Laundry, Bai, & Redemption

I am in awe of the beauty of simplicity and how God uses simple moments in my life to reveal compassion, renew my spirit, and bring joy to my heart. Friday I went to the Suds & Tan to do laundry. I like going to the laundry mat as it allows me to spend captive time wandering in my mind.

I was not in a good mood. I was stressed out due to the projects I am doing at the church. I was also not looking forward to a training session I was to begin the next day on “Children’s Worship & Wonder.” I was also not felling very well. My spirit was a bit low and I was questioning my effectiveness in my current call.

I unloaded my laundry from Danger Cart and went inside to find an open washer. I found two; one 30 pounder and a 20 pounder. I was bummed that there was not anything smaller. I loaded the clothes into the machines and put on my headphones. I began to wander in thought about effective youth integration in worship and how I was going to recruit volunteers to serve in the ministries.

I prayed for people, supplies, and vision for the churches mission. I prayed for peace of mind and hope. I prayed…with Yusuf Islam singing “Talal Badru Alayna.” I fell into a deep and peaceful place. Then my silent peace was broken by a tug at my sleeve.

I looked down to see a wide toothy grim attached to a smiling little boy. He met my peace with bright, dynamic eyes. We asked me if he could have one of the ear buds. I handed him one and closed my eyes. He had trouble with the ear bud fitting in his ear. I watched him struggle with it from the veiled corner of my eye. I smiled inside. He finally got the bud to stay and closed his eyes as well.

He toggled back and forth from eyes closed in meditation copying my posture and opening his eyes towards mine with anticipation of adoration. We sat there for the duration of the song playing a sort of hide-n-seek game.

The song ended and then I paused the iPod. I was afraid to share Muslim music with this little boy. I asked him, “Do you know what they are doing?” He said, “yes, they are praying.” I smiled inside a little bit wider.

“Yes and who are they praying to?”


“Who do you pray to when you pray?”

“My mom, my dad, my brother, and my [I was not sure what he said here].”

“Do you like to pray?”


At this moment I noticed a stock woman watching us. I introduced myself to the little boy.

“I am Ryan, what is your name?”


“It is nice to meet you Bai. Is that your mother?”


“Let’s go meet her?”

I walked over with Bai to his mother. I introduced myself to her. I was not able to make out her name. I believe her name sounded like Gomba. I am not certain. She had a very heavy African accent. I asked her if she was from Africa. “Yes”, she answered, “from The Gambia”. We proceeded to talk. She shared her story of her departure from The Gambia and the struggles she is having here in America. She misses home so much. She described her family and the food they ate. She had light in her eyes. She gently touched Bai’s head as she stated, “I miss my other five children very much.”

My heart filled with sadness that she was so far from her family. She longed to see them. She hoped to bring them here to America. All the while Bai played. He hummed and clapped at his mother’s side.

Her laundry needed to be changed as did mine. We departed to change the laundry. I put my loads in the dryer and looked around for Bai and Gomba. I could not see them. I sat down and listened to Miriam Makeba. My short encounter with Bai and Gomba made me long for Africa. I thought about the people I missed. I thought about the way family was the foundation of all social structure. I thought about how I could foster family in our church community. I smiled inside and it welled outside to the world.

Just then Bai came back with Gomab and he took a seat next to me and asked for the ear bud. He put the bud in his ear and began to mimic the sound of Miriam. It was beautiful. I watched with joy, peace, and admiration. He was a gift of God an answer to my prayers. I silently thanked God for this moment, taking care to just be.

I said good bye to Bai and Gomba and left the Suds & Tan with a renewed outlook on life. I was renewed in the Spirit on my worry and woe as my clothes were cleansed of the worlds soiling muck. I drove home lighter and cleaner.

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