Else Semenjuk, sixth child of Ferdinand and Alwine Brenner was born July 15, 1931 in Mydzk, (Kostopol, Volhynian), Poland.
In 1939, because of their German heritage, the family was deported to Warthegau, also in Poland. During this time she attended a public school, the only schooling she received. They spent 5 years in different places in the Warthegau, until the war forced them to flee to Zechliner-Hütte (Ostprignitz, Potsdam) in East Germany. After spending a year there, they moved to Barenthin in 1945, also in East Germany. The war had ended, and life slowly began to normalize again. With other relatives and like-minded people, they started home church services and formed a church choir.
In Barenthin, Else married the love of her life, Heinrich Semenjuk, on February 11, 1949. When the border between west and east was being more and more closed, they felt the need to flee to West Germany. Else had her purse and Heinrich his bicycle when they, with a help of an escape agent, tried to cross the border. They were caught twice and sent back. The third time they tried, (June 25, 1950) was successful. Their gratitude for reaching West Germany could not be expressed in words. They found a new home in Ebertshausen (Unterlahn, Rheinland-Pfalz). In 1951 Erika was born. 1954 they moved to Herford and in 1955 Harry was born.
Those were difficult years, but they worked hard and were able to build their own home. Else supported her husband, had a large garden, held several cleaning jobs, and looked after her mother and her in-laws, who all lived in the same house. With so many people under one roof, Else was known as a peacemaker.
For over a year (January 1, 1974 – March 31, 1975) they moved to Hamm to pastor the local church. Due to health reasons, they had to give up that position. They applied for immigration papers to move to Canada and were accepted. On April 10, 1975 they boarded a plane to start a new chapter of their life in Edmonton, Alberta. Shortly after their arrival they had a house built for them. They enjoyed their new surroundings.
Being reunited with their siblings who had immigrated to Canada years earlier was a great blessing for them. They found a new home in the Edmonton Church of God. They attended services faithfully and supported the different pastors and the church in general.
For a short time, they moved to Wetaskiwin to minister to the church there (November 1983 – June 1984). Following that, they returned to Edmonton. After Heinrich’s retirement they moved into the church owned apartment block, Eben-Ezer II. What a blessing it was to live in the same building with other church members and that within walking distance of the church.
Else was saved when she was 12 years old and baptized upon her faith. She took serving God very seriously. Bible reading, prayer, attending the services regularly and working together (or helping out) where possible, were her top priorities.
Her caring and loving heart was shown through visiting the sick and elderly. She loved to cook and show hospitality. Friends and guests gathered around her table and enjoyed the fellowship. Else loved to serve.
During her lifetime she was often sick but always put her trust in God. Her childlike faith enabled her to trust not only for her salvation but also for the healing of her body. She saw this as a privilege. Her strong faith in God’s healing power often moved God’s mighty arm. At times she experienced instant healing.
At the age of 42, she was diagnosed with cancer. A lot of people prayed, and she was miraculously healed. The doctors were speechless. She had an opportunity to witness to them about Jesus. The scheduled surgery was cancelled.
Just a few years ago she had major knee trouble and could hardly manage to walk up the stairs. When the Ministers’ Conference took place in Edmonton, she asked to be anointed by the pastors. Thereafter, she left the room and walked up the stairs like a younger person would. The knee pain never reappeared. Again, and again, God healed her. She made sure to give God the praise and the glory for that.
Else and Heinrich’s marriage lasted for over 71 years. In February of 2019 they were able to celebrate their 70th Wedding Anniversary, surrounded by their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, relatives, and friends.
At the beginning of this year, she didn’t feel well and was in and out of the hospital. After several tests the diagnosis was a grim one, pancreatic cancer – and it had already spread. When a nurse entered the room trying to comfort Else, she said “Don’t feel sorry for me, I am going to heaven!” The doctors gave her 3 months to live and offered us a place in hospice where she would be cared for until her death. We decided otherwise and took Else to her home to care for her as family. She was not afraid at all to die but looked forward to being with Jesus forever. Repeatedly she told us that she was thankful for a good life and for what God had done for her.
As the end was in sight, she kept looking up to God. We heard her pray and often just whispering “O, my God.” In the morning hours of December 11, 2020, Else breathed her last breath, and left peacefully to be with Jesus. With Paul she can say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2.Tim. 4:7)
On behalf of our family, a heartfelt thank you is extended to all who have shown such love, care, and support throughout the last weeks. The outpouring of love was simply overwhelming. Else often, with tears in her eyes, said: “So much love! The people are so nice to us!”
A special thank you to Pastor Gerry Krebs who provided us with dedicated spiritual care during this trying time. Many thanks also for the amazing support of Dr. Catherine Otto, nurse Suzanne, staff at Choice Program, the AHS Palliative Home Care Team, We Care and for the nightly caregiver (Vanette), provided by Dietmar and Tracy, for the last two weeks.
Else was a positive and joyful person. Her outgoing personality, her disposition and contagious laughter brightened every gathering and made her well-liked by many.
She will be missed by her husband Heinrich; son Harry (Doreen Lina); son-in-law Kurt Pudel; grandchildren: Michael Pudel (Marianne); Kevin Semenjuk (Rosalie); Andrew Pudel (Reshawn); Steven Semenjuk (Lorraine); Tania Starko (Corbin); Jeffrey Pudel (Christine); and 14 great-grandchildren.
Else is predeceased by her daughter Erika Pudel, and her 6 siblings, Lydia Daher, Rudolf Brenner, Wanda Siebert, Agathe Wichmann, Ephraim Brenner, and Hertha Kleinloff.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions a private graveside service will be held on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.
Donations in memory of Else can be made directly to the building fund of the Edmonton Church of God – 10135 – 85 Ave. Edmonton, AB T6E 2K1 – edmontonchurchofgod.com.
Serenity Funeral Service – South Edmonton, (780)450-0101