Carol Trachsel


Retired Missionary to Kenya
“When I Made a Full Surrender”
By Kacey Heinlein, Writing Intern
February 2015

Growing up as the daughter of missionaries in China and India, Carol Trachsel says her family’s practice of praying for different mission fields was very influential on her life. Still, her family’s faith alone wasn’t her primary motivator for going into missions herself.

“Each person needs to get their personal directions from God,” Carol said. “I had decided when in high school that I didn’t want to be a missionary. But when I made a full surrender to Christ in my senior year, it included being a missionary if that was what God wanted. He changed my desires, and a couple of years later He said very clearly to me, ‘Yes, I want you to be a missionary.’”

Carol was born in Salem, Oregon, on Christmas Eve in 1941. At the time, her father was in China, where he had been detained and later placed in an internment camp. Carol didn’t meet him until she was almost 2. At the age of 5, she moved to Chungking, China, with her mother and two sisters, Helen and Joy, where they met her father who had gone ahead of them.

In high school, Carol had some emotional ups and downs regarding her faith, but she recommitted to Christianity while attending Mt. Carmel High School in Kentucky. Despite her former adamancy that she wasn’t going to be a missionary, she gradually became open to the idea of doing missions work. Carol received her definite call while training to be a medical technologist after studying at Marion College, now Indiana Wesleyan University. While attending the WGM National Convention in 1961, she responded to the challenge to consider missions by asking God if it was His will for her life.

“A deep peace flooded over me,” Carol shared. “I knew that this was what the Lord wanted.”

In April 1966, Carol was given a full appointment to Kenya where she served at Tenwek Hospital. Over her career, she faced many hurdles, including learning Kipsigis, the local tribal language, and updating the hospital lab’s then-simple equipment. The longer she served, the more jobs she took on: accountant, visitor coordinator, librarian, assistant field director, and field editor for WGM’s Call to Prayer magazine, now The Call. Learning and doing so many different kinds of work was a source of both challenge and growth for Carol.

While at Tenwek, Carol lived with friend and fellow daughter of missionaries, Barbara Pinkley. On one memorable occasion, Carol was asked to step in as a speaker for a district meeting when the original visiting preacher, Barbara’s father, Lester, became sick.

“The Lord really blessed that service, and when the church leader closed the service many people responded, giving control of their lives to God!” Carol said.

For Carol, the hardest thing to leave in the United States was her family. Being on the mission field, however, taught her just how important relationships could be. The support of her fellow Christians has impacted Carol even in retirement.

“I had some supporters who stuck with me for my entire time—others who increased their support and encouraged others to give,” Carol said. “I was the recipient of many generous acts. I was greatly helped after we started to recruit a personal prayer team. I compared them to ‘David’s mighty men.’”

Carol found that God could use her as an encouragement to others, just as they were an encouragement to her.

“Evelyn came into my life when she was hired by the hospital to clean the lab,” Carol said of her friend Evelyn Tonui. “When I retired and she said to me that I had had an influence on her life—I was amazed and humbled, as in so many ways she is way ahead of me in her Christian walk. I’m thankful the Lord brought her into my life.”

Carol retired in 2007 after 41 years of missionary service, but she still visits Kenya regularly, where she has recently been leading a Bible quizzing team of young students and helping out at Tenwek School of Nursing. She has also been able to make trips to her “home” country of China.

“I think the whole Christian life boils down to ‘do I trust God?’” Carol said. “And that’s what I keep working on.”