Marla’s Minute — Holy Cow!

Marla’s Minute — Holy Cow!

Whenever Allen and I travel to KY to see my parents, we usually go to a place my dad loves to go for breakfast. We don’t have these restaurants in GA anymore, but Bob Evans is our place and their slogan used to be “Down on the Farm.” To me, that phrase meant eating fried food and delicious pancakes. Now that I’m on a farm every day, that phrase means a lot of work!

ACE/GLLF is not trying to create another Bob Evans in Jamaica, but we are definitely learning a lot about what it means to be down on the farm, with pigs, horses, all the chores and that good tired feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Most recently, we are excited to see how our own cattle will start another micro-business for Green Life Llanrumney Farms. Thanks to some wonderful donors, GLLF is now the proud owners of 26 heifers (that’s baby female calves). These calves will grow up to produce calves and beef for the buyers who want grass-fed natural beef meat. That’s one side of the story. The other side is, after our calves calf, we will offer employees and sponsored families the opportunity to purchase a cow. This will begin the legacy for their children to not only own their own herd on the GLLF but to learn about how to be sustainable and make a living as a farmer.

This concept is very important to ACE as our focus is always to be self- sustainable and to teach this to our National friends and families. Want to be part of the investment? Let us know.

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A Tale of Two Sisters

A Tale of Two Sisters

We’ve been blessed to have Emily and her sister, Mary, as leaders and contributors to ACE for many decades. Both have led multiple teams – Emily through school mission groups and Mary leading medical trips – and both recently came down to serve with ACE together. Emily had some thoughts on her time with us in January:

If you have ever spent any time on an ACE trip, you’ve most likely helped with some type of construction work, painting, or mixing concrete. Or you’ve been part of a bucket brigade hauling rocks, loved on infirmary residents and helped with P.E. for students at a school. Or maybe you’re from the medical profession and have been a part of clinics and dental care.

But did you ever think that being a part of a cattle drive while on a trip would be added to that list?

My sister, Mary, and I had that very opportunity to be a part of ACE’s first cattle drive. Forty head of cattle had to be moved from one pasture to another, which seems like a pretty straightforward task… except that the other pasture was over a half mile away and involved crossing the road, running through the open field at Llanrumney, down a trail through the bush and then through a series of gates. After a couple hours of running, yelling, waving our arms and sweating, the job was completed. While this was an exhilarating and somewhat hilarious experience, it was an event that really highlighted the new face of ACE.

Since Covid has had its grip on the world, you may think that the work of ACE has been slowed down like everything else – that is definitely not the case. When God opened the door for ACE to purchase the 800+ acre Llanrumney property about a year and a half ago, it seemed like a huge step to purchase this piece of land, but now, looking back, we see how God had his hand in it the whole time. Here, God has provided countless natural resources for the ministry to use and market, some yet to be discovered. It has opened the door to employ more single mothers, create a safe haven for families to spend quality time together and to have a larger impact in the local farming community.

And most importantly, it is opening doors for Marla and the staff to share the love of Christ to these individuals with whom they come in contact.

It has also allowed the ACE staff to grow stronger together as a family. To stand back and watch them work extremely hard together while laughing and joking with each other was such a joy. While waiting for the cows to decide to move in the right direction, I went down the list with some of the ladies of all the things they know how to do, from cleaning, cooking, construction, tutoring, planting, harvesting; the list goes on – and now includes cattle driving. Even though the mission teams are few, the work of ACE continues through its amazing staff who have developed new skills and such compassion for their community.

You may be thinking, does ACE need me anymore? Yes! They absolutely do, more than ever. All of this work is just in its beginning stages and there is so much to be done. I encourage you to get a small group of friends or family together and plan a trip down. Yes, there are a few more inconveniences that you have to experience to travel, but, in the end, it’s so worth it.

And if you’re not able to travel, there are other ways to be involved. Any financial contribution to help move the ministry in this direction would be of great benefit. Finally, you can be involved through prayer. Oswald Chambers writes, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work.” Pray for the ministry as it moves forward, for the staff, for finances and thank God for opening the doors that He has and the provisions He has given… even for the provision of cows to eat the lush grass that is on the land, God, in His foreknowledge, so graciously provided.

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Marla’s Minute: How The Pieces Fall Together

Marla’s Minute: How The Pieces Fall Together

ACE always has a great impact story every month. Personally, however, I often wrestle about how much to share. So many things happen on the ground that change our lives and my perspective daily that I struggle to give the details of how ACE made a particular person or family’s life better, safer, healthier.  It’s important that we protect the privacy of our families and individuals and not exploit them for the sake of the story. Every day is filled with specifics but we try to talk in generalities. I preface with this because I’m going to keep names out of this story in order to protect this family, but I still want you to see how, even in adversity, God shows up.

A mother with her two sons, one of whom has special needs, called our office in a hopeless state. This mother had taken care of a senior for many, many years when his own grown children did not. It was understood by everyone in the community that, when he passed, she and her boys would have a place to live as payment for her years of committed care for him.

After the older gentleman passed, the family decided that they wanted the space and caused a lot of strife in order to force her and her boys to leave. One day while she was out seeking work, they burned down the house. As a result, she and her two sons built what we would call a shell of a home to live in, with a dirt floor and no utilities or furniture to speak of.  Because the special-needs teenager was sponsored by a neat couple in the States, the mother felt her only avenue for help would be to call ACE.

Fast forward… a home that ACE built (thanks to another supporter) for Indian, our GLLF farm hand, was currently empty, clean, and ready for move-in. We had moved Indian to an apartment at the front of the farm for security duty. ACE created a job for this mother cleaning up at Buccaneers three days a week so that her sons can come to work with her and so her youngest, who is five, has access to internet for school at the ACE office.

Isn’t it amazing how the pieces fall together when God is involved? I often tell our friends who feel bad about not being able to physically be here to not sell themselves short. God loves the orphans and widows, and He certainly loves a cheerful giver. Thank you, cheerful givers, for changing the lives of these three individuals. One act of kindness (for Indian) ended up providing a life-saving opportunity for a family in need, a mother whose own act of kindness in life becomes repaid even when it seems hopeless. When you can get boots on the ground, you will meet our new family and, perhaps, she can tell you the story herself with all the details. As they say, God is good ALL the time.

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More Than A Vacation

More Than A Vacation

When ACE first came to St. Mary, we called it a Vacation with a Purpose. This was pre-Galina Breeze Hotel; we were staying in an older hotel across from the main road with a view of the beach and some garbage. We knew that when most people take a vacation from work, they want to sit and relax, but this was going to be different. It was a break from the everyday but with meaning… and a lot of work.

Speeding forward several decades, ACE has retooled. Due to the challenging times we live in, thanks to COVID, where organizations are not sending larger groups, we are taking this opportunity to step back and refocus on what individual volunteers can bring to the table. We are living out our saying of “Flexibility is the key to success” motto these days. Instead of us telling you what to do, you can tell us what fits best with your talents, skills and interests. We’ve created a new Impact Menu list for you to choose what projects and experiences suit you.

We still offer the opportunity for groups to come down together, but we know that there are many individuals who want to come and join up with other adventurous people to work together, serve the community and make a difference. We have several weeks set aside each month through March (with more to come the rest of the year) for you to choose what works for you.

Want to come on your own? Do you have a friend you think would be interested… or even your family or small group of friends? Check it out by clicking the button below. Consider it.  We can still change lives and transform communities – one volunteer at a time!



Is it really a Happy New Year or, rather, a new year with the hope of happiness? That’s what our staff was talking about yesterday as we enjoyed the last chapter in our book club, before flipping over the old year of 2020 to the new year of 2021.

As the discussion lingered, the topic of COVID, closed schools, churches and birthday parties switched to happy events, new friendships, and ACE having impact where we never imagined.

We’ve decided to highlight what the year 2020 looked like for ACE in Jamaica and as they say, one picture says a thousand words.

Thank you for investing in God’s little program in St. Mary and making a huge impact in the lives of so many. Buckle up for 2021…it’s all good. 


A Heart-Warming Story of Impact in St. Mary

A Heart-Warming Story of Impact in St. Mary

We think ten years from now, when “the year 2020” in inserted into a conversation, all of us will instantly go back to this time when we had to make some tough choices in our lives.

For us at ACE, we are not exempt from the challenges of the past eleven months, when we seem to wake up with a new obstacle every morning. COVID-19 changed a lot of things in our regular routine, not only giving masks, social distancing, clean hands, clean everything a whole new meaning, but, most of all, elevating the importance of our daily choice to live in fear or faith.

As you know, ACE chose Faith, and we will every time. We wish we could say it’s because we are big spiritual giants, but we would be lying. It’s because we have nothing but faith to put out there.

In March, when nearly all our teams of volunteers began to cancel and flights stopped, we knew we were facing an unforeseen challenge. We had some self-sustaining parts of ACE that we had been developing for some time but not enough to keep our full staff employed. I used to say that people who suffer from poverty in any country seem to have the strongest faith in God providing for their needs. Well, we sure got to test that theory this year… and it’s correct. As a faith-based not-for-profit, we had little else to go on.

We never gave up and we know you, our partners with ACE, never gave up on us. God has pulled us through this and continues to walk with us. While we still pray every day for help to keep our Nationals working, God has heard us and has greatly met our needs. For this we are grateful. Very grateful. Exceedingly grateful. What we are called to do in Jamaica – “Changing Lives and Transforming Communities” – is a mission that not even COVID could stop, not with God in control.

Never stop doing good, never stop tending to the garden where you are planted, for in due season, you will reap. God sees our good works and, when we least expect it, He reminds us of that our efforts do yield good fruit. The ACE family in Jamaica and the home offices in Ohio and Atlanta want to encourage you by sharing an email we received last month from a long-time volunteer and supporter:

“I work part time at Universal Studios Florida as a vacation planner. Universal Studios has 28 partner hotels that have Universal desks in the hotel lobby where we help to plan the guests’ time in the parks. After the guests check in, they come visit us and we help them with ticket options, meal plans, shuttles, advice and info on the parks. We sell all the Universal products and help them navigate their vacations.

I was at work on yesterday and a lady came to my desk for some theme park advice. She had small children and wondered what was best for them to do while in Orlando. I recognized her Jamaican accent and asked her where she was from. She told me St Mary’s Parish. I told her I had been there. She asked me where. I told her I have been on a mission trip with ACE. She asked me if we stayed at Galina Breeze. I told her we sure did.

She got tears in her eyes and told me that a few years ago ACE built a garden box in her niece’s home. She told me her niece went to Water Valley Primary School and that ACE was instrumental in helping her niece’s family out.  She shared with me that the work ACE is doing in St. Mary’s Parish is amazing and is making a huge impact in the community. She said ACE made a big difference in the community and the life of her niece.  

I know this year has been challenging, but hang in there. The work you are doing is good work, it is God’s work. God is in charge and HE has a plan for all this mess. You keep doing the good work that you are doing and He will be with you and bless the work of your hands.”

You never know when that ordinary day can turn into a huge impact ten years down the road. We don’t remember this particular lady from Water Valley, but we do know she remembers ACE as being a part of answered prayer for her niece in due time, and that includes all of you, our volunteers, supporters, friends and prayer warriors that keep ACE going.

Let this time, this year of challenges, be one for remembering the goodness of God. We are truly so grateful for all we have at ACE – for our families, for our future, for you.

Merry Christmas, friends! All is well in the world when you know Christ, the Peace that passes ALL understanding.


Marla, Allen and the ACE Staff