- Written by Eric and Linda Funke Eric and Linda Funke
- Created: April 06 2020 April 06 2020
For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.Psalm 63:7–8
We knew March would be a month of great change for us. We had no idea that it would be a month of great change for all of you as well. In this time of waiting and prayer, we are taking joy in simple pleasures—blowing bubbles, listening to music, talking to friends by phone and laughing with our children. As we all adapt to many changes in our lives and in our world, may we cling to God’s love, which is our constant.
On March 4, we flew from Mwanza to Nairobi to Doha to Dallas. The only snag in our trip was in Nairobi, when we learned that Qatar Airways only allows one free extra piece per child. We had two car seats and a double stroller. Thankfully, we found someone willing to wrap our two car seats together with plastic wrap so that they became one piece, and our journey continued. The trip felt surreal with so many people wearing face masks, and it was a bit unnerving when the person sitting directly in front of Linda, Michael and Julia coughed for the entire sixteen-hour flight from Doha to Dallas. By God’s grace, we had no problems getting through immigration in Dallas. Our children’s green cards will be mailed to us, and their Certificates of U.S. Citizenship should follow after that.
On March 5, we had an overnight layover in Dallas, surprising Linda’s dad at his birthday dinner. He had no idea we were coming! Then on March 6, we flew from Dallas to St. Louis. On March 7 we enjoyed a belated fifth birthday party for Julia with our Funke family in St. Louis.
The following week COVID-19 began to “burst our bubbles,” so to speak. Our original plan was to stay a week and a half in St. Louis and then travel to Texas for presentations. However, shortly after our arrival in St. Louis, Linda became sick with a headache, sore throat, cough and fatigue. Long story short, after eighteen stressful days, antibiotics and a chest x-ray, she was finally eligible to be tested for COVID-19. Her test came back negative, so she was diagnosed with plain old viral bronchitis. Thankfully, she is now well on her way to a full recovery.
Given that most churches cannot meet in person right now, we have postponed all of our presentations for March and April. We will revisit our May schedule in the coming weeks, and we will let you know our new travel schedule as soon as we can. Truthfully, this pandemic has made an already-difficult reentry process even harder. If you would like to learn more about why reentry is hard for missionaries, and how you can support us during this time, go to team.org/blog/serve-missionaries-coming-home. We are so sad that we are not able to see you all right now, but we are also glad to do our part to help “flatten the curve,” to give our medical personnel a chance to respond and to protect those who are most vulnerable to this illness. We are in this together, and you are all in our prayers.
We are still staying with Eric’s parents in St. Louis. Linda spent much of the last few weeks healing, “mom”-ing and supporting friends in Tanzania long-distance. Eric has been homeschooling our kids, sending out job applications and making small repairs on the minivan that his brother’s family generously gave us. Our kids—and we—are struggling with homesickness, and many of their “when we get to the U.S.” dreams are currently on hold. Therefore, we are also trying to give Michael and Julia some good memories from this time of social distancing, including playing games, making homemade ice cream and s’mores, building Lego creations, reading new Elephant & Piggie books, building obstacle courses and chairs out of spare wood and swinging on the tire swing.
How COVID-19 is Affecting Tanzania
As of April 3, Tanzania has twenty confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has one death due to COVID-19. So far, all the confirmed cases have been centered around Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar, and Arusha. The Tanzanian government has closed all schools and canceled all sports and political rallies until at least April 18. Religious services are still permitted at this point. The U.S. Embassy has evacuated all but two of its personnel. Only one airline is now making international flights out of Tanzania. Many of our American friends in Tanzania have evacuated, and others are preparing for a period of isolation in Tanzania. Please join us in praying that COVID-19 does not spread in Tanzania.
Good News from Tanzania
Cheryl Kruckemeyer, the new GLO missionary to Mwadui, completed almost eight weeks of Swahili language school. On March 27, the school driver and Loyce, a teacher from Mwadui, brought her from Iringa to Mwadui by car. Cheryl is now settling into her new home, practicing social distancing and studying Swahili with Loyce’s help. Please keep her in prayer as this is sure to be an especially lonely time for her. If you would like to send her a note of encouragement, you can check out her “Tales of Tanzania” Facebook page.
GLO missionaries Dixon and Christiana Gbeanquoi and big sister Milcah celebrated the birth of baby Uri on February 9. Dixon is still serving his congregation in Mwanza, Tanzania via a WhatsApp group and in person. Because Nigeria and Liberia have closed borders, they are separated from their families there. Unfortunately, the Gbeanquois’ funding is currently very low. If your income has not been affected by this crisis, please consider supporting this beautiful family in need. Go to www.globallutheranoutreach.com/blog/Gbeanquoi and press the "Give" button to help.
We were thrilled to hear from “Team Baraka” that they have been able to use the money we left to continue Baraka’s physical therapy treatment for his legs. Also, workers were able to finish the floors and plastering on the home for vulnerable children before Mwadui town became closed to guest workers. Linda is currently working long-distance with the Community Health Evangelism team to start a COVID-19 awareness campaign. They will likewise teach the communities how to make “tippy-taps,” which will allow Tanzanians with minimal water to wash their hands more regularly. We are grateful to be able to continue to support these fantastic ministries from a distance.
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.