Our Children In St. Mary

Our Children In St. Mary

With this “stay close to home” policy, how can we know if our children and their families are doing okay or have needs?   After discussions with the Child Sponsorship team on how we can continue our impact and support from us and from you, their sponsors, we have a plan.

Beginning this week, we are calling all parents and guardians of children in our Sponsorship program to see how they are doing, where they are staying and how many are in the house – just a small survey in regards to health and welfare. With the cancellation of our teams, we decided that instead of holding a thrift sale this month (we normally hold three a year – March, July, and November), ACE would put an individual suitcase together for each child and other relatives living in the house. Next week, D’Vaun and Laneka will drive to the house and deliver the suitcase (in the yard, of course) and then sit outside to visit, encourage and, most of all, pray for the family.  We will be delivering lots of soap, toiletries, and women’s personal products.

See how valuable your donations have become to those in need? We know you will be back soon, so please keep saving those toiletries, soaps, shampoos and ladies’ pads. Thank you, also, for so many books you’ve given us over the years. We are taking two age-appropriate books per child and reading them from the yard while visiting, then leaving them with the family along with some simple activities to enjoy while they are home.

Anthony’s Adventures

Anthony’s Adventures

Anthony’s Adventures

For those who have met Anthony Clarke, one of our Child Sponsorship students living at the campus, you will love this article.  If you haven’t met Anthony, go to our website at www.acexperience.org and check out the short video clip of Anthony’s story.

Anthony went from being a lower level student academically to now a precept in his school and promoted to a higher level in learning. As a reward, his sponsors – the Hoff family – decided to bring him to Colorado for his Christmas break! We asked his sponsors to send us an article of Anthony’s holiday experiences to put in our newsletter.

As you read his adventures, please know that Anthony is the first student to ever have sponsors so generous as to treat their child to an American holiday! Thank you, Hoff family! For all of you who sponsor a student, we are certainly grateful that you keep our kids learning and attending school. You make their lives better simply by being in it, with your love and contributions! A trip is not required or expected, of course, but if it works out, what a wonderful experience for both child and sponsor!

 

Hosting for the Holidays

Our family had a memorable and rewarding Christmas this year, hosting one of our sponsored children, Anthony, who is 17. We started sponsoring him two and a half years ago and became acquainted with him via letters, phone calls and when we visited him in Jamaica for a week over our Thanksgiving holiday.

He stayed with us for almost two weeks, so he got to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with us and our extended families. Anthony experienced a lot of firsts while here: his first trip on an airplane, an escalator, seeing a movie in a theater, trying many foods like blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, and Mexican food.  He also saw snow for the first time and went sledding in the mountains.

Our cultures are a bit different, so it was a learning experience for him and us. For example, he was surprised that when we drive down the road, you don’t see a lot of people walking along the street. Americans also drive on the right side of the road and the drivers sit on the opposite side of the car as they do in Jamaica. Also, he commented that Americans don’t season their food as much as Jamaicans do. He had a hard time adjusting to the cold weather during his visit. He was surprised we didn’t take our dog with us everywhere we went. Jamaicans don’t walk around and browse in stores so that was unusual to him when we shopped. There is much greater safety in the US than in Jamaica, so it was hard for him to believe we were safe while we were out, which caused him a little anxiety.

There were so many blessings in this experience for our family! Our two sons, ages 11 and 13, loved having an extra playmate on hand who was always up for a game. It was also fun for them to be part of the new things he experienced, and they loved explaining things to him like how our traffic rules work. Anthony also enjoyed the benefits of family life, getting to play with the boys, helping prepare for and clean up after meals, as well as being included in family devotionals and our gratitude journals every night. He jumped right in and asked to be part of the rotation to lead prayer. He also took the initiative and helped clean whenever he saw anything that needed to be done.

Anthony got to go to work with Dana and see how he reads blueprints to put together a bid for a job. They also visited a few job sites to see the construction process. This was a blessing to him to see real life (not just the fun shows and experiences) and how Dana makes a living to provide for our family.

I recommend this experience to those families who are deeply invested in their sponsored children and have gotten a chance to know them. It is a bit of a financial investment as we paid for his airfare and Marla’s since she had to accompany him on the flights, per his visa requirement being a minor, as well as all the food, activity experiences and providing him with winter clothes, etc. It took a good deal of courage for him to make the trip here – especially for a two-week visit – but previously visiting him in Jamaica was an important step in establishing trust.

One thing to keep in mind is that hosting your sponsored child is more like being a foster family than entertaining an out-of-town guest – they are still children and it takes commitment, time and energy to discipline, guide, care for and teach them. One example is that he was expected to keep a journal while he was here and he needed some help with his English and grammar.

It’s also advisable to keep an open mind since the things you predict they may enjoy may not be what they enjoy. For example, Anthony really liked playing Monopoly and playing soccer outside. We expected he might be more interested in seeing the sights and doing some interactive experiences at the museum, but that wasn’t interesting to him. He was interested in seeing all the different types of cars on the road. He enjoyed going to church with us and especially the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. He noted that our church services are a lot shorter (church goes for three hours in Jamaica).

It’s a rewarding feeling to make special memories and give your sponsored child an experience they will never forget and one they may not otherwise have had! We are so grateful to our gracious Lord who made this possible.

The Hoff Family

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 Have a Team? Want a Team? Need a Team? Join a team!

 Have a Team? Want a Team? Need a Team? Join a team!

That’s right, ACE wants you and your family, your friends, your church, your school, and anyone who wants to know what is happening here on the ground in St. Mary Jamaica to come this spring or summer.

We have grown and are growing at levels we have never seen before. It’s wonderful!! ACE is touching so many lives through our sponsorship programs with our local students, ACE Quiz Bowl coming up next month, Cloud 9 Chocolate, Peace House construction, canning sessions, lunch-and- learn programs and much more! We need your help in a real physical way!!

If you are thinking about getting involved this coming year and making a huge impact for one week, think ACE. We need you more than ever. If you can read a children’s book, massage lotion on our dear infirmary friends, teach at lunch, mix cement, or even brush a horse or two or three, we need your help. Our Peace House is off the ground, while new employees are being trained to take over.

God has expanded our borders way beyond what we thought possible and we are excited. At the same time, it’s scary as we can’t do all of this by ourselves. That’s why we are asking you to seriously think about getting involved this coming year physically. Come down ready to work and laugh and make a difference. ACE is the place and we’d love to see you!

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iQuest Application page is open…Apply today!

iQuest Application page is open…Apply today!

Over the many decades of serving at ACE, I personally have been blessed to get to know so many young adults who have given their summers to serve with ACE, growing so much in the process. You see, ACE isn’t just about spending your summer in Jamaica, it’s about pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. It’s about learning how to do something you never thought you could manage and becoming good at it. iQuest is about making friendships that last a lifetime, and, most of all, it’s about understanding how God can use you in ways you never thought possible to reach the hearts of others.

Dates for iQuest 2020 are May 30th through August 12th. It might be the only time in your lifetime you have the time to invest in you!! Go online and sign up for iQuest 2020 and make this summer your time!

 

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ACE Adopts a Very Special School….

For years, we’ve been talking about building our own school. Then our plans changed, as God withheld the property we had hoped would open up for a school, at least for now. Believing God’s timing is far better than ours, we pulled back.  ACE wanted to build a special needs school at one time but found that putting both schools together would not attract the local families, as there seems to be a stigma with joining a special needs school with a regular school.

Every day for the past five years, as we drive to the ACE Campus, we pass a school called Edge Hill . You might have seen it – the name is on a big Digicel sign. In checking online, we realized that the Digicel Foundation had in fact built this school for the 30+ students who were assessed as special needs. Remember when your parents and teachers would say to you, “Never assume, always ask?” Well, I must have forgotten that because I assumed Digicel was actively involved in the day-to-day needs of running the school. I was wrong.

After meeting the vice principal, Mrs. Lee when ACE donated the stove a few months ago, we learned that Digicel only built the building but doesn’t support the actual operation and costs involved to run the school. And that’s when ACE enthusiastically said, “We will!!!” We became partners this year with Edge Hill Special Needs School and feel honored to have access to the students and wonderful teachers.

Our first interaction with the students was last week, when our friends and partners at Castine Church conducted our first home economics and shop classes for the students. Eyes got wide and smiles began when we opened the chocolate chip cookie mix and the peanut butter cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies?!

While the cookies were being made, another class on table-setting was being conducted across the hall. Setting a table with forks and knives might come in handy if the Mayor were to stop by. The best part of was cutting the peanut butter sandwiches before eating them.

In another class room, the shop students all built sailboats. Using drills and an electric saw, our expert volunteers allowed the students to actually cut and drill into their wood for their boats. I’m not sure which had a greater impact, using the equipment or finishing their boats! It was a wonderful time. The school asked if we would be willing to sponsor some of their students as the need is great. Of course! We are honored to have so many volunteers on a waiting list to adopt/sponsor students so that should be an easy ask.

Next time you visit us in Jamaica, bring us some home economics stories and cooking items. Cookie sheets, pots, pans,, bowls, spoons – you name it, they need it. And if you are the shop kind of person, bring your old tools, new tools, levels, safety goggles, measuring tapes, and anything to build. They love it and, frankly, so do we!!

ACE adds Super Student Status!

For many years now, ACE has focused on helping our students and their families push through the barrier and challenges of living in poverty to achieve a higher level of education through the child sponsorship program. ACE is now on its 10th year of sponsoring St. Mary children. We thought we would give you some factual information on how education can impact a student and their families if we make a commitment to stick with sponsorship.

Tahjebe Suer is making the Super Student Status with ACE.  

It’s not every day that a student like Tahj comes along, but when he does we have to highlight his hard work and desire to move forward in his studies. We told you about him back in July’s newsletter. Several years ago, when little Tahj was just in Primary school, ACE began sponsoring him at Water Valley Primary School and then on to high school at St. Mary where he graduated top of his class. Tahj has a vision to become a Ship Captain, and last year in faith he applied to the Caribbean Maritime University located in Kingston. This is a prestigious school with 100% job placement that costs an average of $12K US per year to attend.

Tahj was accepted and worked with ACE all summer to earn money for his books and food. While he was busy helping ACE, we were praying about where the money was going to come from. By now, we should all know God comes through every time when He is brought into it – and, as usual, several men and women who have followed Tahj and his family heard God’s call, stepped up and committed the funds needed to get him through this first year.

Last week, Tahj was given the prestigious award of being the number one student in his class for excellence and grades!!  We are so proud!! That’s why ACE has a created a new level of child sponsorship called Super Student Status – Tahj, this is for you and your family! Look for Tahj this summer as he intends to be working full time with ACE again. Let him know how proud you are. We certainly smile every time we hear that name.

Now, comes year two. We are praying again for the funds to come in for his second out of four years at school. Want to help? Let us know!