Get to Know Your Westwood Family-Walter and Betty

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I am excited to introduce Walter and Betty Wessner. They are a beautiful, steadfast, enduring couple whose joy is real and deep. Thank you for taking the time to read their story. Please give it a like or comment so it continues to show up on the feed for others to see.

Here we go!! THank you Betty and Walter for letting us share your incredible story and what you have learned over the years with our church family!

WW: Let’s start with you telling us about yourselves. Where did you grow up?

Walter was born and grew up on the family farm in southern Saskatchewan. I was born and grew up in a small town in northern Alberta. Walter didn’t care for farm life so he moved to southern Alberta in his 20’s. My family moved to the big city of Edmonton when I was 13 and in the middle of grade 7. That was very traumatic for me, and my self image took a beating.

WW: Where did you meet and how long have you been married?

We met through a very persistent mutual friend. We had a long distance relationship for about a year and a half and then got married in 1965. We lived in Medicine Hat where Walter worked, but after a couple of years we went to Vanderhoof to visit my parents who were staying with family for a while. As we drove through Prince George, we thought this would be a good place to live for a few years, so we went back home, sold our house and moved here. Walter began work with Woodwards and I stayed home to raise our two sons.

WW: How long have you been in Prince George?

Well, our few years turned into 52 years and we have learned to love Prince George, although it took Walter a few years to not feel hemmed in by all the trees. We used to go for drives in the country and were always amazed at how many homes there were in “the bush”.

WW: It is hard to leave the huge prairie skies! What do you do for fun together?

We’ve spent many hours in second hand stores, mostly looking for antiques. We went back to Saskatchewan every year to visit Walter’s parents and always came back with some kind of antique. One year it was a coil spring bed that we secured to the top of our station wagon. Our neighbour would wait to see what we brought home after each visit. Table games have been part of our family fun times, especially Crokinole. That is a “must play” game every time they come over (even at their house now). Walter has taught me the art and joy of gardening so a lot of enjoyable time has been spent in making our yard/garden/patio into places where we can share God’s beautiful creation with friends and neighbours. We have also had lots of great times with young adults……tree planters, cowboys, bible studies.

WW: How long have you been at Westwood Church?

Way back, when the church was still on Dufferin Street, Walter helped with Christian Service Brigade (a boys club), so we got to know a number of people that were part of the church then. When Mark, our son, became a pastor at Westwood, we often visited and always felt very welcome (maybe because we were his parents). About a year and a half ago, after much prayer and soul searching, we decided to make Westwood our church home. We are so thankful for God’s direction.

WW: I didn’t know Walter was part of Boys Brigade back in the day!! How have you volunteered and served at Westwood?

We both started out helping with serving coffee and food at the Season’s Breakfasts. I helped with registration at VBS last summer and then in the fall I was involved with Sunday School registration. I have been privileged to help with the Meal Train as well.

WW: Thank you for the ways you serve our church family! What has life been like for the last few years?

Life has been challenging for us in different ways, mostly health related. Before Walter’s retirement we often talked about how we would spend those years. The one thing that kept coming to our minds, was serving the Lord as hosts in a mission guest house in some country. Those plans were not what the Lord had in mind for us, obviously. A few days before retirement, and in the years following, heart disease and cancer for both of us became our new normal way of life. Another big change came in 2016 when Mark left as Lead Pastor of Westwood and moved to the Fraser Valley to begin a new ministry at the MB Seminary. That has meant we have no family here. Changes are a part of life and we have learned/still learning to make adjustments as best we can.

WW: How are you doing with the social distancing and the coronavirus isolation?

The hardest thing about social distancing is not being able to give and receive hugs. How we miss our family visits! This has been the first Easter without some of our family with us. Our Easter dinner just wasn’t the same, although I did make a traditional dinner (lots of leftovers because I was forgetting that dinner was for 2 not 8). The isolation part has not been too much different for us because of Walter’s immune system being severely compromised the last while. We’re used to being by ourselves to some degree; but not being able to fellowship with our church family has been hard. We are very thankful for all the virtual connections but they just aren’t the same. Buying groceries has been an interesting experience……sometimes with humourous results. I am thankful that God has given me enough technology related skills over the years to make online shopping comfortable. We are also very thankful for the overwhelming support from friends, physically and spiritually.

WW: Thank you for sharing those challenges with us. I remember a counter full of banana’s not long ago as a result of an online shopping mishap. How has knowing about God, from years of walking with Him, prepared you for what we are facing with the pandemic right now?

If I summed it up in two words, it would be, “God’s faithfulness”! We are continually overwhelmed by God’s mercies to us in the past 54 years of marriage. Keeping our focus on Jesus, rather than on our circumstances has been vital. Recalling memorized bible verses, singing/listening to songs of praise and worship, being thankful in all things, knowing we are not alone. “Be Still My Soul, the Lord is On Thy Side……” Mainstay verses for me.have always been from Phil. 4:6&7.. We know from God’s word that we will have struggles in one form or another, but we trust God when He tells us that He has overcome the world. God’s word is so precious and we are blessed to have it so accessible. During this COVID-19 pandemic, Isaiah 41:10 is becoming more meaningful with each passing day. God is our loving, compassionate Father. He knows us, and He also knows the future, so we can trust Him for whatever may come in the days/weeks/months/years ahead. It doesn’t matter what our age or situation, our work here on earth is not finished and we need to continually pray for, and support, the many people whose lives will be forever changed. Our God is still God and He is in control!
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness oh Lord, great is Thy faithfulness.”

Thank you Betty and Walter for sharing about yourselves. Joys that you share, the challenges you face, the faithfulness of God that you know and trust from personal experience with him are so encouraging to learn about. May God bless you richly each day with his presence and wonderful love!