The elusive black skirt


The lady at the ticket counter was in a TERRIBLE mood. As we approached, we could see the glare in her eyes. She looked us up and down and immediately declared that our carry-ons were overweight.

She marched around the counter holding a small metal bar in her hand. Curious, we watched as she flipped out a hook and picked up my bag first.

“This is three kilos!” she announced loudly.

We didn’t understand what that meant, nor did we know what a kilo was. Then, to explain, “You are only allowed two kilos!” she bellowed.

I began taking things out of my carry-on. One of our group volunteered some help. “We can put the extra in our backpacks!” Great idea!

The terrible-mood- ticket-counter-lady snapped her head.

“I can tell just by looking that your backpacks are overweight, too.”


I grabbed the new black skirt I had gotten from a consignment store for the trip. (OK, it was Goodwill, but it was made of magical stretchy stuff and was for church.) I handed it to one of the others. We switched items around trying to adjust the weight. Finally, after much metal bar weighing, we were ready to go! Whew and PTL!

We were headed to Africa; this was the second leg of our journey. Our checked bags held important medicines for a medical clinic in a very impoverished part of Nairobi; our backpacks and carry-ons held all our clothes. The trip would take a day and a half, but we all knew it would be worth it.

When we arrived at the International Guest House where we would be staying, I reminded all Kentucky team members that most of them were carrying some of my stuff. As they unpacked their suitcases, some items reappeared but my black skirt was nowhere to be seen.

I had an idea who had it. Each day it was a different one. I tried to remember exactly how everything had gone down in front of the terrible-mood-ticket-lady. I made jokes about who was going to turn up in it, but the skirt remained elusive.

During the annual medical clinic, it is common for government officials to come and “monitor” what is going on. Sure enough, they appeared on the second day and one of them had on a BLACK SKIRT!!! It was not MY black skirt, but I made jokes to the others that she was the one who had swiped it.

Each day, in a wonderfully sweet voice, I mentioned to my teammates that I thought they should give their cases a really good look for MY BLACK SKIRT - for the love. Someone had stuck it in the front zippered part of their carry-on. I could remember it perfectly. They all shook their heads. They were sure they didn’t have it.

On the last evening, I began packing my bag for the trip home. I couldn’t believe my skirt still had not been found! It was a GOOD skirt too! Though I don’t often wear one, it’s the PERFECT one to wear on a mission trip to church. My poor friends had just overlooked it in their stuff. I prayed, “Lord, you KNOW who has my skirt. Would you please help them find it and help them to have the courage to fess up to it?” Bless their hearts.

Within five stinking minutes, I found my fabulous skirt in the FRONT ZIPPERED PART OF MY CARRY-ON…just like I remembered. Except I didn’t remember it being in MY BAG!

I wanted to just keep it a secret. No one really needed to know. We could just mark that up as a funny thing that happened on the mission trip. The End. But my heart wouldn’t let me! As soon as I could get the Kentucky team together, I told them, “I need to apologize.” And they knew…before I said another word. Dadgum it!

Are you quick to blame others for things you do? Matthew 7:3 reminds me, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s/sister’s eye but don’t notice the stretchy black skirt that is in your own suitcase?!” Wait! That’s not really how it goes, it says: “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s/sister’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?”.

I learned many things in Kenya. One of them was: Don’t be quick to point fingers!

Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at


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