laundry: day eight.

March 1, 2010

far left: charlie. far right: daniel.

my first summer in tanzania i encountered God in the most ordinary of tasks. i had been in tanzania for three weeks, volunteering at an orphanage [KiChiJo] when i left. i had only planned to be in tanzania for three weeks, and then i was off to experience south africa – first for a week long safari and then for four weeks of volunteering. however, upon arriving in south africa i discovered a relentless ache in my heart to return to tanzania…so, after an incredible week of safari, i flew back to tanzania. i couldn’t wait to walk back through town to KiChiJo, as i winded my way through corn fields, nearing the orphanage, i could hear the voices of the children i had left just one week earlier. the anticipation was almost too much to bear. i turned the final corner and saw familiar children playing soccer in front of the orphanages main entrance. other kids were running around here and there, playing whatever game had momentarily grabbed their attention. and, in the square section of the lot devoted to laundry, i saw two boys bent over a silver bucket, scrubbing clothes. for a moment none of them noticed me. for a split second i was completely invisible, blessed with a moment to just stop and watch them. tears in my eyes, i knew. i knew that what i was looking at was the loveliest of scenes playing out before my eyes. and then gifti saw me. his little four-year-old body came flying at me, huge grin on his face. it was over, my moment of invisibility had passed, and suddenly there were 15 or so kids swarming me. they left their soccer game, they jumped out of the tree nearby, they came running from whatever it was they were doing to welcome me back. except those two boys, bent over the silver bucket. daniel and charlie stayed close to their laundry pile. they looked on, they grinned, but being the older boys that they were [14 & 16, respectively] they kept their cool. after a few minutes, i made my way over to them. we greeted one another and i asked if i could help with the laundry. laughing, they told me “no.” but, i’m persistent, and eventually, all three of us were bent over, sleeves rolled up, and scrubbing those clothes. the boys laughing and chatting in swahili – conversing, i’m sure, about how silly i was or how awful i was at washing clothes [especially for a woman]. i started to sing. a silly song i’d heard on the radio countless times since i’d been there. i don’t know if it was my singing voice, my ridiculous pronunciation of the swahili words, or my whiteness – but something about me starting to sing that song sent these boys into uncontrollable laughter. i said, “alright, you sing it then.” and they did. these boys who played shy began to sing. and i started dancing. and together we sang and danced – all the while doing the laundry. every day i came back, for the rest of my three weeks there, i spent time doing laundry with those boys…dancing, laughing, singing, and [of course] hanging those clothes out to dry. laundry had never been such a holy thing.

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One Response to “laundry: day eight.”

  1. Hannah said

    Lovely blog! I was just wondering how you volunteered at KiChiJo?Do you happen to have their contact info because I cannot find their website anymore. Thank you!
    God bless!

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