Lessons learned on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Team World Vision – 10 start 10 arrive

On June 23rd, 10 of us with Team World Vision set out to conquer the mountain and change children’s lives. As I return I am keenly aware that, for many of us, the mountain conquered us and changed our lives forever. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way…


If you have followed my blog you know I went probably over prepared. I was glad for my training and physical prep. And even though I over packed a little I was well prepared and glad I did. But it was the little things I learned to appreciate along the way. One of those things was my pee bottle. Yes my pee bottle. When you take Diamox (drug for acclimatization) you have a tendency to need to pee a lot. This is not fun 2 – 3 times in the middle of the night when it is cold out. So I rejoiced often in this. And even though others gave me a hard time about this, my tent mate was grateful when he found himself desperate one night.

Pole Pole (pole A – pole A)

Mt. Mawenzi

This phrase means slowly slowly. This became a valuable lesson for me in life. We from the west are all about getting there and getting there quickly. We say “hurry hurry”. What I discovered was that, not only can this bring failure in reaching the summit but it also causes you to miss the journey. As our guides would say “twin Danny” (let’s go) We would very slowly put one foot in front of the other and begin a turtles pace up the trail. It is at this pace that you are going slow enough to look around and appreciate the journey. So much of life is missed as we hurry along and in another similarity we are killing ourselves trying to arrive at the summits in life instead of simply enjoying the journey.

As we walked “pole pole” we were able to keep our heads up and look out over the clouds and appreciate what God has created for our enjoyment and not stumble along the way. I arrived at each camp with energy and a sense of achievement and wonder.

Success in Weakness

One of the great lessons for me was found in a contrast on the summit. 10 of us set out to conquer this mountain and 10 of us walked to the summit sign at Ahuru point, the highest point in Africa on the tallest free standing mountain in the world, together. We went as a team, we climbed as a team, we arrived at the summit as a team. However, we did not all succeed equally. I learned a great lesson as I came along side team mates who were puking along the trail. I was strong, had only a slight head ache, and made it to the top in my strength… But true success for me was seen in those on our team who made it to the summit in spite of their weakness. We all summited together but I have great admiration for those who pressed through their weakness and did not allow them to determine the outcome.

I have come to believe that the greatest success is success in weakness verses success in strength. It takes great strength of character to press through weakness.

Pride Takes A Fall

I also discovered that no matter how strong you may think you are the mountain can strip you of your pride. It wasn’t the journey to the top that took my pride. In fact I was pretty proud that I had energy at the top. It wasn’t until all “accomplishments” had been met by standing at the sign that I found myself in a weird place. It was the descent that ate my lunch. It seemed to never end. As I headed down the mountain, I found myself hungry and fatigued. I longed for camp and even though I could see it it seemed to never get closer. I found myself with a tear in my eye, my pride left on the side of the mountain, and the reality that I was totally emotionally defeated. My mind was beginning to remind me that even after I arrived at Kibo camp my journey was not over but that we would only stop long enough to take in some nourishment, pack our gear and hike several more hours down to the next camp where we would spend the night. As I entered Kibo camp I realized I was getting sick. I would have to hike the remainder of the evening out with extreme exhaustion and a severe sinus head cold that has lasted for over a week now. This day turned into a 20+ hour day of hiking and I left my pride on the mountain and skipped dinner at camp and went to bed sick. I found myself successfully defeated. I summitted the mountain but the journey is a round trip not one way. Success is only half accomplished at the summit.

Putting things in Perspective

Now as I sit at home and look through pictures I am quickly reminded of thrill of accomplishment and much of the difficulty is forgotten.  Yes there were times of difficulty and even suffering.  But as I look through the pics and the journey I was privileged to be a part of those times were worth it and an important part of the success of this journey in my life.  I am grateful for the difficulty for in it the beauty is magnified.

Rest of Pics can be seen on my face book page

Things that make me go WOW!

I have been thinking about how much we take for granted in our world today. After watching a video clip from Conan I thought I would make a list of some of the things that make me go WOW! There are so many things in our world today that should amaze us but instead we simply take them for granted or worse yet find ourselves ungrateful for them. So here is my list…

1) Laptops with wireless internet and the ability to communicate instantly (and yes I said instantly) with people around the world. When I stop and really think about this it makes me go Wow! When you find yourself frustrated with your internet connection and its speed, go back to the old way and get out an envelope, write the letter, put a stamp on it and give it to a guy on a horse who will put it on a slow boat to China and then pray that it even arrives.

2) a cell phone where I can be driving down the road with a little thingy jig hanging on my ear and push a button and say, “call Rob’s cell” and bada bing boda bang I am talking to my wife. When I think about this it makes me go WOW! When you start to get frustrated with dropped calls go to the nearest dumpster and drop in your phone and go back and do it the old way. Go home and plug in your rotary dial phone and wait for the party line and stop complaining.

3) Air travel – When I think of the amazing reality that I can sit in a seat 35 thousand feet in the air and get from point a to point b in an incredibly short period of time it makes me go WOW! Next time things are delayed or you are a little uncomfortable – go back to the good old days and get in the wagon and hope you make it to your destination this year and alive.

4) I pod and mp3 players and the new way we do music and the ability we have to download a song or a sermon or a podcast or a book or a video and plug it into a jack in my car or put on my headphones and listen to what I want when I want makes me go WOW! We could go back in time and only be able to listen on phonographs, 8 tracks, or other “ancient” forms.

5) Electricity – flip a switch – lights come on. Wow! could be candles.

6) sunsets and the expanse of the universe – WOW! God is amazing. Could be all one color.

7) Clothes – WOW! we can walk into a store and find the style we like and buy a different outfit for each day. – Could be a scratchy fig leaf that is the same style for everyone and the same color. Not to mention finding ones that fit.

These are just a few things as I sit here on my laptop that make me go WOW! What causes our dissatisfaction with what we have? Where does our entitlement attitude come from? Why do we have so much and have such a hard time appreciating life and the things we have filled our life with?

  • We live in a world where many will go to bed hungry again. (I have eaten all day)
  • We live in a world where 27 million are enslaved to the demands of another, for their pleasures and greed (I am free to come and go as I please)
  • We live in a world where many would give all treasures for clean water (I get it cold and fresh from my refrigerator with crushed ice)
  • We live in a world where kids are raising kids because of the death of parents (I enjoyed every year of my life taking on responsibilities at appropriate ages)
    We live in a world where…

You get the point! I would love to know what makes you go WOW! Add to the list and lets be grateful people.