16 January 2017

remembering our year 2016.

I know what you're thinking. "Did those Leen's actually make it to 2017 in Tanzania?" Amazingly, the answer is, "Yes, we did!" And like years before, it's time to summarize what made this past year super awesome and super not-awesome, in some cases.

The end of 2016 is a tiny bittersweet for us. As many of you know, in May 2017, we will head out on a jet plane for our homeland of the United States. Although we are excited about the many changes life will bring, we're particularly aware of and grateful for the amazing opportunities and adventures we've had as a result of being Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Tanzania. Saying "It's been a wild ride!" doesn't begin to sum it up so we'll let the photographs below do the talking for us.

Oh, and if you want to relive the entire Tanzanian saga, be sure to check out ROY 2015 and ROY 2014, just for the fun of it.

Michael's Work

For the third year in a row, Michael called Education for Better Living Organization (EBLI) his home away from home in Mwanza. He spent time doing the work he enjoys most, which is teaching business and entrepreneurial skills to young Tanzanian women. In addition, visiting the young entrepreneurs and their families at home and at work, continuing their education even after they leave the classroom, was a highlight of the year. EBLI was also proud to welcome another Friends Across Borders trip in August and naturally, the work the organization does did not fail to impress.

Ashley's Work

Ashley continued to lead the LULU Project onwards and upwards, welcoming hundreds of new members into the fold via the various clubs spread across the city of Mwanza. She was also proud to assist 52 young women graduate from the program in celebrations held in June and December. Highlights of the year included accompanying LULU members and facilitators as they become strong women in their communitiesvisiting club meetings, where she was asked any number of questions about farming techniques in the United States, and more seriously, watching LULU facilitators grow immensely in confidence and skills.

Our Travels

After two years of traveling exclusively in Tanzania, we decided 2016 was the time to venture out into more of the great African continent. We were not disappointed. We began with a truly jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring trip to Namibia, hands down one of the coolest places we have ever been. Of course, we've got hometown pride for Tanzania but if you find yourself thinking about traveling to Africa, it would be an epic shame to miss Namibia. Later in the year, we journeyed to South Africa for some medical treatment and a little R&R, taking in the luxuries that Johannesburg had to offer. We were thrilled to play the host to Ashley's family in July, showing them the sights and sounds of a classic safari in Tanzania. And before the end of the year, we were able to squeeze in a medical visit to Nairobi, Kenya and a babymoon to a beach spot on Lake Tanganyika.

Not Fun Stuff

Of course, if you have been reading our blog, you know that life in Mwanza is not always a bed of roses. Snakes continued to be a presence in our lives (am I sensing a theme here?) and rain, poor construction, and corruption reminded us that we live in an urban slum. Looks like it's time to invest in a pair of galoshes.

Middle-of-the-Road Stuff

For us non-dog lovers, dogs took up an insane amount of our time in 2016. We said good-bye to our trusty first dog, Noli, and welcomed Rummy into the yard to join Whisky in defending our humble abode. Fortunately for them (and not so fortunately for us), Rummy and Whisky went on to become really good friends and gave us a litter of six puppies in August. Let me tell you, if you want good training for becoming a new parent, there's nothing better than 'round the clock feedings to six hungry puppies!

Fun Stuff

And there's always a lot o' good stuff to be reminded of! Our biggest announcement, of course, was our decision to move back to the States and welcome a little Leen into the fold in 2017! Despite this happy news about the future, we stayed grounded in our lives in Mabatini, spending time with our Tanzanian neighbors and fellow missioners, and reflecting on what life has been like living to the extreme.

Oh, and no ROY is complete without some commentary on Michael's ever-inspiring hairstyles. After a long year of growing this formidable beard, he returned to his clean-shaven, dapper self in July. Tanzanian friends and acquaintances still don't recognize him.

What about you, faithful reader? What did your ROY look like? At the very least, we wish you less snakes, lots of fun travels, and many Michael-inspired hair decisions in your coming year! We are excited to see what 2017 will bring us and we thank you for being a part of it!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Thanks for posting and letting us take a glimpse of your adventures. :) praying for a safe and happy delivery of little leen 2017!


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