Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sin City

So I've been away this week and it's been a good getaway. I realized I was really busy and needed a serious disconnection from work, facebook, email--and even blogging!

Funny thing is I was in Sin City of all places..That's right.. Las Vegas, Baby!. Now, I wouldn't normally choose Vegas to take my family for a's not the 1st location destination on my top ten places to visit. And before I had visited Vegas I probably would have rated it somewhere at the bottom of my top 500. Not just because of the gambling, or cause it's not all that child friendly, but because of the strip and how it can be shady in some places. But, I have to tell you, I liked Vegas (despite the scantly clad women --and men--all over billboards). But really there are some amazingly beautiful hotels and things to see in Sin City In fact, some of the architecture is a complete copy of Italian hot spots and I loved it! And when all was said and done I found myself praying a lot while in Vegas. I couldn't help but feel sad for the men and women (mostly Hispanic) working the streets with "call girl" fliers trying to make a living. My heart broke a lot in Vegas with all the sin and confusion I saw. I was reminded of a Tony Campolo story where he invited prostitutes up to his hotel room to eat dinner and pray or something like that. Wendy and I talked about that how cool that would be (for a minute) but didn't have the $200 to part with. We would just pray out loud as we walked the strip or drove in our car. That was cool.

But the reason we went to Las Vegas was because of Microsoft!

I was actually hired to be a presenter for Microsoft at a huge convention. (Companies often hire actors to be their demo/face people). (Microsoft's trade show was held at a convention called NAB (NATIONAL ASSOC OF BROADCASTERS) for Media & Entertainment companies. 

It's huge and a lot of pressure with big wigs walking around. With guest speakers like Tim Robbins (listen to a portion of his speech here)

and the Lost (TV show) producers. I also feel slightly like Benedict Arnold working for Microsoft of all companies-being that I'm typing on a Macbook Pro while I hear my iPod playing in the background, and uh, I make my phone calls on a an iphone, too! But hey, I work on a PC at in my office and also have another PC at home so I can work the computer technology!

I would walk into this huge center much like Moscone where all the new media and technology is being introduced for the next year's TV and Filmmakers! And every fifteen minutes I would give a 15 minute presentation with lights and video blaring behind me. Here's me "acting" like I know what I'm talking about. (I have no idea about "rich media assets" but they're paying to act like I do!) This made me think a lot about how we can just "act" like a Christian. If you know all the right things to stay, sing all the songs, even "do" all the right things to look the part and to fool a lot of people, but you really don't internalize the truth or become changed by it.

That's what I thought about a lot as I did my presentation. No one knew that I wasn't a real Microsoft employee. If I stayed on script while on stage I was fine. I even felt pretty cool at time being associated with the likes of Bill Gates! :) (If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Bill was there, I'd be a millionaire. )But when someone asked me off stage about some website development software I couldn't tell them anything that could help them. There were so many parallels for the Christian life that I realized!

Ummm..Why is the guy in the pink shirt video taping? I hope this doesn't end up on Youtube. Funny enough if you search for NAB show on Youtube you'll find lots of stuff, even a tour of our booth..minus me!

Seriously I have no idea how God opens these types of opportunities for me, but he does. And I realize I don't just do these things to work/make money--and in this case not just to promote Microsoft.

But...God puts us in these places and sends us out to be used by him as a missionary! In my case I was a missionary disguised as an actor--playing a Microsoft presenter! So it was so cool that during the week I had numerous conversations about my real passion. It was so cool to connect with one of these techies and talk about God and actually pull out my Bible from my bag and read together. God is cool like that! While riding the monorail from the hotel (10 minutes) I would usually listen to my iphone/ipod and read the word. One morning a man leaned over to me and said, "Great book you're reading." So of course we got to talk. This broadcaster in New Zealand told me about his walk with God, his church back home, and his challenges in having God-honoring business ethics. So as we walked into the Convention Center we prayed together. It was so awesome. I love opportunities like that! It made me so excited for people working in the marketplace and how HUGE the mission field is to share our faith, care for people and wait for opportunities to pray and encourage people toward Jesus.

It was cool to talk with the people working in the Microsoft booth, too, in the limited time I had between each 15 minute presentation. (Every half hour from 9:30-5:30). Some were from Washington, some from the Bay Area, Canada, Italy, and other places in Europe! BTW I even saw fomer PCC'er Debby Sawczuk who was working with a So-Cal company! Crazy! (She took the pics of me on the stage).

And during the downtime we spent time as a family. Every night eating out, seeing the site, swimming, soaking in the hot tub and enjoying a very nice hotel!

It was great because it's all expenses paid by Microsoft! We couldn't afford to stay in this hotel on our own so we are so thankful to God for opening this opportunity!
So while I did my tradeshow, Wendy was hanging at the hotel with trips planned to outlets, children's museums, and libraries.

When I would get off early we had the afternoon to nap and hang out! It was so great!
Since we don't crack the slots we would just sit pool side and enjoy! 80-90 degrees all week!

Isella loved splashing up the pool! She's also been very cuddly lately!

I love being a dad!

We are imagining this summer with her at the PCC pool. She's already looking like such a little girl eating and drinking on her own and sitting in big

One night for dinner we went to the very child friendly Rainforest Cafe--even though we have one in SF, it was fun to do!. Isella was pointing at everything. Good food and fun.

I love my wife and daughter!

And of course if you aren't addicted to gambling, they've got STARBUCKS in Vegas, too. There was two in our hotel, and one was open 24 hours.

1 comment:

John Liotti said...

Hey Tony,

Good post! I didn't know you were a famous actor! Vegas, baby!

- John