I put a pot of water on to boil. I know we probably don't need to use hot water to get the dishes clean, but there is something nice and familiar about washing my dishes with hot water. Maybe one day I'll get over this, but for now it's where I am. I use hot water. It makes me think the dishes are clean and feels good on my hands as I wash rice off plates.
I fill the sink up with cold, soapy water as I wait for the hot water to boil. Then I add the kettle of hot water to the cold water. I add the dishes and begin to wash.
When I'm washing dishes I also keep a sassy green tub on the right of the sink as well. After the dishes are washed in the warm soapy water I put them in the other tub. It becomes a game. How tall can I get the stack of dishes? I was super impressed with myself last night. Who knew making block towers with four little boys was preparing me for dish stacking in Haiti?
I don't rinse the dishes in the green tub. That would normally be a great idea...but we have too many dishes and most importantly, my sink is deformed. The faucet is so low in the sink that I can't get anything under it. I wouldn't be able to fill up the green tub with water for rinsing because I can't get the tub under the faucet. We're getting a new one soon. This one is causing all sorts of issues.
So to rinse the dishes I let the water trickle...and I mean trickle...as I quickly run the dishes under it and then stack them in the two dish racks next to the sink.
Then we wash the sassy green tubs out and let them rest for about 10 minutes until we start making dirty dishes again.
So what about the parasites and bacteria in the water? What do I do about those?
Maybe I should, but here's the honest truth...
After about day three of living in Haiti I broke down. Like all the way down. I could not believe I brought my children to such a filthy country. Hudson was wallowing all over the floor in the house. The floor is gross...cracked tile that goes straight to the mud. It was covered in dirt because I couldn't keep it clean. I was washing several loads of dishes a day by myself...trying to bleach everything...staying on my kids about washing their hands constantly. After we walked on the street I wanted to set all our shoes on fire. I was losing it.
It hit me...either I'm going to let my fear turn me into a giant nag in this country and make my husband and my children hate me, or I'm going to let some things go, realize I'm human, and there's only so much I can do. Either go crazy or trust God. That's the choice before me.
Really it wasn't a choice at all. It was all so overwhelming and so much work to physically try and keep my kids germ free and from rolling around on the floor or touching nasty things on the street that I only had one choice. Let it go. Give up. Surrender. Throw in the towel and trust that God is in control. He loves us. He loves my kids. He knows they are gross. He knows this country is gross. He knows that's a bad combination. And yet God wants us in Haiti.
I quit putting bleach in our dish water. Not only is bleach probably terrible, it was giving me another step in an already huge task. I was also constantly afraid I was going to get bleach water on my clothes. I didn't bring very many and I'd like to take care of the ones I have.
We let the dishes air dry. We make sure they are completely dry before we put them away. The end. That's all I can do.
I'm pleased to report that so far we have not been sick in the stomach department. We've been here almost a month and so far so good.
Washing dishes is a big pain lots of days and another moment when I have to trust that God is good and knows us. He knows me. He knows when enough is enough. He is in control of huge things and tiny, microscopic bugs in my tap water.
I loved many of your ideas and will be implementing some of them. Thanks for sharing them with me!
When it comes to housework and cooking, everything in Haiti is way harder than it was in the US. There are times when I'm tempted to complain and whine about the hour it's going to take me to wash the dishes. But I was tempted to complain and often times did my fair share of complaining when I lived in the US and had a garbage disposal, hot water, and a dish washer.
In the US I would sometimes grumble as I cleaned the house, followed a crazy, rebellious toddler around, or folded ridiculous amounts of laundry. I would wonder why Aaron got to be at work doing something creative and fun while I scrubbed toilets and tried to teach our sons to be kind to one another.
I had those days when housework made me angry.
I still have those days in Haiti. I wasn't issued a new heart when I entered this new country. Unfortunately customs allowed me to bring in my wicked sinful heart that has always made its home in my chest.
As I'm chilling in the laundry room with the rats and filling up washing machines with water hoses, I'm still tempted to complain...to wonder why Aaron gets to be in a classroom every day telling kids about Jesus and it seems like I came to Haiti to hang laundry on the line and wait for water to boil so I can wash dishes.
God is reminding me, after much fit throwing, that hanging laundry or washing dishes is worship. It can be if I will let it.
I am asking Him to teach me...to teach each of us...no matter what country we call our home...that we can serve the people in our homes with joy and as unto the Lord. That's one of my most favorite things about Jesus and following Him. He can take simple things and turn them into something lovely, meaningful, and beautiful.
We can be a part of something good and redemptive by tending to a home and the people inside it.
We can be a part of furthering God's Kingdom by teaching and training our kids to love the Lord every day in our homes. We can teach them about God's nature...about how much He loves and cares for them as we love and care for them as mothers.
It is harder in Haiti for me to wash the dishes or do the laundry...but my heart is the same. There are days when I see what I'm doing through earthly eyes...and that's when I get frustrated and irritated with how exhausting life can be here as I try to take care of my home and my family. But there are moments when God is so good and He give me His eyes. He lets me see how folding clothes or carrying heavy baskets of laundry across campus becomes a way to worship..a way to love the people of Haiti..a way to give high school students in Haiti the gift of Aaron...of God's Word being taught to them every single day. In those moments I am overcome with emotion. I am overcome with thanksgiving. In those moments what was mundane and difficult becomes an honor...a privilege. What was earthly and meaningless becomes spiritual and a way to live for a kingdom I can't see.
So no one tell me in the comment section about how you feel bad that you moan and groan about your dishes in your state of the art kitchen. No matter what kitchen you're standing in, let's just agree that our hearts are the same, and our heart...not our kitchen is what God is after.
Today let's encourage one another to love the ones God has put in our homes...to bless them. Let's be reminded that motherhood is a gift...no matter what country you are in. It's a chance to invest our lives in eternity...a way to store up precious treasure in heaven.
The Kingdom of God can be found in many places, but I want to be reminded that every day it's found sitting around my kitchen table. I could think on such truth forever.
(and the kingdom in my kitchen makes an awful lot of dirty dishes. did I mention that?)