A letter from Elizabeth Turk serving in Madagascar
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Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from windy and cold Madagascar!
Despite the cold, it’s good to be back. When I got off the plane last week, a part of me felt like I was home and that I had not been away for a year. It’s hard to explain, but that’s what it’s like as missionaries—having a home in two worlds. We loved being home in the U.S., being with family, living at Mission Haven in Decatur, visiting supporting churches, and being a part of the Madagascar Mission Network meeting last April. But as it says in the Bible, there is a time and season for everything and now is the time for us to be in Madagascar. So while part of us misses being with family and friends in the States, the other part is happy to be back with friends and colleagues in Madagascar, finding chameleons in our backyard, speaking Malagasy, and continuing our ministry with the PC(USA)’s partner church in Madagascar—the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM).
New FJKM Officers and Plans for New University Campus
Dan was privileged to attend part of the FJKM’s Synoda Lehibe (equivalent to a General Assembly) in Antsirabe. The weeklong meeting ended August 24. The Synoda Lehibe is held every four years. Delegates elected the members of the church’s 100-member ruling body (Mpiandraikitra Foibe or MF for short) for the next four years. The MF members then elected from among themselves the officers of the church. Pastor Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi was elected as the new president of the FJKM. The other officers are Pastor Jean Louis Zarazaka (clerical vice-president, who was renewed in that position), Mr. Georges Randriamamonjisoa (lay vice-president), Mr. Olivier Andrianarivelo (treasurer), Pastor Zaka Andriamampianina (clerical counselor) and Mr. Benjamin Rakotomandimby (lay counselor). Thank you so much to those who prayed for the FJKM to have a successful Synoda Lehibe. Those prayers were answered.
At the Synoda Lehibe church leaders decided to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the FJKM church (1968-2018) through the building of a new university campus for the FJKM University. The new campus is to be built on the piece of land where the FJKM Ivato Seminary is located and where we live.
New Fruit Trees for Madagascar
As part of his work with the FJKM church, Dan brought over 500 fruit trees in his luggage to contribute to the FJKM’s efforts to help farmers grow quality fruit trees. Over half are two varieties of breadfruit (‘Ma’afala’ and ‘Ulu Fiti’). The others include grafted varieties of mango, quenepa (Melicoccus bijugatus), sapodilla, canistel, and Indian jujube. Although two trunks of trees were delayed a day in Paris, all the trees are now in quarantine (standard procedure), where they will remain for the next two to three months. Many of these trees will be planted at the new FJKM fruit center at Mahatsinjo about four hours northwest of Antananarivo. These trees will help the FJKM alleviate poverty and reduce hunger. Many thanks to the individuals and churches that have contributed to the FJKM’s efforts to bring quality fruit trees to Madagascar. Any who would like to support the FJKM fruit project, please get in touch.
Passing of Two Friends and Church Leaders
While we were gone two of our colleagues passed away. Mr. David Ranaivoson, former director of the FJKM Development Department, passed away in late 2015. He was a mentor for us and a source of inspiration for many with his commitment to Christ and dedication to helping the FJKM empower rural farmers through development work. Pastor Lucien Randrianarizay was an integral part of the FJKM’s fight against AIDS and served the FJKM’s HIV/AIDS National Committee in many capacities over the last 10 years. He was also a leader in FJKM’s Scout branch. He died suddenly a few days before we returned. We mourn the loss of these friends and colleagues but accept God’s plan for our lives.
As we meet with friends and colleagues we realize that life has been very difficult this past year for many of them. Yet we are amazed at how strong people’s faith is despite their hardships. In a recent FJKM worship service the message was from James 1:2-16 on how trials and hardship bring endurance and mature faith. The speaker reminded all of us that God gives us what we need to persevere if we ask Him. We have much to learn from our FJKM brothers and sisters about endurance and faith.
We are still catching up on all of the work that has been done while we were away—a dispensary that was reopened; trainings that the AIDS Committee has conducted in different synods; new pastors who are doing exciting work with fruit trees and vegetable gardening. We will be sharing more about these and other wonderful developments in our next newsletters.
We greatly appreciate all of the support we have received from individuals and churches. Please continue to pray for us as a family—Robert who is in Pa. for his junior year in college and Frances who is with us starting her senior year of high school. Please pray for the new FJKM leaders as they guide the FJKM for the next four years. And please pray for the ministries of the FJKM that they will touch lives, reminding those in difficulty that God has not forgotten or forsaken them.
It was wonderful to see many of you in person while we were in the U.S. We are sorry that time did not allow us to visit everyone. We will make those we did not visit top priority when we are home for interpretation assignment next August–October 2017. Please know that your prayers and financial support make our ministry possible in Madagascar. If you haven’t yet joined a support team through prayer and financial support, please consider joining ours, or that of other mission co-workers like us. We are all part of God’s team—it is our privilege to be your hands and feet in Madagascar as we serve alongside our brothers and sisters in the FJKM.
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