Miracles still happen (after 53 years)
Two members of the ConnectAbaana steering committee, Bill & Ruth Wismer, visited Uganda in January 2012. This story however, begins in 1952.
Ruth was just 2 years old when her parents, Tom and Doreen Goddard, moved their family to Kichwamba, Uganda from England. Uganda was then a protectorate of the United Kingdom, and Tom worked for a government agency that was preparing Ugandans to become independent from the UK. Doreen was a well-qualified nurse and loved being among the people of western Uganda, near Fort Portal. Many times men from nearby villages would run up to the Goddards' grass covered house in the middle of the night and say “please come and helep us as my wife is about to produce”. So Doreen would go and deliver their babies.
The Goddards hired a young woman named Peridasi to help them around the house and watch Ruth. She became a close friend and Ruth was in her wedding (see picture below). In 1958 however, the family moved from Kichwamba to Masaka, where Tom taught at the Masaka Technical School (now a university). Until her death in 1996, Doreen kept in touch with Peridasi.
In 2010, Ruth's husband Bill became treasurer of Worldwide Endeavors, the parent organization of ConnectAbaana. Bill and Ruth decided to visit the schools. While looking at a map on the internet, Bill found Kichwamba. Looking closer, Ruth spotted Bukuku Church.
“My mother taught the women health care at that church, and my father had his students build the doors to the church,” said Ruth. The Wismers planned to attend a Sunday service at Bukuku.
The day before their planned visit to Ruth's childhood home, things were not exactly going according to schedule. A short trip to Kenya to visit another school became somewhat longer when not one, but two busses broke down. Undeterred, the Wismers woke up at 5:00a.m. Sunday morning for a four hour drive to Fort Portal and up the Kichwamba road to Bukuku Church. There, they met the pastor and Ruth told him about her mother and father. He had heard the story about a white man at the technical school and his students making the doors to his church! Another woman approached them, and when Ruth asked if she had heard of Joash Kinyina, Peridasi's husband, she said "Yes!" Knowing that he would have to be in his 80s, Ruth asked, “is he alive?”
"Yes, and his wife is too." Ruth was stunned. It had been 53 years. Peridasi was 80 years old and still in good health!
"How can we meet them?"
"I will take you to them after church."
During the service, Ruth was able to share about living in Kichwamba in the 1950s. Immediately afterward, a 90 year old lady approached her and said through an interpreter, “your mother and I were good friends.”
The Wismer's volunteer guide directed them down a road so bad that they didn’t think the van could go any further. Somehow, the driver made it to a large church where she walked right into the midst of a big confirmation service. Soon, a woman came out and said “I am Sarah, Peridasi’s eldest daughter. Come into the service and tell your story."
The church was packed! As Ruth spoke before an audience for the second time that morning, an elderly lady walked down the aisle. Peridasi wore a huge smile as the two embraced. She still looked similar to the girl in Ruth's old photographs. Peridasi welcomed the Wismers into her home to meet her family, and her second daughter was named after Ruth. In Peridasi's pictures of her wedding 55 years ago, Ruth Wismer is in the center. Ruth had brought the exact same picture with her to Uganda.
The Wismers had a wonderful time enjoying the Ugandan hospitality and God’s miracle for them. What a joyful day!