A Ring, A Porsche, and a Blast from the Past

My trip to Oklahoma City last week was a good one all the way around. I reconnected with my friends at Victory Church where I spoke to staff and in both Sunday services. I met with my friends Ted and Tami Miller, and I worked on an exciting new book with author Jed Chappell. I also ate at Swadley's, my favorite BBQ restaurant three times. There were three unusual things that happened during the trip that I just had to share with you.

THE RING

Last Friday, I went for my morning walk covering 2.5 miles. When I got outside my hotel, I realized I had not removed my rings and they were tight on my fingers, so I took them off and put one in each pocket. I put my wedding ring in my left pocket because I my phone was in that pocket, and I never remove my phone--or I had not up to this particular morning.

As I walked, I saw a few things I wanted to show my wife when I got home, so I did what I usually do not IMG_4159 do--I took out my phone to take some pictures. My last stop was a historical marker explaining that the site was formerly an orphanage for Native American children. Today, it is the home for a beautiful new bank building, which I thought was indicative of our culture--we used to take care of children, but now we take care of our money.

When I got back to the hotel, I reached into my left pocket and my wedding ring was gone, having fallen out someplace along my walk route. I drove to the places where I knew I had taken pictures but could find nothing. I decided to suspend my search until the next morning when I would walk again, IMG_4170retracing my Friday route. It was hot and I figured no one was going to be out walking, so my ring would probably stay put, if it was even visible.

Around 5:30 that day, I turned onto my hotel road, but pulled over to go look once again at the area around the marker. This time I walked up into the grass where I had taken the picture and, lo and behold, there in the grass was my wedding ring, right where I had dropped it nine hours earlier.

A PORSCHE

On my way home, I flew through Atlanta, which is a big airport. My plane pulled into Terminal A, but I had to go all the way to Terminal F (1.25 miles away--I know because I have walked it before). I was deciding whether to walk or ride the tram as I walked off the plane when a young lady right outside the plane door was calling my name. My first thought was, My flight home has been cancelled and they are here to tell me personally.

Instead, the Delta Airlines official asked, "Would you like a ride to Terminal F?" When I responded I would, she said, "Follow me," and led me to the stairs where baggage handlers enter and exit the jetway from the tarmac. We walked down the stairs and Nicole (from Venezuela) put my briefcases in the back of the car. When we got in, she said, "You spend so much time in an airport and we thought this would help you out." She then proceeded to drive me through all the planes and baggage carts across the airport to Terminal F. When I inquired what kind of car we were in, Nicole responded, "A brand new Porsche." I asked her if she could drive me home to Pittsburgh, but she said she could not. Oh well, I tried.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

After I spoke in the first service last Sunday, a man came up and stood before me, not saying anything. Finally, he spoke and asked, "You don't remember me, do you?" I thought he looked familiar but could not place him. He then identified himself as my college fraternity brother, who I had not see in 47 years! Naturally, I was surprised and we talked as much as we could, for I was selling books and people were coming and going at my table.

When I looked Lou up later, I found out that he was a wealth advisor and guess where his office is? His office is close to the historical marker where I lost my ring. I was staying in a hotel across the street from a man who I once knew but had not seen in almost five decades. I would have never known, except that his assistant sent him an invitation to church, he saw my name, and decided to come check me out.

I have always advised writers that if they want to write interesting things, they must do interesting things so they have something to write about. I thought those things were interesting, so I had to share them with you.


Kenya Tour 2019

KenyaFlierPicI have released the dates and information for my tour to Kenya from February 14-24, 1 Kenduiwo Child2019. I already got my first two applications and I think there will be a big group going for what will be a wonderful trip. I am attaching all the information you will need below for you to download. Read it over and then consider joining me and my friends for a trip you have always dreamed of making. The time is now; don't let fear rob you of your opportunity.

Download KenyaFAQ2019

Download KenyaFlier2019

Download 2019KenyaApp


Time is Running Out to Register for Israel

As you know, I am sponsoring a tour to Israel with an optional after-trip to Rome. There are 30 people JS Israel 2registered to go to Israel right now and 13 for Rome. This Monday, we have to release the seats we were holding for Rome and then on Tuesday do the same for the Israel leg of the trip. That doesn't mean you can't go after this week, it simply means you can go on a space-available basis.

This will be my fourteenth trip to the Holy Land and it never gets old. I have a great group already registered and would love to have you on the trip. Review the information in this link and then act fast to book the trip of a lifetime! Let me know if you have any questions.


Reflections from Guyana

It’s not often that one gets a chance to reflect on his life over the last quarter of a century, but that’s exactly

Welcome Back
The airport had not changed much in 26 years.

what’s going on with me while I am here in Guyana. Guyana was the first country I ever visited outside the U.S. I came here with another pastor in 1989, right before my move to pastor a church in Orlando, Florida. It was a difficult trip – it still ranks among my three toughest journeys – mostly due to the conditions here then, along with my own inexperience as a traveler.

In 1989, Guyana was only 23 years old as a country, having broken away from England and changing its name from British Guyana to Guyana. Guyana means ‘land of many waters’ in the local language and it is appropriately named. It has four major rivers, all of which empty into the Atlantic Ocean on Guyana's coastline. Every one of the four are a muddy brown, and all are quite large at their mouth. I remember taking many ferries and water taxis when I was last here. Now they have built bridges and everyone has a car. When I was here in 1989, transportation was difficult. Now the vehicles whiz by on the road outside my guest house, where I am staying with my friends, Pastor Ovid Schultz and his wife Ukline.

Guyana Sunset
Guyana Sunset

In 1989, I don’t think I had electricity for an entire day for the 17 days I was here. We had to fetch water from a backyard tank to flush or bathe. Food was scarce and the mosquitoes were vicious. I spoke 17 times while

Cane Juice
Time for some refreshment!

I was here and never had electricity during any meeting. I did not bring earplugs or bug spray – that tells you how “green” I was – so I didn’t get much sleep. I had no idea roosters can begin crowing at midnight, and my roommate snored like a chain saw. One night I recorded him snoring and when I played it back to him, he denied it was him on the recording.

Today I am enjoying all the comforts of home. I am staying in a home built by a

House
The Home Where I am Staying

Guyanese couple who live in New York. They plan on retiring to this home in a few years. I am lying on the bed under a ceiling fan. My host transports me in a minivan. The electricity has gone off not once. I am eating all kinds of fruits and veggies – I think we call it organic in the States – and I am losing weight for all the right reasons.

As we drive around, there are still many scenes I remember from 1989. What’s more, Guyana reminds me a lot of my experience in Africa. There are animals grazing on the

Church Bldg 2
Balm of Gilead Church Built by the Members

side of the road. People drive with their horns and not their brakes. The sun is scorching. The rains come unannounced and end quickly. The people walk to where they are going and use parasols to protect from the sun’s rays. Children all have school uniforms and Toyota vans stop to pick up passengers who stand along the side of the road, waiting to go to market or school or church.

And church services remind me of Africa, too. The worship is enthusiastic and vibrant. The accents are thick, but English words can be identified just enough to enter into worship. The buildings are built for the tropics with metal roofs, windows that open for maximum breeze and concrete block construction seems to hold the cool of the night and the heat of the day in place long after either are gone.

Lucius
Pastor Lucius Bruyning, My First Host

I visited with the pastor and his wife who hosted me 26 years ago. They now live in a town called New Amsterdam (the Dutch once “owned” Guyana before the British did). It was special to see Lucius and Esther, who are now running an orphanage as well as pastoring a church. It brought back fond memories of their gracious hospitality as they tolerated my silly questions and awkward attempts to minister in a foreign land.

Since 1989, I have accomplished a few things, one of which is figuring out how to

Marlon and Ovid
Marlon Fraser (center) Owner of the School and Pastor Ovid

travel well and minister in cross-cultural situations. I have written books, launched media programs, taught at the university level, made a few church transitions, came in and out of pastoral situations, and earned my Doctor  of Ministry. I have awakened every morning thanking God for his faithfulness over the last 26 years. I have made many mistakes during that time, but one constant that has kept me going during the last quarter of a century is my trust in the Lord. He has brought me a mighty long way, and I am ever so grateful.

I have told the Lord I will go another 26 years if that’s what He wants, but I know I may not have that much time. Therefore I am dedicated to making every day count, much as I have done for the previous 26 years. It has been nice to return to Guyana with something to say, and I have had the chance to say it here to government staff, a hospital team, a church and an evening school. My hosts believe I will be back soon, and I am open to that possibility.

Speaking of my hosts, I would not be here if it wasn’t for the friendship and devotion of my friend since 1989, Ovid Schultz and his wife Ukline. Ovid has been a faithful friend over the years, diligent to stay in touch with me whenever he came to the States. We have spent a lot of time together over the years and our friendship has survived the test of time and distance. I am here to celebrate the ninth anniversary for the church that Ovid founded in 2006, Balm in Gilead Ministries in Village No. 30 in East Berbice. I have done my purpose seminar over two nights and Sunday I spoke in the church ninth anniversary celebration. Thank you, Ovid, for your encouragement over the years. I trust we will have many more years to enjoy our relationship, but of course that is in God’s hands.

Tuesday School
I am introduced at night school by the head, Marlon Fraser.

I will close with this thought. What could you do if you had a 25-year plan for your life? How much could you accomplish for Him? It doesn’t matter if you are 80 years of age right now, if you had a 25-year plan, you would certainly accomplish some of it before you go home. And who knows, God may give you the entire 25 years! If He does that, you will be glad you started now to make those years count to the maximum.

Thank You, Lord, for bringing me back. Thanking you for taking me forward since 1989. My life is yours; I owe you big time. Whatever you want me to do, whether here, in Africa or anywhere else, I am glad to do it, for my Lord and my Friend, who has sustained me all these years. I am a blessed man and this week has allowed me to reflect on just how blessed I am. Now it’s time to start planning and living my next 26 years.


Israel 2012

1 IsraelTime is running out for those who would like to go to Israel this coming May.  I am attaching the brochure below, but if you are even remotely interested, I need to hear now so I can have the airline save space. The dates are May 19-29.  Drop me an email at johnstanko@gmail.com or respond to this post as soon as possible, and then consider joining me for the trip of a lifetime!

Download ACAC Israel Brochure 2012


Coming to Zimbabwe

1 Zim 5 CompsAfter a four-year break, I am coming back to Zimbabwe on November 26 to work with Pastor Evan Mawarire and His Generation Church.  I will be speaking at His Blueprint Purpose all week until December 4, and will have two one-day seminars, one on Wednesday, November 30 and another on Saturday, December 3.  The Wednesday 1 Zim Conferenceseminar will be my seminar, The Five Competencies of Global Leaders. The Saturday seminar wiil be Getting Your Life Back on Track: A Study of Purpose and Goals.  I am attaching the fliers for the conference and Wednesday seminar.  If you live in Zimbabwe, you can call the church for more info or to register. 

I can't wait to get back and reconnect with all my friends and a country that I love.  It's been too long. 


I Told You BA Had Problems

I had written in the past about my dislike for British Airways due to their arrogance and poor service. I was taken to task by some because of service problems with American airlines, something I have also acknowledged. Often when you are American and you criticize another country, the issue isn't whether or not you are correct. The issue becomes that you are an American and automatically perceived as arrogant, or that you are portraying America as the standard of excellence. I am an American and I know I am influenced by American culture and thinking. Yet I never try to hold my country as the standard. BA's service is bad because it is bad, not because it is British. Come to think of it, US Airways' service is also bad because it is bad, even though they are an American company.

Well, now a commission in the UK has recommended that BA sell off their ownership in UK airports since their monopoly has contributed to their abysmal service. You can read the article here. Aha! I knew I knew what I knew. BA still ranks in my mind as one of the worst airlines to fly and I am delighted to see someone put forth ideas for how they can improve. BA is too good of a company and too important to the world of travel for this situation to persist and I applaud the UK commission for having the courage to say so.

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Go On Through

Every time I come to Africa, I bring the maximum alloted weight for my luggage.  Then I stop in Johannesburg for a day or two.  When I resume my itinerary, the airlines always charge me extra for excess weight.  I have fussed and argued with them, stating my case that they allowed me to bring it in at no extra charge.  Why would they then charge me extra to take it to my final destination?  The last time the man looked at me and handed me a sheet with a number for consumer complaints.  I called and the number wasn't working.

So yesterday as I prepared for my trip to Harare, I decided that it wasn't worth the aggravation.  They were going to charge me, I am doing God's work, it's not my money but His, so I refused to even think about it.  I got to the airport in plenty of time to check in, pay my excess and try to get the seat I wanted.  When I put the luggage on the scale, the woman asked me where I was traveling from.  When I said, "The States," she said, "Go on through."  She waived the extra fee!

This is a great example of the issues of trust and faith that I have been dealing with the last few years.  How often I have been in a similar situation, fretting and worrying over the outcome.  Then I have seen God intervene and I found that all my fretting was for nothing.  It was a waste of energy and time.  What's more, it evidenced my lack of faith in God's ability to take care of me and the things that pertain to my work.  I know the truth of Psalm 138:8a in the New American Standard translation, but don't always walk it out:  "The Lord will accomplish what concerns me."

Does this mean I will never be charged excess weight fees again?  I hope so, but I doubt it. What it does mean, however, is that when I am, God is in control and there's no need for me to get uptight.  So here I am in Harare, I have unpacked all my stuff, and I'm ready for a busy four-week stay.  Hopefully, I will be able to apply the faith lesson with which my trip began when the woman said, "Go on through." 

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Mrs. Stanko, Where Is Your Husband?

To help my wife answer the question she gets regularly, "Where is your husband?," I am posting my new itinerary for all to see (and to help her keep track of where I am):

  • January 9-11 -- Seattle, Washington
  • January 11-12 -- San Francisco
  • January 13-18 -- Temecula, California
  • January 18-19 -- Dallas, Texas
  • January 19-26 -- West Palm Beach, Florida
  • January 28-30 -- Johannesburg, South Africa
  • January 30-February 25 -- Harare, Zimbabwe

If you're in these areas and would like a personal purpose appointment, please write and let me know.

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The Lion King

LionkingLast night, I went to see the show The Lion King here in London. It was the fourth time I saw the show, having seen it twice in New York and once in Toronto. The opening scene and the first scene after intermission are worth the admission price alone. And the music is grand, featuring such songs as Circle of Life and Can You Feel The Love Tonight. The theme is timeless, with a villain and a troubled hero who comes to his senses and wins his kingdom and the girl, rather lioness. Reports are that 30 million people around the world have seen the show. I hope you are one of them.

The Lion King isn't simply a show. It's an experience. Having been to Africa many times, I always feel like I am back there when I hear the music and watch the scenes unfold.

Tomorrow I am off to Pittsburgh, leaving London via London City Airport. I have never flown out of that airport and didn't even know it existed until earlier this year. I fly to Amsterdam, then to Detroit and on to Pittsburgh. Then this Thursday my wife and I head down to Florida for our Christmas holiday with her family.

I expect big crowds in the airports as travelers make their way home for the holidays. My wife and I will drive down to Florida, just to spend the time together and to be able to take presents and food to our family gathering. I hope you have a special week as you prepare for the holidays ahead.

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