Of Cameras and Motorcycles
Tim De La Torre
I had just come back from the Philippines and it was early January. I had recently decided that I wanted to return to the Philippines to work as a student missionary and push school back one year. The reason I took the first trip was to do a video documentary on the mission work that Laymen Ministries was doing with the native Mungyan tribal people. It was an amazing two weeks that went by too fast and left me thinking about many deep issues.
One of those issues was the use of technology in mission work. With Adventists equipped with four television networks now (3ABN, ATN, LLBN, A.D.Venir), if there ever was a time to use technology in ministry, I believe it is now. Since I am majoring in Digital Video Technology at Pacific Union College, I made the decision that it was time to get serious and start applying what I've learned. If I was to go and live in the remote villages in the Philippines and document the lives of the people, the lives of the missionaries, and what mission work is first hand, it would take a lot of planning - and money. A laptop capable of video editing would need to be purchased, I'd need a camera, microphones, lighting gear, a good tripod, a case to protect my equipment from the humidity, and many other miscellaneous accessories. Where would I get the money for that? Then somehow, regretfully, I knew the answer.
Sometime back, I had become enthralled with motorcycles and decided that I just had to have one. I searched for months until I found 'just the one'. It was a black BMW. I really liked that bike and it was a lot of fun, but was it really worth the kind of money I had put into it? After seeing poor, starving children dying of malnutrition and parasites, somehow my little BMW didn't seem all that important anymore.
Someone might not see a correlation between selling a BMW and buying camera equipment in its place as helping these poor starving children. No, my buying a camera and an editing system won't do these kids any good. But it's a step towards getting my mind off of 'me' and seeing what I can do with a hobby(and soon to be profession). I love to show people how they can make a difference in the world. Okay, so no problem.
I would look for good deals on camera equipment, find a credit card with a big enough limit, work really hard at my several jobs, sell my bike, and I'd be set! My bike wouldn't do any good sitting around for a year anyways, so that was another incentive to sell it. I put it on the market in January and started praying about my decisions. The first answer to prayer came in a credit card application. No interest for one year and with a credit limit just the right size.
"Okay Lord, this is the first confirmation". I started researching into the equipment I would need. Several months passed by - I advertised my bike in some very high profile internet motorcycle classifieds sites with no luck. In April, I went with a few people from my Technology department to the National Associations of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas. It was there that I found a good deal on almost half of the equipment from one store and made my first big purchase. Then several weeks later, I found the laptop I wanted and made another big purchase. It felt kinda weird, "Here I am Lord with over $4000 of debt and my motorcycle hasn't sold yet, how am I going to have time to do all the things I need to do? Please help me". Not only was school and work keeping me busy but I was working with Paul Kim on editing our documentary from our last trip in which we were able to show a preliminary screening to PUC just before finals week! Praise God!
Before I knew it, school was over and I had the monotonous task of touching up our video.
Final editing, designing a cover, finishing the DVD, exporting to tape, duplication, distribution, blah blah blah.... The bike was still with me up at PUC. I had had several promising interests come and look at the bike by that time, but they had all backed out last minute. Then one week before I was to leave PUC and come back home to spend time with my family before preparing to leave for a year, I got an email from someone several hundred miles away. This guy actually made the trip complete with rails to load the bike into his truck. I was ecstatic!
He would come the day before I left. "God, your timing is amazing. Any later than this and I would have to find transportation to get the bike home with the car and it would be such a mess". I had high spirits the night before. Early the next morning, I drove out the parking
lot to meet the buyer. I took him on a ride, let him ride it around the parking lot, and we talked for almost half an hour. I just KNEW that God was working it out at that very instant.
Then he said to me, "I just think I'll have to wait on it, its hard for me to justify such a purchase right now with my finances the way they are". I was dumbfounded. I just nodded and sat there spellbound. He decided to ride it one more time to see if it would change his mind. Nope. So I stood there in the parking lot holding the keys in my hand as he drove off.
"What now Lord?"
I knew God hadn't let me down. He still had a way which I didn't know about. God helped me find a friend who was going down to where I live the very next day and he said he could drive my car so I could ride the bike. So God worked that part of the puzzle out. I now had all my stuff at home, with less than a month before I left for the Philippines.
Time flew by with the final preparations. Soon only two weeks remained and I had not sold the bike. I had a serious heart to heart talk with God. I had long thought about selling the bike on eBay but I was afraid I would not get what I wanted for it as I had seen many similar bikes go for well under their worth. Was I willing to trust God to sell it on eBay and not loose the money I needed to pay off my camera equipment? Well, sort of. I did put a reserve price on the auction but I put it up!
Several days passed with not a single bid, although well over 500 people had looked at the bike.
Then on a Tuesday morning, I checked my email and found that my bike was no longer for sale!
What's going on! The email in my Inbox was from a guy who had been emailing me for several months about the bike but was not ready to buy it. Apparently he had clicked on the 'buy it now' option and had purchased my bike. By accident, he said! He meant to bid on it and had accidentally bought it. My excitement soon turned to frustration though. "Oh great, he's not really going to want it then and he's not going to be able to give me a reasonable offer". But I continued reading and found out that his intended bid was very close to what I was willing to sell the bike for. We did some email negotiations and he said he would take it. It just seemed too amazing to be true. Details were worked out, I left for 4 days for campmeeting, and when I came back, I had less than a week to pack and get ready. The money arrived in my account that Monday! I took the bike over to the local BMW shop to have them change the oil and put new tires on it and the shippers picked the bike up on Thursday! My plane left the coming Sunday! I was able to pay my credit card bills off, and take care of every single thing I had been planning for months to do. It literally could not have gotten done if it had happened ANY later.
I realized that it is not our planning that qualifies us to go serve God. It is all God! In Proverbs 16:9 it says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps". When God gives us a dream, He'll bless our efforts and make the difference. Human effort coupled with the divine Hand, that's how I believe God works. What a beautiful example of God's leading in my life and confirming his call for me to go, and not to be afraid to use technology in the spreading of His word.
How will I use the technology exactly? What will the videos be about? Will they do any good? I don't know all those answers, but I know that the same God who directed my steps in the past will direct them in the future and whatever He calls me to do He will enable me to do.
THE REST OF THE STORY
I've been getting the most INTERESTING emails from Keith & Alma Fowlow. I now see so clearly
why God didn't let my bike sell earlier, and why the other guy who drove down from paradise didn't
buy it. God is amazing. Keith STILL hasn't gotten the bike but they did get the video you sent.
They said they've really enjoyed it. They've been sharing my website with many of their friends, family, and co-workers and it has really been a huge spiritual blessing and encouragement to them. They are always encouraging me and telling me how God is using me to touch their lives. They gave me the other half of the motorcycle story. Let me copy & paste some of it here.
********From Keith's Wife,
The whole bike deal was actually kind of a blur to me. All I knew was that we were headed to Buffalo for our vacation and all of a sudden, Keith's busy trying to take care dealing with bike stuff. Let me just say that I had very little to do with Keith's purchase of your bike. Quite frankly, I was hoping that he'd get over wanting to have one. We were gonna go see it sometime in August and then decide, but your selling it to E-bay changed all that. Before I knew it, Keith purchased the bike, and that was that. Don't get me wrong, buying the bike was fine with me, and that's not really the point of why I'm writing you. (I do have a point, just so you know).
I think everything changed for me when Keith showed me the article you wrote called, "Cameras and
Motorcycles." After reading it, I had to find out more and he showed me the site you made for Mindoro.
I have to say, I was affected by what I read and saw in the most profound way. I AM from the Philippines
and I have lived those pictures myself but to actually see and read about you and your desire to go over there and help my fellow countrymen is just so awesome to me. You blessed me and Keith by just going over there and giving your time to those people. Talk about Faith in Action. This is it, if I've ever seen one.
Tim, after we viewed the tape Alma and I talked about how we came to know you and that it was
probably God's doing. I told her the story on how I saw your bike and she mentioned that in your
motorcycle letter that another person test rode the bike but didn't buy it. We though that if that
person bought the bike we would have never met you and that you would not be a part of our lives.
Alma has been showing people around the office your pictures on the web site and I think they are
opening their eyes to the Philippines. Unless one has ever been to the Philippines they will never grasp
the situation there.
So isn't that just awesome? God is good. Thanks for sending the video.