15 March 2009


The first duty of love is to listen.

- Paul Tillich (German-American theologian and philosopher)

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

- Mother Teresa

March Prayer Letter

  • Please continue to pray for my health!
  • Pray that I would always be sensitive to what the Lord is doing within my ministry and that I would then move there and come alongside Him.
  • Charles and Agnes
  1. Praise God that their son, Tony, is okay after being struck by lightning!
  2. Agnes has a recurring debilitating problem that continues to flare up.
  3. Create income - Agnes is almost finished with her sewing classes; I will soon buy her a sewing machine – Pray that she can acquire a steady stream of customers.
  4. I bought a bicycle and large bag of potatoes for Charles; his plan is to sell them door-to-door.
  • Joe
  1. That his strength would continue to increase
  2. That he would find something productive to keep him occupied
  3. That he would make some good friends. For a variety of reasons, Joe moved from the church compound to a flat in Kayole.
  • Collins is in his last year of high school. Please pray that he would focus on his studies, as well as good character traits.
  • Masudi finished high school last year. Please pray that there would be a way for him to either further his education or to pursue a trade.
  • Pray for the Sudanese guys that are in school through our church’s Rehema ministry. Pray that they would focus on their studies. Also, please pray that no more items would be stolen from them. This is unfortunately a common occurrence in Kenya’s boarding schools.
  • I have friends from the States visiting me at the end of the month. Please pray that the various endeavors in which they’ll be engaged would go well.


These are a couple of shots from a recent time Karo and Joy came to my house. She's a cutie, huh? By the way, she'll be three at the end of May.

Child Labor and Infant Mortality in Kenya

Child Labor

Approximately 1 million Kenyan children aged 5-17 work for pay, profit, or family gain. 88% of these children live in the rural areas.

One of the main things they do in the rural areas is to watch the family's grazing livestock (cattle, sheep, goats) all day. Another common thing would be for them to work in the "shamba" (field), either planting, weeding, or harvesting.

Most often, if the child is working, it means they aren't in school.

In urban areas, children can be seen selling things like "groundnuts" (peanuts) or fruit.

Ages 5-9 14%

Ages 10-14 32%

Ages 15-17 54%

Infant Mortality

1 out of 14 babies born in Kenya dies before its 1st birthday.

1 out of 9 dies before they reach their 5th birthday.

Much of this child mortality is due to preventable illnesses like malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. Malnutrition is the underlying cause in 55% of all childhood deaths in Kenya.

Profound Thoughts

What we do in life echoes in eternity.

- Maximus

How will the world speak my name in years to come?

- Caesar Marcus Aurelius

Will they say I was merciful?

- Commodus

I recently watched the movie, Gladiator. Three of the leading characters made the above comments or asked the above questions. Their quotes caused me to reflect upon my own life.

How will what I’ve done in my life echo in eternity?

How will the world speak my name in years to come?

As a follower of Christ, my ultimate aim in life is to please my Father and to bring him glory. It is my hope and prayer that when the world speaks my name – not only in years to come, but right now – the following can be said of me:

[NOTE – I’ve compiled the following list from verses I’ve been contemplating recently. It’s by no means exhaustive, regarding what I’m aiming for in my life.]

· Deb was humble.

· She was contrite in spirit.

· Deb Smith trembled at God’s Word. Isaiah 66:2

· Deb fed the hungry, satisfied the thirsty, housed the homeless, and clothed the shivering.

· She stopped to visit the sick and imprisoned. Matthew 25:35, 36, 40

· Deb Smith always did what was right and treated people fairly.

· Deb stood up for the down-and-out.

· She knew God. Jeremiah 22:15, 16

· Deb Smith wasn’t proud, gluttonous, or lazy.

· Deb did not ignore the oppressed and the poor.

· She didn’t put on airs or live an obscene life. Ezekiel 16:49, 50

· Deb’s mercy transformed the outcast and the broken.

· Deb restored honor and human dignity. Isaiah 61:1-3, 7

· She did something about her brothers and sisters in need.

· Deb didn’t turn a cold shoulder, but rather displayed the love of God.

· She met both physical and relational needs. 1 John 3:17

· Deb acted justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with her God. Micah 6:8

· Deb showed mercy born out of her own hurt. 2 Corinthians 1:4

· She stored up treasures in heaven. Matthew 6;20

· Deb Smith invited the homeless poor into her house. Isaiah 58:7

· Deb showed compassion to the poor. Matthew 25:31-36

· Deb reached out to the homeless and loveless in their plight. James 1:27

· Deb was merciful to sinners, like Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10

· Deb Smith was non-judgmental towards people like the adulterous woman. John 8:3-8

· She showed compassion to those who didn’t deserve it. Luke 15:21

· Deb noticed and embraced those outside her own social circle. Luke 14:12-14

How will the world speak your name in years to come?

Car Wash

October 2008

Three or four hard-working guys earn their daily bread on the bank of Mbagathi River. Just a few meters from my house, it’s actually more like a creek. This is the spot where they wash cars. The location for their business is good, just off of Ngong Road. They stay fairly busy. A broken, crudely painted sign hanging on a tree, used to indicate their presence below the road. Strangely it’s been replaced recently by another sign, this one advertising dog training.

After using my friend’s bike for the Mt. Kenya cycling event, I wanted to return it to her. However, it was caked with mud. Knowing how difficult it is to remove Kenya’s sticky clay soil, I decided to have one of these young men do the dirty work for me.

They’ve seen me cycling by on numerous occasions. But on this day, they must’ve wondered what I was up to, as I coasted down the hill towards them. Two were already occupied washing someone’s car; the owner waited nearby. As one fellow worked on the white exterior, another one wiped down the interior. Newly cleaned floor mats dried in the sun on large stones.

I asked one lad, who wasn’t busy, if he could clean my bike. We quickly agreed on 50-bob (65 cents); by listening to their banter, I found out he’s called Kariuki. Like the others, he was barefooted and had torn off the bottom of his trousers. His equipment consisted of one yellow 20-liter bucket, two rags, one brush, a small packet of blue laundry soap powder, and lots of elbow grease.

After filling the bucket with river water, he swirled in a small handful of Toss – the “gentle detergent“. He began his task immediately and very energetically. Naturally there were no seats for myself or the other customers; I held my biking helmet and gloves as I stood watching Kariuki work. One of the other guys hollered something to him in their native tongue. He barely grunted in reply as he focused on his new assignment.

My eyes took in the environment. Along the river stood several tall, stately Blue Gum trees. The area was lush and green. In spite of the traffic behind me and up above on the road, it was a fairly quiet spot. Birds sang now and then; the sound of flowing water was pleasant.

Three uniformed security guards also took advantage of the river’s water. One washed their company truck… and another washed his shoes.

A navy blue car entered the premises, prompting the remaining attendant to jump off of one of the stones. In spite of the distraction, Kariuki continued to keep his full attention on the assignment I’d given him.

Approximately fifteen yards from where I stood, I detected ever so slight a movement in the bushes. While I conjectured what it might have been, I spotted some clothes lying on top of one of them. A minute or two later, I observed the back side of a completely naked man. Seemingly, this secluded spot on the river is used to wash more than just cars.

I wondered if Kariuki was aware of the man. But he obliviously carried on with his duty – in a most meticulous fashion. He was intent on not leaving any speck of mud on the bike. While brushing the knobby tires, he inadvertently splattered me with a few drops of dirty water. I stepped back a bit, as he apologized.

Another white car pulled in and waited in the queue.

I stole a glance towards the spot where I’d seen the man. I couldn’t see him, although his clothes hadn’t moved. The security guards drove back up the hill in their squeaky clean vehicle… and with their equally squeaky clean shoes.

There’d been a lot of mud on the lower half of the bike; Kariuki refilled his bucket a time or two. The first white salon car was now finished and drove away. The same two guys started on the second white one.

The navy blue one was almost sparkling. My “car” wash attendant never batted an eye. My bike was his sole focus. The mud had been washed off and now the suds were being rinsed away. I could once again admire the attractive blue-grey color of the bike.

One by one, the clothing items disappeared from the bush.

Kariuki dried every surface of the bike with his second rag. He was as keen about this step as he had been while washing it. He obviously took great pride in his work.

Sensing the work was done, but realizing Kariuki was hesitant to quit, I told him he had done an excellent job. As I paid and thanked him, a fully-dressed – but squeaky clean – man appeared from out of nowhere.

As he climbed the hill up to the road, he shouted a greeting and waved to the car wash guys.

I rode my squeaky clean bike back home.

Tanks - Who do they really belong to?

Somali pirates captured ships off of their coast on a regular basis. However, one recent incident was quite newsworthy in Kenya. The MV Faina, carrying 33 tanks, was captured last October. The pirates held it for more than four months off the coast of Somalia.

During all this time - as with so many things in Kenya - mystery and controversy surrounded it. Whose tanks were they really?

The ship was finally released about a month ago and finished its journey to the port of Mombasa. The 33 Soviet-made tanks aboard were offloaded and quickly moved to Kahawa barracks in Nairobi, even as details emerged about the secrecy of the arms deal between the Kenyan Government and Ukraine.

While the tanks are said to belong to the government of Southern Sudan, which is under a UN arms embargo, Kenyan Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said they belong to Kenyan military.

The bill of lading and manifest obtained by Nation show that the ship named Mv Faina also had more than 812 tonnes of ammunition and numerous spare parts besides 33 T-72 tanks from Ukraine.

With the Chief of General Staff Gen Jeremiah Kianga emphatically laying claim to the arms aboard the ship, questions persist as to why Kenya is arming itself.

The country has never gone to war with its neighbors except for the Shifta war in the 1960s after a threat by leaders from the North Eastern province to secede to Somalia was met with force.

The 33 tanks from Ukraine now bring Kenya’s tanks to more than 200, including an estimated 100 purchased in 2007.