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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.

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A Pro’s Pro

photo (20)Meet Felipe. I first met Felipe at an Asado Chileno (Chilean BBQ). He is a vital part of the NOMaD team that I went down to train for video. I really enjoyed my time spent with him and am glad he’d pick me up in the mornings and save me a 20 minute walk!

I was introduced to his music that first night. He is a professional musician. He plays guitar for a band called “Carnada” which has a following and gets radio play in Chile. His brother is the singer of the band.

I was impressed that while these guys have this musical outlet and are pros in the biz, they also play at their church. Felipe guitar and his brother plays the drums. The music was great as he is a pro’s pro! His editing skills also are very good.

In fact, they did their own music videos. Check it out!

 

Categories: music, personal Tags: , , ,

The Best Thing I Brought Back from Chile

11193333_855047217901041_872929724635315455_nI brought back several souvenirs and lots of candy that had sentimental value to my family. But the best thing I brought back was actually two people. I didn’t bring them back, but they traveled the same day on a different airline, and I drove to a different airport to pick them up and took them to my family to surprise them.

Who? Thanks for asking. My Tia Monica is like my Chilean mom. She was our maid or nanny growing up since I was 2 years old; a very special lady to us. I always go to her house to eat some of my favorite dishes when I go to Chile. This time we ate and visited, and I gave her an invitation to my sister’s wedding, with her name on it. I meant it as a keepsake, but her daughter said, “You should go!” And lo and behold, the next day she had a passport and they were shopping for tickets. She and her granddaughter came and even though they were delayed a few hours we pulled off a very nice surprise for our family. The video says it all!

The most meaningful trade of your life!

The next story in my series of stories of people I spent time with in Chile is Jairo and Chelsea’s story. I knew Jairo from when I lived in Chile, but had never met Chelsea before. Nonetheless they had me over to their house for a meal and a place to leave my luggage and crash for the night (actually stayed in the first house I ever lived in!).

I had found out about a project they were doing before I left for Chile, but got to see firsthand the excitement of what was taking place. I’d seen videos of times they’d appeared on national television. In fact, I left the house right before a film crew came to interview them again. Jairo is a teacher at a school in Santiago. He saw a kid with holes in his shoes, so he snapped a photo and put it up on an exchange site to trade for a new pair of shoes. IMG_4266That exploded into a project called “The most meaningful trade of your life!” and they are actually reconstructing houses for poor families.

One day I got to go to the store with them so they could buy all new tools with money from a donation. People at the store recognized them from TV and asked if they could help volunteer. In fact, they scheduled a work day for volunteers on Chile’s labor day, where EVERYTHING is closed. But they took their day off to labor out of love. I snapped this photo of them before they checked out at the door with the goods.

Chelsea wrote this note on her facebook page:

I need to send out a HUGE thank you to Huntington Christian School!! We were finally able to receive the donation they had made and so we went on a shopping spree for tools! For about six months now we have been reconstructing houses without even a hammer to use! This is a huge blessing and we are so thankful that there are so many wonderful people willing to worry about students that are all the way on the other half of the globe. We are seriously so thankful that all of this could be made possible and now we have our jumpstart and we are excited to go show God’s love to these children. Thank you so much for handing us the tools (literally) to be able to spread the good news of our savior. God bless you.

I was glad to connect with my friends and see how God is using them in a mighty way. Watch their video in English below!:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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