Nearly 6 years ago this journal was given to me by one of my best friends, Brian Bustos. With it came a waterproof sack in order to keep it dry and maintain its penmanship through the harsh realities it would see. This gift was in response to a prophecy I received from Terri Sullivant while in Master’s Commission, who saw me backpacking through the forests of Africa with rain gear and journaling avidly. She said that the things I would learn were far greater than that which could be taught or rendered through education and that I would capture the experiences and learning with pen and paper in my journal. Today I am that much closer to living out the very thing she saw 6 years ago.

Finally, the night has turned to day. With it my fear and hesitation has been accepted The time has come and there is nothing more I can do to plan or prepare. All I am – is all I have. With me I take my wits and my courage. It is like being in the eye of the storm. For some reason once you encounter and stair eye to eye with you fear, it goes away. There is nothing left to fear. People die every year doing this and to fall ill to the mountain when you are days away from medical attention is not ideal.

After climbing today I have realized something about mountain climbing. I remember reading old Catholic literature stories where travelers in the mountains and the events that happened to them we keys to spiritual lessons. The allegory of a physical mountain for the spiritual one that stands between each soul and its goal is an easy and natural one to make. Like the people in the valley behind me, Moshi, most stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to just listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships. Some travel into the mountains with experienced guides who know the best and least dangerous route. Yet others who are inexperienced and untrusting, attempt to make their own route to the top. But all of us once we ascend and become aware of our journey, realize that we took only one of many routes. There are as many ways to ascend, but who is willing to ascend?

Kilimanjaro breathes life from everything it is. This first day was full of rain forests. The whole day was accompanied with mist from clouds, gray scenery, lush plants everywhere and mud. There is so much life in all the surroundings. It is so refreshing to be here.

Along the way I had a very interesting talk with my guide Aribo. He discussed how it is important to free your mind on this mountain. If you worry about getting sick or falling ill, it will happen to you. It was then my failed approach dawned on me. I was asking him so many questions. I ask questions in order to figure things out and then forge my plan and strategize. I wanted to know what time it was, how long till we get there, what terrain we will encounter and when it will become most likely to fail and turn back. It is this consuming worried and anxiety filled behavior which will imprison my mind. For me, I believe that Kilimanjaro will teach me to be free. My watch will no longer be with me, the questions will cease and everyday will be taken for what it is.

Now looking back, I barely thought through this seven day trip to Tanzania. I have no cash left after I tip my porters and no debit card. If I get in a bind, I am in so much trouble with not much room to wiggle my way out. I do not even have enough for dinner the night I return. But today, those are not my worries, I am here on the most beautiful mountain and my mind is on a path to becoming free. I am setting out on what I will call my Kua Huru or in Swahili, “Be Free”.

By the end of the day the altitude of nearly 10,000 ft or 3,000 meters had turned the mud to dust and the jungle became more arid. Day 1 of my spiritual Kua Huru was over.