- Written by Eric and Linda Funke Eric and Linda Funke
- Created: 09 March 2017 09 March 2017
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but with actions and in truth.1 John 3:18
This month we celebrated the life and faith of a dear member of our community. We’ve always called her “Bibi” (grandmother), and she was one of the most consistent members of our church. Even though she was ninety years old and struggled to walk, she made her way to church each Sunday. Early into our time in Mwadui, we would greet her after the service and ask how she was. She would often tell us how her legs were aching. We would express our sympathies and tell her we were praying for her. Then finally one Sunday as we went through our ritual, she asked for a ride, and it hit us, “Her legs were aching! Why didn’t we think of this sooner?!?” We had missed the subtle hints. From that day onward we gave her a ride.
Bibi Janet Makala entered her heavenly home February 12 and is now dancing with Jesus. Memories of her will always remind us that sometimes prayers are not enough in this world. Sometimes we are called to love with action. We give thanks for all the opportunities God has given us and our community to love with actions this past month.
Update on Deaconess Sponsorship
As we mentioned last month, the Diakonia World Federation Conference is coming up in Chicago this summer. Servant-leaders from over 35 countries will gather together to pray, learn and grow in their understanding and implementation of service ministry. This conference provides an amazing continuing education opportunity for our Tanzanian deaconesses, and we would love to send two of them so that they can bring back new ideas and connections for ministry here. We are excited to announce that $2,050 has already been raised! We still need $1,250 to send one and another $3,300 to the send a second. This amount will cover travel expenses, visas, food, lodging and registration fees for the week.
Opening of the New Deaconess House
On Valentine’s Day, we attended the opening of the Nyumba Ya Wadiakonia (Deaconess House), which will be used for a wide variety of ministries. Most immediately it will be used for the Right to Live with Albinism project. Witch doctors believe that the blood and limbs of people with albinism are good luck. The government has a refuge center for children with albinism, but they recently sent all the teens home without any protection, skills or means to support themselves. Therefore, the deaconesses will use the building as a training center for teen girls with albinism, teaching them to make a living through sewing. We donated the money for one sewing machine, and we pray that God may bless this important ministry.
It’s amazing the difference a year can make! A year ago Majid couldn’t walk, and his family didn’t know how they would afford his treatment. Now, thanks to the generous support of many of you, he is walking and is even able to attend school for the first time. His teachers at Agape Lutheran Primary School are working hard to catch him up and even bought a special desk for him that can accommodate his braces. They’ve informed me that they will have to build a special bathroom for him. Most kids use squat toilets, but he cannot use those toilets well, and they fear he will get a bacterial infection. The bathroom will cost $600. The local church has committed to raise $200. Thanks to generous sponsors, we will be able to send the remaining money for the bathroom later this week.
School is back in full swing. Eric has been busy teaching, getting dictionaries checked out to students, subbing for the physics teacher who had to travel for a family funeral and designing an error-proof electronic gradebook for teachers. We are so pleased that the school has asked Sundi to stay on as Eric’s assistant in the computer lab. A group from Mwangaza training center also came to help the teachers continue to improve their teaching techniques. We’ve started movie nights again, which teach the students life lessons and improve their English.
Linda taught a four-lesson course on study skills and answered questions the students wrote to her each week. Two times this month these questions have led to counseling sessions. One student’s cousin was murdered, and another student is struggling with depression because of family trauma. We feel honored when our students choose to trust us with some of their deepest hurts. Please keep these students in your prayers.
Community Health Evangelism— Training of Trainers 2
This week (February 27–March 3) we sponsored and helped organize the next level of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) training. The food, housing and materials cost about $1,350. Thanks to all of you who continue to support us in these kinds of initiatives! While last year’s Training of Trainers 1 (TOT 1) course covered much of the theological basis, foundational principles and structure of community organizing, this week’s TOT 2 course provided much practical application.
First, we were pleased to hear how the training teams in six pilot areas are already starting small CHE-inspired projects in their communities—projects like modeling how to make a dish drying rack so dishes are fully dry and sanitary, teaching children to plant trees, demonstrating how to care for chickens and other animals and demonstrating how to sanitize water using the sun. Then, during the week, the teams learned more education and mentoring principles and gained confidence by taking turns teaching the six community awareness lessons and the nine lessons on how to train the local CHE committee. The lessons were filled with skits, activities, group work and discussion. The training teams left excited about empowering their communities through these Bible-based lessons.
We have settled into life back home. If you are interested in reading more about our transition back and forth between the U.S. and Tanzania, check out Linda’s new blog post “My Double Life” at 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.