Mt. Kilimanjaro

Clean Water Climb

Before I reflect –

A Big Thank You!!

Thank you so much for the amazing work which you allowed God to do through your support of the 2015 Clean Water Climb! 

With all donations received, a few remaining commitments yet to be realized, and along with our promised match, our amazing team (all the Kilimanjaro and Pike’s Peak climbers) is currently at $318,215.75!

With a goal of $318,000, that’s pretty amazing! A resounding success!! That doesn’t even count the Southwestern Energy matches that are being made on SWN employee donations of $100 or more! 

If enough SWN folks request a match on their donations we just might break $100,000 in SWN matches this year! This year the match will go towards the construction of a medical training facility at Child Legacy’ Malawi sustainability project site. 

With a SWN match of $100,000 or more, we will have raised over $418,000, smashing last year’s $348,000 by $70,000!! To God Be the Glory!!

After Africa Reflections

(Jet Lag, Heart Lag, & SWN Friends)

One week ago today I left Africa to begin the 36 hour travel gauntlet involving 4 airports on 3 continents via 3 jet planes to return to America, my homeland.

For about a week after my return, I am in a bit of a daze – my body wants to sleep when I should be awake and it wants to be awake when I should be asleep.

I drive around in The Woodlands on perfect concrete streets and everywhere I look I see perfect cars, trucks, homes and businesses.

Malawi Charcoal Man

Malawi Stick Man

Just 2 days prior to my return I was traveling on dusty, pot-holed, winding dirt roads passing men pushing or riding their bicycles in hopes of selling their charcoal packages or sticks to local customers.

We pass women with their bamboo and their babies wondering how long the fuel to cook their food will last.

Bamboo and Baby

Sugar Cane Cart

We pass men with sugarcane filled carts driven by oxen – the kids love sugar cane!

Cattle Drive

We pass cattle being shepherded along these same dusty seemingly “middle-of-nowhere” village roads. 

We pass by a little boy carrying a pan of flour on his head. But these are all real people with real struggles who need the Lord just as much as everyone else.

Little boy

I want to be back in the “Warm heart of Africa” repairing wells and sharing Jesus, but I need to be home where all the support for the work comes from. So, my body and my mind and my heart have all been very conflicted and confused this past week.

The day I left Africa I began to see posts on Facebook about layoffs at my company, Southwestern Energy. 

Would I return home to a job or not? 

I was not at all concerned about it. I was far more concerned for those who were losing their jobs. I will miss them. 

However, like I have told people before, I have been laid off three times in my 40 year career. If anyone of those layoffs had not occurred I would have never ended up in Texas, would have never worked at SWN, would have never gone to Africa, would have never heard of Child Legacy, would have never started the Clean Water Climb, and 2,000,000 less people would have had clean water to drink. 

Only God could have orchestrated all of that and I praise Him and give Him all the Glory for it! And I continually thank God for all of you who pray for us and give to Child Legacy’s work.

2015 Trip Summary

(there will always be a place in my heart)

I wish I could show you a thousand photos. So many memories. I guess you will just have to go with me! There will always be a place in my heart for the people and places I experienced when I return home.

Part 1: Acclimatization Safari

There will always be a place in my heart for God’s amazing animals we witness during our short Safari stop at Lake Manyara National Park on the way to our Ngorongoro Acclimatization Safari and, hopefully, even on the lower slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

At Lake Manyara animal highlights included a Blue Monkey and a week old elephant sticking close to its mother.

Blue Monkey

Baby Elephant

After a few hours at Lake Manyara we headed to Ngorongoro Crater eventually arriving at Sopa Lodge at an elevation of 7800’ – the same elevation we will begin our Kilimanjaro trek in just 3 days.

Sopa Lodge

There will always be a place in my heart to see the displays of the heavens that are masked at sea level, but become evident at Ngorongoro Crater’s rim (7800’) as well as on Kilimanjaro. Surely “The Heavens declare the Glory of the Lord!” (Psalm 19:1-2)

The Heavens Declare…

The Heavens Declare…

The next day we descend into the Ngorongoro crater – actually an enormous extinct caldera and witness Wildebeests, Jackals, Warthogs, a mating pair of lions, Hippos at the Hippo Pond and Grant Gazelles battling it out.

Part 2: The Trek

There will always be a place in my heart for the unique and sometimes bizarre, yet beautifully created vegetation, along our trek up Kilimanjaro.

We also witness more of God’s handiwork displayed in the heavens and in his creatures – another blue monkey, a chameleon, and the spectacular Colobus Monkey.

There will always be a place in my heart for the world’s highest freestanding mountain and it’s massive glaciers.

There will always be a place in my heart for my Kilimanjaro teammates, some of whom I may never see again.

There will always be a place in my heart for our amazing Tanzanian guides, porters, cooks, and camp hosts who assist us, encourage us, and prod us to reach the top of Africa’s highest peak every year! One of our climbers said it best: “I have never seen such customer service in the presence of such adverse conditions.”

We can never make it without our ZARA support team!

There will always be a place in my heart for all our supporters who give to the Clean Water Climb year after year and who I am honored to carry their names on my back and pray for them along my trek to the summit.

Part 3: Child Legacy and Water Well Ministry

There will always be a place in my heart for the staff of Child Legacy who do such an amazing job serving Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through their service to the people of Malawi. 

Rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator for the second year in a row, they have even found favor with the Malawi government. Jeff and Karen Rogers founded Child Legacy in Zimbabwe in the 1980’s and began their work in Malawi in 2007.

Child Legacy first began repairing water wells in late 2008. By the end of 2014 Child Legacy’s water pump repair crew team (from left to right: Chifundo, Roderick, Sho, & Mwanza) had repaired 2,358 wells benefitting 4,967,558 people! The Clean Water Climb began contributing to these numbers in 2011!

There will always be a place in my heart for the Malawian kids at the water wells who can’t get enough of the photos we take of them! They often chase us as we depart in our vehicles. I love their little voices with shouts of: “Azungu!” “Give me money!” “Give me ball!”

There will always be a place in my heart for the Malawian village women and children who sing, dance, and exude such joy for us at the end of every water well repair. Such joy over something so basic! I still don’t understand it.

There will always be a place in my heart for the men, women, and children, whose hands are raised in prayer while on their knees as they commit to follow Jesus at EVERY water well repair!

There will always be a place in my heart for those who want to receive Jesus in their hearts and be baptized – including our own team members. Are you ready to receive Jesus in your heart? Do you have a place for Him there? I do.

There will always be a place in my heart for the Malawian men who desperately long for a job to provide for their families. Training men to fish at Child Legacy’s Project is just the beginning. I cannot wait for Child Legacy’s vocational training center to be built!

There will always be a place in my heart for those who are willing to leave their comfort zone, go across the other side of the Atlantic to climb Africa’s highest mountain for one of Africa’s biggest problems – a lack of clean, safe drinking water. 

There will always be a place in my heart for those who are willing to get into the back of a pickup truck, drive for miles on bumpy dusty roads, and then interact with the villagers, help repair their broken water wells, and even share the Gospel with them. 

Won’t you join us? Are you willing to leave your comfort zone? One of our participants said it best: “These were the best dollars I have ever spent.”

Goodbye –

Goodbye Tanzania guides! I will recruit more for you to serve on the mountain in 2016!

Goodbye Child Legacy staff! I will recruit more to experience your warm hospitality and to partner with you!

Goodbye Malawian kids, women, and men! I will recruit more lives for YOU to change!

I will be back –

I will be back! I will do my best for all of you and for all of those who I will bring to you!

I will be returning to Africa July 7-25, 2016 (if not before).

Contact me –

Contact me if you want to help make a difference through Child Legacy’s work in Malawi, Africa! 

Contact me if you want the challenge of your life as we tackle Mt. Kilimanjaro for clean water for the 6th straight year!

Contact me if you want to be impacted forever on the mountain, but far more so in the villages of Malawi! Your life will never be the same!

Thank You Again!

Until Next Year,

Mike Navolio