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!

We have been married for three years and best friends for eight. Up until now, we each had separate blogs. oh darling, really! really. These will continue to operate with varying levels of posting frequency.

But now, we have a joint blog! After all, we share our home, our food, our bathroom, our mouthwash, our chocolate chip banana bread, and heck, our bed, so sharing a blog only makes sense.

Oh, and we are moving to Tanzania.

Wait, what are we doing?

Okay, here's the dealio folks. As much as the word "missioner" throws us, that's what we are now: Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM). "Maryknoll" is a name shared by three organizations in the Catholic Church dedicated to overseas mission work: The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, The Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Lay Missioners. "Lay" refers to ordinary folks like us, meaning not part of the clergy. "Missioners" basically just means someone sent on a mission.

Let's just get this out of the way right now: we are not going to Tanzania to convert people to Christianity or Catholicism.

So why are we going to Tanzania and what on earth will we be doing there? Hang on, we'll get there in a later post. For now, let's focus on logistics.

Point is today, we move away from Dallas, Texas - our home of four or five years depending upon who you ask - and embark on our next adventure. We leave behind some really amazing friends and an inordinate amount of really-unhealthy-but-super-delicious-going-to-miss-you food. Dallas was our first home as a married couple, and that's a special thing and a memory we will carry with us.

Let's take a moment to interject a random comment here: selling all your stuff isn't easy and you won't get back nearly as much as you paid. We have delved deep into the grimy labyrinth of Craigslist, which is akin to saying we have gone to hell and back. Plus we hosted apartment sales for a couple days and tried to pawn stuff off on family, friends and coworkers. In the end, donating a bunch of our stuff was probably a better move anyway.

So, as we were saying, today we move away from Dallas, Texas with the ultimate destination of Mwanza, Tanzania sometime around New Year's. In between, we'll spend a couple weeks visiting family in the Midwest and ten weeks in Ossining, New York for orientation at Maryknoll.

Basically, we are not going to have a "home" in the classical sense - you know, four walls and a picket fence or something uninspiring like that - until probably late Spring or early Summer 2014. Thus, we must revisit our definition of home.

But not much needs to be revisited, because to be home is to be with each other. Heck, the below print has hung on our wall for some time now.

amazing print that ashley got us for our two-year wedding anniversary

At the core of our blog is the idea of embracing the unknown road ahead with a spirit of adventure and faith in God. Home is to be with one another living out the life we feel called to live, so that's what we are doing.

One of the various packets of mail we received from MKLM included the below prayer. It sat on our kitchen counter every day until we moved, and it moves with us. This prayer was written by a previous lay missioner, and it is beautiful.

A Lay Missioner's Prayer

Go forth in peace
Don't fear the darkness,
Your life and ours
Are on in the Lord.
Though you don't know this road
He walks before you
And waits ahead with open arms
To welcome you.
So lift your eyes
Set down your burden
Make your step light
And greet this day with joy.

When we are weary
And cannot face the morning
He carries us safely
Within his loving arms.
Wherever we go now
We're never alone.
Wherever we go now
We're only going home.

Vicki Armour-Hileman
Served as a Lay Missioner in Thailand

And so our physical journey to "quintessential Africa" begins, though our heartfelt journey began long ago. Keep checking in with this blog to keep checking in with us. Your prayers are always appreciated. L'chaim!


  1. Look forward to your soon visit to the Midwest and sharing a toast with you both.
    Inspired and Proud, Uncle Scott
    ps. Thanks for A Lay Missioner's Prayer. Printed and on my case at Loring Station.

    1. Thank you so much, Uncle Scott! We would love to see you soon. And we're so glad to hear the prayer will travel with you every day as it will travel with us.


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