For Kristina Southam, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro—the highest free-standing mountain in the world, served not just as an incredible accomplishment, but an important spiritual experience. “That hike taught me a beautiful lesson and reminder about the burdens we carry in this life,” she recalls.
Following her hike, Kristina wrote about this reminder in a letter to a friend: “As I was hiking to the summit, we hiked a very long trail—the same terrain for about 7 hours in the darkness, and it felt like FOREVER.
“I always knew I would make it to the top, but I started questioning why it mattered,” Kristina says. At the time, there were many physical discomforts. “I was freezing, tired, and it was difficult to breathe due to the altitude.” As she wondered how she would finish the climb, however, one of the guides offered to carry her day pack.
Kristina resisted at first, but eventually allowed the guide to help. To her surprise, she discovered he was already carrying an additional two packs. “My heart ached that I had to humble myself and let him help me, but as I reflected in the moment, it hit me how much that sacrifice of my desire to do it alone is like life and the Savior saving us.” The guide, like the Savior, knew the direction of the path ahead, and bore Kristina’s burden willingly. “My spirits were touched and lifted and my physical condition improved almost instantly. With the encouragement to go “pole, pole” (slowly, slowly), I made it to the very top, but not alone.”
Though the hike is now over, Kristina still carries the lessons she learned on the mountain. “Remember the sun will always rise, no matter how long the darkness and night. You may need to share your burden to make it, even if it is hard—but know you are not alone. You are loved and watched over.”