Over a month ago I wrote about an incident that happened in 1998 when I was on a mission trip in Mongolia and we had no water. The other week I saw my friend Patty who was on that trip with me and it reminded me that I should finish the story.
Let me set it up again. Fifteen of us were on Jesus film project where we were showing the film in villages in the NW corner of the country. We were traveling with fifteen Mongolians and would split off for a week at a time with teams of five Mongolins and five Americans. For most of our time we were far outside of civilization. In fact there were no paved roads amout 20 km outside of the capital Ulaanbaater. Every day we traveled to a new town and along the way had to pump water from whatever source we could find.
Early on we were in an area north of the Gobi and were near a lake that was twice as salty as the ocean. We heard of a spring nearby and while the women on my team showed the film one afternoon, Chad and I went looking for it. We empty all of our water bottles and pumped water but once we tasted it we realized it was still very salty. We sheepishly told our teammates. Chad got the idea of adding Kool-Aid mix to it to make it bearable to drink.
My team started crying and saying we were gonna die because we had no water to drink. All I could think of was that this must have been how Moses felt. I didn't know where water was. We were just following the other jeep of Mongolians to go to the next town. It would have taken us five days by jeep to get back to civilization if you call Ulaanbaater that. And that would be a best case scenerio. I said (not out of great faith but more to get the focus off me failing as a leader), "surely God did not bring us out here to die. He will take care of us" And for some reason I added, "Maybe this is exactly what we need".
Well for several days we had nothing else. We all drank salty Kool-Aid. I think at least 4 of us had the 'd' too. But we later found a stream with a huge pool at the bottom of a waterfall and forgot about our trial.
Actually it was the next summer when I saw Patty at a conference and we exchanged Mongolian stories. She said 'can you believe we drank that salty Kool-Aid?' I had totally forgotten about it. It was not a month later that I was reading in a book and it said a primitive form of rehydration formula was 1 part water, 1 part salt and 1 part sugar. Salty Kool-Aid! I broke down weeping realizing that God not only had not deserted us but He was providing for what we needed but did not know we needed!!!! We had rehydration formaulas but we might not have used them because we were early in our mission trip. He knew what we needed and forced us to drink it. The next time I saw Patty I shared with her and another friend who was with us, Annette, what I read. They started weeping too.
Patty and Annette later moved to Siberia to help launch a ministry in Irkutsk. Now Patty is preparing to go serve in another country that I can't mention alongside some Russians. She told me that often when she faced a trial in Irkustk she would think of this story and say, "I better be careful because maybe God is giving me salty Kool-Aid to drink."
I have to admit that my first response to trials is very much of the flesh. This weekend was very trying dealing with a sick family. I hope that I can like Patty pause and remember the time I was in the middle of no where and all I could muster up was 'surely God has not left us'. It might be salty Kool-Aid!