Saturday was our last Laundry Love of the semester. Maybe you’re unfamiliar with our Laundry Love community project – let me catch you up. One Saturday out of every month, we show up at Harold’s Laundry, a laundromat right down the street from Russ and Jamie’s house. For two hours we throw a laundry party, putting quarters in machines, talking with the laundry-doers, and playing with their little kids out front.
When I first went to Laundry Love, I felt ridiculously uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to approach people and ask if I could pay for their laundry. I knew if someone asked if they could do that for me, I would likely turn them down (hello, pride…). But God has taught me a lot about myself and about the people that live in the community around UNM through Laundry Love. He surprises me in some new way, every time I go.
This Saturday, I began talking to Ronnie* right away when I got there. She was drying about 40 basketball jerseys for a local high school team. We talked about the game for a little bit and her children, and then she shared with me how she was diagnosed with and beat cancer this year. She invited me to come visit her at work. I helped her fold the jerseys. Ronnie left, and I felt like I was waving goodbye to a friend. We only spoke for about 45 minutes, but friendships form quickly at Laundry Love.
A pair of guys comes in every once in a while during our Saturday laundry parties. Every time they’ve come in, they leave while their laundry is in the washer and come back with a pizza and breadsticks for all of us volunteering. At least one of these guys – I don’t even know his name! – goes to a local church and wants to express his appreciation in some tangible way. It’s so encouraging to get a glimpse of the body of Christ working together, loving each other while loving others.
The Mission – and now Young Life College – has been involved with Laundry Love for close to two years. I still get nervous every time I pull up to the laundromat. Sometimes I play with the kids, drawing chalk faces or singing “Let It Go” with them. Sometimes I get to hear life stories like I did with Ronnie. And sometimes I simply ask, “Can I put some quarters in this machine for you?” Whatever it is that I do, though, I always – always – leave Harold’s with a smile on my face. And maybe it’s a bit trite to say this during the Christmas season, but I believe I leave with a full heart because it truly is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). I want to keep this spirit of generosity before me as 2014 comes to an end and the new year begins, following the generosity of the Father who gave the greatest gift of all.
Merry Christmas, friends!