It all began with a YouTube search.
In preparing my Sunday School lesson from the Outlive Your Life study, I noticed that there was a video that our church had not purchased. It wasn’t super necessary… but I went to YouTube just to see if I could find something I could use. In my search, I came across this video about something called Laundry Love.
Watching the video lit a fire within me.
I wanted to do that. I HAD to do that! I wanted to share it with my class and get them all on board. But as I have already mentioned, no one showed up to class. So, I was on my own. And I was determined.
I set the date and started searching for quarters.
I had no idea how much I would need or how many people I would see, but I felt $20 would be an excellent start. If others would go with me, it would add to my amount and we could help lots of families.
When I told my class my plan, they seemed mildly interested.
Others were not convinced. They were concerned that people who did not truly have a need would take advantage of our kindness. But the way I saw it is you only find yourself at the laundry mat if you have a need. Maybe we wouldn’t be helping the homeless like the church in the video… maybe the people we meet won’t be below the poverty level… but they would have a need. And I felt led to meet that need. And in the process, share the love of Christ.
My mom was the only one who would come with me.
Everyone else had plans or made excuses. One class member was very interested in coming, but is currently on bed rest with twins… so it was best that she wait this one out. I was not sure what we would encounter with this being our first time, so I did not want to bring my kids this time.
Together we had $38 in quarters, a huge tub of washing powder, dryer sheets, and a bottle of stain remover.
We piled it all into her little VW Bug and drove to the Coin Laundry. Hubby planned to join us after he had our car serviced. I was nervous and excited all at once. I wasn’t sure what I would say, who I would meet, how they would receive me… I was walking in faith. And it was a bit thrilling.
When we arrived there was a man already there. He had just put his clothes in the wash, so we explained what we were doing and told him we would like to dry his clothes when he was ready, if he would let us. He was very gracious and thankful. There was some awkward silence, but we struck up a conversation about the laundry mat. In the process, we learned that his name was Rico and he had just moved back here after working construction in Wilmington.
After breaking the ice with Rico, the people started slowly trickling in.
One lady was happy to let me pay for her wash, but she seemed a bit nervous. She asked me if she was on a game show or something. I just laughed and told her we were there to share some love with no strings attached. Soon after a man with a huge smile entered the building. He felt like he shouldn’t let me pay, like it was wrong to accept my gift without returning the favor. We learned his name was Jeremiah… and after some gently prodding he allowed me to insert the coins.
While I was helping Jeremiah with his loads, my mom began helping a young mom. She had her two kids and her elderly mother with her. She was all smiles and was truly blessed to have the assistance. With barely time to sit down and visit, another man came in with his laundry. He would not allow me to pay for his wash. He was kind but firm that he was not interested, so I did not push it. He did, however, ask to sit beside me and we talked about our community, the weather, kittens… you name it! Jeremiah had stepped next store to the convenience mart and came back with cans of Coconut Juice for my mom and me. I happily accept his show of gratitude, but discovered quickly that I am not a fan of coconut juice. Yuck! (Don’t tell him I said that… he was very proud to offer it to me!)
We helped one more family before I realized I was low on quarters. After filling their four washers, I had to borrow coins from my mom’s coin purse. We helped each family (but the last one) fill and start their dryers. Jeremiah was last. I only had 4 quarters left, but I loaded the quarters as he loaded the dryer with clothes.
We told everyone we met that we were there to share love.
We told them what church we attended, and everyone was very appreciative. I didn’t want to preach at them… there may be a time for that later. I just wanted to open that door. To let them know they were loved and worthy. And they all accepted it. Not everyone shared their name, and only Rico shared his story. But we all shared smiles, and when the quarters were gone each one let me hug them and tell them thank you for allowing me to share their morning with them.
Jesus was there. His presence was felt. His purpose was known.
Jeremiah was the one who said it. As we loaded his dryer with our final quarters, he turned to me to me with his huge grin.
Jeremiah: Sharing Jesus can be hard.
Me: Yes, it can. But this has all been worth it. Your smile has blessed me today.
Jeremiah: You have put your faith with actions. Faith without actions is nothing. Action without faith is nothing. You have put action with your faith. This is good.
I shared that his name reminded me of my favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11
I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. (NCV)
We hugged. Then mom and I gathered our items and left. Hubby was just pulling up… our quarters were gone in one hour. I had hoped to stay longer, but God had other plans. I climbed in the car with Hubby and cried tears of joy as I relayed the morning’s events with him.
We helped 5 families, 13 people. We shared our morning with 14 people. But it was me who was truly blessed. Blessed with the joy and happiness that comes with serving the Lord and His children. And I look forward to the next one. The date is already set!
** I wish I had taken pictures of the events this morning… although I had my phone, I was too self-conscious to take it out and start snapping. Maybe, now that the ice is broken and my foot is in the door, I will be able to take some next time.