new country, same laundry

a guest post by Jennifer (Pinkerton) van Leeuwen

Monday came fast. We’d arrived to the new “home” on a Friday after two weeks trekking across the country and into Canada on a honeymoon road trip. The occasional hotel laundry room had provided unique bonding experiences along the way (“John! Why did you put my white capris in with your jeans?!?”) but now it was time to unpack suitcases, start setting up house, and – of course – tackle the first loads of laundry.

I had thrown it all into a pile over the weekend, too distracted by cleaning a bachelor pad on a new side of the continent to notice how big the pile had grown.

But there I was: a new wife in a new house with a new washing machine on a new coast in a new country with a new laundry detergent and a massive pile of clothes.  Massive, I tell you. Massive. I’d never noticed it, but a man’s pair of jeans is substantially more bulky than anything I ever wear.

I’d lived on my own long enough to have my own laundry routine. Nine years will do that.  Plus, as a fashion-conscience single girl, I’d gladly acquired enough clothes to ensure my routine didn’t have to be repeated more than every other week.  Comfortable in my little world, I did anything necessary to avoid extra work or unnecessary effort.  It hadn’t always been that way, though.

Four years ago, I was spending a few months in Uganda.  One of my first tasks in that new country?  Doing laundry.  No washing machine for me. I did the laundry by hand,  standing in the hot African sun. Definitely not easy. Definitely not comfortable. 
But this wasn’t just any laundry.  I was doing the laundry of a group of Canadians on a short term mission trip. One of those Canadians is now my husband. A few years ago, I was already doing his laundry. By hand. In Africa.  With water drawn by hand from a reservoir of rain water. By John. The now-husband.

Funny how a few years changes things.

I might have extra laundry to do now that I’m a wife, but at least I don’t have to do it by hand.

Laundry in Uganda (photo by

When newlywed Jennifer (Pinkerton) van Leeuwen isn’t doing laundry, she takes photos and blogs at The Pink J

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  1. Too funny! I’d definitely think the indoor plumbing helped, although there was probably a bit more companionship in the whole draw water and hand scrubbing.