Trusting in Jesus at an early age, Elizabeth lived a life of impact even though she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when very young. A lifelong member of the Monterey Peninsula community on California’s Central Coast, Elizabeth’s jubilant and indomitable spirit inspired all who knew her.
Over the years, Elizabeth endured numerous surgeries, hospitals stays and long stretches of pain. Yet her uncomplaining, vibrant spirit outshined such struggle. She always sought to encourage others and share with them her cheerful smile, a Word from Scripture, a prayer or one of her special handmade cards. She had no fear of sharing her love of Jesus; she truly loved others and wanted them to have the faith that she had been given.
A voracious reader from a young age, Elizabeth developed a love of children, books, learning, and teaching. She mastered sign language so she could effectively serve as an interpreter for the deaf. Elizabeth realized what a privilege learning is. She felt strongly called to someday become a teacher and start a school somewhere in Africa, where her father had spent time as a young man.
THE INSPIRATION: Elizabeth's Story
In spite of so many physical challenges, Elizabeth kept working toward her college degree and also joined a support group for Hope Home Mission, an indigenous ministry located in Lilongwe, Malawi. Elizabeth enthusiastically supported Hope Home Mission's outreach to orphans and widows and dreamed of a future visit to serve as a teacher in the orphan school.
The Hope Home Mission support group sent hundreds of books to Malawi and planned to raise funds to upgrade one of the campus buildings to use as a needed community library. Elizabeth was so excited about this project, but before she could see its realization, Jesus took her home.
The Director of Hope Home Mission decided to name the future library in her honor. At the wish of Elizabeth’s parents, her memorial gifts funded the construction. In July 2012, Elizabeth’s Library in Lilongwe, Malawi was officially dedicated with local community leaders and citizens plus American friends in attendance.
Elizabeth’s Library is the only library available to hundreds of people in that area of Lilongwe. The impact of this incredible resource on the lives of so many became the inspiration to establish community libraries and resource centers in other underserved areas around the world.
Elizabeth Tolhurst 1985 – 2011
In July 2013, Elizabeth’s Library International became a registered nonprofit in the State of California. In less than six months, another small library has been founded in the West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire.