I’ve been wanting to write this tribute ever since I descended from Mount Elgon, but I first elected to tell our story of the climb.
The tribute is to the great support team that we had as we climbed. The team included two ranger guides – Francis the lead ranger and Rogers who took the rear guard, our cook (but I like to call him chef) Xavier and the five porters we hired. We were four climbers and we had a support team of 8 people and all of them contributed immensely to our getting to the highest peak on Elgon and back. The words I am about to say do not even begin to express all that the team was and meant to us, so multiply what I say by a zillion!
To Francis: Thank you for leading us all the way up the mountain and back. Thank you for your steadfast pace that helped us keep in step. Thank you for your calm confidence. Thank you for being a gentleman – you held out your hand to me many, many times on the mountain – either to help me scale the heights, or to navigate the steep descents. Thank you for looking out for us.
To Rogers: Our funny man, our flying Ninja Warrior. Thank you for all the jokes and anecdotes that you shared. Thank you for leading from the back, for watching out for us. Your eyesight is amazing. How you saw those poachers on the fourth day of our climb is still a mystery to me. Thank God for your clear eyesight and for your knowledge of the mountain. Thank you for easing our climb with your jokes about forest perfume and forest toilet paper. Thank you for your proverbs and for sharing with us about why husbands need to have red eyes. Those that want to know the full tale need to climb the mountain with you! We certainly won’t forget you soon!
To Xavier: You led a fabulous team. You are organized to a tee. You looked after us, fed us and helped us keep warm. You always ensured there was a hot cup of tea waiting for us at every camp stop. You ensured that we had warm water for bathing. You ensured that we were well fed, and we could tell from the meals, that you put a lot of love and dedication into your work. You ensured that we had boiled water to drink every day to carry with us on our hikes. You were always ready to serve and to meet a need. You have kind eyes, a lovely smile and a warm, humble and gentle spirit. You blessed us a lot!
To Emma and the team of porters: What can I say?! Thank you for your quiet service. Thank you for fetching all the water we needed for drinking, for cooking food and for bathing. Thank you for helping us set up camp. Thank you for cleaning up after us and making sure both the camp we were at, and the next camp, were always well kept and orderly. Thank you for cutting the firewood that we needed each evening. Thank you for listening to Xavier and for never once complaining under the weight of our heavy luggage. I watched you do excellent service with no spotlight on you, no accolades following you. You were humble and dedicated. That made a powerful impression on me about what it truly means to do service above self.
You all impacted our lives greatly. We would never have succeeded in climbing the mountain without you. You were truly invaluable to our lives. We thank you again and again. May God bless each and every one of you, may He make his face to shine upon you and may He give you peace. Amen.