- Written by Eric and Linda Funke Eric and Linda Funke
- Created: 01 February 2019 01 February 2019
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6–7
Philippians 4:6 is among the most commonly memorized verses in the Bible, and yet it can also be so easily forgotten in the heat of the moment. We wish we could say that in this month of transition we have not been anxious. However, when Linda got sick two weeks before departure, and when our Tanzanian work permits still hadn’t arrived five days before departure, and when we were snowed in four days before departure, and when we discovered Linda’s new eyeglasses had the wrong lenses two days before departure, and when we discovered that there was a significant error in our I-600A homestudy, and when Linda’s last medical supplement still hadn’t arrived the morning of departure, we must confess that we felt anxious.
However, it all worked out. Linda’s body healed. Our Tanzanian work permits arrived on January 11 and our resident permit receipts arrived the day of departure, so we didn’t have any problems reentering Tanzania. The snow cleared and we were able to continue our errands. We received a full refund on the glasses with the wrong lenses and were able to find a place to make Linda new glasses within an hour. Our adoption agency helped us send in the form to correct the error on our home study. Linda’s last supplement arrived fifteen minutes before we headed to the airport. Whew!
This month of transition has definitely had its stressful moments. This year will also be a time of transition for us. There is much we don’t know about the future right now. However, with Philippians 4:6–7 as our guide, we are prayerful and thankful. We trust that the God who saw us through this past month will also see us and our ministry through the upcoming transitions.
After much thought and prayer, we have decided to move back to the United States in early 2020. For those who were able to attend one of our presentations or read our Christmas letter, this is not new news (you can still find our presentation at YouTube.com/EricFunkeGLO and our Christmas letter at GlobalLutheranOutreach.com/blog/funke/newsletters to get the full story.
As you all know, we have begun the process to get U.S. citizenship for our children. Once our children receive immigration visas, we have to return to the U.S. to pursue their certificates of citizenship. We have heard that it is easier to get those certificates if the family actually intends to reside in the U.S. This move will also allow Linda to have better access to healthcare for her Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, will enable our kids to settle into a school in first grade and kindergarten and will give all four of us the opportunity to spend more time with our extended families.
We therefore plan to dedicate this next year to teaching Tanzanians how to take over various aspects of our ministries, and we are praying that God will provide new missionaries to live in our house and work at our school (in any capacity—teacher, nurse, chaplain, social worker, DCE, deaconess, IT person, etc.). We have prepared a one-page description of this opportunity that you can access and download at GlobalLutheranOutreach.com/blog/funke/newsletters. Please help us spread the word about this opportunity and connect us with anyone who might be interested in working at our school. We would love to have any potential future missionaries come out to visit us in early 2019.
Our Last Two Weeks in the U.S.
In spite of the stress of travel preparations, our last few weeks in the U.S. also contained some precious moments. We started off the new year by making pfeffernusse cookies and watching the Rose Parade. On January 5, we went to see Anastasia at the Fox Theater while Brian and Alison babysat our kids (our Christmas gift from them). We were able to catch up with more friends by phone and in person including Alyssa and Justin (Michael’s godfather). Michael and Julia got in one last snow day with their grandparents, and we had one last pizza night with family. We are also so thankful to Diane Timm, Kimberly Patterson and Eric’s parents for entertaining our kids while we ran many errands in our last week. The past four months have felt like a whirlwind of activity, but as we look back at the pictures, we are so grateful we were able to reconnect and make memories with so many people.
The Journey Back to Tanzania
The journey back to Tanzania felt extremely long and difficult (twenty-plus hours in the air, and nineteen-plus hours in airports), but there were some nice moments along the way. Many people smiled and commented on how cute Michael and Julia were “driving” our four-wheel carry-on bags through the airport. A TSA agent at the St. Louis airport gave Michael and Julia a sticker badge and gloves and let them pretend to give her a shot. Our kids greatly enjoyed the children’s science museum in the Amsterdam airport. When Julia heard a pianist playing Disney classics on the grand piano in the Amsterdam airport, she started dancing, and when she had finished, fellow travelers around us started clapping. These are the memories we want to hold onto from that trip.
When we finally arrived in Mwanza, four checked bags and Michael’s car seat were missing. We then spent the night catching up on sleep at a hotel in Mwanza and awoke to a beautiful view. Thankfully, our lost luggage arrived the next day. We are so grateful to Bishop and Lilian Makala for picking us up from the hotel, taking us to retrieve our bags from the airport and driving us back to Mwadui. Our neighbors warmly welcomed us home.
Back Home in Mwadui
For the past two weeks we have been catching up with friends, unpacking, recovering from jetlag and starting to settle back into our rhythm. This year Eric is continuing in his role as Assistant Academic Master and will be teaching math for Form One and computers for Forms Four through Six. We returned with eight more donated laptops for the school’s computer lab. Linda is once again homeschooling our kids, teaching her guidance and counseling class at the secondary school and mentoring DCE intern Amber Reed and Tanzanian deaconess students. We were thrilled to see the growth at the Lutheran daycare center Amber helped to start. They are now up to twenty children! At the request of Bishop Makala, we also sponsored a deaconess study tour to Haydom Lutheran Hospital in the Arusha this past week (more on that in our next newsletter). It is a joy to be back, and we are excited for the work ahead.
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.