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Funke News: Life Together

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.Acts 2:42

During a recent missionary retreat, we learned about the concept of “convivence: living life together” and the importance of convivence in cross-cultural ministry. As we live life together, we are called to help one another, learn from one another and celebrate (or “feast”) with one another. This past month we have seen this kind of “convivence” emerge in numerous settings, and each one has been a blessing to us.

New Missionary Opportunities

One of our many blessings this year has been our relationship with Amber Reed, the DCE Intern in Shinyanga, and her husband, Austin. We are so thankful for their help, their perspective and their presence at many events and celebrations. In June Amber’s internship will conclude, and they will return to the U.S. so they can live closer to their families and possibly even start a family of their own. Thus, in June the Reeds’ furniture will be relocated to a house recently built by the diocese for the purpose of housing missionaries. The Reeds’ car will be available to any new missionaries to the area. And when we transition back to the states in 2020, our house and car are also a bonus to anyone called to serve God's people in this area.

This month a retired teacher contacted us expressing interest in potentially teaching at Mwadui Lutheran Secondary School. She will determine in the next two weeks whether God is calling her to teach here. Please keep her in prayer as she contemplates this big decision.

In light of all of this, we hope to build a team of missionaries who can be a source of help and encouragement to one another and to the larger community. We would love for more people to experience the hospitality, joy, energy and wisdom of this Tanzania community.

Do you know any teachers (preschool, elementary, or high school), nurses, doctors, chaplains, social workers, DCEs, deaconesses, computer gurus, agricultural specialists or childcare workers who might be interested in serving in Tanzania?

Our dream is for potential new missionaries to come visit sometime between now and July, begin fundraising this summer, and hopefully start Swahili language school this fall/winter. We have prepared one-page descriptions of these opportunities that you can download at GlobalLutheranOutreach.com/blog/funke/newsletters/. If you know of someone who might be interested or have other ideas for how we can get the word out, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

U.S. Citizenship Update

On March 3, we flew to Dar Es Salaam so that we could file our kids’ I-600 applications at the U.S. Embassy. Unfortunately, the process did not go as smoothly as hoped. Very long story short, Eric had to go to the U.S. embassy twice on March 4 because of miscommunication and misinformation. During the second visit, they accepted our paperwork but would not allow us to pay until they could get confirmation from USCIS that we could file I-600s for both children. We were incredibly frustrated, because we already confirmed with USCIS over a year ago that we could file I-600s for both children. Two days later, after we had already flown to Kenya for a missionary retreat, we received the expected email saying USCIS had confirmed our plan and we needed to return to Dar Es Salaam to pay. We were able to change our tickets to extend our Dar Es Salaam lay-over after the retreat. The extra trip cost us about $500 in airline fees and accommodations, but we are so thankful that the papers are now filed and we are one step closer to U.S. citizenship for our kids.

We still have multiple remaining steps and costs. The next big expense is a $3,500 placement fee due to our adoption agency in the next few months. If you are willing to help us with this next fee, you can make a secure online donation at GlobalLutheranOutreach.com/support-funkekidsproject.html. 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.

LCMS East African Missionaries Retreat

We were so blessed to be able to join LCMS missionaries from all over East Africa for a retreat March 6–11. We are grateful to Shauen and Krista Trump for inviting us and to the LCMS for paying for our airfare from Nairobi to Malindi and all of our food and accommodations at Medina Palms in Watamu. We worshipped together every morning and evening. During the mornings we also enjoyed Bible Study and continuing education classes led by Dr. Detlev Schultz while a childcare team from the U.S. looked after our kids. In the afternoons we relaxed at the pool and the beach. We are so thankful for this opportunity to exchange joys, challenges and ideas with other missionaries and to receive spiritual refreshment.

Opening of New Diakonia Center

About three years ago we sponsored a deaconess student study tour to Moshi. During that trip deaconess student and former teacher at Mwadui Lutheran Secondary School, Festa Brown, saw so many opportunities for diaconal ministry, but knew that many aspects of ministry require money. She saved up money and bought a piece of land on which she could start a farm. We went out to visit the property in 2015 and gave $175 so she could start building a house on the land for workers. On Sunday, March 24, 2019, we were welcomed back to the land for the official opening of the Diakonia Center Bethel Lyabusalu. We celebrated by singing, praying, reading Scripture, planting trees and feasting. We praise God and rejoice that Festa's dream has become a reality.

Form 6 Graduation

Finally, on March 30, we celebrated the graduation of our Form 6 (junior college)students. Since we just started Form 5 and 6 classes a few years ago, this was only our second class of Form 6 students, but the class size has already grown from nine graduates last year to 25 this year. Praise the Lord! We loved being able to celebrate with them and pray that God will guide and strengthen them as they continue preparing for their national exams. This month has been full of Christian fellowship, and we look forward to more “convivence” in the coming month.

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: Reconnections

Every two years, LCMS missionaries have the opportunity to reconnect with the individuals, families and congregations that have sent them out to serve in regions throughout the world. Since we use a network support model, it is important to personally update as many of these people as we can on the work that the Lord is doing in Uganda, as well as provide more details about daily life and ministry there. It allows people to know they are an important part of the work that is being done.

It is also provides the unique opportunity to learn how the Lord continues to work through the many congregations, individuals and families in the United States. We are grateful that people opened their homes and congregations to us so that they could learn about the the work we do alongside the Lutheran Church of Uganda, as well as how to best support the Lord’s work in Uganda.

We thank God for the ability to share with congregations in fourteen states, ranging from North Carolina to Oregon, Florida to Montana. We are grateful that he gave us the endurance needed to joyfully share about the work, travel safely from place-to-place and had extended time to build relationships with an extensive network of people. We valued the time with our family and friends along the way as well! It is a joy and privilege to daily serve the Lord in Uganda, and it is a joy and privilege to be your missionaries and share about the work that is being done in this part of the world.

We are also thankful to the Lutheran Church of Uganda, who encouraged us during our travels and graciously welcomed us back once we returned to Uganda. We thank God for opportunities to reconnect with people we serve alongside in ministry, both in the United States and Uganda!

Like with any trip, after the journey is finished, it is always good to return home. For us, our life and ministry is in Uganda. So Uganda is home. When a person returns home in East Africa, greetings and visitations are part of the daily routines. This meant greeting those in our community that we see on a regular basis, such as the people in the markets, post office, neighbors and especially our friends and colleagues in the Lutheran Church of Uganda. We spent one day greeting those within Jinja, including people in and around town and the church body, and another day going to the Lutheran Theological College Uganda. It was encouraging to reconnect with our friends, colleagues and students.

We often asked, “what is the news here?” Meaning, what has happened while we were away? People would smile and begin to share the important news that occurred while we were on home service. It brought us great joy to be welcomed back with smiles, knowing we could continue our work of walking alongside one another in life and ministry.

It was a blessing to hear how the Lutheran Church of Uganda continues to grow under the care of the pastors and other leaders, and the students continue to be eager to learn and serve in the communities Some of the news we were able to celebrate alongside the LCU was the recent ordination of Rev. Benard Mwesigwa, who recently graduated from the seminary in Kenya. As we shared with others in person towards the end of our home service, Rev. Benard is now the 22nd pastor to serve the Lord in the Lutheran Church of Uganda. We thank God that He continues to provide workers for the harvest, so that more people can hear and know the Word of the Lord, and grow in the faith.

A Special Message for Saint John’s

Dear Believers of Saint John’s, Greetings in Christ from Uganda! Megan and I hope that all of you are well. Thank you for your prayers and support of God’s work in Uganda. We would not be able to serve alongside the Lutheran Church of Uganda in spreading the Word of God if it weren’t for you.

As you know, Megan and I were in the U.S. for the last three months updating our partners on how God is using the people here to build His Church. This is an important part of our work but we are very glad to have rejoined our brothers and sisters in Christ for service in Uganda. As we were sharing with people in the US, the LCU continued to faithfully share the Gospel and ordained their 22nd pastor in February, Rev. Benard Mwesigwa. Now there is one more able to support the 145 congregations and to share God’s word with those that don’t know Him as their Savior.

Rev. Benard Mwesigwa’s installation.

Thank you again for your prayers and support, Megan and I also pray for all of you. You are a blessing to us and the people of Uganda.

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: Walking

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.Ephesians 6:14–15

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?Micah 6:8

Our children love a good walk, especially if it means that they can put on their rainboots, splash in puddles, and get as wet and muddy as possible. We, too, have been continuing our walk in Tanzania. Each day we figuratively put on our boots as we walk with God and with our Tanzanian friends through the highs and lows of life. Sometimes life gets messy, but we pray that we can continue to seek out the joy in each step, just as our children do.

Please Help Us Find New Missionaries

We are preparing to move back to the U.S. in early 2020. We are currently teaching our Tanzanian colleagues how to take over various aspects of our ministry. However, we hope and pray to find new missionaries to come live in our furnished house, to nurture and build up international partnerships between this school/diocese and churches in the U.S., to provide an international perspective at this school and to use their unique gifts to serve this school. They can serve in any capacity—teacher, nurse, chaplain, social worker, DCE, deaconess, IT person, etc. It’s extremely important to us that when we move, we leave well, and that the positive momentum at Mwadui Lutheran Secondary School continues. The sooner we can find new potential missionaries and bring them out to visit our school, the easier the transition will be for all involved.

Our dream is for potential new missionaries to come visit sometime between now and July, begin fundraising this summer, and hopefully start Swahili language school this fall/winter. So far we have had no solid leads, so please help us spread the word. We have prepared a one-page description of this opportunity that you can download at www.globallutheranoutreach.com/blog/funke/newsletters. If you know of someone who might be interested or have other ideas for how we can get the word out, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Deaconess Student Study Tour

Thanks to all of your donations, we were able to say “Yes!” to Bishop Makala’s request that we sponsor a study tour for the current class of deaconess students (January 26–30). They had been studying how to minister to people who are sick and dying, and Bishop Makala wanted them to have real-life experience in a Lutheran context that is known for the quality of their care—Haydom Hospital in the Arusha area, about ten hours drive from our house. During their time at Haydom, Bishop Makala, Deaconess Lilian Makala and the four deaconess students toured the facilities, visited and prayed with patients at the hospital, worshiped at Haydom’s chapel and ministered to people at Haydom’s Amani House for those who suffer from addiction. God was very much at work during this trip. We are thankful for how God worked through them, for all that they learned and for how they are using what they learned to serve communities in our diocese.

Community Health Evangelism

On February 14, Linda was able to sit down with the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) leadership team that we sent to Kenya for a CHE internship August 27 through October 5, 2018. They shared pictures and stories with her from their time in Kenya. During those six weeks, the course covered the Training of Trainers 2 materials, the CHE for Children curriculum, and the Women’s Cycle of Life curriculum. They had the opportunity to learn about appropriate technologies such as how to make candles, liquid soap, key holders and clothes. They also learned about beekeeping and pipe irrigation and had the opportunity to lead trainings in a variety of settings. Since they have been back, they have been teaching classes for women at the Bishop Makala Training Center, but have struggled since all of their materials are on a flash drive and they didn’t have a computer. They were therefore overjoyed when we presented them with a used computer and told them that we have the funds to hire Esther Mangesho to be the CHE Coordinator for this coming year! We are excited to see what God will do with this program.

Walking with Friends

Some of our friends continue to face hardships, and we are thankful that we are able to walk with them in the hard times. Joseph’s family, who live just outside of Mwadui, continue to feel the weight of poverty. The children came to our door looking for shoes this week. Thankfully, Rev. Joe Meyer’s church gave us multiple pairs of “The Shoe That Grows” which we were able to give to the four children in the family. Finally, we were reunited with our young friends Baraka and Amani, who were born without eyes. We hadn’t seen them in over a year since their family moved away from Mwadui. However, the reunion was bittersweet because even though Linda taught him to walk at age five, at age eleven he can no longer take even two steps without falling. On February 21, we took Baraka and his mother to Mwanza to see our American friend Dr. George Stablein. He was able to advise us on what tests we need to get and some possible steps towards treatment. Please keep all of these young people who are dear to us in prayer.

School

Meanwhile, Eric stays busy at school teaching math and computers and registering students for their national exams. Linda has taught study skills for the last four weeks and will be covering goal-setting in her class this week. She was also asked to speak at a gathering of teachers from four schools about the negative effects of corporal punishment, and her presentation was very well received.

U.S. Citizenship Update

The correction to our I-600A document was approved this month, so we can now file our I-600. We found out that we actually need to file the I-600 in Dar Es Salaam instead of Nairobi, so we have an appointment to file it on Monday March 4 at the U.S. Embassy. Please pray that the filing goes smoothly. We should have enough money in our “Funke Kids’ Citizenship” account for this trip and for the filing fee, but we do not have the $3,500 for the placement fee that follows. If you are willing to help us get to this goal, you can make a secure online donation at globallutheranoutreach.com/support-funkekidsproject.html. 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.

Life at Home

At home, Michael and Julia have settled into their homeschool rhythm and are doing well. They also enjoyed baking cookies for friends and neighbors for Valentine’s Day. On February 23, we celebrated Julia’s fourth birthday with eight of her neighborhood friends as well as some grown-up friends. February 24–26 we enjoyed hosting and catching up with Lucy Kohler, our Peace Corps volunteer from a couple of years ago. We are so grateful to be able to walk with so many people and that so many people choose to walk with us, including all of you!

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: Off to Asia!

This is our final newsletter from the United States! In a matter of days, we will fly to Taiwan to begin our vicarage. We will remain there briefly, only while we wait for Hollen’s visa to be approved.

The LCMS coordinates its Asia missions from the regional office in Chiayi, Taiwan. Pastor Charles Ferry is the regional director for our Asia team (over forty missionaries!) and is like a second vicarage supervisor for us. He’s done a lot of work to coordinate and prepare for this vicarage and will get us started in Taiwan. Not only will there be opportunities to practice preaching at the regional headquarters, we will also receive orientation for mission work in Asia.

Though we will not be in Sri Lanka for another few weeks yet, we’re grateful to be entering the field at last, and we’re excited to learn from the missionaries in Taiwan. Moreover, through technology, God has provided us with opportunities to begin learning the Tamil language. So, although we must wait a little longer to enter the work to which God has appointed us, he is preparing us for Sri Lanka.

To you reading this, thank you for your patient encouragement and prayers while we’ve been waiting to leave. Now that our deployment is immanent, we’re looking forward to sending pictures and news from Asia! We ask for your prayers and continued support for our work—the Lord’s work, which He’s blessed us to participate in. See you on the other side … literally, the other side of the Earth!

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: Transitions

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6–7

Philippians 4:6 is among the most commonly memorized verses in the Bible, and yet it can also be so easily forgotten in the heat of the moment. We wish we could say that in this month of transition we have not been anxious. However, when Linda got sick two weeks before departure, and when our Tanzanian work permits still hadn’t arrived five days before departure, and when we were snowed in four days before departure, and when we discovered Linda’s new eyeglasses had the wrong lenses two days before departure, and when we discovered that there was a significant error in our I-600A homestudy, and when Linda’s last medical supplement still hadn’t arrived the morning of departure, we must confess that we felt anxious.

However, it all worked out. Linda’s body healed. Our Tanzanian work permits arrived on January 11 and our resident permit receipts arrived the day of departure, so we didn’t have any problems reentering Tanzania. The snow cleared and we were able to continue our errands. We received a full refund on the glasses with the wrong lenses and were able to find a place to make Linda new glasses within an hour. Our adoption agency helped us send in the form to correct the error on our home study. Linda’s last supplement arrived fifteen minutes before we headed to the airport. Whew!

This month of transition has definitely had its stressful moments. This year will also be a time of transition for us. There is much we don’t know about the future right now. However, with Philippians 4:6–7 as our guide, we are prayerful and thankful. We trust that the God who saw us through this past month will also see us and our ministry through the upcoming transitions.

Important Announcement

After much thought and prayer, we have decided to move back to the United States in early 2020. For those who were able to attend one of our presentations or read our Christmas letter, this is not new news (you can still find our presentation at YouTube.com/EricFunkeGLO and our Christmas letter at GlobalLutheranOutreach.com/blog/funke/newsletters to get the full story.

As you all know, we have begun the process to get U.S. citizenship for our children. Once our children receive immigration visas, we have to return to the U.S. to pursue their certificates of citizenship. We have heard that it is easier to get those certificates if the family actually intends to reside in the U.S. This move will also allow Linda to have better access to healthcare for her Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, will enable our kids to settle into a school in first grade and kindergarten and will give all four of us the opportunity to spend more time with our extended families.

We therefore plan to dedicate this next year to teaching Tanzanians how to take over various aspects of our ministries, and we are praying that God will provide new missionaries to live in our house and work at our school (in any capacity—teacher, nurse, chaplain, social worker, DCE, deaconess, IT person, etc.). We have prepared a one-page description of this opportunity that you can access and download at GlobalLutheranOutreach.com/blog/funke/newsletters. Please help us spread the word about this opportunity and connect us with anyone who might be interested in working at our school. We would love to have any potential future missionaries come out to visit us in early 2019.

If you are interested in this opportunity or know someone who might be interested, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our Last Two Weeks in the U.S.

In spite of the stress of travel preparations, our last few weeks in the U.S. also contained some precious moments. We started off the new year by making pfeffernusse cookies and watching the Rose Parade. On January 5, we went to see Anastasia at the Fox Theater while Brian and Alison babysat our kids (our Christmas gift from them). We were able to catch up with more friends by phone and in person including Alyssa and Justin (Michael’s godfather). Michael and Julia got in one last snow day with their grandparents, and we had one last pizza night with family. We are also so thankful to Diane Timm, Kimberly Patterson and Eric’s parents for entertaining our kids while we ran many errands in our last week. The past four months have felt like a whirlwind of activity, but as we look back at the pictures, we are so grateful we were able to reconnect and make memories with so many people.

The Journey Back to Tanzania

The journey back to Tanzania felt extremely long and difficult (twenty-plus hours in the air, and nineteen-plus hours in airports), but there were some nice moments along the way. Many people smiled and commented on how cute Michael and Julia were “driving” our four-wheel carry-on bags through the airport. A TSA agent at the St. Louis airport gave Michael and Julia a sticker badge and gloves and let them pretend to give her a shot. Our kids greatly enjoyed the children’s science museum in the Amsterdam airport. When Julia heard a pianist playing Disney classics on the grand piano in the Amsterdam airport, she started dancing, and when she had finished, fellow travelers around us started clapping. These are the memories we want to hold onto from that trip.

When we finally arrived in Mwanza, four checked bags and Michael’s car seat were missing. We then spent the night catching up on sleep at a hotel in Mwanza and awoke to a beautiful view. Thankfully, our lost luggage arrived the next day. We are so grateful to Bishop and Lilian Makala for picking us up from the hotel, taking us to retrieve our bags from the airport and driving us back to Mwadui. Our neighbors warmly welcomed us home.

Back Home in Mwadui

For the past two weeks we have been catching up with friends, unpacking, recovering from jetlag and starting to settle back into our rhythm. This year Eric is continuing in his role as Assistant Academic Master and will be teaching math for Form One and computers for Forms Four through Six. We returned with eight more donated laptops for the school’s computer lab. Linda is once again homeschooling our kids, teaching her guidance and counseling class at the secondary school and mentoring DCE intern Amber Reed and Tanzanian deaconess students. We were thrilled to see the growth at the Lutheran daycare center Amber helped to start. They are now up to twenty children! At the request of Bishop Makala, we also sponsored a deaconess study tour to Haydom Lutheran Hospital in the Arusha this past week (more on that in our next newsletter). It is a joy to be back, and we are excited for the work ahead.

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: Hollen Shirley Vanderhyde

We are happy to announce that Hollen Shirley Vanderhyde was born on January 13. She weighed seven pound, six ounces and measured 21 inches long. Both she and her mother are perfectly healthy. We thank God that there were no complications with the pregnancy or labor. We thank him for giving us our sweet little girl! Hollen’s grandfather will baptize her into the Lord’s family on January 27.

With that, our team is assembled! We are moving to take care of Hollen’s passport and papers as quickly as possible. Our fellow workers in Asia are anxious for us to deploy and join them! We greatly anticipate our work in Sri Lanka, the work to which Christ’s Church has appointed us. Vocation (being needed by others) is a wonderful gift.

And, even though we are still waiting to serve in our vocations as missionaries in Sri Lanka, God is blessing us with a time to work in our vocations as husband, wife, father, mother, (and now) sister, brother, son and daughter. These will remain our primary vocations even in Asia. May the Lord strengthen us and you in this God-pleasing work called family!

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: A Child-Like Faith

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”Mark 10:13–14

Watching our children embrace the wonder of this season has brought us so much joy and taught us as well. While we have enjoyed watching our children delight in Christmas lights, ice-skating, ballet dancers, decorations, treats and gifts, our favorite part of this month was watching our kids be angels in the Christmas play at Linda’s parents’ church. If you would like to see Michael as the angel Gabriel telling Mary, “You are going to have a baby,” or Julia singing with exuberance as a member of the angel choir, you can find clips at youtube.com/EricFunkeGLO. There is something about our children telling the story of Christ’s birth that drew us away from the pressures of our to-do lists and reminded us what Christmas is really all about.

Speaking of videos, we have posted many more new videos. If you didn’t have the opportunity to hear us sing “Look What God Has Done,” to watch our seven-minute Year-in-Review video or to see our full presentation at one of our partner churches, you can now find them all at youtube.com/EricFunkeGLO. We sent out Christmas letters to everyone whose address we had, but we know we were missing many of your addresses and some of the letters came back to us undelivered. If you didn’t receive a Christmas letter from us and would like to read a copy, you can find it at globallutheranoutreach.com/blog/funke/newsletters/. Thank you to all who have helped make this year so meaningful.

December

Our December began by being reunited with Jamie Wisely and Jess Strong, who came out to Tanzania with a mission team this past summer. Jess’s parents graciously offered to host us Saturday night and put together a wonderful dinner for us and for the staff and missions committee of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Peoria, Illinois. During the Bible class on Sunday, December 2, we shared all that God has done in the past five years through their gifts to our school. It was a wonderful, memorable weekend. Then, on December 9, we traveled to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Greenville, Illinois, where we were welcomed with open arms and a delicious potluck. It has been such a joy to see so many beloved people during these past twelve weeks of presentations and to convey in person our gratitude for all you have done to support us, our ministry and our community in Tanzania.

Our first week and a half of December were filled with visits, including a get-together with friends at 2Schae Café, a trip to the Butterfly House at the St. Louis Zoo, dinner with the social worker who has been helping us with our kids’ U.S. citizenship paperwork, a luncheon with St. Louis area deaconesses and a party with friends which included twenty adults and fifteen children ages six and under. We also spent precious time with family, including time decorating the Christmas tree.

On December 11 we drove down to Dallas. During our time in Dallas, we enjoyed taking our kids to Santa’s village at the Richardson library, helping our kids ice skate for the first time, going on a double date with Linda’s sister and brother-in-law, celebrating the first birthday party of the son of Linda’s friend Lois, taking our kids to The Nutcracker Ballet, climbing and playing at Safari Run park, catching up with Linda’s goddaughter and her family and celebrating Christmas with Linda’s side of the family. Her aunt came into town, and we all enjoyed worshiping together and then opening gifts and eating Christmas dinner at her sister Karen’s house.

On December 27, we made the long trip back to St. Louis, and Eric’s sister Andrea flew in the next day. Over the next few days we enjoyed decorating cookies, celebrating Funke Family Christmas, playing games with Eric’s sister and parents, and hanging out with our nieces and nephew. We finished the year off with a cozy New Year’s Eve celebration at home, including puzzles and games. On December 31 we learned that our I-600A has been approved! We are another step closer to getting U.S. citizenship for our kids! It was a great end to 2018.

Meanwhile, Back in Tanzania …

School is now back in session in Tanzania, and we were thrilled to hear that the class scheduling program Eric designed is working well. Students will continue trickling in during the coming weeks, and we look forward to being reunited with both teachers and students again soon. Please pray for peace as we pack for the journey home, for smooth travels, and for our jet-lag recovery. Thank you to all who helped make these last four months so special!

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.

The Wolf Pack in Kenya: Partners in Faith

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.1 Corinthians 12;12, 27

“It’s gonna be cold where we’re going.” After home service, John stayed for a couple weeks to travel with John Kissinger Nyang’au to visit churches and districts in the upper Midwest to promote Project 24 and Christ’s Care for Children—Kenya (CCC—K). Kissinger is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) and supports our field as the Director of Project 24, a project partnership of the ELCK and LCMS to care for orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya so they may know about Christ.

In past newsletters, we’ve shared about the children, the members within the ELCK who support the boarding facilities and the chaplains who share Christ with their families. This time I had a chance to visit many supporters and advocates who helped start Project 24, many of whom are in the North Dakota and Minnesota-North districts. This trip also included South Dakota, Minnesota-South, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Some supporters, who have visited Kenya and have a passion for helping children, have become advocates of the program. They volunteer their time and resources to share with other congregations and people in their areas about the children, how they grow in God’s Word and how people can be part of this mission work. Some have been with the program for nearly ten years and have a wealth of knowledge, deep relationships and a love for Christ. We’ve gradually come together as a team to bring our respective background and perspectives and to do things together that we wouldn’t be able to do alone. Through their guidance and connections, we were able to strengthen some relationships and develop new ones.

During our visits, we met with several current and new donors—people who value relationships, develop trust through interaction, assess dependability based on results, but put their trust in the Lord and His guidance. It was a blessing to share with them first hand how this program works, the interaction with the church leaders, the care they have for the children and the accountability they encourage and enforce to ensure the children can grow up in the Lord and have the resources they need.

Over two weeks, John traveled over 5,000 miles. On the day of his last two presentations, he woke up to eight inches of fluff on the ground. Time to head back to Africa!

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.

The Wolf Pack in Kenya: Handshakes and Home Service

Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.3 John 5–6

For nearly thirty minutes, we reached no further than the church foyer, exchanging hugs and greetings, introducing new family members, sharing news and all caught up in the excitement of our visit. It had been nearly twelve years since we last visited Trinity Lutheran Church in Great Falls, Montana, the place where Jenn and I had met and married nineteen years ago. We are grateful the congregation organized a special event so we could spend time together.

Over the two months of our home service in September and October, our visits to churches were memorable with warm welcomes, lots of questions, bountiful potluck meals and many stories. We were astounded how relationships had grown over the two years since we departed to serve as LCMS missionaries in Africa.

In several places where two years ago we may only have met with a pastor during our initial networking, now we were able to meet with the whole congregation. It was such a blessing (and sometimes overwhelming) to hear the reactions and questions of people who have been praying for us and following our newsletters.

Over the last couple years in my travels to observe and help with projects across Africa, many fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in Burkina Faso, Uganda, Kenya and Malawi have shaken my hands and asked me to pass their greetings to congregations back in the States. It was a blessing to personally carry those greetings and handshakes to our supporting congregations and share with them how the Lord is bringing people to Christ across Africa.

We are truly grateful for the time and meals people offered to share with us, the resources they offered to help with our lodging and travel and the prayers and encouragement of so many. We were blessed to experience how mission work isn’t just done by those in the field, but by the Lord working through the many people and churches praying and supporting to make this possible.

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.

Serving the Lord in Sri Lanka: The Lord’s Plan

We have some unfortunate tidings regarding the timing of our deployment to Sri Lanka. For a long time, we have been planning to leave for the field by the end of November or early December. The single reason for this plan was that Grace is due to give birth to our second child in January. It made sense to us and to our regional team for us to be overseas when the baby arrived. However, because of delays related to the securing of entry visas, we will be staying in the U. S. until after the birth.

The plans we make never take everything into account. What makes sense to us at one level might be irrational at another. Since accepting our vicarage assignment this Spring, we have realized more and more how little we know, how limited is the scope of our understanding. (This will only become more apparent when we’re immersed into a new culture.) But the one who appointed our family through His Church to be missionaries operates on a level above all others. His plans are perfect. He takes everything into account.

We thank God that He planned to restore us and all of creation even before He laid the earth’s foundations, by the Advent of His Son. Moreover, He graciously incorporated all of us into that plan, as short-sighted as we are. He is so far above us; His reason baffles us, but he gives us a part to play. He makes us members of Christ’s Church, and through this Church, brings the good news to the world. Praise the Lord that he has a plan. Thank him for giving each of us a part to play.

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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