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June 20, 2020

Our oldest daughter was studying and doing an internship in Santiago, Chile for a semester. I went to visit her, she met me at the airport, we went to a quaint hotel and got settled in. I asked her what we were going to do the next day and she said we were going to the zoo and then the other was a surprise. We got up early the next day, had breakfast and began the day. I asked Angela how far the zoo was from where we were staying, and she said not far. At that point I did not realize our daughter was a poor judge of distance. We walked and walked and walked and crawled and creeped and I started hallucinating and… we finally got there: the Zoologico Nacional de Chile (Chilean National Zoo). It was awesome but what she didn’t tell me was that it was built into a hill (San Cristobal Hill). The zoo was really neat with a lot of species including Chilean native animals and birds. It was thoroughly enjoyable. So much so that you did not realize you were constantly climbing.
Then the surprise came. On top of San Cristobal Hill, overlooking Santiago, is a sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, with a 72-foot statue of the Virgin Mary. In the pedestal there is a small chapel and at the foot of the statue there is an amphitheater and to the right of the statue there is also a small chapel for visitors for praying. The statue is lit up at night by lights placed on its sides, allowing it to be viewed from all over Santiago both day and night. (History note: Before the arrival of the Spanish forces in Chile, the place where the shrine now stands was known as Tupahue, meaning “Place of God.”) Even though I do not like heights, the view was awesome, and it was such an incredible experience.
It was getting late, so our daughter said we had better get going. The zoo had closed so we could not go back down that way, so I mentioned getting a taxi. They were no longer running from the top of the hill, so she said we could take the Funicular (cable railway in which a cable moves permanently attached rail cars up and down a slope) down. I gave her a look! Again, I do not go on Sky liners, ski lifts, cable cars or funiculars! “Dad, we either go on the Funicular or it’s an hour walk down.” “Ok…, let’s get in the Funicular!” We were one of the first to get on and I went to the back corner, grabbing a handrail. I kept telling myself that it would be ok. But then more and more people got on and it was getting crowded and I started to hyperventilate. (It is amazing how the birthing classes that I went to with my wife help in times like this 😉). I knew that cable was going to snap at any time. We finally started to move. “Dad, you can let go of the rail and open your eyes!” “Not until we are at the bottom and I can get off this car!” “We are at the bottom and we can get off!” “Oh!” (I still cannot figure out why my wife and girls are embarrassed to be around me sometimes 😉!)
Why did I share this with you and what observations can I take from this to pass on to you?
First of all, I know we are on a long and hard journey. Many people have asked me when I think this will end and my answer is I just do not know. We pray for strength and we keep going forward, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, sometimes creeping… but in the end, we WILL get through. Secondly, the top of the mountain is always glorious! I was able to spend some time in that chapel praying and it was a powerful experience. It was one of the most uplifting, spiritual moments I have ever had in my life. However, when you have a mountain top experience, we will come down, but that experience will get us through the valleys! Finally, fear can keep you from experiencing new things and fear can be overcome by trusting in God. God is holding us in his arms and is not going to let go. God bless and God’s got this!

About Rev. Bud Budzinski

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