Mission: Kilimanjaro 2010
Trip Report: Unfamiliar heights
By Allan Persons
I began reading about Mission: Kilimanjaro 2010 in July 2009. I’d always had a heart for Africa, but never thought the Lord would send me there, let alone on a mission trip. To me, my mission was here in the United States, where I am comfortable. But the Lord gave me a little nudge. It was an “I-want-you-to-go” nudge.
I wish I could say I responded well, but I didn’t. I looked at everything that needed to come together between then and the departure date (money, gear, shots, etc.) and thought it was too much. Then I felt the Lord say, “If you follow in faith, I will provide.” Before I knew it, the support was in and I was on a flight to Tanzania, Africa.
My mission was to seek out witnessing opportunities and to show the love of Christ through my actions while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Since I was spending seven days on Kilimanjaro, I felt led to develop a few relationships along the way before sharing my faith. I was excited for what the Lord would bring, and on the first day’s climb I quickly began to meet people from all around the world.
As I was introduced to people from England, Sweden, Poland, Spain, Australia, Greenland, Canada and the U.S., it became obvious to me why the Lord wants us (Climbing For Christ) on the mountain. There are few places on earth where people travel from around the world to spend a week in close quarters like they do while trekking up and down Kilimanjaro.
On Day Two we awoke to an amazing view of Kilimanjaro. The clouds no longer blanketed the rim. I stood with my tea in awe of God’s creation. This was something I frequently found myself doing as we ascended and descended the mountain. I was still getting used to the guides and porters waiting on me hand and foot. They carried the majority of my gear, cooked the food (a lot of food), cleaned, and even set up my own personal toilet!
Day Two was also filled with making new acquaintances. A couple climbers I met lived 45 minutes from where I grew up in southeastern Minnesota. As I met more people, the Lord began to give me a peace about trekking solo. God was working.
Amazing vistas of Kilimanjaro filled the next several days. Between the sunrises, sunsets, clouds rolling through camp, and watching lightning occur below us, all I could do was praise God and His wonderful creation. My guide Yusuf and I were able to share in how wonderful of a creation it was. I continued to develop and nurture friendships as I ascended Kilimanjaro. I had opportunities to share why I was in Africa and why I believe in Christ. God was moving, but I was expecting much more.
Day Four of my climb began with a 500-foot scramble up Barranco Wall which, aside from summit day, was my favorite part of the trek. Marked by exotic vegetation, steep exposure and breath-taking views, it offered more of a challenge then the rest of the route.
Later that day I became a bit frustrated, as many of the people I had met along the way were going to a different camp and I would not likely see them the rest of the trek. God later eased this frustration as I remembered a verse a friend had sent me before the trip: “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). I knew that a seed was sown. I was able to exchange contact information with a few friends and hoped that God would use these contacts for future ministry opportunities.
We finally made our way to high camp (Barafu Camp) on Day Five. After resting a bit and eating lunch, I prepared for the midnight ascent to Uhuru Peak (the 19,343-foot summit of Kilimanjaro). As I pumped water for the ascent my right eye went partially blind, which meant I was getting a migraine. Just hours away from the final push, I crawled into my tent fearing I would not get a chance at the summit. I began to pray that God would deliver me from my symptoms.
By God’s grace the migraine lasted for only a brief time, and the symptoms went away! I have had several migraines in my life, and this was the first time the symptoms did not reach their peak. God is good.
After a few hours of sleep, I awoke — still experiencing a blind spot in my eye — but fully able to make the final ascent. By 6 a.m. my guide Yusuf and I were standing on the rooftop of Africa.
Allan and Yusuf made an alpine start and reached the summit before sunrise.
The team back at the hotel in Moshi the day after completing the climb: (standing) guide Yusuf Hemed and Allan Persons; (sitting, left to right) Mohamedy Mshana, Abdala Abdala, Roziki “Cook” Kengera, and Mohamed Hemed. Missing from photo: Yahaya Iddi.
Allan Persons, a meteorologist from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, has been a member of Climbing For Christ since February 2009. This was his first Evangelic Expedition with C4C. Allan climbed Kilimanjaro while the rest of the Mission: Kilimanjaro 2010 team traveled to Malawi. He was accompanied by several of our Muslim friends who work on the mountain.
Posted Feb. 10, 2010