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Mission-Minded Manteys: Abiding in Christ

In the month of February, the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU) and the Lutheran Theological College Uganda (LTCU) celebrated an important milestone! On the 28th, the LTCU had its inaugural graduation since its opening in 2016. The twenty men that graduated represent all seven regions of Uganda where the LCU serves.

The new graduates greatly assist in the workload of the thirty one pastors in Uganda as they serve over 150 congregations. They work with their deans (district presidents) and other church leaders as they prepare for ordination. Typically in Uganda, men receive more hands-on training and preparation under mentorship before ordination. Then the LCU decides the best course of action for ordination and pastoral service.

The twenty men were sent from their home congregations and deaneries (districts), so there is an understanding they go back to the region/church where they came from before seminary. The men typically serve at several congregations and even help plant churches and evangelize in the same region. Their work greatly assists the LCU in Word and Sacrament ministry while strengthening and growing the Lutheran church in Uganda.

As the graduates begin this next step in ministry, please keep them in your prayers. We are thankful they continue to abide in Christ and stay connected to Him, as well as their LCU leaders, pastors, and mentors. We pray that they can be salt and light to the congregations, schools and communities where they serve, and will continue to grow in knowledge.

We are grateful that we can walk with the Lutheran Church of Uganda in this way as we assist in preparing men for ministry through our roles of teaching and project management. We praise God for this milestone!

Life and Ministry Update

We are thankful for the congregations and communities that welcomed us during our home service this past December–February. Despite the current travel challenges, we were able to connect in person and via Zoom with congregations on the East Coast (from Florida–Maryland) and Colorado. We thank God for his provision for our health, stamina and time with friends and family during our time in the United States.

We are grateful for our network of support that continually provides encouragement, prayers and emails, fist bumps and affirmation that they are praying for us as well as financially supporting the Lord’s work in Uganda. We are amazed at God’s abundant love and support in our lives! We loved sharing about the ministry in Uganda and how we best walk alongside the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU), especially with how the Holy Spirit was present through the hands of the LCU pastors and leaders during 2020.

After a year since classes have officially been out, the Ugandan government has started to re-open more classrooms. Before, only students in elementary and high school preparing to sit for exams were allowed back. However, now colleges and universities have been able to open more. This means that Megan is now able to resume her work of teaching five courses in Christian education and counseling during this upcoming semester.

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.

The Wolf Pack in Kenya: Sharing the Good News

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.Romans 10:1,4

“You mean I don't need to sacrifice a cow or pay some money?”

A new radio station offered an opportunity for the Lutheran Mission in Africa/Synod of a Thousand Hills to provide a weekly one-hour Sunday program. “The teaching was very good, although at times the waves were not very strong, but we tried to listen carefully,” shares a Mr. Mdimgango about the broadcasts. With over six million in the greater Mwanza area in northern Tanzania, the pastors of this church shared the Gospel, provided health and hygiene information and helped alleviate the fear of coronavirus.

After hearing a service, songs and message, it wasn't long before listeners began calling into the radio station to ask questions of the bishop and request visits. The listening area in just eastern Rwanda includes over 3.6 million people, so the bishop quickly realized he needed assistance. He recruited other LMA/STH Lutheran pastors to preach, take calls and make socially distanced visits to people eager to hear about salvation through Christ. In December of 2020 we were blessed to have them visit our offices where they shared these stories with us.

“People are hungry for the Word of God and wanted more time to listen during the week,” says the bishop. Other Lutheran pastors joined him to assist with preaching, counseling and connecting with listeners who desired in-person visits and support.

The churches in Rwanda, and other countries in Africa, remain closed, and the radio programming continues today thanks in part to special gifts provided by donors. Many people have been reached with this programming. Some have asked to learn more through the catechism, and after doing so, one couple even married. Many are surprised to hear that it is not our actions or sacrifices that please God, but because of His love for us, Christ overcame sin and death to reconcile us back to God the Father. And for the man quoted at the beginning of this article, that Good News was a release from fear. It is amazing to see how God uses even this current situation to tell others about Christ.

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: Not Our Way, but God's Way

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.Isaiah 55:8–9

Greetings in Christ from Nairobi, Kenya! Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and Happy New Year! Thank you for your prayers and support over this year. Even with the circumstances of COVID-19, it is a blessing to look back on 2020 and see how the Lord has moved to spread the Gospel so that people may be reconciled to Him through Christ. It has been a very busy year.

In January, John oversaw the maintenance for LCMS missionary housing at the ELCK seminary in western Kenya. With the expected arrival of two new missionary families, repairs were done on two homes and completion of construction of the third. Sean (our second son) helped me with designs and progress.

In February, John travelled with Tuomo Sumajoki, our local rep for Lutheran Heritage Foundation, to attend a gathering of church leaders from the confessional Lutheran, French-speaking, church bodies in west and central Africa. This was his first time at the annual meeting held at the Center for Lutheran Theological Studies (CLET) in northern Togo. He was thankful to hear so many stories of people who receive the Good News of Christ in countries like Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, both Congos, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. This visit allowed him to work more closely with these church leaders and pastors to support projects in their countries.

In mid-March, COVID-19 was identified in Kenya, although increased influenza cases in December 2019 and January 2020 suggest perhaps it was here and in neighboring Tanzania sooner than realized. The response was a near-immediate shutdown of the borders and schools (with all students sent home), a strict curfew set, Nairobi county locked off from the other, more rural counties, and many of the expat community taking repatriation flights back to their passport countries. Although John was unable to check in person on the progress for the missionary housing projects, because our Kenyan church partners outside of Nairobi county could still move around he was able to receive progress updates and photos via phone.

The school closures in March meant that the youth at the Project 24 boarding centers for vulnerable children were returned to their caretakers and extended families. Project 24 a joint effort of the LCMS and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya to provide housing in seven centers for orphaned and vulnerable children in the church who wouldn't otherwise have access to school, regular meals, nor hear the Word of God. However, the site managers, pastors and deaconesses made monthly visits to the 250+ children to bring food staples, prayer, counsel, song and encouragement. Neighbors noticed the visits and asked pastors to come into their homes to pray and share the Gospel. During October, students in grades four, eight and twelve were permitted to return to school. All other grades have had to wait until January to resume school.

The Word continues to go forth even during this time. In a number of countries, John has coordinated with church leaders to provide some relief from COVID through resources for hand-washing, food stuffs and masks.

In Rwanda, as the case numbers decreased the church body was anxious to open the five new churches they had roofed before the pandemic. New regulations required a water source at each church. The Lord provides in His good timing, and gifts were made available that helped procure water tanks and collection systems to allow the churches to reopen.

Two other countries used their COVID support to broadcast weekly services and bible studies on the radio. In one country we have been told of conversions and people coming to Christ. There are many similar stories in the eighteen African countries the LCMS helped with COVID relief.

Because the lock-down in Nairobi did not prevent those outside the city from moving, the LWML “Water and the Word” project could begin in Kenya. Coordination with LWML project leads in the US along with ELCK leadership led to the visit, identification and commencement of efforts to provide clean water to ten ELCK sponsored schools (meeting participants appropriately masked and socially distanced).

The brief reduction in the number of many country's cases in August and September allowed some churches to construct church buildings, and we were able to help them with the installation of the roofs in Mozambique and Kenya. The lifting of travel restrictions into Kenya and Nairobi in August offered an opportunity to move our new missionary families from Tanzania to their new homes at the ELCK seminary in western Kenya.

By October, most of the eight seminaries the LCMS supports in Africa had re-opened in some fashion and many students have been able to resume their studies. Our missionary pastor/theological educators are glad to be teaching again, and John was able to coordinate to ensure resources were in place to do so.

Throughout the year, John's interactions have increased with the Lutheran churches in francophone Africa, and he is grateful for the travel to Togo in February and continued Zoom language lessons. Each of his interactions takes time for coordination, communication, sharing and listening as we walk alongside church leaders and help make the best use of the resources God has provided so that many more can learn about Jesus and salvation through Him. The Gospel continues to go forth according to God's perfect will.

In Kenya, we continue many safety practices, including mandatory masking, restrictions on numbers of people in vehicles, shopping restrictions and regulations, a nighttime curfew, temperature checks at all public locations, limits on crowds and gatherings and requirements on keeping a safe distance from others when out in public.

Despite all this, we have been blessed that our Africa team is still able to gather, using online video-conferencing for daily bible study and worship on Sundays. In Kenya, we are grateful that church services have been allowed to resume, with requirements to wash hands, log body temperatures, wear masks and maintain a designated separation. Additionally, there are limits on the age of those attending, the duration of the services, and the use of elbow bumps or waving instead of the more traditional hand shakes.

Our family is doing well. John has been working mostly from home and has appreciated the additional family time. Homeschooling has continued as normal for us, while our extracurricular activities, such as dance, scouting and orchestra, have been held using videoconferencing (now slowly resuming in-person sessions). The kids used much of the extra time with John and without extra busy time to use ropes and timbers to lash together a treehouse, organize their own talent show with a couple friends which they broadcast online. The boys are ever building things from cardboard, wood or scrap paper (mostly WWII ships and planes).

Our home service in September/October 2020 was postponed due to COVID restrictions. We pray we may be able to visit in 2021!

Thank you again for your prayers and support. Please pass our warm greetings to your congregations, and we pray that the Lord continues to bless and keep you during this time.

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: Preparing the Way

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

The Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU) has continued their work of training men for ministry, especially through the Lutheran Theological College Uganda (LTCU) these past several months. Even with the disturbances of COVID-19, the LTCU was able to finish the semester that was interrupted by the lockdown in March. So, the 2019–2020 school year finished in late October. For the past several months, there have been two training centers for the students to finish the semester: one was at the seminary in the eastern part of the country while other students gathered in Masindi, which is in the midwestern part of the country.

As the semester ended, twelve men from five different deaneries were ready for their vicarage. Vicarage is an internship year that is completed during the third year of seminary training and is done in students home regions. Because of health protocols in Uganda, the Lutheran Church of Uganda had two separate commissioning services, located in the same deaneries as the training took place. These twelve men will spend their internship year putting into practice what they have learned at seminary thus far. They will be supervised under the pastors and deans in their areas. These students are the third class of vicars since the seminary started in 2016, so we praise God for the continuation of this ministry.

As the vicars prepare for their year of service and hands-on learning, the LTCU started the first semester of the 2020–2021 school year in November. Typically, this semester starts in August. So, as vicars were preparing to be sent out, new and returning students were preparing for seminary. For this school year, the first semester will go from November to February. The second semester of the 2020–2021 school year will resume in March. We praise God that the Holy Spirit continues to prepare men for ministry through the Lutheran Theological College Uganda.

Ministry Information

After being at our home in Jinja, Uganda for most of the year, it was a joy to travel with the Lutheran Church of Uganda in November to celebrate life and ministry together. As the vicarage commissioning services were in two different locations this year, we were able to go and visit with people that we are not able to see as often. It is always a joy to be with the students as they prepare for this stage in ministry in their year of learning and practical application. We praise God that we have been able to walk alongside the three classes of vicars since we came to Uganda in 2017.

When we travel to different areas, we praise God for the friendships we have in Christ Jesus as we serve Him together. Sharing a meal, worshipping together and learning about life and ministry since last together always brings big smiles and great joy, even when sharing about the trials and tribulations. Life together is always worth celebrating, especially when centered on Christ.

Every two years LCMS missionaries have the opportunity to return to the United States and share a ministry update with congregations and individual supporters. This December, January and February, we are happy to be able to visit some congregations and individual supporters in some parts of the US. This home service we are limiting our travel, but we are thankful we are still able to connect via Zoom with many congregations. We are also thankful for time to connect with our family in North Carolina and New Mexico. We look forward to visiting in person with other regions at a future time. Thank you for keeping us in prayer as we travel and share ministry updates with congregations this winter.

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: Vanderhydes End Service in Sri Lanka

Dear Christian Friends and Family, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, greetings! We have the privilege of sharing with you that our service in Sri Lanka as missionaries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is ended. We celebrate all that God has accomplished and will yet accomplish as His master plan unfolds.

We already miss our life in Sri Lanka and our Christian family there. We still feel strange in this old but new home, the USA. But we thank God that He is preparing work for us to do our entire lives. This was, after all, a vicarage, a time for us to learn and grow into being a pastor and a pastor’s wife and pastor’s children. We have more learning and growing yet ahead—one more year of seminary at least—before the call and ordination. But we feel like nothing could ever compare to this vicarage experience when it comes to being formed as Christians and as a pastor’s family.

Thank you, dear brothers and sisters who have supported us these past two years, who prayed for us and with us. We thank God who used your gifts, given out of thankfulness and faith and love, to serve His purpose. We thank Him who uses the work of each of us individual members of Christ’s body to build up His Church in love.

This entire vicarage we have constantly felt like we were receiving more than we were giving. Our prayer is that we may one day be able to give of ourselves as our fellow missionaries and our Tamil brothers in Sri Lanka gave of themselves to us, becoming our family and our support. So, in the spirit of that prayer, we rejoice! And we wait with anticipation for God to show us the next doors He would have us walk through, the next neighbors He would have us serve.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

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.

Serving the Lord in Sri Lanka: Final Newsletter from the Vanderhydes

This September, we returned to the USA. With uncertainty in the air and a baby on the way, our LCMS team thought it best to give us a good cushion of time between our return and the due date. We are sad to be apart from our brothers and sisters in the faith who remain in Sri Lanka. But we are also excited to see what God has in store for our family as we near the end of seminary.

The church held a farewell ceremony for the Vanderhydes. It was the first time all the pastors and evangelists had been able to gather since February. Some of the youth sang and played the keyboard, demonstrating what they had learned in the music program.

We want you to know how much your prayers and support have meant to us over the past two years. This has been a really good thing. Vicarage is about preparing us for the ministry of a called and ordained pastor and his family. So as we return to the seminary and resume classes in January, know that you are in our hearts, sharing this journey in the ministry with us.

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.

Mission-Minded Manteys: The Lord’s Work Continues

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye on you.Psalm 32:8

Since March, Uganda has been in some form of lockdown because of COVID-19. During the last three months, restrictions were lessened, but schools and public worship have not been able to resume. Nightly curfews also remain in effect. We share this to give insight to our day-to-day living and also to re-enforce the Lutheran Church of Uganda’s ability to adapt to circumstances for the sake of the Gospel. For, despite the challenges that continue worldwide, we witness that the Lord’s work continues. The Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU) leadership met to discuss how they can best continue training their seminarians while also recognizing government operating procedures. This included limiting the number of people gathering together, not having formal classroom instruction and maintaining health and hygiene practices.

The LCU leadership decided to focus immediate opportunities for the Year-Four seminary students, as they were originally scheduled to graduate in June 2020 before classes were dismissed due to COVID-19. The goal was to finish the classes from March in a practicum or hands-on approach so the students could apply what they have learned so far. The arrangements included three different mission center locations for the students, which followed the government operating procedures. This also allowed other LCU pastors and leadership to participate and help prepare the seminarians for pastoral ministry.

In this hands-on, four-week program, the students focused learning on pastoral ministry, teaching the Small Catechism and Bible studies. They also reviewed and applied Hymnology for various worship settings, and finished theology course units that helped them understand and apply Scripture to their various contexts. Please continue to keep the LCU leadership and the seminarians in your prayers as they grow together. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

We are both so grateful to remain in Uganda during this time. Much of our lives has changed and yet much remains the same. We continue to work from home, but also remain in constant contact with the Lutheran Church of Uganda. The LCU has utilized zoom meetings to connect with leadership in the rural areas so ministry planning can continue. We have been able to join those calls and share greetings with far away friends in other parts of the country.

Since the seminary is currently not able to resume at full capacity, our day-to-day routine has changed substantially. Yet God continues to provide us with opportunities to serve Him. We still connect with students, faculty and LCU leadership. We still serve alongside the LCU and strive to learn more about how the LCMS can best collaborate with them. We still celebrate life together, whether it is birthday celebrations, worshipping together over the radio or socially distanced gatherings. We still listen to one another, mourn together and are present for one another … even though it looks different. For all of these opportunities, we’re grateful the Lord abundantly provides.

Thank you for your prayers as we navigate how to best serve and share the Gospel through our vocations amidst COVID-19. Please also pray for our LCMS and LCU colleagues as they also strive to do the same. We continue to pray for our friends and family (you!) who share in the Lord’s work in Uganda. Thank you for continuing to walk with us in this way!

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: At the Crossroads

Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.Jeremiah 6:16

Eight years ago today (September 7), we arrived in Tanzania to begin a new chapter of our lives. Thus, we figured today is the perfect day to send out our last monthly newsletter—our 101st since we first signed on with Global Lutheran Outreach.

On July 13–17, we attended an online debriefing retreat for returning missionaries. Thank you to Chapel of the Cross in St. Louis for paying for us to attend. We were deeply moved as leaders normalized so much of what we are experiencing. They shared that on average it takes returning missionaries one or two years to go from “old normal” to “new normal.” You can read more about our experience at that retreat on our blog, www.afunketimeintanzania.blogspot.com. Throughout the week we were reminded that God calls us to abide at these crossroads, processing all we’ve experienced, prayerfully seeking out the next best steps and remembering that God goes with us. We thank you all for walking with us during these years of ministry and for your prayers going forward.

The past two months have been tremendously full. We hosted ten more Zoom calls. Thank you to all of you who participated! It meant so much to us to see you and talk with you. We’ve continued settling into our house (a seemingly endless process of sorting through boxes from our lives before Tanzania). Because Linda’s U.S. driver’s license expired while we were in Tanzania, Linda endured a seven-hour online driver’s course, a written test, an in-person driving test, and two DPS appointments in order to get her driver’s license reinstated. Through additional testing, our doctor discovered that both of us do still have residual parasites, so we have started a three-month treatment. We’ve also learned new recipes as our doctor recommended changing our diet for these months—no gluten, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, etc. We are praying that no additional treatment will be necessary.

Eric hit a huge learning curve as he prepared to teach online Algebra 1 classes for North Garland High School. He still goes into the school building, but has been teaching online courses since August 10. He must be doing well though, because the administration asked him to continue teaching the online students for the foreseeable future. Michael and Julia started school virtually on August 19 and will continue online with Linda assisting them with asynchronous assignments for at least the first quarter. Linda was invited to give a homily at the virtual annual meeting of her deaconess community. We enjoyed a weekend of camping with Linda’s parents before school began. We also had the joy of celebrating the 40th anniversaries of both Linda’s parents and Eric’s parents this past month. We appreciate your prayers as we continue to take steps towards our new normal.

We will be closing out our Global Lutheran Outreach account by the end of the year. Thank you to everyone who has supported us and our ministry all these years! For those who have been giving monthly through automatic withdrawal, please email GLO () in the next few months to ask them to stop payment or to transfer your monthly support to another missionary. If GLO receives any donations for us in the months before our account is closed, those funds will continue to go toward our resettlement (likely healthcare costs) and toward students we continue to sponsor in Tanzania. We pray that in the coming months some of you will transfer your monthly contributions to our friends, Dixon and Christiana Gbeanquoi. They have a wonderful ministry in Tanzania and continue to live by faith financially. You can find their newsletters at www.globallutheranoutreach.com/blog/Gbeanquoi/our-blog.

The account for the Safe Schools Initiative will remain open until the project is completely funded. We continue to see the need for this three-year teacher training program requested by Headmaster Yohana Nzelu and Christian Education Director, Grace Mutabuzi. Even this past month, Cheryl Kruckemeyer witnessed a teacher slapping a student’s face. To learn more about this project and how you can help, please go to www.globallutheranoutreach.com/blog/safeschoolsinitiativeproject. You can make checks to “Global Lutheran Outreach” with Safe Schools Initiative in the memo line and send them to 6709 Ficus Drive, Miramar, FL, 33023.

We have so much great news from Tanzania! The Community Health Evangelism team made the most of their grant from the LCMS, traveling to many different villages and teaching about COVID-19 and hygiene in general. They distributed food for families in need and materials for making tippy-tap handwashing stations. Thankfully, Tanzania (and Africa in general) has not experienced the high mortality from COVID-19 that other nations have faced. Many theories are circulating as to why that is the case—an overall younger population, less obesity, the prevalence of the BCG vaccine, genetic factors, climate, the power of prayer, Africans having a greater ability to make antibodies because of previous exposure to other coronaviruses, malaria or other infectious diseases … whatever the reason, we are rejoicing and breathing a sigh of relief for our friends.

Cheryl Kruckemeyer continues to teach English, guidance classes and basketball. We also heard recently that her work permit appeal was approved! Praise the Lord! The students and teachers are currently on a two week break, but when they return, Cheryl will begin tutoring struggling students. We encourage you to sign up for her monthly newsletter at so you can receive regular updates from Mwadui.

The school has made more progress on the home for vulnerable children and hopes to begin welcoming children in just a few months. Rev. Nzelu also hired our former house helper Dinnah to do some work at the school, meaning she will be able to keep her home in Mwadui. Our friend Pastor Julia Mutungi recently started a nonprofit called the Inuka Foundation to advocate for families in need. Thanks to your donations, we were able to send some money for chairs and office supplies. Our friend Deaconess Grace Mutabuzi has sadly been very ill for several years. She let us know that because of medical fees and loss of work time, she couldn’t afford her daughter’s school. Thankfully, some of Linda’s deaconess sisters came together and paid her daughter’s school fees for the year. We praise God for all of these answered prayers and continue to pray for all of our friends in Tanzania!

In September of 2012, Eric Funke, grandson of Bill and Lola Funke, and his wife, Linda, followed God’s call to Tanzania. Eric taught math and science at a secondary school while Linda worked for the Department of Planning and Development. They worked 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.

Funke News: Perseverance

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:2–5

We have heard from so many friends that 2020 has been a particularly challenging year for a wide variety of reasons. As we enter the second half of the year, we are holding Romans 5:2–5 close to our hearts and praying that God may use these challenges to produce endurance, character and hope.

Early in June we submitted the lease agreement, school enrollment and bills necessary to prove residency to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. On July 3, we received the best Fourth of July presents ever—Michael and Julia’s Certificates of U.S. Citizenship! They are now officially Tanzanian Americans. Praise the Lord! Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, encouraged us and donated to the Funke Kids’ Citizenship fund during this long journey. We couldn’t have done this without you.

As we mentioned last month, you can now watch our final presentation at www.youtube.com/EricFunkeGLO. This presentation is what we would have shared with you all if we had been able to visit in person. It includes three sections: 1) a twelve-minute video recap of the past seven years of ministry, 2) a slideshow with more details about the past year and a half since we last visited the U.S., 3) a song with pictures. We hope it will be a blessing to you all. Since we last wrote, we have enjoyed Zoom calls with members of Messiah in Plano, Chapel of the Cross in St. Louis, St. Paul in Plano, and Saint John’s in Fort Collins. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the calls and asked such wonderful questions! You have been such an encouragement to us in this time of transition.

This month we had the joy of camping with Linda’s immediate family over Father’s Day weekend. Our kids greatly enjoyed Vacation Bible School at home with kits and videos from Messiah Lutheran Church in Plano. We also fulfilled our promise to our kids that they would get swimming lessons this summer. While group classes aren’t a great option right now, we are thankful that Linda was a swim instructor at Cooper’s Swim Academy for five summers and that friends are allowing us to use their pool so we can teach Michael and Julia to swim. They are doing wonderfully! Our kids also enjoyed their first Fourth of July in the U.S. as we were able to see fireworks from our front yard.

It has been a rough month for our family health-wise. On June 12, Michael started running a high fever so we went into quarantine mode until we could make sure it wasn’t COVID-19. Thankfully his fever broke after two days. Then during our camping trip, Linda was completely eaten up by chiggers (130+ bites). That week she experienced more pain and itchiness than when she had chicken pox as a child. After that, Eric developed a mean poison ivy rash after working in the backyard, even though he never had an allergic reaction to poison ivy when he used to work at camp. On top of all this, Linda’s doctor continues to try to determine the cause of some of Linda’s longer term symptoms, including running a continual low-grade fever (99–99.5°) for the past few months. Our doctor recommended additional parasite testing. It is expensive, but will hopefully help us find the cause of some of Linda’s health issues the past few years. We are hoping to receive the results in the next few weeks.

News From Tanzania

As the president of Tanzania has declared that there are no longer cases of COVID-19 in the country, Tanzania has begun reopening schools and other sectors in society. Meanwhile, we hear from doctor friends there that they are still seeing several deaths from COVID-19 daily. They have asked for prayers as they anticipate a large number of new cases with schools now reopening. Likewise, the U.S. Embassy continues to caution that “the risk of contracting COVID-19 through community transmission remains elevated.” Mwadui Lutheran Secondary School started classes again on Monday June 29. Please pray with us that none of the students and teachers who returned to campus brought COVID-19 with them.

GLO missionary Cheryl Kruckemeyer is currently co-teaching English classes, helping youth connect by email with penpals in the U.S. and enjoying time with students on the basketball court. Sadly, we found out a few weeks ago that Cheryl’s first work permit application was denied. We knew this was a possibility, especially when the government started denying permits for Peace Corps volunteers and other missionary friends of ours. However, it is still disappointing. Diocese General Secretary Happiness Yorum Gefi traveled to Dodoma on Friday, July 3 to file an appeal. Please pray for a successful and smooth appeal process.

GLO missionaries Dixon and Christy Gbeanquoi are continuing to serve their church community in Mwanza. Dixon has also begun teaching classes again at the Lutheran Bible school. Many of the other missionaries from Europe returned to their home countries, so Dixon is now teaching four different classes. We praise God that they received about $3,000 this past month. That being said, they still need $3,500 to continue their ministry through December. They are particularly in need of monthly donors. By the end of August, Eric will begin receiving a paycheck. Therefore, if you have been a monthly donor, we ask that you consider transferring your monthly donations to the Gbeanquoi family at that time. They are a wonderful family, and we would love for them to be able to continue their amazing ministry in Mwanza.

In September of 2012, Eric Funke, grandson of Bill and Lola Funke, and his wife, Linda, followed God’s call to Tanzania. Eric taught math and science at a secondary school while Linda worked for the Department of Planning and Development. They worked 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.

Funke News: Lament and Hope

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:21–23

The suffering in the world feels so potent right now—so much injustice, so much pain, so much conflict, so much loss. As a friend recently shared her pain over the loss of a loved one, I reminded her that lament is Biblical and that Jesus cried. As I have been thinking more about lament, I have naturally been drawn to the book of Lamentations. I was reminded that “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” In spite of it all, we cling to hope. Here are some of the bits of hope God has shown us this past month.

We hope to be able to reconnect with many of our partner churches in the coming months. You all mean so much to us! In the mean time, after many hours of prep, we are thrilled to say that our video presentation is now online! This presentation is what we would have shared with you all if we had been able to visit in person. It includes three sections:

  1. A twelve-minute video recap of the past seven years of ministry;
  2. A slide show with more details about the past year and a half since we last visited the US; and
  3. A song with pictures we hope will be a blessing to you all.

On May 4, Eric attended a virtual job fair for Garland Independent School District. By the end of the day, North Garland High School issued him a letter of intent. We are happy to announce that he will be teaching Algebra 1 (one of his favorite subjects to teach) at North Garland starting in August. Thankfully, it is only an eleven-minute drive from our new home. We thank God for this answer to prayer!

On May 2, we signed a lease for a rental house in Richardson, Texas, and May 8–10 loaded up a trailer to be delivered to our new home. After more precious time with our family in St. Louis, we drove down to Dallas May 12. We stayed with Linda’s parents for the next week while we waited for our trailer and repainted the three bedrooms and two bathrooms (all of which were pink) and all the ceilings in our new house. May 16–17, our Davis family helped us unload all of our belongings. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the garage conversion/playroom reeked of cat pee, and we have cat allergies. We squeezed all of our things into the other rooms while the landlord tried to remedy the situation. We tried repainting the closets, using a good enzyme cleaner on the carpet, sealing off the room and using the landlord’s industrial strength air purifier for a weekend, ripping out all the carpet and treating the subfloor with enzyme cleaner and laying Kilz sealant. Nothing worked until finally we discovered that the cat pee had seeped into the baseboards, damaging the sheet rock. Now that the sheet rock is removed, the smell is finally dissipating. Adding to the craziness of the move, as Linda was navigating boxes she tripped on the couch and broke her baby toe!

We’ve spent much of the last few weeks consolidating our possessions for the first time in our married lives, selling unneeded items and searching Craigslist for items that we do want/need. We’ve found many good deals, including a brand new washer and dryer for half price, a dining set, patio furniture for the backyard, and a piano—which was on sale for $20! Hopefully we will finally feel more settled soon.

As chaotic as this past month has felt, we are thankful for finally being able to celebrate Julia’s (February 23) birthday very belatedly with our Davis family, time to camp with Linda’s parents in their trailer over Memorial Day weekend and Linda’s parents hosting a sleepover for Michael and Julia so we could enjoy a romantic dinner at home in celebration of our ninth wedding anniversary.

News From Tanzania

The president of Tanzania has declared that Tanzania is now free of COVID-19. This assertion is in direct contradiction to what some of our doctor friends are seeing on the ground. There continues to be a crackdown on anyone in Tanzania who challenges the government’s claim, and doctors are fearful of sharing what they are seeing. Thankfully, the hospital in Mwadui has had no cases of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, both Lutheran dioceses in Shinyanga and Mwanza received grants from the LCMS to help with COVID-19 awareness and food scarcity issues. They will also receive money to start radio ministries.

This month Cheryl Kruckemeyer began mentoring young women in the community, facilitating a Bible study for other expats in Mwadui, hosting a German agricultural missionary, and helping a few families with food aid. Dixon and Christy also continue to lead and serve their church in Mwanza. Unfortunately, their funding is now extremely low. If they don’t receive $6,500 in the next few months, they will be forced to return to Nigeria. If you can help this wonderful family continue their ministry in Tanzania, please go to globallutheranoutreach.com/support-gbeanquoi.html. Every little bit helps!

Our friends in Tanzania continue to be in our hearts and in our prayers.

In September of 2012, Eric Funke, grandson of Bill and Lola Funke, and his wife, Linda, followed God’s call to Tanzania. Eric taught math and science at a secondary school while Linda worked for the Department of Planning and Development. They worked 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.

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