Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The day has finally come...we shift our belongings to our much anticipated house.  It's been almost 5 months since all of us have slept in our own beds, and tonight, Lord willing, we will do just that!  For the past two months, the girls have shared a room, and for the most part have done rather well.  In fact, I over heard Annie mention she wasn't sure about sleeping in a room all by her lonesome, but I think she'll get over that idea rather quickly.  Wendy is ready to use her own kitchen utensils, and to unpack all of her home decor.  For me, I'm just ready to make new memories in a new home...seems like we've been waiting to do this for quite a long time.  I think we're all ready for a place we can hang our hats for years to come.

I want to take just a moment to thank a few people here that have been instrumental in our home Michael, our you hit the mark and got us in before Christmas, thank you for Godwins, for finding this house in the first place, and so much more my friend, you and Nancy are truly family to Micah,Grace and Reba for all their support, especially keeping us for the first few weeks AND allowing us to store our belongings at your Ruth, for watching our girls while Wendy and I planned and worked on the house, you are now Auntie Ruth...and to all who have prayed here and back in the states, you have given us the encouragement to keep on, THANK YOU!

Christmas is here and will be gone in just 6 days.  It's the first Christmas I can remember that I haven't thought much about gifts, but in all fairness, finishing a house can be a pretty large distraction.  Wendy and I have purchased a few gifts here, but nothing like we would have back home.  Not that we are now somehow against buying gifts for our girls; we are not above spoiling them.  But it just seems things are different this year for us.  I'm not sure how to put it into words only to say, we have each other, and right now in this present moment that is truly sufficient.


Sunday, December 2, 2012


Back in September, UCF (The church that we are partnering with) hosted PASSION 2012, with Chris Tomlin and Christy Nockles.  Over 35,000 people attended, the largest crowd ever recorded for a PASSION event!  This was the second time UCF had hosted a PASSION event, the last one being in 2008.  Since then, UCF has regularly hosted local PASSION WORSHIP nights, having one per semester of school.  I have had the opportunity to help lead these events in the years past.  But this one was a bit different, mixing Christmas songs with current worship songs.  We called it PASSION CHRISTMAS WORSHIP.  It was a hit, and God was truly glorified that evening. Below are some of the pics Wendy and I took during the event.  Enjoy!!!  

The Girls having their pre-Christmas/Passion dinner

Choir/Band prayer circle prior to the event

Todd, trying to get creative

Hope, leading O Holy Night

Passion/Christmas crowd

Patrick leading a super fun Africa Christmas song!

Grace and Ruth, loving it...


Ivan leading WHITE FLAG

Todd leading HOW HE LOVES

Pastor Micah giving us the message for the evening

More worship...

Thursday, November 15, 2012


It was August the 3rd when we last saw our container and all of it's contents roll away from our home in Mt Sterling, IL.  Honestly, my hopes weren't to high of it even making the journey successfully, let a lone arriving with almost everything completely intact!  You should have seen our faces when that ugly red container showed up...  Unfortunately, Wendy, Annie and Lucy couldn't be there for the unloading.  With lots of help from Micah's family and friends from the church, the unloading was a real success. As promised, here are several pics revealing the much anticipated arrival of the container.  Oh, and thank you Micah for allowing us to disturb THREE rooms in your home!  I'm still in shock...

Friday, November 9, 2012


Why is it so hard for real people to talk about real things?  I’ve never been very good at small talk, at least I don’t think so.  Small talk makes me nervous.  What I mean is, I always feel pressure to contribute to a conversation that virtually is meaningless.  But in order to get to the “real stuff” I’ve found that small talk is very necessary for breaking the proverbial ice.  So I’m working on my small talk skills!  It seems though, people, especially many churched people, rarely get past the small talk.  Oh, they’ll converse about other peoples quote on quote problems or concerns, but getting them to turn the corner on themselves becomes more of a challenge. 

Was Jesus good at small talk?  I’m not sure if He was or wasn’t, not everything he said or did is completely recorded.  When I read the gospels, it seems like Jesus is always trying to make a point, constantly in a state of teaching even amongst His small talk, especially with his disciples.   And what about all the encounters with not yet believers, John 4 (woman at the well), Luke 19 (story of Zacchaeus), John 3 (Nicodemus, ok so Jesus was probably a bit tired for small talk in this one), and the list goes on and on…  Point being, Jesus went straight for the jugular, He wasted no time talking about the weather or the latest Soccer or NFL standings.  In every encounter He ever had with a not yet believer, Jesus’ one desire was to set them free from their burdens and chains. 

Now, we all are wired differently, some more bold or timid than others, and for that I am grateful.  But God never intended for His creation to just be a bunch of small talkers, never getting into the lives of those around us.  Small groups or community groups are fine and well, but why have we stopped there?  Whether it’s here in Uganda or back in the States, one thing seems to be scary for us to do, and that is to find that special individual and develop a one on one relationship, sharing in what God is doing in our lives and also the challenges that we are up against.   Proverbs 27 says it best when it says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Jesus chose twelve, and from the twelve he intentionally spent one on one time with three.  The twelve were His small group. The three were His inner circle.  You and I are here today because Jesus decided come down from Heaven to live life with twelve guys, and pour intimately into three of them, and one of the three Jesus built His church upon.  Jesus kept it simple. 

Spiritual adoption seems to be the latest buzz-word for making disciples.  I’m not against the phrase, but I do think it leaves a lot of life out of the equation of making disciples.   Years ago, I ministered at a church that taught me the phrase, “Doing life together”.  Wendy and I long for that once again, to do life together with a group of believers, to share life, the good and bad and everything in between.  But even more, we desire intimacy with a few, to be able to share the deepest parts of our being with a friend that will listen and will love us for who we are, not for who we should be.  Yes, I believe deep down, every single person desires to be loved as they are.  Have you found that someone to do life together, and I mean really do life?  If so, you know how exhilarating it is.  If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?       

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


OK, so we have gotten several requests for pictures.  Here are a few that we have taken through out the past several weeks...Enjoy & more to come!

Bon Voyage!

Girls, posing on the balcony of our very first apartment in Africa

Yes, home schooling is going well!

Our family van...w/ Emma and Lucy acting tough!

Baptism Sunday...23 total!

Our neighborhood...

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Searching for a house in Kampala has been a bit more challenging than anticipated.  We are now beginning week 3.  Seems we have been looking at houses for 2 months, but it has only been 2 weeks.  Exhaustion has begun to set it, but somehow we manage to push onward.  Location is now at the top of our priority list.  Please be in prayer that God continues to give us wisdom.

We made our first major purchase, we bought a van!  Now buying a vehicle in Kampala isn't exactly the same as buying one in the States.  In fact, it is very different.  First, you need to know someone, actually it seems you need to know someone for just about anything you do here.  Second, buying a "new car" from Kampala, isn't really buying a new car.  Most cars that are in Kampala come from Japan or Europe, and all of them are used, at least the ones the average joe can afford.  Third, you go to "the bond" to find the car you desire, then negotiate on the price...this is a bit tricky, but again, if you know someone, the transaction is much smoother.  My "someone", his name is Godwins...and he lives up to his name.  After you've negotiated, you literally pull out your cash, and ONE piece of paper is signed, and you are driving.  Now there are a few other minor steps, but as long as you have cash and a passport, you can drive...that's it.  License and insurance are included in the deal.  And so we decided on a 99 Toyota van...I am the first time driver on it here in Uganda, which makes the van a lot more valuable. The next paragraph tells you why...  

The roads here are brutal, and most damaging to your vehicle.  Potholes are the size of  VW Beetles, and the homemade speed bumps created on the dirt roads seem to grow daily.  And the traffic!  My goodness for those in the states that think they have experienced crazy traffic, I would challenge you to drive in Kampala!  If you want a small taste of it, go to YouTube and type in Kampala traffic.  I've heard some say it's like driving in a real life video game.  I'm no gamer, but maybe that's true.

An update on our Visa status.  For a fee (of course), the internal affairs office extended our visas for 2 months, which gives us time to work on our permanent work visas.  We've met with an attorney regarding this issue and he seems to think he can take care of this for us.  But, nothing is done yet, and for that I would ask you all to continue praying that God would make at least this visa process smooth and seamless.

I met with the gentleman in charge of getting our container out of customs, and into our hands once again.  His name is Jimmy, a friend of Godwins.  Jimmy asked me all of the customary questions like, what was in the container and how long we were planning on staying in the country, pretty easy stuff.  We are meeting again tomorrow to discuss more details and so I can give him my passport and of course a fee.  Jimmy's hoping because we work underneath a missions organization that our tariffs will be waived. PLEASE, pray that God softens the hearts of those in charge of this decision.    


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Our first week in Africa has come and past.  The weather has been mild for the most part, with a couple days above normal.  Mornings and evenings are tranquil.  At the airport, we were greeted with “Welcome Home” signs by several of the choir members…this was truly a special moment for us all.  Micah and Grace (the pastor of UCF and his wife) have been wonderful hosts.  Their guesthouse has been just perfect while we wait on finding a home.  Reba (Micah and Grace’s daughter who is 16) is becoming an aunty of sorts to our girls, helping with school and watching Disney DVD’s, she’s been a godsend.  Micah’s compound is full of life, with mango, banana and avocado trees surrounding the premises, and a turkey that is getting fatter by the day.  I think it’s D-Day is Christmas!  Lucy finally got her wish.  The monkeys made an appearance, and what a show they put on for her and the girls. 

Monday, the 22nd,  we ran into our first of many challenges we will face here in Uganda.  When we went through customs the Wednesday before at the airport, we were only given a two week Visa.  In times past, I’d been given a two to three month Visa, but when I was asked why we were coming by the customs official, I told her the truth and said we were going to be living here.  Wrong statement!  She almost didn’t let us in, and made it very clear that we had just two weeks to obtain a work permit or work Visa.  We spent all day Monday trying to just extend our temporary Visa, so we would have enough time to apply for our work Visa.  You should have seen this place…first of all we went on a Monday, bad idea!  The line just to get in took almost an hour, and when we finally got in to the facility, which was made up of 4 large concrete walls and a makeshift tent, we waited another hour just to see someone.  I’m not kidding, you should have seen this place, I felt like I was in a movie set, it was like I was having an out of body experience.  Oh, and did I mention it was extremely hot, and I was not feeling the best.  Fortunately, my good friend Godwins and his wife was accompanying me and had an insider that met with us in his office.  We sat down and pleaded our case…it seemed as if he understood what we needed, but then the roadblocks began to build.  The details will make you cry, so I will spare you of them.  All this to say, we left there with a list of requirements and documents, which stretched the entire page the official wrote on.  And of course, this privilege doesn’t come with out a price tag, or should I say several price tags.  But as I said in the beginning of this paragraph, this is just one of the many challenges we will for sure face. 

For the people reading this that pray, and I mean have a prayer life that God hears, would you please help us?  Would you pray that God intervenes with the officials and people that hold the key to our staying here?  One thing I want to make super clear, Wendy and I are ok, and we are staying strong in the Lord.  We know and we are confident, that God didn’t take us this far to have us go home now…this we are for sure.  Believe it or not, we both rested well after hearing the news.  God is in control, not the Ugandan government. 

For all of you that are waiting to see pics of the girls and our surroundings, we are working on it.  The tech learning curve here is high for the moment, but we are navigating through it.  We will send pics asap we promise…       

Friday, October 19, 2012


I feel like I’m in a daze, a dream-like state.  Annie and Lucy are playing with their new dolls from Nana.  Emma is talking to her best friend Madi Henry…she was hoping to skype, but Terminal 5 here in O’hare hasn’t gotten with the times.  Wendy is re-packing items and getting all of us more ready for our flight.  We board in 30 minutes and our flight is scheduled for 8:35pm cst.  God bless Kent Prather…Kent volunteered to be our chauffer to and from the airport.  Boy did he make the trip a lot more bearable.  On the way I mentioned to Kent that my nerves were beginning to set in.  His comment was vintage Kent, “Well, I guess you made your bed!”  Yeah, I guess we’ve been “making our bed” for quite some time now.   Seems like we’ve been turning the page of life for a while.  But now we are writing again, we are writing stories and creating memories once more. 

It’s difficult to say goodbye…especially to those you love so dearly.  I didn’t keep track of the amount of tears that were shed in the last 48 hours, but I think it’s safe to say they would be measured in the gallons.  And so the moment finally came when we had to say our final goodbyes to my mom and dad, aka, nana and papa.  It was as hard as I imagined.  The girls did exceptionally well, but can’t say the same for mom and dad.  I asked several people to pray for this specific moment, and I think they actually did.  Though the facets came flowing, God was truly there, I even believe He joined in…

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Today is the last day our family will ever call 21 E Lake Estates, Mt. Sterling IL, home.  I feel like we are in the eye of the storm.  One very stress filled moment has passed, while the other waits to pounce.  We will enjoy this moment.  The last night in our home was bitter-sweet.  The girls did well.  Emma tried to stay up as late as she could, but retired around 11pm.  Annie and Lucy spent there last night seeing who could do the best cartwheels.  With the house becoming emptier and emptier over the last few months, the only things left were a couple of air mattresses and our toothbrushes.  Seems like we said goodbye to normal a while ago.  Wendy did well too...until we prayed our last prayer we will ever pray in the room we prayed so many prayers in.  I won't go into detail, but you can just imagine.  Truth be told, I had to pry her out of our prayer room, or maybe it was just the smell of fresh coffee that made her finally get moving!  For me, God is truly keeping me together for the moment.  I just hope it lasts through the first month in Kampala.  I'm sure my moment will come, and when it does, I know He will be crying along side me.

There are so many of you that are praying for us.  Some of you have told us with a text or email.  I just want to acknowledge we can feel your prayers.  For all of you that are doing so, can I ask you to pray specifically about a few items.

1. Pray that God makes it clear the exact house in Kampala we are to purchase...I really believe this item is crucial for our families health and well-being and ministry longevity.

2.  Pray that God keeps "ME" patient and balanced, not getting ahead of His plan; providing me with the leadership and wisdom for my family and Friday Night Church.

3.  Pray that God protects Wendy and the girls from sickness and/or disease.

18 days until blast off...


Monday, September 10, 2012


There's a question Wendy and I seem to be getting a lot as of late.  "So how is your fundraising going?"  For the record, fundraising isn't something that I hate or even dislike, but it's no picnic either.  Raising support takes diligence and faithfulness. God continues to stretch both Wendy and I in these areas.  It's good to be stretched, but Lord if you really do own the cattle on a thousand hills, could you sell a few for us?

So how is the fundraising going?  Honestly,'s coming in at a pace that's beginning to make us nervous.  Wendy and I have the funds to get there, but we need your help to stay there (I can just here some of you saying, "Sign me up!").  Sorry, I just couldn't resist.  So what about getting a job in Kampala?  This is the question I rarely hear, but know it's out there amongst conversations.  The answer is, if I could I would, but with nearly 90 percent unemployment in Kampala...yes, I did say 90 percent, an American taking a job away from a Ugandan isn't a very popular move.  Another question or idea we have gotten is, "What about starting a business in Kampala, after all it is a city of millions?"  Wendy and I have discussed this in detail and are seriously open to this idea.  But for now, in year one, getting our family settled into a new land and culture, developing relationships, and getting Friday Night Church off the ground seem to be more than enough to be focused on.

So let me lay it all out plainly...Our goal was $6000 per/mo.  This would pay for Friday Night Church and our personal monthly needs.  The charts located on our blog page entitled "Monthly Needs" are broken down for complete transparency of our expenses.  With the challenge participants and other donors, we are now at approximately 18 percent, of our over all goal, which comes out to around $1000 per/mo.  Now we understand that faith is a major component in mission work, and we have acted accordingly.  Our airline tickets and container alone added up to a whopping $14,300.  There have been so many unforeseen expenses that have added up to nearly another $6000.  But again, God has been faithful and we have been able to pay for these thus far.

So once again we ask you to consider helping our mission.  Yes, we need your prayers, and yes we need your monthly support.  We're going.  Would you please help us stay?  For those that need a better understanding or visual of FNC, please click on the link below to grab a sneak preview of what I envision FNC becoming...


Challenge Update...     

So the 100@25x12=FNC challenge results have come in a bit slower than expected, but we remain hopeful.  So far we have heard from and or collected 9 participants.  We are looking for 91 more to join this effort.  Again, for those who missed or forgot the challenge presented, Wendy and I believe we know 100 people that can afford to sacrifice $25 per month for 1 year to help launch Friday Night Church.  This church will be planted and located in the city of Kampala, Uganda, Africa, with dreams of going further into other East African cities and nations.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Now I realize many can do more, and if you can please do so.  But the fact is, many of us are struggling to make ends meet, and we hate it, it is depressing and makes getting up in the morning even more difficult.  Yet deep down in our hearts, we all want to make a difference, make a ripple in our communities and in the world that surrounds us.  Can I make a suggestion? Instead of talking or dreaming about it, will you take action on it?  If you could have a part in changing lives every month for a small sacrifice, would you do it?  If you could help change the lives of the Ugandan people for the monthly price of a family sized pizza and sodas, would you at least consider it?

So here's the challenge: 100 people @ $25 per month x 12 months= Friday Night Church.  For $2500 per month, we can hit the ground running, changing the lives of the Ugandan culture.  Your sacrifices will allow us to lease a compound or base camp (offices and mid size gathering room) for FNC and it's daily ministries, provide ministry staff salaries (which is huge in a culture with a 90% unemployment rate), and the funds to rent out public spaces around Kampala for our crusade gatherings.  I know this sounds too easy, and maybe we can get 200 people to commit, but I wanted to begin with a very realistic goal.  I believe we can do this, and I believe Wendy and I know 100 people that can make this happen.  Would you pray about being one of the 100?

THE KISSING WELL has made it super easy to do so by visiting our DONATE page.  After you've taken action, let us know by emailing, texting, facebooking, tweeting,  snail mailing, or even calling us...(this one we would love to get!)

Every few days we will post on Facebook and Twitter the status of this challenge.  Friends, we leave October 15th, your continued prayers are priceless.

*One Last Note*  If this isn't enough of a challenge, by all means be a rock star...take two or three or four of these slots per month!"  And please, if you think this is a worthy cause, pass it on to two more friends.  Blessings...  


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We're ready...

55 days and counting till we depart on what has seemed like quite a journey already.  For the past two years Wendy and I have anticipated a shift; we've prayed for God's hand and will to become evident.  And so we are on the home stretch, almost there, almost...but we've just begun.

We're ready. Not ready in the sense that we've forgotten what it will be like to not have a home here in the states, not ready in a sense that we've raised all our support, not ready in the sense to "get to work", not ready in the sense we have crossed every "t" and dotted every "i", not ready in the sense that we have everything mapped out, and not ready even in the sense that we've become restless...(OK, maybe a little).  But we're ready.  Ready to live in Africa, ready to miss our friends and family, ready to sleep under mosquito nets, ready to learn the hard way, ready to rely on God more, ready to use Skype, ready not to consume fast food, ready to drive on the wrong side of the road, ready to see what God has in store, ready to...

After a certain family member chastised me about not being on Facebook or Twitter, I decided to wave the white flag.  I am quickly being reminded why 2 years ago I deleted my facebook's out of control!  People have way to much "down time".  But for the sake of low cost communication when you are half way around the world, it just makes sense.  So for all of you that wish to check out The Kissing Well facebook and twitter page here they are.


Twitter address:  @toddjgilliland

For the record, I'm glad he had the tech talk with me.

Homeschooling began in the Gilliland household this week.  And for the most part, it is going rather well.  Wendy has been in review mode with Emma and Annie, and Lucy read her very first sentence!  The sentence read, "The pig sat in the mud."  Her teacher had a moment.

One last note...we received our container's (the large box with all we possess) tracking number via email last week!  It is on the ship and headed out to sea.  It's first stop is a small island called Malta.  Kinda wish I had a camera of it's voyage.    

Monday, August 13, 2012


"There is freedom in new beginnings..." As the brother-in-laws and I congregated in James' (the best brother-in-law a man could ask for) garage, the goodbye cries were in full effect directly in the kitchen next to us.  No one wanted to interrupt the sisters from there final moments together, but after a while, Hank (lead Boston church planter of Reunion Church) went in to lay down the heavy.  "It's time to go." For the record, Hank really didn't have to say a word, the sisters eventually came out.

It's difficult to say goodbye.

This week was extra difficult. This was the first week Wendy and I and the girls have lived in an almost empty house, and boy did it feel strange.  Mom commented the other day that even our phone conversations sounded echoey!  So the moment finally came...some of you have experienced it before.  I happened to be upstairs in our oldest daughters room when the moment occurred.  Every emotion hit me all at once...I wept like a child.  Wendy heard me and came into the room.  She didn't even have to ask, she knew.  Wendy had experienced her moment just the day before.

Starting over is hard, the easy button just doesn't exist.  I know it's just a house...but it's my house.  This is the house that Lucy took her first step in.  This is the house that Annie sang her first song in.  This is the house that Emma found Jesus in.  This is the house that Wendy and I started over again in.  This house, 21 East Lake Estates has real meaning to us, it is and will ever be a part of our story.

But that's just it, it's just a part.  This house will one day fall apart, or be torn down for the next generation to build afresh.  It will not stand the test of time, and will certainly not last forever.  But for now, new memories will be made here, happy ones and sad.  Children will celebrate birthdays, and people will grow older. Yes, we will miss this sanctuary we've called our home for nearly 6 years.

If I could give you one word to describe "my moment" it would be WRECKED.  My life feels wrecked.  When you give God complete control, your life will be wrecked.  A part of me so desperately desires normality, to return back to the way things used to be.  But then something inside reminds me of how far we have come to get to where we are today.  If you've ever went on a run before, you know that looking behind isn't something our bodies or minds were designed to do.  Looking behind while running causes dizziness after a while, and if your not careful can lead to a good spill or as a buddy of mine likes to call it, "a lip skid".  Lip skids are painful, they hurt and usually happen when your not paying attention or have a lack of focus.  When God wrecks your life, it's easy to look back and wish He hadn't.  Looking back causes doubt, the kind of doubt that makes you question your God and His plan...and that's OK, God understands.  Jesus understands.  He questioned his father on what surely must have been the longest night of his life.  Jesus wrecked the world when he came down and followed His fathers plan.  Jesus' wreckage became our salvation.

Kudos to Jeff Goins, the author of the new book "Wrecked".  If you are looking for inspiration and encouragement while stepping out in faith, I would highly recommend it.

Monday, August 6, 2012


As the semi truck pulled away with most of everything we held so tightly to for the past several years, one of my neighbors looked straight at me and asked me if I was nervous.  Which I replied, "You know, actually I haven't felt more glad to be with less."  Which she graciously said back, "Yeah, I guess it's just stuff."  For the record, I really hope the container makes it to Kampala, Uganda in a decent time frame.  The company (Nile Cargo) claims it will take 10-12 weeks from the time it leaves New York to the time it arrives in Kampala, but we're not holding our breath.

So what to do until October 15th...the day we leave, the day we depart the USA and head to Africa?  A few churches have asked us to come and present our mission, and this month we go and speak at 3 of them.  Our girls start a brand new experience called "home schooling" very soon.  For the most part they are all looking forward to it.  Wendy is making sure all of our health and wellness concerns are being taken care of.  Plus she keeps me grounded, which is a full time job.  Continuing to build awareness and support seems to be my number one focus for the moment, though I am chomping at the bit to be there.

So for those that care to know, I have updated our needs list.  It has changed due to the container being gone now.  So please, if you would, take a moment and look at it and see if there is anything you can do to help.

A special thanks to everyone that helped us pack up our "stuff" into that 20x8x8 container.  And how can I forget to say thank you to Kathy Grady, Linda Luthy and Sandy Prather for the amazing meal they provided for all of us packers!  Below are a few pics of the day...

Saturday, July 21, 2012


By now most people in Brown County (the county we reside) are aware that the Gilliland family is moving to a foreign land. It's amazing how much unwanted attention a "for sale" sign in your front lawn will attract. But I guess it's fair when you live in such a small community. People seem to just know too. Just today, a lady whom for the life of me, never can I remember remotely ever meeting, asked me if I was excited about our great adventure? And to her response, I gladly smiled and said yes. So we're in that stage of transition. If you've ever moved before and lived in a small town, you know what I mean and feel. Friends and family seem to be satisfied now, it's like they've had time to process, and figure it's probably to late to talk anyone out of it. Yep, on this side of the mic, that's how it feels. And for me, this is par for the course. Most of you reading this probably never realized I was a professional mover...really I am. Since I was born until my senior year in college, I moved 7 times. And after that it only got worse. Since Wendy made our vowels, we have moved a total of 8 times, 15 moves in all!  And honestly, I think I might have left one or two out. I'm not sure, but I've often wondered if I was part gypsy.

Let me give you all a run down of our personal deadlines that we face. First deadline is August 3rd, when our 20x8x8 shipping container arrives at our doorstep. We will have just 3 hours to load it!  I'm sure Wendy and I will be completely relaxed on that day. As you can imagine, all that we own, or want to take to Uganda needs to fit in this space. Furniture, beds, tables, chairs, toys, clothing and all the Friday Night Church music gear and instruments will need to go. This is our one chance to take the big stuff, so taking advantage of this and getting our money's worth is critical. The cost of shipping a container from Mt Sterling, IL, USA to Kampala, Uganda, Africa is about $9000 when you include all the taxes and custom charges. I don't care who you are, that's a chunk of change, and so we are planning and packing well. Second deadline, October 15th, when all of us board a plane at terminal 5, at O'hare International to cross the pond to London, and after an 11 hour layover, we board one more 8 hour plane ride to Entebbe, Uganda, Africa. The time difference, 8 hours ahead.

So what are we doing now? Packing our home and stuffing envelopes filled with our support letters. I'm sure some of you reading will receive one. We are sending them Monday morning. As I mentioned above, our home awaits a buyer. It seems that both of our vehicles have been spoken for so praise the Lord for that! This money will help us to purchase transport in Kampala. If only our home would go as smooth. Wendy and I pray daily for this and would gladly appreciate you partnering with us in this matter. Honestly, it's good to have plenty of time between now and October 15th. Nothing is feeling rushed, and we are having ample time to think and process our moving strategy. We don't feel ahead or behind schedule. This I believe is an answer to our prayers and from the many that are praying for us daily. It's also giving us proper time to say our goodbyes. For this I am truly thankful.

I want to make one plea for Friday Night Church before our first deadline which is coming up fast.  We really need to fill our container with more musical gear and instruments.  If you would, for those that care to, please go to our "MONTHLY NEEDS" page and see if there isn't something you could do to help us out here.  Again, I need to have anything donated be at my doorstep no later than Friday, August 3rd in the a.m. so we can load it in the container for shipment.  But if you would prefer to make a donation via check or a one time online donation, please visit our blog page entitled "SUPPORT" for all the info you will need.

Thank you Thank you Thank you for all your prayers and support thus far.  Blessings.

Monday, July 9, 2012

In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day

Mark Batterson recently published a book entitled The Circle Maker.  Good book and would strongly recommend this read for anyone deciding to do something crazy, ministry crazy that is.  I usually shy away from reading the same author back to back, but in this case, I'm real glad God led me away from my usual habits.

As most of you are probably aware, Wendy and I and the girls are moving to Kampala, Uganda to begin an evangelistic ministry called Friday Night Church.  We leave October 15th of this year, and we are scared.  We are so scared, we are scared of being scared. But God has clearly marked this time for us to go, and we are willing, so we must act.  I don't have time to share with you the severity of our scaredness, but in short, we are fearful of everything from our girls getting malaria, to just being plain lonely and everything in between.  All of these fears will probably rear their ugly heads in one fashion or another in the time God has us in Africa.

In the book, "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" Batterson introduced me to a man in the bible named Benaiah.  Seriously, I thought I knew about all the heros in scripture, but this guy was never taught to me in Sunday school or Bible College.  In my professors’ defense, I did take advantage of all my "skip" days.  In second Samuel chapter 23 we are introduced to a man named Benaiah.   

"Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard. " 

After reading this, the first thought that came to my head was when Brad Pitt slayed the giant in the introductory scene of the movie "Troy".  Killing a giant is one thing, and a feat that most of us will never be able to understand, but killing a lion in a pit on a snowy day, that's on a whole different level.  I would like to go so far to say, it's not even in the same ballpark.  Can we all agree that Benaiah's brain seemed to be missing a key God given element, fear?  This guy was fearless!  Even King David never killed a lion in a pit on a snowy least his lion was in broad daylight and his feet were on secure ground.  Yeah, I'm quite sure that King David read his resume and the pit and snow details caught his attention.  

Here's the point Batterson is trying to get across and something that God is beginning to instill in me:  Benaiah was a lion chaser, he loved guaranteed uncertainty.  Did Benaiah ever have doubts, did he ever have fears...yes I'm sure he did.  But did he allow his fears to take his eyes off his Lion, never.  

Most of us out there are not Lion chasers, and by the looks of most men's faces, we stopped chasing our lions a long time ago.  Maybe it was when someone told us we couldn't do it.  Maybe it was when someone disappointed us.  Maybe it was when a loved one died.  Maybe it was when life hit us hard, and everyone around thought we should take the 9-5 job that seemed at the time "the right thing to do", the safe way out.  I don't know, but what I do know for sure, is that most of us have given in to our fears.  And we hate it...we just hate it.  Only one thing holds us back, FEAR.  That's it, nothing else.  The fear of the unknown, of risky possibilities, of failure, and of embarrassment.  

I need to be transparent here...I am fearful of all the above, truly I am.  But one thing I fear more than any of these, is the fear of regret.  One day when I stand before Jesus and He asks me, "Todd, what did you do for Me?"  My one desire is to answer with complete confidence that I took every risk and conquered every fear and that I chased my lion with reckless abandon for the sake of the one thing I love more than anything else, the Gospel.

So we are going to Uganda, going with complete confidence that God will have His way.  I know, I must be a little crazy to take my most precious possessions half way around the world to a foreign land, but so was the Father, when He gave up his one and only Son for you and me.  Am I calling God crazy...yeah He's crazy in love with you and me

Friday, June 29, 2012

Our Decision

More than 2 years ago God laid a burden on my heart for full time ministry.  During that time, both Wendy and I have prayed almost daily for God to unveil His supreme will in our lives.  And because He is faithful, that burden became a passion, and that passion a calling, and the calling a conviction that neither of us can now shake.  

So on Monday, June 25th at approximately 12:30pm, we sat down in that all familiar brown beaten up leather chair and prayed once again.  "God we are yours, please do with us as You will."  When we opened our eyes and looked at one another we both knew.

In the ever popular devotional "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers words simultaneously convicted Wendy and I.  Literally, we had been driving for most of the morning when I encouraged Wendy and get out my tab and read for me June 18th's reading from MUFHH.  She wondered why the 18th, being that it was the 21, but she read it anyways.  Just so all of you catch how impactful it was to us, I would strongly recommend you grab a copy and read June 18th's devo.  In short, Oswald refers to Matt 14 (Peter walking on the water) and asks why Jesus choose not to allow Peter to walk all the way to him with out sinking.  At first, Peter never saw the waves, never crossed his mind that he could have drowned by stepping out of the boat.  He just saw his friend, his eyes were on his Lord.  But then we all know what happened next.  When we take our eyes off Jesus, the waves and storms of life seem to be overwhelming.  We become paralyzed with doubt and fear takes over.  

"If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you.  Never start to say, Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?  Be reckless immediately-totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything- by casting your all upon Him."  Oswald Chambers.

 I have to give complete credit to a good friend of mine Brent McCammon.  For some reason he felt I needed this reading from Oswald and emailed me the morning of the 21st as we were driving back from vacation.  Brent told me he had been reading my blog and sensed a bit of fear in my writing...He was right!  Funny thing, I had been reading this devotional almost every day for the last 3 months, and for some reason had skipped over June 18th.  So when Wendy read it out loud for the both of us it was the first time either of us had ever read it.   Thank you Brent for listening to the Lord.  

So I told Wendy to read it again, and she asked why?  I just said, "Read it again."  Wendy didn't even finish the second paragraph and I noticed tears streaming under her sunglasses.  What she didn't know is that God allowed for tears to flow out of me as well.  It was at that moment, we both knew our calling became much more.  Our calling became our conviction.  

More details to come...  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Back from Uganda

Wendy and I returned from Uganda on the 5th of this month.  An 8 hour time difference does things to your body and mind one can't explain until you have experienced it.  By the time we left Micah's home (the pastor of UCF), we reached our girls and pillows 30 hours later.  The human body can only take so much, and I'm afraid Wendy and I were at our personal limits.  But now that a few days have passed, our wits are back and we are refreshed once again.

So what is verdict?  What are the Gilliland's going to do?  These are the questions we have been bombarded with since our return.  Wendy and I fully expected to have an answer for our family and friends before we even stepped foot back on American soil.  "They deserve to know", I thought, so we need to give them something, we need to tell them something!  That's when frustration began to set in, and the doubts shortly followed.  One of the many lessons we have learned thus far in this journey is to never try to decide ANYTHING while you are under extreme exhaustion and are consuming airline food.

What are we scared of, what is making our faith falter?  A simple question deserves a simple answer.  We both fear being alone and so far away from our loved ones.  Did I mention it takes 30 hours get back home?  We fear our girls won't cope well.  We fear the days of regret, we fear the moments of depression.  We fear that God might have us there for the long haul.  Why do most people that GO put a time limit on there time away?  Would they so the same in a new job opportunity here in the states?


We serve a God that brings peace even in the midst of valleys, and for that we will build our faith upon.  We will trust Him with our all, no more sprinkling on Jesus to our daily lives.  Faith never looks to far back and never to far ahead.  We will walk where He calls, and for now He is calling us to be faithful with what we know and what we have.  We have three precious lives that are all gifts from our Father whom loves us more than we could ever love each other.  We cannot fathom His endless love.  There is freedom in giving Him your all.  Your all includes your all.  Everything must be His, even your fears, even my fears.      

Monday, May 28, 2012

Terminal 5

Wendy and I just got through security at Ohare international.  Four 50 pound bags of goods were checked and we are still carrying 2 guitars (a bass that Ben Ellefritz graciously purchased and my Gibson) along with 2 back packs.  We are “locked and loaded.”  As I look out over the miles of tarmac all I can think about is getting there, and the thousands of gallons of jet fuel it must take to fly all of us in terminal 5 to our foreign destinations.  

Am I the only one to ever ask if Jesus lives in international terminals?  There are at least 500 people sitting in a 100 foot radius of Wendy and I.  How many of them know Jesus?  I’ve often had this thought.  The feeling only strengthens when the terminal’s on foreign soil. 

So for those that read this post, Wendy and I thank you for your prayers and support.  Our girls are in good hands and for that we are truly blessed.  Phil. 4:6-9 says not to worry, that Christ displaces the worry at the center of your life!  What a promise that is; I will circle that!  If you keep reading Paul goes on to talk about filling your minds with true and noble things, things to praise, not to curse.  And here’s the best part, if you do these things God “will work you into His most excellent harmonies.” (The Message)  Being a musician I can really connect with this language.  When I listen to a song, especially live and the band or group nails it, there’s something magical and almost spiritual that happens. 

My cousin Sam graciously gave us a ride to the airport today.  This is something he has done quite often as of late…thank you Sam!  When we see each other we always exchange hugs, and in the 20 minute drive from his home, try to catch up with one another.  Sam said something today that stuck out and has stuck to my mind.   “When we decide to write our own story, the ending always turns out void, and with little or no fulfillment. But when we begin to live out God’s story, happy endings are guaranteed.”  Yes they are, for the war has been won and we are free to live so.  Next time you see a fellow Christian frowning for no particular reason, tell him to remind his face of the love of Jesus.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

"You are loved for who you are, not for what you do."

One of my favorite quotes written in this century comes from a man named Brennan Manning. I'm not sure if he was the originator or just coined the phrase, "God loves you just as you are, not who you should be, because no one will ever be as they should be."  I have borrowed this phrase many times to encourage those that need to be assured of the love of God.  And every time it rolls off my tongue, God reassures me that He loves me for me.

Lately God has placed another encouraging phrase on my heart similar to the one I shared above.  "You are loved for who you are, not for what you do."  Just this week alone, I have been able to share this phrase to many people that God has put in my path.  And not one of them doesn't respond with out a smile and a thank you.  It's almost like God is purposefully placing individuals in the proper place and at the right time.

I recently placed a post about raising girls that received a lot of attention, statistically speaking. There were almost 150 views in just one day of the post!  And it got me to thinking, I guess I'm not the only one that struggles with parenting and that has a true desire to become better.  So with that, can I suggest one more key element in raising both boys and girls?  Make sure you are loving them for them, not for their accomplishments.  Here's something scary to think about:  Even 5 year olds know the difference!  They might not be able to articulate it, but they know.  To many parents are living through the accomplishments of their kids!  This is true, and may be true to you.  Wendy and I see it almost every single day.  It used to not bother us so.  But as we have learned the damage this causes to not only the child, but to a marriage, our guards have gone sky high.

Just yesterday we were playing golf together as a family and Annie, our 8 year old, decided to hit the ball a country mile.  She ran back into the golf cart and said "Daddy, did you see that, aren't you so proud of me!"  Before, my initial response to her would have been, "Yes Annie, I am very proud of you."  But instead I said, "Annie yes I am proud of you, but not because you hit the ball so well, but because who you are, you are my child."  Honestly, that's what I said.  There are moments in life that define who you are and who you become.  My three girls know and will continue to know, they are loved for who they are, not for what they do.  I pray that God shows you that your value doesn't come from what you do, but who you are, a child of God.    

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Scouting In Kampala

Wendy and I leave for Kampala, Uganda on the 27th of this month.  The girls are staying with my folks, Wendy's sister Martha, and family friends, the Sefton's.  We will miss them, more than they will miss us.  Wendy and I will be doing a number of things while we are away, one of them being to scout for a place for our family to live.  One thing you should know, Wendy has never been to Uganda in her life!  But to her credit, she's a well seasoned third world traveler, and for that I am not worried one bit...OK, maybe a little.  Another item of importance will be to solidify all of the details regarding the ministry we will be involved with in Kampala.  Though most of the big picture items have been laid out in advance to us, the details obviously need some work.  So this means lots of meetings and fellowship with key people we will be ministering with and to.  More information to come on all of this soon, I promise.  But for now, we want to take this opportunity as a couple to explore every option before we make a final commitment.  Oh yeah, one more major detail of our trip I forgot to mention is we will be taking a short flight to Nairobi, Kenya for a few days to help lead "Passion Night"(a night filled with praise and worship, multimedia, and the spoken word).  This event will be held in down town Nairobi and is one of the out reaches that the church we are involved in now (U.C.F. in Kampala) is doing to help plant it's Nairobi fellowship.  Just in case you all are confused about how I am able to lead worship in Uganda and Kenya, they are both English speaking countries. And for the record, they usually teach me more new and upcoming worship songs than I teach them!  I wish you all could experience just one song in Africa...

While we are away, Wendy and I will do our best to keep you all posted in relatively real time.  Wendy will be taking lots of pics and video and a select few will be posted on our blog. Just want to say thank you for all of you that are following our thoughts as we share.  Your prayers and support are coveted.




Monday, May 14, 2012

Raising Girls

Annie our middle girl, turned 8 last Friday.  You should see her dance, almost scary to a dad to see how talented and graceful she is.  Lucy turned 5 in March...Wendy and I are still trying to figure out where she fits into things.  One thing is for sure, she's a social butterfly.  Must take after her mother. Emma turns double digits this coming August.  What a little woman she is becoming.  Her smile melts my heart, and often my wallet.

I've just sat down with a new book published years ago entitled "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters."  And for all the dads out there who really care if there daughters grow up loving the  Lord and not themselves, it's worth your time.  Wendy and I have now had almost a decade of chances to be good parents, and good is about all the credit I can give us.  Maybe Wendy would give us more stars, but in reality we could have done better.  But let me stop right there and remember how much grace God gives us, even in raising girls.

So what does a strong father look like?  In the book, the author mentions ten secrets (common sense stuff really, but often forgotten) to becoming a strong father...

1.  You are the most important man in her life
2.  She needs a hero
3.  You are her first love
4.  Teach her humility
5.  Protect her, Defend her
6.  Pragmatism and Grit:  Two of Your Greatest Assets
7.  Be the man You want her to marry
8.  Teach her who God is
9.  Teach her to fight
10. Keep her connected

"Protecting her and teaching her about God, sex and humility doesn't require a degree in psychology.  It just means being a dad." Meg Meeker, M.D. and author of "S.F, S.D."

Being a seems that I have failed many times through out the last 10 years.  But can I tell you all something kind of cool, God in his mercy is showing me where I need to step in and be more of a dad in my girls' lives.  More than two years ago, God revealed to me that I needed to step up and take more of a spiritual role with Wendy and I.  And for over two years now, Monday-Friday we sit and communicate about the day before and the day ahead, then bow our heads, hold hands and speak to our creator.  Men, this was hard for me to initiate. But I did it, reluctantly at first, then Wendy began to want to pray.  Now we take turns, though I will have to say when Wendy prays I feel like God really listens in a bit more!  How has this impacted could say it is wrecking all we thought we knew, and were holding onto.  God knew we needed to grow together a whole lot more before embarking on a journey like Africa.  I should state, we never prayed to be least I didn't!

Though Meg Meeker never came out and said it, her book implies it on almost every page.  I The best way we can love our daughters is to love their mothers first.  I once heard a married woman say that even though her husband wasn't very loving to her, she knew that he loved the kids and that to her meant he was a good father.  That woman is now divorced and her kids are lost in the middle.

So what is a dad to do?  Recently, I have taken more time in prayer to ask God to lead me to be a better dad.  And as you have already read, been reaching out to see what Godly men and women are saying about raising girls in the Lord. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters magically appeared on my bookshelf...thank you Wendy.  The two TVs that were installed in our daughters rooms are now gone.  Internet use is strictly limited and monitored heavily. We have initiated nightly bible reading together as a family followed by prayer, something I should have done years ago!  And in case you want to know what a 5,8, and 10 year old like to listen to from the bible...we are currently in Exodus and moving forward through the life of Moses. Kind of strange when you are reading about a HERO that killed a man for beating another.  But again, God is wiser than we are... And now I have this blog to keep my feet to the fire.    



Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Days Ahead

I once heard a preacher teach on 2 Timothy 4:9-22.  He said most of us don't pay much attention to the salutations of scripture (especially the salutations of Paul's letters).  It seems that Paul is always saying hello to particular people, and sending them his love or warning.  For most of us, we aren't even aware of who these people are, or what Paul is referring to when he makes comments like, "Watch out for Alexander the coppersmith."  Who's Alexander the coppersmith???  Sounds like a man with a cool name to me.

As Wendy and I are preparing for our next chapter, God continues to challenge us with his word.  I sat down today to read 2 Timothy.  The day before a good friend encouraged me to look particularly at 2 Timothy 1:7, and before I could hang up the phone my fingers rushed to the pages in my small fake leather Message bible. The message my friend had for me, was the same message written almost 2000 years ago from a man in prison written to his adopted son, his favorite son, BE BOLD. On the phone, I had shared with Nathan that Wendy and I were feeling a huge burden for the city of Kampala, yet the task at hand was daunting.  We were beginning to feel overwhelmed.

Be bold when proclaiming the Gospel is Paul's first point to young Timothy.  And when you begin to read 2 Timothy it was like Paul was setting his young apprentice up for a great word of encouragement, and for the most part that's what we read.  But then comes chapters 3 and 4...the Message entitles them both as "Difficult Times Ahead".  Though Paul doesn't spell out exactly what is ahead, he does make reference in his salutation beginning in verse 9.  Paul starts off by pleading to Timothy to "Get here as fast as you can".  He follows this up with those that have left him high and dry, and that the only one left is Luke!  Luke???  Can you imagine the company that Luke provided Paul.  Luke was a doctor,a perfectionist, not a friend that you would confide in on a regular basis.  The point here, Paul was lonely.  He desperately needed and wanted his friend Timothy to come an be with him.

Paul then asked Timothy to bring him three items, his winter coat, books and notebooks.  Paul was without.  After reflecting on these requests from Paul, I began to imagine being completely without.  For what would I ask for?  What would you ask for?

If God wills it, Wendy and I and girls will reside in Kampala, Uganda sometime late this fall.  I'm not sure the specifics of the emotional and physical toll it will take on us all.  But if I had to guess, there will be many moments of loneliness and going without.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure of it.  The girls will miss their friends and TV, Wendy will miss her sisters and her paved drive way, and I will miss our church and all the things that define American bliss.  Do they sell Kleenex in Kampala?    


Thursday, May 10, 2012

I thought I should take a moment to explain what "The Kissing Well" stands for, and really what it is.  The Kissing Well originally was created to be a purposeful non-profit outlet for a company that I used to work for.  TNT Communications, now owned and operated by my folks, were giving monthly donations to all sorts of non-profits.  Along with supporting other non-profits, TNT gave to my personal mission work of Uganda, Haiti and India.  Many trips and the supplies for those missions were funded by TNT.  After some time and reflection we felt we wanted to be more intentional about what we were giving to and how we were giving it.  So we (Mom, Dad and I) decided to create our own non-profit.  After a year of paper work and the generous time of our attorney, The Kissing Well was born.

So how did we land on the name "The Kissing Well."  For most, the name seems strange, but for others they find it calming.  For me, it infuses my two favorite stories in the New Testament, John 4 (the woman at the well) and Luke 15 (the story of the loving father, or better known as the story of the prodigal son).  The grace and mercy that is shown to both the woman and the younger son is marvelous.  These two characters without question didn't deserve their outcome.  But because of the great love of Jesus and the Father, both are given a second chance.  I am a product of a second chance.  I am grateful I serve a God of second chances.