In honor of our mother Sue Harding, who passed away on June 5, 2020, we have included excerpts of one particular trip, described in a recently-discovered report she wrote for her boss at UMN. She called it her “Miracle Trip.”
In the early 1990’s, while Dr. Dick Harding led the Community Development & Health Project in South Lalitpur, Nepal, Suzanne Harding served as advisor for the “tutorial groups” -- little schools for the children of missionaries working with the United Mission to Nepal (UMN).
Back in the 1970’s (while teaching her own four children), Sue had initiated this model of schooling whereby children of different ages and nationalities studied together under one roof, following their own individual homeschool curricula, with the guidance of one teacher. Each tutorial group teacher was a mission volunteer called specifically to serve in this way, thereby offering a wonderful alternative to boarding school and single-family homeschooling.
As part of her job, Sue made periodic visits to the UMN tutorial groups in different locations throughout Nepal. Her aim was to provide encouragement and support to the teachers, children and their families, and to see how they were doing and how she could help.
We pause here to note that while Sue’s husband Dick frequently journeyed to remote locations (and thoroughly enjoyed “roughing it”), Sue did not relish traveling in the least (be it in Nepal, the USA, or anywhere). As a matter of fact, she often became quite ill just thinking about getting on a bus or plane; she worried about missing connections, getting lost and worse. Nepal is, to put it mildly, a rugged country, and travel has always been difficult, unpredictable, and often dangerous. So, all said and done, Sue’s job as tutorial group advisor required her to face her travel fears and trust in God’s provision -- and she did so extremely well.
- Sue's Daughter, Ellen Collins
Jumla… the name calls to mind a strange, far-away place, and indeed it is! One can walk over the mountains for four to five days to get there, or can travel by a small plane that is often canceled, rescheduled, or unexpectedly fully booked.
I chose to fly from Kathmandu to Jumla via Nepalgunj, a hot, dusty town on the plains of western Nepal. The first miracle of the trip occurred when I arrived at the airport two hours early for my flight. (I wasn't sure how long the rickshaw ride would take). I was shocked to discover that the flight was leaving in 20 minutes! Thankful for my habit of always arriving early, I climbed into the little plane. We flew bumpily along among barren brown hills and occasionally saw
Soon we landed in the high (8000 ft.) T-shaped Jumla valley where I was met by local UMN friends. They were surprised I had arrived on the scheduled day… another miracle! As we walked along the rocky, unpaved road through the town of Jumla, we passed flat-roofed stone houses and greeted people dressed in colorful woolen clothes. The air was fresh and clean compared to Kathmandu. Here and there we saw horses and herds of mountain sheep. Buddhist prayer flags flew from many houses.
After a 20-minute walk, we came to the home of the tutorial group teacher I had come to visit and who graciously hosted me. Her grey stone house has a wood stove, and water is hand-carried in and used sparingly. Just like the rest of the team, she loves Jumla and feels this is where God wants her to be...