My upbringing was a very blessed one.  I come from a family where my mother and father loved one another, and are still married after 43 years.   My sisters and I were raised fully understanding that we were put here on earth to serve the purpose that God had given us from birth.  My parents not only taught us this lesson, but also exemplified it.  They were strong pillars in the community, and always gave to those in need.  So, growing up as a child, I was confident in my faith and believed that God would take care of me.

Once I left my parent’s home and ventured out into the Great Big World, I quickly learned that most people had not been raised like my sisters and I, and that people could be amazing, kind, and giving, but they could also be very cruel, hateful, and malicious.  However, even though my faith was at times shaken by the horrendous things I would see occur, and that had happened to me, I still believed that all was possible through my reliance on God’s strength, and not my own.  Or at least I thought that I truly believed this…  In July of 2013, my faith was tested in a way that I never imagined it would be, and I had to realize that the faith I had as a child needed to be nurtured in order for it to become the faith that I needed to live and thrive as a grown woman.

Early in 2013, I was invited to participate in a charitable mission in Tanzania, to raise money to dig clean water wells for the people in that region of Africa.  International Relief efforts were no stranger to me.  My Father, Mother, and youngest sister had all participated in disaster relief and medical support missions in several third world countries.  I was excited that I was finally getting my chance to fulfill this component of my destiny.  In addition to visiting the villages of the Masai people, and volunteering to help with a hearing mission, I also had to climb to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro along with other team members.  Many people aren’t aware of this fact (neither was I when I first signed on) but Kilimanjaro is over 19,341 Ft in height, and is considered the most prominent mountain in Africa.  My family and friends thought I was crazy to tackle this mission, but just knew I could complete the climb.

The first 2 days of the climb were not very difficult for me.  I had trained my cardiovascular and muscular systems to withstand the terrain and elevation.  So, I was having a good time, enjoying God’s nature, listening to my gospel music, and just absorbing myself in the entire purpose of the mission.  Although our team of 8 had dwindled down to 4, because several people had to be taken down to lower elevations due to medical issues, I was still confident that I was going to make it all the way to the top.  You see, I’ve always been known for my persistence.  My father calls it stubbornness, but even he has grown to appreciate my tenacity.  So, my will power, was so strong that I knew I wouldn’t give up, no matter what happened.

Well, the last night of our journey, we began the final climb at midnight to insure that we would hit the peak just before sunrise.  The temperature was no more than 20 degrees, with the wind chill being even lower.

Literally your snot froze in front of your face (sorry for the mental picture).  I started off strong and motivated, then the cold and the darkness began to unnerve me and I know longer was confident that I could finish the climb.  I clearly remember that at one point, I asked my porter to just leave me on the side of the mountain, because I didn’t have the energy to move forward or go back.  Of course he just laughed and me and gently encouraged me to keeping moving forward.  At this moment, something just hit me out of seem ably nowhere, and I began sobbing uncontrollably.  Anyone who knows me, understands just how rare such an emotional outburst would be for me.

But, in this moment, I felt the presence of God like no other time in my life, and I knew I could continue forward on my journey with His strength.  So, I submitted to His will and gave the rest of that climb to him, and I actually felt relieved.  He brought me to the Uhuru peak (which means Freedom) of Mt. Kilimanjaro to profess His glory in a more profound way than I could have through my own efforts.  I had always been a woman of God, but my faith was solidified in a new way, that day.  As I reached the top of that peak on July 8th, my birthday, I had no doubt that God had an amazing purpose for my life and finally, I truly understood what it meant to allow God to carry me when I lacked mental and physical strength to carry myself through the valley.

Although, I was blessed to get a glimpse of what God has in store for me, in a rather grand way; God has an amazing purpose for all of us.  When you find it, your world will never be the same again.