A letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk in the U.S., on Interpretation Assignment from Madagascar
Individuals: Give online to E200418 for Dan and Elizabeth Turk’s sending and support
Congregations: Give to D507218 for Dan and Elizabeth Turk’s sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).
We hope you had a Happy Easter. Ours was extra-special this year. Robert had Easter weekend off from college and we were able to be together as a family this Easter in Decatur, Ga., with the azaleas and dogwoods blooming.
Many of you may have heard that Dan’s mother had a stroke this past January. She is recovering well, but has now moved to an independent living community. We are grateful that we are in the U.S. and close enough to provide care and support. We appreciate your prayers for Dan’s parents and the entire family during this transition.
We also appreciate your understanding as we have not been able to visit all of the churches that we had planned to visit. We have enjoyed the visits we could make to supporting churches and the time to share what God is doing in Madagascar through the partnership of the PC(USA) with the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM). We deeply value everyone’s support and could not do what we do without it!
Here are a few of the highlights from 2015 of what we have done together.
Following up with recent seminary graduates on the Fruit, Vegetable, and Environmental Education (FVEE) Project. This project provided follow-up with new pastors, helping them further to master the skills in gardening and fruit-growing that they acquired while students in seminary. These new pastors were provided with the technical skills they needed to cultivate gardens and fruit trees at their new churches and communities. The pastors and their families often serve in very poor rural communities and they can consume and share the vegetables and fruits they grow while also teaching their neighbors to do the same. So far Dan and his colleagues have been able to provide this follow-up in three FJKM synods. For example, they provided trees and training to new pastors Haja and Iry and representatives from their nine rural churches. All of Haja and Iry’s churches in Fianarantsoa now have fruit trees and native trees planted in the church courtyards. Pastor Haja has learned how to graft avocados and lychee fruit on fruit trees for distribution in his community. Technical follow-up to new pastors is being expanded in 2016. This is an example of how the FVEE project staff serve as environmental and agricultural consultants to FJKM churches.
Getting water to the FJKM seminary in Fianarantsoa. This project was completed with help from PC(USA) churches, the Waterlines Foundation, the Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea, and water specialists from the FJKM Development Department. (See our Sept 2015 newsletter for more details.) The water will make life easier for the seminary students and allow them to water their vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Dan and Pastor Haingo, director of the Fianarantsoa seminary, are pictured next to part of the water system.
50 high school students trained as youth peer educators. The new peer educators were trained during the 2015 Easter vacation in three cities. They learned about making healthy decisions based on Biblical principles and how to communicate this with their peers. The power of this program is that it helps young people confront and explore the real issues they deal with in daily life like violence within families, drugs, early pregnancy, infidelity and hopelessness. The peer educators share in classrooms, do skits, and share one on one. To allow peer educators to explore topics more deeply they have also begun to lead small groups
with students for a few months. Trainers Dr. Voahangy and Mrs. Ony are pictured preparing a packet of health education materials to give to each youth peer educator.
- Seminary students trained at FJKM’s four seminaries by the FJKM AIDS Committee. Training pastors helps equip new generations of pastors to understand HIV, how to prevent it, and how to minister to those living with the virus. Seminary students pictured are practicing counseling techniques. This skill helps them better minister to their congregations.
- Mahatsinjo communities and school received clean water. This water will help improve health as well as provide water for vegetables and fruit tree production. The elementary school also received showers and an outhouse. The project was supported by the Presbyterian Hunger Program, a PC(USA) grant, The Outreach Foundation, and multiple Presbyterian congregations.
Madagascar is still suffering from extreme poverty and environmental devastation. The majority of the people have difficulty making ends meet. The church’s presence is vital to ensure hope and work for a better future. The PC(USA)’s partner church, the FJKM, continues to serve and minister to the Malagasy people, reminding them of Easter’s resurrection message. Our God is a God of hope and new life, more powerful than evil and sin.
The Madagascar Mission Network has started up again with an organizational meeting this April in New York City. The network is a great way to connect with other churches and individuals interested in supporting Christ’s ministry in Madagascar. We will share more about the Madagascar Mission Network in our next newsletter.
Your partnership with us and the FJKM church is making a difference in people’s lives. You are helping to bring the Easter message to daily life in Madagascar, providing hope to many. Thank you very much for partnering with us. Your continued prayers and financial support will help ensure that we can continue to serve the people of Madagascar, that they may know and experience God’s love in truth and deed (I John 3:18).
Peace in Christ,
Dan & Elizabeth
You 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.