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“Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, am first, and will be with the last.Isaiah 41:4

This month has been absolutely full of endings and beginnings. Truthfully, it has been one of the hardest months physically and emotionally that we have experienced during our entire time in Tanzania. However, God has provided numerous reminders of His presence, such as a stunning rainbow ten days before we left Mwadui and notes of encouragement from many of you.

While our time of living and serving in Mwadui is ending, we are just beginning the next phase of our journey—visiting all of you! We will arrive in St. Louis on March 6. We will be at Saint John’s on May 17. Our last newsletter will be sent out in August after we attend a missionary debriefing in July and after Eric goes on the payroll of a new school. We will continue to keep you informed with updates from Tanzania and about our family’s transition until then.

Our last big fundraising project is also just beginning. As we shared last month, over the past seven years Mwadui Lutheran Secondary School has moved away from harsh corporal punishment and shaming of students, recognizing that teachers need to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in their interactions with students. They want to share this idea with other Lutheran schools throughout the diocese. However, school cultures are difficult to change, especially when teacher retention is low across Tanzania and almost all schools in Tanzania beat students. Thus, the diocese wants to start a three-year initiative to train up Lutheran teachers in how to use alternative forms of discipline and how to develop the fruit of the Spirit in the classroom. This program will cost $9,000 and will be our legacy project. We hope to have the money raised by August. If you would like to read more about this project or make a secure online donation, please go to Checks can be made out to “Global Lutheran Outreach” with “Safe Schools Initiative” in the memo line, and mailed to Global Lutheran Outreach, 6709 Ficus Dr., Miramar, FL 33023. Thank you for your help in advocating for students and joy-filled, Christ-center learning in Tanzania!

At the beginning of the month, we joyfully welcomed Sarah Kanoy and Rev. Jonathan Clausing, LCMS missionaries serving in Moshi, as well as their colleague Miriam Kimath. Sarah and Miriam have started a Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program in Moshi, and therefore met with our CHE team to exchange ideas and discuss possibilities for partnership. It was such an encouraging and helpful meeting! They also visited the Makala Bible Training Center and our new clinic at school. We are excited about the possibilities for future partnership. After saying goodbye to our guests, we made a three-day trip to Mwanza to meet with a representative from the U.S. embassy, to explore more of Julia’s history and to run errands.

Unfortunately, the very next week all four of us came down with the flu. All of us experienced coughing, runny nose, sore throat and fatigue. Eric, Michael, and Julia also had extremely high fevers. Our lowest moment was when Eric’s fever spiked to 104 degrees and less than an hour later Michael vomited from coughing so hard. Unfortunately, with so little time left in Tanzania and our yard sale coming up, we had to push through a lot of illness. Thankfully, the fevers broke in time for the yard sale at a friend’s house in Mwanza on February 15.

That Saturday we also welcomed Pastor David and Diane Bahn, Leroy and Martha Warnasch and Carl Benton from St. John in Cypress, Texas. The team greatly blessed our lives and the lives of this community. They brought requested items such as a boot and compression vest for Baraka, Alcoholics Anonymous books in Swahili for the diocese, soccer balls for the schools, a computer for the new school and other items for various missionaries. Pastor Bahn gave a well-received sermon on Sunday. They also encouraged the staff at our school and participated in the grand opening of Mwanza Lutheran Secondary School. Wednesday and Thursday, while they enjoyed the beauty of the Serengeti, we underwent pre-move physicals, during which Linda was diagnosed with a bacterial chest infection. We also took our kids to the Sukuma museum and sold more items. Finally, on Friday the team helped us begin our move by taking five suitcases back to the U.S. for us. We are so grateful that they came out to see us and to celebrate with us.

Our Last Week in Tanzania

Our last week in Tanzania included Julia’s fifth birthday party, Linda finishing her guidance and counseling curriculum and holding a training on it, Linda leading a last Bible study and last CHE meeting, Eric doing last updates on the school computers and Linda surviving a bad reaction to medication. We also attended a farewell party at our school and a farewell celebration at our church, packed eight suitcases and five carry-ons, sorted through and cleaned out our house and pulled together lots of little details in our ministry.

We will share more in the coming months about how God has been at work in those details. For now, we are filled with sadness as we leave beloved people, with gratitude for all God has done in our lives here, and with hope for all that God is beginning in these coming months.

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, where you can also find photos and videos and make donations.