Help Leena Learn in Tanzania This Summer

26 05 2017

I’m taking a risk and have partially paid for a study abroad adventure in Tanzania this summer! This class is  one more check off the graduation requirements list for my Master of Divinity Program at Seattle Pacific Seminary. Students in cohorts from my seminary entry year and earlier have a cross-cultural Immersion study abroad class option to fulfill a particular requirement. If you want the travel option you kind of have to jump onboard as they are offered and if it is of interest to you or you need to graduate because our program doesn’t offer trips every summer. 

I technically could wait another year or two and wasn’t sure how I’d afford this trip, but my husband convinced to take a risk (or leap in faith) and apply for the trip because:

 (1) because as mom and congregational child/youth/Christian Education minister when will this kind of opportunity so blatantly present itself? 

And (2) because, he reminded me – Africa in general and Tanzania specifically, was the place that I always said I wanted to travel to learn about and experience the culture. as a child, teen, and before I became a mother. I was shocked I actually forgot how much I desired this opportunity in the past and apparently life has taken me other directions in the past 20 years. 

This Tanzanian travel dream is dusted off and making a comeback now that I’ve turned 40. Our trip is coming up quickly  – July 8-27, 2017 – Would you like to join me and be on my “Leena Learns in Tanzania Support Team“? 

You’re invited to support me through prayer, encouragement and learning with me as I learn in Tanzania via following my blog (you’re reading  it) and/or joining a little Facebook group for trip tidbits and updates that I just created. 

If you’d like to help support me financially with a few dollars or several you can donate via my FundMyTravel.com page or contact me directly for offline donation options. 

I hope you’ll choose to join me on this adventure one way or another!





Grief – Resurrection – Mission: Life as Mom in Grad School

27 03 2017

It is my Spring Break – alas, I have a bit of energy to blast a blog post.

I just read an article from the Presbyterian Outlook magazine regarding the first words Jesus spoke to his grieving  disciples in the first moments they meet him after resurrection. The author emphasized Jesus’ first words to be words of peace and then encouragement to send them back into action with the good news that he is alive, has conquered death, and is God incarnate (God/human) whose mission is to point people back to a genuine life of loving God and loving one another. Having just come out of a very emotionally and physically intense seminary quarter of study this past Tuesday (I was granted an extension on a final paper) and getting ready to start back into studies on Wednesday my soul somehow resonates at a perhaps lesser level in experiencing this cycle of working hard, falling into grief, surprise at resurrection, peace and then having to get myself back on task. Actually I feel this almost every quarter.

It doesn’t seem to be a very healthy cycle, but I’m almost certain it is normal for most graduate school students to have a similar experience we have ten weeks on the quarter system to open ourselves up to a fire hose of information with a requirement to filter what we can to produce deep theological and even new and surprising work. At the start, this doesn’t seem too daunting, but by the end it feels like one of those survivor type reality shows where you’re exhausted trying to get to the end and yet working as a team to hold one another up to accomplish the task together. We all have some type of obstacles trying to take us out through the quarter – finances, family, friendships, negative interactions with professors or struggles to complete the workload, work outside of school, health concerns, and more.

My obstacles this past Winter quarter have been a combination of timing of events:

  • Working through the beginnings of a major transition with our church that began the same week as winter quarter and added hours and emotional strain on church members and myself;
  • My husband’s structural engineering workload going overtime because the weather is getting warmer and people can build;
  • Deadlines or major events occurring at the same time for our daughter’s activities – normally it isn’t an issue to take them to a band/orchestra rehearsal, or an every other week girl scout troop meeting, or a sports practice. The difficulty was that all the concerts, cookie sales, basketball games, softball startup events, gearing up for martial arts testing and things requiring extra effort happened throughout the same three weekend/two week stretch of time – including my school finals week(s).
  • Also, ADHD – predominantly inattentive, is something I’m still learning to identify how my life is affected by this and trying out new strategies of which are and some are not effective and from there working to create new habits. However, it is not an easy feat to re-work forty years of very ingrained coping mechanisms to help my habits become a bit more healthy not only for myself, but my family, those I work with and serve, and those with whom I study.

All of this throws me into a frenzy at the end of each quarter and a type of exhausted grief and panic wondering if I will pass, am I worthy of continuing on for a Master of Divinity, and am I an imposter just thinking I can do this? Then by grace and with encouragement of God, professors, co-workers, family, and others I get the work done and anxiously await my grades and sleep – or stare at a wall – a lot. My grades come through and I pass – sometimes with ‘As’ sometimes with a C – but in my mind, a pass is a pass. I am overwhelmed with relief and peace. A few days later I begin receiving emails from Spring quarter professors with a list of books to quickly acquire and assignments to begin working on and have completed for the first day of class. Break and vacation are flexible terms in the life of a graduate student – we are quickly back on mission an ready to start the cycle all over again. Somehow we make it through. I am a part-time student (approx. 8 credits/quarter towards 120 credits total), in my third year, and still have two or three years of this mission left to go — Wheeeee!








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