PLAIN VIEW FARM, RURAL BRYANT, SD
MYRTLE STADEM-SVANOE'S LETTER FROM BERGEN, NORWAY, AUGUST 7, 1961
But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19
Our Dear Ones Everywhere:
Hello again! How are all of you? This is quite an eventful day in two ways: 1st, it is Victor's Birthday--2nd, we are finally on our way by ferry to see Bill and Ansgar's sister in Eivindvik. This is going to be a five hour trip which is a good thing; so we can catch up on some letter writing again. Our dear relatives keep us so busy visiting, sightseeing, and drinking coffee that we find it difficult to write home. Ha! Since I last wrote to you from Oslo we have had such wonderful blessed times! We have visited friends and relatives in Oslo, Hamar, Lille-Hammer, Os, Opdahl, Sundal, Floro, Kalvaag, Svanoe Island [this island was ceded to the Svanoe family in perpetuum by Hauge--Editors] & Bergen. (All in Norway.) And before getting to Bergen, Norway we spent three hours in Vik i Sogn where my Papa's (our Grandpa Stadem's) grandpa lived about 100 years ago. We will tell you later about how we drove around in this beautiful, spread-out town--from one family to another, trying to trace down the family from which my great grandfather came. (We made contact with people who are going to make further investigation for us since we didn't get all the information we wanted.) There are many Stadheim families there but we may not have found the right one.
Our time ran out as we had to get to Bergen that night. The thrill of being there in Viki Sogn was really something. What would it be like if your papa could go there some day? Right here I want to say too, that we are praying as to whether the Lord would have us go to Mandal to see Mamma's (and Grandma's) birthplace. How I would love to! Our three boys are going there for sure, so if we can't go they will find Mamma's birthplace and take pictures of it. Did you get the card we sent you from Vik i Sogn, Papa? Thought you would like that. We have other pictures from there too, to show you.
Yes, Bill and I took a train to Mandal [The Holbeck family house still stands in use in 2000, and there is a photo of it on this website--Editors]. (While Ansgar and Milna visited her relatives.) We got to see my Mother's old home and the church where she was baptized and confirmed. Also met many relatives. Fun! Another terrific highlight was when we met our boys and Carol in Trondheim! We came upon them after the service in the huge Cathedral (Dom-Kirke) where they sang that evening. What an experience for our Augsburg Quartet and can't you just see Dad and I hug and kiss our boys and Carol after the service! My, it was a treat to see them here in Good Old Norway.
To think, God had protected all of us over thousands of miles up to this moment and to have this thrilling meeting in this big beautiful city of Trondheim in Northern-Norway. Hope the picture taken outside that night at 10 p.m. will be good. It's even light enough to read a paper at 10:30 and 11 because it's so far north. Sorry, we didn't get far enough north to see the Midnight Sun you spoke of, Papa. We met a man who had been up there to see it seven times. We stayed in Trondheim three days so we heard the boys sing several times. They sang both in English and Norwegian of course. This was a combined Conference of the Seame's Norskeselskap Inter-Missions, and also the State Churches. The first of its kind. The spirit was wonderful. Just like a good American Bible Camp. It was a blessing just to hear them sing.
We have attended services in the State Churches on Sunday, morning here and there, but it's pitiful to see mostly old people in attendance. The young people and folks who want the evangelistic type of service do attend these Inter-Mission and other Christian groups. Before we parted with our boys and Carol in Trondheim, God arranged it so that we could have a heart-warming prayer meeting in our hotel room. Each one taking part and praising God for this wonderful experience of travel, the opportunities to witness for Christ and for His wonderful protection so far. Then Bill and I sang "He Giveth More Grace" together--a song we had been singing as we traveled along. Remember, it's missionary Carl Taylor's favorite. Then off we drove in our little Hillman car and the boys and Carol in their Opal car. They went to meet concert appointments and we continued making our way over mountains and into beautiful valleys and around Fjords towards Floro.
The scenery is breath-taking. When we got to Floro on August 1st, Bill and I took a ferry that night to Kolvag, the place where he was born 49 years ago. The lady we stayed with knew the family. She took us to the parsonage and also to the church where Pastor Atle Svanoe [Bill Svanoe's father] preached. Took a picture of his picture hanging in the church entrance. August 2nd. We left by ferry for Svanoe Island. What fun to meet one family after another. There are 75 people (mostly all related) living on the island. It rained much of the time but we were supplied with good rain coats and umbrellas and a good motor boat that took us from place to place. There were days when we ate 7 times. I really got my coffee! Ha! Then at 10:30 p.m. (Aug. 3rd), here comes the boys right on schedule and Carol again. Bill, Ansgar and Torger Svanoe went to the dock to meet the boat as it came in. What a good time we had while they were there. The house we stayed in has about 30 rooms. We climbed the highest mountain on the island the next day, picked berries etc., and before we left that day the boys were asked to give a concert to about 28 relatives who assembled in the big parlor. Everyone seemed to get such a blessing from this, and the parting at the dock I'll never forget. We sang "Blest Be The Tie" and "Ya, Ve Elsker Dette Landet" as we drove off. The most impressive thing was everyone waving white handkerchiefs until we couldn't see one another anymore. Realizing we probably wouldn't see them again in this life, there were tears alright! What a thrill to find relatives who loved the Lord!
August 8, 1961- Now we have been to Bergen and met our boys again and heard them sing. Visited Gunhild's daughter and family there. And as I sit here writing, we are at Eivindvik with Gunhild and Alf. (Dad's half sister) We have been boating, fishing and berry picking. Dad got two fish yesterday. Today we are planning to go to Harbakke, Solund, another place where Dad and Ansgar lived and where Grandpa Atle Svanoe was pastor.
September 18, 1961 Paul (our book-keeper) [Paul was an old friend of the Svanoe family from Waverly, Iowa, where the Svanoes had previously lived before moving to Minneapolis; he was a fine, Christian man who stood for Christ with the Svanoes when it came time to stand against liberal debunking of the Bible's truth in higher education--Editors] has kindly consented to type these last two letters and send them around. Bless his heart!
Dear all of you:
We arrived home one day ahead of schedule and what a home coming we had after two months away from our families! Hope these letters will suffice until we can have the privilege of showing you slide pictures in our home when you visit us. Make it real soon! We thank God for His presence and protection over all of us! Also, grateful to God for arrangement of going with Ansgar and Melva. They certainly went "all out" to make this a tremendous experience for both of us. God Bless them!
Sincerely in Christ, Myrtle & Bill
P.S: Some of you have asked about which countries we did see - They were: Scotland, England, France Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Montreal, Canada.
Note: The combined tour and trip of parents Bill and Myrtle Svanoe and the Augsburg College Quartet to Norway the "Good Old Country," in 1961, was a tremendous life experience for all involved. The Quartet representing Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota, was composed of Alfred Svanoe, Rennard Svanoe, Victor Svanoe (all sons of Bill and Myrtle), and Joseph Nystuen [who like to remark to audiences he was the lone Dane in the quartet, though
we have lately discovered the genealogy that confirms that the Holbek Line,
represented by Bergit Holbeck Stadem,
was Danish originally, emigrating to Norway from Holbek, Denmark!]. It certainly is most remarkable that the Quartet had three who were Svanoe brothers! The Augsbug Quartet of 1895 was the first musical group of Augsburg and the first of any Norwegian American singing groups to visit Norway. It was welcomed by marching bands, parades, and large audiences everywhere in Norway. In 1935 and again in 1961-62 (which is the one mentioned in this letter), two other Augsburg Quartets traveled throughout Norway giving concerts. All surviving members of the Augsburg Quartet groups from 1895 to 1994 formed the "Augsburg Centennial Singers," which toured Norway
and sang in concerts all over Norway. Victor and Rennard Svanoe sang with the total of 38 members in this choir, 39 counting the organist, Stephen Gabrielsen. Recordings on tape were made of this distinguished choir's performances and may still be available (you may write to Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for information on how to order them, if they have
been transferred to CDs. Gospel songs, Spirituals, along with songs in Norwegian and wonderful introductory words concerning various portions and songs formed their program.--Editors
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