Dan and Elizabeth Turk - July 2017 Update

Antananarivo, Madagascar

Life-Changing Ministries

Dear friends,

The year is only half over, but 2017 has probably held more monumental change for us than any year thus far. As you may know, Dan’s father passed away in March. This June, we celebrated a wonderful milestone – Frances’ high school graduation. It was even more special having our son, Robert, and Elizabeth’s father, Bill Warlick, in Madagascar with us to celebrate the moment. Robert enjoyed being back. It was great to be together again as a family in Madagascar. We are currently in the United States to get Frances settled into college. She will be near Orlando. We will be based out of Mission Haven in Decatur, GA through October as we visit churches and speak.

Ministry with PC(USA)’s partner church in Madagascar, the FJKM (the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar), continues with exciting results. Here are a few highlights of new collaborations and results from older partnerships. We hope these examples will encourage you as they have encouraged us.

Fruits Changing Lives

What difference do a few trees make? In 2010, the FJKM Development Department helped over 70 households at Antanetibe Ankazobe plant tangerine trees – about 20 trees per family on average. Now, in June 2017, the trees have had their first big harvest and the people are selling tangerines in Ankazobe for the equivalent of 36 to 43 U.S. cents per pound. Justin Randrianarisoa said he was taking three baskets to market every week and making the equivalent of over $32 per week. In a country where over 90% of the people earn less than $2 per day, this is good money. Cyril Rakotoarimanana said that a major change is he used to spend more money than he earned on market day. “Now,” he said, “I make money.” The success of this years’ tangerine crop has encouraged farmers to redouble efforts to adequately fertilize and irrigate their trees, which should result in greater harvests in years to come.

The Mahatsinjo Fruit Center is now in operation. On May 23, the FJKM church officially received the new multipurpose building from the builder during a worship service and ceremony. On the same occasion, the official title to the center’s land was presented to the church. Meanwhile, planting of mother trees and propagation activities at the center have been increasing. Over 270 fruit trees have been planted belonging to 47 species and 148 varieties. These trees will both demonstrate the potential of the species and varieties and be used as sources of propagation material to produce grafted plants. Grafting of mango trees is already in progress for over 50 trees. Other trees being grafted include citrus, sapodilla, canistel, Indian jujube, and sweet tamarind.

Next steps at the center include fixing up two large water reservoirs, putting in a new water system for irrigation and drinking water, and setting up the permanent nursery. The center will be inaugurated in late 2017 or early 2018. After that continued propagation, especially of mangos, will be a major focus along with trainings for church leaders and farmers. In ten years, we fully expect mangos and other fruits to be making a difference in the lives of many people across Madagascar just as tangerines are making a difference in the lives of Justin and Cyril at Antanetibe.

Water Giving and Saving Lives

Water changes lives! Celebrating ten years of safe-drinking water with the people of Tsaramiakatra in June was a joyous privilege. The gravity-fed water system received major funding from Faith Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, FL in 2007. A group from Faith Presbyterian Church actually came to Madagascar and participated in the final stages of installing the system. In the intervening years, the community has cared for the system and the water has helped children stay healthier and their parents devote more time to economic activities. The Tsaramiakatra water association has added fish ponds and set up a system for storing rice. Recently, they built two wash basins for washing clothes. Thankfulness for partnership with Faith Presbyterian Church including support from The Outreach Foundation and their donors was a main theme during the celebration, which was marked by a worship service, speeches by local authorities, a collective meal, festive music, and skits.

Now ten years later, the town of Isoavina Ambanitsena is getting safe drinking water thanks to your generous support. The project will renovate the existing system and expand it to be able to provide drinking water for the town, an FJKM conference center, and the two local schools. The community is very committed to the work. Every man aged 18 to 59 in the community has promised to be responsible for 12 meters (~40 feet) of digging. The work should be finished by October 2017. 

Further Changes and Opportunities

This October 12-14, the Madagascar Mission Network will be holding its second meeting in Orlando, FL. We will share more information as it becomes available. The FJKM has wonderful ministries in evangelism, development, education, and reconciliation. The network meeting should be a great opportunity for Presbyterians to share and explore ways to support the FJKM church as it seeks to share God’s love and minister to the people of Madagascar. Please consider attending or having a member of your church attend this meeting.

In the midst of all of the changes this year, we have been repeatedly reminded of God’s presence. Seeing the positive results after many years in Antanetibe and Tsaramiakatra reminds us how faithful partnerships can change people’s lives radically. We do not always know where the Lord is leading, but we know that the Lord’s plans are good. It is hard to believe we will have a freshman and senior in college this fall. Definitely a new phase of life for all of us! We ask for prayers for us as a family as we each adjust to the very new realities we will face: empty-nesters, senior finishing college, and freshman starting college. We are excited about the future and know that God has prepared a unique path for each of us. 

We could not do what we do without your prayers and financial support. Thank you very much for your continued faithfulness.

Thank you,

Dan and Elizabeth Turk

Read more about the Turks' ministry by clicking HERE.

Outreach is seeking $10,000 for support funds for Dan and Elizabeth Turk.