Bringing Hope in the Midst of COVID-19

A Letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk, serving in Madagascar

October 2020

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Dear friends,

We hope that you are finding God’s strength and grace to navigate the challenges that this year has brought. We are going on seven months of living in transition in Orlando. We have been coordinating activities with our Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) colleagues, relating to supporting churches here, and helping to prepare for the Madagascar Mission Network’s virtual conference. Dan has also taken this opportunity to get some mango varieties and practice grafting in the backyard.

We are inspired by how our colleagues in the FJKM, PC(USA)’s partner in Madagascar, continue to serve God and how churches in the USA are coming alongside those ministries.

Madagascar Mission Network (MMN) Conference November 12-14, 2020
Madagascar Mission Network’s conference will be virtual this year. While we will miss meeting in-person, the virtual format means that many more people can join the meeting. We hope many colleagues from Madagascar will take part. The conference opens Thursday evening with a great film on Madagascar – “Ady Gasy.” On Friday, there will be seven sessions that share about various FJKM ministries and how the MMN is partnering with the FJKM to share God’s love and bring abundant life to the Malagasy people. The opening session will be by FJKM President Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi. The conference will close Saturday morning. We hope that you can join the conference for all or part of it! You can register using this link: https://form.jotform.com/202814427654052?utm_source=Madagascar+Mission+Network&utm_campaign=fe81acc4cd EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_10_08_02_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2cb44d2f38-fe81acc4cd-361916092.

Update on COVID-19 in Madagascar
Shortly after the upsurge in daily COVID-19 cases in late June, new daily cases declined rapidly. In response, the Malagasy government relaxed some of its COVID-19 restrictions, particularly travel within Madagascar. On October 18, the president of Madagascar declared the COVID-19 health emergency to be over. People are still required to wear masks and practice social distancing in public, while gatherings remain restricted to less than 200 people. Public primary and secondary schools are set to open October 26. The capital city’s international airport is still not open for regularly scheduled flights. People continue to experience unprecedented hardship as they adjust to severe disruption to their lives.

FJKM Holds General Council in November
The FJKM postponed its General Council April meeting due to COVID-19 restrictions as well as its General Assembly that was to be held this past August. The General Council meeting is scheduled for November 11–20 including a special planning session for the General Assembly. Holding this meeting while respecting the guidelines of wearing masks and social distancing will be challenging, but the church is eager to move forward with its vision and ministries.

FJKM Fights Food Insecurity
October 16 was World Food Day. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reminds us that “Preserving access to safe and nutritious food is … an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities, who are hit hardest by the pandemic and resulting economic shocks.” Providing funding for the COVID-19 mitigation actions of FJKM’s Fruits, Vegetables and Environmental Education (FVEE) program and partnering to help farmers grow tangerines are among the many ways that PC(USA) is working to alleviate hunger around the world (see presbyterianmission.org/story/world-food-day-highlights-continuing-reality-of-hunger).

Ten years of Tangerine Growing at Antanetibe
Ten years ago, the FJKM started helping people grow tangerines at Antanetibe. The tangerine growers had a good harvest this year. For the first time buyers came from the capital city to buy tangerines by the truckload. Income from tangerine sales was especially appreciated because of the economic hardship brought on by COVID-19. In August our FJKM colleague, Rolland Razafiarison, took a TV crew to Antanetibe. Here is the video that was produced: youtube.com/watch?v=KP0AX8ln0dY&t=549s.

New Agricultural Training School at Fihaonana
The FJKM is starting an agricultural training school at Fihaonana, about 50 km NW of Antananarivo. The FVEE program has been asked to landscape around the new building with native trees and fruit trees and to install a new tree nursery there. Albert Mamindraibe will head up the tree nursery. A few years ago, Albert worked with the FVEE program at FJKM’s Fianarantsoa seminary, helping student pastors grow vegetables and taking care of the seminary’s orchard. After marrying Saholy, a seminary student, he moved with her to Ivato for her fourth and final year in seminary. There he did a year-long internship with the FVEE, deepening his skills and serving as the pioneer for a program of internships for spouses of seminary students with the FVEE nursery at Ivato. Now Saholy is the pastor of a church not far from Fihaonana.

Prayer Requests
• For the Malagasy people as they struggle amid the severe economic hardship brought by the COVID-19 crisis;
• For the FJKM as it ministers among the Malagasy people;
• For the FJKM General Council meetings Nov 11-20 as the FJKM plans for the future;
• For us, as we balance living with our hearts in two worlds and protection from COVID-19 for our family;
• For the USA as it wrestles with how to deal with COVID-19, the need for racial justice, and the upcoming election.

We are happy to share with supporters via Zoom, Skype, and videos. Even if we cannot meet in-person, staying connected means a great deal to us. Thank you very much for your continued support and prayers working together for the building up of the body of Christ as Ephesians 4:1-16 so beautifully describes.

Peace in Christ,

Dan & Elizabeth


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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