Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Bugibba Bocci

Jack sat in the old wooden stadium chair, in the sun, enjoying the 2 matches being played below on the Bocci courts.  The weather on this island of Malta, in February, was unpredictable.  The Mediterranean sun could be blistering in the summer, but this day in February was ideal for Bocci.   65 degrees, and with the surf pounding on the rocks below, and a cold Diet Coke in hand – it was perfect.
This small village of Bugibba had one of the finest bocci clubs on the island, and drew a lot of local Maltese for daily pick-up matches.
“Nicely played!” shouted Jack (not actually knowing what just happened).  One of the old Maltese men looked up and smiled with a gentle ‘thank you’.   His toss of the green block had knocked out the opponents red block, getting his team closest to the lick.  That play was worth 4 points on the round.
(Jack later learned that the "lick", or the 'Jack' ball is the small marble that becomes the target, then there are 3 'balls' the size of golf balls that are tossed toward the lick, and 8 cylinders 'blocks' that are tossed toward the lick - not round like other bocci sets, but more squared off blocks made of wood, to roll awkwardly and unpredictably).

Jack began nodding off as he sat there – absorbing the sun – he had closed his eyes.  Then he heard a voice: “hey!  Come play – we need 1 more!”.   The Maltese man was speaking to Jack – pointing at him – and insisting that he come down to the court to play bocci with them.  They needed one more player to complete the team.  “I don’t really know how to play”, said Jack.  “No problem, bocci is 80% luck and 20% skill – come on – it’ll be fun!”.  Jill said 'GO - do it!'

So, for the next 2 hours Jack played bocci, in Malta, at the Bugibba Bocci Club – with a bunch of retired Maltese men, without a care in the world.  They joked with him, his Americanisms, his form, his lack of bocci knowledge.  They explained the differences between Malta bocci and bocci played in the rest of the world.    
Jack looked at his watch.  He and Jill needed to catch the bus back to St. Julians - so needed to leave the match early.  He wanted to be one of these guys, spending their afternoons together in Bugibba, not a care in the world, playing bocci.  They all shook hands and said goodbyes.

Jack called back - “I’ll be back!”   Sitting on the bus, he promised himself that he would, be back, maybe for good.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tigoni 529

Jack stood quietly at the counter in the office at Kiambogo.
“No. Tigoni-529, not 59” – Jack repeated again to the operator who was trying to connect him by phone to a house in Limuru, Kenya.  As he waited for a connection, he wondered why it was “Tigoni-529’ and not ‘Limuru-529’ – he knew she lived in Limuru, and Tigoni was the next town over – 'it's another one of those African things', his mind wandered - he felt helpless. The operator didn’t speak good English, and Jack didn’t speak Swahili.  It was a painful process, but in 1975 – it was the only way to make a phone call in the hill country of Kenya.
"It's ringing" she said, and handed the phone to Jack.  He stretched the long black cord as far away as he could, inching toward the far wall of the small office here at Rift Valley Academy.  The 2 ladies behind the counter could hear every word he said - nothing was private here.  He heard them giggle as he awkwardly tried to muffle his voice into the big black receiver of the old phone.


Jack, now just 16, a boy – was desperate to hear her voice – one more time before the day ended.  He only had 4 shillings to his name, and this was taking 2 of those shillings, so he didn’t want to waste time talking to an operator.


When Jill picked-up the phone, the conversation started.  But ended, too soon.  They both had fumbled over words, not able to complete entire sentences without those uncomfortable pauses – teenagers falling all over themselves to say just the right thing – but not doing well at saying anything at all.  Still – they spoke, and Jack now had enough energy and hope to get him to the next day.  It was school break – a month of separation, and Jack’s heart ached.  It was just too long to wait.  He had to see Jill soon. 


Jacks father had a car, but it was difficult to drive the distance – the rains had come, the mud was thick, besides, what would they do, even if they did get a chance to meet before the next semester started?


“Hi, yes it's me again.  Can you ring-up Tigoni-529?” – he asked the operator at Kiambogo the next day.  "No, 529, not 59".  His last 2 shillings. 

SoCal - Harbor Blvd

Jack found his Avis car in slot D11, a small Toyota Corolla – red.   It would do. He tossed his roller-bag in the trunk and plugged in his TomTom.   He pulled out of John Wayne airport and headed toward the 5 north – toward Anaheim.  The sun was bright and the sky was blue – what he always remembered about Southern California – the palm trees, the freeways, the sense of excitement that was hard to describe.   He felt like he was home, even though Texas ran through his blood, thick, traces of California would never leave – like a gene – it was part of him – part of his DNA. 

This trip was all business – no pleasure.  Moving slowly through traffic, stop and go, there was a hole in his heart.  A phone call – likely breaking the law, he answered his cell only to be reminded that no matter where he went – he could never get away from work.  Yet, thankful to be working – even if. . . even if he didn't need to.

As he exited on Harbor Blvd. in Anaheim toward the Hilton, that hole in Jack’s heart became bigger.  Being in Southern California was something he and Jill did – together.  It wasn’t right to be here alone.  For decades, it had become their annual destination.   Half of him was missing.  The seat next to him, in this Toyota Corolla, was empty.  That cute blonde was back in Texas – she should be here, he thought – sitting right there.  And it just didn’t fit.  Nothing was right.  Jack needed to end this trip as quick as possible, and get back to Texas - back to Jill.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Crime in Madrid

Jack ran fast.
His heavy backpack slowed him down, but he kept up the pace.  Maneuvering through the crowded airport, he jumped in-and-out and between people, leaping over the endless stream of roller-bags.

Running hard, he kept his eyes focused on the guy wearing a dark blue shirt, the guy who had just snatched a laptop from the security belt.  It had only taken seconds . . . Jack had just barely gotten through the Madrid Airport security, and was lacing-up his shoes, when out of nowhere, this thug strolled by and grabbed the expensive laptop - and began to give chase through the terminal.
Jack had yelled - 'Hay, Stop!.'   Jack didn't know the owner of the laptop - it was just instinct that told him to run after him - it just felt right.  So he kept chasing.

A few yards behind, and running hard too, was the owner of the laptop.  By now they had run a couple hundred yards and were getting close to the El Al gates where the man had stopped.  Two Israeli security guards saw them all running toward the gate and they stepped out with authority - with guns, grabbing the thief first, then Jack and the other man.

"What's going on here!?" commanded one of the Israeli guards.  The 3 men were huffing and puffing.  The thief caught his breath and said, "I'm late for my flight - I need to board here for Tel Aviv!".   Jack said - "No - this man just stole this guys laptop - we've been chasing him all the way from the security entrance to get it back!  Arrest this guy!".      
The thief, out of breath, looked astonished.  A Spanish man, with broken English said,  "What you say to me??  I have laptop - see - this my computer, here, here, see".    He hadn't even put it in his bag, it was in plain sight, and he held it up for the Israeli's to see.  It was a small black Lenovo laptop.  Jack looked at the other man, and asked - "isn't this your laptop?"   The other man looked disappointed and said - "well, no, it's not - I had a MacBook laptop.  That's not it!  Where's my computer?!"
Bewildered - they all just looked at each other.  Jack finally said - "wow, I thought you had stolen his laptop, so we were chasing you.  Why were you running?"   He blurted out, "I run, I late for my flight!"
Astonished - the 3 simply looked at each other, still breathing hard.  One of the guards said, calmly, "OK, OK,  open the laptop, prove to us that it's yours, and everyone move along - sounds like a mis-understanding.  This flight is boarding, you have to hurry.  What flight are you 2 guys on?"   "This flight - to Tel Aviv - the same flight", said Jack.  The other man said the same, "I'm on this same flight with my wife and 4 others - - here they come now."   Rushing toward them now were 4 others, a man with 3 women, all with worried looks on their faces.  "What's going on?!" said the wife of the man.  "We were petrified - why did you run ahead so fast without telling us anything?". 
"I thought this man had taken my laptop, and this nice man thought the same.  We ran after him.  But it wasn't him.  Did you pickup my laptop in security?"  "No, of course not!" said his wife. 
Over the intercom, they heard "Ladies and gentleman, this is the final boarding call for Tel Aviv - the doors will be closing shortly - please board now."
It was too late to go all the way back to security to find the laptop.  Jack said "Where are you staying in Tel Aviv?"   The man said, "We're at the Gold Hotel, on Jaffa Road, in Jerusalem - I bet I never see that laptop again".   "Is it really important - does that computer mean a lot to you?" asked Jack.  "Yes - my whole life is on that computer."
One of the Israeli guards said - "just call the airport when you land, tell them what it looks like and where you are staying - if they have it - they'll ship it to you."
On the plane, shuffling bags and arranging seats, fluffing pillows and blankets - the group of 5 took their seats, exhausted.  About an hour into the flight, Jack walked from first class, through coach, to find an available restroom in the back.   "Hey!"  came a quiet voice - "I never said thank you for trying to help me.  That was so nice of you - what's your name?".
"Jack.  Jack Flak".   "See you in Jerusalem."



Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dad Died

Dad died.
I only had one.

Over the past months - and really, years – I had become bitter – bitter toward God – for ‘allowing’ dad to go the way he did.  I was told by many, that there was a reason for it, something we can’t understand and won’t understand until we too get to heaven and find out the secret to the suffering he endured.  

All I could say is “I know”.   I’m not new to this, as a Christian - -  there are a lot of things we won’t ever get answers to until we meet the creator, who has His reasons, bigger reasons, reasons we can’t comprehend.  This truth is one of the toughest hurdles of the faith.  It will make or break you.

But still – it has ticked me off.   He was a soldier for Christ.  Infantry.  He kicked-down doors, house-to-house (not literally, but figuratively).  He lived to spread the Gospel and never went off track, a good soldier – the best soldier.  He took body blows, but never fell.  He stood strong to the end.

I’ve thought: “God – you have every reason in the world to let me die that way, - -  but NOT dad, not him – he’s one of the good guys”.


A few years ago, I was travelling every week . . . going to the airport on Monday and returning on Thursday.   And my company allowed me to pay for a driver each way (this was before Uber).  So I was paying a driver twice a week.   It occurred to me that dad was mostly retired and could always use a few extra dollars, so why not hire him?   (and by the way, he would always offer to drive me to the airport anytime – and would never ask me to pay him of course). 

I asked him if he would be willing to drop me off and pick me up each week – and I would pay him what I was paying for a licensed driver.  He said he would love it.  I told him to print up an ‘official’ looking receipt that I could submit on my expenses – so I could keep it “quasi legal” (?!).   He said he didn’t want me to get in trouble at work – “was it really ok”?  I said it was fine, don’t worry about it.  On his computer he created this form, and at the top in big letters was “Speedy Airport Service”, and underneath, it said “We Get You There Fast!”.   I asked him to put the amount I paid him, the date and to sign each one, but “not too clearly”, so no one could see his name “Donald Kanaley”.   No, he didn’t want to do this, it didn’t seem right.   – I said ok, just sign your name normally – it’ll be ok.

I knew I would regret it some – no offence to him!  But he had a way of driving, where he would get on the freeway and get up to 55 MPH, then let up the peddle until it went down to about 45 MPH, then pushed again to 55 MPH, then down to 45 MPH . . .  and this continues for the duration.  It was like being on the tea-cup ride at Disneyland – it always made me queasy.   Plus, this was before any GPS, he would pull out a map – even if he knew where he was going – he would unfold a REAL map, and you know how big those are.   While driving, 55-45-55-45, he would be reading the map.   Then occasionally he would lean over to grab his tube of Crest toothpaste, and he would squeeze out just enough onto his finger and put it in his mouth.   I think he was told in Seminary, to always have good breath.  He would always ask if you wanted some . . . .  It just recently occurred to me that I never saw him spit – ever.   So he didn’t drink, smoke, chew, cuss, or spit – EVER.     And as far as I can remember, isn’t it true that you’re not suppose to swallow toothpaste?   You’re suppose to spit it out – right?   Oh well.

So, each trip – we would approach the toll booth at the airport – to get the ticket.  He ALWAYS, 100% of the time, pulled out one of his Gospel tracks.   He would stop for the guy or gal to give him the ticket and he would always ask if it would be ok for him to give them “something to read while they’re on a break”.   The person ALWAYS said yes, it was never turned down, never rejected.   Then, when exiting the airport – he did it again.  EVERY TIME,  2X / WEEK x2 trips = 4x per week.

He was always working – always willing to stick his neck out to spread the gospel.  What if just 5% of the people he gave a track to, actually read it and found Christ?  Say, 20 travel weeks per year, for 2 years = 40 weeks, x 4 hand-outs = 160 tracks.  X just 5% = 8 people.  Then, who did those 8 people tell about Christ, and it continues . . . ?

I would say, “OK dad, just pull up to the curb here and I’ll jump out, get my roller bag and go to the ticket counter to check in”.  He would say “OK”.   But when he pulled up – he put it in park, jumped out and got my bag for me.  Usually we were in a ‘no-loading zone’ – so I always worried that the cop would come and give us a hard time – but it never happened.   He would then shake my hand, and put his hand on my shoulder and he asked if he could say a ‘quick prayer’ before I left.  At first, honestly, I didn’t want to take the time to do that, but of course I said ‘sure’.

So, he would pray – praying that I would have a ‘safe flight’, and that I would have a ‘successful meeting’.  He would pray for my wife and kids who were at home waiting.  He would pray that I would ‘stay strong’.   “In Jesus name, amen’.   We would part, I would run into the building and up to the ticket counter.  I would always look back to make sure he was gone – but he NEVER was – he always waited in the car until he saw me leave the ticket counter and head to the security line.

We had this same routine, week after week.  I looked forward to the trips with him, the routine, the prayer time - -  you know I ALWAYS had a good week when he prayed for me there – I ALWAYS stayed strong.

  1. He was honest.
  2. He was funny.
  3. He was reliable.
  4. He was consistent.
  5. He was protected (angles around the car).
  6. He was always doing the Lord’s work.
  7. He was concerned for me (and you).

There was no one like him – anywhere.
I love the song called “I Will Rise” (by Chris Tomlin) – I know dad loved it too.

There’s a Peace I’ve come to know
Though my Heart and Flesh may fail
There’s an Anchor for my soul
I can say – It is well.

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When the Darkness breaks to Light
And the Shadow’s disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes 

   “Jesus has overcome, and the grave is overwhelmed.  The Victory is won, He is risen from the dead. . . .  And I will Rise, when He calls my name.  No more sorrow, no more pain.  I will rise on Eagles wings, before my God, fall on my knees.  And Rise.  I will Rise!

I’ll see you soon dad, save me a good seat, and you can fill me in on what I’ve been missing!

Life Legacy
Donald Edward Kanaley
October 14, 1930-November 19, 2017

Born: October 14, 1930
Place of Birth: Rochester, NY
Death: November 19, 2017
Place of Death: Savannah, TX

The Rev. Dr. Donald Edward Kanaley entered into the presence of his Lord
& Savior, Jesus Christ, on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at 4:15am. He was
attended by his dear wife Phyllis Gray Kanaley and her helper Faith.

Donald Edward Kanaley gave his life to Christ as a young man and lived to
bring others to saving faith. Over many decades he carried joy and the
Gospel wherever he went.

Don achieved many accomplishments in his life:
1. Ordination to the Pastoral Ministry-November 15, 1957;
2. Bible College Graduate-Baptist Bible College and Seminary - Bachelor of Theology;
3. Theological Seminary Graduate-Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary - Master of Divinity;
4. Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Seminary) - Master of Theology;
5. Fuller Theological Seminary - Doctor of Ministry.

Don served responsibly several independent organizations over the years:
1. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association-11 years as director of the telephone center;
2. Africa Inland Mission-Service on the field in Kenya, East Africa;
3. World Vision International, Church Relations, Texas;
4. Wycliffe Bible Translators - Short-term Associate in Greater Dallas-6 years on the board;
5. Child Evangelism Fellowship - Greater Dallas Area Director-5 years;
6. The American Tract Society - Colporteur for 12 years in Greater Dallas;
7. Operation Rescue - one of the original members in Dallas.

As pastor Don served in several churches:
1. Calvary Baptist Church, Lynn, Massachusetts;
2. Second Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
3. First Baptist Church, Bergenfield, New Jersey;
4. First Baptist Church, Downey, California;
5. Reinhardt Bible Church, Dallas, Texas.

Don was proceeded in death by his daughter, Cynthia Diane Kanaley Newcott, his mother and father, Leola Pearl Kanaley and Thomas Edward Kanaley, and his brother, Martin Kanaley.

He is survived by his wife Phyllis Gray Kanaley, sons Reid Kanaley and Scot Kanaley, daughters Candace Craig and Celeste Johnson, his brothers Thomas, Joseph, and Daniel, and 17 grandchildren, Benjamin Newcott, Tiffany Newcott Himes, Nicholas Newcott, Zachary Newcott, Collin Kanaley, Ian Kanaley, Tara Craig Benker, Jeremy Craig, Tanya Craig Walch, Aaron Craig, Alexander Craig,
Hannah Craig, Jorden Kanaley Malazzo, Hollen Kanaley Moreno, Dagen Kanaley, Alexis Johnson Sellers, and Brittany Johnson Carrillo.

He is also survived by 46 great grandchildren, Silas, Eden, Maeve, Emma, Madison,
Olivia, Maxfield, Hudson, Mirabella, Amber, Mason, Calvin, Miles, Anabel, Shiloh, Asher, Korbin, Calahan, Dylan, Oliver, Griffin, Eliana, Chandler, Camryn, Madison, Autumn Lily, Ashton, Jack, Amelia, Scarlett, Aurora, Solomon, Daniel, Ledger, Lucy, Liam, Ellis, Jeffrey, Nick, Beckett,
Brynn, Lincoln, Penelope, Isaac, Jocelyn, and Jonah.

A Private Memorial Service and Burial will be held on Saturday, November 25, 2017 at 11:30am
  (Charles W. Smith & Sons, funeral home, McKinney, Texas.  Restland Memorial, Dallas, Texas).
A Public Memorial Service will be held on Monday, November 27, 2017 at 10am
  (Prestonwood Baptist Church, 6801 W Park Blvd, Plano, TX 75093)

 His was a life worthy of examination and emulation, but his deepest desire would be that you know his Savior Jesus and join him in Glory forever.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017



Jack sat in his car with the engine running, radio on low as Lauren Daigle sang ‘I will trust in you’.  He closed his eyes and listened to the poetic words.  He thought about his beautiful daughter, now in her thirties who had been praying for years for a child, a baby.   And, his wonderful son-in-law, who stood by her side every day.  Jack thought – ‘defeat-after-defeat, all they could do was trust in you Lord – for something magnificent to happen – someday’.   Jack listened to the words - “when you don’t move the mountains - I needed you to move; when you don’t part the waters - I wish I could walk through; when you don’t give the answers - as I cry out to you – I will trust in you”.

For Jack, that was the part of being a believer that hurt the most, that perplexed him the most – the hardest assignment Christ calls us to – to trust in Him – no matter what.  Good or bad.

Looking at his watch, he needed to run – the courthouse was open and the ceremony was about to begin.  The judge was going to be surprised at the magnitude of the crowd that would stand in front of him this Friday morning in December, a sunny, warm winter day in Texas.     His daughters support group was there – to vouch for her, as a mother, a leader.  All she needed now was the final approval from the judge – to make it legal - and the boy would be hers.

Jack saw his Bible sitting on the passenger seat and picked it up to find one last source of encouragement – maybe something he could share later in the day.  It flipped open to the book of Daniel.

Daniel – ‘that’s weird’ he said.  His new grandson’s name: a 10 year old blonde headed miracle – a real stick of dynamite – born in California, now living in Texas.  Jack’s eyes were drawn quickly to Daniel 2:48 – and he read “Then the king promoted Daniel to a high position in the kingdom, lavished him with gifts and made him governor over the entire province of Babylon and the chief in charge of all the wise men.”

Jack rushed inside to be a witness before the Judge, to be a father to his daughter and Mzee to the new kid.  Daniel became his newest (and oldest) grand-child that day in December 2016. 



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

West Wall

Jack folded his scribbled note, written on the scrap paper he had found on the ground on his walk to the Wall.  He had planned on this for months:  'take a carefully worded, thought out, neatly written prayer, on a nice piece of parchment paper - and gently place it in a nice crack - all by itself - in the Western Wall of Jerusalem'.
"My prayer is a joke", Jack thought.  "I can't even fit it in here with the others, it's falling out already.  This whole thing is s train wreck!" 
The strict Jewish men around him rocked back and forth, back and forth, facing the wall, praying softly and then reading from their Bibles - from the Law.  Jack thought it was both silly, and poetic.  He admired the determination and dedication of these men in black - but couldn't understand the process or the purpose.  He liked the idea that they were focused - focused on God - who could be critical of that?
The wind blew and Jack watched his folded prayer blow to the ground.  He picked it up and pushed it into a different crack in the wall - tightly - jamming it in with force and anger. 
A minute passed, the sun felt warm.  Jack closed his eyes, lifted his face to the sun.
It fell again.   A light breeze passed and Jack could hear a voice saying - "leave it Jack - I've seen it - I read it - I answered it, and you're good to go!"      
"Thanks Lord - for keeping it real - you're awesome, as usual."   Jack hurried back to the waiting bus.