Finally we are back in the USA after our last few days of sightseeing and souvenir shopping. The team experienced the chance of a lifetime as we embarked on a Safari! Elephants, zebras and giraffes…Oh, My! We saw an abundance of each and some groups even saw lions, a leopard, and the rarest of all–the cheetah! After we were able to see such magnificent displays of creativity in God’s creation, we embarked on a journey of different sorts; shopping! Team members enjoyed bartering for Tanzanian cloth, baskets, spears and myriads of other items. We made sure to thank the Lord for the many abundant blessings He showered upon our team throughout our time spent in Africa. Friendships were formed, life-changing decisions were made, and each team member experienced the Lord in new ways. One team member commented to a leader on the flight leaving Africa…, “I think I forgot something…Oh yeah, I left half of my heart in Africa!” God moved in magnificent and glorious ways in the Kilimanjaro Backpack team this summer and as we wrap up our time together it is our prayer that each of us might continue to serve the Lord with our hearts, souls, minds, and all of our strength. May the light of Christ shine bright in Tanzania and into the rest of the world!
Here are some quotes from the team members from our first and second hikes.
Tanzania is such an amazing exotic place. We accomplished so much at our BMW construction project through teamwork and faith. Nightly team devotions and S.P.P.’s (Secret Prayer Partners) have really helped us to work and grow as a team. Through God’s guidance we departed from the base on Saturday and spent between eight and nine hours hiking. The hike was strenuous and possibly the hardest physical challenge I have ever faced. The memory verse “I can do all thought Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13) helped to strengthen the team the last hour of the hike, which ironically was an impossibly steep shortcut up a mountain. Though our team was overcome with emotions as the last stragglers arrived at our new home around 9:00 pm, encouragement and love filled the air. The next morning we felt unseen blisters and burns from the straps of our backpacks, but nothing could damper the sense of accomplishment shared among the team. Although meeting the Tanzania peoples through the language barrier is tough, God has broken it with a common love for his world. I continue to experience new challenges and blessing every day, and could not ask for anything more from this experience.
Jessica Codding writes
How long are we going to be here? Am I doing this right? When are we going to leave? Another water run? Really the last day of working on the Bible school was a long day compared to the others, there were complaints and frustration; but it was nothing compared to the day that followed. The morning we started our first hike, we started out full of excitement and cheerful spirit. But within the first hours we were all tired and our energy was quickly draining. I found it easier on me personally when I had someone to talk to, but as we hiked I noticed my team growing weary. One thing that seemed to encourage people’s spirit was prayer. There was definitely a lot of praying going on all throughout the hike.
Our last few days at the base, in my opinion, were very useful. We poured concrete in about half of the rooms, which is a huge accomplishment since we had to mix it and continuously get water from the stream. As a team I think we really showed improvement on water runs. We started our hike on a lovely Saturday morning. I was expecting to be driven to a base point to start hiking, but we just left the base and started on down the road guided by a former Tanzania Bible school student named Paul. In the first 20 minutes I knew that it was going to be a long day because I could feel new blisters that were forming on my feet.
Jill Geyer Writes
When we began our ascent up the mountain in and of itself, it wasn’t a sleep climb. The hill was just a long slow steady incline. Lots of people along the way kept saying “Pole” – I didn’t understand what it meant until I asked Elaine who speaks some Swahili. Apparently “pole” means “I feel for you”. Our team took a break in a soccer field close to the road. The leaders told us it was only another 30 minutes, but that must have been driving in a truck going 60mph because it took to another 3 hours. The hardest part was when we came down the last hill.
Logan Perron writes
The last day of the work project was probably the hardest. We did a water run and mixed up the first batch of concrete before breakfast. The hike into the hills of Kilimanjaro was probably the hardest of my life. We started hiking at 10:50 and I passed out from I’m not sure what at about 5:30. I came to in a car on our way to the church we where stayed. I then slept until the rest of the team arrived.
Collin Benjamin writes
Saturday we started our first backpacking hike at 10:00. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was crying a lot of the time and was always in the back. My leaders encouraged me all the way. My friend passed out at about 2:30 so we get a longer break and then at 5:30 the passed out again. So a person from the church we were going to picked us up in his car. Church was fun we did verses all day after. And went and evangelized to people. I really liked it. Some people started crying and I saw some accept Christ. The last guy we went to gave my group a really strong honey drink and gave us two stalks of sugar cane. I had an interesting experience.
Colten Dunham writes We started the hike Saturday morning. At first it was pretty easy but we quickly realized it was going to be a very long day. I can honestly say that it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We hiked from 11:00 am to 7 pm, so close to 9 hours. It was really a great experience since I probably never prayed so hard for so long. We finally reached the site where would soon launch to do EV. We started doing evangelism on Monday and split up into three teams. We know we had at least 2 decisions for Christ. My team had to deal with the language barrier. I really had to rely on God to explain the verses we were showing them. So all in all, a pretty good start to a really good week.
Another team member writes
This trip so far has been one of those things in life that I would never change. I’m writing all things down while buttering the and bettering that’s making things very difficult of me because I’m a worker so if I don’t love to work if I don’t work get better fast I won’t be able to work with my team for the last time but that the things usually that world really upsets. But ever since I got here in Tanzania, I’ve seen how thankfully generous and happy people are here with actually nothing. It has really change person and what really important and that I should be worried about in life. When I get home, I pray and hope that I will be able to keep the peer If you one of those because you are considers going on a time just thinks of what important to you then think s that it is really after that much if you one of those people that absolutely need something everyday no matter whit encourage what perceptive god will give you.
After working at the work site, most of the team was looking forward to the hike. Little did we realize how physically exhausting and mentally draining it would be? Late in the afternoon we started a had climb up in to the mountain as we sallow climbers our bodies were and now finally we got to a downhill only to discover that we had one last climb.
Danae Kostner writes
We had many accomplishments in our last days of work. We roofed the pit latrines, and got 3 or 4 rooms laid with concrete. Our 1st hike from the TMI base to the church we are at currently was a tough hike. Honestly one of or the hardest thing I have ever done. The bottom of my boots (both of them) now have holes. But they are bearable. I have blisters on my feet that are not in the most comfortable places. But we all arrived at the church at around 3:00pm. We started our hike at 10 or 11 in the morning that day. We all got here safely, praise the Lord. Our 1st evangelizing trip was today. We split up into group with translators (well sort of translators) and went around the Messe village praying with people and sharing the Gospel. I think our team had a good number of decisions for Christ today. Praise the Lord. I can’t wait for more EV.
Kyle Hannah writes
A couple days ago we finished our work project. Our team worked hard, running buckets of water, shoveling mortar, and moving anything that was put in front of us. We put a roof on the squatty, floored 3 to 4 rooms with a cement floor, and tied some rebar beams together. Praise the Lord, for all this work would have been miserable if he had not given us such wonderful leaders who always prepared three wonderful meals everyday. So after the work project we packed up our tents and started hiking not really knowing were the Lord was leading us. My backpack was really heavy and I ended up carrying it for about 8hours and 30minutes. That last 2 hours was the hardest and the hilliest. It got dark and I thought we were lost because I couldn’t find our destination. The group of 10 or 20 just followed the road for a while and finally I saw a light. I was finally there after a long hike and the Lord got our team to our destination safe. Today I did my first door-to-door evangelism and was blessed to see two people get saved today. All is going well, Praise the Lord.
The last day at the base was super exciting. It was a total surprise when Mr. Peter told us we were going to leave the next day! We were all shocked. It was real nice to have to do the water run for the last time; after the water runs we mixed concrete for the floors of the BMW training Center. We left the base at 10:50am, but the time before that we packed all of our stuff including loading the kitchen stuff into our truck. The hike went from 10:50 am to 7:30 pm – it was such long day. I was so tired I wouldn’t have made it without Miss Carly encouraging me to the last hour or so. The hike was a huge challenge for me. I am so thankful for my team that encouraged me as well. We were still about 20 minutes from the place we were going to stay and we were all super tired, so we took the “Short Cut” which was all up hill and really steep. When we finally arrived where we were going to stay, I was so tired and sore I just sat there and cried. I now see that God was using that hike to test me and encourage me. No matter the obstacles I may face, I can do all things through him.
Let’s start with the last few days on our work site. I have to say we worked harder then I have ever worked, ever. Those last few days found me doing one of two things: Praising the Father, or wanting to go see the Father. I have grown both physically and in my faith, and I realize that both the good times and the bad were for my benefit. Building was a huge part of my trip that I was unaware of, yet still one of my favorites.
Now when I say that the work site pushed me to my limit, the hike went above what I expected. I’m not sure how I thought carrying all my possessions and a tent would be easy. Maybe it was the fact that I believed I was strong on my own, but after the first hour I knew I needed God. The rest of the 8 hour hike mostly consisted of me saying Isaiah 40:31 and Philippians 4:13. Through God I made it up this mountain and through God I remained strong. Finally, my experience with evangelism. First, if my guide hadn’t spoken English I would have been standing in awkward silence for some of my attempt. And second, if my EV Group hadn’t helped me, I would have been floundering with the guide. Over all it was a great learning experience and I hope to get better at it.
Elise Hammen writes
Tanzania is a great place. The last two days at the worksite, we laid floors and put trusses on the squatty. Then we started our hike. It was a challenge; I honestly couldn’t have made it without God. I spent the entire 9 hours praying for strength and reciting verses such as Isaiah 40:31 and Philippians 4:13. We all struggled but made it alive – blisters, sore muscles and all. Today we started the evangelism part of our mission and it went well; in my group we had two decisions for Christ. Praise the Lord.
Our Last day of workThe last day at the base was sort of rushed but that’s understandable since we had a lot to accomplish. My back and arms were sore from carrying mortar pans and shoveling concrete but it was still a lot of fun.
Then came the hike.When the hike started I was full of energy and strength thinking that I could hike and get there in no time at all. I was wrong. If I didn’t have some one to talk to I would not have made it as I did. Around 6pm I started to get really stressed and everything felt hopeless. If I had been by myself I couldn’t have reached the team’s destination but I wasn’t by myself. I had the Holy Spirit and the rest of the team. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done, but because of it I felt like I had grown closer to God and my team.
EvangelismEvangelism was hard because we couldn’t understand if the people we were trying to teach the gospel to understood. It was a learning experience and I hope I will have more chances to preach.
Savannah Stiegler 15
During our most recent hike, I was feeling a little discouraged mostly because I wasn’t riding on God’s strength but only my own. When finally saw that I couldn’t do it by myself I needed God to help me. After God helped me do the harder things, I soon realized the He helped me through all things. Then I remembered Philippians 4:13 for the rest of the hike I was so energetic, even though my feet were throbbing and my shoulders were hurting I didn’t really even notice the pain but really enjoyed that hike and God used it as a teaching tool. When we got to where we where supposed to set up camp we pitched our tents, changed tent buddies, and ate lunch.
I’ll admit that after our previous hike I was weary to pick up my backpack and move yet again. Before we started the hike my strap snapped and since I couldn’t carry the weight on one of my shoulders Clare affirmed to swap packs with me. I could tell that God’s hand was on me for the day in just the simple gesture of kindness that Clare showed by offering to take a broken pack. This time I tried to stay up at the front and I was rewarded by a slower pace and the encouragement from my team members. I also found that God gave me words of encouragement to pass on but before I knew it my fellow team members were smiling and removing their packs with the news that we had arrived. Despite my disbelief, I found our leaders unpacking the kitchen and setting up the kitchen for lunch and we’d been hiking for a little over an hour God’s hand was definitely on our team!
Our second hike was an interesting one. Peter told us it was a one to three hour hike and it took us about one and half hours. We were all super excited until Peter told us that it was actually a one to two hours hike Lol. For the next two days I evangelized at one primary school and three secondary schools. The school that interested me was the last secondary we were told that the told that the school had a large percentage of Muslim students in it. We were expecting a cold reception because of this, but my apprehensions were erased when we where given a very warm welcome. They gave us sodas! After our presentation the people were very easy to talk to. I believe that God opened doors in that school and I hope that Christianity reaches the group there. The kids always love the song Yesu Ni Wangu and other songs in Swahili. In other presentations we talked with the kids; average and primary and we played football with the kids.
The other day, our Kilimanjaro Backpack team started our second trek One part of the hike was every steep but none of us fell down. God proved for us and the rest of the trip was down till. It is such a beautiful country and I was captivated by the lovely countryside. We arrived in just 11/2 hours and many of us were surprised that we had found the right place because of how easy the trail was. Evangelism was my only goal for the next few days. We had many opportunities to perform in schools share testimonies. We spoke with the students and many were saved. It has been a blessing to see people committing their lives to Christ.
A couple days ago we went on our second backpacking trip and I prepared my self for 12 hours just in case it was harder than the last one. God blessed us with a short, easy, 2 ½ hours hike. Yesterday we went to a school! The first was a Christian school and we had a lot of rededications and people accepting Christ. We also went to a school where many Muslim students attend, they enjoyed our presentation and I think a few accepted Jesus.
After a gracious goodbye, our team departed from the church where we had been staying and we departed for another backpacking trip. Luckily, this one was only 1 ½ hours long and no one fainted or got sick…… praise God! We are now staying at another welcoming church, high in the mountains. Going to schools and doing our music and drama presentations have been really enjoyable. I think we have really spread the knowledge of Christianity through this outreach. Yesterday (Friday), we went to a school with a large Muslim population, which was intimidating, but ended up being an extremely worthwhile visit. God continues to guide us day by day and is making a HUGE impact on our team.
After our stay at our home base on Wednesday July 25 we start out on another hike. This one was support to be two hours long, but it actually ended up being much shorter. Our team made it in 1 hour and 30 minutes. Relieved that it was not another long hike we set up camp and prepared ourselves for evangelism. Thursday and Friday we visited two schools each day. On Thursday we first went to secondary school which is like a high school in the U.S. Our team did our presentation, sang songs and shared the message of Christ with them. Then we grouped off to speak with the student’s one on one and our team got to know the school better. That day was exiting because I lead some of the students to Christ Jesus! Evangelism at the other school was great and many people accepted Christ. Praise the Lord.
On the 25th we did our 2nd hike. The hike was only one and a half hours long. It was a very nice and our team had a very good pace. On both days after the hike we went to two schools where we had lots of people asking question about Jesus. It was cool to see God work in each place. I talked to a few people about Christ and a couple of people I talked to accepted Christ into their hearts and it was very exciting.
On Wednesday July 25th we got the news that we were going on another hike; luckily they said it was only a 2-3 hour hike. We started hiking and we crossed a valley so we went down then straight up. After that, we hiked a little longer and to our surprise we got to our destination in 1 ½ hours. Then we got our tents set up and ate lunch and did some other stuff. The next day, we went to a primary and a secondary school, lots of kids accepted Christ! It was amazing! We went back to camp and did a Bible study. The next days, we went to 2 secondary schools and one headmaster was Muslim at those schools we also saw a lot of people accept Christ then we went back to camp.
The second hike was a lot easier! It was shorter, the team stuck together, and everyone had a better attitude. Going to the schools has been fun and eye opening to a lot of kids. The language barrier is tough, but there is usually a student that knows more English and can translate. The groups that form around our camp can get annoying and go a bit into my personal space, but at least we draw big crowd for the movies.
On the 25th we left our camp sight and started off on another hike only a few people were excited to be on their way sadly I was not one of them. Because of my bad attitude it made the first half hour of the hike which was up hill, harder then it could have been. When I reached about half way up the hill I had to stop and drink some water and try to control my breathing several team members gave a few encouraging world as they past and another one helped me up. My back pack felt way heavier then before and my legs hurt but once again verses flooded into my mind keeping me going until I reached the top. After that we walked a long a road that went mostly down everyone was gratefully for that for the next hour of hiking I got to know a team member a little bit more cause we talked the whole entire time until we reached our destination. Once again we were blessed with on opportunity to preach the word of God at a primary School and secondary school. After we did our presentation I sat with some of the girls one prayed with them and sang songs with them I told them the story of the bracelet and all its colors there we left.
The second hike was by far my favorite wakes it took us roughly an hour and 15 minutes to finish but that is loads betters than 8 hours. I will admit that I really didn’t like when we went down into the village and then back up again. I felt like I was going to fall, but I know God wouldn’t let me come this far just to fall now. When we actually got there I refused to believe we had made it because of how short it was, but we made it there!! While we’ve been here we visited four schools one primary school and three secondary schools we performed a number of ways including: songs, drama and explanation through example. After that we would go out among the students and do one of two things. We would play games if they where little or attempt deep discussion about what we talked about in performance at the secondary school. Both sides received equal amount of response both good and bad, but people still come to know Christ through us. Over all it has been an amazing experience.
Our next hike we did wasn’t so terrible. Especially since we had the experience of a nine hour hike and we all thought it was going to be 2-3 hours. But it only took us 1 hr and 15min. The encouragement of the first hike was still there so that also made it easier. When we stopped at the church no one believed it was where we would be staying for the next few days. We didn’t believe it was it until Petah said it was. But we were all extremely happy when we found out we could pitch our tents there. EV – the second time. When we went EV the second time it was different because with two different leaders in music it was not the same. But I felt like the message got through.
We prayed for some people, but sometimes its’ hard to know if they were sincere. We pray that they were.
After the fist hike we did (all 8 ½ glorious hours of it), the word “hike” did indeed begin to strike fear and dread into the hearts of the Jaro team. I myself can admit somewhat ashamedly that I did feel trepidation when we were told that on July 25th we would be packing out and leaving Messe, the peaceful mountainous village we had grown to love as our second African home (away from Homeland Base).
We all had our guesses at how long the hike would be. Some said 5 hours, others 7. Some even jokingly said 14 hours, but they had a hunted look in their eyes that told me they believed what they were saying. I myself chose to stick with an optimistic 3 – 4 hours, if only to keep my barely recovered spirit from collapsing in an exhausted and despondent pile. When we were packed and ready to go, Peter, our kind but slightly cryptic leader gathered us together and told us the hike was to be a meager 2 hours, 3 if we took breaks along the way. You would think that everyone would be sighing with relief and jumping with exultation, but that, in fact, was not the case. No one believed him. This lack of faith was due to a time estimation fiasco that took place on the previous hike, but I digress. In the end we did put our trust back in Peter’s hands, and we did our traditional “Kiliman! Jaro! Backpack! Three, two, one, Praise the Lord! We left the church property where we had been staying with renewed spirits that were filled with joy. Even those whom had been struggling were laughing and enjoying conversation. I can truthfully say I had fun on that hike. That fact in itself is proof that God was doing a great work in me. We got to our new base in around an hour and 15 minutes to our surprise and delight. At first we could not believe we had had such a short hike, but when they told us to set up our tents we exhaled and joyously set up camp in the sunshine as it filtered through the trees and coffee bean plants that formed a canopy of green around us. Never had the team been so relaxed and happy. Our new ministry was in the primary and secondary schools in the area around where we were staying. We would walk or take the truck to the different schools, i.e. (Samaki school) and then after a presentation of songs, drama, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, we would play with the kids (primary), or chat with the teens (secondary).Although we had a couple of flops and it was difficult to get up the courage to share Christ effectively we had fun. The last school we went to had a large Muslim population, so we were all kind of nervous. But, in the end it was the “funniest” most successful evangelism we did. I believe that was the case because so much more prayer was invested in this particular school visit. Over the past few days God has really changed me and changed my heart, giving me boldness and wisdom in sharing his word.
After our last hike, I was a little nervous about the next one. Our leader said it would only be about 2 hours, 3 hours if we stopped. Even knowing how short it was, I was still a little nervous.
The first half hour was down the first hill and up the next. It was very steep, and I was having a hard time breathing due to the altitude change I found myself complaining on the inside, about it all being uphill.
After getting to the top, it was flat and had a very enjoyable view. I kept thanking God for how level the ground was and how beautiful the other hills looked from on top.
We arrived at our new base and were all unwilling to believe that this was the place since we had only been hiking for one hour and 45 minutes! Eventually we all realized this was the place…and we were all very happy! The next day during devotions I looked back on the hike….and my attitude. God really convicted me of not praising him when things were tough and only praising him when life was good.
I read 2 Corinthians 2:14 – 17
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through is spreads every where the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. After reading that, I really put my focus on why I came on this trip and what this trip is about.
The continuation of the exploits, expeditions, considerably miracouse 4 somewhat numerous adventures of Sara Thomas
After the massive first hike, the sudden news of picking up again caused them wide anxiety. Peter then informed us the hike was a mere 2 hrs, 3 with breaks, which paled in comparison to the initial hike. We hiked from the top of on mountain, down a valley at up to the top on another foothill. The hike was steep and slippery but we got to the church in on hour 4 ½ of time, a huge blessing and surprise to us all.
The E.V work started the next day. We went to a secondary school and than a primary school. Talking to our own peer group was intimidating, but Good opened doors. The primary school engaged in our games of London Bridges, ring- around – The Rosy, Red-Light – Green Light and fire on the mountain game we then sang songs and spoke 4 testimonies which hopefully sowed their hearts for future spiritual seeds.
Despite these accomplishments, our team failed that evening we were showing another film and while we waited for it to be over we slept. Unknowingly, we were being asked to pray. As a girl with a guilty heart, I felt convicted when confronted about it the following day. In Rev. 2:2-5 it talks about finishing out strong. As of late, Satan has been attacking our team immensely with being anxious for home. This failure challenged me to live in today to fight fearlessly for the lost souls or Mt. Kilimanjaro.
God gave is an opportunity to redeem ourselves as we went to two secondary schools the following day. Though am working on forgiving myself, God is showing me that even mistakes can be used for his glory.
We began our second hike expecting to be backpacking for 2-3 hours. An hour and half later the team arrived at a church that we couldn’t believe would be the church. But soon we saw Peter and the TMI truck and we knew we had arrived at our new home. The beginning of the hike was harder than our first hike as we joined straight down into a valley and straight back up climbing at least angles of 45. Since it was still the beginning we monitored pretty good at times, thought we were very gratefully for the gentle downhill slope that made up the remainder of the journey. I had decided I was going to keep a good attitude through it all and based on developing deeper friendship with the team instead of my own pain. And the time past flew I was filled with the joy and peace.
After we settled in and washed we ate dinner and continued our nightly routine the next day we visited a Secondary school presented our songs and dramas. I had the opportunity to talk with the students we told them the gospel and lead some of the students to Christ but a majority seemed to be more interested in talking about school I had to leave each to help with lunch. But the rest of the team moved onto the neighboring primary School.
The next day we visited 2secondry schools. The first we presented inside the church during part of the worship time then we mingled with the students forced on what was truly important we then ate lunch and traveled to a school with dominant Muslim population and run by a Muslim the presentation went really well and the students we very open and receptive. We had been a little scared to go the Muslim school but all encouraged as a majority of the team had prayed that Christ would enter the schools and were able to lead some students to Christ. It was also helpful that we were able to hand out wordless books and bracelets and tract for them to keep. All in all for five schools they went much better than anyone expected we felt the power of god moving.
Our last hike was miniscule in comparison to the first. Although it was only an hour and 15 minutes hike I still struggled a lot though because my feet were still extremely blistered and my back hurt that was all scabbed up got irritated and it started bleeding again staining my shirt. However I definitely experience God is amazing way while I was hiking out of a valley up a steep hill it was like someone was behind me, lifting my backpack it was like the hand left and my pack became heavy again. I was so amazed I knew that only God could have done that.
Personally, I enjoyed evangelizing at the schools a lot. I think that the secondary schools were my favorite though because the older kids were my favorite though because after each kids spoke English fairly decently.
After each presentation full of songs, drama, and a couple testimonies we had a chance to interact with the kids. Some were shy and others were bold, but each one heard the gospel. It look a little practice at first, but eventually I got used to it one night while we were showing a film in Swahili a girl named Happi who I had met at the Secondary school approached me, She said that she wanted to share her testimony with me, she went on to say how she had siblings. Her father left her then died leaving her mother to take care for them all. Then her mom died leaving her and the rest of her brothers and sisters orphans. She continued to say that she didn’t understand why God would take away her mom and dad if He loved her. It was really cool, because then I got to walk her through. I can’t wait to God’s love. It was amazing. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us next in Tanzania.