A Harrowing Mountain Climb (part 2)

Part 2 – Climb for a Cause (“Thinking Divinely In Action Series)
Raphael, the lead tour porter, pulled Karen aside and told her, “This is the worst case of mountain sickness I’d ever seen. If we don’t get him down soon, he’ll die.”

Drew with the oxygen mask on.
Drew with the oxygen mask on.

Oxygen was started on Drew at ten liters per minute, much higher than the porters were used to running on these trips (they usually ran at 1-2 liters per minute). Karen also had some homeopathic oils that helped Drew breath, and she administered some steroids to reduce inflammation. Once Drew stabilized, they quickly realized at the rate he was using the oxygen in the available tanks, he’d run out. They needed more oxygen stat! The decision was made to rush him back down the mountain.

Karen knew she needed to go with Drew to attend to his care; that meant leaving her daughter behind with the remaining team members. Amy quickly became the person in charge of the group that continued to climb. This was all so surreal. Karen couldn’t believe this was happening!

They all got together and prayed, and Karen’s daughter, Kaity believed she saw angels all around the group which gave everyone faith to embark on this unexpected journey. Still, Karen was anxious. “I just climbed over nine hours straight that day, and now I had to climb back down another 9 hours.”

It was now 6:40 p.m. as they set to leave, knowing the sunset at 7:00 p.m. A team of eight porters carried Drew on a stretcher, with a ninth porter that would help to rotate and give breaks to the eight carrying Drew over the cliffs and mountains. When they reached the half-way point, they switched to a stretcher that had a bicycle wheel underneath it that could go faster, kind of like a big wheel-barrel, as they went down the bumpy mountain trail. The porters all had on head-lamps, and 40-pound back packs. Karen watched in awe as she saw the porters rotate shifts trotting down the hill with Drew.

A thought kept surfacing in Karen’s mind as she prayed for supernatural strength to continue down this gigantic mountainside, needing divine intervention as her legs began to feel weak like jello. She realized that many people in Tanzania die along the way to get medical help. (Two people recently did die on Mount Kilimanjaro the week prior to the Hope-2-Others tour.)

Now another concern surfaced—would the batteries on the oxygen analyzer and the oxygen tanks hold out? They had borrowed oxygen tanks from other teams at base camp four, and they were running oxygen tanks up the mountain for Drew to replace the ones they had to borrow. They couldn’t risk it, so another hard decision was made—the porters had to run ahead of Karen, leaving her to continue the descent with just one porter. She encouraged Drew to stay awake and believe God had a plan for him. She told him to just whisper, “Jesus,” because by this time, he could no longer talk without his oxygen dropping.

The porters now received bars on their cell phones, and were in communication with the teams at the bottom who were waiting to assist and plans being made to take Drew to the closest medical hospital in Moshi. With every step down, more oxygen was in the air, helping Drew’s situation improve.

Karen watched as the porters wind their way down smoothly carrying Drew like a ribbon of light downhill. “The entire night sky was lit up with millions of stars that night,” she described. “I could see them clearly as they descended. It was just like a caravan with their head-lamps glowing in the distance.”

Karen prayed continuously that they wouldn’t drop him as they hurried along the trail. She felt the desperation for the life of another person that others must feel who live in that area, and began to weep as she thought about Drew’s parents who had no idea how critical their son was. ‘This is bigger than this mountain,” Karen thought silently.

“I had the realization of walking in their shoes, desperate for medical help, having to trek mile upon mile with a sick loved one to receive medical care,” she reflected. She had the impression that God was with her as she walked down the hill, showing her this is how His people feel. Karen went far beyond “walking a mile” in their shoes!

Final story ends in the next blog – be watching for part 3.