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Soul-Shaping Chores

I’m the new girl again. After 10 years of living off the coast of Kalimantan, we have moved to the other side of Indonesia, to the province of Papua.

There is a steep learning curve––new stores to learn, new way of driving (the traffic lights go from red to yellow to green . . . still trying to figure that one out), new weather patterns to learn, and new people groups to get to know.

But one thing is back-achingly familiar––the unending and tedious housework that comes with life here, and the exhaustion I feel after a day of said housework.

Just coming back from furlough, my housekeeping muscles are pretty weak. Not that I was a total slob when staying with our parents, but loading the dishwasher and running the vacuum in a climate-controlled and convenience-oriented home is a whole different animal from mopping floors, hand washing dishes, and hanging out laundry in the tropics.

I am thankful for housework. I mean, might as well be thankful for it, since it’s an inevitable, right? And while I don’t love housework, there are definitely some benefits from it––besides the obvious (we eat, have clean clothes, and have fairly-clean floors).

Housework shapes my soul. I find I have more time to think, and to pray. Pushing a mop back and forth across the floor, different people and situations come to mind, and I pray for them. Mindless tasks can become meaningful times of prayer, if I’m intentional about making them so.

Housework gets me outside. Lugging the laundry basket to the backyard, I can look up and see magnificent Cyclops Mountain behind our house. The ritual of hanging up our clean laundry makes for strong arms, and gets me a good dose of vitamin D. And there’s nothing like the smell of clothes fresh off a clothesline––that amazing mix of sunshine and wind.

My housekeeping duties are definitely not fodder for any newsletter (“Dear Supporters, can you believe it? Natalie mopped the floors, again!!!”), but they’re a very real and necessary aspect of life over here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the toilet needs scrubbing.


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