Well, let me tell you something. There’s this foreign word, I think it originated from China, called “laundry.” Laundry, pronounced lawn-dree, is as Michelle would say “character building.” Doing laundry in a second-world/developing country is very different than doing laundry in America. In fact when I told our landlord, Sueleman (we call him Sillyman), that I had never seen laundry being hand washed, he was amazed. And then he proceeded to tell me the days that his maid does laundry on our roof and told me to go watch her and learn. Basically here’s the Senegalese translation for that, “You would make an awful Senegalese wife. Go learn how to do laundry for your husband.”
So here’s a few things I have gotten to experience and learn whilst doing laundry in Senegal. The list will be short because we’ve only been here 2 weeks. I’m sure more character will be built the larger the loads get.
1. Clothes get very dirty here. I can promise you that for the most part, we don’t roll around in dirt. I inherited a skirt and a pair of gauchos from a previous missionary who I swear might have had a part time job as a Senegalese mud-wrestler. In general, we’re pretty “clean.” After washing 1 pair of pants, the tub that was full of soapy water had turned black. Okay. Drain. Start all over again. One skirt and two shirts later, black water again. Seriously? Okay. Drain. Start all over again.
Gospel parallel: We think we are “pretty clean” before God. Our mindset is, “We might sweat a little, get a few stains on us, but trust me I’m not as bad as that person.” It’s not long before we realize the lie in that. One pair of pants turned the clean water black. Even one sin makes us unholy and unable to stand before the Holy of holies. Our active rebellion turns our hearts black. We need Jesus to cleanse us and reconcile us into a right relationship with God. Christ can present us as holy and blameless before God and wash us by the cleansing of God’s word. Amazing!
2. There’s something to say about washing clothes to get them clean versus washing them just so they smell good. I started out strong; I promise I did. I scrubbed my clothes together and even swooshed them around in a cyclical pattern like an american washer would. After the second set of clothes, I was just ready to have my laundry done. It was slightly pathetic. I imagined myself as a frustrated kid, leaning over the tub with his chin on the side, dabbling in the mirky water. Defeated.
Gospel Parallel: How often do I try to cover up sin with the scent of goodness rather than repentance? Matt Chandler, a pastor in Dallas, Texas, would say that a sign of Christian maturity is when you screw up and rather than running from God and attempting to clean yourself up, you run to God because you know that’s where mercy. grace, and forgiveness lies. Whoops. Sometimes I’m obedient, quick to repent, and eager to grasp His forgiveness. Other times though, I try to mask the dirt with a quick cleanse. This generally leaves me figuratively leaning over the tub dabbling in the water while my Father calls me to Himself. “Mary, my grace is sufficient even for you.”
3. You must line dry your clothes inside out and upside down to prevent stretching and color fading. One of the things about living in a foreign country that I “love” is how inside out and upside down I am here. “Naanga Def?”-stranger speaking Wolof. “Pardon me? I mean… Pardon moi?”-Mary speaking franglish. Oy veh! By the way, the correct response to Naanga def is Maangi fi. Stepping back from this situation, the language barrier thing isn’t a big deal. Too bad I’m not five feet from my “conversations” with the Senegalese (which most are bilingual, but no anglais). I’m right in the middle of it. I’m learning how my worst character traits are over-magnified here in the high stress situations. Grace, good, great, grace; How aware I am becoming of my need for you!
Gospel Parallel: We never “arrive.” And if we do, we’re dead. And praise the Lord for the day when I am able to stand before Him as holy and blameless in my new glorified body. But, that day has not yet come. I’m still battling the flesh and constantly learning how much I fall short of God’s beautiful standard. I’m being stretched in ways I’d never imagined. I’m learning how to be acclimated into another culture and still be me. But at the same time I’m learning how much I need to become less, so that He can become greater. It has been interesting to say the least. I am thankful that although I am far from perfect, God is in constant pursuit of me. He loves me with a steadfast love that abounds to all nations.
So that’s it. That’s my dirty laundry. All in all, I’m just being a drama queen. Laundry was not that bad. When I completed all my dirty clothes, I felt so accomplished! I can’t wait to update you all next. Thanks so much for reading and investing in this ministry! Merci beaucoup! Jerrijeff!
Thanks for extending grace and not judging me too harshly.