News Release

Madagascar Missionaries

Carl and Vivien Gray, from the Coventry area, recently returned from serving an eighteen-month humanitarian mission in Madagascar for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Initially when they were assigned to serve, they were told they would be serving the people of Russia as member leader support missionaries, but they were later asked if they were prepared to forgo the initial call to Russia in order to fulfil the need for medical skills in Madagascar.

“We were happy to serve where the Lord needed us most,” Carl said.

The purpose of their voluntary mission was to aid the poverty-stricken people and promote self-reliance in Madagascar.

The Grays said they were shocked when they arrived in Madagascar. They were unaware of how poor the conditions truly were there. They said it made them realise just how fortunate they were to be able to live in the United Kingdom.  Their work as humanitarian missionaries covered many different aspects, including water projects, food initiatives, wheelchair distribution and dental and vision programmes. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worked in conjunction with other international charities in providing this aid, as the government in Madagascar was not in a position to be able to provide these services for their people.

Carl said the water projects were of particular importance, as the people who lived in outlying villages would drink dirty water from contaminated sources. He said he would find women and children walking for miles to fill containers of water. The trek would take hours and would leave the children tired and unable to concentrate at school. Carl’s role was to help create a local supply of water by storing spring rains for use throughout the year. The project would encourage villagers to take part, providing labour and some materials, in order to promote self-reliance. The villagers were then taught how to maintain the equipment to ensure future benefits.

“Old villagers rejoiced to have clean water at last,” said Vivien. “Mothers and children could now avoid the sicknesses and parasitic afflictions that had devastated and claimed many lives.”

Vivien said she was also very touched by the wheelchair distribution programme and the change it made in the lives of those in need. For six days the Grays were involved in the distribution of 265 wheelchairs.  “The lame, the palsied and the amputees came to be mobilized,” Vivien said. “One twenty-nine-year-old young man was carried in a sling on his mother’s back. I was thrilled at seeing the expression on the faces of these individuals who came in to be assessed, as they were fitted to an appropriate size of wheelchair and given the comfort and freedom of mobility. It is one of the greatest experiences I have known. It was like being in Jerusalem or Galilee, with the Saviour, as He helped the lame to walk.”

The Grays said they would always fondly remember the people of Madagascar that they had grown to love during their time of service as missionaries.   “We did not proselyte, but our actions spoke louder than words,” said Vivien. “People of all ranks and professions asked to know about the Church. Our mission was a foundation for the growth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in this unique island.”

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.