Friday, May 30, 2014

April - May

The days have been good; full of late night talks and hard work. But they are slowly coming to an end, and heart breaking goodbyes are just around the corner.

Some of the exciting things that have been going on are…

  • In April, our team took an exciting trip to Burkina Faso, where we got to see first hand how missions and environmental protection can fit together. It was also really exciting to see elephants and hippopotamuses for the first time! (Although, I discovered not long after, that there are hippopotamuses here in a lake next to the fields of my teammate Chrissy’s dad!)

  • Our library project continues to progress by the grace of God. The room is now painted and equipped with bookshelves and thanks to three churches all sixty-something books recommended by pastors and missionaries of Cote d’Ivoire are being bought and will be brought to Cote d’Ivoire in June with a friend.

  • May 7th  I began a voluntary stage in Maternity at the local hospital of Boundiali. It’s a little crazy balancing work eight hour work days with household chores and Ivorian late night talks but I am really enjoying my time at the hospital. Not only does it improve my French and Dioula, but it gives me a realistic look at the medical field; which is the direction I am thinking about heading in as I start university in September. 

  • My host mom is now about eight months pregnant and I’m praying that the baby comes before I have to leave. My host brother decided to start reading a chapter of his bible every day almost a month ago, but reading the bible everyday is a rare thing! 

Travel Plans

Tentative plans are to leave Cote d’Ivoire the beginning of July, stop in Germany for a week, then continue to Thailand where I’ll be for three weeks, then re-entry in Denver and then in Sunnyvale around August 8th. None of these dates are for sure yet but I’ll try to get official dates to you as soon as I can.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Instead of sharing my experiences in Cote d’Ivoire (which you have read a lot about) I wanted to share someone else’s experiences. So, I video interviewed Koné Sétiéhoué Noé aka my host dad. However, like a good Ivorian he answered every question so thoroughly, with dates and everything, that each clip is about 10 minutes long. So instead of sending you the video clips I have summarized his story here…

{Disclaimer: This is a very different testimony than those I heard growing up, but I hope it’ll be good for you as you enter into prayer for our Ivorian brothers and sisters. This type of testimony is not rare here in Cote d’Ivoire.}

“I was born into a Senoufo family in Karakpo, Cote d’Ivoire. I was the second son from my father’s second wife, and I was the favorite child.

So, instead of sleeping in my mother’s house (each wife get’s her own house where she raises her kids) I was the only child who slept in my father’s house. My father was a tough man, not only was he a veteran of WWII, but he was a man deeply involved in animism. And I was the one who was supposed to take the family’s entire mystical knowledge.

By age eleven, I felt like a god because of my mystical knowledge. I feared no one and even tried to provoke my brothers who had become Christian. But my father did caution me that the God my brothers adored was powerful. That phrase stuck with me…

When I was a little older, a boy from the fields sent a bad spell to me in the form of a scorpion who bit me. But more than the pain of the bite was the sting of defeat. I was very discouraged that someone was stronger spiritually than me. So I asked my brother for advice. My brother stated that the only way to be secure spiritually was to follow Jesus, because He was the most powerful.

And because of this I followed Jesus.

When I joined the church in my village there was no more than fifteen people there, and my brother’s made up eight of those. Trials came. My grandmother put poison in my water. Later, the village poro (the animistic brotherhood) tried to challenge us to physical battle. But Jesus was truly powerful.”

My host dad's church in Karakpo

The goal of Journey Corps is to build relationships. Knowing my host dad here has really been a blessed experience. God’s kingdom is coming, and I get glimpses of it now when I think of the love that exists between my host family and me. We had never even thought of each other a year ago but now we pray for each other and support each other in this life until God’s plan is complete. How cool is that? 

Friday, March 21, 2014


(It’s hard to make updates at the end of the month right now because our team meetings are now in the middle of months)

Greetings from Bouake! The mangoes are ripening in the hot weather and the rains have finally started to come back. The past week, our team got together in Korhogo, to help pour the cement for the second floor of a building that will later be used as a classroom for pastors-to-be. Work began at 7am and continued to 10pm. However, my day was spent a little all over. I began at the hospital where after many tests I was diagnosed with amoeba. Then I spent the rest of the day between serving water to workers and helping pass buckets of cement. Later, our team continued to Bouake, which was our original home.

Times in Bouake, are always reflective times for me. As the city in which we spent our first two months, it is always interesting to see how much I’ve changed at each return. My first return I was excited after having a good first month in my family and yet nervous because many of my teammates had had a very difficult first month. Some months we stumbled into Bouake tired, others we were overjoyed to see each other, and yet other months we just really wanted internet to connect with family back home.

This month I would say that I have realized I have fears because I am more aware of my weaknesses. However, I am at peace, because

“I am confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6)

I’ve come to the realization that one of the best witnesses one can be in any country is to continually seek to know and love God better. And in doing so one does not only become a good witness but a dearly beloved child.

-          That I will be able to begin working at the hospital in Boundiali
-          For my mom’s health through her pregnancy

-          for good communication with my host family

-          for God’s love

Thursday, February 13, 2014


In honor of the new year, instead of writing I'm sending you 14 pictures of the past month and a half-ish. I figured I'd literally 'show' you how and what I've been doing. Enjoy!

Chrissy and I have enjoyed sharing apple-cinnamon tea with our friends here.

Wednesday and Friday are generally guarded for 2 hour bible studies with the Pastor in his office.

This month I had to take a week break in Korhogo (a bigger city about two hours away that has internet) in order to fill out college applications for the coming year. It was a good time to take a break from our families and eat whatever we wanted (like the picture above) after some pretty bad homesickness and illness. But it was also good to meet the families of two of my teammates who live here and I got to help in the children's ministry at the Pastor's school.

The city water was having a lot of difficulties, so we drew water from a well down the street to fill up buckets at the house almost every day. You guys should try it at home, it's quite difficult but really fun :) 
(This isn't my street, but the picture shows you the method in which Ivorians prefer to transport water)
(Interesting fact: the verb for this action is 'charger' and when this verb is turned into an adjective 'chargé' it can also describe how you feel when you are weighted down with worries)

I got to meet my Mom's extended family in the village this month and help plant onions in their garden.

This here is a picture of the really delicious foutou igname with okra sauce. It's made from taking boiled ignames and pounding them while adding water until they are a doughy consistancy. This meal is one of five dishes that I can make here.

On January 31st we headed down to a church camp in Niakaramandougo (a city about 4 hours away) for a week. The theme was on how to have a Godly engagement and we slept on the cement floor every night except the last one, since it was an all-night dance party.

At church camp we got to help out every once in a while but what was really special was the conversations we had with people there. One day while discussing with a boy if "accidentally seducing someone was a sin" he explained that he reads the bible but doesn't understand it. This opened the door for one of our team members to be able to start a bible study with him.

After church camp finished we got to stay with one of my German teammates, Bekki. The time with her family and her was really encouraging... and the papaya and cakes and chocolate were really good...

This little girl (my little sister Abigael) gets breakfast and at least two baths from me everyday. And I have begun helping out at her Ecole Primaire or Primary School every Thursday. Her class contains around 53 kids and her teacher is a member of our church.

Although these pictures are from December, they show almost every member of the Kone family. Their 17 year old daughter, Esther (in the top right picture with Chrissy), is one of my close friends here in Boundiali. Her oldest brother died a week ago and so we visited her home a couple times in the past week. Please be praying for their family. Besides the Kone family we have gotten to visit our youth president, a deacon and his family, and the first pastor of the church. Visiting people in Africa at their home and often sharing a meal as well is the best way to get to know them and indeed these visits were some of my last month's highlights.

Here's a picture from our second Sunday girl's bible study, which has been going well. The first meeting 28 girls came and the second meeting 12 girls. One thing that is really special about the meeting is that there is a group of girls, who don't speak french, and yet are faithful to come, and each time another girl in the group has been able to translate. 

Now we are in Korhogo again doing a seminar on the Proverbs and Fables of Cote d'Ivoire and Saturday we head to Ferkessedougo to the dedication of the Bible in Djoula, the market language here. 

Love Katie

Thursday, January 2, 2014


My little sister Abigael

Marie, Abigael and I with the church in the background

While preparing to come here, one of the most difficult things to explain to people was what exactly I would be doing here. The explanation, of course, was that our life would be a ministry, but in reality that doesn’t give too much information. So for this update I hope to show you what it means for me, here, in Cote d’Ivoire, serving Jesus. My time is mainly split between four main areas: my siblings, my parents, my neighbors, and my youth group.

Firstly in Boundiali, there is my family. The day begins early, and we work hard until its time for the younger ones to go to school and for my mom and 15 year old sister, Marie, to go to the fields. The house needs to be swept and mopped, someone needs to go to the market, there are dishes to wash, food to make, clothes to wash. Work is hard here and sometimes it feels so pointless to wash dishes that will just be dirtied again. But nowhere in the Bible do I hear our God saying that it is more worthwhile to type emails than to wash dishes. All work given fully to the Lord is used for his glory. I’ve already learned so much from Marie about taking joy in work. She has worked her whole life, having never been to school, and yet I’ve never heard grumbling or even seen displeasure in her face.

My mind is often on my younger siblings, and I need to be lifting them up in prayer more. The culture and conditions are hard on children, and so they grow up looking out only for themselves. Most Ivorian families, including mine, shelter biological children as well as cousins, friends, and grandchildren. Often you can see who’s a biological child by the level of education or special things they get like new clothes. It’s a complex situation. While not trying to change the culture this year, I do believe that God is glorified when I try to teach my siblings about core concepts of serving God, like loving others more than yourself and taking the position of the lowest servant. I spend the most time with my two year old sister Abigaël, since it’s my responsibility to wake her up, bathe her, feed her, dress her, take her to school, pick her up for lunch, take her back to school, and then pick her up in the evening. It has been encouraging to already see little changes in her attitude towards others. 

Then there are my parents, I have really been blessed with parents who are already involved in investing in their community. Granted my dad is the pastor, but being a pastor and serving do not always go hand in hand. I have had the opportunity to help with some really cool ministries that they are already part of. I often go with my dad to visit families from our congregation of three hundred. Between two wives of one man who want to kill each other, women with demonic attacks, and sickness, we have been asking God for a lot of help. One task I often do for my dad that I would never expect to do in Africa is type. Our church was able to buy their first computer a month ago and as one of the fastest typers in the church I have typed up programs, bible studies, as well as money accounts. With my mom I get to join in the women’s ministries to do service like sweep and wash the whole church at 5:30 in the morning ( they started at 5 but let me sleep in a little). Sometimes I wonder how the conversations would have gone in the US if I would have known that part of my ministry would be typing and scrubbing the floor. But that is life here, those are things that need to get done, and our great God can use the little tasks that we are faithful with to do great things for his kingdom.

As for my neighbors, I described earlier I often walk to my little sister’s “Ecole Maternelle” four times a day, between picking and dropping her off. In the US this might be an uneventful task, but in Boundiali it is one of the most exciting evangelism times. On the way to school I pass two old couples’ homes, the shop of a tailor and her sister, one boutique, two bars, a hair salon, and a lumber yard. And in Cote d’Ivoire all work takes place outside. Not counting the ladies who walk around selling things, and the students going to and from school, I have eight people on the road to school that I see on a daily basis. And that is just the road to my little sister’s school. The road to the market and the road to the house of my teammate Chrissy, are full of people who need Jesus. God has really been blessing me, in particular, with good conversations with the tailor and her sister who are Christmas/Easter Christians and with one girl who works at the bar and also as a prostitute. 

And lastly there is our French youth group at church. There are about fifteen people in our group, and it is led solely by the youth with an elected president as head. Being a young person myself, I hope I can say without offending anyone that it is a difficult thing for young people to disciple and lead others their age. So, understandably, our youth group has quite a few problems. The people I have gotten to know so far have been mainly interested in celebrities, flirting, money, being cool, and drinking (which is forbidden in churches in Cote d’Ivoire). A lot of our youth meetings people get really mad at each other. But thankfully because of Christmas preparations, Chrissy and I have really begun to be friends with the youth group and we have had the opportunity to share bits of our testimonies. As we continue to pray for them and start our girl’s bible study every Sunday we are praying for God to come in power and really captivate the youth’s hearts here.

Life here is ministry, and one thing that I am really enjoying is that each day is different. Some weeks I’ve been with the youth more, others I’ve been with my Dad more. In the future Chrissy and I will also be helping out at the high school here and we hope to volunteer in the mission’s dispensary, as well. I’m also looking forward to our church’s three evangelization outings to villages planned for this next year. But in closing I just want to share that it is not in my strength that I do all the activities I do. Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, and inspired by my roommate, Najo, in Bouake, I have been faithfully spending around an hour in the bible each day and, honestly it makes such a difference. I get so much encouragement from our heavenly father and so much joy and excitement for each new day I get to spend with him. Thank you so much for your prayers! Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

A little hike with two of our teammates who visited and friends from youth group

Katie Green or Koné Nibondjéwin Amla

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thoughts from Boundiali

(Disclaimer: Because I don’t have much time with computers I decided to give you more quantity than quality)

A TIME SUCH AS THIS ( about the Youth Group in Boundiali)

When you go to Cote d’Ivoire you can say you’re going to ‘Africa’, when you go to Egypt you’re going to ‘Africa’ as well, and even yet, if you head to Madagascar it is still perfectly acceptable to say you are going to ‘Africa’. We use the word to describe a whole lot of different things. And I believe this is because ‘Africa’ has an air about it; an air of mystery and wonder. And we often hold perceptions in the back of our heads of what it is supposed to be like.

That is exactly what I think happened to Chrissy and I. We forgot that the people living in villages in northern Cote d’Ivoire are really quite similar to us. They may eat, sleep, talk, look, and work differently than us, but some things are really quite the same, and one of those things is youth group.

Chrissy and I were shocked that there seemed to be a lot of not very healthy habits in our youth group. We had expected a rock-solid, thriving, dynamic youth group that never wavered amongst thousands of neighbors who call upon spirits or who pray five times a day to Allah. So when they seemed to spend a lot of time on their cellphones texting people they liked we didn’t really know what to think.

However, during our second week in Boundiali, our coordinating pastor came to visit. Over some attieke he casually asked if we had any questions. Quickly it came to both of our minds, “What is wrong with our youth group?!” After describing some of the things we had observed, he agreed that they did not sound like they were taking the word of God very seriously. But he didn’t stop there. He continued. He explained that us living in Boundiali will change things here and one of those things could be the youth group. He said that we were here for a time such as this, that if God wanted to change the youth here at AEBECI Boundiali (my church) he might want us to be the catalyst of that change. We then read through Esther 4, when Mordecai boldly tells Esther that if deliverance to the Jews does not come through her it will come another way but who knows if she was put in royalty for a time such as this?

His words stopped me. Mordecai spoke very wisely here, and Esther’s efforts liberate an entire race from annihilation. And here Chrissy and I are among a group of our peers, who we see on a regular basis, who also are at risk of a horrible death. No one is saved by going to church, whether you live in Canada or Niakaramandougou Jesus is the only way to the father. And if you are not with the giver of light and life than all that is left is death. And the time is near.

Chrissy and I will start a weekly bible study with the girls in the youth group in January. We are praying a lot over the time, our hearts are at peace, and our minds and hands are ready to start working. Whatever God will give us to give, we are ready. And I don’t think anytime soon we are going to forget that in our society we can either be a part of the problem or a part of FIXING the problem.


when the only mirror is at the bottom of the well
when a banana peel is a potholder
and so are two corn cobs
when your mom is confused why you don’t have a fiancé
when you wake up before the sun
when your toe nails are never clean
even though you take two baths a day
when your mother speaks 3 languages
but neither writes nor reads
when you wash dishes in mud
but handing someone a cup with your left hand is dirty
when you can spot 10 pigs at all times
when you learn to be truly thankful to God for your ‘daily bread’ because you’ve eaten rice for 4 meals straight
when you can pass days without speaking English
and weeks without seeing another American
when you can smile all day
but cry at night

you know you’re in Boundiali when life is hard, but it is good, and God is always faithful

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Beautiful Boundiali from the small mountain

On Wednesday, twelve, very tired, white (but much tanner) people cried and laughed and held each other tightly. The first three weeks in the village were rough for my team. They were not very happy weeks, but that doesn’t mean they were bad weeks. Without being able to take every one of you here to see, the best I can describe it is very different and very difficult.

Many of the elements of western life that bring comfort or joy are absent in the Ivorian village. In America, I have a way that I sleep, eat, use the bathroom, and talk that I am used too. But I found in the village, that often I am lying on my straw mattress at 2:00 am wondering why there is a party outside my window and if I’ll be tired when I wake up in the dark around 5:40 to start work. Breakfast will most be likely be left over rice and sauce or cabato (a dish made from corn and water that tastes like tofu). The toilet is four walls with a hole in the ground. And if any of the previously described things happens to be stressful, have fun trying to explain that to your sister who only speaks Senoufo or your mom who’s never seen a washing machine.

Upon arriving in our villages, it is custom here for each of us to be given a new name in whatever is the maternal language of our family. So on my first morning, after crying a good portion of the night, I was informed that the wife of my dad’s older brother, who had been living with my family, had given birth last night to a girl. Therefore, my dad gave me the name Nibondjéwin which means good stranger because I had brought “bonheur” or goodness/joy to the family. There is another girl on my team who received Nèrigèsoho which means the union of two families and two churches.

Our lives here are strange and hard, but we live alongside our families and churches here, and at the end of the year none of us will be the same. The same night I cried because I felt alone, my aunt probably shed a few tears in pain. We are so different and yet so similar. It baffles me the ways that our lives intertwine and affect each other. Through all the difficulties and discomforts God always reigns and he is working here. I know that I have learned a lot, and it is my prayer that God is using me to spread his kingdom as well.

 Love Katie

This is my church during Senoufo service. There are approximately 200 people who regularly
come on Sundays to the Senoufo service
and 100 for the french service.

Prayer Requests
-          Chrissy and I will start a girl’s bible study that meets every Sunday evening in January. This will be the first girl’s bible study the church has ever had in Boundiali (they’ve had one woman’s study) so please pray that many girls will come and pray for Chrissy’s and my ability to communicate in French.

-          The pastor here (my host dad) shared with me that as the leader of a congregation of 300, not to mention a family of eight he often feels very discouraged. The pastoral job is one of the lowest paying in Cote d’Ivoire (My family lives on $3 a day and the food from their fields). Although, he said God always is faithful I want to pray that others in the church will rise up to take responsibility as well. 

My room

My 2 year old sister Abigaël who is always eating. She is one of my 6 siblings.