Progress in the Time of COVID

A Letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk, serving in Madagascar

Summer 2021

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).

 


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Dear friends,

Greetings from Orlando. Yes, we are still in the United States. In this time of COVID-19, parts of our lives seem to be on pause and others continue. Son Robert has a new counseling job outside Chicago. Daughter Frances’ departure for Senegal has been delayed until January, and she will be teaching in Orlando through December. We were happy to be able to celebrate Elizabeth’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary in person as well as Dan’s mother’s 90th birthday. Being here with family brings us joy, but we also long to return to Madagascar where God has called us to work and live.

We hope to return to Madagascar in September, but currently Madagascar is still not allowing people in from outside the country. The number of COVID cases has decreased back to less than 50 new cases per day. Travel and meeting restrictions within the country have once again been relaxed. After the first COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in May, rumors quickly spread and only about 80% of the vaccines were administered. The extremely low number of vaccinated people makes Madagascar vulnerable to further Covid surges. The Delta variant has not yet been detected in Madagascar; the Malagasy government is trying to keep it out. More COVID-19 vaccines (Johnson & Johnson, 2nd shot of Covishield) are scheduled for August.

Happily, churches, including those of the FJKM (the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, PC(USA)’s partner church) are now open for worship after being closed for several months. Meeting size restrictions were lifted enough for FJKM to hold its seminary graduation on July 25th with 131 graduates. FJKM is currently holding its Synoda Lehibe (equivalent of the General Assembly) from August 11-18th in Sambava, northeastern Madagascar. Attendees have traveled from all over Madagascar to participate. This meeting is usually held every four years but was postponed for a year due to COVID-19. FJKM will elect its 100-member National Council, the officers of the FJKM, and set its priorities for the next four years.

Many aspects of the FJKM health programs are returning to normal. The continuing education training for medical staff planned for May 2020 finally took place July 28th -30th 2021 after being postponed twice! The staff gathered to learn important components of emergency medicine, COVID treatment updates, and had time to reflect on how to best move forward in the new COVID-19 reality. Medical staff who had been unable to receive protective COVID supplies for their dispensaries because of COVID travel restrictions picked up those supplies in person. Medical staff also received tablets courtesy of a PC(USA) grant and learned how to use them. The tablets will give medical personnel the ability to access the internet for a reasonable cost, allowing them to send reports, receive long-distance training, and access timely updates on disease treatment. One doctor said, “This will allow me to get information out quickly to authorities when I have COVID patients and receive timely updates on treatment.”

The FJKM AIDS Committee was able to train all 46 of the second-year seminary students and 86 of the 4th year students in June. The committee will be doing HIV/AIDS education and offering free HIV testing during the Synoda Lehibe.

Acute malnutrition is affecting hundreds of thousands of people in southern Madagascar, a situation related to drought and climate change made worse by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation there is expected to get worse before it gets better. Thank you to those who have contributed to help the FJKM’s efforts to assist those hardest hit in the south. Funds received will help get water to areas with critical need and offer other assistance to those in need.

For the FJKM’s Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education Program (FVEE), the past few months have been a time of preparation. Reports have been written, new proposals submitted, and preparations made for the Synoda Lehibe meeting. Rolland Razafiarison and Germain Andrianaivoson did a trip to Ankaramena in July which resulted in the local FJKM Synod approving plans for the new nursery at the FJKM church there along with further plans for installing the nursery. At the time of writing of this letter, Rolland is in Sambava for the Synoda Lehibe meeting. Before returning to the capital city, he and Germain will do a training for pastors and volunteer technicians at Antsiranana and another at Mandritsara. The new nursery at Mandritsara has already produced enough grafted mango trees to provide at least 2 grafted trees for each participant.

On August 19, 7:00 – 9:00 pm EDT, we will be doing a Zoom presentation titled “A Conversation with the Turks” sponsored by the Madagascar Mission Network about our work with the FJKM. More information and registration (it is free) can be found at Madagascar Mission Network.

Please pray for:
*FJKM as it holds its Synoda Lehibe (General Assembly) meeting and moves forward after the meeting,
*A successful COVID-19 vaccination program with wide acceptance,
*People in the south affected by famine conditions that they would get food, rain, and access to long-term solutions, and
*Our timely return to Madagascar and for Robert and Frances as they begin new jobs.

Thank you so much for your faithful support of us and the ministries of the FJKM. This support is especially important in this difficult period of COVID-19. Together, we remind each other where our hope and strength come from (Is 40:28-31) and to not grow weary of doing good (Gal 6:9).

To God be the glory.

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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