About twenty years ago my son-in-law, Ken, and I decided we needed to be CPR certified by the Red Cross in Colorado Springs. My husband, Jim, had multiple heart problems after his Apollo 15 moon flight, so Ken and I wanted to be prepared in case an emergency should arise. We took a CPR class together, and there we learned proper procedures for the heart, as well as procedures to help with choking in babies and adults. A few days after our class was finished, we went to order “take-out” hamburgers before heading back to the office at High Flight. In the restaurant waiting area, a young mother was sitting with her toddler on her lap. Suddenly she cried out, “Does anyone know....” She had not finished her sentence when I saw what was happening, and sprang into action. I ran over to her child, picked him up, turned him upside down over my knee, and sharply hit his back two or three times. A large piece of hard candy popped out of his throat, and then his breathing was no longer obstructed. I put him back on his mother’s lap. Soon our order was ready and we left, but I was too flustered to have an appetite. I hoped that I would never have to use the Heimlich maneuver again; however, there would be a time when I was called upon to do so.
After my husband passed away, I was asked by High Flight’s board to take their leadership position. There were still the moon-flown flags, of many countries, that needed to be presented to the heads of states. We would continue what Jim’s vision for the nations had been; by using the flags as an opening in order to share the gospel of Jesus to the nations. Six months later, I was asked to present the flag of Mongolia to President Ochirbat. I asked my son, Joe, to accompany me, and we flew, with others from Campus Crusade, to Ulan Bator (Ulaanbaatar) in mid-January, when the temperature there was thirty degrees below zero.
Mongolia is a landlocked country between Russia and China. In those years, Russia had stripped the country of everything that could be taken, and left the people in dire need of coal and food. We were told that they had only enough coal for a week. Our hearts were heavy for the people. The Mongols did have flocks of sheep and goats – that is what they had to eat. There were no fresh foods available. Joe and I went to our hotel restaurant for dinner. The food selection was meager, but they offered all they had, and we were thankful. Sitting alone next to me was a woman about sixty years old. She was eating goat stew. Suddenly, she turned to me with panic-stricken eyes, her hand at her throat. I asked her, “Are you all right?” She shook her head. Then I asked, “Do you need help?” She nodded, unable to speak.
I jumped up, went around the back of her chair, and performed the Heimlich maneuver under her xiphoid. Out popped a huge piece of tough, un-chewed goat meat. Catching her breath, she turned to me and said, “Thanks. I owe you one. You saved my life.”
I replied, “I didn’t save your life, JESUS CHRIST did.” I never saw her again for she was with a tour group going to the Gobi desert. For her sake, I hoped the desert was warmer than Ulan Bator.
The next morning Joe and I, along with several men from Campus Crusade, met with the Mongolian President. He appreciated the framed moon-flown flag of his country. Before we left the meeting Joe asked the president if he could pray for him. President Ochirbat said he wasn’t a Christian, but Joe replied, “I would like to pray for your guidance of your people.” The president then accepted. After that, the president took Joe by the shoulders, and kissed him on both cheeks. My heart was deeply moved by the kindness toward my son from this national leader. Mongolia was deeply etched in both of our hearts. God had put us there at the right time to help a woman in distress, and to touch the heart of a nation’s leader. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (Amplified Bible): “There is a season (a time appointed) for everything and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven-“