- Written by Eric and Linda Funke Eric and Linda Funke
- Created: 05 May 2016 05 May 2016
Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand … ”Isaiah 42:5-6a
For the last three weeks our homeschool themes have been colors. Michael was already showing an interest in colors, but he can now identify eleven different colors and excitedly points out color wherever we go. Michael’s observations have greatly increased our awareness of God’s creation around us, from the yellow flowers high up in the trees to the blue dress of a friend at church to the brown dirt under our feet. As if to punctuate the lessons, Eric spotted this vibrant double rainbow earlier this week. Vibrant—defined by Merriam-Webster as “having or showing great life, activity and energy” or “very bright and strong”— is an apt description of this last month. We are amazed and inspired by the vibrancy of nature and the people around us.
At the beginning of this month, we were concluding our two-week Easter break. For four of those days we journeyed to Mwanza to enjoy some rest and rejuvenation. We had a wonderful time catching up with friends and exploring an expansive hotel playground. We came home with much more energy. Then later in the month, we learned that the founder of Forever Angels, where Michael used to live, was going to be visiting. Since we hadn’t seen her in two and a half years, we decided to make a short trip. This was Michael’s first visit to the baby home since he became part of our family, and he did beautifully. All of the caregivers were so excited to see him! He understandably only wanted to be held by us, but loved getting to spend time on their playground. The trip reiterated that from now on he comes home with us.
Community Health Evangelism
Our diocese’s Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program is continuing to move forward. CHE works best when it is community-owned, so we are thrilled that Bishop Makala appointed Jerry Shauri to be the CHE coordinator for the diocese. This month Linda, Bishop Makala, and Jerry began planning the first course level—Training of Trainers 1—for late June. This training will cost about $1500. Jerry is also following up with the vision seminar participants and trying to determine which three areas will be best for pilot programs. Linda had an informative Skype meeting with another American CHE coordinator, Holly Frietas, who has been writing curriculum for CHE since 2000 and working in Tanzania since 2006. Linda learned that there is a five-week CHE course in Kenya that would be extremely beneficial for Jerry. Transportation, visa, boarding and the course itself will cost about $2,000. If you would like to learn more about CHE, go to www.chenetwork.org, and if you would like to financially support this program, go to www.globallutheranoutreach.com/support-funke.html. We believe in this program and look forward to seeing what God does through it!
The students have now all returned from Easter break and classes are back in full swing. Eric and the assistant headmaster have been talking to phone companies about having internet installed at the school. The library and computer lab are also coming along. All the rooms now have electricity and are painted a friendly yellow. All that’s left now is putting in the ceiling board and air-conditioning. Lord-willing, we will start moving everything in during the June break.
Meanwhile, our headmaster, Rev. Nzelu, is completing his masters degree at Concordia Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. This month we were finally able to get him plane tickets to St. Louis so that he could visit Eric’s parents, Eric’s home church, Chapel of the Cross, and Eric’s previous school, Lutheran High School North. This trip enabled Rev. Nzelu to talk with Chapel of the Cross and Lutheran North leaders about further partnerships, including possibilities for student scholarships, short term volunteer teachers and student exchanges. We look forward to seeing how God continues to strengthen these partnerships.
Last year the first seven deaconesses were consecrated in our diocese. They have been working in their communities caring for the poor, visiting the sick and encouraging the marginalized. However, two from that original class were being trained in a longer English-speaking program in Kenya. This month Stella Matari and Matrida Sanga completed their program and returned to Shinyanga. They were commissioned on April 24, and we were so thankful to be a part of that special day. As a deaconess herself, Linda gave a speech on Deaconess Louise William’s five images of diaconal service. She also presented them with deaconess stoles handmade by Trinity Lutheran in Loveland, Colorado, and letters from her deaconess community in the US. Matrida will be taking over a human care project in the diocese office, and Stella will be starting a food and clothes bank. We pray that God will bless their upcoming ministry.
We are now turning our attention to the next class of deaconess students and have begun planning a deaconess student study tour for June. There are only two dioceses in Tanzania with deaconesses other than ours. The last class visited the deaconess community in Bukoba, and this time we look forward to meeting and visiting the ministries of Tanzanian deaconesses in Arusha. The trip will cost about $1,500. These trips are fantastic opportunities for our students to network with other ministries around the country and to build up a sense of community.
On April 21 we had our first adoption court date. At the last minute, we discovered that our lawyer and two social workers couldn’t be there, but since this was just when they mention our case and schedule the real date, we still went. We are thankful that our friend Abel came with us for moral support. When we arrived, we discovered that our judge wasn’t there either, so we were 0 for 4. Yet everything still seemed to go smoothly, and they still gave us a court date. Praise the Lord! Please pray with us that May 26 goes smoothly and that it is the last court date we need. On Eric’s birthday (April 27) that was his birthday wish. Michael continues to warm our hearts and bring joy to our lives every single day.
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.