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After a very fun but fluid December, January was a welcome opportunity to get back into our normal routine. For Tanzanian students and teachers, January is “Back to School” month, the start of a brand new school year. We have enjoyed getting back to teaching and learning in multiple settings.

Mwadui Lutheran Secondary School

In early January, Eric was promoted to “Assistant Academic Master.” Since then he has been busy organizing the teaching schedule, preparing the grade book files, checking lesson plans and preparing monthly exam schedules. This year he will also continue to chair the Math and Science Department, and he will teach the computer classes for Forms 3–6 (junior level, senior level and the first two years of junior college). He also looks forward to mentoring teachers and helping them integrate technology into their classes. Last week he already had a geography teacher reach out to him about showing examples of volcanoes, so he spent an evening helping with that class.

Linda is teaching her guidance and counseling class again on Fridays. So far she has covered basic study skills, time management, relieving test-taking anxiety and how to move information from short-term memory to long-term memory. We have also started movie nights again for the students. So far they enjoyed reliving a little bit of Christmas with “The Nativity Story” and have been inspired in their studies by the movie “Akeelah and the Bee.”

It is a joy to see the school campus active and growing once again. This month the students and teachers planted new trees around the school, and Julia and Michael were invited to help. They are really excited to watch their trees grow. Thanks to generous donations from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Peoria, Illinois, and Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, the school clinic is once again progressing. Workers have plastered the inside and outside of the buildings and put the bars on all the doors and windows. One day these two buildings will serve as the school’s dispensary and will also minister to the greater community.

The Reeds

This month we made several more trips to Shinyanga to help Amber and Austin Reed get settled in. We were able to help them set up electricity and phone vouchers, show them where to get medical care, show them different markets and stores and help them set language learning goals. We are happy to report that they have already visited all three of their ministry sites, received their driver’s licenses and all their stickers, met all their neighbors and are now officially members at the Ebenezer Lutheran Cathedral in Shinyanga. We are amazed at all they have been able to accomplish in the three weeks since they moved into their house.

For Thrivent Members

Last week during a GLO missionary online meeting, we learned about new ways that Thrivent members can partner with our ministry. We wanted to pass them along to any of you who may be Thrivent members. One way is to direct your Thrivent Choice dollars to our ministry. To do this, first let Thrivent know that you want to direct your Choice Dollars to “Global Lutheran Outreach.” Then contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let them know the dollars are intended for us. Also, if you want to organize a fundraiser for our ministry but need help with overhead costs, Thrivent members can apply for an "Action Team Grant" and receive $250 in seed money to help underwrite a one-time fundraiser, service activity or educational event. For more information, go to GlobalLutheranOutreach.com/thriventactionteams.html.

Home Life

Our home life has had its share of challenges lately—bug bites, raw sewage in the backyard thanks to a pipe bursting twice and a full week where the electricity was out for thirteen to twenty hours a day. In spite of the challenges, we have enjoyed getting back into our routine. The English Bible study that Linda facilitates started back up. Linda also started homeschooling our kids again. Each week she and the kids have a letter of the week and read books, sing songs, learn a Bible verse, eat snacks and do activities relating to that letter. For example, during “A” week they pretended to be astronauts and acrobats. During “B” week, they made binoculars for bird-watching and pretended to be in a ballet. You can find more pictures of our “Letter of the Week” activities at www.facebook.com/AFunkeTimeInTanzania.

Life Lessons From Our Kids

Often we find that our children are also our teachers. For example, one morning this month it was raining hard enough that we couldn’t go to the playground as we had planned. Michael surprised and amazed us when he said, “I am angry about the playground. I should pray. Dear Jesus, please make me happy.” I am learning from his example to reach to Jesus when I’m having tough emotions. Our kids also regularly teach us about generosity, such as giving out some of their cars to kids who don’t have any. They teach us about advocacy as they sometimes stand up for each other. They naturally teach us patience as they examine every branch, bug and flower on our walks. They inspire us with their enthusiasm for life and for connecting with others, whether it is running up to greet the school driver, holding hands with friends on their way to church or shouting for joy when a friend is coming over for dinner. We know we will continue to learn from them for the rest of our lives.

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.