Elder Rodney Williams and myself were enjoying our time together in Blenheim, New Zealand. We had a nice little flat on Middle Renwich Road and were teaching a wonderful family that lived outside Blenheim not far from the Philip McDonald family farm. Blenheim is a beautiful town and I enjoyed my short time there. I say short because I was there only four weeks when an unexpected shift came.
The Elders on the other side of town had met a couple of young ladies they were teaching, and the mission president felt Sisters would be more appropriate for the situation. He decided Elder Williams and myself were the ones needing to move on and replaced by the Sisters. Elder Williams and I loved Blenheim, we were teaching a wonderful family, we had only been there four weeks, Elder Williams was a brand new missionary (Blenheim was his first area), we had a nice flat, and it was the other Elders who were the problem, not us. To add to the situation, the other Elders were pranksters, having visited our flat several times and leaving us clues that they had been there. For example, sheets that no longer went the length of the bed and other practical jokes. So why did we get the phone call telling us we were the ones leaving? I was frustrated and more than a little upset!
The day came for the long shift to Palmerston North: a train, ferry, and bus ride that would take all day. The other Elders came to our flat and picked up our luggage as they had a car. We were to ride our bikes down to the train station and meet them there. However, we decided on a little going away present for them. They were moving into our flat and the Sisters were moving into theirs, so we decided to set up our flat as a thank you for their previous visits. We turned all the furniture upside down, put Jell-O in the sink with cold icy water, and to top it off, I put Weet-Bix in the toilet. Weet-Bix is a breakfast cereal of wheat flakes compressed into little bricks. You can pour a cup of milk on one and it soaks up the milk and expands to accommodate the milk. It makes for a great mushy breakfast. So a half box of Weet-Bix in a toilet---well, you get the picture.
We arrived in Palmerston North about 11:00 p.m. on a Friday night. The zone leaders picked us up and took us to our new flat on Rolleston Street. What a dump! I couldn’t believe it. Now I was really angry and upset! That night I knelt down by my bed and basically said, “Why Father? How can this be right?” I expressed my frustrations with leaving Blenheim, the family we were teaching, helping Elder Williams begin his mission on a positive note, and leaving our nice flat. I expressed my feelings that this was not an inspired move---I expressed my frustrations and disappointment. Exhausted from the trip, I then fell into bed and quickly fell to sleep.
The next morning we awoke and got a good look at our surroundings. It was most depressing. The zone leaders soon arrived and expressed a desire to have a trade off to show us our new area and to get better acquainted. I felt a need to strengthen my companionship, but with the zone leaders encouragement, reluctantly we switched off. I was taken around our new area and introduced to some of the members, etc.. That evening, the zone leader had to interview an investigator for baptism the next day. We went to the flat of the Elders who were having the baptism. As I walked in and was introduced, one of the Elders said, “So you’re Elder Golding.” “Yes,” was my reply with the added question of why. “One of our members rang up this morning and asked us if we knew an Elder Golding in the mission as she had a dream about him. She described you perfectly! We told her we didn’t know an Elder Golding.” She was to be at the baptism the next day, and they said they would introduce me to her. I was a little caught of guard by their comments and it played on my mind that night and into the next morning. I prayed a little different prayer that night and hoped that perhaps this might be an answer to my earlier prayers of frustration.
The next day as we walked into the chapel, I saw a lady at the end of the hall take a look at me and quickly run the other way. Here was our member who had the dream. However, her running away was a little disconcerting, but I finally cornered her in the primary room, pinned behind the piano. She wouldn’t look at me and definitely didn’t want to talk to me. I said to her, “I understand you had a dream with me in it. I would like to know about it, as it might help me in some way.” She replied, “It was nothing; it couldn’t be true.” When I asked why, she stated, “It couldn’t be true. Who would put Weet-Bix in a toilet!” I was stunned! The Lord knew I had put Weet-Bix in a toilet!
Now I was worried. A few days later we received permission to visit this good sister who lived outside our area. I finally had the opportunity to hear the story in the dream. And yes, Sister Shailer had seen the flat in her dream just the way we had left it in Blenheim. There is much more to the dream that is wonderful and personal---for her, her family, and myself. It was an experience never to be forgotten. However, there is a purpose to this dream for all of us.
This experience taught me several lessons. As a missionary, I was where I was suppose to be, and there are no uninspired shifts. Palmerston North, New Zealand was where I was to be at that point in my life. I have a testimony that missionaries are called to serve where the Lord has assigned them and where they promised they would serve before they came to earth. I also know that a call to serve a people isn’t necessarily for only two years, but for a lifetime or perhaps, even for eternity.
But the most important lesson I learned is that our loving Father in Heaven and His only Begotten Son intimately know each one of us. Our Father knows who we are, where we are, and our needs. If a Sparrow cannot fall without His notice, then surely His greatest creations cannot live without His constant attention and care. We may not always understand---like a young missionary in New Zealand, the parent of a wayward child, the teen struggling for an identity, the person in an abusive relationship, or the inner struggle with the natural man. However, in every situation the Lord is there, He knows us, and He loves us more than we can comprehend.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
Not all prayers are answered in a dramatic way like this one many years ago in New Zealand. I can also testify to that. But they are heard. So hold on, keep the faith. The answer will come.