Sunday, March 12, 2006


Saturday, March 11

You probably won´t get that title unless you´ve either been to Panama or I explain it to you. I won´t assume that anybody reading this has been here, so I guess I´m only left with one option.

Movistar is a prominent provider of cell phone service in Panama. They sell prepaid SIM cards that users can slide into their phones, which is the way that most cell companies work outside the U.S. Anyway, I love the name because it reeks of globalization and it portrays my transformation from a relative unknown to an "executive extra" in a CBN feature.

Although we hadn´t set the alarm, I awoke at about 8:30 to the sound of Chuck rummaging through the shipwreck that is our hotel room. Brad and I had no specific plans. We figured we would explore more of the city and meet up with Chuck later in the day. But Chuck had other ideas.

As we drifted in and out of sleep, he said, "Well, I was gonna hire you guys to be extras in our shoot today, but we have to leave in a few minutes."

That woke us up, especially when he mentioned that we would be paid. I had been an extra in one of Chuck´s CBN pieces in Jordan. I was floating in the Dead Sea with rocks stacked up on my chest. This time, however, I´d get to see more of the inner workings of taping a feature.

One shower and 15 minutes later, we were leading a caravan of cars to the Casa de Oracion Cristiana, a church on the other side of the city. The CBN crew was planning to shoot a reenactment for a story they were doing about maestro David Choy, a composer well recognized in Panama for the worship songs he has written. I didn´t catch the whole story, but apparently he was in a car accident that left him seriously injured. As far as I know, he was watching the 700 Club one day and he was healed of his illness through prayer. The part of the story we were shooting was when he returned to his home church and prayed at the altar after the healing took place. Brad and I are faux audience members, acting as if we are discussing the scriptures (and we actually were) while other members of the church are praying for Choy.

Each of us received $10 for our services, not bad for about 2 hours of hanging out, waiting for other extras to arrive and for the producers to put the shots together.

After the reenactment, we headed to a restaurante for lunch, where Brad and I both ordered filet mignon. With CBN footing $5 of the bill for our services, we figured we´d splurge for the $6.75 steak. Apparently, Panamanians have a different idea of filet mignon than we do. But it was still tasty, and we were glad to get all the protein we could from meat before we have to subsist on dried foods on Isla Coiba.

After lunch, Chuck dropped Brad and me off at the Super 99 grocery store to finish shopping for food that we would eat on the island. Chuck´s been trying to get us to plan a menu since we got here, but neither Brad nor I am very organized about those types of things. Our trip to the Super 99 was more to get ideas from the store than to actually buy them. (More on shopping in a later post).

We later ran some errands with Chuck before heading back to the hotel. Again we led the caravan to the Choys´ house, where the CBN crew was to film one more reenactment. This time, they would stage the car accident that put maestro Choy in the hospital. We pulled into a dark parking lot at the end of the street where the Choys live. A lone streetlight shone yellow on the rugged pavement under which most of the action took place. The crew used their rented van for the "accident," but to make the scene more realistic, they needed traffic in the picture.

I was called upon to drive two different times. Once, my part was nothing more than backing the car up. The second time, though, I played the part of oncoming traffic, and I had to swerve off the road to avoid slamming into Chuck, who was playing the part of the drunk driver in the reenactment.

I thought my duties as an actor were over, but I also served as a filler person in the last shot of the night. It was the interior view of the wreck scene. David´s son Alex was used to play his father, and all the other actors in the car--who played party-crazed friends--were latino except me.

Overall, it was an exhausting experience and an unorthodox way to spend a day in Panama, but I learned a lot about broadcast journalism and TV production. I also got to meet some amazing Christian brothers and sisters. Everyone was very receptive and courteous toward us, and they even tolerated my botched attempts to speak to them in their heart language. I´d like to think I encouraged them as much as they did me.

I never realize how limited my vision is until God pries me away from the States. Every time, he seems to say, Remember when I said, "Every tribe, tongue, and nation? I wasn´t kidding."

He´s never kidding about saving people from their sins and encouraging believers. I pray that my eyes will always be open to where he´s working around the world. And I pray that he´ll continue to give me the grace to join him where he´ll have me do so.

1 comment:

katy said...

Look at you, my little movistar!! Keep up the crazy adventures.