Laura Castle is nearing the end of her year in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, as an ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer. The program relies on coordinators who facilitate the young adults’ ministry and provide mentoring and spiritual guidance. To support a coordinator, go to www.ELCA.org/missionarysponsorship.
Hand washing laundry allows me time to think.
When I am back in the United States, I’ll never be able to do laundry with a washing machine and dryer without thinking about all the time I spent hand washing my clothes here. Many Saturday mornings you can find me in the backyard of my house, with a heaping wash bin of clothes stacked in front of me. I use the rain water that’s collected in a huge tank underneath the roof gutters and begin scrubbing with the same pale green bar of soap that my family also uses to wash dishes and bathe with — smelling of a sweet mint aroma, with a hint of pine, a smell I will never forget. The process of scrubbing, rinsing, hanging, taking off the line and ironing has become a process that (call me crazy but –) I actually enjoy.
There is so much to think about here. Finding time to process and reflect on all that’s going on in my life and in the lives of the people around me is not easy. When I sit down and stare at a fresh empty page in my journal, often I don’t even know where to begin writing. Or when I am lying in bed at night trying to fall asleep, my mind wanders in so many different directions. However, during these Saturday mornings, somehow I am able to just sit and think, and it’s a wonderful feeling. I don’t have to concentrate too much on scrubbing my clothes, as it has become quite a familiar task. As I hold each piece of clothing, I’m reminded of the places I’ve been, people I’ve conversed with, and situations where I’ve witnessed God’s presence — all since the last Saturday I did laundry. When I’m back home in Minnesota, I know I will need time to just sit and think, and for that reason, there is a very good chance I will continue to hand wash my clothes (as long as the weather allows!) They become a lot cleaner this way anyway!