Saturday, December 26, 2015


What does the world feel like the day after Christmas?  Do we still feel hopeful or has disappointment set in?  Did the savior really come, or are you just one day older?  These were the words, which began my journal entry today.    

I received one of the coolest gifts yesterday; actually there were two.  But I want to focus on the one.  The girl that gave them to me would be considered my 2nd cousin, I think?  Her name is Amanda.  Amanda just received her Doctorate in physical therapy.  Not only is Amanda ridiculously intelligent, she’s ever thoughtful of others. 

Every year Wendy’s side of the family draws names for Christmas…a tradition amongst many of the western world.  This year, Amanda received mine.  Now usually I typically request a gift card or something that is nice and easy to fit into the car…(Thank you Michael!)  I say this only because our three girls are more than spoiled by our amazing aunt George and uncle Ted.  If I were younger I would have believed Santa lived in their basement…and maybe He really does.  Thus, this leaves little room for people in the car ride home, much less anything extra that might be given to Wendy and I.   

After opening my gift card from Michael, I was left with one small package.  To be honest, I’m not a huge gift exchange fan.  Not because I don’t like to buy gifts, but because I’m very uncomfortable opening a gift in front of the presenter.  I’ve never been one to hide my feelings well…I’ve tried, but I’m an obvious mess most of the time. 

So I began to slowly unwrap the gift.  Inside, there were two even smaller gifts wrapped in pink and baby blue tissue paper.  The first gift was a block of wood, with The Kissing Well’s logo neatly stamped on it.  I really didn’t know how to react, but I know I was smiling…happy because someone reached down and touched a part of my heart that still quietly beats.  What came next caught me speechless…

As I unwrapped the second of the two packages, I saw that it was going to be a piece of jewelry; it was in that kind of a quaint box.   What my eyes saw next brought mist and yet a bit of confusion.  Amanda couldn’t have possibly been this creative, this thoughtful…but boy was I wrong.  It was a black leather bracelet…with a dog tag like piece of metal stamped to it.  On the metal was engraved coordinates, but not just any coordinates. 

Now, if I would have opened this gift first, I’m not sure I would have been so sure about the location of the coordinates the bracelet contained.  But remember, I had just been reminded of my heart, and it was still beating out of my chest from the first gift.  And by the way, the gifts weren’t numbered, and in retrospect, had no idea the impact of the order.  I wonder if Amanda knew that in advance as well?  I guess God sometimes still grants us the gift of wander and awe. 

1.0667 N, 31.8833 E…the exact coordinates of Uganda, Africa.  To be honest, I had never looked them up, had never even thought of looking them up…but Amanda did.  Amanda had not only looked them up, but she made them come to life on my wrist, or should I say, come back to life. 

See, what Amanda didn’t know that particular day was the anxiety I felt that came from not being me for almost a year.  The last thing you want is to be around people whom you haven’t seen for sometime, asking you questions regarding the following year, when the following year in your mind had been a complete disaster.  No one likes to be embarrassed.  No one likes to admit defeat. No one likes to feel dead, numb maybe, but not dead.   

I had a friend once who said to me, “Todd, I don’t think you’ve died, you’ve just been dormant.”  I thought that was insightful, and began using it to describe how I was doing if someone seriously engaged me in conversation. 

1.0667 N, 31.833 E has made my heart’s spring come early.  You can’t force the brown to turn green over night.   

I think God likes to use the small things to remind us of the big.  He used a precious baby to bring Hope and ultimately provide it for eternity.  On this Christmas, for me, He used a small bracelet.  I’m thankful for people like Amanda who listen to God and provide Hope.            

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


When I was 13 years old, I sat in the audience of a Rebecca St. James concert and heard for the first time about Compassion International, a child sponsorship program. In that moment my life changed forever. I raised my hand to get a packet of a child to sponsor and there was the sister I had always wanted. You see, I had two brothers and longed for a sister more than anything else. That day I decided to sponsor a little girl from Guatemala (with my babysitting money) and God decided to open up my heart to a world I knew nothing about.
Fast-forward four years; it was the summer before my senior year in high school. That was the first time God called me to go overseas to Guatemala. I stepped out of the plane so excited for the adventure I was on. My parents had let me go by myself; their faith in me to be able to go by myself gave me the power to not be afraid. It was really the first time I was away from them. Guatemala laid the foundation of my love for missions and a love for all of God’s people.
Fast-forward another nine years; I went up to Mt. Sterling to a One Mission meeting to hear about FNC. Todd, Wendy and their girls were home for Thanksgiving and were talking about what they were doing over in Uganda. I remember them asking for people to come serve with them. My heart was tugging at me. In my mind I was longing to go, but Todd and Wendy were asking for married couples with kids to go. So I said to myself  ”You cannot go”. That idea was pushed into the back of my head. God had a different plan, because the next morning I got a call from a friend who loved missions and being overseas as much, if not more, than me. She called to tell me she had talked to Todd and Wendy and they wanted her and me to come over. I could not believe what I was hearing. I was OVERJOYED!
After saying yes to going on the trip to Uganda, I needed to figure out how I was going to pay for the trip. I felt that I wanted to work for every penny it cost to go on this trip. I wanted to feel the weight of the work and the sacrifice it was going to take. So I picked up an extra job on Saturday nights (my third job) and all the money that I made from my second job went to Uganda. I had never worked harder for something in my life. During the time leading up to this trip, God was so faithful. He provided and showed Himself to me every time I decided to doubt Him or myself. I tried to back out of this trip three times not believing that I would have the funds or that I shouldn’t go. How silly I was being.
Walking through the gates of FNC for the first time was a magical moment. Meeting the kids (more like being bombarded by them) was amazing. The smiles on their faces, their laughter, and the dirt of Africa touched my heart and soul. Before the trip friends who had been to Africa warned me that as soon as you step on African soil it will be part of your soul forever and they were right. I had never felt the presence of God so strongly in my life before my 10 days in Uganda at FNC. God’s mighty angels were always around, the protection only God’s army could provide.
During the 10 days that I got to spend with FNC in Uganda, I was able to hear Todd and Wendy talk even more about their heart for the local people as well as their heart for the children that God had called them to love. I remember sitting one night with the group of people that I had gone over to Africa with and Todd and Wendy as they poured their hearts out. From the outpour came the desire to grow the school and bring more children to know our Lord and Savior. They talked about the journey they had taken to get to where they were in Uganda. The more they shared the more I wanted to be a part of their story. God had placed a deep desire to be a part of His story in Uganda, but what that would look like I didn’t know.
Uganda changed my life forever. When I got back home, all I could think about was going back. I kept praying for the opportunity, but it never seemed to come. God kept telling me, “I have you here for a reason; be patient”. So when I slowed down and really listened to God, I knew I needed to stay and pour my heart out to the people that were in my hometown. God challenged me to be more intentional with the people around me and helped me let go of my fear of praying outloud.
I still longed to be a part of FNC and what God was doing over in Uganda. It seemed that as soon as I let my desires be second to God’s desires for my life, God showed me how I could be, by sponsoring one of the children. One quickly became two and then three. I had found my place in God’s upper story within FNC. You see there is no better way to be a part of FNC than through sponsorship.
It was after an email that Todd had sent out to all the sponsors that I felt the call to sponsor my fourth child and the fifth kid tagged along. Todd had asked us to trust him and the people that worked for FNC. He asked us to keep in mind that even though it feels like the kids that we sponsor might need more than they are getting in terms of food and maybe wanting to give them gifts, they are being properly taken care of. God has them in His hands. It was those words that God used to place the call to sponsor all five of my kids and say no to going back to Uganda. A call to live on little to give much even though it feels to me like it is not much; a call to serve alongside FNC as a sponsor not to only one but five of His children. Also to be a part of His upper story and to trust Him fully in my finances for life. Sometimes, we are called to trust Him before we even know how to do that, so we always need to look towards Him to guide our path.  
You can never go wrong saying YES to what God calls you to do.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


To all The Kissing Well Supporters~

One month ago, from July 19-30, a group of 8 left for a short-term trip to Kampala, Uganda for 12 days to serve, encourage, and love on a group of ragamuffins unlike any in this world (I’m convinced).  We were a group made up of grandma’s, college students, educator’s, business owners, an engineer, moms, and one dad.  It was very fascinating to see how God put us all together for the benefit of the school we were serving; it was very apparent that God had put a unique group together and it was my pleasure to lead out on this group.  A huge thank-you to Chris Bailey, Brad Peterson, Jimmy Ressler, Sally Pohl, Nicole Kamm, Cindy Haun, and Terri Gilliland for making this sacrificial journey to serve the “least of these” at FNC Uganda.

One continual reality we have as a school in a third world country is accessible and affordable school supplies, library books, uniforms, shoes, and curriculum.  With the help of so many people who donated supplies, we were able to replenish a lot of these items at FNCA.  We took 24 tubs with 50 pounds each of these items, it never ceases to amaze me how much we are able to take with us to supply the ongoing needs of our ministry.  It was also very exciting to take over the 5th grade curriculum and feel the anticipation build for a new school year starting in January.  

Terri (Todd’s mom), who works diligently with all of our sponsorships, had the idea to continue and strengthen the relationships between our students and their sponsors by encouraging a simple hand written letter and picture.  As a group, we got the privilege of hand delivering each and every letter, visiting their homes, and meeting a lot of their families.  I don’t think on this side of heaven that we will ever realize the impact that made on those kids and the love they felt from such a simple heartfelt action just for them.  So, to each and every sponsor who took time out of your busy days to write and encourage your student…it did not go unnoticed!  Thank you!  I hope you have enjoyed receiving a letter back from your student and an updated picture.

AGENO…Zaana (“Ugandan Child”)… also the name of an eclectic new band from FNC, made up of 6 teachers & 6 students, who had their album launch on Saturday July 25, with a packed house at FNC.  We were blown away at the talent they showed and know that God has big plans for all of them.  We had the opportunity to bring back 140 cd’s, that were recorded and produced in Uganda and would love your help in getting them out.  If you would like to support FNC in this way we have cds for $15, or you can get a limited autographed copy for $20.  We will cover the shipping costs and would love to request more from our staff in Uganda.  

We are also pleased to report that as of August 28, we have every single child sponsored.  Thank you to each of the new sponsors and to everyone helping to spread the word.  Please partner with us in prayer as the team makes hard decisions on the enrollments for next year.  We are at this time planning on enrolling 40 new students in January.  Please join us in prayer as this is a very tough decision making process.  We will update you with the new students as soon as we know them.

Wendy Gilliland

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


A couple months back, I had the extreme pleasure of leading a brand new group to Uganda to serve the students and staff of FNC Academy.  While we were there, one of the members of the group (who happened to already be sponsoring a child and whose children's ministry also was sponsoring another child) had this to say...It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.  I hope you find this as inspiring as we all did, as Katie read this aloud to a group gathering...Thank you Katie, and thank you for allowing The Kissing Well to share your most amazing words.

 “thank you for choosing them

Those were the words spoken to me by the mother of the two precious children Kory and I were sponsoring , one through our personal offering, and one through Crossing KIDS mission offering. 

Thank you for choosing them.
Who am I? Who are we to have chosen anyone… 

We have all been chosen by a King. We have been chosen and so we choose. 

We chose
To ensure a boy and his little sister would 5 days a week walk to a place of hope. A place called FNC Academy, where they would be greeted and loved by dedicated, joyful servants of Jesus Christ. We chose to give so that they would have 2 meals a day, clean water, and a clean uniform tailored just to them with their beautiful names embellished and all. 
We chose to support a family in poverty to give them hope through knowledge, education, growth, opportunities and experiences. To be in an environment to empower them to lead, change, and pursue excellence. 

But, we didnt choose anything. God chose. God knew. God painted such a beautiful path and picture greater than we could have ever imagined. 

It may have been my hands that picked up the photo of Priscilla and my mouth that said she reminds me of Morgan! Lets sponsor her. And it may have been our idea for the crossing kids to sponsor a boy that is in the middle age range of our kids, but it was the work of the Holy Spirit that paired us. 

We had no idea.

No idea that every night when we were praying for our sweet Priscilla and anxiously waiting to meet her... No idea when we wrote her a card and included a photo of our family of 3 to bring with us on our trip to give her... 

No idea that every week for two months when we prayed for Ezekiel" at offering time and invited kids to give their spare change to sponsor him for the year Or that hundreds of kids would be so excited to send him letters, make him gifts, and have a connection to this boy in Uganda

No idea that these two hearts, these two lives, these children, were of the same family. Were brother and sister. 

No idea, that everyday little Priscilla waited after preK was dismissed, to nap until her big brother was done with school to walk her to their home. 
No idea that she was already protected and watched over by the boy we were praying for, and already beginning to love here. 

[oh and we also had no idea Ezekiel really went by Patrick!]

God has called you children of God, and that is what you are. Oh sweet mother of Priscilla and Patrick I praise God for you. For choosing FNC Academy. I will ALWAYS choose to share a piece of my heart, a piece of my life, my prayers, my finances with your babies. 

My prayer is that you know HE - the ruler of all the earth has already been loving, guiding, and CHOOSING you 

My heart is full. When I think of their smiles, the way her hands so carefully, and tenderly wrote each letter of the alphabet. Her focus and stoic nature in her class or with big groups. Her eyes that would light up at the sight of yours and her smile, her real genuine smile. By the end of that week we didnt hide it anymore. She knew she was chosen. She knew she was loved. 

If I could choose anything for these two children, it would NOT be to bring them here to America to live with me. It would be to keep them with a mom, who says to 2 white strangers, Thank you for choosing them. Who is present for the Celebration of the school that is teaching her children to know Jesus Christ, to read and write, and lead. 

Thank you God for choosing me. For choosing me to go on this adventure, this journey that lead me to Priscilla and Patrick. For daily forgiving, redeeming, and drawing me back to you even on days I dont choose you. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Dear Friends and Supporters of The Kissing Well,

It is my pleasure to report to you that we have completed our very first quarter of school using our brand new international curriculum!  Most of you (that sponsor a child) should have already received a report regarding your students’ progress plus a picture or two for your enjoyment.  I hope all of you are printing these pictures out and placing them on your fridge! 

It has come to my attention that some of you are concerned with your child’s final quarter grades.  I want to reply and comment on a couple of areas:

1.  This new curriculum, as difficult as it may be for some, is really doing what we want it to do, and that is TEACH WELL.  Your child has been used to not being challenged, or not going to school at all.  So remember, this is a process, especially for the older students, for they haven’t had the proper foundation, which causes us to go back and teach them this, while doing our level best to stay on course with the curriculum. 

2.  After speaking with Michael and many of the teachers, we have decided onto try different methods of grading (not making it easier, or falsifying grades), but to allow students, along with their teacher or tutor, to go back after taking a test they may have struggled with, see what they did wrong and again, along with the student, correct it then be given at least a partial credit for learning the proper way.  This is how we learn, by making mistakes, then learning from them…a common sense approach. This is just one example of how we are changing things at FNC Academy.  I want to remind all of you…this entire ministry was God led, not one of us REALLY qualified to start a school.  Michael and the team are still learning…Wendy and I are still learning, and as long as we continue to keep learning and striving for excellence, mistakes are bound to happen.  I know all of you know this, but for me, it’s just a great reminder that “God doesn’t always call the equipped, He equips the called.” 


Lastly, and if I can say so myself, I am most excited about, The Kissing Well has begun a brand new ministry for the kids of FNCA.  Michael and a good friend from the States, which I will keep anonymous for now, had one of those God conversations regarding how pathetic the students look after coming back from break…and when I say pathetic I mean physically.  Michael knew the problem, Michael and I from time to time would talk about the problem, but knew we just couldn’t afford to do what was on both of our minds.  Well, that’s where the conversation began with Michael and my good friend, and before the conversation ended, a plan had formed to begin a feeding program on the days the children were
on break! 

Now some of you might think, well this shouldn’t be that big of a deal…I dare you to come to Uganda, and I dare you to say those words to Michael and the staff…because it is a big deal, it’s a big deal not only to the students, but to all the families whose child is getting a meal daily whom otherwise wouldn’t have gotten one.  And yes, there is a cost, and the cost is not free…in fact to provide the one meal per day, for the two week break, it costs The Kissing Well just short of $1000…that’s 78 children, plus staff, feeding them and paying the help to provide the service.  I guess if you break it down, the cost 
isn’t that high…

I’m proud to report to you that after the first break, all but one child, that means 77 students plus most of the staff (Monday-Friday), had a great meal and never went to bed hungry on those days…Bruce you are a champion my friend, thank you for spearheading this and loving on the least of these.  But maybe some of you would like to help out with this, maybe some of you feel it in your heart that you want to give towards this amazing ministry…if so, please reach out to myself, Wendy, Michael or any one of us on The Kissing Well Team.  If you don’t already know how to give and would like to, please go to our blog/website…  If you already give, and you feel you want to contribute a little more to this amazing new ministry, then just mark your donation as “Feeding Program” or as Michael has nick named it, “Healthy Meals creates Healthy Minds.”    

Thursday, March 12, 2015


A week from now, Lord willing, I will be back stateside in the loving arms of my family.  God couldn’t have planned a better week than the one we have just experienced.  A lot of work, YES, but the seeds that were planted and eternal investment made makes it all worthwhile.    

All of us here at FNC want to thank The Crossing team for their servant hearts and encouragement this past week.  As usual, the week went by to fast, with everyone wishing they had more time together.  Kory, Katie, Bruce, Mardy, Kim, Tom, Chaka, and Spencer, you ALL were more than conquerors, and if I might add, well done!  Your fingerprints will forever be upon us here at FNC Uganda. 

As Wendy and I and the girls have begun our new “normal” stateside, many questions have been asked, but the one that “takes the cake” is, “So what’s next for you…what’s your plan for the foreseeable future?” 

Let me take a moment and be transparent with all of you that follow The Kissing Well and the mission of FNC Academy.  The past two years have been more than challenging for us, in fact I wouldn’t want to re-live them, honestly.  Because of this, we are taking some time to be ministered to.  For the girls, they are back in public school, and for the record are doing outstanding!  They have re-kindled old relationships and are making new ones.  Wendy decided she wanted to become a substitute at our nearby school, which is keeping her not only busy, but helps her  continue to be in the classroom, which in turns helps out the mission here at the academy. 

For me, well I’ve been doing some subbing as well, and also continuing to raise awareness of The Kissing Well, encouraging and with the help of Wendy maintaining the daily’s of FNC Uganda. Wendy and I continue to skype with Michael and the team twice a week, continuing to lead out in the areas we can.  But the most important thing that God has allowed me to do, is to start seeing a counselor.  I’ve leaned on and continue to reach out to several key people in my life, and for that I want to say thank you to all of you…you know who you are.  As I began to seek counsel from my dear friends, I was sensing my heart telling me I might consider seeing a professional…one that might be able to help me figure out the way forward for not just myself, but for my family.  And can I tell you what…he has already begun to help me think about things I’d never thought about.  I just spill it, and he listens…then at that perfect moment, he purposes a life question?  So then I think, and then I talk some more.  For now, I won’t reveal the question he has had me been chewing on this past two weeks I’ve been in Uganda…all I can say is, it was a real game changer.  I look forward to seeing him again this month.   

I love you guys, and as life continues, Wendy and I covet your prayers.

Todd G.                

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

FNC Academy's 2015 Semester Has Begun!

Most of you are aware Wendy and I traveled back once again to Uganda last month for two weeks, leaving behind the girls in the loving care of our family here stateside (Emma, Annnie and Lucy).  The original plan was for me (Todd) to stay in Uganda through March 14th...allowing time for our house in Uganda to close and remain to help lead a group from one of our supporting churches.

I am more than happy to report Wendy and I were able to complete all of our teacher's trainings, give  love and support where needed, and finalize on our house...remaining with only the transaction of funds to be delivered sometime next month.

Which made Wendy and I re-think me staying in Uganda for almost a full month, without her or the kids.  We discussed it with Michael, our director, contacted two of our Kissing Well Board members, then proceeding to check on ticket prices, and after all was said and done, the decision was quite easy to I came home with Wendy, surprising my girls in the process.  I return to Uganda this month on the 25th, arriving a few days before the group, and stay in country till March 14th.  Wendy and I couldn't have been happier on how all this worked out.

Just a note about how FNC Academy is going...

Michael and the team are doing more than well.  In fact when we first pulled up to the compound of the campus, Wendy and I couldn't believe our was like God refreshed the entire place.  Michael and the crew worked tirelessly over the break (no-break) to see to it that we were ready for all 77 students...doubling what our student body was from last year.  Uniforms, food, new desks, new offices and two more new classrooms were all done when we arrived...Which made us even more confident that God chose Michael and his amazing team to lead and minister to His people of Uganda...and like we always come back to..."At the end of the day, Ugandans always minister best to Ugandans".

As noted above, our trainings went so well and ALL teachers were more than receptive to the new international curriculum!  We had many comments, they didn't know how much fun and easy teaching could be with the right tools in the right hands.

The first week of school in Uganda is most of the time slow, kids taking their time reporting, and by the end of the week, most are finally in the system once again...oh, but not our students.  On the first day, we had 72 of the 77 report!...and the five that were missing either had illness, or were still coming back from their village.  You should have seen their faces when they were handed their new uniforms, shoes, backpacks, socks, and school was like Christmas all over again!

Just this morning I was talking with Michael via Facebook, asking him how things were going, and if the teachers and students were on track.  He reported they were all doing very well and excelling beyond even his expectations...this is God...this is answered prayer.

One more final note I will leave you with...

The Kissing Well, NFP along with FNC Academy are putting together a capital campaign, raising money to build a much needed new school, lead by one of the greatest stateside women of God Wendy and I have ever come across.  Her name is Connie Benson.  Connie has lead the way in the past of raising countless funds for countless non for profit's across the mid west.  Connie and her amazing husband Pat, have been family friends for more than a decade.  We are excited they have accepted the Champion's role of helping to raise the funds for our school, to have phase one constructed by  January of 2017!  As of right now, we have the funds raised and pledged to purchase and secure the 6 acres which the new campus will be located!  Please be looking out for more details about this project and how you might be able to partner with us in the upcoming future. 

For now, Wendy and I and everyone from The Kissing Well and FNC Academy want to say thank you for all your prayers and support...may God richly bless you in the days to come.