Shortly after Daniel Thelusmond assumed the responsibility of directing Starfish Ministries, Haiti, he hired Lizette to be the director of our Starfish Ministries Orphanage in Tricotte. That was over 11 years ago. Daniel was acquainted with Lizette from a previous employment. They were both teachers at an English speaking elementary Christian School in Port-a-Prince. When the opening at the orphanage came about, Daniel quickly contacted Lizette, offered her the position and, thankfully, she accepted.
The previous orphanage director had been lax in discipline so Lizette inherited about 80 children who needed to be brought under better control. And what a job she did! Lizette laid out the expectations for each child and carried out a discipline that soon brought good results. Lizette did identify a few older children who did not respond well to her leadership, and after working with them and giving them opportunities to submit to her, she had to release a few of them. That’s always a difficult decision but so necessary or the positive culture of the orphanage would be jeopardized.
Lizette has many attributes that fit our need very well. She is a very committed believer. She speaks fluent English. Her educational background and experience are well utilized in this environment. She is fluent in French while able to communicate in Haitian Creole. She is talented in music. She is using all of this and more as she directs the orphanage staff and children.
As a result of Lizette’s leadership and vision, we started an elementary school at the orphanage. As she tutored the children and monitored their progress in the school they were in, she realized they needed a more structured educational environment. The norm in Haitian elementary schools is to teach in Creole. The problem with that is Creole does not prepare the students for secondary school, which is taught in French. And the transition to secondary school has always been difficult. So Daniel and Lizette decided this school would use the French language from the very beginning, starting with pre-school. What a difference that has made! Our children transitioning to secondary school have done so with great success.
A couple of years after Lizette started this school, Daniel and I were visiting the orphanage at dinner time. Lizette asked one of the young students to pray for the meal and as he began, Daniel gave me a poke and said, “the boy is praying in French!”
Daniel was very impressed. It was the first time he heard a prayer expressed in the French from these kids.
Currently all of our other elementary schools teach in Creole. Our goal is to switch to French in all of those schools as soon as it is possible. The difficult part is to find teachers in the area who can speak French. In fact, even though many of them have been taught French in high school, they are not proficient enough to be able to communicate and teach effectively in French.
Those of you have traveled with us on short term mission trips have quickly become friends with Lizette. She is very easy to talk with and is a wealth of information that she is always willing to share. Lizette has helped with interpretation for teams. She was an integral part of many of our teams, helping them to present truth to the children. When I shared about the lame man being healed and how he, “went walking and leaping and praising God,” Lizette went walking, leaping and praising God right along me as she interpreted.
Lizette is a very special friend and a gifted servant of God. She is on the front lines, truly making a difference in the lives of 60 children of the orphanage every day. We thank God for Lizette and her dedication to Him first of all and then to the ministry that God has directed her to at our Starfish Ministry in Tricotte, Haiti.
And now for some really good news for those of you who know Lizette. Lizette got married last month! Lizette married a man from her home village in the mountains above Port-au-Prince. We pray that God blesses Lizette and her husband as they begin this new chapter in their lives.
I know that many of you have prayed for Lizette over the past few years. Please continue.
We thank God for each of you who have joined with us to reach out to the lost in Haiti. Thank you for your prayers and financial support.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp