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Letter from Elizabeth Turk in the United States, home from Magagascar

October 2, 2011

Dear Friends,

Greetings on World Communion Sunday!  What a special reminder that we are all part of the worldwide body of Christ. 

Tantely (on right) at Topaza orphanage. Tantely is now out of jail and awaits trial on Oct 18th. Please pray that her trial goes well.

Dan has been traveling the second half of September as part of Mission Connections Live!, sharing with different PC(USA) congregations what God is doing throughout the world and how the PC(USA) is involved in this great mission.  He has been travelling with FJKM (the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar) Pastor Hubert Rakotoarivony from Madagascar, who is in the United States as part of PC(USA)’s International Peacemaking Program.

October is a busy month.  Dan will be in Madagascar from October 9 until November 4.  He will be seeing our FJKM colleagues and visiting the work that the PC(USA) and FJKM are doing in partnership.  Other Presbyterian visitors to Madagascar include representatives from PC(USA) headquarters in Louisville, The Outreach Foundation, and First Presbyterian Church in Orlando.  The FJKM will have a major churchwide meeting this October 13-19. The FJKM Development Department will also have a major meeting at the end of October. 

Things remain unsettled in Madagascar. Hopes were raised when an agreement was signed on September 17 by most of the political parties.  Unfortunately, the de facto government acted in ways that did not honor the agreement.  Many are disillusioned.  The steps to lasting peace are not clear.

However, the government has begun releasing political prisoners bit by bit.  Tantely Rakotoarivony, the head of the FJKM Topaza Orphanage, was recently released on bail.  Her trial is scheduled for October 18.

Malaria training for FJKM community health volunteers at Ambovombe Centre.

At a time when the health care system is unraveling in Madagascar, it is nice to report on an area where progress is being made. Malaria has long been the leading cause of death and illness among children and adults in Madagascar. Significant strides had been made toward eradicating malaria, but the coup d’état resulted in many setbacks. However, now Madagascar’s malaria program appears to be back on track.  A few months ago, for the first time in two years, the FJKM health program was able to purchase mosquito nets to distribute to the FJKM pastors graduating from seminary.  The FJKM health staff is also helping carry out a national two-year malaria training program for community health volunteers.  The plan to have official nationally recognized health volunteers for each communal area is moving forward.  Many of the health volunteers in FJKM’s community health villages who were trained by the FJKM and the PC(USA) have been chosen by their communes to be official commune health volunteers.  What an affirmation of the energy and resources that the FJKM and the PC(USA) have invested in these men and women, equipping them to serve their communities.

Thank you for your support of FJKM’s community health program over the years.  It is now bearing fruit in unexpected ways!

Dr. Faranirina Rasoalivola (white shirt on r.), FJKM Community Health Coordinator, and FJKM community health volunteers (blue shirts). Many communes are choosing FJKM health volunteers to be the government health volunteers.

The extension work and nursery development of the FJKM fruit tree program continue to advance.  More about these activities in another newsletter.

Please pray:

• for the FJKM meetings in October, that God will guide the decisions and continue to strengthen the church

• for a peaceful resolution to the Madagascar crisis

• for Tantely and her family as she adjusts to being out of jail, and that she will not be convicted and rejailed at her trial Oct. 18

•  for the work of the FJKM Development Department

• for the safety of Dan and other PC(USA) visitors as they travel throughout Madagascar

May God be with all of as we seek to be faithful members of the global body of Christ.  May we share one another’s burdens and joys.  Please look below for updates on Tantely’s trial.  

Peace in Christ,

Elizabeth Turk
211 Inman Dr. 
Decatur   GA  30030     

The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 71
The 2012 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 110

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November 22 update on Tantely's trial:
The trial of the director of the FJKM Topaza orphanage, Ms. Tantely Rakotoarivony, was scheduled to take place 22 November 2011 but was put off until 18 January 2012.  The trial of 11 employees of the FJKM radio station, Radio Fahazavana, also scheduled for 22 November was put off at least a week.  There is still no news about the court case involving the possible reopening of Radio Fahazavana.  This radio station was closed by the Malagasy government in May 2010.

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