October 12, 2010

Chilean miners: Rescue and Salvation

I am overwhelmed.  I am overwhelmed by the spiritual and national unity of the Chileans.

As I write this, I watch live video feed of the rescue of 33 Chilean miners. 
They have been underground for 69 days.  The first 17 days were spent with no food or contact with the outside world, except two days' emergency food rations.

Look at the Chilean Ministry of Mining's Flickr photo stream here.

I, with the world, tear up while I watch the first decent of the pod with Manuel González, a paramedic, be lowered thousands of feet to reach the miners.  The engineers and political figures gather around the mine shaft, singing the Chilean national anthem with gusto.

The families have gathered under a huge tent.  They pray with all their might, and a man stands and preaches the salvation of Jesus Christ, Bible in hand.  They fervently desperately seek God as the provider of their family member's safety.

While he is lowered, President Piñera gives a loud thanks to the workers and family men, and then says that all the credit really goes to the miners and, ultimately, God.  I am grateful to speak Spanish - I would be completely unaware of the entire situation and incapable of experiencing the true complexity of the ongoing actions.

Such powerful irony.  The national anthem translates to:
Sweet fatherland, accept the vows
With which Chile swore at your altars:
Either the tomb will be of the free
Or the refuge against oppression

And it is precisely this tomb that the miners sit in of which is named el refugio, "the refuge."

7:36 PST:  The rescue worker reaches the bottom of the shaft.

The President watches the live video feed of González as the men hug and cheer.   Most of the men are shirtless, which is justified in the 90+ degree heat and high humidity. The President quietly focuses inward and prays, then crossing himself (Catholic.)  This private moment touches me.  I watch a man who is so focused, who is at peace, who is comfortable with himself and his position of leadership, and I must respect him.

7:54:  The President asks, "How are we doing?"  González replies, "Excelente!"
The Chilean flag is hung next to the pod at the bottom of the shaft.  Finally, the pod lifts with its first miner cramped inside.

8:10: A police alarm sounds.  The pod is seconds from the surface.  I tear up as his son Byron explodes into weeping and hysterics as the pod surfaces.  Florencio Avalos is the first miner to arrive, safe, happy, and surprisingly functional. 

8:30:  President Piñera addresses the country.  He is relaxed and elated with a delighted grin.  He thanks God most of all, because without Him, none of this would be possible.  He says that although the country has so many tremendous issues, the national unity, perseverance, and ultimately the completion of the rescue shows that they will ultimately thrive.  He says that the rescue was so flawlessly run that he has no reason to not show any part of it to the world.

Paraphrased and translated live by me (meaning I am missing a lot of content, and it's flawed!):
"We have learned the value of leadership, and solidarity. Never has there been such a rescue as we can proudly testify to.  We, as Chileans, have shown courage. A country that is developed is a country that protects its workers."

The Minister of Mining says "I am so thankful for the hundreds who have brought us to today.  Those who have provided food, police, military, air force.  The entire country thanks every one of you...  Most of all, you, the President, (and a few others) that make me so proud.  Thank you so much."

8:45:  The pod arrives to the mine bottom for the second time with a paramedic just as the President and Minister end the press conference.  The miners erupt into a loud applause and cheer.

8:55:  Miner #2, Mario Sepulveda, is on his way up.  The winch begins cranking, and everyone in the tomb cheers.  Wow.

Each miner arrives to the surface wearing a tan shirt over their green suit.
On it is printed Psalm 95:4.  (Photo 13 in the stream)

"Porque en su mano estan las profundidades de la tierra, Y las alturas de los montes son suyas."
"De El, es la Honra y la Gloria."

In His hand is the depths of the earth, and the tops of the mountains are His."
"Glory and Honor to Him."

Such mature and profound perspective to maintain while truly lying in the depths of the earth - to know that we are in God's hands.

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