Saturday, July 23, 2016

Helen and Albert

I touched upon the story of Helen and Albert Hayduk's influence on our lives when I gave a memorial eulogy at the reception following my wife's funeral. For any who were present and heard my eulogy, here is that part of the story in more detail. These friends of ours in Christ are still alive of course, and united with us in our faith in Christ, and in Holy Orthodoxy. Though they do not want to be honored, nevertheless it is never possible to honor the saints of God too much. Why? It is because we honor Christ who lives in them, and who makes them what they are. Always, always, to God be the glory!

Helen was my wife's best friend, and they shared a common Ukrainian background, their ancestors even coming from the same region (Bukovina), and having put down roots in the same parts of rural Alberta (Bellis / Smoky Lake). Helen's brother Ihor (the Ukrainian pronunciation of Igor) was and is an Orthodox presbyter, as well as a musician and writer.

The wedding photo shows Albert and Helen being crowned during their marriage blessing, the priests being Fr Lavrenty (left) and Fr Ihor (right), the church being All Saints, Bellis, Alberta (photo above).

In another photo, we see the window in the front door of the house in which Anastasia and I lived with Albert and Helen in the Edmonton "flats" (the river bottom neighborhood, along the North Saskatchewan banks). Numerous windows in their little house were decorated with window paint to emulate stained glass. The designs were like this example, of heavenly beings and things.

The other three photos were taken later, after our first son Jacob was born, and we returned to visit Albert and Helen and their son Damian. You can tell from their wedding photo who is who in the other photos, except for the picture of the two boys.

Our son Jacob is on the left, sitting with Damian, his godbrother on the right. (I am Damian's godfather.)

In another post I think I'll write about my life as a dairy farmer's only farm hand, and post some interesting photos—like me milking a cow into a wine bottle, so I can feed colostrum to a newborn calf!

You'll have to wait for that story!

We had just come to live in town after quitting my job as the hired man on a dairy farm near Wetaskiwin, Alberta, my wife five months pregnant, and without money to even rent a small apartment. Albert and Helen took us in, and let us stay with them that winter until we could get a place of our own, literally days before our first son was born.

This couple was people like us, in our early 20's. They shared Christ with us, reading to us parts of the Bible, and leaving tracts and spiritual books lying around the house. It was the Chick tracts that really got to me. I've never forgotten them, gruesome and graphic as they are.

It wasn't the Chick tracts, though. It wasn't believing in what they conveyed literally and graphically.

What won me to Christ was the patient, consistent witnessing of one poor, young couple to another that they took in and helped get on their feet over the course of four months of dark, icy Alberta winter. They witnessed in words, in deeds, and in love. There was almost nothing argumentative about their witness, except that they insisted and wouldn't budge on issues that I questioned at that time. They simply let me have it my way, but they didn't have an "I'm OK you're OK" attitude. They very definitely and unashamedly defended all the truths of the Christian faith as they came up.

I didn't actually accept Christ for another two years, but those four months I spent with this couple formed in me the very same attitudes they had. That's the way I've witnessed for Christ since I joined the Greek Orthodox Church. It is Christ, not the church I belong to, that I witness for, and just the same, I know that having your name in the Lamb's book of life is really all that matters.

Oh, and one more thing matters. Getting your friends and neighbors to have their names written there too.

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