We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Solt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, what role has risk played in your life or career?
If someone were to look at my life and what I’ve done, I’m pretty sure they’d call me a risk-taker but I’m not sure I define it as taking risks. My life has been uniquely marked by stepping out in faith to do something which may seem crazy and bold in the eyes of many. Over the past two years, I have transitioned in and out of jobs and in and out of the country. From getting laid off to living in Germany, to returning to Arizona and starting my own nutrition business, to coordinating my first ever fundraiser within 4-weeks, to leaving my nutrition career to be a missionary in Africa, to now being back in the US and working as an Admin Assistant for a mission agency, my life has been full of taking steps of faith knowing that God is with me. I welcome the journeys ahead with confidence because of this truth. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is a part of life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Have you ever decided to drop everything that you knew; the comfort of friends, your job, and your culture to go and live in another country? Well, this is my story. I was a nutrition educator and counselor who dropped everything to live in Rwanda, Africa. In 2018, I began growing my own nutrition business called, Laura Solt Nutrition. I was interview by Voyage Phoenix during this time in my life and that is where my story left off. However, my heart and love for working in nutrition in the US was dwindling and I felt this tug to go and be a missionary overseas. In the summer of 2019, I went on a medical mission trip to Rwanda, Africa for 9-days where I taught about nutrition, clean water, and personal hygiene. My heart was captivated, and I fell in love with the country. When I returned to Gilbert, AZ, I realized two things, 1) I wanted to quit my career as a dietitian in the US and be a missionary loving others and caring for their needs with nutrition and Jesus and, 2) I wanted to make a difference in the water situation in Rwanda. Step 1: I took a step of faith and quit my stable dietitian job and began working full time at Bergies Coffee Roast House in downtown Gilbert with the dream of returning to Rwanda (which I did for 2-months)! Step 2: I took a risk and within 4-weeks I planned and executed my first ever fundraiser called, Be Well Rwanda, to raise money for water tanks and wells in Rwanda. Step 1: Rwanda: It’s weird to say it, but I loved my decision to quit nutrition and move overseas. It was one of the best and most refreshing decisions I’ve made and I don’t miss nutrition at all. I knew God was calling me to use my gifts and skills in a different field of work. Rwanda is a country of a thousand hills. IT IS GORGEOUS and it is considered the Pearl of Africa. Lush, green hills with every inch occupied by farming surround you. I taught English, learned some of the language, loved on the people, and was forever changed. I arrived home from Rwanda in January of 2020 and as I look back, I ask myself, “Did that really happen?” I still stand amazed that God put me there. I have had many mixed feelings upon my return to the USA and have experienced culture shock. Walking into a grocery store was both overwhelming and brutal. I walked out with tears streaming down my face at our overabundance and our lack of human interaction. I realized just how blessed my life is, the many comforts I have, the freedom and rights I have in my country, the abundance of food, the ease of life. I can turn on the sink faucet and choose between hot/cold or filtered/unfiltered. I have running water to take a shower that doesn’t involve a bucket and a cup. These are all gifts that I will never take for advantage again. The “problems” in my life are nothing compared to the horrors of a nation, and now friends of mine, that suffered through a genocide. I am forever changed and for the better. With being back, I was uncertain of what was next. I entered one of the most uncomfortable seasons of my life…jobless and semi-directionless…yet patiently, actively waiting on and trusting in the Lord. Then in March, I landed a job! I am an Administrative Assistant at a mission sending agency. I am amazed at just how my dietitian resume was building me for an admin position. I am excited to be surrounded by like-minded people and to help others go overseas as I did. I know there is more to come, and I imagine this is not the end of me of my adventures. Step 2: Be Well Rwanda Fundraiser: It was amazing and a huge success! It was held at Bergies Coffee Roast House with live music and a silent auction involving 30+ Gilbert based businesses. Over 100 people in the community came and we raised over $7,000. It was amazing to see the community of Gilbert, a town represented by a water tower, come together for a cause to raise awareness of water needs in another country. More details of the event can be found on the Be Well Rwanda Facebook Page. Both my 2-months in Rwanda and the fundraiser would not have happened if I had not stepped out in faith and let myself be used in ways that I have been gifted. I had moments of fear and being scared of both. Initially, I didn’t want to do the fundraiser because it was a bold event where I could fail and let down so many friends and businesses I knew in the community. I was scared but I knew that this was God’s calling and to trust Him. It is amazing to see what can happen when you venture out of your comfort zone.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Laura’s Adventures: – Hiking in all the mountains with Superstitions being my favorite – A long bike ride around Usery mountain – A day drive to Payson or Sedona – A Sunday morning service at Christ Church Gilbert in Gilbert Town Square A Taste of Downtown Gilbert: – Bergies Coffee Roast House on a Friday or Saturday morning – Liberty Market or Joe’s BBQ (BBQ jackfruit) – Funktional Fitness for a workout – On Saturday, hit up the Gilbert Farmer’s Market (Bergies, Benny Blanco’s Tortillas, Tamales, Breezy Pops, Blue Sky Organics Farm) – Uprooted Kitchen, especially their Wednesday & Friday Dinner Night Specials – Pomegranate Café, Verdura, & Seed Shack (vegan) – Queen Creek Olive Mill Tour
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not be here without so many people. Before I get specific, a huge shoutout must go out to all the businesses in Gilbert and Downtown Gilbert who participated in the Silent Auction at the Be Well Rwanda fundraiser. To be specific, I have to give credit to three people. Two are the owners of Bergies Coffee Roast House, Linda and Brian Bergeson. They have supported me as I have navigated many job changes and they have been amazing bosses to me when I worked at their coffee shop. Most importantly, they played a huge role in the success of the fundraiser, Be Well Rwanda. The event was held at their coffee shop and without their encouragement, love, and support, the event would not have happened. I am truly grateful for them and their leadership and mentorship in my life. The third shoutout is to Kirk VanMaanen who is the Missions Pastor at Christ Church Gilbert. He has been a mentor to me over the past year as my heart has been drawn towards missions. I have a deeper love and compassion for the nations because of his teachings in my life. Like Bergies, he played a key role in the Be Well Rwanda fundraiser. Through Kirk’s leadership in my life, I lived Rwanda and I am working at a mission sending agency – the best job I could have stateside. These three individuals not only impacted my life, but they have impacted downtown Gilbert and so many other lives. I hold these individuals in high esteem and value their continued mentorship in my life.
Other: Laura’s Mission Story: https://vimeo.com/368399800 Be Well Rwanda Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BeWellRwanda/
Adam and Annie Balch (Fundraiser Photos)