Everything will change. A Ministry of WorldVenture.
SR grad ministers to the needy - in the Ivory Coast of Africa BY Karen Reynolds -Contributing Writer- Versailles Republican Newspaper Kelly Annemarie Bolt, daughter of Tim and Bonnie Bolt and sister of Jason Bolt, is living in the Ivory Coast, Africa these days, helping the poor. She is originally from Holton, with her home church being Hopewell Baptist Church. She left the United States in July of 2011 to go to live in Africa as a missionary with World Venture/Journey Corps. She was able to raise support money for a two-year commitment with this agency. According to Bolt, she has a wonderful, supporting and loving church family, friends and community, who all rallied around her. Many of them support her with monthly finances and all of them support her with daily prayers, concerns, and love. Bolt graduated from South Ripley High School in Versailles in 2006 and from Grace College in Warsaw, IN, with a degree in business in 2010. Bolt says she is doing a bit of everything in Africa. She is working with the local church, orphanages and the hospital, while she learns French and the Ivorian culture. Her hope is to build relationships with the people there so she can help them start and run small businesses. "God has given me the desire since college to help the poor through starting a Micro Finance Bank. This bank would give out small loans to the poor and small businesses to help them start or expand a business. They would be charged an interest rate to help cover costs of running the bank and so that more loans could be given out. "I feel this is a great way to empower the poor and give them a way out of poverty. However, if this is going to work, Jesus must be the reason it is all being done. Relationships with those in need are extremely important. The game plan for this year is to have the pastor introduce me to people in the church who are in need and who have businesses. Through them, I could be introduced to others in need who may not be Christians. I need to learn French, the Ivorian culture, and how business is done here. Hopefully, by my second year in Africa, we can look into actually starting the Micro Finance Bank." Bolt's trip to Africa went really well with no problems. She has been learning a lot about the culture and the language. When she first arrived there, she lived on a mission campus with other missionaries who have been there longer. Bolt began French classes taught by an Ivorian lady named Awa, who lives on the mission campus. French lessons have proved to be a bit harder than Bolt had thought because the French spoken there is so different. Also, there are local languages one must learn as well. Bolt shared some of the first impressions she had of the real African people when she arrived: • Ivorian's are very clean. They bathe twice a day and always wash their hands. They have better hygiene than I do. • You always greet people and shake the hand of every person in the room. • As far as modesty for women goes, a woman does not show anything from the waist to the knees, which is considered inappropriate and sensual. Knees are not to be seen. Anything above the waist is fine. • They don't just speak French here; it is spoken a little different. • There is trash everywhere. Trash cans are completely foreign to them. • Being white, I definitely stand out quite a bit. To see white people is very rare and some people may never have actually seen a white person other than on TV. White people are seen as very beautiful and the more meat on your bones the better. Sometimes, I get tired of all the attention. • All the kids get excited if you wave at them. • African time is different than American time. Everything is much slower paced here. If you act in a hurry, especially to leave someone's house, that is considered very rude. all the time and it is not a big deal. • Ivorian's are always laughing. "I'm learning so much," Bolt says, "It's like I have to relearn everything!" Bolt said by August 2011, "We are in the process of get ting a small business up and running. The business will be raising rats and selling them in the market. Holly, another missionary here, is very interested in animals. She discovered that rats have a lot of nutrients in them. She wants to raise them so someone in need can run the business. My job is to draw up a business plan." Bolt was finally able to move in with her host family in a place called Korhogo on November 30, 2011. Her host church is the Tieckelezo Church. In addition to all these changes, she will need to learn the local language of Senoufo while she is there. Her host family accepted her as a family member. Bolt relates that when she and her fellow missionary, Tricia Trout visit the orphanage, "the children want to hug us, hold our hands, and play when we walk in. It is good for us to go and love them and in the process, we learn French from them." These children act the way kids act when they are young. They hit each other, push, cry, bite, laugh, play, sing and dance. According to Bolt, the ladies who work there do an amazing job and appreciate it when they come and help with the kids, clean the floors, hang up laundry and feed babies. Bolt says it is customary for people to go and greet the parents of a new baby. The first time she experienced this, she realized this is a really big deal to the Ivorians. Gifts are given, dancing is common, and the missionaries were invited to dinner by the family. About religion in the Ivory Coast, Bolt noted almost everyone there believes in Animism, no matter what religion you are, except Christian. Animism is the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and brings life to the material universe. There are people who are considered wizards and witches. They bless or curse upon request. They do spells, tell the future, and even perform animal sacrifices. Most people believe in Animism, but don't really practice it often. The second most common religion is Islam. Bolt says, "Since I've been here, I have met several Muslims and they are peaceful and kind." The next most common religion is Catholicism. The smallest religion here is Protestant. It is a big deal here when someone chooses to be a Christian. When someone at church tells everyone they have chosen to accept Christ, everyone gets excited. If the person believed in Animism, and has charms to protect him and other such objects, they start a fire and burn those objects one by one. Then, they baptize the person into the faith. The missionaries with World Venture believe they are there to serve the people. Bolt feels they are there to love the people as Christ loves them. Bolt answered some basic questions about the Ivory Coast and what she is doing. • What kinds of food and drinks do you have? "These people eat a lot of rice and sauce. I eat rice and sauce almost every day. One of my favorite sauces is a peanut sauce. They really like to eat fish since it is cheaper than beef or chicken. They use many of the same vegetables that we do. They have something called "ignam" that is a lot like potatoes. Alco looks like bananas, but aren't as sweet. They cut it up and fry it. Water is the main drink because it is very hot here. They also drink coke, tea, coffee and something called "beeesapp" that is really good. • What kind of transportation is available? "Many people walk or ride a bike. I have a bike I use to get around. There are also car taxis and motorcycle taxis that we use often. If one travels a long way, there is the bus or sometimes we travel in the Land Cruiser my mission director has. • What holidays do they celebrate? "Christians do celebrate both Christmas and Easter. But, all they do is have a good meal and go to church to party all night long. Muslin holidays such as Ramadan are observed, in which they fast during the day and eat at night. The last day of Ramadan is a special day. They also celebrate a Muslin holiday called Tabaski. • Do kids get gifts for Christmas or birthdays? "That happens rarely. They do give and receive gifts for other things, such as weddings, funerals and the birth of a new baby. • What is the weather like there? "We have two different seasons: rainy and dry. During the dry season, it is cold at night and hot and windy during the day. • Do you participate in any dances or ceremonies? "Ivorian's love to dance. Every church service they dance together. They also dance at weddings, funerals or just any time they get together. One Sunday my church accepted six new people who had accepted Christ. After church, they burned fetishes and we danced around the fire. • What kinds of animals do you see? "There are cows, goats, sheep, cats, dogs, chickens, lizards, and a few camels. They don't pen their animals up here so they run everywhere. • Do people keep pets? "Most of the animals they have here are not pets, as eventually, they will end up eating them for food. Almost everyone has a dog, which is not considered a pet, but more of a security system. Dogs protect your home. • What do they do for entertainment? "Many people have TV's. Kids don't stay home during the day, but wander the neighborhood playing together. They don't have many toys, although they might play with a ball. It is actually pretty safe for kids to wander around here without parents because there are always adults around. All adults in the area take care of the kids they see and discipline them. They are all about community. Stories are told for entertainment. These are often told as they work because there is always a lot of work here. • Do they have swimming pools? "There are a few, but if they want to use them, they have to pay. Many of them have never been in a swimming pool and don't know how to swim." • Do they have electric? "Many people have electric, however, in town, there are no street lights, so it is hard to get around at night." • What kinds of music do they listen to? "They watch music videos a lot with African and American pop music. • What kind of house do you live in? "Most people here live in houses made of cement. The floors are always cemented, with no carpets. It is good that they are cement because of all the dirt and dust outside. Out in the villages their house are made of a material that is like cement but not, and the roof is made out of long grass they tie together." •What was the biggest change from living in Indiana to living in Africa? "There are so many things that are different. For me, the hardest thing has been going from Indiana where there are lots of white people to Africa where I stand out because I am white. Kids point at me and call me â€˜white girl'. And, even though it is considered rude here for a young man to approach a young woman, they do it to me because I am white. They would like to marry me because I would be their ticket to America. But, I tell them they have to talk to my three dads: my host father, my mission director and my dad in America! • Have you ever been to a place that was hard to get to? "The roads here are very bad. There are many dirt roads and many holes in the roads. Even the paved roads here have big holes." • What kinds of jobs to people have? "There are many farmers. They do all the work by hand so they are always working. Others have small businesses selling things like fruit, meat, vegetables and materials for clothes." • Do kids go to school? "Yes, many kids go to school here. Each school decides when the kids have school. All of my host siblings go to different schools and they go almost every day and have the weekend off. They all walk to school or parents take them. They go home in the middle of the day for a couple hours for lunch and a nap. Everyone takes what they call "a pause" in the middle of the day when it gets hot." • What kinds of clothing do they wear? "Men here usually wear a tee-shirt and pants. If you have a job, you wear nice pants and shirt. Many Muslim men wear a certain type of outfit that is a long baggy shirt and matching color pants. Pagnes are very popular here. They are usually colorful. Women usually wear pagnes, which wrap around their waist and goes down to their ankles. If girls wear jeans and a short shirt like we do in America, they are thought to be prostitutes. If women wear pants here, they wear a long shirt to cover them." January of 2012 found Bolt still planning ways to help Ivorian's start or expand small businesses. She recently had an idea to start a mango business. There is a problem with preserving mangoes in that climate. Mango trees are everywhere but many mangoes are wasted. Americans love mangos, but the ones they get are expensive and not very good. So, she is now working on that project. And, her ;host father is interested in helping her form the Micro Finance Bank. Bolt is a remarkable young woman. After she suffered a bad bout with malaria, she still wants to serve her God. She has these words of encouragement for other American Christians: "When people think of missionaries, what usually comes to mind is someone who lives and works overseas serving the Lord. However, I know that every Christian is a missionary. God has called all of us to go out into the world and be a light. We are to live our lives for Christ wherever we are and in whatever occupation we are in. "You may be retired, a business owner, factory worker, preacher, waitress, student, lawyer, janitor, teacher or a stay-at-home mom. It doesn't matter what your occupation is. God needs you in most all occupations to show and tell people you come in contact with about Jesus. What I do in Cote d'Ivoire is not any more important than the work you do for Christ where he has put you. We are the body of Christ working together to glorify Christ and show people the hope we have in Christ. Let us keep pushing forward to be the best we can be for Jesus." You can contact Bolt directly. She enjoys hearing from people so feel free to email her at email@example.com. She can also be contacted through her blog for World Venture/Journey Corp at http://bit.ly/qjPael