Clean Water Climb – Day #3

July 4, 2012 was our hike to the next base camp – Cave #3 camp at 12,946′ (up from 11,443′). It was the first very difficult day for me. I was exhausted along the entire route and my right foot, despite being bandaged up, hurt quite a bit. I was constantly panting very heavily to the point that I had to frequently stop to catch my breath. This happened last year, but only on the final ascent, at a much higher elevation than what I was experiencing. Our lead guide offered to carry my day pack the last 1/3 of the hike, which I gladly accepted. Last year, I did not relinquish my day pack until the final ascent. I checked my heart rate monitor at the end of the hike and my max heart rate for the entire day was only 138 BPM, very low compared to what I train at. I try to train in the high 150’s to low 160’s occasionally going into the 170’s. So, my heart was fine, I just couldn’t get enough air. Something different was going on this year and the only thing I could point to was this upper respiratory condition I was trapped with. I was on Day 4 of my Z-Pak, but it didn’t seem to be helping much if any. When we arrived at camp we were invaded by several White-Naped Ravens. We had to constantly guard against them as they would steal anything. We witnessed one of them pulling out of a pack pocket, and flying away with, a brand new package of Baby Wipes, a precious commodity in a dry and dusty place.


Clean Water Climb – Recollections Through Day #2 and Afternoon Acclimatization Hike

I started coming down with something during our last day in Nairobi – Saturday, June 30. It started as a strange cough, but I did not think too much of it. We flew into Kilimanjaro airport late that night. The next day was a rest, souvenir, and packing day as we would leave for Kilimanjaro the next morning – Monday, July 2. I started feeling quite bad on Sunday, so decided to start taking a five day “Z-Pak”, that I had the doctor send me with to Africa, just in case something like this would happen. I figured I had dodged a potentially “bad bullet” sent my way. By the end of the Z-Pak I would be one day shy of the final ascent, so I believed the timing was working in my favor.

The first couple of days of the hike were not too bad, though I seemed more tired than I had expected to be. I trained very hard for this climb, as I knew how difficult the final ascent would be, so I attributed my tiredness to the bronchial and sinus condition I was experiencing. After arriving at 2nd Cave of the Rongai Route and having lunch, several of us took off for an acclimatization hike from 11,453′ to 12,805′. The saying “climb high, sleep low” is a valid one. It helps a person to ease into higher altitudes eliminating, minimizing, or at least reducing the effects of thinner air that can cause altitude sickness. Common side effects of altitude sickness are headaches and nausea. Extreme side effects of altitude sickness are pulmonary edema and/or cerebral edema. On the way down it was getting quite dark and just before camp I stepped on a loose boulder and went sailing to the ground. A few cuts and scrapes on my leg and hand weren’t so bad, but I could tell I had twisted my right ankle as it was hurting quite a bit in several spots. This was not good. I limped my way into camp wondering what this meant for the remainder of the trip. It is amazing how one little incident like this has the ability to “knock one out of the race.” During the night I was experiencing quite a lot of coughing and congestion. The good news though was that it was clear – no blood or sign of infection.

Clean Water Climb_Day #1 & #2

We already see Kibo, the main peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro!


Also included a couple photos from our hotel yesterday before leaving.



Day #1

Today we begin our 7 day climb of Mt. kilimanjaro, Africa’s Highest Peak and the world’s highest free standing mountain.

Thank you to all who have supported us in our fundraising work. With the help of our amazing donors we broke our $110,000 goal!!!

Sorry, but unable to upload photos at this time!!”

Compassion Project KE-301

Yesterday the entire team went to Compassion Project KE-201 in Kawangware Slum, Nairobi, Kenya. We linked up with 7 sponsored kids by various members of our team. We made numerous home visits, enjoyed their performances, and ate lunch with them.

It was an incredible day full of amazing and abundant joy amid extreme poverty – evidence that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is alive and at work through Compassion and 319 sponsors in Kawangware slum, Nairobi, Kenya!!

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24 hours in Lake Nakuru National Park

It is always good to work in a safari while in Africa. It supports the local economy (gives people jobs) and gives one an opportunity to appreciate God’s great creatures.






Installing fish pond liner in Malawi

The highlight of Tuesday, June 26 was to install this fish pond liner, donated by GSE Lining out of Houston, TX. This is the second liner donated by them. The ponds will produce thousands of pounds of Tilapia to help the project become self sufficient.





Malawi Village Well Repair


Mercy House & on to Malawi!!

June 23 – After yesterday’s grueling 24 hour set of flights, we started off the day easy with a visit to Utamundi souvenir shops. My grandson Elias Blanca started coming down with a fever.

After picking up some goodie gifts for the climbers and my CWC donors, we headed to Mercy (Raheme) House. There we helped prepare lunch – chapatti (Kenyan tortilla), cabbage (I don’t normally like cabbage, but this shredded well seasoned dish was delish), rice with beef; painted a new baby’s room; and painted the porch. But the highlight was interacting with the teenage mothers and their babies. Seeing the Gospel rising among these young ladies despite their stories of rejection, pain, abuse, suffering, and hopelessness was heart-wrenching. Yet moment by moment, 24/7, the gospel is being demonstrated to, and infused into, each one of them by the Rehema (Mercy) House staff, led by Compassion International’s Leadership Development Program graduate Maurine Owingo. As explained by Maurine the Gospel of Jesus Christ played is truly their only true hope. Before coming to Mercy House their only options were abortion or suicide. What a day!

June 24 – Today we left Gracia Gardens early (6am) for our 8:25am flight to Lilongwe via a quick stop in Lusaka, Zambia. Joshua Eckhart was vommitting this morning.

We spotted the flat top of Kilimanjaro peeking above the clouds far beyond the much closer Mt. Meru on our way to our first stop in Lusaka.

Elias’ fever was better, but now is becoming worse again and Elyssa, whose 7th B-Day is today, might now be coming down with a fever.

Pray for all our kids!!