- Written by Eric and Linda Funke Eric and Linda Funke
- Created: 03 August 2017 03 August 2017
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.Revelation 21:3–4
If we were to describe this month in a word, that word would be “intense.” We have experienced great joy—welcoming our friends back from Diakonia, hearing their stories, receiving more computers for the school’s lab, supporting teen girls through the Huru program, learning that the laboratory in Mwanza is now fully funded thanks to St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas, receiving our approval-to-adopt letter, finally meeting our daughter and getting the next round of paperwork for her in record time! So much joy!
At the same time, all three of us have also experienced bouts of illness and have spent most of the month on one medication or another. We have struggled with setbacks in obtaining Eric’s resident permit renewal and setbacks in the CHE program. We had some really scary moments when two of our students were bitten by snakes this week, but by God’s grace they should recover. Finally, we experienced the joy of meeting our friend Omary’s precious baby boy Joshua, only to grieve Joshua's passing three weeks later. Through it all, we cling to the promise that illness, pain, and separation are only temporary. Someday God will wipe away every tear of sadness from our eyes, and all that will remain are tears of joy. In the meantime, we are grateful for the moments of joy and pray that we can continue to bring Christ’s message of hope and love to a weary world.
Our Daughter— Julia Karena Funke
Thank you all who have been praying for our adoption journey this past month! On July 14 we finally received our letter of approval for a second adoption. Then, on July 17, we headed to Forever Angels in Mwanza to meet the two little girls that were eligible. Over the course of two prayerful days, it became increasingly clear that we were falling in love with Julia and that she is exactly right for our family.
The name Julia is a variation on the multiple names she has had in her short life. Two reasons we love the name are that it is a Biblical name, like Michael’s (Romans 16:15), and because julia is a type of butterfly. With some of the pain she has already experienced in the past few years, we love the butterfly’s imagery of new life. Her middle name, Karena (pronounced ka-REH-na, with a short “e”), was chosen in honor of the many amazing Karens in our lives, especially Linda’s sister and Eric’s mother.
Julia is about 2.5 years old and only recently became eligible for adoption. She is kind, generous, clever, curious and spunky. She has such a wonderful, courageous spirit, and every time we visit we find new aspects of her that we love. We are so thrilled that she will soon join our family! Visit our Facebook page to see an adorable video of Michael and Julia. We hope and pray that the rest of the paperwork will go smoothly and that we will be able to bring her home by early September.
On July 9, Omary, his fiancée Zawadi and two-month-old son Joshua came to our house for a visit. We were so delighted to finally meet baby Joshua, for whom we had been praying since we first learned of the pregnancy in September. Only three weeks after that visit, we learned that Joshua was in the hospital with pneumonia. Late on the night of July 29, Joshua was baptized. Only five hours later, Joshua entered his heavenly home. We were in Mwanza at the time, but immediately changed all of our plans in order to return to grieve with our community. The next day, we and several of our neighbors journeyed to Tinde to spend the day with Omary, his mother, his grandmother, Zawadi, her mother and several family friends. Please keep Omary, Zawadi, and their families in prayer as they grieve.
DIAKONIA World Federation Conference
Early this month we joyfully welcomed back Bishop Makala, Matrida Sanga and Grace Mutabuzi from the DIAKONIA World Assembly in Chicago, Illinois. When we met with them, they were bursting with stories about new friends, new experiences and new ideas for ministry here in Tanzania. The conference schedule had included daily times of worship with the 400+ representatives from 28 countries, Bible studies led by various Bible scholars, plenary speakers engaging with each day’s themes and group discussion. They also participated in workshops on “Demystifying Grantmaking” and “Partnerships Among People and Deacon/Deaconess Communities” and deepened their spiritual walk with electives like “The Dancing Church” and “Coloring Prayer.” They also had time to take in some of the sights of Chicago, including their first fireworks show. They returned with a long list of dreams for the future, including joining Diakonia World Federation, holding a day of prayer for the work of Diakonia, strengthening their deaconess community through yearly meetings, diversifying the education of deaconesses, opening a rehabilitation center for people with physical and mental health struggles and teaching project management.
Thank you again to all who helped make this opportunity possible! A special thanks to Claire Schoepp for helping make arrangements for them, to the Byerly family for hosting them the first and last night, and to Dieter and Diane Schulte for driving them around. We praise God for all that has come out of their time in the U.S. and will continue to come out of it in the future. Please visit our Facebook page to see more pictures or read more stories of their adventures.
On July 15, Linda had the joy of assisting our friend Taylor German and her counterpart Leah with the Peace Corps’ Huru Project at our school. Over the course of the very full day, they led the Form 2–4 girls in activities about self-esteem, self-awareness, gender, puberty, risky behaviors and how to be assertive. At the end, each girl received a kit with reusable menstrual pads so they will never have to miss a class due to menstruation. If you would like to see more pictures from this inspiring day or learn more about Huru, please visit our Facebook page. What a joy it was to take part in this amazing program!
We thank God that the joys outnumber the sorrows, and that even in the hardest times we find comfort in God’s promises and in community near and far. Thank you all for being part of that prayerful community.
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.