Reflections on Climbing to the Roof of Africa

April 7th, 2015

Adventure. Adversity. Perseverance. Courage. Accomplishment. Wonder. All these are words that come to mind when I think about my recent climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. I was provided the distinct privilege of participating in the Climb for Valor in February with Tusker Trail. Tusker Trail teamed up with the Duskin & Stephens Foundation, undertaking a Charity Climb, where money was raised to support educational scholarships for surviving children of fallen special operations soldiers. To learn more about the Duskin & Stephens Foundation and Tusker Trail please visit either http://www.duskinandstephens.com or http://www.tusker.com.

Who made up the climbing crew? Two wounded special forces soldiers and the wife of one of the soldiers, three surviving spouses, and a unique group of individuals to include a doctor, entrepreneur, drone engineer/pilot, adventure blogger, and Tusker Trail owner, Eddie Frank. But the group was not finished there. Supporting our climbing crew was 56 Tanzanian Tusker staff, to include three mountain guides, two chefs, and a whole bunch of porters. I cannot speak highly enough about the professionalism and expertise of Tusker Trail and the staff who helped make it such an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The guides kept us safe, the chefs cooked us the most amazing backpacking food I’ve ever had, and the porters transported all our goods, equipment, and food; not to mention, encouraged us tremendously with their constant serving as well as their singing and grooving to the instantly catching Kilimanjaro tunes.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was no easy task, and in that sense greatly mirrored the lives of many on the climb. Life is full of adversity. It requires perseverance and courage. It is wrought with adventure and the pursuit of accomplishment. And amidst it all there is wonder – lots and lots of wonder.

There was wonder on Kilimanjaro at the beauty of God’s creation, and the beauty of the lives my path crossed for 9 intense days in the wilderness. And that too mirrors life since my husband and best friend died – wandering and wondering in the wilderness.

I have wandered through suffering, questions, discernment of life’s direction, loneliness, and the shattering of dreams. I have wondered at the purpose of it all and the mysterious reality of beauty rising out of ashes.

God’s voice echoed through my time on the mountain. In the majesty of the mountain, God’s voice echoed. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12). In the splendor of the stars, God’s voice echoed. I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven … (Genesis 22:17). In the singing of the porters, God’s voice echoed. And they were singing a new song before the throne… (Revelation 14:3). And behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9,10)

I am full of gratitude for the opportunity I was given to participate in such a unique and powerful experience. I’m thankful for the stories told, the people I met, and the constant serving and joy shown to me and to the other climbers. This tale of adventure, adversity, perseverance, courage, accomplishment and wonder will not be one that I forget. It is an experience that has shaped me; that is now a part of my story.

A huge thanks to all of you who prayed for our group and who financially supported my climb in an effort to raise money that will send surviving families on this year’s short-term missions trip to Acuña, Mexico. I continue to be amazed by your constant care. From the depths of my heart I thank you.

Here’s to the continued journey of wandering and wondering in the wilderness, ever venturing toward the peak, where the light and hope of Christ abound. It is this, ultimately, that gives me the strength to move onward and upward.

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