IN LOVING MEMORY: MYRTLE A. STADEM-SVANOE:

THE MAKING OF A GREAT SAINT


From February 3, 1913 to January 8, 2000 One Woman's Dynamic Life in Christ Made a BIG Difference in the World!

MYRTLE SVANOE ON THE PHONE TOLD HER SISTER CORA IN BRAZIL JUST A SHORT TIME BEFORE HER PASSING TO GLORY IN 2000: "I AM THE FIRST!"

For ye shall go out with JOY, and be led forth with PEACE: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the MYRTLE tree:

and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.--Isaiah 55:1-13



God's Precious Word and the Cross--The True Disciple's Anchor in Life--Became Myrtle's Most Treasured Possessions; With them, the Winning of the Crown is Assured. She Always knew It Was True for Her, "No Cross, No Crown."


A SPECIAL NEST FOR AN UNUSUAL LIFE


Myrtle Alvera Stadem was born February 3, 1913 to Alfred and Bergit Stadem of Canton and Bryant, South Dakota.

Growing up in the teens and twenties of the last century, she learned what love, family, godliness, and God's love and mercy were all about as she took her place in a growing large family on Plain View Farm. She also learned hard work, but she found satisfaction in doing something well too, not shirking the task. Even laundry could give her a special joy as she handled the items with care and folded them neatly in the final process.

What kind of daughter was she? Life on the Farm, even with the advent of electricity, remained demanding with hard work and continual maintenance and chores to be done. Every hand, however small, was needed in the house, barn, and fields. That was the economic reality of every farm family!

Yet children must be schooled, trained in godliness and discipline in the home, and spiritually grown in church, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School, as well as various retreats and fellowships outside church services for the recreation and spiritual good of God's people. These Norwegian Americans did not exist merely to live, but to serve God and man!

Myrtle was, very early on, a doer and a verbally gifted person, and not a writer, so we do not have accounts of life on the Farm such as her sisters and parents have provided so amply. However, we can put together what it must have been like for her from these accounts.


SENTIMENT IS NOT ALWAYS AS TRUTHFUL ABOUT PEOPLE AS THE BIBLE IS


There is always a strong human tendency to gloss over the difficulties of a person's life and its blemishes with a kind of rosy glaze rather than reveal what that life was really like: this we do for our own benefit primarily, rather from a mistaken sense of respect for the loved one than deliberate falsification.

Yet we would like to treat all in these pages in the wonderful way the Bible treats people: showing them as they really were, within a framework of love, ours and God's.

What if David, for example, had been a lily-white saint all his life? Could he have written "Create in me a clean heart , O God, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me"? Could we have identified with him if he had not been presented as he was: a man of God, but also a sinner saved only by God's grace?

Myrtle, too, was a real human being, subject to temptation because she had flaws like anybody else. In her case, her "flaws" might well have been exceptional strengths of personality, charm, persuasiveness, and will power, not craven weaknesses--which, if not curbed and channeled rightly, might have brought her to great sin and enormous grief.

If you don't believe this, you do not, or did not really know her. How long you knew her does not count. It is how well you knew her.

She was a truthful person, who could see her own short-comings, defeats, and mistakes, and could tell on herself, how much she struggled with her own strong nature.

Self-discipline is the Fruit of the Spirit that she mastered, only after applying the Cross to her own will and desires repeatedly, maybe ten thousand times, during her lifetime.

Can anyone estimate the pain that cost her, or the amount of joy and victory in heaven she ultimately won thereby? If you can, please enlighten us!


YEARS OF SPURTING GROWTH--AND RISK IN REBELLING AGAINST GENUINELY RIGHTEOUS, GODLY PARENTS


Myrtle possessed a strong personality and will that were probably equal to her father's.

She loved life, and surely the strong restraints her father placed on life for his family created some strong tensions, if not rebellion, in her spirit.

Mama Stadem's tremendous mother love must have made the homelife work as nothing else could. Otherwise, would homelife have been endurable for such a free, zestful, dynamic spirit such as Myrtle's?

Caught between grace and legalism, she began to grow like a young tree, tall and straight, not growing wildly as she might have in one direction or the other. Attractive, fun-loving, affectionate, and personable to the point where boys would vie for her attention, she might have proven too much for an ordinary home to handle, but this was, fortunately no ordinary home, even if it looked it.

Checked by her father's strong and unbending discipline and authority, and just as checked by her mother's unsurpassed gentleness, sweetness, and love of Jesus, she grew like a high-spirited filly.

It was a toss-up for years how it would go. Would she break through the restraints altogether and charge off on a course of her own, or would she face Christ and the cross and crucify her will for the sake of His in her young life?

Surely, it could have gone wrong very easily, she could have gone her own way regardless of everyone else, but her mother's and father's powerful prayers sufficed. God won out in her life before she could jump from the family fold into the world that would have welcomed her with all its deception, lures, glamour, and thrills (this would be the high-living, thrill-seeking, law-breaking "Roaring Twenties"!

Her eldest sister says that Papa watched her "like a hawk", because she was pretty and he knew she liked boys. No movie-going in town was allowed. No Saturday going to town either! Social activities were restricted to church and home. Despite all that patriarchal control, Myrtle was well able to leap out of the restraining nest anytime she really decided to do it--and her Papa knew that, he was no fool about human nature and the spirit of youth.


MYRTLE'S FIRST GIRLHOOD SOUL-MATE


In a very big way, family members helped each other also make the needed adjustments to parental authority and Papa's various exclusions of the world from homelife, which he always tried to make as God-centered as possible with Family prayer times before and after meals, his reading of the scriptures, Sunday School preparation and participation, and frequent hospitality shown to other pastors, relatives, and other Christian families.

To make this extra big dose of Christian culture endurable to the high-strung young, Myrtle's sisters helped each other greatly. She chummed with her sister Bernice, and together these two budding, dynamic daughters of Zion worked things out. They could not be separated. If she had been forced to go through this rigorous training in the home alone, it might not have fared well.


A CROSSROADS OF DECISION CAME TO A YOUNG WOMAN


Myrtle somehow succeeded in dating as young as fourteen. These "dates" were of the nature of going on walks, and Papa was not pleased even with this. His imagination must have run riot: "What if they stopped walking? What if the moon glowed particularly bright and appealing, and the light brought out Myrtle's good looks to the fullest? What if he...? What if she...?

It's a wonder he didn't develop an ulcer! The turning point of her life was definitely when she came to a saving knowledge of the the Lord at a Bible camp on Lake Geneva, Minnesota. It probably happened "in the knick of time"!


BORN AGAIN IN CHRIST--A NEW CREATURE TAKES WING


Always ingenious with what he had to work with, Papa Stadem made a bus he built himself out of an old Ford and spare parts he salvaged. He took windows from a junk yard, four of them, and put two on each side, which could be opened to let air through in the sizzling hot weather.

He took water-soaked blankets, and hung them in the bus to cool off the occupants of his makeshift bus as they drove along.

Nineteen young people fit inside with Mama and Papa. All their camp gear and clothes had to be put between the two rows of long benches. They reached a Lutheran Bible Camp at Lake Geneva near Minneapolis and erected their sleeping tents. A big tent was erected where all met for the services.

Myrtle's eldest married sister Pearl came with her first baby, Darrell. Outside speakers were present for the hundreds present. Toward the end of each service there was an invitation to come forward and accept Christ. Pearl recalls seeing Bernice and Myrtle after they had gone forward, and they were as happy as can be after experiencing new birth in Christ.


PREPARED TO BE LAUNCHED IN MULTIPLE MINISTRIES AS A WOMAN OF GOD


Now that she was a young lady, and also a born-again Christian, this third eldest of what would be nine children wasn't going to accept any longer being treated like a young child with the other siblings in the family.

When she went to Augustana Academy at age fourteen, she did not attend consecutively because she had to work to support her going.

Like her sisters Pearl and Bernice, she worked and went to school. Bryant was 100 miles away from Canton where the Academy was located, so Papa and Mama could hear how she was doing, but they were too far to direct her life in every circumstance as before.

Pretty much on her own, she could make most of her own decisions, and she probably relished the opportunity! The Academy was strict in its rules, however, so that probably kept the students in line a bit more than they might have wished with their parents often being so far away and phone service so limited and sporadic.

Hours were restricted when the girls could be visited in their dorms, and the girls could not leave after a certain hour.

Cars and car-rides to cruise around town were not permitted to the students, nor were "normal dating practices", theater-going to see non-Christian films, and dancing prevalent in the society allowed or sanctioned.

If there was a good Christian film, however, the entire school was let out to see it and the theater was reserved. This was a rare exception, of course, but it happened now and then.

Roald Amundsen's film of his discovery of the South Pole was such a film, shown about 1929. Papa Stadem had gone to the Academy with the already legendary Amundsen.

[Later, in the 1950s a grandson of Alfred and Bergit Stadem went to the same Canton theater for a reserved showing of Cecil B. Demille's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Amundsen's homemade film was perhaps just as exciting to these students, who enjoyed few opportunities to view the products of the Silver Screen while they attended A.A.--Editors]

After the Academy, all the sisters but Pearl attended Lutheran Bible Institute in Minneapolis. Myrtle, always passionate in nature, developed her gifts of communication and sharing her faith with people with testimony, song, and Gospel tracts.

It is likely that she would have become a missionary if she had not married, or if she had married a missionary she would gladly have entered the ranks of overseas service. Foreign missionary life would have fit her like a glove, but it was not to be. Like her sisters, all except Cora who actually made it to the Mission Field after marrying a missionary, she made do with domestic service and taught Vacation Bible School.


PAIRING WITH A WONDERFUL CHRISTIAN MAN EMPOWERED HER FOR CHRIST'S WORK


A second great turning point in her life had to be her falling in love and marriage to William R. Svanoe, a handsome, blond, young specimen of Nordic manhood who had emigrated to America with his parents and family.

Though a brother of the groom had attended the Academy, "Bill" Svanoe did not. Myrtle and Bill met at the Sioux Falls Union Gospel Mission downtown, introduced to each other by Myrtle's eldest, married sister Pearl Ginther. [Myrtle tells about his courtship, first hand-holding, and first kiss in her answers to "Candid Questions"--please use the link to Candid Questions/Replies below.]

Bill was a born-again Christian, a landscaper, with enough energy, love of life, and romantic spark, not to mention faith, to match his bride's.

They moved to Waterloo, Iowa, and established a business and a home there for quite some years. At that time they attended the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Waterloo. They put down deep roots, and made many lasting friends.

When they moved to the metropolis of Minneapolis, they established a new home in Richfield, a comfortable, working-class suburb of Minneapolis, but their ever-faithful Waterloo friends still came to visit them years afterwards.

Later, facing a most attractive deal offered them, they bought a bigger, newer home in Edina, a prestigious, affluent, southern suburb that more likely mirrored their own clientele and as well as their economic and social rise in circumstances.

It remained very hard work, with perspiration attached!--despite the prestige of the lovely suburban setting. They wouldn't get rich at it, but their landscaping business proved sufficient to provide for them and their large family of eight children--four boys and four girls-- even if they were never going to be as affluent as their neighbors.

They looked affluent, however, not working class. Their expansive, two level home was well-built and beautiful, with a big lawn and orchard in which Bill took special care and effort, making the Svanoe residence a showpiece of his horticultural ability.


MYRTLE'S MISSION FIELD STARTED RIGHT AT HOME


Operating out of her own home base as her ministry center, Myrtle's love for service to her Lord and Savior knew no bounds.

She is described as an "irrepressible evangelist whose contagious spirit and devotion challenged and encouraged many."

The "many" numbered in the hundreds and even the thousands as the years passed. Myrtle witnessed and put out tracts everywhere she went. So did Bill.

She used her kitchen to counsel women in the Lord and how to manage their households. She used her kitchen, telephone, and also the den for prayer sessions with her husband as well with these younger women she mentored.

Bill and Myrtle also opened their home for providing hospitality and temporary shelter to those in need of a refuge.

Their Svanoe Landscape Service provided jobs to the unemployed and to hundreds of young men over the more than fifty years it operated.


OVERCOMING THE WORLD AND THE FLESH BY THE WORD OF HER TESTIMONY AND THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB


The tests and trials of life did not leave Myrtle untouched, nor were they a rare occurrence.

Landscaping of the quality that Bill Svanoe cultivated demanded integrity and consistency of fine service to the well-to-do of Edina who expected his best for their money, and got it.

Such top-notch service exacted a high price, humanly speaking. For instance, Minneapolis was notorious for huge snowfalls. Severe weather conditions placed severe strains on the business and the family at such times.

Myrtle spent countless hours answering the phone which was seldom quiet, even with a secretary for the business, patiently explaining to customers why they were not getting their "instant" snow removal service, for instance, when the equipment, over-worked, broke down or there were still many others on the list to be done before the crews could get to the party that was calling.

It was a very tricky "Catch-2" situation! How could they provide instant service to everyone of the dozens of Svanoe customers at the same time? Utterly impossible, but you couldn't tell these wealthy people that! So her role demanded great tact and Christian love of a high order, and she was a perfect help-mate to Bill on her end. After she was through with them, they usually saw their own demands were a little outrageous or they could wait a bit longer for the Svanoe snowplows to arrive--they could make that much adjustment to the blizzard on their doorsteps!

But Bill's service was not always treated well in response. Quite often customers who were oftentimes wealthy, with not one mansion but several in various parts of the country, were reluctant to pay their entire bill, yet Myrtle and Bill did not respond to this in an unloving, or angry way. They were defrauded in this way of thousands of dollars over the years, but they continued to enclose Gospel tracts with their statements and treated even the defrauders with kindness. In this way they could derive a fair measure of comfort in their losses--after all, what was their monetary sacrifice if a precious soul was saved by their forebearance and longsuffering?


DEVELOPING MARY'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD ADMIDST MARTHA'S HECTIC, DEMANDING CIRCUMSTANCES IN HER ROLES AND CALLINGS OF WIFE, MOTHER, HOUSEFRAU, SPIRITUAL ADVISER, DORM MOTHER, COOK, LAUNDRESS, CHURCH WOMAN, ETC., ETC.


Myrtle and her life-mate poured themselves into their family, church, and business, in that order.

It was their love for God that they cultivated even more than these three major spheres of their life together.

Faith in God was their highest vocation, as far as they were concerned. They showed this was so by their continual, faithful church participation, their godly lives, and their evangelistic and aggressive witness for the sake of spreading their faith to others around them.

Myrtle loved people, loved her family, loved her husband, and loved flowers, good times and laughter, and was entralled with the beauty of nature, but she loved Christ most of all. People who knew her even casually could see that for a fact.

She continually developed and deepened her relationship with Him all her life, despite the continual, heavy demands of her responsibilities as wife, housewife, mother, and churchwoman.

Faithful praise and prayer provided her fuel for her strong faith. She found this out early on, and she proved absolutely right in this, they were the strong pillars that made her unmoveable--nothing could knock her over or divert her from her chosen path.

She became, increasingly, a woman of prayer and intercession--and thereby became a powerhouse for the energizing and expansion of God's kingdom.


WANTING MORE OF JESUS AND LESS OF CARNAL, FLESHLY, SELFISH, RELIGIOUS MAN!


Meanwhile, mergers and even changes in emphasis on God's Inerrant Word were taking place with a kind of rippling effect in the Lutheran churches, and the large church bodies that resulted no longer held to the things that Myrtle and Bill Svanoe valued most in Christian life and observance.

They found themselves and their "extreme" and "old-fashioned" devotion to Christ pushed to the door by more accommodating, contemporary-culture pastors who seemingly did not want evangelism and growth in the Holy Spirit as much as they wanted impressive church consolidation, ritual, ecclesiastical and worldly conformity, stately ceremony, and men's churchly traditions.

The Svanoes transferred to the Lutheran Free Church after unsuccessfully trying to keep their beloved home church from joining in the big new American Lutheran Church.

But they wanted even more of God than the LFC and other local churches they visited would allow, so they began a home Bible study in their home about 1968.

The leader was used of God in a mighty way, and the numbers going increased so much that the big Svanoe home, all two levels, was jammed with people for services, for it had become a flourishing church!

Finally, after the Svanoe house was literally bursting at the seams, the church had to move to gain more room, and it located at an elementary school. After that it built a church building, and expanded so much that twenty churches grew out from the parent "mother church" that had begun in the Svanoes' living room.

In this new church Myrtle and Bill were chosen to be deacon and deaconess, a recognition of God's favoring them for their long stand of faithfulness to God's Word and their desire to follow His Spirit through the thickets of strife, denominational kingdom-building, and men's religious traditions. But even the role of deaconess, was not descriptive of her role. If the truth be told, she was a Mother of the church, the first and greatest they would ever have.


CHRIST STILLS THE STORMS OF LIFE!


Despite the recognition and acceptance that came through their roles in the church and their influence throughout the church family, life did not give them an easy time of it as they entered their golden "sunset years,"--far from it!

The storms of life continued to strike at the Svanoes just as vigorously as in years previous.

When they returned from visiting Norway they found their beautiful home (which was in the process of being sold) had burned to the ground.

It shouldn't have surprised anyone at the time, that Myrtle took this with a word of praise to God--not sorrow or grief--spiritually, she was prepared for anything, thanks to her cultivating all her life her "twin pillars" of Prayer and Praise.

She and Bill (who strangely did not react with emotion or any sign that he realized what had happened) moved to Eden Prairie, selling their still highly valuabe property.

This was to be their last home, as the diagnosis came out that explained Bill's detached state of mind, that he had fallen sick with Alzheimers.

Again, this was no mountain that faith could not climb and ultimately conquer, far as Myrtle was concerned! She relished the challenge it posed to her love and fidelity. She nursed him at home until his death in June 25, 1991. As described in the various accounts of her daughters and sons, she loved him with passion to the end, there was nothing repulsive in him, he was her precious lover no matter what Alzheimers had done to ravage his mind and body.

Eight years later Myrtle followed him, but before that she nursed, along with her family, her youngest son who died of cancer.

Again, her twin pillars Prayer and Praise proved equal to the task.

During this latter period she did not slacken off a whit and continued as a strong supporter of her church, praying and giving hospitality to church members and families, as well as witnessing to the golfers on the course that adjoined her back yard.

In her condo's outside entryway, she always kept a table with Gospel tracts available to anyone who came to visit or deliver packages or mail.

Every year she attended the Plain View Farm reunions, and worked to make them a success, by serving all the tea, coffee, and cookies, as well as doing cooking and cleaning for the big reunion gatherings which numbered as much as eighty.

Her eldest daughter Mim has preserved her notebooks, which are crammed with names of ministries and mini-reviews of Christian books she read, and tapes she loved of Christian music, and programs she had watched, with notes to herself on topics that were important to her faith. These notebooks show her intense, active faith right to the end of her life.


MORE THAN A CONQUEROR, IN CHRIST


Though she had striven to promote the eating of the most healthy foods all her life, cancer struck, but she did not waver, she continued to pray and participate in church family, family, and reunions to the time when her deteriorating health forced her to remain home. It was just another challenge, of the thousand or so she had faced in her life--and her twin pillars of Praise and Prayer remained unmoveable. To this her family, closest to her in her final hours, can testify, and do testify.

Her entire family was present when she passed to the Lord, after a triumphant, long life of love and servanthood to God and family and her fellowman.

A passionate, prophetic, and victorious-in-Christ spirit returned to the Creator who fashioned it.

Rev. Fred Herzog, a planter of many churches, who for years was pastor of the mother church called New Testament Church and now City Hill Fellowship, Eden Prairie, that began in her home, gave final tribute to her at her bedside.

It was a moment of very significant prophecy and fulfilment in her life. He declared from the Lord that she was the mother of churches and a great woman of God. He was not just speaking his own opinion. It is one thing for others to acknowlege it, and then for God to proclaim it himself! Fred Herzog, from all his experience of such things, knew the difference.

"Well done, thou good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of your Lord." [Amen!--Editors) Matthew 25:21



NOTE: After the July 4th Reunion at PVF and the memorial to her, Myrtle's eldest daughter informed us that her mother, aiming for heaven and getting everything she possessed in perfect order at the last, had disposed of all her private papers and itemized everything else for others, what she hadn't given away, and retained only one box for herself.

What was in it? What was so precious to her she couldn't give it away or dispose of it?

It contained everything ever sent to her from Butterfly Productions and these websites, which she could not bear to part with. Does that say anything to you? We take this great tribute humbly, for this is a service in which we are privileged to participate!

Farewell to one of our greatest supporters in this Plain View Farm family of websites! We of Butterfly Productions miss her greatly, this beloved lady who overcame the thorns, briers, stones, lions, tigers, and storms in her path to gain many, many crowns in heaven! But even greater glory goes to her Lord Jesus, the Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit, who delight to take sinful, flawed, human souls and make them into such radiant masterpieces, such great saints.--Editors


Links to other pages and sites on Plain View Heritage Farm:

New Pages for Return Visitors


PART ONE, CANDID QUESTIONS AND REPLIES BY MYRTLE SVANOE


PART TWO, CANDID QUESTIONS AND REPLIES BY MYRTLE SVANOE


TRIBUTE TO MYRTLE SVANOE, RUSSELL SCHAEFER, AND PAUL RANGEN


A POETIC TRIBUTE TO MYRTLE AND BILL SVANOE: THE ASPEN AND THE FIRS


MYRTLE SVANOE'S LETTER DESCRIBING TRIPS TO NORWAY AND THE AUGSBURG COLLEGE QUARTET TOUR


IN MEMORY OF CENTRAL


MINISTRY CENTRAL


WWW.OARINGINTHERIVER.COM Master Directory



ronaldginther42@yahoo.com

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THIS PAGE WAS CRAFTED FOR YOU BY JERRY L. GINTHER, PVF WEBMASTER, 2006