Monday, January 31, 2011

William Versteeg (Pastor Bill)

Bill was born on the 20th of October 1955 in Edmonton, Alberta, and passed away in the wee hours of the 28th of January 2011 in Langley, British Columbia. Bill struggled for many months with a feeling of being unwell before discovering that he had an aggressive form of bile duct cancer on December 23, 2010. Five short weeks later, he is gone from our lives, but forever in our hearts and memories.

Bill will be lovingly remembers as a caring husband, father, grandfather, brother, pastor, student, teacher, missionary, musician, and friend. He is survived by his cherished wife, Judy, his sons Peter (Patricia), Benjamin and Michael, his daughter Naomi (Sean), his grandson and namesake Aiden William, his brothers and sisters, Christine, Albert (Trudi), Jean (John), Bertha (Cor), Gerda (Tom), Harry (Sylvia), Mary, Evelyn (Carl), nieces, nephews, in-laws Alice, Lois, Shirley, friends too numerous to mention,  his ‘sweetheart’ Meascha and his ‘handsome boy’ Duke (the dogs).

Bill grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, attending West Edmonton Christian School. Following highschool, Bill received a degree in Electronic Engineering at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). In 1978 Bill followed a new direction in life, attending Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, where he completed a pre-seminary program, majoring in philosophy. Bill continued his studies to become a pastor by attending Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids Michigan, graduating in 1985. In 2005, Bill began the Doctorate of Ministry program at Trinity Western University. His thesis on faith and the imagination is still a work in progress.

Bill ministered to God’s people in Maranatha Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in Belleville, Ontario as a youth pastor;  Bethel CRC in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Bethlehem CRC in Thunder Bay, Ontario; and at Langley Immanuel CRC in Langley, British Columbia. Over 25 years, Bill faithfully served his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, whom he always wanted to receive the honor and glory. Bill’s ministry extended far outside of the church walls as well. He was a part of numerous missionary trips to Mexico (outreach, house and church building) and Liberia (Lifewater, Extreme Clergy documentary).

In his ministry, Bill had a gift for listening to others, and responding with short words of wisdom and comfort. He loved learning and doing research for his sermons and children’s stories which were always meant to reveal God’s will and love for his people.  Bill’s website is a virtual library of sermons that cover the whole Bible. 

Bill thoroughly enjoyed playing guitar, snorkeling, long distance biking, and walking the dog during which time he would pray. He also kept up with the latest in electronics, and computer and trends. His family will never forget his wit, his contagious asthmatic laugh, his sincere smile, and the way we knew he meant it every time he said “I love you”.  He was a gentle and loving man and his family will be forever grateful for the time they had with him. He will best be remembered by all for his patience, curiosity, inquisitive nature, abounding love, and unyielding faith. May God be praised in Bill’s life and afterwards.

To remember, say goodbye, and praise God for our wonderful Bill:

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 2nd at Langley Immanuel Christian Reformed Church 21713-50 th Avenue, Langley, BC V3A 3T2 from 7:00-9:00 PM

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, February 3rd at Langley Immanuel Christian Reformed Church 21713-50th Avenue, Langley, BC V3A 3T2 at 2:00 PM

Please note that while every accommodation is being made, seating and parking may be limited for these services. We expect to broadcast the memorial service online, and more details will be made regarding this shortly.

In place of flowers, please make donations to Lifewater Canada. ( Lifewater Canada is a group of volunteers that trains, equips, and supports the rural poor in Haiti & Africa to drill wells and build washrooms, and Bill has been involved in this organization for many years. A cheque can also be sent directly to Lifewater through the mailing address below:

307 Euclid Ave, Suite 194
Thunder Bay, ON
P7E 6G6

- The Versteegs -

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saying Goodbye

To remember, say goodbye, and praise God for our wonderful Bill

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 2nd
at Langley Immanuel Christian Reformed Church
21713-50 th Avenue, Langley, BC  V3A 3T2
from 7:00-9:00 PM

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, February 3rd
at Langley Immanuel Christian Reformed Church
21713-50th Avenue, Langley, BC  V3A 3T2
2:00 PM

In place of flowers, please make donations to Lifewater Canada. Lifewater Canada is a group of volunteers that trains, equips, and supports the rural poor in Haiti & Africa to drill wells and build washrooms, in which Bill has been involved.
           -  Or send a cheque to:
                        307 Euclid Ave, Suite 194
                        Thunder Bay, ON
                        P7E 6G6

- The Versteegs -

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gone Home

Last night, shortly after 3:00 AM, Bill found his way through the valley where he no longer lingers under the shadow of death. We are so very thankful that  the Lord heard the cries of his heart to take him HOME.

                     As Bill often said, "Heaven is a wonderful place!"

                                                                         With love,
                                                                                      The Versteeg Family

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Five Weeks Ago....

It seems like such a short time has passed, but it has already been five weeks since dad received a confirmed diagnosis of stage 4 bile duct cancer. In more recent weeks he has found himself "stuck, lingering in the valley" as he describes it. Today it seems he was able to make a few strides through that valley. He suffered today, with more pain that I would have believed a person could endure had I not been there to hear his prayers and cries for help. God has answered dads prayer - that pain not change his character. Through his pain, he continued to pray, and showed a strength beyond my understanding. The nurses and doctor were amazing at working to get his pain under control again, but in doing so, dad fell into a deep sleep, where he looks to be peaceful and comfortable. We do not expect that he will be waking up anymore after today, and so much is being done by the staff at Maple Hill Hospice to make sure he remains comfortable as his walk through the valley comes to an end.

- Naomi -

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time with Dad

This week, we have been spending a lot of time with Dad. He is often confused owing to a combination of strong medication and a gradual buildup of toxins that his body can no longer remove.

I have received a lot of strong words of encouragement over the past weeks (thank you so much everyone), and I also received a few pieces of advice that were personally really helpful for me, and I thought I might share them (paraphrased below) because they could be helpful for others as well.

The first is to remember that in-between the sometimes monotonous activities of daily life, there are occasionally moments that connect you again with some of life's possibilities, and that these are really important moments worth looking forward to and holding onto. Sometimes for brief moments Dad is still here, and able to come up with one-liners that make everyone around him laugh (thanks Tim).

The second is to try to think about Dad outside the really hard parts of his illness. I was warned that some of the hard times could leave such a strong impression that it could be difficult to think about him as he was in my childhood or adult life, or during those moments when he still recognizes and smiles at you (thanks Rachael).

And so, I am following that advice and remembering who he is, and enjoying some really special time with Dad.


Monday, January 24, 2011


This past weekend there has not been much change with dad. He is still waking up on occasion, is suffering with pain and nausea, and he is getting weaker on a daily basis. On Sunday evening dad was awake and aware enough to watch a slide show with Peter, Naomi, Sean and Aiden. The slides were oldies, but goodies of mom and dads first few years of marriage, their days at Dordt College, and of Peter as a little rug rat!

We as a family have really appreciated the flood of emails we have received, each of which has been read to dad as well.

Thanks again for all your prayers and love!

- Naomi -

Friday, January 21, 2011

Today Bill was awake off and on this afternoon, dozing intermittently.  Christine left this afternoon and we will greatly miss her companionship during the long nighttime hours.  Little Aiden William came to visit today and Bill had a smile for him.  Bill decided he would like to be called Aiden, so we joked about giving Bill an unofficial middle name since he does not have one.   And we think that William Aiden sounds wonderful.  Bill still seems to come up with great "one liners" like, "What's the scripture for today?"  and  when someone offered juice, he replied "Ice has half the calories."   As we have been reading the emails sent to us through the address, we have been amazed at the things you remember about Bill.  Thanks so much for sharing your memories with Bill and our family.   He enjoys hearing them as do we.

I did not feel well today, so am spending the night at home while Peter and Ben watch over their Dad.  Sometimes Bill needs a drink or an ice cube after a bought of hiccups or a battle with nausea.  These continue to be a source of distress.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Personal Messages To Dad or to the Versteeg Family

All public postings on this blog are currently read aloud to Dad. If instead of posting a public message, anyone would like to send a private message to either the Versteeg family or a private message that will be read aloud to Dad, please feel free to email us at



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dad's Words to You

The following are Dads words, words that he wishes for you to hear - words from the heart.


I want you to know, you are truly beautiful people. Your kindness, generosity, and sensitivity are beyond words. You have truly loved me. I asked when I first came to Langley that you would love me, and that you would love each other. Your love has been beyond description, and has modeled the character of Christ. You have brought a glass of cold water to a parched tongue. My beautiful friends, you have been like Christ to me. I have been blessed with a truly wonderful blessing - Langley Immanuel CRC.

             God is with us.
                           God is with me.

                                                  - Pastor Bill -


Dad feels that his time on earth is coming closer and closer to an end, and he is looking forward to meeting our Heavenly Father. And his prayer has now become ours - that his suffering come to an end. That when he meets the Lord, he will hear the words "well done my child. Welcome home". 

As a family we cannot express our gratitude to everyone who has been there for us, whether it be by providing a meal, babysitting, or giving us a shoulder to cry on. Like dad, we are amazed by your outpouring of love and support. There is nothing we can do that will be able to repay the love you have shown us! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

- Naomi - 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Last night Bill had another struggle with the hiccups.  Staff were able to help with these painful "spasms" enough for him to have a somewhat restful night.

Today Bill felt like something to eat, so he had a few bites of soup which actually smelled quite tasty for hospital food.  We helped him into his favorite gray shorts and bright orange t-shirt that shocked the nurse when she walked in to give him his medicine.

The boys helped Bill into a cool wheel chair where his whole body was well supported.  Then off they went to the kitchen/family room.  Bill joked, "This is it?"  It is a beautiful mini kitchen with a round table and chairs, two couches, a TV, and washroom for families to use at their convenience.  It is really very nice.

I have often been in the "kitchen" with other families who are in the same situation as our family.  For the last five days, the Higgs family have been with their Dad.  He had cancer years ago, but it resurfaced five months ago.  Mr. Higgs came into the Langley Hospice the day before Bill.  They are a family of three girls who are in their thirties.  Their parents are about ten years older than Bill and I, and are in their mid sixties.  So between their family and our family, the family room/kitchen has been pretty busy.  Then this morning I woke up and they were all gone.  Mr. Higgs had died just after midnight.  And their lives that were on hold for six days now continues.   I was looking out the window thinking of all the families who have passed through this hospice.  There are only 10 beds at the Langley Hospice but everyday we have been there someone has died.  And the only way we know someone has passed away is that an electric candle is lit for 24 hours to honor their time at the Hospice.  Their beds are remade and a new patient comes in to occupy their room.  And so now, we are meeting new families with new stories to tell and new journeys to endure.

It is time to go back to see Bill.  His sister Christine, Peter and I have been spending most nights there.  Two of us share a twin pull out bed while the other stays up.  Christine likes staying through the night, so I may try to convince Peter to stay home tonight to have a good nights rest (update, Pete is staying the night with Dad again). Ben may go back to work and visit Bill during evenings.  I have encouraged Mike to go back to Victoria for a day or two to catch up on some project work if he has to. I may even stay home tonight myself as my back is getting tired.   We all...I need to speak for myself...I do better with a good nights sleep and I can be at the hospice within ten minutes of being called.

So good night to all of you wonderful and caring people who we could not do without.   May the Lord bless you the way He has blessed us through you.  Bill's prayer is to go Home to his God and Saviour.  He feels he is stuck in the valley right now  Please pray for him to finish his walk Home.

Love Judy

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Two Day Gift

After sleeping for 24 hours, Bill began to wake up about every four to five hours to talk to us.  So Sunday was a very emotionally charged day as we were so tired and yet so thankful to be able to say more of what we wanted to say.  Bill too was very emotional as he poured his love to us.  Today, again he woke up to talk to us.  It seems to be taking him a bit longer to respond than yesterday, but still surprises us with his wit, biblical knowledge and memory for names (he remembered all the last names of our young adults who made a poster for him).

The struggle we have is that Bill longs to go home to be the Lord and we want that for him too...but we also want to keep him for as long as we can.  And yes, we know that is selfish...but..........

Thank you again for your love, emails, blog comments, calls, food, babysitting, dog walking, and especially your prayers.  We feel God's hand upon us and are so thankful to God for the gift of these two days.


Sunday, January 16, 2011


The past two days have been up and down for the Versteeg family. Yesterday Dad slept, and slept, and slept. At one point he was asleep for more than 24 hours. We have waited by his side, telling him how much we love him, and he has sometimes found ways to respond! He has opened his eyes, and tears ran down his cheek while we talked with him and cried over him. He squeezed our hands. He blinked to answer yes/no questions. We have been blessed, because he was able to communicate with us despite so much working against him. And after so much waiting by his side, this morning he woke up! He asked for water, he told us how much he loves us, and he hugged us.

We have also been blessed over the last two days from the church and our community of friends.  From food brought to the house, to very last minute requests for help in babysitting. We thank you so much for all your support.

With Love,

-The Versteeg Family

Saturday, January 15, 2011


This last night for Dad was very rough. His medications were not handling his pain and he was suffering. Our palliative care team recommended that Dad be given Ativan, a sedative drug. This drug should take Dad away from his pain, but it also will take him away from us. This morning he was given Ativan, and we are told that it is unlikely that he will be responsive anymore. We ask at this time that visiting with him be reserved for family only.

Please pray that the Lord take him in peace.

-The Versteeg Family


Friday, January 14, 2011


Yesterday, our wonderful Palliative care team found a bed for Bill here at Langley.  The transition went smoothly and we are enjoying the short walks back and forth.  Bill is able to come home at any time for short periods if he feels up to it, and it is great for him to have the opportunity to come home.

Bill is more relaxed at the Maple Hill Hospice.  He was worrying about his medications being administered here at home more than we thought.  Bill's Hydromorphone dosage has nearly doubled which is a concern for us because it makes him sleepy all the time.  He also has a hard time communicating, and finishing his sentences.  This may change as his body adjusts to the high dosages, we will have to see. For right now we are treasuring the time to be beside him, rub his back, hold his hand and talk to him for the short times he is awake.

We want to thank the many communities that have been in touch with us...Dordt College and Calvin Seminary study buddies; the Belleville, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Langley congregations and valued friends;  and the Surrey Christian School community who I miss dearly.  Your words of encouragement, visits, meals, calls, cards and prayers are very precious.  Thank you so much.

Dad would still like to try to keep visiting hours open from 11-12 and from 5-6 starting tomorrow at the hospice. Dad is very weak and only seldom really awake.  If dad is awake during these visiting hours, please plan just say hi for only a minute or two.

God has been so good to us and we can't thank him enough for all he has given to us including hope in abundance.    May the Lord also be with you.  Love Judy

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Three Good Days

We are thankful for the last three days.  Bill did well and we had lots of time to enjoy each others company.  Last night dad tried a new medication to help with his hiccups, that have been causing him so much grief over the last 72 hours. He had a very bad reaction to this medication, giving him much worse hiccups, making it very difficult for him to breath, and  pushing him to a new level of pain, putting him in much distress.

One of the wonderful home care nurses on call was kind enough to attend our home in order to help dad cope better with this new phase of pain over night.    Peter stayed up with him most of the night, then mom and Chris took turns helping him take breakthroughs.  As a result of this rough night, dad`s situation needs to be reassessed today by his health care team and his pain medication dosage needs to be increased.  Dad has requested to go into hospice as soon as possible.

Because dad is still having a difficult time with pain as we are waiting for the doctors new instruction with regard to his medication, we ask that you refrain from visiting today.   We will keep you updated on when and where the next opportunity to visit will be.

- Naomi -

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day

Yesterday was a very emotional day.  Bill had many visitors and calls from friends made many years ago and whom we still lovingly call friends.  Hearing their voices and seeing them in person brings back a flood of good memories and relationships that we value so much for their love and acceptance.  Thank you for taking the time to call and visit.  We are so encouraged by the messages of faith and hope.

Bill has developed the "hiccups" due to the increasing pressure on his diaphram.  This continuous, monotonous, uncontrollable action makes him quite tired.  The nurse is hoping to try a new medication today to control them.   What is quite funny is that Aiden often gets the hiccups too, so they make hiccup harmony together.  Otherwise the last two days have been pretty good for Bill.  He even got his hair cut yesterday.   Today, he was happy to announce that he has reached his weight loss goal.  No one else was happy the hear his good news. 

Bill's sister Christine came from Edmonton to visit again.  She is amazing to have around.  We just about have to tie her down she is so eager to help.   Today, we are enjoying the snow only because we can stay inside and enjoy its beauty.  We don't have to drive in it or struggle through the blizzards of Alberta.

Thanks so much again for the delicious meals, thoughtful messages, and your prayers. 

- Judy

Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Morning!

Finally you are hearing from my quil. The pain is being managed to the point that I can focus on what my sentences mean.  Thank You Lord!

As my children have let you know, this past week has been difficult in terms of pain management.  My pain levels keep on changing and so the medicine has to be adjusted accordingly.  I am now on three times the dosage of pain relief that I was on when I came home from the VGH.  Until pain management gets stabilized, my days and especially my nights are very up and down.

I wanted to write this post however, to focus on you.  Your many many expressions of love and concern for my family and I have been incredible!   When we moved to Langley from Thunder Bay, one request that I had, knowing that a congregation's appreciation for the work of a pastor tends to come and go, was that you love me.  And true enough, while my preaching and work as a pastor have gone up and down, what has become so very clear in the past months is that you have been faithful in your response to love us, and love especially me. 

It truly has been good to see and talk to many of you.  And thankyou for honouring our request for brevity in visits.  When 10 people would love to talk to me in one hour, it is sometimes hard to fit everyone in.  And as everyone is certainly aware, I am sooooo good at brevity myself!

I am looking forward to seeing a few more of you tomorrow, from 11 - Noon and 5 - 6 pm.

Love, Pastor Bill.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekend Update

Thursday night was a big setback for dad, causing him intense pain with every breath he took, and leaving him very weak. While we don't know what happened exactly, it is suspected that something has changed internally with regard to his liver and/or surrounding organs. As a result, dad currently has nurses attending the house every day, as well as home visits from his doctor to continually reassess his pain. As of yesterday he has started a new pain management program which consists of about 20 injections of various medications on a daily basis.

Dad doesn't really have the strength anymore for longer sit down visits. Any visits in the future will have to remain very quick just to say hello and goodbye, lasting only a minute or two. We understand that there are many people who would love to sit down and have one last conversation with dad, for the time being, however, that is not a possibility due to his weakened condition and the fact that he requires so much sleep. We will be sure to let you know if this changes.

The next opportunity to visit will still be Monday evening from 5 to 6.

- Naomi -

Friday, January 7, 2011


With dad's attack of pain last night he has been left very weak and exhausted. He is finally starting to sleep well as the pain has now been managed. With the events of these last 24 hours, as a family we would like to respectfully request no visitors for the weekend as dad needs some time to re-cooperate.

Due to a specialist doctor's appointment on Monday morning, visiting hours will not be held at this time. The next opportunity to visit may be on Monday 5-6, depending on dad's well being at that time. We will keep you updated if this time works.

I would like to request that you continue to pray for my dad during this difficult time, specifically for his continued comfort and strength through the pain that this disease has been causing him. Also pray that the doctors and nurses (who have been so wonderful to dad and our family) have wisdom in knowing the best course of action to manage dad's pain, allowing him to live the rest of his days in comfort and peace, enjoying the time he has left.

Thank you,


Friday Visiting

Bill had a very difficult night.  If you planned to come to see him today, please hold off.  Thank.  Judy

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hard to Write

We had a lot of visitors today, and it was great to see everyone and reconnect with some people we had not talked to in a while. But this evening, Dad was in a significant amount of pain. He was sweating hard, was very sick, and required several extra injections of painkillers on top of his normal dosage. It was not a good evening, and we think he may be taking on too much.

And so tonight after talking to Dad, we agreed as a family to write an awkward and painful request on this blog. One of the ways we would like to make things easier on him is to reduce his visiting hours from 4 hours a day to 2 hours, starting tomorrow from 11-12pm and from 5-6pm, and ask that visitors keep their time with him short. Dad (and the rest of the family) love visitors and look forward to them every day, but we feel that the reduced hours are best for Dad's well being right now. Over the next few days Dad will try some different eating regiments, and if things improve we hope to go back to full visiting hours.

- Pete

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Settled at Home

Having Dad home has been great for us, and it has been a good adjustment for him I think as well. Today Dad was able to visit his family doctor and finish the paperwork required for homecare. A hospital bed was also delivered to the house.

Dad hopes for a good night sleep tonight. Tomorrow we plan on keeping visiting hours between 11-1pm and 5-7pm. Dad's sister Gerda and her husband Tom will also be here tomorrow during the day.

Thanks to Jackie Huberts, it looks like we are going to have much appreciated meals for the next two weeks, and thank you all for cooking for us, as well as your support and prayers.

Thanks also to the many people who have phoned and sent cards from many parts of Canada, the U.S., Hong Kong, and even Haiti. Even if we do not get back to you right away, we keep a log of phone calls, messages, visits, and blessings of food that makes it into our home.

Thanks also to Mom's grade 1 students who sent us so many cards. Mom misses them so much.

-Mom and Pete

Finally Home!

It's been a long two weeks driving back and forth to VGH to be with dad, but he has finally returned to us in Langley, and is even staying at home!

Dad currently has his sister Gerda, and brother in law Tom visiting from Edmonton, and Peter's fiance Patricia is expected to fly back to Toronto later today.

Dad has been getting more tired throughout the day, as the days continue to pass. He has a busy day planned - between going to the doctor, having a home care nurse come in, and continuing to adjust to being home. Dad is currently having a difficult time coping with his health, and has asked for no visitors today. We hope that you will respect his wishes, and appreciate your understanding while he is going through this difficult time.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Tomorrow Dad Comes Home

We packed up most of Dad's things tonight, and tomorrow he is expected to come home. He had a pretty good last day at VGH, spending most of his waking time either with Mike or with Mom. He even had a little bit of an appetite as well, eating a few pieces of leftover sushi.

Dad still welcomes and very much enjoys visitors, but he has been dozing off during visits lately and is sleeping a lot more. The doctor said that this could be caused by ammonia buildup in his system, a problem which occurs when the liver loses some of its ability to process toxins.

We are really looking forward to having him at home.


Celebrating Christmas & Planning for Dad to Come Home

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas as a family. We played guitar in Palliative Care, took pictures, and opened small presents (mostly these were animals donated to families supported by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee as well as books and toys for Aiden).

If all goes well, today will be the last full day that Dad spends at VGH before he comes home. In preparation for the move, we have started transferring Dad's things out of the hospital. Bringing Dad home might require some adjustment time, so today is probably a good day to visit him in the hospital. Tomorrow with the transition home, we would like to request that anyone who wishes to visit Dad in Langley wait until Wednesday or later.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day Improvement

Currently dad's palliative care team is trying to transition his pain medication from injection to a patch, with the hope that he is able to return to Langley in the coming week. Until today this transition has not been smooth, however with some experimentation by the team, and suggestions from dad, they have succeeded in providing him with a pain free day in which no pain medications were needed by injection (breakthroughs)!

Dad's brother Harry, and his sister Mary flew in from Edmonton on New Years Eve to visit for the day. His sister Christine has been here for a week, with one day remaining in her visit. This time spent with his siblings has been difficult, yet a blessing as they have been given the chance to say all the important things that need to be said.

As dad's pain finally seems to be getting under control, we will finally be celebrating Christmas as a family in the hospital tomorrow, before Michael returns to Victoria to commence a new semester of his studies.

Once again, we thank you for all your prayers, concerns and well wishes. (As well as all the delicious food we have been receiving!)

- Naomi -