This column is devoted to enjoying some of the rich diversity God has blessed us with in the Christian Reformed Church. This month, meet Winson Elzinga, a former CRC farmer who lives in Edmonton, Alberta.
BANNER: Tell us about yourself and your world.
Winson:I was born in Barrhead, Alberta, in 1944 and am the oldest of eight children. When I was 14 my father became ill, and I began working full time on our family’s farm in Peers. A few years later I learned to drive a semi trailer, and I was employed by several different companies over the next few years. My wife, Josie, was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to Edmonton in 1953 with her family. We met while she was on a SWIM program in Edson. For the first eight years of our marriage I was self-employed, and after that we began dairy farming with two of my brothers. The farm was a good place to raise a family—there’s always a lot to do. We worked together and played together, and our children have fond memories of growing up together. In 1996 when all our children had “flown the coop” we sold the dairy and became semi-retired.
What was the worst farming year you ever had?
In farming, you are often humbled by God’s power, particularly in the elements of rain, sun, or drought. In 1989 we had one of the wettest years in my farming career, with about 38 inches of rain in one summer. It was extremely difficult to gather the crops in, and many farmers were unable to harvest their fields. But with God’s help and hard work we came through that year.
Tell us about your church and its role in your life.
The Edson-Peers CRC is a small congregation of about 40 families. Our church has always played a major role in our lives. In happy times and hard times, the church family has been a real support, and we have been blessed by our congregation. Your readers will be interested to know that the first time I was installed as an elder, it was done by Rev. Robert De Moor.
What advice do you have for today’s Christian Reformed Church?
I hope and pray that the CRC will stay true to God’s Word and realize that she cannot be all things to all people. I would encourage her to stay faithful to the teachings and doctrines we subscribe to and to continue in her task of reaching the lost and extending the proverbial cup of cold water to those close by and far away.
Does it bother you when people moan about rainy weather?
A farmer is totally dependent on the weather for reaping a good harvest. Some consumers have little understanding of how farmers can be severely affected by flooding, drought, rain, or hail. I sometimes wonder if people realize the amount of work and cost the farmer has put into the food they buy before it gets to the supermarket shelf.
Is farming all work and no play, as some city dwellers think?
Our family had a lot of fun, whether we were swimming and canoeing in the river, playing baseball, shelling peas, or even picking rocks. Meals brought to the field had their own special flavor, and berry picking in the brush piles had their own hazards—bees’ nests, for example. There was often much good-natured teasing in our home and no one was spared in the giving or taking of it!
So what’s next for you and Josie in your semi-retirement?
I have had two opportunities to do some relief work with CRWRC in Honduras, and Josie and I have twice served with Disaster Relief Services in the United States. This is something that we hope to do more of in the years ahead. We also enjoy traveling and have some dreams of future trips.
Blessings and bon voyage!