Pastor Simon, a friend of Starfish Ministries, killed

I received word late last week from Daniel that one of our pastor friends in Haiti was killed Friday night. Pastor Simon was the current president of the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Haiti (elected after Pastor Diogene’s term was up). He arrived at his home late Friday night after attending a two day pastors’ conference and was confronted by several men. We don’t know why but just know that a ransom was initially demanded. When the police checked they found Simon dead from a gunshot wound in a field behind his house. His wife was also shot, lost quite a bit of blood and is in a hospital in Port-au-Prince. Their children are all living in the US, going to school. Please prayer for the family and all affected by this tragedy.

Cholera and Crashes

We received word yesterday afternoon that two of the children in our orphanage have contracted cholera.  But Edner, our Orphanage Director, acted quickly.  The two children were taken to a hospital some distance away where they received treatment and are now recovering.

Cholera causes severe diarrhea, which leads to dehydration.  If fluids are not replaced quickly, this can lead to death.  We thank God for protecting these children, for giving Edner the wisdom to respond quickly, for seeing them safely to the hospital, and for using the treatment to combat this infection.

We also thank God for protecting Pastor Diogene yesterday!

When Diogene first heard that the children in the orphanage were sick, he decided to make the four-to-five hour trip from Port-au-Prince to Tricotte to make certain that the children were receiving proper treatment and to help transport them to the hospital if necessary.  So Diogene, a driver, and two helpers left Port-au-Prince and drove north.  About an hour out of the city, Diogene used his cell phone to call Bernie to apprise him of the situation.  In the middle of their conversation, Bernie heard sudden crashing and banging of metal and glass, and then the phone went dead.

Bernie quickly called back and soon was able to reestablish a connection.  A young boy had stepped into the road in front of the pickup.  The driver swerved and missed the boy but lost control of the vehicle, which went into a ditch and rolled over three times!  The Haitians who had witnessed the wreck told Diogene they were certain that everyone in the pickup was dead.  But not only did all four survive, they were virtually unscathed.  It was truly a miracle.

Finally, we are grateful to God that Glenn has a firm diagnosis and has begun treatment for peritoneal tuberculosis, an uncommon disease that has infected his intestinal lining.  The treatment lasts six months, but the long-term prognosis is good, and we are looking forward to the day when Glenn will return to Haiti with us.

Incidentally, Glenn’s doctor does not believe Glenn contracted this disease in Haiti, but rather on a trip to India a few years ago.

Serving the Lord together,

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp

A Letter from the Children in the Orphanage

Dear Sponsors,

Hello!  With all the sponsors, we have so much joy in our hearts to write you in the name of Jesus.  How are your activities, your families?  We want to tell you a great thank you for all the sponsors who make the decision to help us.  Know that you make that to glorify God, and we want to tell you don’t be discouraged in that.  Trouble and sadness can come, but stay in God’s way, because God loves all those who take care for the destitute.  We haven’t anything to give you.  We don’t know another word bigger than thank you.  Thank you for your courage because in spite of the earthquake, you remember us, and we are very satisfied of all things you send for us that bring joy to our hearts.  We feel very happy for the nice gestures that you do for us.  We are very happy with that and we want to tell you to keep serving God, keep praising the Lord, and he will take care of you.  Keep doing well, don’t be discouraged, and keep hard in God’s work, and then his grace and his blessings will fall down on you.

God bless you,

Thank you so,

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  –Galatians 6:9

Rain in Tricotte!

Many of you have been praying for rain, as there hadn’t been any significant rain in this area of Haiti since November.  God has heard and answered.  Wednesday afternoon and evening, it rained for four hours!  They received two inches of rain.  One man told Bernie, “My garden is very happy today!”

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp

Eye Clinic on Wednesday Morning

Eye clinic in Tricotte Wednesday morning

Last Saturday Pastor Alfred Paul, from the village of Fiervil in the mountains east of Tricotte, came to visit me.  He walked for three hours, having heard that we may be able to do an eye clinic.  He shared that he has many people in his church that struggle with their reading due to poor eye sight.  I hadn’t planned to do an eye clinic on this trip but I couldn’t say no so I told him I would free up Wednesday morning  at 9:00 and be able to see up to 25 patients.  I also told him not to spread the word or we would have multitudes to deal with and I just didn’t have the time for more. 

Well by 6:00 Wednesday morning Pastor Alfred’s people were beginning to gather out on the street in front of our house.  By 9:00 there were 26 gathered — he wondered if that was okay that he had one extra and I accepted.  So at 9:00 my interpreter, Garry Charles and I started seeing patients.  I always explain to them that I am not a doctor and that I can only diagnois minor needs.  However several years ago we were able to purchase a RETINOMAX machine due to the generosity of some of you.  This machine enables me to do a fair job of determining the patients need.

By 12:30 we had seen 39 people.  It is such a joy to see their faces light up when they see clearly for the first time  in a very long time.  One man couldn’t remember when his left eye was injured but it was since he was a little boy.  I could not get  a reading on that eye at all.  So as I was going to the glasses inventory I prayed that God would lead me to the right  pair of glasses for  this man.  God did  and  oh the excitement on this man’s face as  he could  see well.  And the bonus was — they were bifocals and the reading part was perfect for him as well.   God is so good!!!

The generosity of many of you who have donated glasses has made clinics like these possible.  We are grateful to God for your contributions.  If anyone has unused glasses you would like to donate, we will see to it that they are used to meet the needs of Haitians like the man from Fiervil.  (If you are able to attach the presciption, that is very helpful as well).

Glasses can be dropped off at the Starfish Ministies office (at our home) at 1811 Main Street in Lynden or mailed to us at:

Starfish Ministries
1706 Front Street #440
Lynden, WA 98264

Nodi in Tricotte

Some of you may remember Bernie writing in a newsletter four years ago about a young man named Nodi.  It is such a blessing to see how God continues to lead young men like him.  Since Bernie’s newsletter, Nodi has gone to plumbing school in Port-au-Prince.  And right now he is back in Tricotte, using the things he has learned, giving back some of what he has received.

Glenn has been giving Nodi plumbing tasks in the orphanage, as they work to improve the water supply there.  But Nodi doesn’t stop there.  He has been at the house where Glenn and Bernie stay, cleaning up and lending a hand wherever he can.  We thank God for Nodi and the things God has done in his life.

Serving the Lord together,

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp

Damage in Schools and Churches

On Saturday, Bernie and Glenn, along with Exalus, who works with our schools in Haiti, visited Remoussin, a village about a mile downriver from Tricotte.  Exalus was concerned about some cracks that had been developing in the school building since the earthquake.

Glenn had been to Remoussin in February, and at that point there was no visible sign of damage.  But Exalus was right; there had been damage and there are substantial cracks now.  It appears our best option is to take down the building are rebuild.

In the village of Ravine, the school was in great shape, but the church building requires repairs, which we have now begun.  And in the village of Means, the church (which also housed the school) had become so bad they had already taken it down.  The 130 school children in Means are now meeting under a coconut leave shelter.  We need to build a new school there.

There may be other construction and repair needs as well, although these were the ones Exalus and Norius were most concerned about.

Serving the Lord together,

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp

Tricotte Orphans

Glenn & I are having a great time in Tricotte.  It had been six months since we were here. 

Glenn has been working on the village water system.  He’s installing two new 1600 gallon water tanks in order to increase the storage capacity.  We currently have indoor plumbing for our girls in the orphanage but didn’t have the capacity for the boys — so this is going to get the boys the much desired indoor plumbing as well. 

This morning I helped distribute clothes at the orphanage.  The kids were excited.  They don’t often get new clothes.    Some friends in Susanville, California put together a new “dress” clothes package for each of our kids and today the kids received it.  Tomorrow we will be giving out new shoes as well. 

While I had them all together I took this photo of the boys —

and this of the girls —

The kids thanked me over and over again and I pass that on to you. 

This area of Haiti hasn’t had any significant rain since November.  The recently planted crops are suffering and will fail if they don’t soon get some moisture.  Please pray that God would provide the much needed rain.  Thanks much.