Seasoned traveller finds joy in the journey

NIVERVILLE, MB—Eighty-year-old Nan Hocking has made a few journeys in her time. Some led her to vicinities previously unknown; some were more a matter of the heart. But through it all the well-travelled senior has come to find a deep reliance on God's care.

It was in the mid-1950s when Nan left her native Scotland as a 23-year-old bride. Her husband Bob, an Englishman, was a member of the British navy and the two found themselves travelling to locales such as Spain and Gibraltar.

But when Bob retired at the age of 40, the Hockings decided to move to North America, looking for better opportunities for their two children.

"I cried and cried," says Nan of leaving her beloved Scotland. "I didn't want to go." She is close to her sisters there, but Bob grew up as an only child, and did not fully understand his wife's reluctance to move away from family. Finally, Nan relented—on the condition she could take her dog with her. Bob found a job in Winnipeg through a London newspaper and the family settled in the suburb of Charleswood.

But Bob was still restless; he determined they should move to the country.

"I sure didn't want to come to Niverville (a small town south of Winnipeg), but the Lord was working in our lives!" says Nan.

It was shortly after that move that the Hockings received a visit from pastor Wilcox, a former Marine. He quickly established a rapport with Bob. Nan refused to go to church with Bob the first time, but agreed to go the following week.

Within six months, the Hockings made faith commitments and were baptized "in a duck pond," Nan says.

When Bob suffered a heart attack, Nan embarked on a difficult road. He died after another heart attack four years later. Bob's friends wanted Nan to move back to Great Britain, but, having learned to rely on God, Nan chose to remain in Canada for the sake of her children and grandchildren.

But she hasn't forgotten Scotland, returning often to visit her sisters, who have yet to give their lives to Christ, Nan's dearest wish for them. She's sharing her heritage with her grandchildren, too, taking each of her grandsons on a six-week trip to Scotland the year they turned 10.

Nan believes in the importance of prayer, no matter how big or small something may seem. She longs for her children and grandchildren to know Jesus as Saviour. Her faith is what got her through the death of her 49-year-old son last year.

She also points out that even small things can be taken to God in prayer.

Upon returning from Scotland this summer, Nan lost an expensive sweater at the airport in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Friends prayed, despite Nan's skepticism that God cared about her lost gift. After no one claimed the sweater at the airport's lost and found, it was sent to a local thrift shop. A photo helped airport staff retrieve the sweater.

"We don't always think about the significance of prayer; we take everything too much for granted," says Nan. "We forget that the Lord knew all along."

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About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Pat Gerbrandt is a Manitoba writer who delights to learn how God is working in and through His children, and enjoys sharing these accounts. Do you know a senior with an amazing story? Let us know! E-mail krempel@christianweek.org or call 1-800-263-6695.