Drive Thru. . .
The 34th Miner
Week of October 17th . . .
I watched it happen in the early morning hours. The twisting turning capsule ascending from the depths of the earth. The capsule would spin and turn at least a dozen times as it made it’s journey through the 28 inch passageway snaking up from the collapsed mine in Chile.
Then the red, white, and blue capsule emerged and the first of the miners was back on the surface!
A miracle no doubt! Those who don’t believe in such things will say it was luck, good fortune, or ingenuity that got the miners rescued. I feel bad for those who have to grasp at the outlandish to explain something that is so reasonable and makes such good sense. God allowed this moment to occur and in the midst of it all…He is glorified.
The story has some interesting twists that I think we need to remember.
First there is Jeff Hart.
Jeff Hart was drilling water wells for the U.S. Army’s forward operating bases in Afghanistan when he got the call to fly to Chile. He spent the next 33 days on his feet, operating the drill that finally provided a way out Saturday for 33 trapped miners. “You have to feel through your feet what the drill is doing; it’s a vibration you get so that you know what’s happening,” explained Hart, a contractor from Denver, Colorado.
He’s used to extreme conditions while he works the hydraulic levers that guide the drills’ hammers……Standing before the levers, pressure meters and gauges, Hart and the rest of his team faced many challenges in drilling the shaft.
At one point, the drill struck a metal support beam in the poorly mapped mine, shattering its hammers. Fresh equipment had to be flown in from the United States and progress was delayed for days as powerful magnets were lowered to pull out the pieces…
He told the Denver Post: “This is the most important thing I have done in my work life and probably the most important thing I will ever do.”
When the miners came out he was not there. Hart decided to leave the mine once his work was done and watched the rescue from a distance. “I want to let this become the miners’ and their families’ story and let them have their time,” he said.
A humble man who did what he knew how to do…and it becomes part of a miracle.
Second, the American Space Program
The work of NASA scientists has been put to the test.
For example, the miners, who have been trapped since Aug. 5, have been doing leg squats, taking salt tablets and loading up on fluids full of protein and electrolytes. Also, they will wear pressure stockings. These techniques and others are designed to stabilize the miners’ blood pressure during the 20- to 30-minute trip to the surface. Doctors also tried to prevent nausea.
The Chilean health minister consulted with NASA experts after the cave-in occurred. One of them is Dr. J.D. Polk, a native of Washington Court House, who is stationed in Houston as chief of space medicine. Polk, who spent a week in Chile in late August, said fainting can be a problem when a person stands up after having been in a position with his or her knees locked for any long period.
“The idea is using pressure garments to force the fluid up, which helps keep the blood pressure up, so you don’t pass out with your knees locked,” said Polk, deputy chief medical officer at NASA.
So using NASA techniques, know how, and research…a miracle occurs.
But still, there are some that might think, “this is no big deal! It is a driller and science that made the difference, it is not a miracle.”
But hang on, there is one more thing..the third thing, the most important thing…
The Extra Miner
Say what? Yes, the 34th Miner
Jimmy Sanchez, one of the 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped for over two months in the San Jose copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert, would like to make one small correction to all the stories about life in the mine: “There are actually 34 of us,” the nineteen-year-old miner wrote in a letter sent up from the mine, “because God has never left us down here.”
The men have worked hard to keep their spirits buoyant during the ordeal, organizing themselves into a community and dividing up their living-room-sized space.
Early on, they set aside a space to pray daily, and religious groups have converged on the mine to serve the miner’s spiritual needs.
Once a supply line was established, mini-Bibles with magnifying glasses were sent to the men; the Jesus Film Project loaded 33 MP3 players with an audio adaptation of the famous JESUS film. A crucifix was sent down, and it’s said that miners also requested statues of Mary and the saints.
The miners signed a flag which was presented to Pope Benedict over the weekend.
For those skeptics who would scoff and say, “this is not a miracle, it is just luck, good luck…but luck…” I guess you have to ask them, “Were you there? Were you in the mine? Why would the people in the mine say they were not alone?” Hmmmm. . . .
In some ways the area has become holy ground and we watched as a miracle happened.
I have to tell you, watching this miracle has caused me once again to stop, pause, and praise the Father.
I am so proud of being an American. American resources, ingenuity, and labor helped assist a nation and some people in need. America really is a special place, there is no place or country that can be counted on like America to help those in need, it is indeed the greatest country on earth and I feel blessed to be a part of it.
I am thrilled that once again the innovation discovered as we reached for the stars has made life better on earth. The call forward, the call to adventure is not just the call of the American Spirit of Exploration, but the call to constantly move forward beyond where you are today is the call to all who follow Jesus Christ. I am reminded again of how constantly stretching beyond the limits is not only helpful and necessary…it is transformational.
And last but not least…
I am reminded again of how God is with us in the midst of hard times and struggles. We are quick to cry out when we need Him…and we should. He has told us to do so, invited us to do so, and compelled us to cry out to Him with our needs. My hope and prayer is that I would once again remember and anchor my life to the One who is always there. I have asked the question before and I will ask it again (and again to be sure) “Just how many miracles do you have to witness in a lifetime to get it?”
I am celebrating once again…I have seen God put the pieces together and from the depths of certain doom and death we can celebrate life! Transformational stuff isn’t it?
Freedom…from the depths!