Planting Hope in Madagascar

A letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk, serving in Madagascar but currently in the U.S.

September, 2017

Write to Dan Turk
Write to Elizabeth Turk

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).


Dear Friends,

We are in the US now for a few months, where we have gotten our two children in college. Robert is now a senior and Frances a freshman. We visited Frances’ campus as a family. She got the feel for where her classes will be, and now we know where she will be living for the next four years. We also enjoyed hearing about Robert’s plans for life after college, most likely graduate studies in counseling and art therapy.

In the coming two months, we will be visiting as many churches as we can fit in, from Florida to New York to Iowa. Unfortunately, we won’t see all of you during our interpretation. However, we offer a brief description of some of the exciting ways God is working in Madagascar below to give you a flavor of the exciting growth in which we are blessed to be able to participate with our partner church, the Fiangonan’i Jesoa Kristy eto Madagasikara (FJKM).

Update on Isoavina Water and Sanitation Project

How do you show commitment?

Members of the Isoavina community showed their commitment to getting clean drinking water by hauling sand and rocks by hand and digging all of the trenches for the water pipes. The area for the reservoir is located at the bottom of a steep hill, so construction materials could not be delivered directly to the construction site by truck. The truck dropped materials at the top of the hill and people carried them down to the reservoir site.

The reservoir and other components of the clean drinking water system are now complete, including nine new drinking water spigots. The piping and construction for the Isoavina FJKM Training Center water and sanitation system still need to be completed, as do the water and sanitation systems for the two community schools. The construction team hopes to be finished by October, before the heavy rains come. Over 1000 people will benefit from the safe drinking water project. Some funds are needed to complete the project.

But providing safe drinking water alone is not enough to stop the cycle of disease. This is why part of this project includes training on using outhouses and washing hands. Simple acts, but life-saving. In Madagascar, diarrhea is one of the top five causes of death in children under five years of age. A goal for the Isoavina community is to become a place with no open-air defecation. Members of the Isoavina community have been trained on the five most important times to wash their hands: after going to the bathroom, before fixing meals, before eating, after changing diapers, and before breastfeeding. This combination of providing infrastructure for clean drinking water and health education will change lives.

New Initiative with FJKM Schools

Dan and his colleagues Rolland Razafiarison and Germain Ranaivoson—both of whom work with him on the FJKM Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education (FVEE) project—were invited to speak at a national meeting of the FJKM school principals coordinated by the National Office of FJKM schools. The FJKM has about 600 primary and secondary schools throughout the island. At the meeting, which was held August 10-12 at the FJKM Ambatomanga High School in central Madagascar, the principals were introduced to the FVEE project, and Rolland and Germain helped them plant 36 native and fruit trees at the school. The Biblical theme for the meeting was from John 15:27a: “And ye also shall bear witness.” Planting native trees bears witness to the value God puts on the natural world. In October, Rolland and Germain will provide training for the 35 FJKM district school superintendents on how to plant and take care of trees at schools.

We are grateful for this new collaboration and eager to see what will emerge. We anticipate that a plan will be developed to help large numbers of FJKM schools plant trees on school grounds for environmental education, beautification, shade, and fruits. I have shared with church partners in Madagascar that though the FVEE project is rich in trees and training capacity it has very limited funds, especially for transporting trees to distant schools. If the schools can figure out how to get trees from the central project tree nursery at the Ivato Seminary to their respective schools, then the FVEE project will gladly provide native trees and fruit trees—maybe an average of 10 trees per school—as well as training in how to plant and take care of trees. The project tree nursery has many of Madagascar’s tree treasures available for planting at schools, including endemic palms such as Beccariophoenix alfredii, Bismarckia nobilis, and Dypsis madagascariensis; baobabs; and almost-unknown endemic flowering trees and shrubs like Andringitra leucomacrantha, Chadsia flammea and Turraea rhombifolia. Fruit trees will also be available, including marcotted litchis and grafted citrus.

Exciting Opportunity to Learn More About Mission in Madagascar

An important event this October is the Madagascar Mission Network meeting that will be held in Orlando October 12-14. Pastor Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi, the president of the FJKM, is planning to attend. The meeting should be a wonderful time for people interested in Madagascar and the PC(USA)’s collaborative ministries there to share and learn about what God is doing in Madagascar. It will also be a great opportunity to build up the Madagascar Mission Network so that it can help these ministries be more effective.

Registration is open through September 29th. If anyone is interested in attending the Madagascar Mission Network meeting, you can contact Barbara Sayles ( or go to for more information and registration forms. Click the “Mission Network Schedule” tab at the top. Go to Madagascar Network; “Click here to register” to see documents.

Tragic Accident in Madagascar

Though ministries in Madagascar are progressing, we have some sad news to report. July and August are when most FJKM branches (Youth, Scouts, Women of the Church, …) hold their annual conferences. Tragically, a bus carrying FJKM youth and scouts on their way to FJKM conference meetings at Mahajanga in NW Madagascar crashed and burned near Ankazobe on 31 July. The bus was carrying over 100 people, including adult advisors and youth. Around 20 people died and many were injured—25 remained hospitalized almost a week after the accident. The accident left orphans and widows. The FJKM church office has been helping people with funeral arrangements and care as it is able. If you are interested in making a donation, please check out the Madagascar Mission Network Facebook site for opportunities and more information.

Please pray for:
• the families of those who died and the people wounded in the bus accident of 31 July.
• the FVEE project’s new collaboration with FJKM schools, that it will bear fruit leading to improved education for students in Madagascar.
• the completion of the Isoavina Water and Sanitation Project.
• our children, Robert and Frances, in college while we are overseas.

Thank you for all that you are doing to help the ministries described in this letter and many others that take place in our partnership with the FJKM. We could not do what we do without your prayers and financial support.

We look forward to visiting many of you in the near future.

Peace in Christ,

Dan and Elizabeth

Please read this important message from Jose Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear Friend of Presbyterian Mission,

What a joy to send this letter! As Presbyterian World Mission’s new director, I thank God for your faithful support of our mission co-workers. The enclosed newsletter celebrates the work you made possible by your prayers, engagement, and generous financial gifts. We can’t thank you enough.

After I began in April, I met with mission co-workers and global partners and was blessed to see firsthand the mighty ways God is working through them! Our global partners are asking us to help them move forward with life-changing ministries. Because of your support, we can say “yes” to these creative and exciting initiatives.

I write to invite you to make an even deeper commitment to this work. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? We need your gifts to end the year strong. With your help, we filled two new mission co-worker positions and plan to recruit for others. The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer the call to serve.

Second, would you ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s mission budget for 2018 and beyond? Our mission co-workers serve three-year or four-year terms. Your multi-year commitment will encourage them greatly.

Our mission co-workers are funded entirely from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours. Now more than ever, we need your financial support.

In faith, our mission co-workers accepted a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission sent them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts?

With gratitude,
Jose Luis Casal

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!

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