“Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you ever imagined.” Anon
We found it complicated getting our clothes washed and clean in Brazil. We never did have hot water but putting the clothes on the line helped with the stain from the dust coming from the red soil And we needed to beat the stain that came with the hot weather–well, at times it was just very hot.
Here is Doris using the windlass at our well in Neves. We soon moved on to an electric pump.
We had electricity but not a washing machine. Doris scrubbed the clothes by hand for awhile but soon needed help. For a while our maid took the clothes home to wash. It was the only solution and that was what those who could afford it did in “coffee country.” As Doris and I talked about the washing we had a lady come in and do the washing. The picture tells the story.
The result of red dust in the air meant all my white shirts had a pink tinge. Why use white shirts? Well, professional people wore white shirts on work days, on special occasions and in fact, most of the time. For me that included more than Sunday services. Some of those shirts also had small holes that were not noticeable—they came about by riding on the wood-burning trains with the open windows. Imagine those sparks quickly wakening a person out of a deep sleep.
As you can imagine the “by hand” washing was hard on the clothes. Doris just said to me as I was getting my details straight, “I couldn’t put up with that.” Besides she objected to paying for every single item. So we saved from our small salary, or was it from gifts from family in Canada? In any case we bought a washing machine, a wringer washer back then in 1957. It was possible to install it in our home in Neves for we allowed for the plumbing as we did a re-building project.
By the way, I’m not complaining about the salary under the Holiness Movement church. We knew early all about the challenges we would face and we are thankful for the leadership that did so well to support a huge mission program with a small membership. But when union came with the Free Methodists it seemed we had died and gone to heaven.
During our second term in Brazil we bought an automatic washer but the rented house in São Paulo did not have the plumbing for a washer. So we found a spot for it in an oversized toilet in the backyard. We then had to carry the baskets of clothes down a set of stairs to get to the washer. With cold water there was much soaking and scrubbing of the items that were really dirty.
In any case the clothes line was close by. And if the Jobuticaba tree in the yard had fruit, a handful added to the interest in getting the clothes done. Of course if a person did not have a clothesline, then the grass served as a place to dry clothes. But a gear broke in the machine shortly after the end of the guarantee. That is the way most guarantees work but in this case I bought the parts and was able to fix it.
When thinking of “washing” a person might recall all the ritual washing laid out in the Old Testament. The good sense of that is obvious—washing saved people from a multitude of diseases. Of course there was also the symbolism—the spiritual cleansing coming from the worship of God.
But then I came across the words of St. Paul, “…he saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
That washing is both a mystery and perhaps more difficult for many than getting those pinkish white shirts of mine clean. St. Paul then makes clear that this washing is offered by “Jesus Christ our Saviour.” With that addition the story of washing clothes in Brazil is complete.