Volunteers are a regular part of daily life at Beautiful Gate. From the long-term volunteers who make Lesotho their home for an extended period of time to the various outreach teams from around the world that serve our children and staff throughout the year, we seem to be constantly saying hello to new people and goodbye to beloved friends.
Despite the increase of long-term volunteers we have worked with over the past couple of years, it is not every day that those who are staying on campus together become a tight-knit family. When you have people from varying backgrounds, cultures, age groups, and standards of living forced to suddenly live together in a small living space (only one bathroom!), while enduring the stresses of serving at a care centre for orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children, the differences can sometimes feel insurmountable. Tensions can rise and disagreements can break out. Such is the life of being and working with other volunteers.
However, there are also occasions when God brings together a truly remarkable group of people. He equips and encourages them to overcome their differences for the sake of achieving something greater than each individual. He warms their hearts toward one another and knits their souls together in a deep and powerful way.
Such was our experience with our most recent group of volunteers.
We were beyond blessed to have Emma Kroll, Jennie Van Groningen, and Leah Koeman with us for one year, six months, and five months respectively. Over the course of their time at Beautiful Gate Jennie, Emma, and Leah (or Jemeah as they referred to themselves as) touched the hearts of our children and staff in so many different ways.
Emma came to BG a soft-spoken and gentle spirit. She brought joy to everyone she met with her infectious smile and made everyone feel special in every interaction. In addition to learning a great deal about what it takes to care for vulnerable children in Africa, Emma learned a great deal about courage, strength, and power God had placed within her. After a year of service it was incredibly bittersweet to see Emma go, but we were all so proud to see the transformation God had done in her heart and her confidence through her experience.
Leah decided to volunteer long-term at BG after an initial experience here with a short-term outreach team. A strong spirit, Leah brought a great deal of fun to the daily lives of staff and children alike. Five months felt far too short a time to have here with us, but we are incredibly grateful for even that much.
Jennie came highly recommended by a former missionary in Lesotho and part-time volunteer at BG. It did not take long to see that the high praise was not an understatement. Jennie provided a sense of maturity while maintaining a very fun-loving spirit. She reminded us daily of God’s love for each and every person through her selfless service and her practice of making time for individual relationships. Thankfully, we only had to say, “See you later” to Jennie, as she felt called to serve for another six months beginning in December.
All in all, these three volunteers were phenomenal, hard working, servant-hearted, and loving in all they did. Their individual contributions to the BG community were only surpassed by their impact as a group. Their love, joy, faithfulness, and fun-loving natures were reflected brighter as they interacted together. They were a truly rare and enjoyable combination of volunteers.
Thank you so much Emma, Jennie, and Leah for all that you provided to the Beautiful Gate family. We miss each of you every day and we pray that you all are living into the deep love and peace that your Abba has for you.