Model of a sail boat, black with red design, wooden, Chinese. Items in 2022.23 are keepsakes from Ted and Harriet Bechtel's time spent as missionaries.
Ted and Harriet Bechtel Missionary Collection
Ted and Harriet lived at 43 ½ East 20th Street in Holland, MI from about 1958 to 1960. In January 1961 they arrived in Taipei, Taiwan.
“They were in Taipei for 2 years learning the Taiwanese language. It was very unusual for them to learn Taiwanese rather than Mandarin Chinese, which was the politically determined language. My sister Linda was born in 1962. After 2 years in Taipei, they moved to Kaohsiung where my father began work among students at the Medical School at the university there. My brother, Randy, was born in Kaoshug in 1964. My father's work with the students was primarily teaching English to the students. He also worked with Taiwanese Presbyterian churches on various projects. They went into the mountains to do traveling medical clinics and other things.
My parents were in Kaohsiung until the summer of 1966 when they began a one year furlough in Holland Michigan and I attended first grade. They returned to Taiwan by boat in the summer of 1967, and Ted resumed his work with students. While on furlough he had been raising money for a student center and this was built soon after. The student center contained a language lab and some dormitory space. Around that time Ted started the SWAP Summer With A Purpose program. This program brought seminary and college students to the student center
for the summer where they taught ESL and built relationships with some of the Taiwanese students. SWAP still continues and is now done in Hong Kong.
We spent our last year in Taipei and then came back to the States in 1972. Dad had been involved in helping Taiwanese pastors who were persecuted by the government and might have been involved in the escape of a high ranking Taiwanese man who had been serving in the Chinese government. Because of these activities Ted would not be granted a visa to return so we know that we were leaving Taiwan for good that summer.
Ted and Harriet were RCA missionaries sent by the RCA Board of Missions. They had a number of supporting churches throughout the country. I don't know any except Central Park church in Holland was one of them. At the time the pastor at Central Park was Rev. Neil Van Heest - my mother's brother.”- Ron Bechtel
Gift ofRon Bechtel