[Virginia]: I had my eighth grade year and then through high school, but of course, I got accustomed to the kids. Now I would say I am closer to those kids than I am to the Peru kids because it was in the high school years. So graduated in ’81. I went. . . .
Oh, and then my senior year was the year that Chet Bitterman, one of the missionaries, got kidnapped. They were after the director, who was my—Dad [Will Kindberg] was the director. During that time that Chet had been kidnapped and before he was killed, my mom and dad were in hiding. They had to keep moving and I was left by myself out at the base with one of the single ladies. But I didn’t know where my parents were and that was a very, very traumatic time for me.
[Heidi]: What? Really?
[Dawn]: So wait a minute. [Can’t hear], why didn’t they take you?
[Eric]: [Can’t hear] at all.
[Virginia]: Because they were after my dad, not me.
[Mary Lynn]: What do you mean, they were in hiding?
[Virginia]: They had to move from place to place to place so that the guerillas—so they were after the director and because they had to keep him hidden, so that they [M-19 guerillas] couldn’t find him. He was the goal. He was the target. They took Chet because Dad was not in Bogota. They were after Dad, so in order for him not to be, you know, them not come back and try to get Dad, Mom and Dad had to move.
[Gail]: But he was on the base the whole time?
[Gail]: Where was he?
[Virginia]: I think he was in Bogota.
[Lots of Voices]: He was one of the negotiators?
[Virginia]: He may have been, but he was not—nobody knew where. I mean, he was in an undisclosed location and he had to move around.
[Kathy]: They had to keep the base secure.
[Heidi]: So you knew that he was in hiding?
[Virginia]: Yes. Oh, yeah-yeah-yes. I didn’t know where he was, but I knew he was. . . .
[Heidi]: How long did that go on?
[Virginia]: It was only a few months. Oh, I cannot, I can’t remember.
[Kathy]: Well that whole ordeal, I think, was two months.
[Eric]: Chet Bitterman had been captured. He was held for a long time. It was probably a year.
[Virginia]: No. No, no, no. No, it wasn’t because it was during my high school months. And it was during that time that Dad and Mom had to move.
You guys [Steve’s family] were talking about soldiers. During my high school years, we always had soldiers around our house because when my dad was director. That was kind of weird because I had curtains that were almost like these curtains. You know, being a teenage girl, and these guys are right outside my window. You know, it was a shock, I mean, you know, when they’re not shot guns, but machine guns. So we had, we had a lot. And we had curfews during the whole time we were there. We had to be in by 10:00. There were shots, you know, occasionally we’d hear shots in the middle of the night and wonder what’s going on.
Anyway, so that was my senior year and so that wasn’t a great year.
story told by Virginia (Lee’s daughter) with interjections by Eric, Kathy and Gail (Lee’s kids), Mary Lynn (Eric’s wife0, and Heidi, Dawn and Stephanie (Steve’s kids) to the family reunion gathering on January 11, 2014; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)
Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)
- You mention your Dad/Will writing memoires. Did he publish those? Are those available? Is it possible to add them to this collection?
- The Steve Duncan kids didn’t receive trauma counseling. Did Wycliffe/SIL provide any kind of trauma counseling for you or your folks? Was that a known necessity at that time?