07 April 2013

i love the laundry room

This post has been a long time coming. 

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). 

All in all, the chances are slim that a slot will be open -- but EVERY time I've needed one, there's been one.  Every time there's been a crazy mess or unexpected wet sheets, every time we've come back from the Island and needed to do "one quick load", everytime I realized that someone is out of something necessary - there's an open slot. 

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." 

 Just to further explain, those open slots are in addition to the slots that I've signed up.  There's a "Laundry Sign up Book" that has a page for each machine each week and each day is divided up into one hour time slots from 6am until 10pm (after 10 is first come, first serve).  You sign up for the machines and time slots that you want a few days in advance.

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...)

There are also plenty o' irons and ironing boards -- another aspect of the room that I do not make great use of....I've ironed melty beads but not clothes.  Ironing is not a part of my reportoire of homemaking skillz.
There's a handy dandy lost and found area...for all those socks that are missing their match.  It's kind of amusing the things that turn up in the lost and found.  The unclaimed lost and found is eventually taken to the boutique.  Fun story:  I had my eye on a dress that was in the laundry room lost and found...I was quite tempted to take it...but that would be stealing...so I waited and eventually it showed up in the boutique...and I got it!  But it didn't fit right...so it ended up back in the boutique!  Glad I didn't steal it and have that weighing on my conscience....
The laundry room is also home to the corner of vacuums.  We make great use of these.  My favorites are #7 and #2.  You go sign one out, use it, bring it back. 
 So, I love the laundry room...even if someone takes my clothes out of the washine machine early (not my favorite...but not a big deal)...even if they remove my clothes from the dryer while they are still a bit damp (little bit frustrating...but we have a drying rack in our cabin that can be put to good use every now and then)...even if someone happens to take the slot that I signed up for (now that takes a bit of patience and grace on my part - especially if there aren't any other machines available) ...even if the machine leaves the clothes a bit sudsy sometimes (that doesn't seem to be a problem...i'm trying to convince myself that it just makes the clothes smell better if the soap isn't all rinsed out)....

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. 


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