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The Clean Water Climb is a 3-part, 18 day trip to raise funding for Child Legacy’s water well repair ministry.

  • Part One: An acclimatization Safari to prepare the climbers for Mt. Kilimanjaro.
  • Part Two: The hike to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest point on the continent of Africa.
  • Part Three: Repair broken water wells and share the gospel in the villages and schools of rural Malawi.

There were 8 participants in this year’s trip: Clayton Rhodes, Dean Johnson, Kelsey Shaeffer, Kristi Thompson, Marvin Adamson, Revanth Munnangi, Spencer Johnson, and Mike Navolio (trip leader).
Near the beginning of the trip it was decided (by the ladies on our team – Kelsey and Kristi) that everyone should have a nickname as we traveled up the mountain. Kelsey was “Rafiki”, because she loved monkeys. Mine was “Babu”, Swahili for grandpa. Marvin was “The Rock” because the team sensed his solid faith. We decided to call Revanth “Boy”, since he was a minor. He loved it. Kristi was “Little Foot” because of her stature. Dean was “papa” and you will see why. Spencer was “Ninja” because you never knew where he would pop up taking a photo of us. Finally, Clayton was “The Joker” because of his sense of humor and joke telling.

Below you can see a ton of great pictures and read Marvin Adamson’s account from each day of our trip!



Acclimatizing from Busy Arusha to Lake Manyara

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Mark 6:31

As we left garden Hotel in Moshi, we traveled west along the main highway to the Ngorongoro Crater, one of most isolated safari areas in the world. The eight of us were split perfectly between two Toyota Land Cruiser safari vehicles with a guide for each. It is a very capable off-road vehicle (as we were to find out later on a muddy stretch coming down from Kilimanjaro – see Kili Day 8!) with extra-large tires and lift. The roof lifts up so you can stand on the seats to take pictures of the wildlife from “relative” safety. We all laughed and agreed with Clayton when he said that “the lions probably looked at us like a tin of can of meat.” Ha-ha. But for what it’s worth, these Land Cruisers are stout! Our guide Isaac suddenly stopped along the busy road to find…something under his seat. There was a brief conversation in Swahili with the other guide over the radio to let them know that we were stopping. We were still confused until finally he pulled out the four way tire iron for changing a flat…Lol. Yes that could be critical, and probably happens a lot on these 4 wheel drive beasts.
So going through Arusha was a chaotic experience. Traffic and people everywhere! Transport vans loaded FULL of people, three wheeled “taxis” with usually at least 5-6 people in them. Also there were motorcycle “taxi’s” sometimes with a couple of passengers on them all going…somewhere! On top of these transports there were motorcycles hauling stuff…usually a crop item, stalks of grain, sugarcane, coffee….Mike and I even saw a guy with a ladder strapped to the back of one! I guess he could have been a roofer and that was his only way to get to get to work that day! Besides this, there were people walking everywhere. A lot of them carrying items, big bundles on their heads like stacks of corn or sugarcane. Even in the countryside there were people walking along the side of the road. At least every half mile or so, there would be a few kids, or someone carry something, going every which direction. I wondered about some of them…where did they come from? Where were they going? It seemed like a long way…How long would it take them to get there?
We stopped for red bananas right before we got to Lake Manyara, a protected national park that is famous for tree climbing lions. At the entrance where we were stopped briefly for a lunch break, a huge baboon ran across the parking lot. His size surprised me, as I was judging him to be about thigh height. We were told by Isaac to be careful…that they would snatch things away…like your lunch.
As we started through the park, we saw a wide variety of animals from Thompson’s gazelles, packs of baboons, Vervet monkey’s, and even a friendly (begging) blue monkey where we ate lunch. When we came to the flat area leading toward the lake, a few giraffes were just standing there in plain view, facing us…soaking up the sun! They were “Masai giraffes” which have very jagged spots. They seemed very uninterested in us, so we took lots of close ups.  After seeing a few zebras, baobab trees, warthogs, and some hippos in a far off pond, we started to head back into the wooded area where we would catch the highlight of the day….a baby elephant. First we saw an adolescent among the bushes and our vehicles stopped immediately. We were only about 15 feet away! Then the mother came through and between her legs was a tiny “newborn”. Isaac told us that it might only be a few days old. It was quite a site.
Towards the end of this busy day, we made our way toward the crater. I thought, how blessed I am to be able to experience your wonderful nature…Thank You Lord! I am in awe of what you have created.

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Acclimatizing in Ngorongoro Crater!

And How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24

The crater rim is at around 9500 feet elevation, which makes it a perfect opportunity to acclimate for the Kili, which we were going to tackle in a couple of days. The sun began to set on the other side of the crater just as we were reaching it and we shot some great pictures of it setting through some of the umbrella acacia trees and at the “backyard” of Sopa Lodge. The beautiful lodge was serving a barbeque of different meats that night and also treated us to some traditional singing in Swahili. After the wonderful dinner, we were treated to a brilliant show of the stars, far away from the light pollution of any city, and far above them too. Spencer and Mike spent the next couple of hours trying to capture long exposure shots. They turned out incredible. There were security guards on the back lawn that looked down into the crater. Were they there to protect us from thieves? Robbers? No. They were there to protect us from wondering animals like lions, leopards, elephants! They told us a bull elephant had come through the grounds before! They offered to escort us to our bungalows. The next day, Mike told us a cape buffalo showed up on the lower tier while they were trying to get star shots. They are some of the dangerous animals in Africa!
They next morning we headed down the long road into the crater. The first wildlife we saw was a large heard of Cape buffalo hanging out in the river enjoying the mud. Gazelles and zebras started to appear also. A male ostrich showed up and fanned his tail at us.  A famed black Rhino, of which only a few exist, was way off in the distance. It could only be viewed through the binoculars Isaac had. What we really wanted to see was…lions! Mike was jokingly trying to get Isaac to guarantee us a lion sighting. A couple of warthogs along the side the road and a pack of Hyenas were pretty interesting. We pulled over to a pond that had a big pack of Hippos resting in the water.  Finally we saw it, around a corner was a pack of around 8 lionesses that had killed something. They were a little far off, but close enough for some pics. As we came around a long arc of the road going away from the saline lake, something was stirring up ahead. There were several safari vehicles parked…
A solitary male lion was feasting on a fresh wildebeest kill, with a small heard of jackals jockeying for position to sneak a little nip of the meat. He finally got tired of trying to protect it and trotted over about thirty yards where his girlfriend was sleeping in the tall grass. He coaxed her to come help. So she came and slept while he ripped apart the carcass. It was quite a sight! And fairly close. You could hear the shutters going off like a snare drum from all of the safari vehicles around.
The rest of the day was filled with the wonders of God’s creation. So many different kinds, in one place. We marveled at it…and took as many pictures as we could (I think Spencer racked up over a thousand that day). After lunch, before we headed up the steep road out of the crater, we were treated to a herd of elephants that were a ways, but not too far off.

What a day. Heading back to Moshi, we napped in the car. On our drive we saw some Maasai youths going through a circumcision ritual, dressed and painted in all black with some white on their faces. One was not too keen on us slowing down to take his picture (he threw his walking stick).
So far, the clouds had been obscuring the view of Kili all morning. Since we had arrived on the plane two nights before, we had not even seen it yet! So as we came close to Arusha, the clouds had parted and we could see Mt. Meru which is nearby, but only 14 thousand feet above sea level… a mile shorter than Kili! Meru looked MASSIVE! We knew, we had a challenge to overcome. Inwardly I prayed for strength. God reminded us that the mountain represented the massive problem of clean water in Malawi and all of Africa. The next day, we would start on our 8-day trek up “Kili” – a marathon as Mike had said…and one we would conquer with God’s help!

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Clean Water Climbing to Mti Mkubwa “Big Tree” Camp!

   Distance: 3.73mi   |   Elevation Change: +1,182ft   |   Highest Point: 9,020ft

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

We left late after talking with the park ranger (with the AK47, his name translated to “savior”….interesting). Little did we know that our guide’s car’s radiator had sprung a leak….and they had to hike DOWN to a mountain stream to get water to put in it! We got tired of waiting (and not knowing what was going on), so we took off before they got there. They caught up in about an hour. Those guys were amazing!

Then a few hours up through the beautiful rainforest, with moss covering a lot of the trees. When we got to camp there was a blue monkey the ranger had been feeding, just hanging out. We had a good dinner – hot soup and some macaroni. Then I went to bed and slept ALL night despite the fact that our youngest climber, 16 year old Revanth, woke up the whole camp up for some reason. Big questions in the morning.

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Clean Water Climbing to Shira 1 Camp!

   Distance: 4.97mi   |   Elevation Change: +2,465ft   |   Highest Point: 11,485ft

The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. Genesis 2:9

Revanth was violently sick the first night, so the big questions were….Does he go on? What should he eat? Will he start feeling better? (It was just the first Day! AND we were only at 9200 feet). [Editor Note: Mike thought it would be best to never take a minor again unless one or both parents was on the trip as well]. Was it caused by something we ALL ate? Or could catch? We were only at 9200 feet so it probably wasn’t altitude sickness….but who could tell. After praying for the team we decided to start hiking and see how it would go. We started to rise out of the thick rainforest and long stringy moss was appearing on the trees (really great for goat beards (Kelsey)). As the trees started to shorten, the trail started to lead down to a stream, which I found out was where the porters were getting our water for the day. Then a STEEP climb to a beautiful area for lunch. There were beautiful Protea flowers along the trail that are grown around the world in places like Hawaii. Oh, and Mike found a chameleon! Pretty cool.

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Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge? Job 37:16

After the steep climb out of the dense rain forest, we stopped for lunch at about 10,500 feet, the clouds literally rolled in ALL around us. It cooled off a bit and the warm pumpkin soup we had for lunch was very inviting! But we couldn’t tarry, and headed out and up through the clouds and the diminishing forest of scrubby brush, and Protea that shortened as we climbed.

We were climbing up a steep ridge and I must say that this was the first time I could feel the air start to get thinner. I think Dean, Spencer, and Clayton were starting to feel a little nauseous. And of course Revanth from the night before. That is half the team, and I’m not sure if we could tell if it was the altitude or something else. We pressed on.

We crossed a couple of “seeping” springs near the top of the ridge and as we got close, the trail turned east.

We came around the top to the first sight of the peak in front of us!

MAGNIFICENT! Breathtakingly beautiful…What a sight it was. But then we knew we were in trouble! We were only at the end of day two and we could see for the first time how far we were going to have to push ourselves to go!

BUT, I believe seeing the true glory of the mountain that God had created inspired everyone!

So after many pictures and a break, we walked down a relatively level trail into Shira 1 Camp. A few white necked Ravens were around and Spencer caught a good picture of one. They would follow us the rest of the trip.

At this elevation (11,500’) we camped among stunted shrubs and watched as the sun set slowly over the ridge bathing the mountain before us in an amber hue.

We ate dinner and looked forward to the next day. It was a bit cold that night and Spencer actually got up to capture an awesome time lapse photo of the stars over the mountain.

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Clean Water Climbing to Moir Camp!

   Distance: 8.70mi   |   Elevation Change: +2,265ft   |   Highest Point: 13,750ft

When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come.’ Gen 24:42

We started out at 11,500 feet at Shira 1 camp. We were all ready and a little anxious to go now that we could see our ultimate goal. Some were feeling better…..and some worse. More on this later. Almost all of us were starting to take Diamox to alleviate altitude induced headaches (you nip it before it starts).

Instead of going to Shira 2 camp at 12,500’ Bruce and the other guides had decided to push us on to the less traveled, but beautiful route to Moir Camp (13,750’)! I believe this also was to test how we would handle the higher altitude earlier, so they could gauge our level of acclimation.

This trek was not as steep, but would be our longest hike at around 14km. This route provided great views along the plateau, which is one of the world’s highest. We saw what are called “everlasting” flowers along the route, named for their enduring blooms, and many boulders (pyroclastic blocks) strewn across the large expanse of the plateau.

After crossing a dirt cargo rode, we stopped for a long snack (lunch) along a mountain stream. As we walked steadily up an adjacent “dry” stream bed, Mike showed me some plagioclase phenocrysts along the trail. I then pointed out the basaltic-basanitic parent rocks they were coming from. I began to pick ones up that were not too broken and had a more uniform euhedral shape. I collected about 2 pounds of them by the end of the trip! Lol.

We hiked along the Shira “ridge” and a cross section called the Platzkegal agglomerate, defined as a “vent infilling.” Fascinating….and beautiful.

We reached Moir Camp shortly before dark and found a hot dinner to be an encouragement. It was a long day and we were tired. Some more than most…..right Mike?  [Editor Note: The night before Day #3 I decided to take ½ of a Diamox to ward off any headaches that may be lurking ahead. I took the other half the morning of Day #3 before we set out on the days trek. That night I was going to either take another half or a whole one, when I discovered I had actually been taking a ½ of an Ambien the evening of Day #2 and the morning of Day #3! No wonder I was so tired on Day #3!].

Clayton had not been feeling well since the night before, although you wouldn’t know it by the way he was hiking…..determined! He passed me up a couple of times. But considering he had only eaten 3 pieces of bread that day because of nausea…he was worn out. We would have to make some decisions in the morning.

I prayed that God would let me sleep through the night, because it was pretty cold out, and we knew the temperatures would probably drop below freezing. God sustained me through the night. I stayed toasty in my Kelty bag and I had a very restful sleep….Thank You Lord!

The next day would be a test as we would exceed the highest point in the continental U.S. and trek to 15,500 feet! Then down to Barranco camp for another challenge the following day.

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Clean Water Climbing to Barranco Camp!

   Distance: 4.35mi   |   Elevation Change: +1,430ft / -2,220ft   |   Highest Point: 15,180ft

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint;

lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge,

a strong tower against the foe. Psalms 61: 2-3

We heard about this day’s hike from Mike and the guides for a few days now. This would be the real test and we looked forward to it with anticipation and a small amount of trepidation (at least for me)! We would be going from 13,800 ft. at Moir Hut to 15,500 ft. at Lava Tower where we would have lunch, and then back down to Barranco camp at 13,000’ at the end of the day. How would my body react to that elevation (Higher than anything in the continental U.S. by 1000’)? I had hiked Pikes Peak (14,125 ft.) a few weeks before and had felt pretty good, but my body was challenged. And this was 1400 feet higher! And still almost a mile short of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit!

Unfortunately guide Sebastian went with Clayton to hike down to the access road and then out. Being his tent mate, I TRULY knew how sick he was the two nights previous, and I was truly amazed how far he had come, it was in his heart to finish, but not in his body.

So the remaining seven of us started up and hiked over the ridge. Once over we were greeted with a VAST amount of boulders which I believed to be eroded blocks of Rhomb Porphyry lava….really cool! They were filled with phenocrysts and I picked many (mostly intact) specimens up that had been weathered loose from the blocks.

We stopped for a quick break on the rocks and I saw a small bird. It was the highest in elevation I’d seen one besides the white-necked Ravens. I think he wanted my snacks! Spencer and Peter (one of our guides) were finding larger crystal basaltic rocks….almost obsidian like where we had stopped.

I did not notice at the time, but Dean was being attacked in couple of different ways. The elevation was starting to also challenge our bodies, not just his. As we were getting closer to Lava Tower (Rhomb Porphyry Lava). I could tell the air was getting pretty thin. AND it was getting HOTTER! It’s funny how we experienced extremes on the mountain. At lunch at Lava Tower we even had to open the vents to the tent. We had to stay somewhat cool so we didn’t sweat, which is bad once the sun goes down and the temp drops.

We were pretty tired and I think everyone was experiencing some effects of thin air, but we were ecstatic to reach the TOWER! It was our biggest challenge yet. We were all overjoyed when Dean made it to the tower. HE was overwhelmed with joy! He was worried that we were going to leave without him! [Editor Note: Of course we wouldn’t!]

Spencer and Revanth said they wanted to climb the tower! But alas…time would not allow, so we headed down.

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For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Once lunch was over and we had some time to rest, and acclimate a bit at 15,500 feet, it was time to hike down to Barranco Camp at the foot of the Barranco Wall (another challenge to look forward to).

The vistas were spectacular! We circled around the south face of the mountain where the most magnificent glaciers are. I remember seeing a sign “arrowhead glacier” pointing to a trail going up the peak. It looked very steep! However, our path led through a cut in the lava and down among the giant groundsels and giant lobelias – both magnificent plants – to Barranco camp. Some of the giant groundsels rose as high as a 10 feet. They also seemed to be more numerous as we got closer to Barranco camp.

The hike down to camp was a good test for my broken foot….and even though it did well, I must admit….it was hurting some. I praise God for sustaining me! As we walked down closer to camp, we could see the challenge of the next day….the Barranco WALL. The Barranco Wall is a trail that is very steep and has to be traversed single file.

Barranco camp is right before the FACE of the mountain. Beautiful and awe inspiring……God’s creation through the groundsels and the magnificent mountain before us! Like the verse says “clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” Stay tuned to see how we climbed the wall…..

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Clean Water Climbing to Karanga Camp!

   Distance: 3.11mi   |   Elevation Change: +820ft   |   Highest Point: 13,780ft

With Your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. Psalm 18:29

The wall is large. I caught myself staring at it, as we were breaking camp that morning. By my estimation, it was several hundred feet…..nearly straight UP. It is more like a “climb” than any other part of the trek. This appealed to several of us…including me.  Spencer, who has actual climbing experience, was showing some excitement. The early risers were already scaling up “the wall” like tiny ants in an ant farm, from my perspective at camp. As we shouldered our packs and cinched them up, I wondered, would I need my gloves or no. What would give me the most grip on the rock? No trekking poles this morning!

Many people of Malawi face walls every day. A wall of poverty (now considered to be the poorest in the world (World Bank))! A wall of contaminated water.  That is why we were there! To help them conquer their walls.

So we were off! We had to hike down to the base of the wall, where a stream was flowing with several small waterfalls and numerous giant groundsels.

As we started up, it seemed like the first part was just a set of steep switchbacks with a fairly narrow trail. Single file was the norm as the trail narrowed. About mid-way, our hands came into play, gripping the wall or large rocks, while footholds could be secured. Finally, we actually had to pull ourselves up to a few ledges. It was exhilarating! And FUN! I believe God sustained us and helped us to face any fears we had…..leaning on and trusting in Him.

Do you have any walls to conquer? Put your trust in Him, and SEEK His direction….and He will reward you with His strength and love.

At the top of the wall, we were rewarded with one of the most magnificent views of Uhuru peak, the highest point of Kilimanjaro! And in the opposite direction, a beautiful view of cloud cover, which extended as far as the eye could see. It appeared almost like a huge, soft mattress spread out before us, begging to be dove into. It was spectacular! I believe reaching the top of the wall, gave us all confidence in ourselves and in each other. We were ready to trek to the top! We continued on to Karanga Camp.

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out. Proverbs 1:20-21

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Clean Water Climbing to Kosovo Camp!

   Distance: 2.49mi   |   Elevation Change: +1,970ft   |   Highest Point: 15,750ft

A song of ascents

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1-2

As we started out the day at Karanga camp, I think on everyone’s mind was what would happen that night. Waking up at 11 pm and starting for the summit to reach it by dawn! That was soon moved to the back burner as we began to climb the steep slope out of camp, UP to Barafu Camp for lunch, and then on to Kosovo camp. We were getting pretty winded (or I was anyway) as we headed up. It was fairly steep and the switchbacks were short, just a few meters between. Plus, we were traveling from around 13,200 feet at Karanga Camp, to Kosovo Camp at 16,000 feet. So the air was definitely getting thinner…..I could feel it. My legs felt good and I did not have any nausea or headache, just a little bit harder to breathe. I thanked God that I pushed myself in training. We were all on a greater dose of Diamox by this time to help us prevent altitude induced headaches
The breaks seemed to come more frequently as we made our way through the boulders. It was also a very humbling experience as we were passed on both sides, by porters. They carried everyone’s “stuff” in large bundles on their heads as well as FULL packs on their backs! I will say it again…. those guys were amazing athletes, and we relied on them in many ways. We stopped for a break at an area where many “stacked” rock trail markers were set up. Our guides were goofing around by having a push-up competition. LOL. The thin air was obviously not affecting them as much as us. It made me feel encouraged though. “I can definitely do this!” I told myself.
While climbing the ridge to Barafu, I noticed something funny…..shale beds. I did not expect that! Overturned beds of shale, with definitive strata, formed before the eruption around 60,000 years ago. I wondered….were they estuarine? Lacustrine? I would have to do some research when I got back.
We reached Barafu camp to have lunch. With the exception of the cool “bulbous” lava flow, let’s just say the experience was……lacking and we were ALL thankful to continue on to Kosovo camp. It was very crowded with climbers (probably more than 100), most going up to the summit that night.
Eight hundred feet more, and done….Kosovo! Whew….16,000’! It was about 2:30, we crashed till 6, woke up had a brief supper, and then went back to our tents to try and get some sleep until 11 o’clock pm…..our departure time for the summit.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

He will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.  Psalm 121:7-8

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Clean Water Climbing to THE SUMMIT!

Ascending:   Distance: 3.11mi   |   Elevation Change: +3,591ft   |   Highest Point: 19,341ft

Descending:   Distance: 7.46mi   |   Elevation Change: -6,811ft   |   Camp Elevation: 12,530ft

What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways. Job 22:28

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

At Kosovo (16,000 ft.) we tried to rest until a quick supper at 6. Then rest again until we were to be woken by the guides at 11 for the first group and 11:45 for the faster group with the hope that everyone would reach the summit at about the same time. That is PM folks! It would take us ALL night to climb to the summit in the dark and the cold…..when we normally would be sleeping! All we had for light were our headlamps and the stars.

11:45 PM. I wasn’t too cold when I woke which was encouraging (even though it was pretty cold). I slipped on my layers including my Balaclava and my heavy coat. I went into the dinner tent to have a quick hot drink.

We were all getting ready….I saw determination on everyone’s faces, as we headed up.

Since I was gripping the handles of my trekking poles firmly…my thumbs and forefingers started to go numb. They would actually feel warmer when we would stop for our SHORT breaks. Spencer clued me in on putting my thumbs on top….it helped. My feet were warm though (very thankful for foot warmers!) Our guides didn’t want us stopping for too long. The tendency was for us to go to sleep…sitting there. The air was getting very thin, and it was getting harder to breathe normally.

I was getting very discouraged. When I would look down, all I could see was headlamps of individuals coming up, and when I looked up….little dots of headlamps. I kept thinking while looking up I can make it to there and then when I would get to “there” I would look up and see a trail of dots again. This happened about 5 times… discouraging. I kept praying, “Lord….sustain me….sustain me….sustain us.”

When his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness! Job 29:3

And when my spirit was low… The sun rose behind us…..and I knew we would make it. The sun was bringing warmth, and light, but not just that….it brought HOPE. It meant that we were probably within 1-2 hours from the summit. And much like Jesus (the light of the world) brings hope to the discouraged, and weary….the sun was bringing hope to all of us. Thank You Lord! We would make it.

I stopped and actually pulled my mittens off in the cold to capture the faint streaks of the dawn. It was the best thing I had seen on the trip.

Shortly thereafter we reached Stella Point at the crater rim, which is at 18,885.’ We all stopped for a longer rest and a quick snack. The summit was in sight! And the trail was not as steep! So a short rim hike to Uhuru peak and we would be there!

As we came within sight of the signs I started to chuckle a little, which turned into laughter as we came sauntering up to the TOP of Africa! I think Mike thought I was going a little crazy or that the air had finally gotten to me, but I was just overcome with joy.

We all hugged each other at the top as each came defiantly trudging into the point. What an accomplishment, and to fulfill it with such a great group of people, that were really doing this for another great group of people who so desperately needed ours, our donors, and our sponsors help. Definite joy!

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Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from Your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, You are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there Your hand will guide me,

Your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

While we rolled out the banners for pictures on the summit, I kept thinking about how my foot would feel going down. I knew I would need to get ahead of the team to have any chance of meeting them at camp, 9,000 feet lower than we were. It didn’t happen…

I admit it, the hike down to Kosovo was painful for my foot. As I tried to “slalom” and jump my way down the very loose piles of scree, my foot was taking a beating. We could see our little green tents way down below us in the distance, and I thought “how am I going to make this?” The guides had been joking, calling me “motorcycle man” the whole trip when I didn’t have much of a problem, but I think they finally understood the depth of my motorcycle accident injury that morning. I was getting passed by everybody like a moped on the shoulder of I-45!

Then….Thomas (one of our awesome guides) came up to help me down a couple of steep parts. It worked! I ditched the trekking poles, and we actually locked arms and started down the loose scree like some weird Celtic “River Dance” team. We got into a rhythm and picked up some speed. I got the feeling he had done this many times before with other climbers….for other reasons.

I kept seeing the beautiful phenocrysts (crystals) that I promised myself I would stop to pick up during our ascent through the night. I wasn’t taking my mitts off then. Of course now, I wanted to get down to base camp at Kosovo ASAP. We still had 5-6 thousand feet to go DOWN after that!

After a quick break of Apple Juice (Heavenly nectar! Right Kristi?) Thomas and I strolled into Kosovo (16,000’) about 30-45 minutes after everyone else. It was around 2 o’clock.

I went to my tent to lay down. I downed a couple of Advil, and prayed…. “Lord….I really don’t want to be helped all the way down Kili. Please Help.”

I have prayed to the Lord before to heal my foot. Even though it is not totally healed…..It is healed a “thousand times” better than it was and it truly was MIRACULOUS. (Did I mention I can run up to 7mph on a treadmill?) He does send help also, sometimes in the form of others (Thomas), sometimes just strength.

When I got up about an hour later, I rambled into the lunch tent to have some wonderful hot soup. I noticed….no limp….hmmm. Could an hours rest have made that much of a difference? Or Advil (it usually doesn’t do a lot). Hmmm…..I don’t think so. I think I could even put my pack back on which I hadn’t carried since early that morning. So…..I strapped it on and refused the always offered help from our guides.

I think we all felt refreshed, and headed out and down. By this time, it was decided that we wouldn’t go all the way to Mweka Camp, but to Millennium Camp at around 12,500’.

We got in at dusk and were very thankful to eat and hit the sack early! Nearly 36 straight hours of hike with the top of Africa in the middle! Quite a day! “Thank You Lord for allowing us to make it!…..and sustaining us through!”

“When I climb down the mountain, and get back to my life,

I won’t settle for ordinary things.

I’m going to follow You forever, for all of my days,

I won’t rest till I see You again”

Third Day lyrics from Show Me Your Glory

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Clean Water Climbing Down to Mweka Gate!

   Distance: 6.5mi   |   Elevation Change: -7,149ft   |   Highest Point: 12,530ft

You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. Psalm 18:36

We started the day with our guides gathering in a clearing to sing songs. Including the “Kilimanjaro invitation song” to visitors of the mountain. I can still hear it now…Jambo, Jambo bwana, …..Habari Gani…Mzurisana……Kilimanjaro…Hakuna Matata! Interspersed with a tribute to each camp we stayed in and Uhuru peak, we were compelled to join in. Let it be said….our guides and porters can sing! And dance well too! Shortly after, as we made our way down, they were singing joyful songs as they ran past us (carrying everything!), anticipating being off a day or two with some pay……happy.

It was a beautiful sight looking over the ridge as we headed down into the forest again. You could tell it had recently rained as there were spots of mist, and it was extremely SLICK!!! Several of us fell a couple of times. Even a couple of the most sure footed guides! I won’t mention who! We slowed up having to be careful of every step taken, especially on the muddy logs used to frame the trail.

Needless to say, by the time we were past Mweka camp (where we were hoping to reach the night before), we were starting to get a little worn out. I tried to get ahead because of my foot. We had split up at Mweka…and Mike said there would be a “surprise”, and to wait when we got to a “certain part”…I was confused. He said our guides knew.

So I kept on through the humongous ferns, whole clearings of them. It seemed like we had stepped back into an ancient, Jurassic forest, and the mist seemed to enhance the experience. We passed a guy carrying a “rolling stretcher” headed up. Basically a metal stretcher with a bicycle wheel right in the middle, where two porters could quickly cart an injured climber down. We saw a chopper pad at the Barranco camp a couple of days before, and this would be used to get people to that point…..or lower. I didn’t envy the guy. It looked pretty heavy, and he had it slung over his back….carrying it himself!!!

When we got to the road, the surprise was a welcome sight….a ride for the last couple of miles! Mike had Bruce call ahead, because he was concerned about us making it to Moshi early enough to have pizza at Union Cafe and buy a few things. Thanks Mike! The vehicle? A Toyota Land Cruiser “Ambulance”……and what a ride! The road was really muddy and full of big ruts! I haven’t been off-roading like that in a while! I thought we might get stuck, the LC handled it like a champ! As a jeep guy….I have new respect for Land Cruisers.

We finally made it to Mweka Gate where we saw Revanth and Guide Thomas walking along….sorry Rev! What a relief, what a hike. We signed all of the paperwork to leave and took a few shots, smiles all around …..tired smiles reflecting on what we had accomplished. We were ready to have some great pizza, celebrate at Zara, get some much needed short rest, and a hot shower. And then on to Malawi EARLY (3am) in the morning for our real mission….To see and participate in the awesome work that Child Legacy is doing….

Photos from our last day on Kili! (click a photo to view full size)



Flying to Malawi & Touring Child Legacy!

The King will reply, ‘Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me. Matthew 25:40

I knew that it would change me… What I didn’t know was how much.

When we left Mt. Kilimanjaro behind and boarded the plane to Malawi, I was a little anxious. Being the poorest country in the world. I knew about their poverty, but I had never actually seen it up close. How would I react? What would I do? What would I say? What would there be to say?

When we got off the plane in Lilongwe and started to make our way out of the capital, I scanned the countryside, noticing that there were few trees, although I was told it had once been jungle.  However it was not ravaged by industrialization, but out of necessity…to survive. People were moving everywhere along the road. Going to and from markets and houses to barter their goods; corn, charcoal, and wood. The wood, that seemed to be so scarce over the horizon.

When we toured Child Legacy the next day, I was astounded at how much they are working on solutions to these problems in Malawi. Through solar and wind power, recycling for fuel, and best practices for aqua and agriculture, they really are impacting lives there in a HUGE way. But the greatest way in which they are making an impact is in their wellness center and clinic. They showed us how they are able to treat thousands of rural Malawians each year with basic medical needs.

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Well Repairs with CLI in Rural Malawi!

Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. Mark 9:41

The day that we made our way to our first well repairs, we travelled in the back of a pick-up with our translator Andrew.  All of the roads were dirt and it was a bumpy, but fun ride.  When kids would see us along the road, they would holler “Azungu” or “Ball” and start running after the truck, waving, smiling, and laughing. At first, some of the team and I felt strange being the focus of attention, but later realized that they were truly happy to see us!

The first thing they did was to take us to their “alternate” water source. I remember the village of Kalasanganga, because theirs was literally a crack in the ground with a puddle of water at the bottom. My stomach started to twist in knots as we observed how they had been collecting their water. How could this be happening?? But I realized then…I had been ignoring it all of my life.

And yet…this anguish turned to joy.

In spite of their hardship, these people had joy. And joy that permeated through the villages when we arrived to fix their wells. They knew why we were there, and they wanted to help. Some of them went and put on their best clothes to come greet us. Some were so filled with joy that they began to sing to us. The Kalasanganga women sang out chorus after chorus for nearly an hour! We were truly blessed to be the audience. On top of this, we got to witness and share our testimonies with them about how Christ had changed our lives! After handing out Frisbees, soccer balls, vitamins, and a couple of Chichewa Bibles, there was time to play! The team enjoyed playing and laughing with them, taking tons of pictures. The kids especially loved seeing their image in the camera display, so Spencer and Mike were quick to satisfy their curiosity. I believe to some, we were an answer to prayer. We were filled with joy at the opportunity to meet needs, and…I thank God for that joy! Mike had told me something a few days before. He said, “There is something very freeing in helping someone who will never ever be able to repay you.”

He was right.

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