For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5
It was my first real mission trip. In 2003, I was given the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Bulgaria. In case you don’t know what a mission trip is, it is when you go to a different part of the world and do Jesus stuff. It might be medical, it might be teaching, it might be giving food away or most anything else that Jesus might do. Bulgaria is up by the Black Sea and snack dab in the middle of the old Soviet block. It was a different world. Imagine stepping back in time to the late fifties or early sixties and that’s where we landed.
When we arrived, it was instant culture shock. The food was different, the language was different, the people were different…everything was different. And there was one big rule—don’t ever drink the water. I was a little nervous and a whole lot excited. Get ready, boys, this is the great adventure. We were given an assignment and my new friend Mike, and I were sent to work a couple of hours from the rest of the group. We were up by the Blue Danube River and not far from the North Sea. We would be working with the Roma people. These folks, also known as Gypsies, were the outcasts of their society…the poorest of the poor and broken.
When we arrived, we were shown a nice apartment where we would stay. It was very recently remodeled and look almost American. We began working right away and starting going to remote villages. Through an interpreter we would talk to folks, I would sing and then one, or both of us, would teach about Jesus. The people were so kind. I remember I was introduced to Turkish coffee for the first time in my life. As you might know with Turkish coffee, they simply dump the grounds in the pot and boil them. They poured me a cup and I took a slug. First response—I almost choked on the grounds. Second response—I didn’t know what to do with the grounds, so I chewed them. Yup…the best part of waking up is with coffee grounds in your cup.
Later in the week, and near the end of our time with the people, we were given the opportunity to do some preaching down on the city square. It was pretty awesome. I sang a song and then preached…and let me tell you I preached. They might not have understood everything I said, but they knew I was excited about it. After I finished it was hot and I was thirsty. A nice street vendor offered me some red Kool Aid. I was so grateful. He filled up a glass and I drank the whole cup in one swig. Man, it was so good, so fruity, and so made with the water… I was not supposed to drink. I never gave it a second thought…until later that night.
After we got back to the apartment, we had supper and went to bed. About 11:00 pm we heard this awful noise and it came from the bathroom. Well, it turns out, a majority of the new plaster ceiling in the bathroom had fallen—filling the sink, the toilet and the floor with plaster pieces. We quickly decided we could clean it up in the morning. There is a great verse in the Bible that says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Well, that verse took on new meaning for me that night.
About 2:00 am I was suddenly awakened by what can only described as the worse cramping and nausea I have ever felt. Remember the red Kool Aid? Well, it was revenge time. I quickly went to the bathroom only to rediscover the sink and toilet totally filled with fallen plaster. It wasn’t a pretty picture. I can only remember trying to clean out the sink and the toilet before the impending disaster hit. I barely made it. Long story short, I was a regular attender to the bathroom all night and into the next day. Sure enough, there was weeping thought the night and joy was scarce. The only “joy” in the morning was when the guys went to the local pharmacy and bought me a Depends. HaHa. Thanks guys.
Well, I was sick for the next day or so, but before we got on the plane for home, I was better. Someone let my wife Judy know that I was really sick and that she should look for the insurance policy. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but I thought it was. I did learn a couple of really good lessons. One…when you do something that God wants you to do…it doesn’t mean that everything is going to be rosy. In fact, you may end up with a bouquet of weeds. But, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Second…when the rule book says “don’t drink the water, DON’T drink the water. Write it on your hand, write it in your Bible, put duct tape over your mouth, but DON’T drink the water. And by the way, when God says don’t do something, there is also a reason why. He’s not being mean…He is being loving.
Well, we made it home and that trip led to many more…not to Bulgaria but rather to Africa. And guess what? We definitely couldn’t drink the water there either! Guess what again? I didn’t drink the water, because I remembered a lesson that I had learned a couple of years earlier. It just one way that God can take the worst things and teach us something good. Yay God. So, as we journey through these “Bulgarian” days and should we forget and “drink the water,” you will find a loving Heavenly Father who will walk you through the hardest times. He won’t walk out on you, ever. You will find that you can always rest in Him because He’s got this.