A letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk in Madagascar
Thank you very much for your faithful support for PC(USA) mission efforts in Madagascar. By supporting us as PC(USA) mission co-workers and by supporting the efforts of PC(USA)’s partner church, the FJKM, in the fields of health and environment you are helping to bring God’s love to the people of Madagascar.
On a personal note, 2013 marked a new phase for us with Frances a freshman and Robert a senior in high school. This year is an even bigger year of transition as Robert graduates from high school. He will be entering Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., in August. Please pray for all of us as we prepare for this big change.
The year 2013 saw much progress in our respective areas of work. For fruit trees, over 200 trees, including many varieties that first came to Madagascar in our luggage in August 2012, were planted out in demonstration orchards. Many of the new varieties have been propagated and distributed to farmers. Canistels, low-chill nectarines, dragon fruits, and muscadine grapes are among the new fruits with particular promise. A practical course in vegetable gardening and fruit growing is continuing for the 7th consecutive year for FJKM seminary students. Extension efforts with farmers continue to advance. In particular, at Antanetibe Ankazobe, over 70 farmers have an average of over 20 tangerine trees. After less than four years these trees are now beginning to bear fruit, giving the farmers confidence that growing fruits will result in a major increase in their family income. This is an important step in helping families get out of poverty.
In health, the community health project helped the families in the Ambalavao communities get new outhouses and four wells with pumps. The 500 students at the elementary school have a new school outhouse and safe drinking water. As part of its fight against malaria, the health program provided mosquito nets to graduating pastoral students. These nets came from a Vacation Bible School donation. A special PC(USA) grant enabled the FJKM to re-open three rural dispensaries that provide desperately needed primary health care, prenatal and delivery services. In the area of AIDS prevention, the FJKM continued in its important work to train pastoral students about HIV and AIDS and in counseling techniques. This year we were invited for the first time to do a four-day training at the two seminaries outside the capital. The work with youth peer educators continued and they shared with their peers about how to live positively, avoiding drugs and other dangerous habits.
Five years after the 2009 coup that put Madagascar in a deep political and economic crisis, Madagascar may be on a track toward a return to rule of law and constitutional normalcy. Presidential and legislative elections were held in December 2013 and in January Hery Rajaonarimampianina was declared president. Mr. Rajaonarimampianina was supported by 2009 coup leader Andry Rajoelina. While some organizations have declared that Madagascar has returned to constitutional normalcy, some people say that the elections have legitimized a coup d’état. As of March 26 Mr. Rajaonarimampianina had yet to name a prime minister and other government ministers. While the U.S. recognized the results of the election, it is advocating a government that provides a clean break with the practices of Mr. Rajoelina’s illegitimate rule. The U.S. has withheld full recognition until after the new government has been put in place. The central bank is reportedly almost out of money, the streets of the capital are full of potholes, and poverty is a daily reality reflected in few meals and poor nutrition for over 90 percent of the population. The new government will have its hands full trying to get the country back on a good path for the majority of the country’s people. Please pray that it tries to do that rather than looking for the good of the few.
For us, work in Madagascar continues to be exciting but challenging. The Malagasy people still suffer from the devastating effects of the 2009 coup with over 90 percent of the people living on less than $2 a day. Partnering with the FJKM church as it ministers in this reality has never been more important.
Paul notes in Romans 12:6, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.” Your prayers and financial support this past year have meant a great deal to us and many people here. Please continue partnering with us and the FJKM church in Madagascar in 2014. With our gifts and talents used in partnership, together we can do great work for the Lord in Madagascar.
Peace in Christ,
Dan and Elizabeth Turk
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 147
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