16 December 2013

another step closer to tanzania!

You know how time flies when you're having fun? Well folks, our ten-week Orientation Program in Ossining, NY with Maryknoll Lay Missioners has come to an end. And it sure flew by!

there are way too many iterations of this weird pic floating around the internet

12 December 2013

wrapping it up in new york.

As Christmas day approaches, Michael and I find our lives (and our program here at Maryknoll) gradually slowing down. Which is nice. The last nine weeks have been a blur, leaving both of us feeling slightly similar to chickens with their heads cut off. (Not a great mental image.)

what usually happens as a result of our running...

09 December 2013

let's talk about feelings for a moment.

In Ashley's last blog post, she began with "folks, it's official" in reference to buying our plane tickets to Tanzania. Woohoo!

qatar airways…flying us from chicago to doha, and doha to nairobi

05 December 2013

we're leaving on a jet plane - soon!

Folks, it's official! Michael and I have purchased one-way tickets from Chicago, Illinois to Mwanza, Tanzania, leaving on January 3rd! We can't believe we are less than one month away from departing the U.S. of A.

look, we all have something to be proud of!

02 December 2013

good day, dorothy!

One of the benefits of living on the Maryknoll campus is easy access to multiple libraries - the Fathers and Brothers have a library, the Sisters have a library, and the Lay Missioners have a library. Books are everywhere!

come on people - read a book!

Well, I just finished reading All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day by Jim Forest, and found it really fascinating. So I decided to blog about it.

27 November 2013

consumerism and giving thanks.

We all get the warm fuzzies around Thanksgiving and Christmas, particularly when we think about the things for which we are thankful. But as with all good things, there's always a flip side. With Thanksgiving, it comes almost immediately afterward…


no thank you.

25 November 2013

wait, you live with priests and nuns?

Just to recap, Ashley and I are living on the Maryknoll campus in Ossining, NY for ten weeks of orientation in preparation for becoming Maryknoll Lay Missioners and moving to Tanzania. 

seminary building on the campus of the maryknoll fathers and brothers

21 November 2013

pre-thanksgiving gratitude.

Here in Ossining, New York, the colored leaves have all fallen off of the trees, the sun sets by 4:32PM, and it is a brisk 37 degrees outside, which can only mean one thing…

It's almost Thanksgiving! Yippee skippee!


18 November 2013

what are you leen's about?

Ashley and I had a conversation the other day about values. And it was fun!

We asked ourselves, "Do our family and friends know what we're about? Are the values we espouse evidenced by the way we live our life, or would we have to verbally articulate them for anyone to know?"

13 November 2013

the photos of autumn…and a little winter too.

Ashley and I decided it's about time we share more photos of our life to balance out the myriad of other post topics.

So here you go: a sprinkling of photos taken during our first five and a half weeks of orientation with Maryknoll Lay Missioners. Enjoy!

hiking at sal j. prezioso mountain lakes park!

cocoa breaking my heart!

I love candy. Chocolate, specifically. I'm embarrassed at how child-like I am when any form of chocolate is present in the room. I remind myself a lot of Jerry Seinfeld's bit on how kids feel about candy:

That's why I was completely devastated when I watched this short documentary, produced by the BBC in 2010. Called "The Bitter Truth," it tells the story of where cocoa beans are produced and how they are harvested. Sounds straightforward, right? The unfortunate reality is always more complicated.

11 November 2013

tanzania's teacher.

Ashley and I have been doing quite a bit of reading to prepare us for the transition to life in Tanzania.

The Fate of Africa provided a strong foundation of the continent's history since independence from colonialism.

The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith

07 November 2013

five shocking facts about maternal mortality.

Wah waaaah. Welp, from the title of this post, you have quickly realized that this topic is not a super happy one. And it shouldn't be. It's a serious issue in the world and one which I recently studied for some of my training with Maryknoll. It's always easy to avoid a not-so-fun conversation but don't. Not this time at least.

To begin, my amazing partner, Melissa, helped us to pick this topic by voicing her experience with Half the Sky, a documentary centered on women's issues worldwide, one of which is maternal mortality. We started reading up on the topic through various nonprofits' websites, including Every Mother Counts, as well as the UN's Population Fund. Here are just five of the facts we found that knocked me off my feet:

sadly, so true.

04 November 2013

look for the helpers.

Ashley and I have been without cable or any kind of TV plan for the past 2.5 years, and it's been great. Many people would ask us what we possibly do in our free time without TV. As one dear friend put it, "I think you two just stare into each other's eyes."

31 October 2013

quick update on life!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a short blog post on the randomness of our life. First off, who can believe it's already the last day of October? What the what? Happy Halloween/eating candy/carving pumpkins to all!

the benefit of having your own children at halloween...

28 October 2013

what would you say you do here?

For those keeping track, Ashley and I left our jobs and moved away from Dallas in late September to become Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM) and relocate to Tanzania in East Africa.

But what does that even mean? What will we be doing?

Let us begin with what we will not be doing: proselytizing.

24 October 2013

the o.p. (kind of like the o.c.)

As you have probably noticed, our blog is super fun. And we like to post everything, from our random thoughts on Craigslist to reasons why we're moving to Tanzania. But we realized recently that we haven't given you, our readers, much of a picture of our current life in Ossining, New York, where we are involved in our Orientation Program (affectionately known as the O.P.). You deserve a good description, right? Right!

only one letter off. basically the same idea.

21 October 2013

but here's my number, so call me...craigslist?

In our first blog post, I injected a random comment about the pain and suffering of Craigslist. The time has come to revisit this topic.

Attempting to sell all of our material possessions was a bit of a beat down. It's tough to part with all your stuff, especially in a culture of such extreme consumerism, but actually I remember that I was kind of looking forward to it.

In hindsight, what I was really looking forward to was the sense of liberation from all of our things. What I was not looking forward to - and what I came to downright loathe - was the process of liquidating our belongings. Allow me to elaborate...

14 October 2013

what are you teaching the world?

On the end of our second week at Maryknoll, I'm really feeling like a student again. From studying the psychology of personalities through the Enneagram or attempting once again to get the grammatical rules regarding possessives in Swahili into my brain, I am remembering with awe how I once was able to learn. Without my mind imploding with every new idea. Yikes. Now I know why some of my friends have never left college.

it looks complicated - and it is. 

journeys in space and time...and baking.

My better half recently shed a little insight on why we're doing what we're doing. That is, moving to Africa. Like Ashley said, it's pretty tough to sum up in a few succinct sentences, but I'll attempt to provide some more detail about what led me to this moment in time. I promise that my explanation will be clearly stated in a convoluted web of superfluousness and irrelevant allegories.

10 October 2013

maryknoll? what's that?

As many of you have heard, Michael and I recently left Dallas for our eventual move to Tanzania. You know generally that we're doing nonprofit work. You know it has a Christian/Catholic flavor to it. And you sometimes heard the word, "Maryknoll" when we were discussing our transition and new jobs. But what is Maryknoll? How did it come to be?

07 October 2013

enjoying our mini retirement.

It's been two weeks since we left our jobs and moved away from Dallas, so you may be wondering, what's been going on? Well stop freaking out and I'll tell you.

01 October 2013

no seriously, why are you doing this?

It has been so much more difficult telling family, friends, and co-workers our news (that we are moving to Africa) than I thought it would be. The majority of people have had overwhelmingly amazing responses to it. Most of my favorite interactions have been from people we barely know. The difficulty lies in the questions and reactions that come after the initial announcement by either Michael or myself, consisting of something along the lines of, "Hey, we're leaving our jobs and moving to Africa."

21 September 2013

wait, what are we doing?

Hello, world and welcome to our blog. We are Michael and Ashley Leen. Check out the sweet pic of us below!

thanks to kadie foppiano for making this great pic!

11 September 2013

coming soon!

Be on the lookout for our first post coming September 21st!