Marla’s Minute: Keeping it Going

Marla’s Minute: Keeping it Going

For months, we at ACE have been upbeat about writing our monthly newsletters, letting you see how God is “retooling” our ministry for the times at hand and how our Jamaican employees are adapting to new job descriptions to keep working and contributing to the welfare of others as well as their families. It’s been good, and all of us at ACE have been grateful to see the willingness to learn new ways of making income and surviving the COVID year.

For starters, some of our hotel employees have volunteered to move to the Green Life Llanrumney Farms location just on the other side of Port Maria to do whatever is needed. Where we once had employees working housekeeping, they are now taking orders at Buccaneers or raking the yard or trimming the trees. Nationals who were once driving are now helping with the farm animals, clearing the “bush” and installing fencing. It’s humbling to see us as a family doing whatever it takes to survive these times.

Allen and I have read other non-profit newsletters that say without you, they will have to shut down. We strive to not focus on the negative, to never panic in the face of adversity. We try to write these monthly letters from a position of Faith vs Fear. We continue to trust God and we know He is very clear when He speaks through His Word. He cannot dwell in both realms of fear and faith. We must choose one, and We Choose Faith Always.

We are, however, reaching a breaking point. While we are keeping our head in the clouds of faith and will not concede in fear, it’s true we don’t know what will happen to ACE. For the first time in 33 years, we are asking you, our supporters, to prayerfully consider making a donation to ACE not for extras or normal supplies but to literally keep our employees employed and fed. As we enter this 4th quarter of the year, they are very hungry and concerned over what is next. Your financial treasure at this time is greatly appreciated and will keep families together, working, growing and seeing the actions of God in their lives, through your generosity. Will you stand with us as we finish out the year in Faith?

Allen and I have no doubt that this setback, too, is only a season. So much good has come out of this year, as our previous newsletters have mentioned. We are looking forward to 2020 being over, but for the right reasons… to see all we’ve learned and appreciate the journey. King David in the Psalms, whenever he was down and feeling defeated, always looked back on the goodness of God. We, too, at ACE continually look back and see the goodness of God at every turn, and soon we will see how God saves the day.

We are grateful for all our supporters and pray for you and your families. Thank you for considering a donation to help us make it to the end of the year. We have faith in God’s plan and in the people with whom He surrounds us. We at ACE choose Faith, how about you?

Blessings for the Fall Season

Marla

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What do you do when you can’t see your friends at the Infirmary?

What do you do when you can’t see your friends at the Infirmary?

This is the question so many people have asked us during this COVID season of masks and isolation. We were asking the same thing at the beginning. At first, we decided to keep the driveway maintained to the Port Maria infirmary which was something we always did quarterly, which at least let us say hello through the fence to our friends like Richard and Christopher who would walk down to wave.

Then we thought maybe we’d bring a nice meal once in a while for everyone. But with COVID, we couldn’t just send food into the compound, so we decided to bring the staff to us at our newly opened Buccaneers Jerk & Juice location.

If you aren’t familiar with Buccaneers, here’s the story: when ACE took over the Llanrunmey farm last year, there was a closed-down jerk centre on the property. ACE decided to transfer the expert kitchen talent and other staff from Galina Breeze over to Buccaneers while still maintaining GB’s Jerk at the hotel.  Guess what? It’s working. People love to stop in for barbeque ribs, hotdogs, hamburgers with fries, and, of course, that good ole Jerk chicken, pork, and fish. Plus, with our Boat House yard and plenty of grass and space, it’s a perfect place to have lunch outside.

So, while the residents can’t leave the property at the Infirmary, the staff can. ACE arranged a shuttle service with a big thank-you lunch to all the essential workers at the Infirmary for two days. Jamaicans are no different from Americans – offer free good food and we stumble over each other to get to the event! Our turnout was delightful. Many of the employees of the Infirmary expressed such gratitude that it prompted us to start planning a Christmas lunch for them. We love the way God continually “retools” ACE to meet the demands of the day regardless of the outcome. Thank you, Staff at the Port Maria Infirmary, for all you do and especially to Matron Burke who allowed them all get away for a bit to enjoy some fresh air and delicious food!

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Now Showing!

Now Showing!

Our vision at ACE is to change lives and transform communities. We think we’ve been pretty good at it – with God’s help, of course – over the past three decades by involving ourselves directly into the four aspects of a person’s life: education, wellness, spiritual purpose, and microbusiness. There was something missing in the category of “family bonding” that all of us living in St. Mary had noticed: there was nothing to do as a family together that didn’t cost money for traveling or entertainment.

ACE has been able to utilize Buccaneers, the jerk centre at our new Green Life Llanrumney Farms property, to keep some of our staff employed during this unexpected slow mission trip season. Buccaneers has provided a wonderful community meeting spot, providing great food and atmosphere, and the idea was floated to find a fun activity for everyone. So, while ACE has never been in the theatre business, we gave it a try and put into action our first “Movie on the Ship” presentation!

Since ACE took over the Llanrumney Property last year, we were left with a lot of interesting half- finished buildings and what we would call “art pieces”. The Pirates Boat made of concrete happened to be one of them.  After painting and repairing a few things on this ship, we decided to put a vinyl screen on it, paint it and start showing movies outside on Saturday and Sunday nights for free.

On the first night, as dusk fell, people started coming in and the movie started. Someone asked how many people came… a huge number of ten! Okay, so it wasn’t a massive grand opening, but we know that when word gets out, our neighbors and children and families will come with their blankets, chairs, food and enjoy a night out under the stars. We will keep you posted as ACE continues to find ways to build on those long-term family relationships.

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Farming with the Family

Farming with the Family

Every day, something new happens on the farm that we didn’t know could happen. We find hidden skills we didn’t know we had, as well as hidden treasure in the bushes or creeks.  All of us have enjoyed having this new property in St. Mary to share with our neighbors and friends. We are leasing out land for farming crops and for raising goats, chickens, and pigs. It’s all the little guys – our families and local farmers – that need a place to make a living, and we get to build relationships that go deep.

In the meantime, we are learning so much. Just this week, as we cleaned out waterways, we uncovered what appears to be an old water wagon. The wheels and wagon were covered up with bamboo and debris. Huie, our farm manager, commented, “Hey, we could make some tables out of that for the restaurant.” That comment alone instantly started us reminiscing about all the “free material” we have found on the farm that we are using to improve the property.

Old windows, metal pieces, doors, blocks, great pieces of timber – you name it and we’ve found it. We thank God that He continually reminds us of His presence. We are also continually reminded of His little pests’ presence, as well… called ticks, but that’s why we have lemongrass (or as they say, “fever grass”), a natural deterrent.

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Marla’s Minute: Climate Change Happens in St. Mary

Marla’s Minute: Climate Change Happens in St. Mary

It’s hot and dry… that about sums up the day-in, day-out conditions here on the island since March. But that’s not the climate change I’m referring to. I’m talking about the climate in which ACE is used to working and how we do outreach to our hundreds of students, and families in St. Mary.

It used to be, around this time, that students were getting ready for exams and the summer, with our first VBS starting the second week in July. And it used to be that all students were dressed in uniforms with oversize backpacks full of books standing on the road waiting on their taxi to take them to school. Then there were the ACE field trips for learning that a lot of you got to help us with, giving our students some real life education.

That’s all changed – but not a permanent change; just for a season. This past week, I asked two parents if I could take their boys with me to Kingston for a meeting. The parents said “yes” before I could finish my sentence, so off I went with Rashawn and Karl. Since I had a meeting at 11:00 am, I decided that today we would do things differently – dessert first and lunch later!

Away they went to get ice-cream at the Devon house, the premium ice cream shop in Jamaica. While my meeting went well, I kept thinking about that pistachio ice cream Devon House makes and thinking how lucky they were. We ended our day at Subway for a 6” sandwich each before heading over the mountains home to St. Mary.

I remember many years earlier when two of my older boys – now young men in University and one graduating “whenever “ this year – were near the same age as Rashon and Karl and how we used to do mini-field trips together.  Anthony and Tahj joined me for church this Sunday for the first time since March. My heart burst with pride to see how far they’ve come with the help of your sponsorships and a good community of people and prayers changing their day-to-day experiences. I pray for the same for Rashawn and Karl.

From a climate of uncertainty for the future to a climate of acceptance and assurance that there is a future – now that’s a real climate change. Thank you, Sponsors, for changing lives and transforming communities, one person at a time.