When I was in college, I had a fascination for the social sciences. One of the areas that I truly loved was learning how our dreams reflect how we perceive our current circumstances. I remember in particular the topic of death in dreams. Interestingly enough, when you dream of someone dying or even of yourself dying it doesn’t mean that there is impending doom. It actually means that your subconscious is trying to warn you that a major change is coming or that your subconscious is acting out a major change in your dreams.
I can tell you these last few months have landed me in the middle of some scary dreams. I spend my waking hours grieving for the needs that are at my front door and the things lost. I spend my sleep trying to process my waking hours. I take heart because I know this is not the final countdown.
As I sift through emotions every day and try to keep normalcy for my family, God has brought to me the beautiful Bible study of Nehemiah. Nehemiah has brought much light to some of my nightmares these last few weeks.
Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the Jews withstood opposition and came together to accomplish their goal. Nehemiah led by example, giving up a respected position in a palace for hard labor. He partnered with Ezra to solidify the political and spiritual foundations of the people. Nehemiah’s humility before God provided an example for the people. He did not claim glory for himself but always gave God the credit for his success.
Nehemiah’s life provides a fine study on leadership. He overcame opposition from outsiders as well as internal turmoil. He exercised his administrative skills in his strategy to use half the people for building while the other half kept watch for the Samaritans who threatened attack. Accomplishing those goals resulted in a people encouraged, renewed, and excited about their future.
Just as Nehemiah built the walls, I can see in my mind the process of Haiti rebuilding her walls. The earthquake is all too fresh in my mind as I remember picking through some of the rubble to find salvageable brick.
My sister just returned from the Holy Lands and she was telling me that the old city of Jerusalem has been rebuilt 16 times. With each occupation or war, the city would be leveled. But instead of cleaning out the area, the new inhabitants would rebuild by picking out the useable stone and brick and then filling in the rest with dirt to level the ground. This was done for two reasons: number one, it would save time to reuse the good stone and number two, when you leveled the city you would start just a little bit higher than before so you could see the enemy coming.
When Nehemiah started rebuilding the walls, he had a huge task in front of him. The builders had to rebuild and also protect themselves from the enemy. I have read and reread this a hundred times this week. Building and protecting! I can relate.
This February my family and I have been processing a wide range of emotions and feelings. We’ve been spending hours in prayer as we grieve the loss of one of our dearest church partnerships. We’ve been walking through the transitions of leadership within the mission. Our minds are constantly reeling on how we can better support the orphans we’ve been called to care for. We’ve exhausted our resources – physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially as we try to meet the demands in this community medically. All of these changes have created so many gaps in our life.
But I do take heart that God is seeing us through. I do take heart that He will set us upon a higher ground as we rebuild using the good remnants of the past and search for new brick and stone to be added to new structures of support and leadership.
I know God sees the tears of my children and my Haitian family as we grieve for those who have been such a big part of our lives for the last 5 years….who will no longer be visiting as they begin a new partnership elsewhere. I don’t write this as a means to rope back in what we’ve lost; I write this only to say as a missionary we are just like any other church family—when folks we love so much no longer come, we grieve.
Nehemiah knew what this grief was like. It exemplified itself in the rubble all around him. He wanted to rebuild the walls but yet there was so much to clear and dig through that it almost took him down. When we built this mission – that was easy. We came in with a clean slate and there was no clean up. But when you rebuild, you have to sort out the best of what was and see it for what will be. There was so much rubble to dig through that Nehemiah cried out in despair. Yet, he kept building.
I pray for the tenacity of Nehemiah for I feel like I’m surrounded by rubble. Rubble hangs around well after the initial destruction. Though the attack on Jerusalem’s wall had long passed, the rubble was still present. But the Jews learned to deal with it. The same is true for us. It’s important for us to deal with our personal rubble or we may find ourselves still climbing over it 15 years from now. Getting rid of rubble requires us to do something about it. The Jews had to get back to work and so do I.
I’m inspired by Nehemiah’s unrelenting belief and trust in God, knowing that He would fulfill the vision He had given him. Without this kind of authoritative resolve who would have ever followed him? Just as the Jews could not completely work in the same manner as before, neither can I. The Jews worked on the wall with a sword strapped to their side. They built by day and worked security by night. Business as usual was not usual at all.
I feel the same about the work God has called the Castillos to. Our business is not usual. God is teaching me a lot as I dig through this rubble. It can be very overwhelming and if we’re not careful, fear can pluck from the roots the very things God put in our hearts to do. I know my God has not called us to a work that we cannot accomplish. I appreciate your prayers for our family as we sift through the changes and rebuild a work worthy of our King.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 The Voice (VOICE)
24 For the God who calls you is faithful, and He can be trusted to make it so.