How many times have you heard ACE say “ACE goes deep, not wide” about the way we do life with our community? In three decades, we’ve never changed that direction of depth vs width. We can’t reach every single person in St. Mary, but we hope that those we DO reach and invest in – emotionally, spiritually, financially – will be changed for the better as they then go out to help others.
Do you remember little Orlando from Bonny Gate? We remember meeting him when he was in third grade at Jackson Primary, one of our first sponsored schools. Orlando would run up with eggs in his hand to give us from some of his wild chickens in the yard.
As you may know, that little boy grew up and became the caretaker of Pastor Kermit until he passed earlier this year, and now Orlando’s farming again.
He was one of ACE’s first recipients of a loan with which he purchased his first cow named Betsy. Orlando now owns thirteen cows and sells them to grow his other farm business – pigs. Just this month, he called and asked if we needed any piggies as his pigs Penney and Peggy both had 14 babies each. Now that’s a record!
The farming experience has not only been educational and profitable for Orlando, but it’s been a spiritual journey as well. When Orlando first began to raise pigs, he had a big beautiful one named Tamarind. A man in the community with a reputation for being cruel poisoned Orlando’s pig out of jealousy. Tamarind died a horrible death, and Orlando was devastated and very angry. Years later, as the wicked man lay on his death bed, he asked for Orlando to visit him. Orlando didn’t want to go, but his curiosity got the best of him. The man asked his forgiveness.
ACE provides the opportunities, and opportunities provide life lessons and purpose. We are very proud of our young men like Orlando; no matter how many challenges pull them off the path, they get right back on and do what they are called to do. In Orlando’s case, that’s farming, which creates a business for him and food for others. Our investment in relationships runs deep, and that will make all the difference.
Please keep Orlando in your prayers as he still struggles with the loss of Pastor Kermit whom he called “father”. He still has us and we will be there for the long haul.