Sunday, January 28, 2007

In Memory of Helen J. (Nel) van Popta

Helen J. van Popta, nee Neeltje de Geus, was born on October 18th, 1916, in the tiny village of "the Stroet" in North Holland. She was the second child and eldest daughter of vegetable farmers, Jan and Aaltje de Geus. During the depression the de Geus family moved to IJmuiden where her parents operated a fruit and vegetable store.

When she was 18, Nel met the love of her life, Jelle van Popta, a man her own age who was studying to be a teacher. However, once he had finished his training, he decided he wanted to study theology. In those days couples did not get married until the man could support a family. Nel acquiesced and Jelle went off to study at the Free University and, later, Kampen.

With the outbreak of the Second World War and the evacuation of IJmuiden, Nel moved back to the Stroet where she worked as a nanny. Because of the war, Jelle's studies were disrupted. Nel and Jelle were finally married after a 12 year courtship.

She entered the Mussel parsonage as Mevr. van Popta. There her daughters Joanne and Sarah were born. After 2 ½ years in Mussel, Jelle, in 1951, accepted a called to the Canadian Reformed Church of Edmonton as the first minister in the new federation of churches. There Nel gave birth to her other four children, Alida, Tako, John and George.

After almost 15 years in Edmonton, the van Popta family moved to Cloverdale, BC. Life in the Cloverdale parsonage was good and tranquil. However, 2 ½ years later the LORD visited Nel with the difficult burden of widowhood—her beloved Jelle was taken from her after 21 years of happy marriage. But the LORD was good to Nel. He gave her many grandchildren who brought much joy to her life.

After 25 years of life in her own home in Langley, Nel moved to Manoah Manor where she lived independently for 15 years. A half year ago, in her 90th year, Nel moved into intermediate care. She was happy, content, and well cared for by the loving staff of the Manor.

On January 25th, 2007, at 9:07 PM, surrounded by children and grandchildren, the Lord Jesus Christ called Nel to be with Him.

Nel was firm and settled in her faith. She was one who, trusting in the LORD, is like Mount Zion which cannot be shaken (Psalm 125:1). May her legacy of faith continue to live in all her offspring.

Good night, little Mother. Rest in Jesus until the great day of the resurrection.