Helena Peters

A brief account of the life of

Helena (Labun) Peters

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On Sunday, April 26, at the boundary Trails Medical Centre, Helena Peters, aged 101 years, went to be with her Lord. 

Helena (Labun) Peters, daughter of Peter and Elizabeth (Dyck) Labun, was born in Kronsgart, Manitoba on April 23, 1908. She lived on the family farm at Rosewell until she was 22. with her parents, four sisters and four brothers. During this time, she attended the Rosewell School to about Grade 8, and then attended high school in Winkler to Gr. 10. 

Mother frequently talked about growing up on the farm – about the importance of daily devotions and spiritual training. Her father, Peter Labun, had not grown up in a Christian home, and he made daily devotions a high priority. And early each morning, her mother, Elizabeth (Dyck) would pray aloud for each member of the family, and her prayers were heard throughout the house. 

At the age of 14, Mother was very ill with diphtheria, and nearly died. When she recovered, she dedicated her life to Christ because she realized she had not been ready to die. At the age of 20, she was baptized (upon the confession of her faith) by Rev. Henry Neufeld, and joined the Mennonite Brethren Church at Kronsgart.

Music was always very important in the Labun family, and this included Mother. She could ‘carry a tune’ at age three, and did much singing. Four sisters, Katherine (tenor), Susan (alto), Elizabeth (bass), and Mother (soprano) sang at the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference in Saskatchewan in the late 1920’s under the direction of Mr. K H Neufeld. After she was married and had her own children, she would frequently sit at the piano, play and sing hymns and other songs, and Dad would join her with guitar and singing.

Mother met a young man involved with church ministries, and a relationship developed. On June 29, 1930, Mother married Dad, Frank E Peters. She then joined the Peters family in Burwalde, where they took over the Peters family farm. Here she raised 6 sons, participated in the usual farming activities which included caring for a large garden, orchard and yard with many flowers. She was, of course, responsible for the housework and especially the preparation of meals. In addition to this, Mother and Dad kept a second house on the farm to look after Dad’s parents Jacob and Anna Peters, and Dad’s sister Annie, as long as they lived. 

Before Mother married Dad, she asked her mother about the role of a wife. The advice from her mother was to ‘support her husband in his spiritual ministries with much prayer’. (She found it very difficult to leave her home, the Labun family farm, but she understood that her first loyalty must now be to her husband.) This role she took very seriously. She was a strong support for Dad as he served on the Winkler Bible School Board, was involved with the founding of Winkler Bible Camp, and taught Sunday School for more than 40 years at Burwalde Sunday School. She particularly enjoyed serving with Dad as deacon couple in the Winkler Mennonite Brethren Church for 30 years starting 1941. We as a family do not recall her ever complaining about all the time Dad spent away from home while involved in church work. 

Mother was always a strong person, physically, emotionally and especially spiritually. One of her favourite verses was Exodus 15:2, which is part of the song of Moses and Miriam. “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation”. She relied heavily on God for strength when times were difficult. This was especially true in the late 1930s and early 1940s when she had to deal with Dad’s very serious illness, her father’s cancer and death, her father-in-law’s battle with cancer and death, and the deaths of Agnes Janzen and her daughter Marie. 

In 1974, Mother and Dad moved to Winkler. Mother very much enjoyed her life in town, and the decreased workload in caring for yard and garden. She and Dad also became snowbirds starting 1974, and enjoyed many winters in Florida, Texas and Arizona with extended family and friends. They also enjoyed numerous trips to BC and Kansas, and trips to Alaska and Antigua. Mother frequently talked about these trips as the ‘good times’. 

Mother was predeceased by her parents, Peter and Elizabeth Labun, three sisters Anna Suderman and her husband Abrahm, Katherine Redekopp, and Elizabeth Schultz and husband Alex, three brothers George and wife Nettie, John and wife Anna and Peter and wife Esther. She was also predeceased by her husband of almost 66 years, Frank Peters, and by one son John, one daughter-in-law Martha, and one grandchild Naomi. Mother was the last living member of her generation of the Peters family, including all of Dad’s siblings and their spouses. 

In her passing, Mother leaves to mourn her sister Susan Nickel, her brother Raymond and his wife Martha, brother-in-law John Redekopp, her children William from BC, David and his wife Violet from Antigua, Leonard and his wife Elsie from Winkler, Irvin and his wife Leona from Winkler, and Harold and his wife Jane from Winkler, as well as 16 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren and 4 great great grandchildren. 

At this time, we as a family want to say ‘Thank you’ to many people who have been so important and meaningful to Mother and to us all. A big Thank you to the staff at Boundary Trails Health Centre who took care of Mother with great tenderness and skill for 41 days. A special thank you to Dr. Murray Reimer for the care he provided for Mother for the last number of years, and for the many times he visited Mother in her home. Also, a big thank you to the homecare staff for their care and companionship, the meals and baths that helped Mother as she continued to stay in her house. Over the years, Mother has had wonderful neighbours that truly demonstrated the teaching: ‘Love thy neighbour’. Thank you for this. A very special thank you to you, Yvonne, (this is Mother’s granddaughter), for staying with Mother for about 5 years, and providing companionship and care in so many ways. This provided Mother with the opportunity to stay in her house – something she really wanted to do. She lived in her house until she went to the hospital March 16, 2009. We as a family also thank all of you for supporting our family with your presence here today.

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