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Uhuru Peak!!!!-Day 6

OMG we just summited Mount Kilimanjaro with our four young children on our twins 10th birthday !!!! God is sooo good and we are grateful!

I am truly at a lost of words to describe this day plus I’m a bit tired so I will give highlights:

Woke at 3am to start summit from base camp

Tough accent that required a lot of positive mental energy to succeed.

Seeing folks turn around sick on the mountain jared my nerves but we kept going.

Youngest Amara struggled at times but mostly refused the offer of our personal porters to carry her up. I tired at first for all of one minute or so before she said “ mommy I can walk now” but that didn’t last . DH also carried her some distance because she wouldn’t accept help from porters . Eventually with a prayer miracle, she allowed our chief porter Prosper to carry her and he came prepared ….with baby wrap n all, very impressive indeed. Ultimately Amara hiked rest of way herself after receiving very minimal help from all who offered.

Alan, Alex and Adaeze were amaze balls!!! Let’s just say tired or not, their attitude beat the altitude . Alan did the floss at Stella point!

We ALL reached the summit Uhuru peak at exactly noon!

What a sight!! Took in African’s glacier on the left and a crater to the right of the Uhuru peak . God is totally awesome , the best artist and maker of all things beautiful! We said prayers, I bent down with renewed energy to kiss motherland Africa and prayed for its past and its future.

We were all ecstatic and celebrated with many hugs and kisses, even some emotionality at the enormous reality we were living. I was extremely thankful that my DH had envisioned returning to summit Mount Kilimanjaro a second time, this time with us, his family. Here we all were , living this vision turned reality, especially in good health as a significant bonus!

DH even brought a St Louis Blues Hockey team rally towel to the summit for a memorabilia and photo op!

Our chief guide surprised our twin with fruit juice champagne at the summit!!!🥂

They were so happy they immediately stated that they wanted to bring the empty bottle back home with us for a keepsake.

We hung out ,took picture for about 30 mins and it was time to quickly get off the mountain to lower altitude and more oxygen.

Descending was rushed as our guides literally grabbed our arms locked in theirs to move us down the mountain as fast as possible. It also felt tough on my ” runner’s” or should I say -maturing knees especially lol. I did have a slight headache that increased as I pounded my feet each step down the rocky mountain.

Felt much better after having a warm meal once at base camp .

Kids true to form we’re down again wayyyy before DH , Amara and Myself… yes I was last of my crew off the mountain. Ain’t no shame in my game lol

As we descending Kilimanjaro, a storm was approaching and it literally began snowing on us as we were getting off the mountain to base camp…. my first time experiencing SNOW in Africa!

At base camp our hosts had an incredible birthday surprise for the twins complete with dancing , chants and carrot cake by chef Tito! Hope to post video of this below…

Our children’s smiles were priceless, and that warmed my heart. I was so proud to be their mother and to be parenting them with my DH. What a special way to celebrate their 10th birthday.

Following our meals and celebration we had to quickly rush out of base camp for Mweka camp – another 2 hours hike. This camp gets us closer to the gate tomorrow morning when we start the last 6 hrs hike out of the beautiful Kilimanjaro national park.

We came we saw and we are forever impacted for good as a result.

Love to Mother Africa!

Base Camp!!!! Day 5

The mountain looks close and more audacious as we approach. As usual our three oldest kids are troopers and gap us well to reach campsite, at least 25 mins before we get there with our Moo baby. It turns out she typically will have a reason to stay back …like ” I need my sunglasses Daddy” but then she insists she would like to hike between DH and myself the rest of the time . This would be fine if she would keep up her pace or not want play 25 guessing games that invariably no one wins but she, because the thoughts are so random, and hardly guess able with a brain just trying to do the basis/ grab oxygen from this “oxygen very thin air “😏. Besides the more she talks she mouth breathes and that is not ideal. Trying to convince an 8 yrs to walk in silence is tricky especially when she has a captive audience in her mom and dad!

This camp is significant as all are , but this is the last stop before summit!!!! It’s also cold as heck and it’s elevation is about 4673m that is about 15000ft in American speak! The air is thinner and you can absolutely feel it. Thankfully no headache that have persisted but I have felt weaker, needing a nap. Kids on the other hand are acting like little solar powered machines. On the other hand, I just find myself reminding them in between my naps saying “ no talking too much please conserve your energy ” which tends to fall on deaf ears….ah well, hakuna mata.😏

We would have to wake up at 3 Am to begin our accent to summit Kilimanjaro which will take till close to noon to accomplish. Our senior guide thought it better to wake up at this time to avoid hiking in the dark and for so long without the warmth of the sun. We have come to trust them and so we listen to the instructions shared every night at dinner . He really tried to communicate well including on the “food issues” to make sure the kids will be offered food choices that they would actually wanna eat. For example after I made pancake infront of the chef and his audience, he reproduced that at lunch today and made 4 kids extremely happy when he topped it with fried chicken!!!! Say whaaaat???!!!!😁

Prosper asked if I could cook Mac and cheese tonight for dinner based on Amara ‘s and the rest of the kids request…and so there I was after an hour nap , in that warm , poorly lite kitchen , again with the whole crew who are watching and helping while some watched Naija movies on their phones besides the gas stove I was cooking on. I really couldn’t make up this even if I tried but there I was warmed by the gas stove and the crowded kitchen tent crew as I and attempted to improvise and American mac and cheese at base camp. My daughters had initially said they’d come help but then chose to play play UNO with their brothers and DH in the tent , over cooking in a tent kitchen. I really couldn’t blame them for real.

Dinner is served and they like it enough. It’s not velveeta from the box so there is a slight ” base camp” variation. Most finish their big portions with some persuasion from us . We also had muffin that they seemed to like a lot and ofcourse leek soup! Everyone is content and understands the plans for tomorrow We brush teeth, give kids melatonin aka mountain sleeping lifesaver and they are warm in their sleeping bags.

Tomorrow is our twins birthday and I wish them first and foremost health , then happiness and joy, peace and love and their hearts desire which right now is a puppy whom they have already named teddy Theodore Kilimanjaro Loynd , a bishon teacup who they promise does not shed and is smart……all righty then!

Honestly, I’ve enjoyed a lot about this trip , the time we are getting to spend together as a family is priceless it’s like a comedy show without commercials. The kids are cute no doubt and strangers do come up to DH and myself to remark on how our kids should model, or that they look like “magazine kids or kids on cereal boxes”… I have to admit the cereal box compliment is a brand new one but we’ll take that graciously.

More than their physical attributes, I truly value their connection to eachother , the growth I see occurring in them even visible over these few days on the mountain , understanding the power of POSITIVE THOUGHTS and it’s impact on outcome. It is also very comforting to see the ease with which they seemingly maneuver through wherever with ease. My prayer is that doors be open to them in the future so they are maneuver with their natural ability and they not be judged solely physical attributes such as the color of their skin…

For now it’s hakuna mata in the motherland and when we get back to the Lou, we keep managing as we have so far lol

I must also tell you how much I have also really enjoyed the locals we met, they seem so genuinely , so simple and smart and eager to help. Our senior guide once told me when I was in the beginnings of a freak out when I thought couldn’t find my cellphone but later did in my pocket that “ there’s no way you can loose something with me behind you “ and he was typically trailing behind me.

Everyone has such a warm smile on the road even the porter that are carrying what appeared like tons of load, they are polite with passing us on the trials with greetings. The porters are majority males and very rarely there is a woman porter. Baracca recognizes a woman porter from his village on our trip today, it was the woman’s first trip up Kilimanjaro . As they exchanged pleasantries I noticed she didn’t have proper hiking boots like every other else . What if I leave my hiking boots after the summit for her? I found out her name is Happiness, and I think our shoe sizes may be similar- well just a thought for now since I still need my beloved hiking boots to make it to the summit and back! Happiness will have to wait .

Overall I’m ecstatic at how well our family is doing. DH and I found some moments to connect more vs being so practical and planned ( aka anxious lol). That helped but I still miss him in a more tender , non mountainous sort of way. Does that make sense? Anyways I better get good night rest before I’m woken up at 3am for the biggest summit of our life! God please be with us carry us when we need you and let the time go by fast so we can appreciate and respect the mountain and get back down to where we belong- Solid ground as close to sea level as possible 😉

Day 4 Baranco Wall

We were allowed to sleep in today which meant getting woken up at 6:30am versus the usual 6am. As usual, Amos who I found out recently was really not THE chef but our butler of sorts (?), makes his rounds to wake us up , then he comes around again this time with tea and coffee and the finally with warm water for a wash up . We woke  up feeling much better than we did yesterday, No one complaining of having a headache or nausea and this made me extremely happy and hopeful  ! Having our health intact is a reminder that we at times don’t truly know what we have till we loose it.

All these gestures  from Amos  is so warming especially so early in the morning with a challenging hike ahead of us . Today we go up the Baranco wall which already looked ridiculously intimidating from afar . Up close , it’s this maze of rocks demanding precision and strength to follow the guides and hold up to the rocks for safety. Below us is a cloud covered waterfall and stream from the glacier ice melt. There are scary moments, including a spot called the kissing rock , named as such because one needs to get as close as a kiss to get through its narrow passage while hoping to not fall down some water fall to  serious injury or to ones death. Well we all made it! We all missed the kissing rock” precisely enough to safely cross the path as one of our guides happen to capture moments like this on video. Infact the kids are doing so well it’s almost incredible. They lead the way as usual , all lined up in birth order and each one looks strong with good positive energy. I smile proudly as I watch them from behind, I also reflect on the blessings each of them are to myself and DH. Adaeze is steady in her feet and engages in conversation with her siblings literally the entire duration of the hike. We have to remind them to save their oxygen and not waste it on speaking instead to concentrate on breathing in and out through their noses. Our senior guide specifically says in his Tanzania accented English , which we by the way, comprehend majority of the time….. “ When you talk you breathe with your mouth, so right now, we’re going to save the conversation until later ok?”. He has a very gently but firm way about him and the kids listen easily to him. Thankfully.

We get through the Baranco wall apparently in very good timing , passing many on the way, I guess all that monkeying around our home , including having a “silk” installed right in our kitchen to practice Aerial or basically free for all climbs is paying off with climb today.  All our guides cheer us on and congratulate us well upon reaching karenga camp, no headaches no nausea … very good news so far.

We had more time at the Karenga camp and the kids played literally all day chasing ravens and climbing rocks on the campsite. I considered a nap but ended up chatting with Alex who spontaneously came into our tent while the others played, he told me many stories as usual, this time most of them from the “ Action Bible” he has been reading, a gift from Uncle Alan his god father . He appeared astonished that I recalled some of the names like Melkezanel or Cain and Abel, and would say “ wow you really know your bible!”. I just smiled a lucky smile😉

We lay talking while I asked his permission to use his storytelling as a “ bedtime story” because I was afraid of falling asleep on his stories without permission and risking appearing disinterested in his stories . Alex easily granted me permission. Truthfully with his love of chitchat, it’s no surprise he barely noticed when I dozed off.

I was woken up again by the chef announcing it was close to dinner time . DH spent the time outside the tents watching the rest of the kids at play till dinner time .

First we had to do a medical check by our senior guide , we all passed thankfully and then he informed me that he had been negotiating with our youngest Amara about eating more, as she had started to be more picky with her foods. Amara had stated during her medical  check up that she was “ used to different foods” than the ones she was served here, which by the were all so delicious! I have never tasted so many different soups in my life as I had this week . Let’s just say there may be pressure from some of the kids for me to make more soups once we get home lol

Bottom line, Amara and our senior guide agreed that she would eat more IF her mommy could make her pancake they way she makes at home. So there you have it . The main chef TiTo grants me permit to enter his tent kitchen and provided me with requested ingredients to prepare our “ homemade pancakes” from scratch . Both Adaeze and Amara offer to help out with tasks like mixing ingredients or cracking the eggs while the kitchen is surrounded by various  men mostly “Porters” watching me cook while DH gets a video recording of all this. I joke that I’ve never had this many men as audience in my kitchen, I also secretly crossed my fingers the pancakes turned out perfect given some improvised ingredients. Pancakes was a hit! The kids all loved it, especially Moo baby. Even made some to taste for the helpers and they too agreed -mission accomplished!

Before we went to dinner we enjoyed some local singing chants out in the campsite, everyone happy and energetic and the guests dance along or recorded the event on their videos. We got to talk with some other climbers for the US including one who says she decided to come along on the trip 5 days before !!! She is doing well according to her with the exception of one crying breakdown. To which I say “Hey if that’s all you got for  scrapes then you are champion in my book!”

We later went to dinner where my pancakes were part of the four course meals along a very delicious corn soup, rice and beef stew. I’m not very hungry but I force myself to eat because as they say “ you need energy to kill Kilimanjaro so it won’t kill you”.

For that  same reason, we bargained and bribed and coerced our kids to finish their meals, ultimately we all shoved energy  spoonfullwise into our mouths! Fullstop.

Tomorrow requires early wake up time so we are all laying in our tent now, I’m journaling these thought down before I get to sleep. Overall a wonderful day,however I did have mixed emotions earlier today while on the Baranco wall. DH seems to be in his element on the mountain, he is physically crushing it, I on the other hand hear my panting from time to time, his mind is tuned into a particular plane where he is mostly organizational , goal oriented and practical , he gets like this when there’s a major detail at hand like travel or in this case survival of his family. Unfortunately, this “doing math mode” as I sometimes tease him , does not easily create space for intimacy . I on the otherhand could skip this math class any day to revel in connection and intimacy. I also know that he does not choose this mode without some leavening neccessity. If you can imagine that he is the point person for keeping track of all our mountainous gear like hand and toe warmers, iodine tablets for water purification, more gatorade ,packing bags to make sure everything that is supposed to be there is there at the end of the day, etc etc and ofcourse there the big nerve of bringing your whole family to hike  Kilimanjaro for “the experience “ and the huge task  of retuning them down safe and sound, so I get it and I feel similar pressure.

However existing in these two differing planes has a potential to create a disconnect . I mean we are already sleeping in sleeping bags in two different tents for a whole week and that can be rough. So to manage all this, I  decide to become “practical “ myself which typically means saying less and trying to focus my eye on the goal…get to summit Kilimanjaro successfully with DH and the kids and get down  safely to a warm shower eventually and some more relaxing fun on the safari and then in South Africa with more family fun.

DH kisses me goodnight and held on a little longer, I’m not exactly sure if he senses our different planes but neither of us think this is a good time to go exploring these emotions so I return his kiss and say goodnight.

Midnight thinking on God

Thinking on God, Midnight thoughts midnight Friday June 21st 2019

We are taking Diamox to prevent altitude sickness .Diamox which is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. I will spare you the  boring details of the  mechanisms of action mostly because I am no expert in Pharmacotherapeutics lol , however one of the side effects is frequent urination. We also took anti malaria medicine which has a side effect of vivid dreams on it’s own. So with the combination of both,  I found myself dreaming a very detailed experience of our family attending a play at the MUNY in St Louis. To be fair I don’t recall what show we had just seen but what I recall is the intricate experiences and conversations we were having afterwards, I recall I was dreaming after the show I went to pee , yup , pee ofcourse, except the lines were so long and as I waited, I end up getting locked inside the Muny somehow while DH and the kids were waiting for me outside . Well some other patron was not excited about being told they had to go around to a different gate ( by the way I’m not even sure this is how the Muny works…) so she decides to scale the fence , tree and all , cleared her landing while security watched her , on the other side of the gate she is still furious and share a bunch of choice words accompanied with head and eye rolls at the security etc before walking off the property with her family while her now gathered fans watched in amazement. Anyways, somehow I’m reunited with DH and the kids but now we all were still on the inside of the gate and like law abiding citizens start to make our way tiredly to the “ other gate”. I woke up  mostly at that point thinking damn I still need to pee! Okay okay that was a random dream for sure, but….

I did think about what a great physician God truly is, how he managed to create our bodies in such perfect unity of chemistry, biology and physics. Every atom amounts to some wondrous machinery that operates in perfect harmony. How he also gives us the foods to use to nourish that wonderful creation of his. For example at meals we must have the right amount of salt , and sugar -electrolytes to keep the kidney flittering well and riding toxins , Enough protein to keep rebuilding the muscles we utilize daily…. I really could go on, but as a physician who has studied the human body, I am in more awe at this perfect harmonious  symphony of creation of God!

As I return to my tent I glimpse the bold bright moon overhead and again I am drawn to prayers, thank your God for being so omnipotent and please keep your love ever near us in Jesus name Amen. Goodnight!

Baranco Camp- Day 3

Day 3 Baranco camp

As I laid down in our tent, my Fitbit reads 26473 steps, 11.6 miles,3481 calories,147steps,285mins of exercise for today. Honestly, my Fitbit maybe inaccurate because in truth we hiked from 7:45 am to 5 pm with an hour lunch break at Lava tower where we were at a higher elevation, about 4000 ft precisely, to help with acclamization. So far this was the hardest day we’ve had! First Adaeze and I started having headaches as we hiked to the highest elevation so far on our trip …Kilimanjaro is just under 5000m above sea level, aka 19,500ft. Then after lunch , Amara started with a headache that had her crying and unable to keep in her pace down from the lava tower. She felt miraculously better after ibuprofen and pee break and the she tapped the whole way down the mountain to Baranco camp. The oldest three were champs and literally zoomed down the mountain with the help of our guides, while DH and I stayed back to nurse Amara back to health which didn’t take much thankfully.

Ada said her headache went away after increasing hydration with Gatorade and some trailmix snacks. I on the other hand did not get relief from trail mix or hydration or even ibuprofen sadly, I felt exhausted by the time DH, Amara and I arrived camp and literally fell asleep right after we reunited with our other children who were in such high spirits. Where the heck did they get their energy?! They were settled in at dinning tent eating popcorn and yapping away to one another when we arrived . It was so good to see them warm and safe as I kissed each of their faces as if we hadn’t just left eachother a little while ago on the trail when their sister got sick. The guides had wanted them to keep their pace to get down to lower elevation as soon as and as safely as possible , I understood this somehow but didn’t help my anxious mind when I couldn’t easily follow them with my eyes down the mountain.

DH and the chef Amosi woke me up for dinner an hour later , I was grateful for the rest but could have slept longer . The kids played shadow puppet and put your on a show for us after dinner in the dinning tent right after our senior Guide Propser came to brief us as usual about our schedules the next day. We had contemplated skipping the next camp and hiking all the way to a further camp tomorrow . We thought this could give us a whole day of rest at base camp but after reviewing all the logistics including that once at base camp, we would be required to attempt a summit the following early morning for various reasons including scarcity of water at base camp. We decided it best to take our time to stay at Katanga camp tomorrow night before proceeding to base camp the next day and this would also avoid fatigue since the hike tomorrow would be about 4hrs instead of about 10hrs followed by an attempt at summit before sunrise , yup that would be doing wayyy too much in my opinion.

The kids moved their show and play into the girls tent, playing UNO card game and coming up with the cutest and silliest dares for eachother. DH joined them with the game while I lay next to al of them in our crowded but much warmer tents thanks to all the family together in a small tent. Alex was witty as usual but more quiet , he now complained of a headache while Alan and the girls were going full speed laughing and carrying on. DH and I urges them to wrap up the game as it was getting late and the boys did goodnight to us and headed next door to their own tent. Minutes later , due to the cold outside, I begrudgingly get up to go use the out house bathroom one last time before bedtime only to find Alex had puked right outside their tent….Oh Laud!  I help him clean up all the while praying that he just over ate at dinner and this is nothing serious.

All is quiet now , my headache is lessened in intensity, the camp site is sleeping, the porters and guides have also all quieted down their chatters in their tents, you can hear snoring from nearby tents while the starts shine so bright over head. The southern cross and the Milky Way appear so close, so beautiful. I send a prayer for safety for the rest of our journey. I also pray and call by names loved ones near and far for blessing. I especially ask God to keep my family and I safe and healthy on this mountain.

Until tomorrow…. thanks for reading.