Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Machine

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 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 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.


Sherilyn said...

You are woman. And what a woman!!! You are a survivor. And you were much more prepared for this work than you thought you were. Afterall, you were raised as a PK, aka YMK, and therefore, you were bred to be pretty doggone strong. Seriously, you and I both know where your strength comes from. God is so good! Only He can provide comfort at times like these. The sight of mountains of laundry can intimidate and depress even those of us with a working machine. Hang in there! I'm sure help is on the way. Love, Mom (aka PW)

kristi w said...

You are "the Machine", Cheryl! I cannot imagine the level of frustration you must experience on a regular basis over things we take for granted each day. Yet you have endured longer than the washing machine in your home! The Lord will continue to bless your faithfulness and endurance. Love you!

Jamye said...


Hang in there woman! Where is that Maytag man when you need him???
Tell Kinley if she wants clean jeans, she knows where the tub is ;)
I will pray for you. Jamye

Cindy said...

OHHHH!! The things we take for granted! Thanks for helping me to remember! What a trouper you are. And to think, that I am not even brave enough to handle more than two children let alone no washing machine!! Whew!!

phyllis said...

Your thoughts about "the Machine" reminded me when we were there one summer, when you wanted Rebekah to learn how to use the wringer washer you had acquired. Since I had used one as a kid, I was elected to show her the finer points of working this marvelous invention! She was more than a little fearful of that wringer and wasn't too sure she wanted to get near it. Apooli assured us he knew what to do, as he dumped in a huge amount of soap! It was like a cartoon with soap going everywhere! We all got a great laugh at that!
I also recall that all the laundry hung out to dry had to be ironed to kill parasites! Rebekah then ironed everything with non-electric irons. Life in Africa is like living in a different era.
We have things so easy!
Cheryl, hoping your laundry predicament is resolved soon!

Aimee Jo said...

Oh, Cheryl! I'm so happy to read about what I have to look forward too! =)
I wish I was there to help you wring out the 7 day ol' jeans...if it were me, I'd probably be so lazy as to just go to the big market on Wednesday and stock up on clothing!!
Hang in there...I can't wait to see you again.