[Two humble people, a South Dakota pioneer farmer and his loving, faithful mate, ALFRED STADEM, 1886-1964, and BERGIT (BESSIE) STADEM, 1885-1983--humble, yes, unknown to the wider world beyond the Dakotas except for their descendants and friends, yes, but yet God used them to make a world-changing impact. Hear Daughter Estelle tell about them, and they may not have seemed so exceptional at the time to strangers, but those who knew them intimately knew and reveled in their greatness as God's servants.--Ed.]
The new growth was spectacular and the Sunshine State was once more displaying an array of various challenges to both Papa and Mama who felt the urge for new experiences.
Through the winter, the Folks had thought long thoughts about the true meaning of life and had put eternal issues into proper perspective...God's perspective! They had agree to have the land cultivated, planted, harvested by "Buzz", our dear neighbor and friend and now they could take off, when driving was no longer a hazard, and hitch their small "movable home" to their car and drive to Texas to help in the Mexican Mission in Laredo. This they did year after year. Visiting Olde Mexico...seeing the scantly dressed Mexicans and even the men going bare foot in cold, rainy days, because they had no shoes. Baby clothes were needed as well. The Folks handed out Christian literature in their Mexican language wherever they went, but still they weren't doing enough.
They took many slide pictures when in Mexico. As they prayed, we know God gave them the burden to try to help these very poor, desperate people in more ways. They decided that God wanted them to show the pathetic conditions in Mexico to the many Lutheran Churches up in the State of South Dakota, especially among the churches who had been in the Lutheran Laymen's League. They wrote leters to get some kind of an itinerary and as the responses came, they took off with their projector, screen, slides, and "the Message" of their burden for the Mexican people that God had laid on their hearts. This was not an easy task! The Folks had decided they would not take a cent for their own expense, but all the monies collected would go to the Ministry of helping these neglected poor people. Then they asked for clothing with special emphasis on shoes for men and clothing for the children. When visiting Plain View arm, we happened on to the east room upstairs. There were boxes...boxes...boxes piled high to the ceiling which contained the clothing and blankets for the Mexicans. Some the Folks sent parcel post to the Mission to distribute, and the others they packed into their trailer and car when they took their next trip to Texas.
When the Mexican authorities got wind of the clothing being brought into Mexico, they put out a decree that no clothing was to go over the border. This didn't stop Papa. He packed all he could under the seats of their car and behind their legs in the car, and the border patrol never saw all the wonderful shoes, sweaters, sweat-shirts, diapers, infant clothes of all sorts they brought to the needy people. It took many trips to get it all into Mexico, but Papa was undaunted and the mission was accomplished.
Such a legacy so late in life is no small gift. When a man and his wife in the twilight of life's journey still find enormous delight in the Message that LIVING IS GIVING, we've got to know that their lives were filled with mountains of joy as they served.
Not all is joy as one serves...During all the travels, Papa broke out with a bad case of shingles, which is an acute inflammatory skin disease of nervous origin. He suffered from the vesicles and neuralgic pains, especially near one eye and his hairline as well, as it went up into the scalp. Knowing Papa, you know he didn't go to the Doctor. He used the strongest medicine he had at his disposal. There was much suffering, but he continued on visiting the churches, showing their pictures, presenting their Mission, collecting their gifts of money and clothing.
As the years advance, it is imperative that a person, if he or she is to retain some of the enthusiasm of youth, should acept new challenges. One cannot continually look back to reflect on the past...even though the past is packed full of precious memories. Such memories are a special benefit and bounty from our Heavenly Father. Still there remains the compelling initiative which can come only from tackling a new adventure, taking on a fresh task, matching one's mind and muscles and spirit to a compelling challenge, as the Folks did.
It takes courage to do this. It means running risks. Sometimes it calls for doing the thing you fear most. You cannot always play it safe and snug. One has to step out of the comfortable circle of ease and safety to find the rush and flush of new life forces surging strongly through one's days. I expect Papa, especially, began to realize that the giving of oneself to "the Ministry" was not as easy as he perhaps once thought. Isn't that true of all of us? --In Loving Memory, Estelle Stadem Rangen, 1994