Postcard from Kenya: A slice of life - Lost luggage

Rt Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney

20.11.2023 | Global Mission, Mission, Moderator, Overseas Tour

Writing from Kenya, where he and his wife Karen are on a 15-day overseas visit, having arrived late on Friday they found that their luggage hadn’t come with them. With 30 hours to go before he was due to preach on Sunday morning, as he explains the proper clerical attire was culturally important. Thankfully, the suitcases arrived an hour before they left – leading to this reflective postcard from the east African nation.

Karen and I arrived safely in Nairobi at 9:35pm on Friday evening and after one and half hours had successfully completed passport control, with our E visas and expectantly, and a little nervously went to collect our luggage.

Sadly, our two bags were not there, and the luggage guy quickly ascertained they were still in London, but assured us that they would be delivered the next day at 9:30pm.

To finish the story, the flight with our luggage on board was delayed from Heathrow and arrived in at 2:30 am on Sunday. Very generously they were picked up at 5am by Thomas Leremore, husband of Naomi, PCI’s Global Mission Worker with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa’s Theological Education by Extension department.

He was able to deliver to our hotel at an hour before our departure at 6:30 am to preach at two services in the PCEA’s Zimmerman Church in northern Nairobi.

No one likes to lose luggage, but I learnt – and was remined of - a few things. Firstly, the presence of God gives us reassurance. His character is good, and he works out everything for his children well. Knowing and believing these truths helps give us an ability to get on with the reality of life we face at that moment with a positive spirit.

Secondly, how helpful, indeed beautiful, is the self-sacrificial friendship of others. We give thanks for Tom Leremore who went the extra mile, knowing the heavy schedule that I faced on Sunday.

And lastly, in Kenyan Christian culture clerical dress is important, it would have been unacceptable for me to preach in an open neck shirt! My argument was going to be the logistics of the situation and though man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7).

However what does God see in our hearts? He is surely aware of sin, (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:20) and in the believer, he sees the perfect righteous of Jesus covering over all my sin. How wonderful is the good news of grace, that God loves us while we were still sinners and continues to do so, and in God's grace there is the most wonderful confidence.

Dr Mawhinney is minister of Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin and was selected as moderator-designate in February 2023 and officially elected and installed as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland at the General Assembly on 21 June.

You can read about Dr Mawhinney's overseas visit to Kenya here.

You can also follow his travels on X, formerly Twitter, at @pcimoderator.

Photos (1) luggage by Dimitri Karastelev via (2) Dr Mawhinney preaching in PCEA's Zimmerman Church in Nairobi (Zimmerman Church Facebook)

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