So we wanted to let you all know we have been working hard and planning well for this upcoming school year. We thought one of the best ways to show you was to present to you our academic calendar for next year 2015. There will be slight changes along the way, but for the most part it is pretty well set.
Most of you are wondering the future plans of the Gilliland family...trust me, we are too! Here's what we know so far, Lord willing. Wendy and I are returning to Uganda together January 15th to provide all grades (Pre-K through 4th grade) brand new international curriculum and the training that will be required to properly teach our students for the upcoming year. Because Emma, Annie and Lucy will be left behind, Wendy will be coming back stateside after the week-long training and another week of teacher/student assessment is complete. After her two week stay, she will then leave me behind to monitor and oversee the mission/academy and to prepare for the much anticipated group coming the beginning of March. My plan is to arrive back stateside on March 15th.
Please be watching our up coming Facebook posts...because of our decision to add Pre-K next year, we are able to enroll not just 11 students, but 22 new students! Which means we are going to have much opportunity for more sponsorships. So for those that have been thinking about sponsoring a child here...please, be prayerful about and just go for it. Your $49 a month will change a life forever. Trust me, I'm seeing it first hand.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
50 kilometers of Ugandan road is all that separates our home from the Entebbe International Airport. From the hours of 6pm to 9pm (especially on a Friday or Monday), the same 50 kilometers takes right under 3 hours to complete…one way. Coming back takes approximately one hour…no joke.
Driving to the airport to pick up visitors is always exciting, especially when the visitors are family or close friends. We can’t wait to see them and share life together once again. At the same time, we’re just as anxious to meet and discover new friendships with those we barely or have never met before. All is good when you are a missionary far from home.
But then there is the drive after the visit; that same 50 kilometers can’t be long enough. My father (which was just here with my mother for 3 short weeks) with a tear in his eye, as we were leaving our compound said, “Parting is such sweet sorrow”. He uttered those famous words out loud as Emma, Annie, Lucy and Wendy were all huddled in support for one another, watching as the van slowly drove away. As “Plank Eye”, a famous rock band once put it, “It’s difficult to say goodbye.” We all benefited greatly from mom and dad’s time here. Thank you for all you do!
The third and final term of the year for the FNC Academy has begun. For some reason, I was a bit nervous/anxious for the return of all 39 of our kids. Would all of them come back? In what shape would they be? Are our teachers and staff ready for another term? Was this really a good idea?
With the exception of 3, all 39 students arrived on time, uniforms cleaned, pressed and were more than ready to learn! The three M.I.A. eventually came the next day. Our teachers and staff blew us out of the water; it was like they never went for holiday. Let me take this time to thank Michael Yikki and the amazing FNCA staff for the hours of preparation put forth over the break. The support you all showed (the weekly home visits, the more than 10 hour journey deep into the village to love on little Dona and her family as we helped bury her mother), and the many sacrifices only God knows about, showed on the children’s faces as they returned. Thank you for loving on our kids, and thank you for showing it through your service.
Wendy and I want to take this last section of the blog/newsletter to inform all of you of a major shift we feel God making with us, and the mission here in Uganda. From the very beginning, we have been trying to replace ourselves, pouring our lives into the next leaders of Friday Night Church. We have always believed, at the end of the day, that Ugandans minister best to Ugandans…and it has been our desire, to begin a work that could be carried on past our abilities and gifting.
With that in mind, we feel our time “on ground” in Uganda is coming to a close. God has assembled a great team here. We strongly feel the best days of FNC and the academy are yet to come. Part of this transition is doing what is in the best interest of our kids and family. But another big reason is our heart’s desire to see FNC academy graduate to the next level. It is our vision to educate kids all the way through the twelfth grade, which is going to take serious efforts on our part stateside. From empowering our teachers and staff, to providing the space and future facilities for the students, our stateside efforts are desperately needed. The story has to be told before it can be realized.
Now, there may be some concern that without our family on ground full-time that the wheels of FNC have the potential to fall off. As my father always says, “Time will tell”…it always does. But let me bring this personal assurance…we have been committed, we are committed, and we will continue to be committed. Once we return stateside both Wendy and I will continue to be part of the weekly FNCA staff meetings via SKYPE, and will be in constant communication to maintain the health and wellbeing. We also have trips planned in February and July to be back in Uganda to make sure our kingdom work through the academy is at full capacity.
We are excited to be going home, but we are already looking forward to our return; part of our hearts will forever remain here in Africa. Wendy and I humbly ask for your continued prayers, as it is our desire to exit well, handing off the baton we have thankfully carried for the last two years. With God and our family’s stateside commitment to The Kissing Well and FNC, alongside your continued support, the mission of providing “Hope to the hopeless” for the children of Uganda will go forward.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Have you ever had a phrase or quote stuck in your head, like it was now a part of your DNA? In fact, some might say it was there all along, but you just discovered it.
Before my family and I made the voyage across the Atlantic and over two continents to love on those less fortunate, I decided to sit down with a few of the men that had helped shape my life, and ask them for any last words of wisdom.
I remember many…and have them written down.
But the one that keeps coming back more than any other is this simple phrase…
“Say no to the good things, so you can say yes to the great things.”
(Hank Wilson…husband, father, pastor, church planter, and lover of Jesus.)
9 years ago, Hank and his family decided to up root all they knew and were, and plant a church in inner city Boston, MA. When I spoke to Hank, via SKYPE, they had been there for nearly 7 years, and the small church that began in Hank’s living room, had quickly spread to a church of more than 500, now renting out the local Hilton lobby for their two services, and had also planted a sister church. If any of you reading know about the cultural landscape of Boston, the success Reunion Church has had and continues to have is staggering.
To this day, I’ve never asked Hank if he came up with the phrase, and honestly I don’t really care. The fact is whether he heard it, read it or made it up, the wisdom he shared with me that sunny afternoon day via SKYPE is something that has helped me shape the culture of Friday Night Church Uganda.
When we first began FNC, we tried many things, and we failed many times. Every once in awhile we would stumble onto something good, and we would go with it. Besides, we were brand new, fish out of water in a community that was less than welcoming especially to white skin.
Most of you that follow our story here in Uganda know that we recently started a school called FNC Academy. The school focuses solely on the underprivileged. As noted above, we’re used to starting new things and seeing them either fail or succeed.
But this time something was different.
After the first day of school, I looked at Michael (my right hand man and best friend) and said I think we might have stumbled onto more than something just good. From that moment on, God has shown us just that.
Not only has the community (which once looked at us as just another “white” ruled ministry), gotten behind the school, the support stateside has been equally gratifying. With 39 full-time students, and 36 of them fully sponsored, God is showing us what great really looks like. All of this takes our all, and we feel we can do even better to love on these less fortunate children.
Which is why we are saying goodbye to some of the good things we have been doing here at FNC, so we can make even more room for the great thing God has revealed, the FNC Academy.
So what will remain besides the school? Joy Club (our weekly children’s ministry), World Changer’s (our teens ministry), and The Fire Place (our monthly ALL age large gathering). As you can tell, our focus is now on the children of our community.
But what about the men and women? Don’t they still need to be reached and encouraged? The answer is most definitely. Here in Kampala, we’ve found the best way to love the parents is to love their children. But here’s something else to consider…within a less than 20 minute walk/radius of our compound (ministry complex), you will find more than a 100 Bible churches, and ALL of them focus mainly on the men and women of the community. If you’re lucky, you might find a Sunday school class.
The fact is, children of Uganda are treated as 2nd class, and the underprivileged are treated well below that. We’ve decided to serve the Last first. We’ve decided to make disciples with those that have been thrown to the curb, to live life with them and love them as they are, not as they should be.
This is now our focus.
Monday, May 12, 2014
It’s been just over 2 months since the conception of the FNC Academy. We couldn’t have asked for a better beginning. At the start, most of our students could barely write their own name. Now they are writing short, but complete sentences! And you should hear their English, now that they have had extensive work using the “Hooked on Phonics” tools. Their little brains are becoming strong and smart, thanks to our amazing team of teachers and YOUR support. Together, we are truly providing Hope to the hopeless.
FNC Academy held it’s first parent/teachers meeting, and can you believe we had a better than 90 percent turn out! The parents/guardians that couldn’t show did give us a valid excuse and ended up coming the very next day…we couldn’t have been more pleased with our parents’ support.
Did I mention we were growing and building??? Thanks to a very generous donation, FNC has been able to add on another classroom, and to it’s enrollment 12 more students, for a total of 35! Because of the additional students and grade, we also had the opportunity to employ 3 more ladies from our Pillars and Ornaments women’s ministry. These ladies will be assisting our head teachers in the classroom.
We have 7 students that still need sponsored. Would you prayerfully consider supporting one of our remaining students? For more information, please click on our FNC ACADEMY link at the top of this page.
Our weekly and small group ministries have been studying and going through the gospel of Mark. Baptism has come up a lot as of recent, questions about it and why to do it. We’ve taken this opportunity to teach what the bible has to say regarding the subject. Last month we had a total of 4, two women and two men immersed into the waters of baptism. Just last week, the World Changers, (our teens ministry) began a study and conversation about baptism, and from the reports, it looks like there are more to come! Just a quick note: We decided to retire the “Barrel” for baptisms and have purchased a small blow-up pool...working a bit better.
Thank you for your constant prayers and support,
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
When Wendy and I came to Uganda, the last thing on our minds was a school…but if we were honest, everything that God has accomplished here through Friday Night Church wasn’t on our radars. We continue to be in awe. We continue to walk entirely by faith…something we have truly learned, living and ministering in the third world.
We can’t stop now, even if the task ahead seems daunting. So on March 10th, Friday Night Church is launching The FNC Academy. Some of you might ask, “Does Uganda really need another school? Aren’t there already schools around?” The answer is a bit more complicated than replying with a simple yes or no. Allow me share with you a few of the facts we have found in the community we minister in…
1. Though some of our Joy Club kids, “go to school”, we have found most are extremely under educated. 8 year olds up to 13 are not able to perform even basic writing skills such as spelling their name or writing the alphabet.
2. Children are desperate for education. So much so that most are willing to go back two and three grades just to get into the FNC Academy where they will actually receive a proper and Christ centered education.
3. Because of the cost and burden to the parent or guardian, about 50 percent of our Joy Club kids fail to attend school on a regular basis. Some have even failed ever to enroll.
4. Most children in our community are malnourished and have limited access to clean drinking
Mr. Torzon, my high school history teacher and football coach always used to remind us to never let our “don’t want to’s” get in the way of our “want to’s.” Scott Alexander, my best friend and mentor taught me years ago to always “start small and go slow, but begin soon.” Wendy and I don’t know the first thing about starting or even running a school. We don’t have all of our i’s dotted or our t’s crossed. We don’t have the funds to begin a school much less sustain it. But let me tell you what we do have… We have the passion. We have the facilities. We have an amazing staff that desires to love on and educate our kids. We have willing parents and guardians with children desperate to learn and be loved. And we have a God whose will is to love and care for His children. This is enough for us. The real question now is, “Is this enough for you?”
Because of our limited funds and resources we are starting with just 24 students and 4 teachers. Classrooms will have both a male and female role model/teacher, which we feel is an important part of our children’s spiritual and emotional growth. We’ve done our calculations. Below is the figure we have up with that will sustain each child’s education and physical wellbeing.
For $49 per/month or 1.58 per/day, you can provide holistically hope for one of these children. This is what your monthly gift will accomplish:
-A Proper and Christ-Centered Education
-2 Nutritious Meals per/day
-Clean drinking water
-Clothing for your Child
-School supplies and Backpack
-Emotional and Spiritual support
-Real Hope in a hopeless community
Some of you might be asking, “What if you get more than 24 sponsors? Will you consider enrolling more children.” The answer is really simple…YES!!! Which means, it’s up to YOU how many children go to school here at the FNC Academy. We have a waiting list of more than 50 students already, with many more to come.
So this is how we’re setting this whole process up. Because The FNC Academy is operating on a shoestring budget, we are beginning our sponsorship by using Facebook as the connecting point between the child and you the sponsor. Each child is listed, with their picture and basic facts. The page provides info such as name, DOB, family, etc. This also allows for monthly updates regarding the success and achievements of your child, while being able to communicate with ease. Not a fan of Facebook and still want to sponsor a child? No problem. We can provide the same information and service by using email or even the postal service. Below is our FNC Academy FB page link.
After visiting the FNC Facebook page, please select the child that you want to sponsor. Then message us and communicate which child you have chosen. FNC Academy will then send you a confirmation message providing you with further information about your sponsorship. Again, if you don’t want to use Facebook, just send an email to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily assist you.
Important Note: The FNC Academy FB page will be set up and maintained only by my wife Wendy and will NOT be accessible by anyone outside our FNC staff. Also, every parent and or guardian is aware of this and has given us verbal and written consent.
We have made the giving/donations options easy and convenient:
Option #1- Paypal
Option #2- Autopay (automated draft from checking)
Option #3- Send your monthly gift to: THE KISSING WELL, PO 344 Vermont, IL 61484, USA
Please make check out to THE KISSING WELL. Include your child’s name in the memo.
To set up payment using option #1 or #2, please visit our DONATE PAGE here on our BLOG.
The Kissing Well is a 501(c)(3), making your monthly gift tax deductible.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
|Charles and Derick...two of our World Changers and Joy Club leaders|
|The Marksmen busy sanding the boards for the bookshelves for FNC's new reading program.|
|Our Pillars and Ornaments learning to sew.|
|Pillars and Ornaments are needing more room...|
|Some of our Joy Club and World Changer kids|
|An updated pic of Joel (in the middle) doing very well and growing, thanks to a life impacting surgery.|
|Acoustic worship with Todd and Anita @ The Fire Place|
|The Fire Place|
|The Fire Place|
|New Azonula Azonula band @ The Fire Place!|
|My daughter Lucy and son Otim...helped Todd celebrate|
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
“Here I stand arms opened wide…I am yours and you are mine…my whole life is yours, I give it all, surrender to your name…forever I will pray…have your way…have your way!!!”
This song is one of the reasons we are in Uganda for me (along with many other factors). Singing it in church Sunday after Sunday and at home on Itunes was a pivotal moment in my life that the Spirit convicted me personally that I needed to truly surrender my whole life to Jesus. That meant following my heart to do what God had placed so heavily on it and that is serving the least of these. This year and a half of being in a third world, raising our kids, keeping our marriage healthy, starting a new ministry, and just living life has had its challenges. I can honestly say, if we had not done it when we did it, I don’t think we would have ever done it. I am so thankful that God’s timing is always perfect.
God has been so apparent in this place to us and for that we are ever grateful. We all feel as though Friday Night Church is exactly where and when it needed to be. We are so excited for the people that are starting to call that their “home church” and are looking forward to this coming year filled with some ministry changes and growth.
I recently read a book entitled “Leading and Loving It” by Lori Wilhite and Brandi Wilson (thank you to Debbie Hunt for this book). This book has renewed my hope and encouraged me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. For any of you leading in a ministry please take a couple days and read this book. It has reminded me that I am fighting this spiritual battle with so many other women. I went from feeling very isolated and insecure to feeling equipped and encouraged to go on. I am so thankful for the insights of how to pray specifically for my husband, children, ministry, and church while in a leadership role.
My prayer for 2014 for everyone reading this blog (my family included) is that you will surrender to God everyday and pour your lives into the things that matter most. Spiritual warfare is real and very much a part of our lives here and I think for everyone in ministry. Please continue to pray for that specifically for us and for your own pastor and their families. Please pray for our ministry specifically the changes we are making early 2014 that they will grow FNC and it will continue to be a healthy church here in Uganda. Thank you for constantly keeping us in your lives and prayers, you have no idea how much this means to our family and to this ministry…2014 is going to be a great year!!!
Leading and Loving It,