Letter from Madagascar, part 1With the help of God we are progressing at mission in all areas. We currently have 75 churches and 35 native priests. The spiritual work of our mission includes the ongoing group baptisms. This year we performed 463 baptisms, and so the family of the one true Church grows for the Glory of God. We are particularly moved when we see elderly people accepting Christ and being baptised even at the end of their life. It is a beautiful scene to watch the catechumens in their pure white robes, standing attentively and participating in the Holy Mystery of Baptism. The natives are happy to receive Christian names and an icon of their patron saint, as a souvenir of their baptismal day. Of course the baptism in Madagascar is much simpler than what we are accustomed to. We must not forget that the people are poor. They can not afford lovely clothes and gold crosses. The children are dressed in rags and come barefoot. Upon their baptism they receive a simple wooden or plastic cross yet they are happy and do not complain. We see the Christ-like simplicity in their faces and are reminded that blessed are the simple-hearted.
Letter from Madagascar, part 2
We must mention the tremendous philanthropic work of our mission too.
We have 16 schools which include primary, and secondary schools and lyceums and one university. The schools runs free of charge for our students (except the university which will be run by the government). We encourage children to continue their schooling, thereby offering 600 school scholarships annually for children to attend various government schools. Child labour is a common phenomenon in Madagascar and because parents can not afford the school fees children are forced to work from as young as 8 years old thus remaining illiterate for the rest of their lives.
Our nursing home currently supports 13 elderly people free of charge and our four medical clinics are running with great demand from the community and poor people who otherwise are unable to pay for medical assistance. We must emphasise that the medications are given freely to the suffering that seek help in our clinics.
Letter from Madagascar, part 3
We recently had an outbreak of the plague that killed many people in a village just outside the capital. Many diseases that have been eradicated from developed countries are still present in Madagascar today and wipe out whole communities. Major killers are malaria, cholera, TB, and other tropical ailments.Poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water are reasons for the presence of such diseases. In order to combat this problem we have obtained a truck that delivers clean water to our Orthodox villages where we have built large tanks that contain 25000 cubic litres of water and we fill the reserves so that people can use for their daily living.
Our sewing schools are functioning in three major cities for young women. Once they complete the course they are offered a hand operated sewing machine and then they return to their villages where they can earn a living from this profession.
…We ask all to pray for our perishing brethren that have every right to live a dignified life like us. Please also have us in your prayers so that we may continue our struggle on the missionary forefront….
With love in Christ,