Evadene Charlotte Stranske
July 29, 1924 – September 16, 2020
Evadene Charlotte Stranske, 96, of Turlock passed away September 16, 2020. She was born in Turlock, CA, the daughter of Elmer and Lillian (Anderson) Johnson.
Evadene grew up a self-proclaimed tomboy, a little unsure of herself in social settings, but able to climb trees and ride a horse with ease and grace. She routinely rode the tractor with her Dad, while he did his work on the family farm. Her Dad made her a tree house where she loved to spend time by herself. On her first day of school, she climbed a tree at recess, refusing to come down when class started. The teacher was not happy, but Evadene showed that she had a measure of power of her own. Evadene never felt she was good at school, and thought her next older sister was the smart one. However, in the end, Evadene was the only child in the family to graduate with a BA from College – at age 61.
Evadene’s family had little when she grew up in the dark days of the great depression. They would supplement their income by selling milk from their cows and berries they had picked on their farm, often carrying these goods on foot to sell in town – two miles away. Evadene loved to work with her hands and started sewing on a treadle machine at age 6. She sewed her first dress at age 10 and went on to sew hundreds of clothing items for herself, her family, and numerous missionary families. She sewed dresses, shirts, pants, jackets, and more. Often, she would make clothing from curtains or used clothing, never wanting anything to go to waste.
In her late teens, Evadene felt the call of God to spend her life in fulltime Christian service, leaving her recently begun nursing studies to enroll at Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA). There she studied theology, Christian ministry, and Bible, but she also met a young man, Harvey Stranske, who was developing a similar passion for fulltime work in the Lord’s service. Their shared interest in missionary work in Africa brought them closer together, and after they were married on June 15, 1946, they applied as a couple to Sudan Interior Mission (SIM). They were able to secure two summers of training at the Wycliff Summer Institute of Linguistics to prepare for the work of language translation in Sudan, the field where God led them to work. During their 15 years in the Sudan, they worked on two previously unwritten languages so that local tribes could then read the Bible in their own language. Evadene often said Harvey was best at the technical part of language work, while she was good at deciphering the subtle difference in sounds needed to ensure accuracy of the written word. She attributed her keen ear listening to vocal sounds to her years of playing music on her clarinet in the school band. Evadene was enraptured by classical music as well as hymns she learned at church.
When Evadene and Harvey landed in Khartoum Sudan in November of 1947, they were accompanied by 9-month old baby Charlotte, the young couple now just 21 and 23 years old. The next 15 years were to be filled with triumph and tragedy, success and defeat, rainy season and dry season. They translated languages, wrote books, taught people to read, visited local villages, started churches, built houses, treated tropical diseases, patched broken bodies, built an airport (well, a dirt landing strip), farmed the land, canned food, tended cows, goats, and chickens, repaired vehicles, water pumps, and electrical generating plants. Theirs was the Little House on the Savanna. Along with the adventure and the accomplishments were near fatal diseases, snakes and scorpions, floods, collapsing houses, harassment from local government, isolation from friends and families, the heartache of sending young children away to boarding schools, and even the loss of precious family members. Evadene maintained her wellbeing through a constant stream of letters written and received to her mother and numerous friends in the US. Although she knew many dark hours, Evadene always knew that the God who sent them to do this important work would also sustain them.
When their work in Sudan was interrupted by change in the political situation, they had to return to the US. Evadene gave herself more fully to supporting her now teenage children, Charlotte, Ray and Tim, as well as to her younger family, Darryl, Faith, and Susan. She was always an attentive mother, not coddling, always encouraging, challenging each of her children to be the best they could be. After the nest was empty, Evadene decided to go back to school. Her years of study at BIOLA had been invaluable, but she also wanted a degree. She worked on a BA in English partly so that she could write a book about her life in Sudan and about her beloved son Darryl, who lost his life to cancer at age 15. Evadene wrote and published the book Don’t Call Me Poor and always wanted to follow that with a more extensive treatment of her years in Sudan, using the hundreds of letter sent to her Mom, the letters that had been a lifeline while in Sudan, and most of which her Mom saved for her. A stroke made reading and writing difficult for Evadene in her later years and she was never able to write that book.
Evadene and Harvey spent their final working years crisscrossing the western US recruiting missionaries to go to Africa to carry on the work they had done years before. They would be gone for months, Harvey driving their mobile home, while Evadene rode next to him typing notes from their most recent visit. They went from city to city visiting colleges and churches, seeming to retain the energy of that 21 and 23 year-old-couple who landed in Khartoum back in 1947. After a few years, a mission leader told them they had recruited a record number – more than 150 – of new missionaries to work in different countries of Africa.
Evadene and Harvey were married almost 72 years when he died two years ago. They lived out their final days at Covenant Village with daughter Susan tending to them through regular visits, and their other children spending time with them as frequently as they could. Even with dwindling health, Covenant Village proved to be a happy home for their later years. Evadene could readily say with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Hers was a life well lived.
Evadene is survived by three daughters: Charlotte Holcomb of Portland, Oregon; Faith Hintz of Nunica, Michigan; and Susan Carlson of Turlock; two sons: Raymond of Denver, Colorado; and Timothy of La Habra, California; 16 grandchildren, and 25 great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by two sons: Donald (1955) and Darryl (1972) as well as all her siblings: Wilbur Merrill, Levelle Walton, and Eldora Schwab.
A graveside service will be held at Turlock Memorial Park on Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 2 PM. Those wishing to attend will need to wear a mask. We recommend you also bring a chair and umbrella if you desire shade. In light of the pandemic, the family plans to have a more traditional memorial service next year.