1,000 lives- a mountaintop experience

Five years ago, my dad and I had the chance to go to Tanzania and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The hardest day on the mountain was when we made our summit attempt. Our guide came and woke us up at midnight and had to break us out of our tent because it was frozen shut. We left the base camp at 15,000 feet and began the trek up the icy trails to Uhuru Peak at over 19,000 feet. It was one of the most physically and mentally demanding experiences of my life. My headlamp provided enough light to see the heels of our guide, and I followed them for seven hours. At one point, our guide would only allow us to take five small steps before stopping to breathe for 10 seconds. Thankfully, we were rewarded for our perseverance when we arrived at the summit just as the sun crested over the horizon and lit up the glaciers on the top of the mountain. That image will forever be burned in my mind.


Afterwards, we asked our guide why he chose to summit at night, and he gave us two reasons. He said, “First of all, the oxygen is better at night than during the day. Secondly, if everyone saw the climb ahead of them, they would never make it.”

As I try and sum up this last trip to Kenya, the one event that stands out in my mind is the graduation at the Kia-ndutu center on the final day before we went on safari. This was the day that client number 1,000 was going to receive his or her certificate and begin a new life filled with hope and purpose. I didn’t realize the gravity of this milestone until I was in the moment. I watched as Cornel and Duncan, two visionary men, gave this young women her certificate, and I began to tear up. This was a vision that God implanted in them nearly a decade ago and to see the fulfillment of that was such a blessing. It was at that moment when all the long nights, the doubt and uncertainty, and the failures and rejections were all worth it.


At some points in our life, I think we all wish that God would just show us the entirety of the path that is ahead of us, but in this case, I’m not sure that I or anyone else would have ever set off on this CARE for AIDS “climb” if we knew the harshness of the mountain that lay ahead. I am so thankful that God only showed me enough so that I could take the next step. We may feel a sense of desperation when we can’t see what lies ahead, but it is truly grace that He reveals only what we need to know.

I think this journey would be worth it if even one person’s life had been changed throughout this whole process. But, 1,000… really! I am blessed to have been an eyewitness to God at work in a mighty way.

You may not have the full picture yet, but what is the “next step” you need to take?