes due to guerrilla fighting.
I built homes for widows in San Juan Cotsal and Atitlan, Guatemala. I helped build orphanages in Guatemala, Costa Rica, India and Nicaragua.
I set up three film teams – edited the films, set up tours, designed billboards and trained the teams to present the first Jesus film done in India performed by Indian actors and performed in the national language, Hindi.
Oh, yes. I have worked soup kitchens in the US and Canada.
I am currently in the process of getting my journals into electronic form and making them available for download.
Played Trombone, Broke my hand wrestling – played sousaphone
Edison Lighthouse, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago – Cribb School
How we got the name, first road trip
Full-Time on the road
Married – 50s show – Big D and the Starlighters, Blues Brothers Show – Jonny Scotch and the HotShots
Jonny Scotch and the HotShots
Worship Team, Mission Travels
YWAM, Worship, Pursuit
I became an Entremanure at the age of six.
My first job was cleaning the dog poop out of the yard at a “Penny a Pile“. In an attempt to make my business a bit more lucrative I ventured temporarily into the concept of “dividends” by dividing up the piles to make more smaller ones and earn more pennies. I was found out immediately and docked a weeks pay. Meaning, I cleaned up the poop with no allowance (Poo-Payment, or POOment as it was termed) for a week.
Eventually, I moved into greater endeavors, mowing the lawn. I had already started receiving a weekly allowance based on regular chores. One day, my dad gave me the opportunity to prove myself by cutting the entire lawn by myself. I evidently did a good job because he gave me a “FIVE DOLLAR BILL“. I couldn’t wait until the next week, praying for rain to make that lawn grow real good.
I got an idea, I would offer the neighbor kid three dollars ($3.00) to cut the grass – I would pay him out of the five dollars and earn tow as the employer. I was nine. “How’d that work out?” “Not very good.” This was not acceptable, the lawn was my responsibility and I was to learn the business world, literally, from the ground up.
My next big advance was when I started mowing lawns and doing cleanup for neighbors and then, people from our church. I was so proud when, at age thirteen, I finally got my Social Security card so I could begin doing farm labor in the summers. Believe it or not, you didn’t used to get a SS Card at birth like we do now. You applied for it as a part of entering the work force.
Over the next several years I learned to drive a tractor, a wiggle hoe, moved irrigation pipe, hoed, picked various fruit and vegetables on just prestigious places. I shook and hand-picked cherries at Miller Farms, picked Gladiolas, hoed evergreens and more at Henry Westerhoven’s. At Mr. Rosenbaum”s I shook blueberries with a hand held vibrating comb thing.
“SAVE OUR TREES”
An interesting story, a part of Mr. Westerhoven’s business was raising various types of evergreens and trees. He became very concerned that a rabbit was getting into one of his greenhouse beds and eating as 50 trees in one night. These were saplings ranging from three to eight inches. The rabbit was chewing them down to the ground. One day, he saw a rabbit coming out from near the greenhouse. He ran and grabbed his shotgun; came running out blasting several shots at it. Those things are psychic. It seemed as soon as he pulled the trigger that thing would change direction. This didn’t seem to phase the rabbit as it kept on showing up and finding ways to get in and eat those trees.
After several days of this, I grabbed a bow and arrows and told them I was going to hunt rabbit during my lunch break. He asked how I was going to do that when he couldn’t hit it with a shotgun? Never the less, I ate my lunch quietly, in wait for “da Wabbit – Heh, heh, heh.” Sure enough, it soon appeared from the bushes. I saw it – it saw me and we both began running. I shot an arrow – MISSED. I shot another arrow – MISSED. The rabbit ran into an irrigation pipe. These pipes were about 4″ in diameter. I finally had a non-moving target. I shot at the end of the pipe from about twenty feet away. The arrow went into the pipe. I heard a shuffling sound as the arrow spun through the pipe. A rabbit shot out the other end of the pipe with an arrow through it. I carried the rabbit back to the farmhouse on the end of the arrow. They were amazed. That ended the “Mystery of the Depleting Forest”.
Just before I turned 16 I was offered the opportunity to work at Henry’s Hamburgers in Benton Harbor, Mich. Still, some of the best burgers I have ever eaten. Like I said, I was fifteen years old when I applied for the job. I was accepted, even though, technically, I needed to be 16. This was at the old location, before they built on the current location across the street. upon leaving employment at the end of the summer for my return to my Coloma High School Jr. year – the manager wrote on the wall behind the refrigerator “Jonathan Owen worked here. The first and youngest employee ever to make it through an entire summer without getting fired.” I visited them years later and it was still there on the wall. To this day, when I worry about my short-term memory going away, my long-term memory reminds me of those days and the fact that I never had a short-term memory.
I returned to farm work that following summer, adding to my resume – culling plums, hoeing asparagus and picking peaches. Picking peaches is one of the worst jobs ever. Standing on that ladder in the hot sun with peach fuzz running down into your armpits along with your sweat – itches like fiberglass.
As mentioned in my EDUCATION SECTION, I was interested in entering the medical field. I really liked cutting up – thus my interest in surgery. But, “anesthesia is a real gas…” I started work as an orderly at the Watervliet Hospital. I could tell a few horror stories about the attitudes of some of the workers and things I didn’t appreciate about certain administration practices; but, I have to say that for the most of my two years as an employee, I worked with a lot of terrific people. A few of my favorites whose names I still remember in these latter years of mine are Mrs. Nedsweicki, Mrs. Johnston and my favorite vampire (phlebotomist) Mrs. Callahan. Her husband was an X-Ray tech and great guy, too. People in the kitchen were always wonderful.
I actually met my first girlfriend while employed at Watervliet Hospital. You know who you are.
A quick remembrance from my time at WCH.
One of my patients, a heart patient, was on strict bed rest. This meant that under no circumstance was he to be allowed out of bed. We had a problem in that a required stool sample was not being attained because the man could not seem to be able to function on a bedpan. I came in several times to help; but, each attempt was to no avail.
Eventually, the Dr ordered a small enema to help facilitate. I told the man and he begged me, “Just help me to the bathroom and I will be able to produce the sample.” I told him I could not do that. I would be fired and, possibly, get into trouble beyond that as he was on strict “Bed Rest”.I left to prepare the enema.
When I returned, the patient was no where in sight. I called his name and heard a response from the bathroom. As I opened the door, he reached out and handed me the container with a stool sample in it.I asked how he got to the bathroom; to which he replied, “A friend helped me”.
My response? “With friends like you, who needs enemas?”
Another story. I had the privilege of friending an older man with a terrific sense of humor. I looked forward to his stories and jokes and was almost disappointed when he was released to go home after about a week. He had been in before that; but, I was still surprised when I came in a few days later and heard him calling my name as I walked past the door to his room.
Sure enough, he had an whole batch of jokes totally new to my ears. I am going to share the most memorable of these; and, due to its part in this story, I can unequivocally say “This is my favorite Riddle.”
Patient: I am going to ask a riddle. Listen close, because I am not going to repeat it. If it takes a hen and a half a day and a half to lay and egg and a half; then, how long does it take a grasshopper with a wooden leg to kick a hole through a dill pickle.”
Me: How long?
Patient: Long Sigh and then he died.
I called for help; but, they were never able to revive him.
To this day, I don’t know the answer. I have Googled this on occasion an gotten many diverse and funny answers possibly making this the Riddle equivalent of the song that never ends.
My shortest employment – Miserable
I worked for three days at a place off M-140, North of Watervliet. The job? Stripping splinters from small wooden blinds with tack cloth. It was hot – hot – hot – humid – humid – humid. I was doing a better job removing the splinters by embedding them into my hands than with the tack cloths. On my third day, the owner came up and yelled at me saying I was too slow and was using too many tack cloths. He said, “I can hire women to work faster and better than you.” I threw my tack cloth down and said, “Great, hire a woman.” and walked out.
This was around the time I began playing music professionally. I might mention this again in my Music Experience; but, after I finally started figuring out how to improvise jazz and began featuring in solos, I started getting a lot of guys coming up and asking me if I played R&B. I had no idea what R&B was and just avoided a real response. I eventually asked my friend, Art Atilla, who explained for me. These guys were wanting me to play in bands. Art eventually hooked me up with Greg Weir, lead vocal and guitarist for a cover group performing Chicago, BS&T, Edison Lighthouse etc. This group had three trumpets, bass, two guitars, drums and, now, a trombone.
Greg got me working for Modern Wood Products where I made vanity counters for Avion and other trailer companies in the Elkhart, Michigan City area. I got my first raise after one week. When I went in to tell the manager I thought there was a mistake. I wasn’t supposed to get a raise until three months; he told me I was such a good worker and quick learner they decided to give my first raise right away. I received two more raises before my three months were up at which point I received another raise.
My next “JOB” would come after several years of traveling across the country with various bands – Nevada, Atlantic City Steel Pier Band (ACSP), Circus Maxx, Starflight, Hott Shotts, Starflight, Millennium. I think we started full-time touring in the summer of 1975 and I began work at Owen’s Tuckpointing and Chimney Company in August 1984 (see photos). This was one week before my first mission trip, Guatemala.
I never went to nursery school; but made up for it by going to kindergarten 1.5 yrs.
Harding School in Hesseville, Indiana ran attendance by semester. Since I turned five after the first of the year, I started K-Garden in the middle of the school year. We moved to Ft. Wayne the following year and I had to start all over. That is probably why I am so darn smart. LOL My father started and built Berean Baptist Church there on Winchester Road (last I heard it was called Winchester Baptist).
I attended K-5th grade a Crestview Elementary School in Ft. Wayne until my family moved from there to Watervliet, Michigan to pastor Midway Baptist Church on Red Arrow Highway. I, of course, went with them and finished fifth through seventh grade at Watervliet South School Elementary. Go Panthers. We then moved to Coloma where I graduated high school in 1971. Go Comets.
Here is where it gets exciting. I attended Lake Michigan College (LMC) from 1971 to 1973 where I majored in Biology and Organic Chemistry, graduating with an Associates in Science. Not wanting to be one of those people who says, “Oh, I used to play music in high school.” I joined the symphonic band and, urged on by friends, the JAZZ BAND. One day, the lead trombonist didn’t show up for jazz band and I was given his charts. We got to a solo part and I just sat there. Dr. Moely said, “Jon, play a solo.” I said, “I don’t play guitar. All there are is a bunch of guitar chords.” Needless to say, I was informed that I needed to improvise based on those chords.
We would have special jam sessions outside of regular hours to practice improvisation. We would run through chord progressions taking turns at solos. I WAS TERRIBLE. One day, Doc Moely pulled me aside and pointed this out, asking why I kept volunteering for the solos. I told him I figured if I hit enough bad notes I would learn to avoid them, leaving the good notes.
After graduation, and a summer of working at the Watervliet Community Hospital as an orderly, I got a job starting as a lineman for Bell Telephone. The day before I was to start, Doc called and asked where I was? I said I was getting ready to work for the telephone company. He said, “I need you now at LMC to play in the jazz band. I’ll give you a full scholarship if you come to play.” I changed my major to music where I majored in music composition and performance on trombone, trumpet and french horn and graduated two years later with an Associates in Arts (1975). I will talk more about he music stuff in my “Musical Experience” section. While at LMC my friend Debbie McNabb (Tarantino) talked me into joining children’s theater and Phi Beta Kappa fraternity.
LONG PAUSE IN MY EDUCATION AS I BEGAN PLAYING MUSIC and TOURING WITH BANDS
(Music Experience section in progress)
Considering a move back toward the medical field, in 1984, I attended Southwest Illinois University Edwardsville with a major in Human Anatomy (Deans List). I was playing full-time with the band, MILLENNIUM. I would finish a gig and drive to the college where I slept in my car so as to not be late for class. I would finish my class and drive to where we were playing and sleep backstage or in a corner behind the speakers until it was time to play.
In 1998, I attended a Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Miami, Florida – followed by a ministry tour across the southern US where we ministered mostly through mime drama and painting rooms. After this, I moved to Ontario, Canada to study Arts and Ministry at the Academy of Performing Arts in Cambridge. I studied Dance (Ballet, Dramatic and Jazz), Theater, Mime and Songwriting. I did a one month tour of Honduras with a ministry team, “Allegria” as one of the leaders. On my return, I privately studied Clown performance with James Croker from the international performance group “Motus O“. I also studied analog recording and electrical soldering. After graduation, I returned to the YWAM Miami Base (later Orlando) and worked as Arts Coordinator until 1994. While there, I headed the Worship Team, taught Graphics, Mime, Clowns, Drama and groomed the band “Pursuit” and “Sparkle and Jay Jay: The Church Mouse Twins” for two childrens’ tours across the US and Canada.
Here are a few song links:
My next professional training would be in 1999 when I attended Valencia College, Orlando and studied HTML and WebDesign and Photoshop wile working at Hartman and Associates, Inc. as Graphics Manager.