All comptetant smiles

Carol Wambui is a Kenyan. Born to a Christian family, she grew up in near Nairobi, Kenya where she went to school and fell in love with computing. She got her degree in computer science.

In her late 20s Carol became the network administrator for Mitsubishi Kenya. Not all educated Kenyans can find a job. Only about half of Kenyans graduating with a degree in engineering or computer science find a job. There are plenty of university graduates living in the slums looking for an opportunity. Someone even called the universities “unemployment factories”.

So Carol was fortunate to be making a good living. She knew that God was taking care of her. But more than anything, Carol was active in her church. She sang in the choir, went on outreach ministries, helped wherever she could and witnessed regularly at work.

Nairobi is the hub for Bible translation work in several countries in east Africa. Translators from Ethiopia to Tanzania count on services offered in Nairobi. That includes computer services. When those computer services advertised in churches that they needed a Christian with computer skills to help translators, Carol heard it in her church and God spoke to her.

My wife, Dayle, was on the committee that interviewed her. Carol told the committee: “I want to work for a Christian organization and have a ministry, rather than just working for a business whose purpose is to make money, even if it means earning less money.” She stood out from the other candidates both in terms of her computer skills and in terms of her testimony and personal integrity. She said, “I told my boss when I was hired at Mistubishi that I would not lie for him!” It was a cut in pay and in the possibilities for future advancement, but in her early 30s, Carol took the job at the regional translation office in Nairobi.

The one thing about Carol is her smile and the second thing is her laugh. Carol is the embodiment of the joy of the Lord. When I think of Carol I think of that smile and that joy.

Congolese translators headed home from the training event at which Carol taught computers

But Carol is competent too. All the computer problems I took her were solved quickly and fully. So we decided to ask her to help with computer training for Congolese translators. The problem would be language. Carol did all her work in English. The Congolese translators spoke their languages and French. But Carol and most of the Congolese translators also spoke Swahili. We had never tried to do computer training in Swahili, but we decided to give it a go.

So I traveled with Carol. It was at the airport that I learned that this would be Carol’s very first time in an airplane. That made me nervous; needlessly it turned out. You would not have known that it was Carol’s first flight. She napped! It was that joy and confidence of hers again.

Carol with Congolese translators

We ended up in the small town of Arua in western Uganda and right on the Congo border. Because of insecurity in Congo, we were bringing the Congolese translators to Arua for training. Carol was a great help at that workshop. So we asked her to help a second time, also with great results. But I did not realize how great until a year later. I was working with some Congolese translators on plans for the coming year and computer training came up. I suggested that we bring someone into Congo to work with them on site. All of the Congolese had the same reaction: “If you send someone, send Carol. She knows how to teach us computers.”

Shortly after that, Carol was traveling overnight by bus in Kenya with her church choir to an outreach along the Kenya coast. In the middle of the night the bus had an accident. It was going too fast, a too common occurrence. Seven of the choir members were killed. It was some time before the accident was discovered and hours before help arrived. A large piece of metal from the bus pierced Carol through the stomach and out her back. She probably died instantly.

I miss my friend Carol. I wonder why God took such a good servant home so early. In Carol, as in many others, I saw the missions vision of the mature Christians in Africa. There are many more like Carol who are serious about their faith and ready to give up financial security to serve. It is one of my great joys in life that I know some of them and expect to know many more.

Today, Dayle and I travel to San Francisco by car – the first leg of our trip back to Africa. We will work for a Ghanaian organization doing Bible translation. We are so looking forward to meeting many Ghanaians Carol’s mold.

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One thought on “All comptetant smiles

  1. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years and a bit since that terribly not funny 1st of April!!! and I still cannot look at her pics without crying … but you are so right … she worked with joy, a right attitude and a big smile … always a great example… she was only 27 when she passed away :(“

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