Thursday, October 14, 2010

33 Chile Miners Praising God!

Were you like me yesterday? Glued to the screen? Watching one of the most amazing rescues of our times in Copiapo, Chile, South America?

Thirty-three gentlemen trapped in a mine approximately one kilometer in the bowels of the earth for 69 days. Over two months of wondering every moment whether or not you will soon meet your Maker.

The tomb served as their home, and their co-workers were now their family.

After a disaster in the mine, they were all able to reach the underground shelter where they were careful to ration what food they had. Over time the workers above were able to drill a hole to them the diameter of a grapefruit, where they sent down food and water for these survivors.

It appeared to be a rescue mission that would not be complete until Christmas time. (That's right.... CHRISTMAS TIME!!!... can you imagine???) Families camped out at the site for the 69 days, never giving up hope. In fact, that is what they called it.... Camp Hope. God moved in a mighty way; and through the hard work of officials and rescue workers, things started clicking.

In the evening of October 12, 2010, the rescue mission was about to begin. At midnight, just as the calendar turned to October 13th, the mission began where Phoenix 2, a large capsule which would one-by-one bring the men to safety, was lowered into the earth.

One man at a time was winched back up to the earth's surface by a large metal cable, provided by the country of Germany. What joy filled the hearts of millions of people around the world as each one stepped out of the capsule and onto solid ground, donning sun glasses to protect their eyes from the natural sunlight that they had not viewed for well over two months!

And as soon as he was unharnessed and cleared his way from the capsule, it's door was shut once more and lowered back to the bowels. (Kevin, just so you know, it's my blog so I don't need permission to use the word "bowels".... [wink, wink]. Sorry folks, just a little friendly joke between a handful of friends).

As I timed the rescue from Miner #12 to Miner #19, each one seemed to surface approximately every 40 minutes. As I had plans to attend my son's highschool soccer game that afternoon, I had to leave the screen. It was a very difficult thing to do. I wanted to watch this amazing rescue and see each family greet their beloved husband, father, son, uncle, brother, nephew.... But I knew I would be able to watch the rescue once I returned home.

Imagine my amazement that in just a matter of less than six hours, they had rescued eleven more men!! Wow. They must have cranked up the accelerator on the winch because I had no idea they would be that far along. Earlier reports suggested that they would not all be out of the shelter and back onto the earth's surface until some time around lunch on October 14th.

After the 33 miners were rescued, they returned the capsule six more times to the ground to retrieve six rescue workers who bravely stepped forward to travel down into the mine to assist the miners.

Can you imagine being the last man in that hole? All by yourself? Watching the second-last man go up the long dark tunnel, leaving you all alone? My heart ached for this dear lone man.

Communicators on the earth surface kept talking to him on the phone that was down there, and after what seemed a very long time to me, the capsule finally poked through the hole once again to bring the last man to safety. He turned to the camera and waved goodbye, stopping only to gather a few pieces of loose rock from the mine floor to keep as a momento.

The other men who climbed into the capsule always had someone else to shut and latch the door for them, but this man had to do it on his own. I kept thinking, "I sure hope that latch is accessible from the inside!". After giving a shout and flashing his light, which was the signal that he was ready, the capsule once again, for the last time, started upwards on it's long journey to millions of people watching and praying.

And then, at approximately 11:30pm (Eastern Standard Time), the capsule appeared and the last of the 33 miners and 6 rescuers was safe at last.

I don't think I've cried that much since 9-11 back in 2001.

But those tears had no sadness. They were all tears of joy for these dear brave men.

And just in case you're one of those folks that likes to play with numbers, check this out:

33 miners were saved on October 13, 2010. The date is written 10/13/10. If you add that together, look what you get: 10+13+10 = 33.

I thought that was very interesting. Much like the disaster in the United States of America on September 11th, 2001, which was the ninth month, eleventh day.... 9-11. (911 is, of course, our emergency number when dialling for help).

I was so happy that many of the men gave thanks to God... not just a "Oh-yah-thanks-God" attitude, but rather true heartfelt deep praise to our God who proved today that miracles still happen. One miner dropped to his knees in praise to our Father before they could even unharness him as he came out of the capsule. Another miner described it as meeting God down there as well as meeting the devil, but God won.

I can only imagine that each one has gotten his life into perspective over these last two months and how they have plans to make some changes. One miner sent a message to his girlfriend of 25 years saying that once he returned to earth, they would marry and have a church wedding. I'm willing to bet that wedding will be a televised event! haha.

The President of Chile, President Pinera, remained faithful at the site and greeted each miner as they returned. He also spoke with each rescuer who entered the capsule to descend into the hell-hole deep within the earth and was there to greet each rescuer upon their return. He took time to comfort family members.

When asked about the cost of the rescue operation, the President replied that the cost did not matter.... what mattered was saving the miners. When asked if it was in the millions of dollars, the President hesitantly replied (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Yes. It's in the millions. But it doesn't matter! What matters is that they're alive and safe."

Greetings and well wishes were being sent to Chile's President from officials all over the world. He promises to make changes to the mining industry to make things safer. Apparently this mine was closed down many years ago, but was re-opened by a small independent mining contractor. It's a hard enough job when conditions appear to be safe, but to have this happen in an already-previously-closed mine makes it difficult to swallow! I am hoping this Chilean President is true to his word.

Accidents like this don't usually result in a happy ending. In most mining accidents miners are dead before even reaching an underground shelter. In this case, to have 33 miners make it to a shelter, survive for 69 days, and then travel approximately half a mile through the earth's crust back to the surface with no problems, no glitches,.... well, it's amazing. It truly is a miracle.

I am thankful I was able to witness a miracle. I am thankful our Lord still sits on the throne. I am thankful of His promises that He never ever leaves us (Psalm 121).

And one more little miracle to note.... One miner's wife delivered their beautiful baby daughter while he was trapped some 700 metres below. He is the proud father of Esperanza, which is Spanish for Hope.

And after we just finished celebrating our Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend, it's 33 more reasons for us to be thankful!

God bless you, Chile.

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