The One About A Bracelet

SUMMIT NIGHT

Our alarms were set and set with just enough time to get ready; set to not be rushing, but set so there wasn’t much time to dawdle either. We were going to have roughly 2-3 hours of sleep, or closer to two if you were like me and had to wake up to use the bathroom during that already too short chunk of beloved sleep.

I cannot tell you how much it sucked to crawl out of my warm sleeping bag, throw on even more layers, grab my headlamp, stumble out into the bitter cold alone and walk down the dark rocky path to use the squatty potty, which required extra skill with so many layers on, and then stumble back slowly to the hut with a slight limp from sore muscles and lack of proper oxygen flow being at 15,520 feet above sea level. But I digress…

As we went to bed for our short rest, and set our alarms for the unseemly early wake up, we all had laid out what we needed, or thought we needed, for our summit night climb. You want to see people check, double check and then triple check (or triple guess) themselves – climb Mt Kilimanjaro where you have no idea what to pack or wear any given day. It’s fun (insert eye roll).

My backpack was packed, with the goal of carrying a light of a load as one could get away with for the rough climb ahead. Sitting next to my backpack were my trekking poles, headlamp, water bottles, very dusty boots, and my outer and extra layers I was going to still throw on when I woke up. The neatly folded piles were quite the juxtaposition sitting next to my duffle bag that look like it had imploded due to my unpacking and lack of proper repacking while getting set up. In my completely unprofessional opinion, and after consulting with my people several times, I was ready for summit night. 

When the alarm went off in our dark and chilly cabin, we all quietly started moving around, preparing ourselves for the last push to the summit. The closer it got to leaving our cabin to meet up with the team, the more my nerves grew with all sorts of emotions. You want to talk about anxious, excited energy, I had it whirring through me and didn’t know how to calm it. In trying to keep my tired head on straight with what I needed to do, all the while trying to manage my rising anxiety, I started the mental check list of everything I needed.

Gloves: check. Kleenex: check. Sunscreen: check. …check check che…wait! No no no…I don’t have everything!! We’re MINUTES from walking out the door and I was missing something that in my mind, and heart, was crucial. I don’t know if I actually verbalized this moment of panic, or if Barry knew me well enough, but he came over and asked me what was wrong; what I was missing. I told him, with tears brimming in my eyes, “My bracelet.” 

I didn’t have the bracelet that my oldest daughter had given to me at the very beginning of my Kilimanjaro journey, ten months earlier. My daughter Ryah gave me this simple little bracelet made up of pink yarn and six silver cubes with letters on them that spelled out the word “strong”. When she first gave it to me, I remember just staring at it and asked her, “You think I’m strong?” She looked at me like I was crazy, “Uh, yes!” She told me that I must be strong to take on such a big task with a huge goal, and to train as hard as I was. For someone like myself, who never once in my life felt strong, I was totally blown away that someone could believe that I am. Her belief and confidence in me was a huge motivator in my training, especially on days when I wanted to throw in the towel. The bracelet never fit around my wrist, but I had that bracelet in my pocket on every hike I went on while training for Kili. Every. Single. Hike. 

I had brought it with me on Kilimanjaro, with full intent on that bracelet making it to the top of Uhuru Peak. But here, minutes before departing for summit night, I didn’t have the bracelet in my prepared items and could not find it anywhere. I felt so sad. This may sound ridiculous, and perhaps one could blame exhaustion, nerves and/or altitude, but I had tears in my eyes thinking that I had messed this up and lost the piece of home I needed to have with me.

When Barry asked if he could help, I told him not to bother, it was no use and just a silly bracelet after all. I’m fine. (Code for: I’m not fine at all). Without hesitation or request, Barry and Zack, who both barely know the story behind it, but seeing that it was important to me, started searching for it. They were on all fours with their headlamps looking under my bunk, tornado styling it through my duffle bag until Barry found it in the bottom of my bag. I immediately felt like everything clicked back into place. I didn’t even feel that nervous anymore.

I know I could have made that climb without that piece of pink string with the silver letters, but to have that tangible motivation; the reminder that I had girls back home looking up to me who think I’m strong, it was priceless in my journey. 

I zipped the bracelet into an inner layer chest pocket and went to work. Eight or so hours later, as I stood atop Mount Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak at 19,341ft, I put my hand on my heart, where the bracelet was, and cried happy, happy tears.


“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13

Burn it Down

Today as I sat in my counselor’s office, we spoke about Kilimanjaro and how it’s quickly approaching. We spoke about various aspects of the trip, and I laid out some of the fears I’ve been wrestling with. One of my fears is that I won’t summit the mountain – that I will have done all this hard work and not accomplish the overall goal, and within that, I will let people down.

She listened to me spew my fears one after the other. She then leaned in and asked,

“What does this mountain represent to you?” 

Huh? 
My first thought was that it doesn’t represent anything. 

Yet, it does.  I sat there and thought on it…

Through tears and with a shaky voice, I spoke what I think this mountain represents to me. 

It represents beginning again and freedom. 

Freedom from all the years of lies I heard and the lies I told myself.

I’ve been envisioning the lies as sticks, sticks being added to a pile that has been growing and growing…for years. I keep turning to the lies, whether someone handed that stick to me, or I picked it up for myself, I just accept it and add it to the pile. 

I am unable to be brave – take the stick. 
I am incapable of doing hard things – take the stick. 
I am not worthy of having or receiving God’s best – take the stick. 
I am too broken – take the stick. 
I am not enough for my family, for my friends, for ministry – take the stick. 
I am weak – take the stick.

Soon, I am surrounded on all sides. Surrounded, stuck and isolated.

But enough is enough. 

I’m burning it down. 

When I take my first step through the Marangu Gate and onto that mountain, it is my way of taking a match and burning down the whole freaking pile of sticks.

There is strength in admitting weakness and there is bravery in beginning again…and again and again…

The victory for me isn’t in taking that final step to the summit – although that would be quite amazing if I can do that!
The victory for me is in that first step, knowing all the countless steps it has taken for me to get even there.
And the victory is in believing God’s Truths, moment by moment; not entombing myself with lies. 

Kilimanjaro isn’t my end goal,

it’s my starting point.


Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

What Are We Raising Money For?

Missions of Hope International (MOHI) is transforming lives and giving hope to thousands of children and their families in Nairobi, Kenya. 

||click here for more information on their organization||

A new avenue that they are pursuing is enabling kids to play, grow and develop through sports. MOHI is teaming up with CMFI to implement a sports discipleship program AND create a one-of-a-kind, multipurpose synthetic turf sports field to be built at their Joska school campus, outside of Nairobi.

The current soccer field at the Joska school.

I am teaming up with MOHI and CMFI to raise money for this grassroots ministry. My goal is to raise $5,000 that would all directly go into the funds for the sports program and field. The money will be used to design and run sports programs, purchase sports equipment, train coaches and mentors, as well as build a turf field. 

Sports are a great avenue to teach kids leadership and problem-solving skills, while inspiring good character, self- esteem and confidence. The goal of the MOHI leaders is to teach skills and also disciple each child to develop his or her identity in Jesus Christ. Sports can develop feelings of belonging, teamwork and purpose; and for kids growing up in the slums of Kenya, these values can be difficult to learn. 

Every kid should have a safe place to learn and play.

This program would support access to sports for every child, regardless of their status. They will foster an environment to build relationships with others, and most importantly, building the foundation for a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Sports may seem like a trivial need, but sports and playing is an important part of our lives and development. Playing is what kids are built for and what they deserve to do, regardless of geography or culture.

We become stronger individuals, build better communities and create a more positive future through play and sports. Sports have the power to unite people groups, awaken self-worth and help children cope with hardship and loss.

Through sports and play, kids are empowered to dream big dreams, stay out of trouble and reach for their highest potential.

While researching more about the importance of sports, play, and kids, I have found some really cool organizations that soley exist to bring soccer balls to kids all over the world, who otherwise would be using some makeshift item, including balls of trash, for a ball.

I get so excited after reading story after story about the joy and excitement that come to the kids and communities when they get a real soccer ball! It makes me even more amped to be a small part of helping get this sports ministry going in Nairobi. 

We can do this folks!

We can join together to help launch this ministry that will have a positive impact on kids’ lives, both now and hopefully for eternity

It would mean so much to me if you were a part of this journey, to see this goal met so that we can give these kids hope and opportunity. 

You can join me in helping to make a difference in a child’s life.

To donate, click here.

Partnerships

Before I go any further into these blogs, I wanted to make sure you have a chance to hear about CMF and MOHI. Our church has been partnering with these two for quite some time and I love seeing the good work they do. CMF is a global mission team that has been serving in 25 countries around the world for the last 68 years. Their mission is to create dynamic, Christ-centered communities that transform the world. Their leaders are always looking ahead to implement new strategies and move into new areas to share the gospel.

How CMF makes an impact…

  • Church planting. These churches train leaders, multiply, and become a starting point for transformation in the community. 
  • Building university student communities. Their Globalscope program allows young leaders to provide a Christian community and model authentic relationships with Jesus for the world’s most unreached generation.
  • Engaging the marketplace. The Market Ministry team live and work in closed countries. The Marketplace Ministry teams create new business ventures that will lead to jobs and economic Kingdom transformation.
  • Serving the poor. They focus on a holistic approach, which addresses the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of an individual or a community.

Within the element of a holistic approach to reach impoverished people in their full need, it includes the following: medical ministries, water projects (providing clean, safe water,) community health evangelism, micro-finance (small loans to businesses in Nairobi to develop and maintain), Christian education and child sponsorship. 

Christian education, particularly among urban poor children, is an important component of CMF’s holistic development. CMF has seven child sponsorship programs in six countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Thailand, Brazil and India. Their largest child sponsorship program is in Nairobi, Kenya where CMF works in partnership with MOHI to bring holistic change to more than 12,000 sponsored children. 

MOHI shares Christ’s love to restore hope to individuals in the disadvantaged communities through spiritual, social, physical and economic development. Because of the things they’ve been doing there; lives and communities are being changed in Nairobi as churches are planted, schools established and small businesses turn a profit. Most importantly, God is being glorified in one of the darkest slums of the world. 

The slums of Nairobi, Kenya, rank in the top five of the biggest slums in the world. Nearly a million people live in the Mathare slum alone, an area of less than one sq mile.

A population of this density, living without basic human services, is a breeding ground for all kinds of physical, emotional and spiritual problems. These overwhelming issues led Wallace and Mary to create Missions of Hope International in 2000. They began by serving 50 children in one school in a section of the slums. Today, MOHI has expanded into remote villages in rural Kenya, as well as maintaining growth in various slums. They have a dedicated staff of more than 850 Kenyans and an international team of partners and leaders through CMF. They currently serve more than 14,500 children in 21 communities throughout Kenya. 

A large part of MOHI’s growth has been due to the child sponsorship program, which was started by MOHI, then developed by the help of CMFI.

The program provides an excellent Christian education, nutritious food, medical care, extra-curricular activities and the opportunity to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. 

In all they do, the MOHI staff and CMF missionaries seek to draw men, women and children to Christ.

They view every connection as an opportunity to share Christ’s love.

I am so very excited to join together with these organizations as we raise money for their newest dream of beginning a sports ministry program in Nairobi, along with the building of a sports field/facility.

YOU can join in and be a part of their awesome story. By giving to the fundraising campaign, you can help support the incredible vision to reach more kids and families.


This link will take you to the page to donate and give you more info:

https://give.cmfi.org/climbing-kilimanjaro-so-kids-in-kenya-can-learn-grow-play-wsports-7y.cause


A big thank you to my friend Dane Voorhees for letting me use so many of his photos. I love how he captures life in his photos and will be using plenty more of his photos along the way.


The Journey Begins

“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both.”

-Brene Brown

Most of my life I have lived among the fearful, timid and anxious. Afraid to try new things; to try hard things. I once believed I wasn’t brave enough and instead of fighting against that belief, I leaned into it. I used it as the crutch of my identity, something I didn’t bother to change or work on. But I know better than that now. It has taken me far too long to stop listening to the lies, and to be able to distinguish the lies from the Truth; the truth about who I am and who God created me to be.


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

What would it look like if chose courage over fear?

Courage to accept and love who I am. Courage to admit and move on from mistakes. Courage to forgive myself. Courage to learn from a failure. Courage to give myself grace. Courage to be vulnerable. Courage to ask for help when I feel like I’m losing control in my darkness and don’t know how to come back to the light. Courage to seek others when I really want to seek isolation. Courage to find joy. Courage to say no. Courage to say yes. Courage to try something new. Courage to push myself physically in new ways with new strength. Courage to try something hard and challenging.

By leaning into the courage, it has lead me to take on a big and exciting challenge that I have accepted for this year. I have signed up to help raise money for the sports ministry program at the school in Kenya that our church partners with. There is a team of about 30 of us signed up, from all over the country. Together, our team has committed to raising (at least) $175,000 to help launch the new sports program and start the construction on the sports field/facility. That breaks down to around $5,000 that we each need to try to rally. In the efforts to raise money, the other task we have committed too, is raising awareness of the cause by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania!!

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest free standing mountain in the world and fourth overall in the world for summit height. The summit of Kilimanjaro, called Uhuru Peak, stands tall at 19, 341ft. We will be tackling this mountain trek at the end of this year (last week of 2019, into 2020). For myself, the rest of 2019 will be focused on this massive endeavor – fundraising, training, prepping, etc. This blog and website will serve as my hub for news, info, thoughts, adventures, and all that stuff, as I prepare mentally and physically for this adventure. I don’t want to do any of this alone, so please join in on this journey right along with me!

About the cause…

Christian Missionary Fellowship International (CMFI), and program partner Missions of Hope International (MOHI) located in Nairobi, Kenya, have teamed up to create a one-of-a-kind, multipurpose synthetic turf sports field for thousands of African children living in extreme poverty. This will be a state-of-the art sports field will also help to expand the current sports ministry program for 16,000 children throughout Kenya.

The majority of impoverished children have little access to education and no sports programs. Through this unique partnership, CMFI/MOHI will build a low-maintenance turf field that will give access and opportunity to children with no clean, safe place to play in a recreational, outdoor setting.

photo by Dane Voorhees

To give to this ministry, please click on the ‘donate’ button in the right menu selection. That link will take you to the page with more info and how you can donate. That page specifically is for the sports programming fundraiser; if you would like to donate to my overall trip costs to get to Africa to see these kids we’re helping and then climb that mountain, please email me for more info.