Meet Stephanie Voetberg, a volunteer at Orphanage Emmanuel in Guaimaca, Honduras. This young woman has a giant heart full of joy! Be encouraged by her work and the special children of Honduras.
Share a little bit about what you do on daily basis.
Every day for me is the same routine, but there is never a dull day here at the Orphanage. Especially the specific work area I work, the toddler house. My days are from 6 am to 6 pm Monday-Saturday. (Sundays are my day off).
A typical day starts off with me showering my girls. I look after a room full of eight girls, aging from 2-5! I shower them all at the same time (which can be very chaotic), get them dressed, do their hair etc. After all of the toddlers are done getting ready for the day, we feed the kids breakfast. There is about 60 kids total in the toddler house. With the very little help we have, it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to keep the kids quiet during meal times, and trying to make sure the place doesn’t turn into a zoo! After breakfast, half of the children will go to pre-school here at the orphanage, the other half will head straight to the playground!
I help out at the playground every morning. I try and find as many fun activities for the kids to do outside of just playing on the jungle gym. It’s my job to make it more exciting during this time for them. I’ve tried teaching them things such as jump rope, duck-duck-goose, hide and seek etc. The kids love to blow bubbles, play with balloons, and eat candy I help set up for lunch every day and we usually have the food all set out on the table before the kids arrive back from the playground. Every day rice and beans is our typical meal for both lunch and dinner. After lunch, the kids take naps from 12-2, which means a two hour break for all volunteers! At this time, the volunteers and I head back to our home and cook our own meals, take naps, or layout in the sunshine! After our break is over we’ll head back over to the toddler house, and usually watch a movie with the kids or play games. Dinner follows nap time pretty shortly thereafter. Dinner is around 3:30 for the children. I will help set up for that and help the kids wash their hands, change any diapers that may need changing, and so on. While the kids are eating dinner, I will go get everything ready for showering the girls. I will have all of their toothbrushes ready to go, all of their PJ’s laid out for them, washcloths with soap prepared, and I will also make sure the shampoo bottle is filled up. When the girls are done eating they will come straight to the showers and I will help shower them, and get them ready for bed.
Bed time is between 6:30 and 7 p.m. every-night, so after showering the girls, they still have some free time to play in the rooms! Once in a while I like to bring nail polish to do their nails. Also before bedtime, I like to sing songs with them, and read them bed times stories [When I get the guts to read a book that isn’t in my language :)] I’ll kiss the girls goodnight and head back home for the day. So after 6 p.m. every day I am free for the night. I usually like to spend time skyping friends and family back home, exercising, reading a book, spending time in God’s word, studying Spanish, etc.
And that’s what a typical day looks like for me, as a volunteer here at Orphanage Emmanuel.
What compelled you to go to Honduras and serve at Orphanage Emmanuel?
I heard about Orphanage Emmanuel through some friends of mine not too long ago. They had just visited here last summer and had nothing but good things to say about it. They recently received an e-mail from the Orphanage, saying how desperate they needed help. The Lord had placed me on their heart as soon as they read the e-mail. They knew I had a heart to serve, and also knew I loved working with children. They asked me to pray about coming, and as crazy as it sounds, I knew at that very moment this was from the Lord. This is where he was calling me next. I definitely spent time talking to the Lord about this one, and he totally gave me a peace about it. Two months later, I’m on a plane by myself headed to Central America
What are the challenges you have faced?
For me, I think the most difficult challenge would have to be, the language barrier. I knew absolutely no Spanish coming here to Honduras, and am still trying to catch on to phrases, and words I hear every day. I’m surrounded by only Spanish speaking people on a day-to-day basis, and it can be very frustrating at times, but that’s where my love can be shown through actions and not words.
I would say another challenge I have faced would have to be making sure I love on each child the same amount. There are a lot of children to love on daily, and very few workers here. It can be easy to love on those children that so easily cling to you, and overlook the quiet children, but then I remind myself God doesn’t show favoritism on his children, and we shouldn’t either.
Share a story of hope you have witnessed.
I can’t think of a specific example of hope that I have witnessed, but I can say this, I am surrounded by children who for some of them, weren’t supposed to live past a few months and now 20 years later are alive and healthy. I am surrounded by children who even though their mother and father have abandoned them can STILL worship the God of the Universe. These kids have been introduced to Jesus Christ and have accepted him into their lives. When these kids had no hope, they were introduced to the one who could give them far more than they could ever ask or think. They were introduced to someone who loves them far more than their earthly parents ever could. It’s amazing to witness these kids worship God during church on Sunday mornings, raising their hands, and really praising the Lord for what they do have. That in itself is every day hope I get to witness.
How can people help the ministry you are part of?
I think since I’ve been here, the Lord has taught me how important prayer really is, and not only that its important, but also how powerful prayer really is. One way people could help back home would be to pray. Pray for the staff members here, and pray for the children. Pray these kids experience the love of Christ here, even though they do not have a mom and dad to show them what that looks like. So prayer is definitely one way people can help.
We are always accepting long and short term volunteers. Just log onto the website, and fill out an application! http://orphanageemmanuelhn.weebly.com/
People can help by either sending donations or by mailing packages this way, full of things for the children. Examples: Balloons, Candy, bubbles, socks, VHS & DVD’s for the kids to watch, hair accessories etc. If any of you are interested the mailing address is:
4611 Hixson Pike
Hixson, TN 37343
Every 2 to 4 weeks we get a huge container full of donations shipped here to the orphanage, from the states. Anything donated is much appreciated by staff and children.
Where does all your joy come from?
I would definitely say that my joy comes from serving others. The Lord has really blessed me with a burden to help and serve others, who are less fortunate than I am. It makes me happy to see these children smiling and enjoying life. I can’t think of a better example of a servant than Jesus himself. The King of Kings humbled himself to the point of being a servant. The Bible says, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.”-Matthew 20:28. Jesus calls us to follow him, and I believe that we as Christians are called to serve others.
What is next for you? How has this experience changed and inspired you?
I’ve been here for about two months already, so my time here is about half way over. I plan on serving at a Christian camp in Florida this summer as a unit leader. I really am praying about coming back here as a full time staff member this coming fall. The Lord knows my heart’s desire, which is to serve, possibly in overseas missions full-time someday. I’m going to continue praying about what the Lord has for me in the upcoming months. I definitely am not the same person I was when I arrived here, two months ago. I’ve learned and grown so much here, and I now see the desperate need of help this world is in. I never want to stop introducing others to Jesus Christ. He not only saved me from an eternity in hell, but also gave me a hope in my short time here on earth. He’s allowing me to experience abundant life-John 10:10
Thank you Stephanie for sharing your joy!