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Funke News: Imagining

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.Ephesians 1:16-19a

This month, as we traveled around the US, our kids experienced so many opportunities to use their imaginations at children’s museums, at playgrounds and with costumes. We are regularly inspired by their imaginations and their ability to dream. We also have had the joy of not only telling people what God has been doing in Tanzania, but also imagining with them what the future of these ministries could look like with the right resources. Thank you to all who have welcomed us so warmly, and we look forward to reconnecting with more of you in the months ahead.

Houston, Texas

While we began this month in Dallas catching up with family and friends, on October 5 we drove down to my Aunt Janice’s house in the Houston area. On October 6 we had the joy of meeting the parents of fellow GLO missionaries Amber and Austin Reed and sharing with them in person all that God is doing through their daughter and son. On October 7 we worshiped and shared at St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress. The rest of the week we enjoyed time with family and friends, played at the Woodlands Children’s Museum and explored new playgrounds. Linda’s aunt and mother also treated us to a movie date night. On October 13 we checked into a hotel that Zion Lutheran graciously offered to us next to the church. On October 14 we enjoyed sharing at Zion Lutheran Church in Pasadena, and that afternoon we had the honor of speaking at their LWML Fall Rally. We thank God for this week filled with encouragement.

Dallas, Texas, and Spokane, Washington

On October 15 we returned to Dallas. Over the next two rainy weeks we explored many indoor play places and caught up with friends. We were thankful to meet with a preschool teacher at Messiah Lambs who gave us new ideas for homeschooling our kids. We also took the opportunity to have family pictures taken with Linda’s family. On October 18 we enjoyed worshiping with and sharing at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Plano. That evening we worshiped and shared at Umoja Church, a wonderful Swahili-speaking congregation. On October 23 Eric’s parents flew in for Michael’s birthday weekend. We loved showing them around the Dallas Arboretum. Linda’s sister was also able to get free tickets to the Dallas Zoo’s “Halloweekend.” Our kids, dressed as a fairy princess and astronaut, loved seeing all the animals at the zoo. On October 28 we reconnected with many friends as we shared at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Worth, and then returned home for Michael’s fifth birthday party. The next day we used some of our frequent flyer miles to fly to Spokane, Washington, to visit Linda’s grandparents, aunts and uncles. Each memory made with family is so precious to us.

US Citizenship Update

This month we finally received Linda’s Texas background check and our US homestudy. Therefore on October 26 we were able to send the I-600A, the first round of paperwork towards our kids’ US citizenship, to USCIS. Please pray that it will be processed quickly and that we can have the FBI fingerprints done while we on furlough. We have received $9,500 of the $18,000 needed to complete this process. If you would like to help us keep this process moving forward, you can make a secure online donation at globallutheranoutreach.com/blog/funkekidscitizenshipproject/. Please make sure to write your donation next to “Funke Kids Citizenship Project” so it goes to the right place. Or you can write a check to “Global Lutheran Outreach” and put “Funke Kids Citizenship Project” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Global Lutheran Outreach at 6709 Ficus Drive, Miramar, FL 33023.

Meanwhile, Back in Tanzania...

Our school just held a graduation ceremony, and our students are all preparing for their national exams. Please pray for these students as they take their exams in the coming month.

The three deaconesses that we sent to the Community Health Evangelism internship in Kenya have returned and are putting their experiences to work in the local community. In fact, another church in Mwanza has requested that they come and offer a CHE training there!

We are so thankful for our Tanzanian colleagues who continue to serve, and we look forward to being reunited with them in January.

In September of 2012, Eric Funke, grandson of Bill and Lola Funke, and his wife, Linda, followed God’s call to Tanzania. Eric is teaching math and science at a secondary school while Linda works for the Department of Planning and Development. They work in the East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania. Follow their mission work at www.afunketimeintanzania.blogspot.com, where you can also find photos and videos and make donations.

Serving the Lord in Sri Lanka: Missions Through Music

A visit we made early in September has profoundly impacted our vision of the upcoming missionary service in Sri Lanka.

Saint Paul's Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is a special congregation. For the last ten years, God has blessed their efforts as they developed a music conservatory, which grew from just a few students to over a hundred with twelve faculty. God is using the community’s need for music education as an opportunity for young people and their families to enter His house, hear the good news about Jesus and come to saving faith and the waters of Holy Baptism.

Seeing the conservatory and speaking with Pastor Sherrill and Pastor Frank, we were encouraged and renewed in our minds concerning the importance of our coming work in Sri Lanka. It’s never just about the music. The music serves the gospel.

The Holy Spirit uses music to send God’s word into human hearts where, by His grace, it takes root and flourishes. We look forward to sharing in these gifts with the saints in Sri Lanka soon!

Preparing for Deployment

We have the green light! This means God has provided the funds needed for us to deploy to the field. We’ll be in Colorado from now until we deploy, God willing, in November. Please pray that God would give speed to the visa process and bring us to Sri Lanka at the proper time.

We’re thankful for some time back home in Colorado. The other night we got to see Larson’s newest cousin, Josie, along with all of his other cousins, too! We will be seeing two of those cousins again in October when we visit Faith Lutheran in Carbondale, Colorado, to give a presentation. Their father, Joshua, is the new pastor at Faith.

In the last month, we’ve visited many of our wonderful Lutheran schools in Missouri and Kansas. The kids are smart and quick, but most importantly, they’re full of the joy of the gospel and they know where their hope lies. Thanks be to God for teachers and parents who raise up these children in the faith!

Vicar Benjamin and Grace Vanderhyde serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) as missionaries in Sri Lanka. In his role as vicar, Benjamin trains up musicians to serve the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church while assisting the other LCMS missionaries serving in Sri Lanka with their work and learning from them. You can read more about the Vanderhydes at www.lcms.org/vanderhyde.

Funke News: Wonders

Those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.Psalm 65:8

This month we have spent time in Mwadui, Mwanza, Nairobi, Paris, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Dallas. It has been a remarkable journey, and we have only just begun our four months of travel. In each place we have seen the wonders of God—in worship, in the kindness of strangers, in encouragement and help of friends and family, in God’s creation, in the joy of our children and in good news to share.

Before we share all the details of this past month, remember that we are visiting Saint John’s on November 4. If you would like to come hear us talk about all that God is doing in our lives and in our corner of Tanzania, we will be presenting after the service, during the Bible study hour at 10:30 AM. We would love to see you there!!

Our last week in Tanzania before the start of furlough was an absolute whirlwind. On Monday (September 3) Julia and Linda were treated for schistosomiasis—a parasitic infection that they likely got from boating on Lake Victoria many months prior. On Tuesday night, Linda taught a last “Lessons in the Movies” class, teaching positive messages from the Chronicles of Narnia movies. On Wednesday, we hosted Jumuiya (Swahili Bible study) at our house. On Thursday, we celebrated the birthday of fellow GLO missionary, Austin Reed. During the whole week, Eric helped input grades and prepare reports for school, and then on Friday the school was closed for a two-week break. On Saturday, we packed while Dinnah or Amber and Austin played with our children. On Sunday, the school driver drove us to Mwanza. After staying with our friends the Pecks, on September 10 we began the long journey from Tanzania to Minnesota.

Our first leg from Mwanza to Nairobi went well, but the nine-hour layover in Nairobi felt exceptionally long, especially since our children did not sleep at all before our midnight flight. Thankfully our kids slept almost the entire way from Nairobi to Paris, and were very content to play with stickers, eat snacks, nap and watch videos from Paris to Minnesota. Somehow, in spite of being jet-lagged, we made it through the one-hour wait in the immigration line, transferred all our bags to our rental van, and drove to the home of Eric’s Uncle Don.

We stayed in Minneapolis for five days, which allowed us to do some jet-lag recovery, visit Eric’s aunt and two uncles in the area, catch up with friends from college and celebrate the birthday of Eric’s sister, Andrea, with her. Eric’s Uncle Don treated us to the Sea Life Aquarium, we picked apples and raspberries with Andrea at the Afton Apple Orchard and Eric’s Uncle Rob and Aunt Lois paid for us to visit the Crayola Experience. We treasured our time there.

We flew from Minneapolis to St. Louis on Saturday, September 15. Over the next ten days, we managed to squeeze in eleven medical appointments and finished our presentation. We had the joy of visiting Salem Lutheran Church in Blackjack on September 23. We also enjoyed precious time with Eric’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and our nieces and nephew, celebrated Linda’s birthday by taking our kids to a Cardinals game and visited Forest Park, the Science Center and the zoo. The time really flew by.

On Thursday, September 27, we drove the twelve hours to Dallas, where we were reunited with Linda’s parents, sister and brother-in-law. We took in all the sights at the State Fair of Texas on the 29th and then finished out the month by presenting at Linda’s home church, Messiah Lutheran Church in Plano. It has been really wonderful to reconnect with beloved friends and family.

Meanwhile, back in Tanzania, students are back from the break and preparing for national exams. Eric’s assistant, Sundi, is teaching all of Eric’s computer classes and just updated the e-learning program with new materials. Pre-Form 1 students have arrived to begin their three month course. Amber continues to spearhead the diocese’ day-care program, which is now up to ten children, while Austin helps the diocese design a youth center. The three deaconesses that we sent to the Community Health Evangelism six-week internship in Kenya are finishing up their classes and will soon return to Tanzania to share all that they have learned. We are so thankful for our colleagues in Tanzania and for all the wonders God is working through them.

In September of 2012, Eric Funke, grandson of Bill and Lola Funke, and his wife, Linda, followed God’s call to Tanzania. Eric is teaching math and science at a secondary school while Linda works for the Department of Planning and Development. They work in the East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania. Follow their mission work at www.afunketimeintanzania.blogspot.com, where you can also find photos and videos and make donations.

Mission-Minded Manteys: Daily Life of a Seminarian

The men studying at seminary come from all the regions where the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU) is present, including refugees from South Sudan and Ethiopia. Although their personal stories and backgrounds vary, at seminary they form a close brotherhood as they worship, study and serve together.

The daily routine at the Lutheran Theological College Uganda (LTCU) allows the men to both learn more about God’s Word and practice their newfound knowledge. Each morning students start the day doing devotions with their roommate before other daily occurrences such as chores and breakfast.

Mondays through Fridays are spent in lectures from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Similar to Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod seminaries in the United States, LTCU classes center around Scripture, Lutheran doctrine and practicalities towards preaching, teaching and other duties that will help them be effective in sharing the Gospel in their home regions.

Most of the daily instructors are local LCU pastors who travel from their home regions for a few days a week to teach a class or two. The faculty members who are local, including us, Rev. Dr. Enoch Macben (Principal) and Rev. Peter Maganda (Dean of Students), have flexibility in their schedule for their various responsibilities. This also allows us opportunities to interact with students.

Each day there are Matins and Vespers, with a Confession and Absolution service on Wednesdays. Currently, the Year Two seminary students serve as the worship leaders for Matins and Vespers and an LCU pastor preaches. Some of the Year Two students also go to local congregations on the weekends to serve as worship leaders in the community for Lusoga and English speaking services.

We’re midway through the semester at the seminary. Mid-September brought extra teaching and tutoring opportunities and mid-term exams. Students balance wanting to do well on exams and being eager to go to their home regions for a break. While home, students get much needed family time and check in with the congregations that sent them to seminary and their regional dean. Many also do evangelism and worship leading during this time.

While the students are away, our pace in Jinja changes. It allows us to work on various mission projects, grade midterm exams and papers, prepare for the remaining semester and participate in the additional Lusoga language classes that are challenging to get to during the regular semester schedule.

Meanwhile, the Year Three students serving on vicarage are continuing to faithfully learn and serve. During the mid-semester break, various LCU pastors serving as LTCU faculty supervisors visited the vicars to observe and support them in their ministry. The faculty supervisors are part of the multilayer support system who represent the academic side of the vicarage process and visit the interning students once a semester. The vicars also have vicarage supervisors who are nearby LCU pastors who are available to meet with the students more often.

The LTCU faculty supervisors were able to meet with the students, encourage them in their learning process and answer questions that often come up in ministry. We’re thankful the vicars have a wonderful support system as they put theory from the seminary into practice while serving in their communities.

Mark and Megan Mantey serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as career missionaries in Uganda. Mark serves as the project manager for the seminary, and Megan is the seminary’s instructor of Christian education and counseling. You can follow their work at www.facebook.com/MissionMindedManteys.

Serving the Lord in Sri Lanka: God’s Grace through His People

One of the joys that we have experienced this month has been spending time with dear people who have been missionaries or have lives in other countries—people who we, all of a sudden, have something in common with.

These saints in Christ, who have faithfully served Him and believers in other countries, have become tremendous supporters in their advice and encouragement. By the grace of God, they willingly told their stories, relating example after example of the unwavering love and steadfast faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.

Rev. Larry Meinzen is one such individual. He grew up in India as the child of a missionary and then returned there to teach for fourteen years. He grew up speaking Tamil, a language we will become familiar with in Sri Lanka. He impressed on us the importance of practicing faith in the family, especially in the midst of a new and different culture. He said that God would give us opportunities through the Holy Spirit to practice the fruits of the Spirit, to work at love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control in the place we live and with those around us.

We thank God for the grace and love that he has shown us in placing fellow missionaries and mission-minded people in our lives as we prepare to follow Christi in Sri Lanka.

Vicar Benjamin and Grace Vanderhyde serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) as missionaries in Sri Lanka. In his role as vicar, Benjamin trains up musicians to serve the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church while assisting the other LCMS missionaries serving in Sri Lanka with their work and learning from them. You can read more about the Vanderhydes at www.lcms.org/vanderhyde.

The Wolf Pack in Kenya: Gathering Resources

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.Ephesians 3:20–21

Recently a church leader from outside Kenya stopped by our field office. He was enroute to help his student get settled at the Matongo seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya. Upon graduation, this student will increase to seven the number of pastors in this young church body. That will be seven pastors serving 91 congregations—and growing! At present, however, resources are not sufficient for this student to complete even his first year of instruction.

Part of my work in walking alongside African churches involves seeking resources for efforts they wouldn’t be able to do themselves. In the case of the growing need to train men to become pastors, I’ve had a chance to write grant requests to ask for help from LCMS groups to support our mission work in Africa. After many hours of coordinating with our other missionaries for details, we learned that some of our requests were granted.

However, we still have many projects that require support for this year. As a way to share about our projects in Africa, over the last two years we have produced a catalog of the many ways that churches in Africa have asked for our help. The formation of our new project catalog has been a team effort by our African missionaries, as folks offered photographs, reviewed texts and provided updates on projects.

This year, we have many new projects, including opportunities to grow shepherd pastors, provide mercy in villages, strengthen relationships in new areas, help build new seminaries and help vulnerable children. Through online efforts—and when missionaries are stateside—we hope to share with churches and individuals how they can be part of the mission projects in Africa. But even with these efforts, God is able to do much more. Learn more at LCMSinAfrica.wordpress.com or missioncentral.us/missions/africa-projects/.

May the Lord provide far more abundantly than we ever imagine!

John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog, www.hereiamsendmesendme.blogspot.com, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.

Mission-Minded Manteys: The Church as Neighbor

The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.Mark 12:30–31

In Uganda, knowing and belonging to a community is an important aspect of daily life. People know their neighbors. There is a sense of camaraderie and understanding amongst neighbors. Being a good neighbor holds great importance.

This creates great opportunity for the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU), as they are neighbors to a lot of people in various communities. Recently, we witnessed these efforts in Busia-Uganda, which is in the Far Eastern Deanery and borders Kenya. We were able to work alongside the LCU pastors, local evangelists and lay leaders, and a LCMS short-term missionary, in door-to-door evangelism efforts, sharing the love of Christ by connecting to the nearby neighbors in three different villages.

Part of being a good neighbor in East Africa is welcoming visitors when they come to your home. Even if a person does not know you, they will still welcome you into their home and be grateful for the visit. The daily routine around their home pauses, and the focus shifts to learning about the visitors and attending to their needs.

The LCU knows their local churches are neighbors in the various communities. As neighbors, the LCU knows it is important to know one another. This also provides opportunities to share about the Lutheran faith with the surrounding community, answering questions about the Bible and teaching what Scripture says. The church also wants to learn more about the daily lives of the community, share in their joys and pray for the burdens each family carries. Ministry of presence is a strong part of the door-to-door evangelism efforts as we listened to challenges of individuals and families and offered hope through Christ Jesus. We are thankful the door-to-door evangelism efforts create another way for the local church body to follow up and nurture Christ-centered relationships with their neighbors.

The Work of the Church

We praise God that the work of the church continues to be done through the hands of the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU). Most recently in the Eastern Deanery, where we live and serve, the LCU has been working with the local community leaders to plant a church in the village of Bukwara.

Within the same Deanery, in the village of Ikumbya, we praise God that brothers and sisters in Christ were welcomed into the Lord’s family through the waters of Baptism. There were also three people who affirmed their faith at their confirmation.

Life and Ministry Update

Beginning a new semester at the seminary is always an exciting time.

We enjoy reconnecting with the returning students, hearing about their time away from seminary with their families and about their ministries in their various home regions. It is always encouraging to see them with smiling faces ready to greet, share and learn about what has been happening at the seminary since they were last at school.

It is also a joyful experience to meet the new students that are beginning their seminary journey. We met many of them over the break during recruitment and other ministry opportunities, so we are thankful to continue to build relationships with them. This year, there are several students from the refugee settlement in northern Uganda that Mark and the LCU met back in February. We praise God that the LCU is working with the neighboring church bodies to provide them with an education in preparing for ministry.

Seminary Construction Continues

As classes resume at the seminary, so does construction to finalize the structures. We are thankful for the willing hearts and hands who make this possible. As the structures near completion, this assists the Lutheran Church of Uganda to better equip the men they are training for ministry. This is realized through a healthier living environment in the dormitory, a library that can protect the books against the elements and eventually a chapel for weekend and mid-week worship, training, and outreach opportunities. As the structures get closer to being completed, the LCU is excited about the possibilities the campus can be utilized to share the love of Christ with their community.

Mark and Megan Mantey serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as career missionaries in Uganda. Mark serves as the project manager for the seminary, and Megan is the seminary’s instructor of Christian education and counseling. You can follow their work at www.facebook.com/MissionMindedManteys.

Funke News: God's Faithfulness

Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.Psalm 9:9–11

At the beginning of this month, we decided to visit one of the beaches near Dar Es Salaam while we waited for Julia’s Tanzanian passport to be prepared. There is something so powerful and yet so peaceful about the ocean, much like the power and peace of God’s enduring faithfulness. We have been riding emotional waves for months, but, through it all, God has been faithful, and this month we have once again seen God at work.

Before we share all the details of this past month, we have exciting news! We will be in the U.S. September 11 through January 16. You can hear us talk about all that God is doing in our lives and in our corner of Tanzania on November 4, during the Bible study hour in the Large Fellowship Hall.

Trip to Dar Es Salaam for Julia’s Passport

When we wrote our last newsletter, we were in Dar Es Salaam having received Julia’s Certificate of Adoption and applied for Julia’s passport. Our immigration agent informed us that she was no longer allowed to pick up passports herself. Thus, she was going to try to have Julia’s passport expedited so we could pick it up before we left on Saturday. We decided to make the most of the waiting time by taking advantage of the midweek deal of a hotel with both a beach and a water park. While in Dar, we also had the joy of reconnecting with friends, many of whom had also adopted from Forever Angels. Then, by God’s grace, we were able to pick up Julia’s Tanzanian passport the day before we flew back. Praise the Lord!

Trip to Dar Es Salaam for U.S. Visitor’s Visas

We were back in Dar Es Salaam August 19–24 in order to get U.S. visitor’s visas for our kids. We originally tried out a brand-new Airbnb, because we got a 20% discount if we gave a first review and the pictures made it appear to be a nice place. However, when the power went out at 4:30 AM in the dirty apartment, which lacked essentials like a working refrigerator, toilet paper and sufficient towels, we decided to find a new place. We dressed and fed our kids in the dark, attended our 8:00 AM interview at the U.S. embassy, received a full refund from Airbnb and promptly packed our things and moved our family to a much nicer Airbnb. Thankfully, the rest of the week went much more smoothly. We were able to get our visas by Tuesday (much sooner than expected), and by the time we left on Friday, we had received all of the official translations of the Swahili documents that we needed for our U.S. citizenship application.

US Citizenship

We have now received our Tanzanian police clearance letter and are waiting for two more state background checks. We are still hoping to file the first round of paperwork with USCIS in September. In terms of funding, so far we have received $9,200 towards the Funke Kids’ U.S. Citizenship project! We are now over halfway to what we will need for this whole process. Thank you all so much! If you are willing to help us get to our total goal of $18,000, you can make a secure online donation at globallutheranoutreach.com/blog/funkekidscitizenshipproject/. Please make sure to write your donation next to “Funke Kids Citizenship Project” so it goes to the right place. Or you can write a check to “Global Lutheran Outreach” and put “Funke Kids Citizenship Project” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Global Lutheran Outreach; 6709 Ficus Drive, Miramar, FL 33023. We greatly appreciate your prayers and support.

Community Health Evangelism

August 17–19, the three deaconesses trained in CHE traveled to Meatu and held CHE trainings for young people at five different congregations, teaching about sanitation, disease prevention and how to love people as God loves us. We have been so impressed by their initiative! Therefore we joyfully sent them to the next level of CHE training in Kenya, which includes a six-week internship. They arrived August 26 and will return October 5. Thank you to all who make educational opportunities like this financially possible. We know that these women will use what they are learning to serve communities throughout the Shinyanga region.

More Paperwork

One of the biggest tasks since returning from Dar has been preparing all of the documents necessary for our work permit and resident permit renewals. Thankfully, the diocese has just opened up a brand-new daycare center for kids with working parents, and our dear friend Amber has been asked to head up this project. While we spent days gathering, filling out and scanning paperwork, our kids enjoyed quality time with Amber and new friends.

Our School

This month we rejoiced to see more progress on the school’s clinic. Thanks to contributions from friends at Redeemer Lutheran in Peoria, Illinois, the clinic is now plastered and windows have been installed. They also purchased a school motorbike to be used by whoever is Teacher on Duty.

Recently, Eric has been helping to prepare mid-term exams and has been training other teachers in how to use the gradebook software. We’ve also hosted a few more movie nights for students. Our school will close for the fall break on September 7. Then we will drive to Mwanza September 9 and begin our journey to the U.S. September 10. Please pray that this next month of travel goes smoothly. We are looking forward to seeing many of you in the coming months!

In September of 2012, Eric Funke, grandson of Bill and Lola Funke, and his wife, Linda, followed God’s call to Tanzania. Eric is teaching math and science at a secondary school while Linda works for the Department of Planning and Development. They work in the East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania. Follow their mission work at www.afunketimeintanzania.blogspot.com, where you can also find photos and videos and make donations.

Missionary Thank Yous

The church mailbox has been filled with many thank you notes this year, as grateful missionaries recognize the gifts sent by Saint John’s to support projects around the world. Most recently, the congregation made a gift to the Vanderhyde family, who are preparing for mission work in Sri Lanka. The offering taken at Ben Vanderhyde’s presentation when the family visited Saint John’s in July, along with a Thrivent supplement, added up to $850. The Foundation sent the Vanderhydes an additional $1,500, and the Heseder mission group voted to send $500 of their fundraising dollars to the family.

Seminarian Ben Vanderhyde served as a summer intern last year, playing organ and assisting Pastor Nettleton. Ben received his third-year vicarage call to Sri Lanka, so the family will be serving there before he returns to complete his final year of seminary. Right now the Vanderhydes are fundraising, as they have have to raise, through gifts and pledges, all of the money that will be required to support them while they are serving before they begin their mission. Once their funding has been secured, they will leave for Sri Lanka. Ben will spend his vicarage preaching, teaching and developing music programs tere.

Ben writes,

Dear Friends in Christ,

We just recently got word of your gifts of support through Mission Central! Thank you for partnering with us for God’s work in Sri Lanka. We’re so glad to have your support and prayers going with us as we embark on this journey.

God bless your work and ministry as His church in Fort Collins!

Your friends,
Ben, Grace and Larson Vanderhyde

In a letter of thanks on behalf of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s “Mission Central,” LCMS President Matthew Harrison expressed his thanks to Saint John’s:

My dear fellow redeemed:

I have been blessed to know people who experience profound, life-changing joy when they tell others about Jesus through their sacrificial giving. I pray you are one of them. There is something intensely personal and full of meaning in a gift like the one you have joyfully given. Thank you.

St. Paul said it best in Philippians 1:3–6: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

In service to our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Pastor Matthew C. Harrison
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Nikolai Gibbons (son of the congregation, former summer intern and current pastor in Michigan) was visiting Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in February, to attend the “We Love the Seminary” event. He had not met and did not know Ben at the time, but noticed the t-shirt that Ben was wearing from Ben’s summer here in Fort Collins: “Saint John’s Lutheran VBS.” Nikolai, of course, struck up a conversation with Ben, and sent this picture!

Most of the recent missionary correspondence has been related to the recent gift to the Vanderhydes. However, Saint John’s will also be sending all of the offerings given during Sunday fellowship times in August (with a Thrivent supplement) to support the Wolf family. In addition, the church received another thank you, this one from the East Africa Field Office of the LCMS, for the donation to the Lutheran Seminary in Uganda made earlier this year.

Dear Saint John’s Lutheran Church,

Greetings in the name of our Risen Savior. Thank you for your generous gift to support the LCU Seminary in Uganda. The people of the LCU are grateful for your partnership to help them equip their pastors to spread the Gospel.

We appreciate your mission hearts. May God continue to bless you and keep you.

In Christ,
Britt Odemba
LCMS Missionary Serving in Kenya

Many thanks to all of you who have donated and otherwise supported the work of the Vanderhyde family and the other missionaries who count Saint John’s among their benefactors.

Tom Miles is the Parish Administrator at Saint John’s. You can reach him at the church office Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to Noon and 1:00 to 4:00 pm, at 482-5316 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Serving the Lord in Sri Lanka: A Vicarage Where?

One of the questions people always ask me is, “How did this happen? Why is your viarage in Sri Lanka?”

I try to give an honest answer. I tell them the whos and the whats—how Grace and I filled out paperwork for missionary candidacy, how, when we learned Sri Lanka was the option and spoke with the missionaries involved there, we decided that this was a good fit for us, how we accepted the appointment we received on Call Day.

But this week, during New Missionary Orientation, I realized that the answer I had been giving all this time was wrong. Why is our vicarage in Sri Lanka? It’s not my doing. Our vicarage is in Sri Lanka because God opened a door and answered a prayer.

Ever since I decided to study music in college, I’ve been hoping and praying that I would be able to use music in my ministry. Throughout college, my love of music deepened while my resolve to pursue the Holy Ministry heightened. Then, after our first year at seminary, God answered a prayer and opened a door. Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, eighty miles from my home, offered me a summer internship that combined music and ministry. God brought our family to a place where I could serve Christ joyfully, with the talents he’s given me, in a place that needed me.

God opened a door and answered a prayer. Now He’s doing it again. While I learn how to be a pastor on my vicarage in Sri Lanka, I will also serve with music. The Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church needs help seeing music’s potential for the church. Through music I’ll be working with our partner church to teach the faith, praise the Lord and uplift the soul.

Isolated in a Buddhist nation, the Sri Lankan Christians need the encouragement, refreshment and Christian confidence that church music can give. We give thanks that God is sending us, through you, our dear brothers and sisters in His Son. God works through His church—through His people—to bring Christ to the world!

Vicar Benjamin and Grace Vanderhyde serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) as missionaries in Sri Lanka. In his role as vicar, Benjamin trains up musicians to serve the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church while assisting the other LCMS missionaries serving in Sri Lanka with their work and learning from them. You can read more about the Vanderhydes at www.lcms.org/vanderhyde

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