I’ve never been so excited about doing laundry!
My husband and I just returned home from a three-week trip.
We represented Tyndale House at publishing conferences – sponsored by Christian Trade Association – in three African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya. After the conferences in Africa, we were scheduled to fly to London to work at the London Book Fair – one of the biggest publishing events of the year.
We never made it to the Book Fair, though. As everyone in the world knows, Iceland’s volcanic eruption brought travel in Europe and the UK to a screeching halt. My husband and I waited out the halt in Nairobi, Kenya. The original plan was for us to have been in Kenya for 3 days, but we ended up staying there for a week.
Thankfully, the group of publishers we traveled with – as well as the gracious people hosting us – were a warm-hearted bunch. We got to know them all better than we had expected and had a lot of laughs in the process. We worked at the publishing conferences together, ate meals together, traveled around to bookstores together, and even got sick together. (I’ll spare you the stories about the getting sick part – I promise.)
Jim and I eventually made it to the UK (via Belgium), where we had plane reservations to get us home, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I have so many stories to tell about this trip that I might be telling them for the next couple of months. If you happen to like travel stories, stay tuned to this blog.
Back to the laundry.
Three weeks without a washing machine and dryer is a long time.
Being that we were so close to the equator in Africa, the weather was hot for a good part of the trip – especially in Nigeria. When we humans are hot and sweaty and we wear the same clothes over and over, it’s nice to wash them, right? We tried to wash some things out in the sink, although none of the sinks in the places we stayed had stoppers that worked. (There were other things that didn’t work at times, too – like electricity, internet, and water – more of those stories later.) Anyway, we tried to stop up the sink with ziploc bags pressed over the drain.
Then there was the challenge of drying the clothes. It was in the nineties and humid, so when one batch of my husband’s socks still hadn’t dried after three days, we bagged them up in those same ziploc bags and toted them off to the next guest house we stayed at. With a little help from my hair dryer, my husband’s socks finally dried enough for him to wear them.
We tried sending a few items of clothing out to be laundered, which was not expensive to do. When we noticed how they were dried, though, we decided not to try that plan again.
Since I never wore the three ‘cold weather’ professional suit-type outfits I had packed for the London Book Fair, I was thankful I had thrown a pair of black and white checked capris into my suitcase at the last minute. I wore them almost all of the days we were in Nairobi with one of the two white blouses I’d taken – until I sat under a tree one day and ended up with a juicy purple berry exploding across the back of one white blouse. Not a person to be easily defeated, I thought, “I’ll figure out a way to get that nasty stain out!”
Off I went to the local Nairobi grocery store – the NAKUMATT (pictured below – their slogan is, ‘You need it, we’ve got it‘),
purchased a small bottle of bleach with some Kenyan shillings,
and poured straight bleach over that yucky stain – and poured and rubbed and poured and rubbed some more – until it was gone. It’s amazing what a little bottle of bleach from Nakumatt (they lived up to their name – they had what I needed) and a lot of elbow grease can do. My hands smelled a little strong, but that blouse was clean as a whistle.
As I was bleaching out the stain that threatened to ruin a favorite blouse, I thought of the words in Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
After I returned home, I was never so excited to use my Arm and Hammer detergent, generic bleach from Jewel, and fabric softener sheets. I didn’t mind folding the clothes and I’m even looking forward to ironing some of them. I don’t deserve the conveniences of my life here, but I’m sure grateful for them – and one of them is doing laundry in my home and having clothes that smell clean and fresh!
More stories in the days to come . . .