When we first started our life in Africa, I had much to learn. My credentials for life in the Third World were not incredibly long.
My husband landed here ready to go. His Eagle Scout-years of camping-mountain climbing- survival training Self was prepared and SO VERY thrilled to tackle life in difficult conditions.
My list of credentials started as: Loves God. Willing to Learn.
After a crushing case of salmonella and parasites that we could not seem to get rid of , and dealing with the Kenyan public transport system on a daily basis-- my list of credentials dwindled to : Still loves God.
By some miracle...that list proved to be enough in God's hands. And I did begin to learn how to survive on this continent.
One of the first skills to master here was laundry. Of course, I had done laundry before. In machines-- already attached to water and power-- that worked when you pushed the buttons.
My first laundry facilities here were two basins, a jerry can and a clothes line. I constantly thought of Granny, Mam-ma and every Little House on the Prairie episode I ever saw, as I tried to make my laundry attempts efficient and effective. Besides the fact that I began to despise bluejeans (ever tried to wring out a pair--ugh!) I found the laundry task difficult and trying.
God helped me along...as did Nerea, Peter and Rebecca...precious souls who scrubbed, twisted, wrung and hung our clothes through those early years.
With the birth of our first child, came a new dimension to laundry. Pampers and Huggies were not available here yet, so we were left to cloth diapers. And our laundry woes increased.
It was at this time that we purchased a wonderful piece of equipment that our Ugandan friends referred to as "The Machine".
It is a Maytag and it was old 7 years ago. We recently traced its history, and discovered that it has been serving Africa missionaries for over 35 years. That's a long time for a machine to work in Africa.
The Machine has been through alot, washed so very many clothes and even housed the wayward rat on occasion. It has plugged along in its duties all these years and though it sounds like a jet engine taking off when it is in the spin cycle...it has made our clothes clean.
Several months ago, The Machine, began to make a different kind of noise. A noise accompanied by a strange burning smell....and, well, a smidgen of smoke.
I prayed over The Machine. Asked God to give it just a little more life. But, sometimes, the answer is no. The Machine has stopped spinning and though I gingerly fill its tub with smallish loads, I know we are on borrowed time. Very soon The Machine will stop all together and go to Maytag heaven. (?)
So, I write you today amidst mountainous piles of dirty laundry. We are back to hand washing and wringing, and despite our best efforts("I know you have worn those jeans 7 times, Kinley, but one more day won't hurt!")...we can't keep up.
I hope a New Machine is in our future. Until then, I guess I have more to learn.