The student news site of McPherson High School

The High Life

The student news site of McPherson High School

The High Life

The student news site of McPherson High School

The High Life

Americans in Africa

Elizabeth Vieyra, a full-time employee, spends countless hours with Ugandan children teaching them about the bible.


With people all around the world not knowing about the Bible, people in Hutchinson, Kansas have taken it upon themselves to share the Gospel message with families in Uganda.  

Ripples From The Well is a non-profit organization that focuses on missionary work in Uganda. It was founded in 2020 by Jerry and Joni Heiderscheit. With money short and time shorter, but due to an accident with a septic tank, Ripples from the well sparked into action. 

Elizabeth Vieyra, a full-time volunteer at Ripples, has been wanting to go to Africa since she was in the 8th grade. “I will never forget the moment that we first met the kids and it was this overwhelming feeling like this is what God has been calling you to do your whole life…” responded Vieyra when she was asked what emotions she first felt when seeing the people from Uganda. Vieyra had wanted to serve in Africa for 18 years before she was finally able to.

Since she was 8-years-old, Vieyra said, she has always felt a connection with Africa, even when she wasn’t sure what she was going to do. When Vieyra was young, she dreamed of moving to Uganda to live there and have a family. Vieyra has had a dream of going to Africa for years, and in 2022 her dream came true. 

In 2020, volunteers from Ripples visited Vieyra’s church. She, along with her husband, felt more drawn to Africa than they had ever been before. She listened to a podcast by Andy Addis and became intrigued to what Ripples was doing. After a years-long process, Vieyra finally got a taste of Africa. “I was so overwhelmed when we first touched the ground…” exclaimed Vieyra. With her voice emotional, Vieyra expressed her feelings toward seeing the children of Uganda with joy and overwhelming excitement followed by tears. 

Vieyra has served countless hours with the children of Uganda. She has been on five trips to Uganda and says that she loved every minute of it. While in Africa, she has experienced joy like no other. Smiles and running kids made Uganda feel like home to Vieyra. 

Volunteers from Ripples of the Well give up their time to spend with Ugandan children.
Photo creds: Ripples from the Well facebook page (BRYSON_GAMBLE)

 “There is joy in the community. The joy in the people is so different,” explained Vieyra. Weeks before she was scheduled to leave for Uganda for the first time, she told her husband she wanted a new, bigger house. Except when she saw how happy the Ugandans were when they were going through a hard time, she felt guilty for wanting a bigger house. When she returned she realized how much she really had, but the Uganda community and their joy has always stuck with her since. 

Since the beginning of Ripples, nearly 1,000 people have helped out but as of now there are only 20-30 active volunteers. Churches and other organizations have donated a lot to help them travel. Financial assistance that the organizations have given Ripples has helped many as they make their way to Uganda. Few people have been there since the beginning, but Gabriel Knechtel has stayed by Ripples’ side the whole way. 

Gabriel Knechtel first joined Ripples in 2020 with the founders Jerry and Joni Heiderscheit. Ethiopia was his first mission trip out of the country and being there kindled his love for doing missionary work abroad. Later, he dropped out of college to follow his love of doing missionary work abroad in Uganda. He found Ripples and has fallen more in love with Uganda and the people since he first started.  

When Knechtel arrived in the city he would be doing missionary work in, he felt great emotions. “I was excited, but it was very emotional,” replied Knechtel. He said everything there was tangible and seemed surreal. Knechtel has seen many things but one thing he will never forget is the first time he went to Uganda and saw the families. 

When Knechtel was in college, he only saw himself doing missionary work in the states and not engaging in global missions. He said nothing had prepared him for the joy he would feel when he began to engage in global missions.  

With Knechtel’s career changing, his life has changed drastically. His everyday life has become filled with constant memories from Uganda and Ethiopia while working day-to-day for the organization. Knechtel has been able to share the Bible with people from around the world. He never thought he would get to do after shifting from his old job to being a full-time volunteer for Ripples. 

Both Knechtel and Vieyra live by the same Ripples rules: faith, education, provision. They share their faith with others, hoping to partner with communities and provide for them. They talk about their testimonies and serve those who don’t know about the Gospel. They love and cherish the children while helping them to become self-sufficient and independent. 

They work to share their faith and support community-led initiatives for self-sufficiency and independence to Ugandans. 

God has drawn both Knechtel and Vieyra into a world where they get to engage with global missions and learn about new cultures. They’ve seen people cry and laugh, draw and dance, change and accept. With their mission just beginning, they have much work to do in Uganda. Although they have already helped so many people, they strive to help as many people as they can. In Uganda and in Hutchinson, Kansas. From Uganda to Kansas, Ripples from the well is changing lives for the better. 

Ripples From The Well has focused greatly on Ugandan families. With enough memories to last a lifetime, Vieyra and Knechtel still hold meetings to get more volunteers for missionary work in Uganda. People willingly give up their time and money to make sure the children and families of Uganda know the Bible. People have generously sacrificed over $1,000 even if it means a child will get to know who Jesus is. They provide many things for the people in Uganda but what they give the most is hope, prayer, and a reason to believe.

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About the Contributor
Adylaide Crocker, Journalist
Adylaide is a sophomore at McPherson High School. This is her first year in journalism. Adylaide plays tennis and is currently not in any clubs but enjoys learning about different cultures and writing poems about her life experiences. She hopes to one day become a paleontologist and explore the world.