It was cold and getting dark as we gathered inside our meal tent at Kibo Camp a few hours before attempting to summit the highest peak in Africa. We needed to go to bed so that we could rise at 10:30 PM to climb all night to (hopefully) reach Uhuru peak at dawn.
It was time for holy communion. The family was there, our guides and other believers crowded around the makeshift table which never had enough room for all the pots, plates, thermos and silverware we used for every meal.
Babu Simba said a few words about Jesus, about coming together in peace and some random story about Muslims and forgiveness. The conclusion was that Christians are commanded to forgive our enemies, etc.
Then he brought out the communion bread (one of the many things he carried in his heavy backpack) and we broke it together and passed it around. Then the cup, a real silver cup he also carried all the way up, with real wine. We all passed it around and drank from it. It was probably the only time we all shared the same cup, guides, porters, climbers, white, black, brown. As one.
We kind of sat there in a cozy silence, not knowing what to do next. Lise suggested we pray the Lord’s Prayer, each in their language. So we did that (the Swahili version was the longest).
We had no idea what that night would entail. The cold, the exhaustion, the grueling climb, the endless steps, the trudging through the snow, the strain to breathe, freezing hands, the bitter wind. The hope of dawn.
We ended with music. On the first day we met, I asked our main guide, God Listen (yes, that is his name) for music for our journey. He promised he would sing a “church song” every night. This night was no different. We ended with a song. (and by “we” I mean those who spoke Swahili).
Click the red button to hear what happened next.