Dispatches: Tanzania 2021

Dispatches: Tanzania 2021
Gary Fallesen

Dispatches: Tanzania 2021

Mission: Kilimanjaro

By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ

Thursday, July 8

The sun sets on Mount Meru and Mission: Kilimanjaro 2021. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

Elaine and I returned home late Thursday night. But not without being tested. As in, COVID-19 testing. Or should we say alleged testing?

When we arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport at 6:30 p.m. (local time) on Wednesday, our eMed Home Test was rejected. Never mind that this was supposed to be accepted overseas as a way to be tested to get back in the United States. Turns out those representing the Tanzania’s health ministry had other ideas, such as extortion. For $100 each, we could get the “official” certificate saying we’d tested negative. Or we could be stuck in Tanzania.

Welcome to pandemic travel, where countries don’t test (sometimes pretending COVID-19 doesn’t exist), can’t offer their people vaccines (while rich countries have stubborn individuals refusing to be immunized), and open the door for a little money-making on the side. Truth be told, the little booth outside the Kilimanjaro airport was the only place where COVID-19 testing was even mentioned. No one checked to see if we – or anyone else on our planes – were negative as we entered Qatar and then the USA.

Despite all the challenges and frustrations, it was good to be traveling again. And it’s good to be home.

Damson flew today from Kilimanjaro to Dar es Salam to Mbeya, Tanzania, and then made it across the border into Malawi before it closed at sunset. He takes buses to Blantyre in southern Malawi and will drive the rest of the way home on Friday. He’ll be happy to be there with his wife and three young children.

We were blessed to again serve alongside him. All praise, honor, and glory to God for making it happen.

Wednesday, July 7

Elaine and Gary wearing gifts from Yusuf and his wife Fatma. (Photo by Damson Samson)

We tested negative on our COVID-19 Home Test this morning at the hotel, although we’ll be rapid tested again at the airport. We were told to arrive five hours before our departure. We have a late night flight out of Kilimanjaro International Airport to Doha and then on to Philadelphia and Rochester, NY. We are scheduled to be back late Thursday evening.

It has been an eventful two weeks in Tanzania – as usual. Yusuf was talking about being disappointed when the pandemic postponed our visit in March 2020 and again in late November. “That was not our time,” he declared. “This was our time. This was God’s time for you to be here.” Amen to that!

We make plans, but God determines whether they will happen (Proverbs 16:9). And God blesses us when the plans come to fruition.

Tuesday, July 6

Three Amigos, Tanzania style: Yusuf (left), Gary, and Saidi. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

Out for coffee this morning in Moshi, another old friend and guide Saidi caught up with us. Saidi was with us on the mountain starting with Mission: Kilimanjaro 2007. Like Yusuf, he has been in my prayers through all our travels and visits to Tanzania.

Saidi has gone through a very challenging year with COVID-19 wiping out tourism and a fire destroying the crops on his farm last year. His family has struggled. We gave him some COVID-19 relief to help the situation.

I texted the photo above to both of our children back in the states as they have also climbed with Yusuf and Saidi. “Love those guys!!” our daughter Hayley wrote back.

Our family does love them and would love for them to be a part of our Christian family.

Yusuf considers us part of his family and we (Damson, Elaine, and I) ate lunch at his house with his wife Fatma. She has started a little business to help with their family’s needs during the pandemic. We enjoyed our time together, knowing that the hours for this visit are winding down. We begin flying back to the States late tomorrow night.

Damson, Elaine, and I held an East Africa staff planning meeting this evening to discuss the next nine months here and in Malawi. Our primary focus is on DMD training for the Kilimanjaro Chapter (Tanzania) and Mulanje Massif Chapter (Malawi). We also continue to support Damson’s widows’ project.

Damson shared several God stories about the 140-plus guides and porters we are teaching.

“Porters carry stuff up the mountain following clients,” Damson said. “But God has a call for them to do more. They are planting churches. It’s not a little thing they are doing; it’s a very holy thing.”

Monday, July 5

Dauson Chonjo, left, praying with new believers, including Samuel Minja, second from right. “It has been another blessed day,” C4C Kingdom worker Damson Samson declared, “where the Lord has brought more glory to Himself.” (Photos by Damson Samson)

Our team returned to Moshi today – with Elaine and me coming from Tarangire National Park, the Serengeti, and Ngorongoro Conservation Area with Yusuf, and Damson moving down from Marangu and making more home visits along the way. Damson, Elaine, and I will meet tomorrow for an East Africa staff planning meeting. We’ll also be celebrating some of what has happened. Such as:

Damson’s morning visit with Kilimanjaro Chapter member Misael Minja’s family, where he shared 1 Samuel 3 and encouraged the parents to teach their children to fear the Lord. Damson said, “I was not sure why I spent time teaching his family on this. Then I asked the name of their son and he said, ‘My name is Samuel Minja.’”

While he was at Miseal Minja’s home, three people were led to the Lord.

From there, Damson and chapter leader Dauson Chonjo traveled to the home of Jonas Minja, another long-time member and DMD student. Jonas showed them his farmyard and praised God for what He has done for the family. Through Climbing For Christ’s chicken project, Jonas had 30 chickens. They decided to start selling some chickens to pay their children’s school fees. “Since they had these (first) chickens, they have been selling more than 200 chickens to buy food, clothes, and (pay for school) fees,” Damson reported.

They’ve been blessed to expand their livestock to include cows and goats.

All of this helped them during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they expressed gratitude.

Jonas Minja feeding some of his 50 chickens, which came from C4C’s Kilimanjaro Chapter chicken project.

Damson also visited member Elia Yona’s house, where again the C4C chicken project has helped the family and produced fruit. They took Elia and returned to Jonas’ house to do a prayer of thanksgiving. While this was happening, a young man emerged from the house, asking for help with his drunkenness and smoking.

“For three days, I had a dream of people reviving the dead and being able to bring them back to life,” Heriyeli Eliamringi told Damson.

“I told him, ‘That’s why Jesus said today salvation has come to your house,’” Damson replied.

Heriyeli accepted Jesus and welcomed Him into his heart and house, where three other family members also asked for the salvation found only in Christ our Lord.

Heriyeli Eliamringi with his new Bible and new-found faith.

Sunday, July 4

Kilimanjaro Chapter members in the Kilema village. (Photo by Damson Samson)

Damson has spoken on more than one occasion during this trip about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. He took this message (found in Matthew 23:37-39) to nine Kilimanjaro Chapter members he met with today in Kilema village.

How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me,” Jesus said in Matthew 23:38.

Damson explained that they had been like Jerusalem, which Jesus loved but whose love was not appreciated. “How long has Climbing For Christ been sending me to you?” Damson asked. “You needed to take this as so special, but you are neglecting to pick up the Truth as others are praying for you around the world.

“They nodded their heads to show they understood.”

The brothers then confessed that they had not truly understood how God is loving them through our DMD training. Godlisten Mosha said he had never before prayed in tears the way he did today.

Later, Damson met with chapter leader Dauson Chonjo and Pastor Winford Mosha, who helped us initiate the idea of a Kilimanjaro Chapter on our first mission here in 2007. They agreed that team meetings must be held regularly between Damson’s quarterly visits. The COVID-19 pandemic, which kept Damson away for one year and me for 15 months, caused chapter members to lose stride in what we were gaining through our intensive Bible study. We are praying we have regained the momentum during this trip.

Saturday, July 3

Elaine and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary on safari in the Serengeti, seeing up close the activities of lions, elephants, zebras, many varieties of antelope, countless species of birds, and a showdown between a cheetah and a hyena deep in the bush. The cheetah won.

At dinner with Yusuf, I shared how I was not a Christ follower when Elaine married me. But the Holy Spirit did a work in me – when I least expected it – and turned my life around. Here I am now leading a global Christian ministry and sharing the love of Jesus with people like him. He thanked me for telling him my story and said, “I am still learning.”

As are we all.

In Marangu, Damson visited believers he led to the Lord four years ago during home visits like the ones he is doing these days. He shared about the power of Jesus, as exhibited in raising Lazarus to life, and talked about praying for healing from maladies such as epilepsy and diabetes.

He went to the home of Kilimanjaro Chapter member Elyason Mosha and allowed long-time C4C member Dauson Chonjo to share a story from the Bible. They were greatly encouraged by this.

“They said they appreciated how this student (Dauson) is doing his work of teaching them, and they are understanding him well,” Damson said, which is an endorsement for our disciples-making-disciples training.

Friday, July 2

Ransom Muhammad with his first Bible. (Photo by Damson Samson)

Damson visited Kilimanjaro Chapter member Gift Mbuya’s home in Moshi and met four people who did not know Jesus. He told them, “I am sent to those who are blind so that they can see the truth from the Bible.” He continued sharing until all four accepted Christ as their Savior.

One man, a Muslim named Ransom Muhammad, told Damson he was feeling lighter after they prayed together. “I was heavy, but now there is lightness in me,” Ransom said.

“I told him, this is Jesus who said, ‘Come to me all you who are heavy laden,’” Damson reported. “I told him to keep it going in his life as this is the only hope we have – in Jesus Christ.”

Later, Damson visited another chapter member’s home to encourage those who met with him.

Thursday, July 1

Damson admitted that after more than a week of DMD training and climbing a mountain, he was weary. But, as he asked rhetorically, “When God says ‘Yes’ who can say ‘No’?”

Elaine and I left Moshi early this morning to go on a five-day safari with our friend Yusuf. Damson was planning to do home visits among our Kilimanjaro Chapter members while we are traveling. But first, he decided he “needed more time to rest and possibly self-feeding time to prepare for going around Moshi and Marangu.” Then he got a call from one of our guides, John Mollen, requesting he come to Mererani to visit John’s Maasai family. Damson agreed.

Damson purchased 20 Bibles in Swahili to distribute among our members. He took some with him and met with John’s family. He shared Exodus 3 and Moses visiting the Burning Bush. Damson invited them to stand on holy ground in God’s Word.

Frank Mollen, left, reading the Bible before a violent reaction to God’s powerful Word. (Photo by Damson Samson)

After reading, John Mollen’s brother Frank had a violent reaction, and it took three men to hold him down while Damson prayed over him. When the prayer was finished, Frank was helped up and fell into a deep sleep. Whatever demon was troubling him was gone. Praise the Lord!

“The room was filled with His glory and others outside started coming in to be prayed for,” said Damson, who had removed his sandals. “Others were inviting me to pray for their wives at home.”

Damson left four Bibles with the group and promised to return next week for more prayer. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, June 30

For years, I looked over at Mount Meru from Kilimanjaro. After eight treks on Kilimanjaro, I decided to reverse the angle. This photo was taken from near the top of Meru on Tuesday. That’s little Meru to the left and Africa’s tallest mountain (Kilimanjaro) in the background. There is a sea of clouds in between.

There was no true summit, nor any real believers made. But our four days on Mount Meru was a God-glorifying experience. I’ll share a snapshot of what occurred:

  • Sunday, June 27 – We met our team, which included several old, familiar faces (guides Mohamed and Tom; cook Riziki, and porter Hemed), and we were off to Arusha National Park. We checked in at the Momella Gate and started out with two additional (local) porters and a rifle-carrying ranger added to our team. Trekkers must be accompanied by an armed ranger because Meru is inhabited by many wild animals, such as water buffalo and elephants. We saw water buffalo, warthogs, and several bird species from a distance as we climbed in cold, dreary conditions about 3,000 vertical feet in 4 ¼ miles to the Miriakamba Hut at 8,200 feet. Camping is not permitted because of the wild animals.

Two Hemeds share the Gospel with each other after Damson taught them what each color on our Gospel bracelets means. (Photo by Damson Samson)

  • Monday, June 28 – The morning began in the clouds and the cold (it’s winter here). But the Holy Spirit fire was burning in Damson, who made it his prayer to reach every guide and porter on our team. He began sharing at the Momella Gate and continued at each hut and while walking on the trails. He even told our ranger Joseph about Jesus. “It was interesting to hear that this was his first time to hear what I was sharing, and he referred to other pastors he has been going up with who did not share this,” a perplexed Damson said. Our trek took us another 4 ¼ miles, up more than 3,500 feet to the Saddle Hut at 11,700 feet. Finally, we climbed out of the clouds and for the first time saw Little Meru and Big Meru – at 14,976 feet (4,566 meters) the second-highest summit in Tanzania and fifth-highest in Africa. Damson went for a walk with guide Mohamed to the top of Little Meru (12,530 feet) and shared more about Jesus with him. “I am looking forward to the day they will come openly to believe and have a full commitment to the Lord,” Damson said about our guides and porters.

Our summit team photo: (left to right) guide Mohamed, Damson, Elaine, Yusuf, Gary, with guide Tom laying down.

  • Tuesday, June 29 – We rose early and started toward the top of Meru two hours before daybreak. It was more of a slog than a climb, going pole pole (“slowly slowly” in Swahili) up scree trails and scrambling across rock faces with some exposure along the way. One guide describes it as “scree slopes, then rock ribs, then more scree slopes.” For good measure, the winds started howling at about 60 mph. We saw the sun break behind Kilimanjaro. We stopped about 500 feet below the summit after more than 6 ½ hours of grueling hiking. I declared it our summit. We retraced our route back to Saddle Hut, which was only slightly easier going down.
  • Wednesday, June 30 – We descended from the Saddle Hut to Miriakamba Hut, where a ranger truck was waiting for our team to whisk us off the mountain. We drove through more of the rain forest seeing along the way white monkeys, baboons, water buffalo, bush buck, and red duiker (a small antelope found only in Arusha National Park). We said our goodbyes to gunman Joseph and then returned to Moshi with the team. We thanked them for their support on the mountain, our first climb here since 2018, and reiterated that the reason we come is to teach about Jesus. I said I am here once a year, but Damson comes four times a year, and if they ever wanted to discuss Jesus with him, he would be more than happy. In fact, as part of our DMD study, I’d implored our Kilimanjaro Chapter members to pray for five unsaved people for five minutes a day for five months. Damson said he is praying for these (and, yes, it’s more than five): Yusuf, Mohamed, Tom, Riziki, Hemed, Hemed, Hemed (yes, we had three Hemeds on our team), and Suliman. Will you join us in prayer for these men’s souls?

I planted the seed in your heart, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow,” the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NLT). Please, Father, make the seeds planted here in the hearts of our friends grow to fruition. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, June 27

Gone climbin’!

Damson, Elaine, and I set out this morning with old friend and guide Yusuf and his team of Muslim guides and porters to climb Mount Meru. We are scheduled to be on the mountain four days and three nights. Pray for divine transformation on Meru; that those seeking Allah will find Jesus.

Depending on communications we may not post an update until our scheduled return on Wednesday, June 30. Stay tuned. And pray on!

Saturday, June 26

Chapter training begins with worship. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)

After learning Friday about “Entry Strategy,” our Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters were wondering, “How will we do this?” Today, God provided an answer. I taught about abiding (based on John 15) before Elaine talked about doing ministry together as husband and wife. In between, we handed out Gospel bracelets to use on the mountain and in town and explained how to turn this colorful bracelet into a Bible.

“They teach it,” guide John Mollen said about the DMD study on Entry Strategy, “it happens.” He was referring to the provision of Gospel bracelets as an answer to their “How?” question.

“This is how we know God is at work here,” John Mollen said.

Joyce Chonjo, the wife of long-time Kilimanjaro Chapter leader and guide Dauson Chonjo, holding Gospel bracelets that tell the story from Genesis to Revelation in five colors. (Photo by Damson Samson)

God orchestrated three days of training. We did not plan it this way. First, He had us teaching about “End Vision” and “Entry Strategy” and then the idea of delivering hundreds of Gospel bracelets to these disciples came about. The two elements – teaching and a practical tool to apply to that teaching – went together like a wrist and a bracelet.

Second, when Damson and I discussed Elaine’s participation in the training several weeks ago, he was divinely inspired to suggest we invite the wives of the guides and porters and teach about doing ministry together. So, Elaine shared about the husband-and-wife team of Aquila and Priscilla, two friends of the apostle Paul found in Acts 18. She talked about how God has worked in our lives to have us serving together through Climbing For Christ. She illustrated Ecclesiastes 4:12 by tying two strings (husband and wife) together and then braided in a third strand (Jesus) as the center to show how much stronger that God weave is.

Elaine also spoke directly to the women, her sisters in Christ and daughters of the King. They later showed their appreciation for this moment in comments to us and the rest of the group.

Elaine, with John Mollen translating, teaches about Aquila and Priscila. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

This all perfectly dovetailed my rather long teaching about abiding, and the need to lavish extravagant time on Jesus – through study of God’s Word, in prayer, and by listening for the Lord’s still, small voice. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches,” Jesus instructs in John 15:5. “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

I broke down John 15:1-17 verse by verse, teaching about the Vine (Jesus), the Father (God), and the branch (His disciples – us!) and our desperate need to stay connected to the Vine to bear fruit (the harvest) and glorify the Father. Disciples who are not making disciples are not acceptable to Jesus, I explained. We have a task to complete.

Delivering food to guides and porters as part of our COVID-19 relief program. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

After feeding Kilimanjaro Chapter members spiritual food, we delivered physical food as well. We distributed $2,000 in COVID-19 relief provided by God through generous Climbing For Christ supporters. Each of the 18 couples and five single men at the third day of DMD training received five liters of cooking oil, five kilograms of rice and flour, four kilograms of sugar, and soap. Outside, 25 guides and porters who graduated from our introduction-to-DMD class in March, also received this blessing of food. (These guides and porters will in the fall be starting the more advanced DMD class we are currently teaching.)

There were many grateful hearts in our two groups, both of which received aid from $5,800 that was distributed here last year when Mission: Kilimanjaro 2020 was cancelled twice. They thanked God that we had not forgotten them – something that would be impossible for us to do.

Friday, June 25

Damson Samson, right, teaching with John Mollen translating in Swahili. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

Anyeruse Mwambegere prayed Thursday night before going to bed. He woke up at 1 a.m. and prayed again. “I heard a voice saying, ‘Go forward, don’t go back. Go everywhere!’”

The Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters had been instructed to pray about where God had prepared a mission field for them. They took the DMD training assignment seriously.

One brother, Elnam Moshi, experienced a spiritual battle as he tried to pray. “There were some animals (a small wild cat) on the roof. Strange things were happening.” It was a distraction by the enemy.

John Mollen, a believer from the Maasai tribe, felt led to start with a friend from his people group who calls himself “a Christian” but is keeping two wives. McDonald, a pastor, had a dream in which Elaine and I appeared. “You have a very big vision for the world,” he said about what he saw in his dream.

Being a visionary church planter was the ongoing topic of this training. Today’s lesson was about “Entry Strategy.” To kick it off, Damson asked three of the men to talk about the small groups they have started. Aman Minja spoke about starting with his family and then having two others join and another student from our second introduction-to-DMD class was added, growing his group to nine.

“We can see good changes through prayer,” Aman said, encouraging the others. “Keep praying because the devil wants to resist you. What you are doing to serve God will not perish.”

The Entry Strategy class was based on Luke 10:1-11 – Jesus’ model for entering a new field. When Damson read Luke 10:2b (“the workers are few”), he exhorted the group:

“How many guides and porters are there around Kilimanjaro?” Damson asked. “Many,” the class answered. “Why are there only 22 here? Are you clever?” “No,” they said, laughing. “Have you been paid?” “No!” “You have been appointed! You are chosen. Say it, ‘I am chosen!’” And they repeated in Swahili, “I am chosen!”

They have been chosen to spread the Gospel; to GO and make disciples through prayer, discernment, and action; and to plant churches. This starts through abiding in Christ, which is the subject we’ll address on Day 3 of this training as we invite the wives of the guides and porters to join us, and Elaine and I discuss doing ministry in marriage. We’ll also be providing some tools to evangelize and delivering COVID-19 relief among a group of people (in the tourist business) wracked economically by the pandemic.

Dauson Chonjo, left, and Elia Salum delivering some of the food purchased for Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters with $2,000 USD of COVID-19 relief provided by God through Climbing For Christ. (Photo by Damson Samson)

Thursday, June 24

Illustrating disciple multiplication. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)

We kicked off three days of DMD training with our Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters. Today’s lesson was about the “End Vision,” starting with Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission, and finishing with Revelation 7:9, where “every nation, tribe, people, and language” is represented before the throne of God. To illustrate how this multiplication happens, Damson had Tumain stand with his arms outstretched touching Jonas and Denis, and their arms were outstretched touching four others, and so on. “You see, by the end of the day we can reach the nations,” Damson said.

“What was God’s plan to accomplish His end vision?” He sent His only Son, Jesus, into this world. Jesus chose, trained, and mentored 12 disciples, and then entrusted this task to His disciples to GO and make disciples of all nations. The same is being done with these 22 men. They are being trained and mentored to GO and make disciples.

On Tuesday, when Damson was praying with 20 others on Sango mountain, he asked them: “Why do you go to the mountain?” They gave the physical answer: to make money to buy food. Damson said, “Now is the time to GO to the mountain for Christ.” He repeated this directive during this lesson, talking about having a “passion” to finish the task Jesus has given us.

Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.’” – John 4:34

We sent the men home at the end of this day with the assignment to pray and ask God where is their mission field. Is it in their family, neighborhood, among co-workers on the mountain, or an unreached people group? They will share how they are being led tomorrow morning before we begin the next lesson on “Entry Strategy.”

Fadhil, left, and Godlisten study Scripture during a DMD breakout. In pairs, chapter members were asked to understand key Great Commission verses, such as Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 25:47, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8.

One Kilimanjaro Chapter member expressed his appreciation for our regular DMD training sessions. “Thank God for these lessons,” said Elia Salum, a porter from Marangu. “These lessons have given me the courage to go farther. I have reached different people in different places. I do follow up with them. As you have said, you plant the seed, then water it.”

Wednesday, June 23

In line for health screening and COVID-19 testing outside the Kilimanjaro airport after landing. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

Our 777-200 airplane unloaded about 300 passengers who made their way across the tarmac and into lines formed by health workers to welcome us to Tanzania. It was nearly two hours from deplaning to health screening, a rapid COVID-19 test, acquiring visas, and picking up luggage. But Elaine and I made it!

We were delayed one day (by Monday’s flight cancellation out of Rochester, NY), but made up some of the lost time with 23 hours of flying (instead of the originally scheduled 36). It took us 15 months to get here (after the pandemic cancelled Mission: Kilimanjaro 2020 twice). But I’ll say it again, Elaine and I made it!

We rejoice and thank God for our arrival.

Damson and Yusuf were waiting for us, excited to see us again – and breathing a sigh of relief after Monday’s cancellation put a scare into them. Speaking of scares: Fear may be one of the Christian’s worst enemies. I used to teach that the acronym for fear was False Evidence Appearing Real. But sometimes the evidence IS real. Like COVID-19. As we boarded our flight out of Philadelphia to Amsterdam, I received an email update from the State Department telling us Tanzania is “Level 4: Do Not Travel.” After cancellations and delays, you start to think maybe this isn’t our time to GO to Tanzania. Then that warning.

Our spiritual enemy uses those things to weigh on us. So, we take it to the Lord, asking Him for His direction and His protection. And here we are – praying for a fruitful and healthy visit.

Tuesday, June 22

Damson and 20 members of the Kilimanjaro Chapter went to Sango mountain to pray today. “We shall continue lifting you up,” he said.

He shared this prayer: “As You gave us all authority, we say, ‘Let every hinderance bring glory to You, Father. Thanks again for this great victory we have in You. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen and amen!’”

It’s Groundhog Day for us. Like the great Bill Murray comedy, we woke up in our beds again this morning and went through the same routine and found ourselves back at the airport waiting for the same flight.

But this time we are GO-ing!

Monday, June 21 continued

False start. We are NOT underway, after all. Our flight out of Rochester, NY was delayed – again and again and again – until making the connection in Philadelphia was impossible. We were rebooked on the same flight from Rochester to Philly on Tuesday. After that, different flights overseas. Still hoping to arrive on Wednesday, Lord willing.

Monday, June 21

We are underway! Flying out of Rochester, NY to Philadelphia, PA and then on to Doha, Qatar and finally Kilimanjaro – in 1 ½ days. As we begin our flights, Damson has been meeting with our Kilimanjaro Chapter leaders in Marangu and Moshi.

Kilimanjaro Chapter leaders with Damson in Marangu, above, and Moshi, below.

“I shared with them that now is the time to harvest,” Damson said. “We have been planting and taking care of the crop, so it’s enough to see the results where possible. Therefore, we are going to learn more in these coming days together.”

We will resume DMD training with our Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters on Thursday.

Sunday, June 20

Damson flew today from Mbeya to Dar es Salam and then on to Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Saturday, June 19

Damson made the border crossing this afternoon back into Tanzania.

Friday, June 18

Damson hits the road.

Damson started from his home in southern Malawi to Blantyre. There are several long bus rides to the border of Tanzania, where he will cross and then fly to Kilimanjaro airport.


A cairn on Mount Kilimanjaro with Mount Meru in the background during Mission: Kilimanjaro 2016.

Damson Samson, our Malawi-based Kingdom worker in East Africa, summed up our sentiment as we prepared to GO at last to Tanzania: “I can’t wait to see you people.”

Mission: Kilimanjaro was cancelled twice in 2020. We were scheduled to GO to Tanzania last March when, while next door on Mission: Malawi 2020, the world hurled into a COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. We raced home rather than on to Tanzania. Rescheduled for late November, a COVID spike forced us to call off the trip a second time.

Now, finally, after 10 ¾ months between trips (we returned from Mission: Ararat 2020 on Aug. 1), we are ready to travel. At long last.

We preach physical, mental, and spiritual preparation. My wife Elaine and I have trained hard (hiking, snowshoeing, running, and climbing more than 400 miles in the past five months); tried to be patient in the longest stretch between trips since Climbing For Christ began doing missions in 2005; and studied His Word and prayed daily as we continue to focus on abiding (John 15:5).

We have a team of dedicated prayer warriors behind us and the Lord of the harvest out in front of us. “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:8). To God alone be the glory! 


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