That Outdoor Sink

Today, as I glanced at my needing-washed hair in the mirror, I remembered the same look on the faces of three young women, sweet high school girls, in Guatemala.

Five days into our seven day trip, the day’s work was long and Holy Spirit-guided in a round, winding, unpredictable way.

We’d leave the house in the morning, before breakfast, and return in the afternoon, only to leave again for the evening stretch of work, dinner, fellowship. Returning to the house- the four cinderblock rooms we were blessed to stay in- the showers were colder, the air was chilly, and their hair needed washed.

I can help, I told them. And we planned, there in the room we shared. The room under the corrugated metal roof, the room with the six beds, all of them draped with clothes, suitcases, our day-weary selves.

And then one by one, they’d join me in the dark behind the house. Outside the back door, along the wall leading to the bathroom, there stands a wide, double sink. Made of concrete, with textured ridges on the bottom for scrubbing clothes, a deep tub between the two sinks held gallons of water, ready for use.

Beyond the sink, the tiny garden lay masked in nighttime shadows. The moon above barely flicked its white light through the leaves of the scant trees above us.

Guided by the yellow light of the bedroom across the patio, and the rays escaping from the single bulb in the bathroom, the girls each pulled up a chair, one by one, and I washed their hair.

It became a pattern, a rhythm. Wetting, scrubbing, rinsing. I fumbled in the semi-darkness to open the disposable shampoo packets, and agonizing over washing the remaining bubbles from behind their ears, along their neckline.

But they sat there, each girl at a time, and we were quiet in the lull of the Guatemalan mountains, as dogs barked down the road, and the white waves of shampoo swirled lazily down the cement drain.



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