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DISPATCHES: Tanzania 2014

Mission: Kilimanjaro 2014

By Gary Fallesen
Founding president, Climbing For Christ

Monday, Aug. 11

The long journeys to respective homes have begun with Damson going by bus to southern Malawi and Hayley and me flying out of Kilimanjaro International Airport on the first of our three flights. Damson's ride will take three or four days, while our air travel is scheduled for 33 hours.

Saturday, Aug. 9-Monday, Aug. 11

Hayley and I are on safari with Yusuf.

Friday, Aug. 8

The seven-day climb of Kilimanjaro ended this morning as we descended from the last camp at 10,000 feet to the Mweka Gate, checked out at the trailhead registry, and drove away from the mountain with Yusuf, Saidi, Mohammed, and our cook Faraji. It was a sweet journey on the mountain with men who have over the years become friends. As Yusuf likes to say, “You are not customers, you are family.”

Hayley and I ate dinner at Yusuf’s home in the evening with his family (his mother, his wife, and four of the five children who live there). It’s always a treat to visit villages and neighborhoods and see the real Tanzania, not the tourist destinations and resort hotels that most frequent. You get a taste of the people as well as their food. You see the struggles of life in this world.

Damson, right, with Pastor Mosha.

Learning about the culture was step one for Damson, our Malawi missionary to East Africa. While Hayley and I ascended the country’s heights, Damson spent the week with Pastor Mosha of Marangu, learning about the people and this place. He also met with some of the leaders of Climbing For Christ’s Kilimanjaro Chapter and began making plans for our future work here.

“It’s been a wonderful week,” Damson said during our planning meeting this afternoon. “I had a one-sided mind (of what to do – as an outsider). Now I have a two-sided mind. I learned a lot.”

The mission remains the same: equip the saints who work on Kilimanjaro as guides and porters so they can do evangelism. This will begin with a three-day training session scheduled for November before the start of the next climbing season. A follow-up session will be held in March 2015 to appraise the work. (More about this will be shared in the next issue of The ClimbingWay, C4C’s magazine.)

Pray for the work that is ahead. Kingdom work extends beyond manmade borders. The evangelism done here can affect tens of thousands of tourist trekkers who flock to Tanzania every climbing season to ascend one of the world’s Seven Summits. The trail they take could lead farther than any summit on earth.

Thursday, Aug. 7

Hayley Fallesen at sunrise on the rooftop of Africa.

Mohammed, who has been our guiding party on many expeditions to Kilimanjaro, said we had a "lucky" night as we prepared to set out toward the summit at midnight. It was clear and still on Africa's tallest mountain. I don't believe in luck; I believe in blessings - and the weather awaiting us this starry, starry night certainly was one.

Hayley reached the 19,340-foot ( 5,895-meter) summit by the grace of God with our friend and guide Yusuf at 6:12 a.m. Another blessing. She watched the sun rise from the Indian Ocean. I was forced to turn back with friend Saidi at 18,000 feet by altitude sickness. I passed the climbing torch to my daughter, who ran with it, going higher than she'd ever been. (Her previous best was the 16,854-foot (5,137-meter) summit of Mount Ararat on Mission: Ararat 2013.

Hayley returned to our tent at high camp (Barafu) shortly after 8 a.m. After a short rest we began the descent off this great mountain.

Wednesday, Aug. 6

It's our fifth day on the mountain and we moved into position to make a summit attempt very early Thursday morning. We ascended the final 2,100 vertical feet in less than 3 hours to Barafu Camp. Barafu means "ice" in Swahili and for the first time in my four trips on this route it does not live up to its name. It is sunny and comfortable at 15,360 feet. We know, however, when we get up after midnight it will be bitterly cold.

Praying that this good weather window stays open and our health and strength remain good as we head up to Uhuru Peak (the summit) at 19,340 feet.

Tuesday, Aug. 5

We made the steep ascent up the Barranco Wall to start the day. It's about 900 vertical feet with a little scrambling in spots. Yusuf refers to it as the "Breakfast Rock" because you climb it right after eating breakfast. The Wall is the high point, literally and figuratively, of a relatively short day. From a height of about 14,000 feet, you descend over rolling terrain to Karanga Camp at 13,255 feet. Just another day of acclimatizing with God's beautiful creation (and lots of trekkers) all around.

Monday, Aug. 4

We climbed up to the Lava Tower at 15,200 feet to help our bodies acclimatize to the thinning air. In 48 hours we had ascended more than 9,000 feet. After lunch at the Tower, where the weather was much nicer than last year (when it rained, snowed and visibility was zero), we descended to beautiful but overcrowded Barranco Camp at 13,070 feet to end a six-mile day. We are blessed to witness God's wondrous and unique creation at this elevation on Mount Kilimanjaro. His handiwork is so clearly evident, but sadly the lies of the enemy (be it evolution or other religions) have blinded many on the mountain from seeing this.

Sunday, Aug. 3

We climbed above the clouds and for the first time Hayley was able to see the rooftop of Africa. It was sunny and warm at Shira Camp at 12,630 feet. In the distance we were able to see the summit, which had been obscured since our arrival in Moshi on Wednesday. Kilimanjaro was being "shy" as the local Chagga people say. But today it came out.

Saturday, Aug. 2

Hayley and I started hiking up Africa's highest hill today with a few friends, including Yusuf, Saidi, and Mohammed. We are on the Machame Route, where C4C teams climbed in 2007 and 2013. We ascended in clouds through the rainforest - past a few monkeys and tropical birds - about 4,000 vertical feet to the camp at 10,000 feet. As with so many previous climbs on Kilimanjaro everything is wet and muddy, despite this supposedly being the dry season.

Friday, Aug. 1

Damson arrived in Moshi late this afternoon, praising God for bringing him to northeastern Tanzania after four days of ground travel from southern Malawi and feeling (as we do) that God is starting something “big” in our work here. When we spoke of Bible studies, discipling and outreach among the guides and porters of Kilimanjaro, he swelled with excitement. “I know that God has a big work for us,” said Damson, who endured an overnight stay in a broken-down bus and a ride in the back of a truck to get from the Malawi border to Dar es Salaam, which delayed his arrival one day.

“I did not know why I was coming here – only that God was bringing me and for something big.”
Damson returned to Marangu with Pastor Mosha tonight. He will be there for the next seven days as Hayley and I climb Mount Kilimanjaro with guide Yusuf and our many Muslim friends.
Wilson Mosha, a guide who is not related to Pastor Mosha except through the blood of Jesus, visited us in Marangu this morning to learn about our planning for future work and to pray for Hayley and me. Wilson is one of our original Kilimanjaro Chapter members, dating back to Mission: Kilimanjaro 2008, when we first started teaching the guides and porters about evangelism. He asked on our behalf for the blessing of “the Big Boss, the Main Guide – Almighty God.” Amen.

We are praying for good weather, good health, and – most especially – for good opportunities in the next week on the mountain. Hoping to shine on like the snows atop Kilimanjaro.

Thursday, July 31

We spent part of the day waiting for Damson, and the rest fighting jetlag. Both are familiar feelings in the mission field. Damson was delayed a day taking the bus from Dar es Salaam to Moshi. But we went with Pastor Mosha to Marangu anyway. We'll spend some time with him and others God has brought into our lives during the many visits to Tanzania. When Damson arrives (prayerfully on Friday) he'll spend at least a week with Pastor Mosha and start to meet our many C4C members and friends around Mount Kilimanjaro. It's all God's plan done in God's time and way.

Wednesday, July 30

Hayley and I arrived this evening at Kilimanjaro airport after about 30 hours of travel – from Rochester, NY to New York City to Amsterdam to Tanzania. There are a few places in this world that are so familiar they feel like home away from home. This part of Tanzania is one of those locations. The air, the smells, the sights, the people. Our dear friend (and guide) Yusuf was waiting when we cleared customs and retrieved our baggage. We caught up on family during the drive to the hotel in Moshi, where we are staying tonight. I spoke by phone to ministry partner Pastor Mosha in Marangu; he told me teammate Damson Samson of Malawi is in Dar es Salaam tonight and will finish his bus travels to join us on Thursday. We thank God for traveling mercies.

Tuesday, July 29

Here we GO! Hayley and I are spending today and most of Wednesday in airports and airplanes heading toward our rendezvous with teammate Damson Samson, who is riding  buses from southern Malawi to northeastern Tanzania. Climbing For Christ paid for Damson's college education in Malawi and he is now serving as C4C's missionary to East Africa. We will be introducing him to our members, friends and ministry partners around Kilimanjaro.


A cross cairn built by Mission: Kilimanjaro 2007 team members at Karanga Camp at 13,250 feet. (Photo by Shawn Dowd)

Mount Kilimanjaro is forever linked to Climbing For Christ. In 1998, while preparing to climb Kilimanjaro, God instructed me to start a Christian climbing organization that would become Climbing For Christ (C4C). I returned to those slopes in 2007 – the third year of our mission HIStory – and we have gone back to Tanzania in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, and this week.  We have watched God reveal His plan for our work in East Africa and this trip will, prayerfully, be another step in that direction.

Along the way, He also has intersected our path with the paths of those who need to meet Him. We call them divine appointments. And we pray, unceasingly, for these opportunities and where they will lead (aka salvation).

On Sunday, July 27, the senior pastor at our home church, Larry Stojkovic, commissioned us to GO. He shared from Acts 13, where (in verse 2) “the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” Pastor Larry said God set my daughter Hayley and me apart for the work to which He has called us and he said, just as Luke wrote in verse 3, the people of our church “laid their hands” on us, prayed, and sent us off. The church will continue to pray, not just for those who have been called, but for those to whom we are being called. We are praying there will be “joy before the angels of God” (Luke 15:10) for the work the Holy Spirit will do in the weeks ahead.

To God alone be the glory!

CLICK HERE for our Prayer Calendar. Pray on!

Gary FallesenGary Fallesen

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