Estelle Ron-neburg's faith has been tested by the most recent turn of events in the Persian Gulf, but she said she still trusts that her son, hostage Jesse Jonathan Turner, will be freed.
Twice in 1987, Mrs. Ronneburg was ready to travel from Boise to a U.S. base in West Germany to meet Turner, when officials thought he would be released by captors in Lebanon. But he remained a hostage, and Mrs. Ronneburg stayed home."I never did completely unpack," she said Tuesday. "I'm hopeful."
Mrs. Ronneburg keeps a carry-on bag ready, along with traveling clothes. "I try to think of him being released."
The hours since the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian airliner on Sunday, killing 290 people, have been rough on Mrs. Ronneburg.
"Sometimes I get pretty low, but I never give up hope," she said. "You have to not let yourself get too emotional about it, or you're in trouble."
When she learned of the downed airliner, she said, her thoughts turned to the families of the dead and to her son and 17 other foreign hostages in Lebanon.
"I felt terrible," Mrs. Ronneburg said. "It was an airliner with innocent people on it. You have sympathy for the people left behind."
Turner, 40, a graduate of Boise High School, Boise State University and the University of Idaho, was kidnapped by the pro-Iran Hezbollah group on Jan. 24, 1987. He is a professor at Beirut University College.
A U.S. State Department official called Tuesday to update Mrs. Ron-neburg on developments in the Middle East. The government warned her not to take seriously a reported threat to kill American hostages in retaliation for what the U.S. says was a mistake but Iran calls a premeditated crime.
An anonymous caller told a Lebanese radio station that either Terry Anderson or Thomas Sutherland would be executed to avenge the Iranian deaths. But the deadline for the killing passed, apparently without incident.
"They told me not to put much belief in it," Mrs. Ronneburg said, because to kill the hostages would mean the kidnappers would "lose their pawns."