I LOVE the laundry room here on the Africa Mercy. I know that everyone on the ship does not share my affinity for this particular place (who knew people could get so fiesty over laundry :))...but I love the laundry room and am so thankful for it. The laundry room has become somewhat of a sanctuary for me - a place where I meet with God and recognize His faithfulness.
The easiest way to describe the Faithfulness of God I've experienced is to say that, since we've been on the Africa Mercy (going on 9 months), EVERY time we've needed a laundry slot, there's been one.
Even as I typed that, it doesn't seem like "that big of a deal"... BUT IT IS. The Africa Mercy has somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 people living onboard. There are 10 washers & dryers (2 of which are used for the often nasty oily galley and engineering laundry - so it's recommended that you NOT use them for normal clothes...) -- so 8 washers & dryers...and, at any given time, one or two (or more if it's a really bad week) of those washers or dryers may be out of commission (these machines keep our electricians and repairmen quite busy! Washers and dryers running around the clock...it's a wonder they work as often as they do).
The first few times it happened I thanked God and continued on about my business...the next few times I thanked Him some more and marveled at His goodness...the next few times (and every time since) is when it all became some what of a "sacred game" -- "God, is there really going to be a slot this time? God, You've provided a slot everytime...are You going to do it again? God, it's 2pm on a Saturday...there's no way there's going to be a slot. God, You've done it again! God, thank you for reminding me of your love and provision through the availability of a washing machine."
There's also a "Laundry Room Guide" book - it contains PAGES of rules/policies/explanations/guidelines that are a beautiful work of art intended to help with the peace and cooperation of all in the laundry room. It would take me far too long to explain everything that's in that book...you'll just have to come and see for yourself.
Another fabulous perk of the laundry room - I can get multiple loads of laundry done at the same time! When we are not on water restrictions, we are allowed 2 loads of laundry per person per week. When we are on water restrictions (as we've been the entire time we've been in Guinea), we are allowed one load per person per week...so, technically, I can do 5 loads at one time if I get my signing up right (thankfully we don't usually need all 5)!
Feel free to call me crazy...but my FAVORITE laundry slots are the 6am slots. I usually do 3 loads at once. So at 6am: Load washer 1. Load washer 2. Load washer 3. Put in the detergent (x3). Close the doors (x3). Push the buttons (x3). Go to exercise class. Go get breakfast. Come back at 7am: Transfer laundry from washer to dryer (x3). Put in a dryer sheet (x3). Close the doors (x3). Push the buttons (x3). Go take a shower. Get kids up and fed and ready for school and out the door. Go back and get the dry laundry by 8am. Fold it. And done.
Other amenenities: the laundry room is equipped with a "drying area" for clothes that you don't want to put in the dryer...I tend not to use this (I just take things back to our cabin and drape them all over the cabinet doors...)
All of these things frustrate me to some degree or another - but, when it comes down to it, I am so beyond grateful that we have machines to wash and dry our clothes -- a whole room full of them one deck below our home: brilliant! It would be exhausting to have to take our clothes down to a river and wash them all with rocks...or to have to haul them off the ship...or to have to hand wash them in buckets (I had enough of that in Pai Katanga, thank you very much). Modern appliances are a gift from God.
God is in the laundry room...and I love meeting Him there.
Surely there will be more to come.