Archive

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Is Your Name Tony?

photo (22)I had an unexpected encounter on the flight home. This wasn’t the international flight on a spacious 767 with TVs on every seat-back. This was on the little plane that I couldn’t stand up straight in the aisle at 6 foot 1. Two seats, little aisle, and then two more seats. To my right was a young mother with her 7 month old (A very well-behaved baby, I must say; more so than the other babies on the flight anyway!).

To my left, separated only by the narrow passage was a man that I recognized. He appeared slightly different than I remember seeing him before on a video. There was one dead giveaway. He has no arms. Just to make sure, I asked him what his name was, and when he said Tony, I knew he was the guy. We conversed and once we landed, I snapped this picture with him.

Tony Meléndez is his name. Like I said, I had seen his video online before and even showed it in church once! I am a musician. I’m a guitar player first. But I have full use of arms and fingers. Tony plays guitar and sings. He plays with his feet! Really well! He drives a car. He is truly an inspiration! Don’t take it from me. Pope John Paul II said as much when Tony played for him! So, I’m done writing. All that’s left is to embed the video that struck me and caused me to recognize this inspirational man on this little flight.

Advertisements

4 Years Ago – Never Forget

4 years ago today an EF5 tornado ripped through the heart of the city of Joplin, Missouri killing 161 people. A tragic day to say the least. However, what followed that horrific storm was nothing short of amazing. The city pulled together. Volunteers poured in by the thousands. Truly inspiring stories were being told all over the place. I’ll not spoil it for you.

Discover the story of the good that came after that fateful day in “Steadfast – The Documentary” – Joplin’s story as told be its residents. People are saying this film has helped them to heal emotionally.

It was 4 years ago today. We will never forget.

Find out more at www.steadfastdocumentary.com.

Order a 90 minute DVD with 30 minutes of extras by clicking here.

Categories: Uncategorized

Juan’s Story

photo (3)A few days ago I published a blog post entitled “The Crying Guy in Seat 7” about how I feel coming back to Chile after several years. It was a personal post which resonated with others. But now, I wanted to write to highlight the lives of other people. These are friends I’ve seen and what God has done and is doing in their lives.

We begin with my friend, Juan. On Sunday I had a good ol’ chilean cookout at his place with his family and another friend’s family. Unfortunately Juan was sick. However, I got to see Juan again on Tuesday and spend some time talking with him and two other brothers. We prayed together, for each other, and then continued talking about some of the challenges facing ministry today. It was a quick visit and I was then picked up by another friend which I’ll blog about later. I could write Juan’s story here, but he’s already told it on video. So instead I just want to share this video which was produced by my friends Eric and Gabriel.

It’s on the long side (13 minutes before credits) but it’s nicely done. It’s in Spanish with English subtitles. Check out his testimony below:

 

 

The Crying Guy in Seat 7

April 30, 2015 6 comments

photo (1)

It was the strangest time. It was nothing special or out of the ordinary. And that’s just it. That’s when a wave of emotion hit me, that took my breath away. It caused tears to well up in my eyes and break free (even now as I write). The cliched lump in the throat was all too real for me.

It was only a lady on her cell phone. I didn’t even see her. Don’t know what she looks like. I just overheard a plain conversation on a bus ride through the Chilean countryside. What she said didn’t matter. In fact, it was simply a short and boring exchange with a family member, I suppose. It was the way she talked. It was how she sounded.

photo

It wasn’t like the Spanish I’ve heard the last decade and a half. It was Chilean Spanish, complete with all of its nuances. It was Chilean personality coming out on full display. It wasn’t the actual trigger which caused this temporary loss of composure in me. The trigger was the last four days leading up to this moment of eavesdropping. It was all of the familiar old sights and sounds and smells and places and silly things like name brands and more important parts of culture like food and drink. It was old friends and new friends alike.

photo (2)

It was realizing that my childhood friend’s teenage kid is the same age I was when I left this place, and that it’s been just as many years since I last visited. It was hearing this type of Spanish now for the better part of a week.

So it was on a fairly quiet bus ride back from the picturesque coastal city of Pichilemu back to Santiago where my previously delinquent emotions started to come out. I’m glad I asked for napkins at the sandwich shop before getting on the bus so I could wipe the tears that ran down my cheeks and blow my nose and try to breathe regularly again. I only hope that I still blend in enough not to look like a complete fool. But being surrounded by such beauty, taking in the gorgeous landscapes of the country I grew up in, which I used to call home, I don’t really mind if I appear somewhat foolish given the circumstances.

“What’s wrong with that crying guy in seat 7?” Absolutely nothing.

On Moore and Joplin and Social Media’s help

May 21, 2013 1 comment

joplin

May 22nd is a date that I will always remember. We typically remember dates that are special occasions, birthdays and anniversaries, etc. But we also remember dates surrounding events that were catastrophic. That is the case with me for May 22nd. This is the day when an EF-5 tornado ripped through the heart of Joplin, Missouri, the town I grew up in.

Unfortunately, the people of Moore, Oklahoma will now always remember yesterday’s date, May 20, 2013 for the same reason. All the news on Moore is just now coming out. I can’t really speak to it. But as I watched The Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes come onto the scene, he kept referencing Joplin from two years ago. In fact, before arriving he tweeted, “I do not want to see another #Joplin worst day of my life. #prayformoore.” And indeed, Moore looks very bad. Joplin’s loss of life was 161. Moore right now is 24, but it is still early.

Two years ago, I watched the news images as I did yesterday, but the difference was, I knew my hometown of Joplin like the back of my hand. I actually lived 1000 miles away when the tornado hit. I knew my family and friends were there. One third of the city was decimated. How about my loved ones? It was so devastating that cell phones were no longer a reliable means of communication. I recall trying to call and see if family members were okay. That was the story of so many.

A need to communicate effectively and share information arose out of this awful situation. Social media filled much of that role. My aunt, who heads up the library in Joplin, was asking on Facebook if anyone had heard from my grandmother. I replied that she was ok. She then came back asking where I got that information; did someone talk to her? My sister made the contact, and Facebook passed on the news to other worried individuals in a more reliable way.

There were many pages created to help after this disaster. Missing people boards, volunteer info, fundraising and donation instructions. The Joplin Tornado Info page, started up less than two hours after the tornado by 23 year old Genevieve Williams from Neosho, MO was honored as one of seven nominees for a 2011 Mashable Award in the Social Good Cause Campaign Category. It became the clearing house of information, staffed entirely by volunteers. It seems all of Joplin was on the page with 49,000 likes so quickly. I saw, yesterday that Moore Oklahoma Tornado Info page has gone live modeled after JTI to fill the same sort of role. It already has 32,556 likes. A much smaller page was also created yesterday called, Joplin Loves Moore. I know many from this area have already been deployed to lend a helping hand.

My hometown knows what Moore is going through. In fact tomorrow, we will stand in what was ground zero for a moment of silence exactly two years after that tragedy. The recovery has been nothing short of amazing, and is still ongoing. I was so impacted by everything that occurred and the stories coming out of Joplin that I moved back to the area, and completed a feature-length documentary that chronicles that fateful day and the year following- www.steadfastdocumentary.com.

What can you do to help? If Joplin is an indicator, a good place to start would be Moore Oklahoma Tornado Info’s Facebook page and other social media channels for real-time information.

A Revolutionary New Stabilizer

With NAB starting in Vegas tomorrow there should be a wave of new announcements of new gear to buy or put on your wish list. Among those is what appears to be a game changer in the image stabilization department for filmmaking. The product is MōVI gyro stabilizer by Freefly Systems. Be sure to google “MoVI” in the coming days to see all the specs. For now, see what Vincent LaForet has created with this smooth new product:


Amazing, right? It’s even been called “magical.” What used to take huge rigs and tracks and dollies and jibs can all be done with a tiny piece of equipment. See how this 24 second video shows the stability achieved with the fiercest of movements:


The saying is you get what you pay for. While this revolutionary innovation will surely appeal to all studios, even in time the big ones, the price point is probably too high for most indie outfits. However, when seeing what this can do, it should be a focal point for many people’s gear envy!
To appreciate fully the gains made by this system, you must see how it works in reality. Vincent LaForet does just that and shows us behind the scenes footage of his “MōVI” short:

Easter Service Review (Canyon Ridge)

IMG_20130331_132537

While every Sunday is important, it’s safe to say that Easter is a church’s most anticipated service of the year. I was unable to be at my home church for Easter, but had the privilege of attending my sister’s church, where she serves on staff. Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV passed out peeps candy to its members weeks prior to have them invite their peeps to an Easter service. Seven services were arranged to accommodate an expected 12,000 people. The totals came in at 13,371 demonstrating good foresight and planning.

CRCC is a mega-church in Vegas, so production standards are high for everything from music to video to stage design, graphics, lighting and atmospheric effects. That said, nothing was done over the top. That type of performance is reserved for the Strip.

Outside the auditorium there were baptisms going on as well as BBQs and Easter egg hunts. Inside people were in place ready to worship and were interacting physically and audibly with a unique and fun pre-service video (Roman Video’s “Steve the Screen Easter Edition” http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/countdowns/37006/Steve-The-Screen-Easter-Edition).

A full stage of musicians, singers and choir set the tone early. Creativity in music selections was evident from the beginning when “The Wonderful Cross” went straight into the middle of Matt Maher’s “Christ is Risen (Come Awake).” This medley approach was repeated for two other resurrection themed songs: “Let is Rise” and “God’s Not Dead (Like a Lion).”

After some special announcements the band was striped to essential players for a special number. Big Daddy Weave’s song “Redeemed” was weaved together with a video featuring real redemption stories from several church members. This blending of pre-recorded and live action, in and out, was powerful. On the triple wide screen in the middle scrolled polaroid-like images of all those who were filmed for the video. At the end a few came out to say one more line about how God has redeemed them and then the band finished with “thank God redeemed.” This was perhaps the most effective element of the whole service and served to set up what was to come.

Kevin Odor delivered an impactful message on “Hope You Can Trust.” This is the first message of a series on trust. A funny moment occurred as we watched a short “Trust Fall Fail” video that was adapted with the series graphics on either end. At the end of the message, those who had accepted Christ were encouraged to text “today” to a number and those interested in a “Getting Started Class” could text “next” to another number.

CRCC practices open communion every Sunday. Kevin Odor transitioned into this time seamlessly. While the trays of bread and juice were being passed a beautiful instrument piano piece was played live as images and verses of Scripture were displayed on the screens. A singer quietly made his way on to the stage by the piano to perform “Be Still” by the popular Grammy nominated band The Fray. A cover song from main stream artists is not uncommon at CRCC.

At this point, one could sense the service coming to a close. However, before dismissing the dynamics would change again to send everyone out fired up for the Lord. While the offering was being collected the full band started playing. A spoken word piece over the band’s underscore tied together the service. The worship leader and choir on their cue began singing the chorus and bridge of Chris Tomlin’s “Our God is Greater.” It was not only those on stage who were animated. Electricity filled the air as we were dismissed.

I’m glad that I was able to attend this excellent Easter service at a great church. If you would like to check out this service or any others, check out the media page at www.canyonridge.org

canyonridge

%d bloggers like this: