- Written by Eric and Linda Funke Eric and Linda Funke
- Created: 04 March 2016 04 March 2016
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.James 1:2–3
Having a two-year-old, we definitely see our fair share of messes. Some are fun activities that bring out creativity and joy, like playing with shaving cream or paint. Some are simply gross, such as Michael’s diapers while he is being treated for a parasite. As we reflect on the last month, we’ve noticed that our lives in general can also get pretty messy. Often things don’t quite go as planned. Timelines change. Relationships can get complicated. Yet, through the messes, we receive and share God’s messages.
Classes are back in full swing. So far Linda has taught four classes on study skills, one on goal setting and one on spiritual warfare and growing in your faith. The students also give Linda question cards during class (and sometimes through Eric during the week). They cover a wide range of topics: how can I find good friends, why does God allow evil, how do I know if someone is a witch, what can I do about pimples. Answering students’ question cards has allowed Linda to continue to support the students even as she spends most of her time at home these days.
Eric has been struggling to get all the students signed up for the e-learning program and to keep the internet up and running. Since this is the first year the school has used the Tanzanian national curriculum for computers and national exams are usually given in year two and four, the school administration has decided that Eric will begin that curriculum with Form 1, and those students won’t take a national exam until next year. This decision has taken the pressure off of Eric to try to cover two years worth of topics in one year.
We’ve begun movie nights again, and the students have loved The Nativity Story, Akeelah and the Bee and Gifted Hands. One student even asked for our school to do its own spelling bee, so we’ll see if we can work that into the schedule. Meanwhile the library and the two dorm extensions continue to progress. On Saturday, February 26, Bishop Makala came to bless all three cornerstones. On the library, all the outside plaster is complete, the bars and windows are in and the floors are close to being finished. Because the roof took longer than expected, the opening of the library/computer lab has been a bit delayed, but we hope to be able to move all the computers in this month!
We have received word that Majid’s treatment is progressing well. The doctors are very hopeful that he will be able to walk. However, we have also received word that he will need special braces for a while, costing $2,000. We pray that the Lord will provide the money so that the healing can continue. We may not be seeing immediate miracles of the lame walking again very often, but these gradual medical miracles still inspire awe in us.
This month we made our second trip to Mwanza as a family. We needed to meet the lawyer who will be handling our adoption court case, Alex Banturaki, on Monday morning. Thus, we decided to make a weekend out of it. We were able to catch up with Mwanza friends we had not seen in many months, and greatly enjoyed staying with the Peck family. This family has meant a lot to us. Rob is a pediatric doctor, Liz is a nurse, and they have five wonderful children, two of which were adopted out of the same baby home as Michael. They have been great about answering our adoption and medical questions, and the kids play with and look after Michael so well! We loved watching Michael play with the other kids, not having to cook, being able to swim with Michael for the first time in their pool (which he loved!), and joining their English Bible study and Sunday School. We all had a wonderfully refreshing weekend.
This month we finally received from the Ministry of Social Welfare our copy of the undertaking, the incredibly important document that says we have custody of Michael. Our regional and district social workers also came for a home study. We had expected them in the morning, but they ended up arriving in the evening. Thankfully, Michael had taken a great nap that day and was in a wonderful mood. He was so charming, and they said they would definitely write a positive report about our family. Yay!
However, the meeting with our lawyer in Mwanza didn’t go as hoped. We were apparently naively optimistic about our chances of bringing Michael to the U.S. to meet the rest of his family this summer. We’ve learned that the next steps—two court dates, adoption petition, adoption order, adoption certificate, Tanzanian passport and U.S. visitor’s visa—will likely take many months. Our case will be brought to the high court in Shinyanga, which is a relatively new court and has never had an adoption case. Our lawyer, who has completed dozens of adoption cases, will be traveling from Mwanza to represent us. We were told that it might be easier to get a court date in Shinyanga than in Mwanza. In Mwanza the courts are so overloaded that it takes three to six months to get a court date. We pray that the process moves more quickly in Shinyanga. All the same, it looks like the earliest we would be able to bring Michael to the U.S. is September. Learning about the lengthy process and adjusting our expectations was pretty discouraging, but we trust that God will continue to see us through this adoption rollercoaster.
Michael has now been with us for five months, and he makes us smile and laugh every day. Michael and Linda took one week off of homeschooling, but they have otherwise enjoyed Butterfly Week, Cloud Week and now Dog Week. He has also become a lot more comfortable with dogs this month, petting our neighbors’ dogs and playing with the puppies at school. He loves to spin, play at the playground, throw and kick balls and complete naps on his mama’s legs. You can find more adorable pictures and videos on our Facebook and YouTube pages.
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 their blog, where you can also find photos, videos and make donations.