One of the most interesting cultural experiences has centered around an unusual place here in JhongLi: the laundromat. When we got to the apartment, there was a broken part on the washing machine, and within 4 days of being here, Tom noticed a shiny new laundromat opening on the corner between our apartment and Dada school.
The grand opening included about 2 weeks of free wash; they line dry everything, everywhere. But, with the washing machines,literally daily, there were the greatest little tutorials going on between all the ladies (mostly older) in the neighborhood…pointing out which buttons to push, what coins to use and all in the chatter of Chinese. On the weekends, there were lines 4 deep at each washing machine, and it was an absolute flurry of activity. Unfortunately, it was such a seemingly mundane event that I didn’t take any pictures (and I was carrying backpacks full of dirty clothes).
A few days before the free washing was over, I headed over to do my laundry and met another lady there named Lily; she is Taiwanese but has just returned to Taiwan from living in the UK for 7 years. We chatted for quite awhile…I don’t even remember what we talked about, but when she got a call to come home, I followed her to her house (1 block from our apartment) and met her husband and kids. He was headed out, but mentioned something about church on Sunday. I asked which church they went to, and the answer floored me…the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I laughed out loud at the irony of meeting an LDS person in a country where 4% are Christian and much less than that Mormon.
JhongLi is a city of 300,000, about the size of Anchorage. They have just 2 small wards and I met one of their members at……the laundromat. And, by the way, she wasn’t even there to do laundry, but to see what was going on with all the people and banners of the grand opening.
So, since then, we’ve had dinner with Mark, Lily and their 3 kids,
walked to church together along the river (above), gotten HELPFUL travel advice, received great translation at church and just felt watched over. (Their son translated for Sam; when he wasn't sure about things, he just talked about plants v zombies.) It is just FUN to connect and have an immediate bond. I love that about the gospel wherever we have been. That very day, they took Sam swimming for a few hours, and I felt no worry about having just met them. It all felt heaven sent!
And, in the weeks since the free promotional, the laundromat has been virtually empty! That moment of meeting Lily was a small miracle just for me.