- Written by Eric and Linda Funke Eric and Linda Funke
- Created: May 04 2020 May 04 2020
The phrase “life or death situation” definitely seems to fit these days. We know that some of you are already grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19. You are in our hearts and prayers. With the celebration of Holy Week this past month, we also have been thinking much about life and death. We were reminded that because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, he is Lord over both the living and the dead. We don’t know what the future holds, but for as long as we live, we will continue to live to the Lord.
Since all of our partner churches are still meeting online, we are now preparing a video presentation through which we can share more about our last year of ministry in Tanzania and what is happening there now. We will let you all know when that video is available. We are also hoping to arrange a get-together with each church through Zoom or some other platform. We would still love to be able to see and talk with you all.
Living in the Present
We are currently still living with Eric’s parents in St. Louis. This past month we held our own Palm Sunday reenactment and celebrated Easter with window decorations, egg decorating, an Easter egg hunt, our kids’ first Easter baskets, online worship and an Easter feast.
We are continuing to homeschool Michael and Julia. We love their creativity and curiosity as they create plays for us, make art out of many household materials and rejoice over every new Kindle library book. We are adjusting to wearing masks out in public. (Thanks to Karen Eichinger for making us stylish masks!) We are trying to keep a bit of whimsy in our days. For example, Linda became a dinosaur this month, and we have been taking “Dino walks” around the neighborhood. We also made quick social-distanced visits for our nieces’ birthdays and celebrated Eric’s birthday with oatmeal chocolate chip cake. We’ve realized we are in a time of “and”—we are grieving many things and we are grateful for so many things.
Preparing for the Future
We are still trying to figure out what our next chapter will look like. We’ve chosen to move to North Dallas, because there we will be close to family, have the opportunity to interact with a large Tanzanian-American community (and keep practicing our Swahili) and enjoy a warmer environment, which will hopefully alleviate some of Linda’s physical pain. This month we’ve been gathering information about potential elementary schools in the area for our kids.
Eric submitted job applications to five different school districts and a few private schools in North Dallas. He also attended numerous new teacher webinars this past month. One school in Dallas has already expressed interest in him. They put him through two rounds of online interviews and had him present a mock lesson via Zoom. They said they will offer him the job, but that school would require a forty-minute commute each way. Many closer school districts are behind in their hiring and won’t be interviewing until June.
Please pray for wisdom and discernment as we make difficult decisions. This month Linda completed a sixteen-hour video course in preparation for the LMSW exam to become a licensed social worker in Texas. She will continue studying for the four-hour exam, and hopefully testing sites will open again soon. Since her driver’s license expired while we were in Tanzania, she will also need to take a driving test once DMVs reopen!
With the help of Linda’s dad and a realtor friend providing virtual tours, we’ve found a rental house in Richardson. Lord-willing, we will sign the lease and move down to Texas in the next few weeks. We need to sign a lease soon because we found out that we are required to provide proof of residency to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before July 2. If we can’t provide it by then, Michael and Julia’s immigration papers will be canceled, and they will be denied U.S. citizenship. Most of our furniture and belongings are still in Eric’s parents’ basement in St. Louis, so we are now researching moving services. We still aren’t quite sure how this move will work. The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely complicated our repatriation process. We greatly appreciate your prayers.
Also, just as a reminder, we will continue to need financial assistance until we have a steady source of income. We still have living costs, moving costs, and medical costs (including the $760 worth of emergency dental care for Linda this past month). If it is possible for monthly donors to continue their contributions until Eric’s first paycheck in August, we would greatly appreciate it.
News From Tanzania
As of May 1, Tanzania has 480 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 167 recovered and 17 deaths. However, these numbers are not an accurate reflection of the situation. The president of Tanzania, who is up for reelection this year, is arresting or fining any reporters who publish information not cleared by him. Tests are also hard to come by. There is no incentive for people to be tested, because they do not want to be quarantined. Health centers likewise do not want to test people, because if they do, they are required to close until the results come back. Schools remain closed. There are no international flights going in or out of Tanzania at this point. Churches are allowed to hold services, but attendance and giving has understandably dropped. As such, the Lutheran church is struggling to pay its workers. Adding to the problems, Tanzania (and all of East Africa) is also facing flooding and a plague of locusts which are eating up crops. Linda has been working with the diocese to put together an LCMS grant application to cover COVID-19 awareness campaigns and food relief.
Thankfully, our GLO missionaries in Tanzania are still well. Cheryl Kruckemeyer continues to study Swahili with a tutor, learn more about Tanzanian culture, read books and articles about cross-cultural ministry in preparation for her future ministry and go on daily walks around Mwadui. The Gbeanquoi family continues to serve their congregation in Mwanza. They are still severely under-funded, so if you would like to help this beautiful family, please go to www.globallutheranoutreach.com/support-gbeanquoi.html. Please keep these missionaries and all of our dear friends in Tanzania in your prayers.
In September of 2012, Eric Funke, grandson of Bill and Lola Funke, and his wife, Linda, followed God’s call to Tanzania. Eric taught math and science at a secondary school while Linda worked for the Department of Planning and Development. They worked 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.