Saturday, December 17, 2005

Quest of Faith

The house is still relatively quiet this morning. Integrity's Christmas Cd is playing. Veggie Tales entertains the first children up. Silas has had his morning cereal...which actually means he has eaten two bites then spent 20 minutes pouring the milk, doing milk art and then rubbing it in his hair. I am too tired to worry about it. It's milk. And he was occupied for 30 minutes. Everyone else is still crashed....Graul's in the guest room, Cashes in their respective bedrooms, Samuel in the playroom. The living room and hall are littered with the after effects of a camping trip. The washing machine and dryer are working away already on a very large pile of laundry...

This week was spent camping out at Lake Saaka...with nearly 200 youth and counselors from all of the churches of Christ in Uganda.

The idea for this Quest was born in the Northwest. And created in the Northwest. (United States, that is.) Many lives are changed, convicted, refreshed, and renewed during one Labor Day weekend retreat at Camp Yamhill in Oregon.

Jeff wanted to bring this Quest into the lives of youth here in Uganda. Jeff's dreams are usually so big I can't get my emotions all the way around them in the beginning. And this was one of those dreams. But with his Vision, God has also granted Persistence. And Faith Quest Uganda has become a reality.

Every year gets better. The first year, the campers hardly had tents. They slept on the ground in the bush....and LOVED it. The meetings were held in a banana leaf/bamboo structure. About 100 youth attended. The topic, was appropriately...Faith. The campers departed asking for more. They loved the entire program. We were encouraged.

The second year, four Quest leaders from the Northwest came over to help lead. Most campers had tents. No one had toilets..."use the trees, my friend" and Prayer was the topic of discussion. Everyone was dramatically changed by the events of the Quest...and God was shown to have ALL power and authority again.

The third year, five Quest leaders from the Northwest came over to help. Everyone had tents...and ants. (Yikes!) Mark Long built us a make-shift toilet in the woods. We talked about Worship. And we did worship. Alot. The ampitheatre was cemented for the occasion and the gorgeous view across the crater lake inspired, motivated and charged the passion in the young people and older people too! :-)

This, the fourth year, five more Quest leaders have come. Two of them are adults. Three of them are children. Yes, you heard me right. Isaiah (5yrs), Mali and Michal (3 yr old twins) have made the very long trip across the ocean and are here. Handling it. (all you who have said you could never make the trip...I'll hear you no more! I, M and M have set a high standard, my friends!)
We all had tents. We staff had our own "village" and kitchen with a cook making omelets in the morning. (Yes, Steve, omelets). We had a bricked and plastered bath house with warm showers available if requested. AND...we had real sit-down toilets. Pretty nice.
The topic was Sharing the Love of Jesus. The worship times were more intense this year. The prayer times...amazing. Sins were confessed. God was sought. Burdens were laid down. It was BLESSED.

On the last night, as I sat in the ampitheatre and watched the emotions "wrapped around it all". Young people, from turmoil and stress beyond my comprehension, have gathered to learn how to Him. And there, on that last night, their worship together was inspiring. On the faces around me, I saw, peace. Joy. Sincerity. Need. Blessing. And I realized that this Quest of Faith CAN change not only these young lives...but also whole villages...and even this whole country. One desperate soul at a time.

The Quest is a worthy one. And it will continue in Uganda...hopefully, not just for four days in December. But every day.

God bless you as you Quest for Him wherever you are today...


kristi w said...

Your word pictures are perfect, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing both the heart and the look of FaithQuest. God is glorified in mighty ways through that work! And I know that all of us Northwesterners who have been so blessed by the original FQ would love to witness this new version. Love you!

Cherise said...

I have felt like I have been on a Faith Quest of my own these past few weeks. What a blessing it has been. The Santa and elves are on the coffee table and I miss you much!! Love you, Reese

Steve Maxwell said...

Man oh man! Excitement, joy, happiness, sadness, love - these are a few of the words that come to mind as I read your post Cheryl. I can remember some very significant moments for me at Faith Quest Yamhill not to mention Faith Quest Uganda. Thanks for the beautiful word pictures and listing the camp improvements. I can't help but think of the impact God is making in the lives of those that attend that event. And let me say that while it would have been nice to have omelets in the morning I would settle for:
1. The wonderful smell of Africa as you exit the plane in Entebbe.
2. The goats walking the streets in Kampala.
3. Pulling up to the Baptist Host home to a group of beautiful children and their expectant mother.
4. Listening to stories so much better than American television from the story master himself – Jeff Cash.
5. One of the best New Years Eve parties I have ever been to.
6. Darla and Mark: two of the most courageous, generous and awesome people I have ever met.
7. The road to Fort Portal both the 2004 version and the January 2005 version.
8. Fort Portal church of Christ
9. Ronald: the only super hero I know who has his wonderful smile as his “un-secret” weapon.
10. David: the incredibly competent, quiet leader.
11. Dick: the builder
12. Anton: the chef
13. Rwebisengo: the village of hope and growth
14. Ntoroko: the village of Samuel the Brave, and fried fish heads and lake flies
15. The Cash compound complete with the doggies.
16. Breakfast at the hostel.
17. Hippos, Elephants, Lions, and “Pumba” and “Timone”.
I could keep going but this is supposed to be a comment. So I will end with this:

I will look forward to omelet’s next time, but I can’t leave without a dose of renewed encouragement from having spent time with some of my most beloved brothers and sisters in Christ from Uganda.