Elva Bates Morden

Dedicated Nazarene medical missionary Elva Bates Morden, RN, died peacefully in her sleep at Bevan Lodge in Abbotsford, BC, on August 20. Born June 23, 1931 in Prince Albert, Sask., to Alymer and Pearl Bates, Elva demonstrated her resourceful and independent spirit early, remembered by her brother as a girl who fixed her own bicycle flats, pumped gas, and played street hockey with the boys! As a teenager, she joined the Church of the Nazarene with the full support of her Presbyterian family. Following graduation from Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (High School) in 1950, Elva attended nursing school at Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert, proudly receiving her cap and RN degree in 1953. She was admitted to Canadian Nazarene College in Red Deer, Alberta, where she was granted tuition in exchange for serving as the resident campus nurse. Here, she established friendships that lasted throughout her life and deepened her faith as she earned a degree in theology, graduating in 1958. Beginning in 1961, she embarked on the adventure of a lifetime when she was accepted into the church’s foreign service effort and reported as a medical missionary to the Kingdom of Swaziland in southeast Africa. Here, over the next 23 years she learned to speak Swahili and established rural medical clinics, delivered babies, mended wounds and broken bones, and trained local residents in public health. At one point, she was the only medical professional residing in a colony established for people with leprosy. She was ordained as a Nazarene minister during her service in Swaziland, in 1967. Upon her return to Canada in the mid-1980s, Elva married longtime friend and pen pal, Clarence Morden, in a beautiful ceremony in Lacombe, Alberta, on Jan. 26, 1985, settling with him in a scenic home on the rocky shores of Lantzville, Vancouver Island, BC. After Clarence’s death, Elva joined friends in Abbotsford and eventually moved to a cozy room at Bevan Lodge. There, she was lovingly cared for by the nurses and other staff, caregiver Barbara Hicks, and many beloved friends. She will be dearly remembered for her sweet and wry sense of humour; her love of music, painting, ice cream, and jigsaw puzzles; and most of all for her abiding faith and service to others. Elva is survived by her brother, Donald Bates of Colorado Springs; sisters-in-law Kathy Bates of Goodyear, AZ, and Rosaline Hupfer of Edmonton, Alberta; nephew David Bates (Kathy) of Houston, Texas; nieces Barbara Bates of Colorado Springs, CO and Betsy Bates Freed (David) of Santa Barbara, CA; and nephew Brian Bates of Calgary, Alberta. In addition, she leaves several grand nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Clarence Morden, parents Alymer and Pearl Bates, and brother Douglas Bates. Services will be held at 2 pm on Tuesday, September 1 at the Abbotsford Church of the Nazarene, 2390 McMillan Road, Abbotsford, followed by internment of her ashes on Sept. 3 at the family’s gravesite near where Elva’s grandparents homesteaded in 1888 in the Carman, Manitoba, district.

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