Saturday, 21 July 2007

A Troubled Mind

I've been avoiding this...

I've been home now for just over a week, embraced once again by North American culture.
I sit now, at home, warm, healthy, feed...but uncomfortable.

I think the greatest irony lies in this fact:

I just spent 2 and a half months in Africa. A place where creature comforts are the way of a distant world, a light that shine on the horizon, a hope for future generation.
I slept in a tent, I was hungry at times, at night I was cold...and yet I was comfortable.
I was more then comfortable, I loved it.

Life continues now, it's good to be home, but I hate it at the same time.

Don't get me wrong, my home life is great. My family amazing, as are my's just that almost indescribable want for more.

I knew the transition was going to be tough, I've been here before, but it's safe to say as each day goes by, it increases my longing to go back to Africa, more specifically Uganda.

Not a day goes by where I fail to see the smiling face of one those perecious kids, nor where I forget the love, the welcome, the longing for God.

There is something about Africa, something about the uncentainity, the unrelaible, the lack of much.

I've have been offered an internship at Maadi Community Church in Egypt, and after much thought, prayer and council, I have decided to accept it.

I'll be away from home for a year, positioned in the Outreach and Developement department of the church.
I'll be working along side of the Sudanese refugees, the forgotten people in Egypt.

It is an amazing oppertunity, and I would be foolish to pass it up.

I'll need to raise support for my year away to cover such things as food, room and board and other such expensis.

I leave at the end of August.

This is my first firm step towards my goal of becoming a Missionary in Africa.

I'm standing at the beginning of my future...

Grace, Peace and Blessings,

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Hell and High Altittudes...

Won't slow us down.
Matt and I are safely back at base level after an amazing 5 days on the tallest mountain in Africa.
Needless to say we are both a wee bit knackard, however we are both in high spirits.

Our journey began 5 days ago.
The two of us, 4 porters, one cook, an assistant guide and our guide, Safiel, piled into a van and drove to the Muchme gates.
There we unloaded, signed in, met some other teams and finally started our much antisipated hike to the 'rooftop of Africa'.
4 hours of relatively easy hiking through lushous rainforest, we were at camp...
We were shocked, the climb was going to be easy if this is all Kili had in store for us...
It wasn't.
6 AM wake up call the next morning, breakfast and then started our grulling uphill hike some 2000 metres. We left well ahead of our porters, as they had to pack up but not an hour into the hike they passed us.
These porters are amazing, they carry everything on their heads, sometimes some 50pounds, as they navigate the wyndy and sometimes quite challanging trails.
Matt and I arrived first at the camp, it was quite the stroke to our egos, the mountain was ours for the taking...
6AM day three quickly changed our minds. Hiking up to a lava tower some 4,600 metres up, then back down through a valley to our camp, which lay 600 metres below...
Both Matt and I were not excited for the slow decent through the glacier fed valley to the camp, knowing that every step down ment we would have to climb again tomorrow.
The camp site was amazing, they all were, but this one especially. The glaciers lay above us, looming some 2000metres above, and the forest below, what seemed like 4000metres straight down.
We were awe struck and spent some much needed time in God's presense as we gazed at His emense creation.
Our guide snapped us out of it a little while later while explaining our route the next day, all he had to do was point to the monsterous wall beside us and both Matt and I felt like mush.
It was one of those trails you should be tied in for, and as we embarked it the next moring we both hugged close to the walls.
The wall climbed what looked like a vertical 200metres above the campsite, with the only thing to break your fall being the forest canopy the 4000metres down.
We made it however, and the view was amazing.
From there it was another 3 hour push to the next campsite. The longest day in my books and much of it was strenous uphill, meet by hazardous downhill, and then again more uphill.
Some 20 mintues from camp however we stopped for a much needed game of target practice on some rock trail markers.
We made it to camp, napped, ate and were awoke at 11 sharp for our summit attempt.
Headlamps ready we snaked our way up the switchbacks from our camp, we passed some other groups but everyone was set one watching their feetwork and keeping their minds off the cold, biting winds.
It was 4:00AM when we reached the top, it was time for the final push to the summit, Uhuru Peak, the tallest point in all of Africa.
We pushed for another 30 minutes fighting fatique, -20 degree winds and he slippery glacier which lay below our feet.
We fought and won,but it hurt.
The mountain stripped us of most of our pride and we made a hasty gateway after a few photos.
Altitude sickness hits hard and fast. Matt started to feel it near the summitt and we needed to get down.
We decended back down to camp, skating along scree slopes, the accent took 5 hours, the decent not even an hour.
From there we headed quickly to the basecamp.
27,500 feet in just over 12 hours,
We're both back in the hotel now, one day early but very thankful.
The high altitude camping, freezing temperaters and rock hard beds are the things that memories are made of, however we're quite happy to be resting our heads in a hotel tonight.
We have a couple days in town yet, we fly on the 11th, home on the 12th.
We're both ready to be heading home.
We're both feeling well, kings of our own worlds and are getting along great.
That's all for now.
Grace, Peace and Blessings,
Brent (& Matt)

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The Rooftop Of Africa

Let the final leg of this african adventure begin...
Matt and I are now safe and sound at the base of Kilimanjaro, we start climbing tomorrow morning.
We left the team last night at Nairobi airport, and it was really then that life began to get a wee bit hectic.
I checked in with my confirmation number and found out I was bumped from the flight. Needless to say I wasn't impressed.
After a little bit of prayer from both Matt and I, the Kenya Airways rep came back and said he could put me on a flight from Nairobi to Mumbasa and then down to Kili.
I would arrive an hour later then Matt...not ideal but the best we could do...and I only had 15 minutes to catch it.
Matt and I relucantly and frantically parted ways and I hustled to catch the flight.
I arrived in Mumbasa at conecting flight was at 9:30AM, it was time to hunker down again.
The airport is almost completely outdoors and at 12:30 in the morning everything was closed, safe one cafe.
I grabbed my bags, and lay down in the corner of the outdoor cafe.
I was awoke many times by staff, "The mosiquitos will bite you," they would say.
At 3 in the morning I woke to a security guard offering to buy me food, it was shift break and a bunch of them stood around chuckling at the 'fuchio muzugu' (crazy muzungu).
I thanked him but opted for some more sleep.
The airport began to come alive around 5:30AM with many people standing in cue for a flight to London.
The cafe owner woke me again to check if this was my flight, and when I said no she instead bought me breakfast...I was very grateful as the ATM's were broken.
I checked in and went upstairs to the lounge, hopped on the internet awhile and waited for my flight.
At 9AM, half an hour before my flight was suppose to leave, a Kenya Airways rep came in and told me they had cancelled my flight.
They instead gave me more tickets, I would reach Kilimanjaro International Airport by 3:30PM...but Matt was expecting me at 10AM.
I had them call for him in Kili and inform him of the change of plans.
I now boarded a flight bound, first for Zanzibar then Dar Es Salam before changing flight to bounce up to Kilimanjaro.
5 Airports in 24 hours...just a small feat.
Upon ariving in Kilimanjaro Internation Airport I frantically searched for Matt, asked if anyone knew if the message had been passed along, or if there was a message for me...Nothing.
Should I go to Moshi? Or Should I stay and see if Matt would show?
I opted for the first option and headed out to the car park for the free shuttle.
A taxi driver spotted me and asked why I looked so worried.
I told him the story and he had just so happened been at thye ifo desk when Matt asked for our company.
He took me to the place where he was staying.
After about 45mins of driving, I arrived, was informed that yes indeed Matt was there.
We were both very happy to see each other, all he was told is that my flight was cancelled.
At 5 we sat down for a briefing on the Mountain, went and grabbed some gear and here we sit now.
7:30, dinner time.
We climb tomorrow at 8:30AM.
The mountain look gorgeous and we are both very much excited, but almost ready for home.
6 days on the mountain and a couple of flights later we will be in Vancouver at 3:30 on the 12th.
For now,
Grace, Peace and Blessings,
Brent (& Matt)