Harper had low expectations of the small village in Nepal. As a SIM cross-cultural worker who leads teams on short-term missions trips, she had stayed at the village before. In the past, it hadn't been an open place with seemingly shallow connections. But God would prove her wrong.
Personal details of people in this story have been changed.
It was probably a dumb idea to come back to the woman’s house.
As we came nearer to the small tin building on the edge of town, my nerves got worse – what if she thought it was suspicious that we had returned? What if she didn’t welcome us?
Just the night before, I had been at her doorstep, a house on the outskirts of a tiny village in the Gorkha district. I was at the village with a short-term team, and this village – an easily overlooked place that is mostly there as a stopping point for trekkers to rest and refuel – is one of our usual stops. I had sensed God pointing out her house saying, "Look for the didi.” (Didi translates as “older sister” in Nepali, and is generally used to address older females).
After our team had split into smaller groups to chat with the villagers, maybe even share the gospel with them, I had taken my group there. We had stood there at the edge of town in front of a dark, empty house and wondered what to do next. Maybe God had meant another house, another didi.
But a few moments later, a woman had appeared, walking towards us and then passing us on the way to her house. She gave us a confused glance. Why were foreigners standing outside her door in a part of town where tourists rarely venture? I had tried to strike up a conversation, asking if it was her house and – because she seemed preoccupied – if she was busy. Yes it was her house, she answered, and yes, she needed to make dinner. She didn’t seem to want to continue the conversation, and I already felt awkward enough, so we left.
Why had God pointed out the house and woman to me, only to have her brush me off? I had been harbouring low expectations about coming to this village – it had never been an open or welcoming place in the past – and this ineraction had confirmed them.
Now here we were again. As we approached the house, I wondered if we were wasting our time. But three children stuck their heads out of the window, smiling and greeting us, “Namaste!”
The woman came out then, and I asked her if these were her children. “Yes,” she answered, and suddenly we were chatting!
She runs a business from her home, she explained, selling wine and tea. I asked if we could have tea. Seeming more open to our presence, she invited us in. After she served our tea, we asked if she wanted to sit and talk with us. She agreed, and we soon found out that she is alone most of the time. Her children go to school in Pohkara, a full two-days’ walk and an hour-long bus ride from the village. Her husband had been away for two months in Qatar, looking for work. We told her that God provides, using the story of Elisha, the widow and the oil in the Bible as an example.
Later, we asked if there was anything else we could pray about for her. “Yes,” she said, “I have breast cancer.” The translator turned to me, exclaiming, “My dream!”
That morning, as our group was preparing for the day, our translator had described a dream she’d had of our group gathered in a circle around a woman with cancer and praying. An engaging story, but we had forgotten the dream as we’d headed out. Now we could only sit in shocked silence.
We told our new friend that God had been intentionally pursuing her, first by directing me towards her house, and then through the translator’s dream. She admitted that she had never actually sold tea before, but still invited us in. Laughing, she said that she didn’t know how to charge us for the tea.
She wanted to read the Bible, she said, and learn more about Jesus. Her children sat with us and listened to the conversation. It was a moment I will never forget. We serve a God who knows us intimately, pursuing us at all costs to let us know how much he loves us!