Marla’s Minute: The Widow, Flour & Oil

Marla’s Minute: The Widow, Flour & Oil

The other day I was reading a story in 1 Kings, Chapter 17, about the widow who, when the prophet Elijah asked her for a drink and a piece of bread during a severe drought and famine, her reply was “I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I’m gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it- and die.” The story goes on to say that Elijah asked her to take what she had for herself and make a small cake of bread for him to eat and then make something for herself and her son. Elijah then added this one sentence that changed the widow and her son’s situation instantly… “For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: the jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain” on the land.

The widow went away and did as Elijah had told her. Sure enough, there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. The jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

This past month, God sent us, figuratively speaking, a jar of flour and a jug of oil in the form of fifteen volunteers to supply us with encouragement, help, and unconditional love. In the midst of the “famine” of visitors we have been experiencing (thanks to Covid and the lining of fear in the mix), God sent us exactly what we needed, as ACE knows He always will.

On February 20th, these fifteen American friends (and new friends!) arrived into Galina Breeze Hotel with much excitement, big smiles, and lots of needed supplies for us and our many neighbors who were living on that last drop of oil and flour. They came to serve and not be served. And serve, they did! 

I often think about the widow story; to put it in real time, what if we believed ACE won’t make it through this famine and we were all going to die from Covid? Do we ignore God’s promises that He alone controls our future and is waiting for us to step out in faith and trust Him? It’s a challenge to overcome the fear of travel, the fear of stepping out and yet every time we “do it afraid”, as ACE says, we see a miracle happen right in front of us! The sheer joy of being part of that miracle God is working through us is exhilarating.  

That week, the last week of February, was normally our annual Men and Women’s Conference, where Jamaicans come to us for praise and fellowship. While it didn’t happen the way it has for decades and we upheld all the Covid rules it was exactly the way God set it up to happen this year. Take a few minutes to watch this incredible video made by our ACE friends when they returned to the U.S.

We hope this will encourage you to see all that needs to be done – and that CAN be done – and to get on a plane and get here! That oil and flour goes a long way, as one team builds on another and God always provides what we need when we need it. If you hear that call to come down, perhaps you are part of that miracle!

Thank you, friends and families, for the love!
Marla

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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!

A Family Reunion

A Family Reunion

Guess who came back to Jamaica to attend the ACE Men and Women’s Conference? You guessed it – Amber, or, as her Jamaican students called her, Miss Amba! If you have served with ACE in the past ten years, you’ve met this good looking blonde whom everyone asked if she was single. Well, it so happened that Amber married a prince (Prince Brinson) with two young children, and they are living happily ever after in Atlanta. We are thrilled that part of Amber’s heart is still with ACE, so much so that she returned to teach her former students, who are now teens, at our conference.

As you may know, Amber’s aunt, Dawn, also became a member of our ACE staff back in 2014 when she took over the role of Stateside Child Sponsorship Coordinator. Dawn’s job has been to work with D’Vaun and other members of our ACE staff on the needs of children and families in our program. Like Amber, she had not been back down to Jamaica for many years, due to health reasons. Having Dawn able to reconnect with staff and the beauty of Jamaica and to finally connect with “her” children was an answered prayer!

Thanks, Dawn and Amber, for choosing your ACE family reunion in Jamaica and serving at our conference… because it really was “about time” that you returned.

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It’s About Time

It’s About Time

February was the calm before the storm. Our annual Men and Women’s Conference held at Galina Breeze Hotel was not only refreshing for the soul but a pleasant surprise for all who attended. Little did we know that this extraordinary team made up of 19 people from across the US would be our last group of volunteers for a while.

Our theme was “It’s About Time!” Who would have thought that within days, the Coronavirus would be a global topic. Pastor Helen’s teaching using Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” was very timely. How fitting that is even now, as we all count our days of quarantine and look to the deeper meaning of how we should spend our time with God.

The men’s side of the conference was our biggest surprise gift of all! Led by the group from Trinity On The Hill from Augusta, GA, we had a record number of attendees – over 50 men each night, and many showed up early! Trinity has been sponsoring this conference for well over a decade, providing printed T-shirts and gift bags for all our attendees, and it has continued to grow – from six attendees year one to over 160 this year!

With music provided by professional musician Paul and a new visitor to ACE, singer Vivian, we were lifted up in songs of praise and worship! Thank you to all the volunteers who brought so many donations through your time and treasure. You truly make the lives of our staff so easy for this conference by your dedicated service. We’ll be looking for you to join us next year! Same time, same place!

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When Things Don’t Go Your Way (Even When You Know They Should)

When Things Don’t Go Your Way (Even When You Know They Should)

This month was finally the month that we got to see a well dug for water at the Campus as well as the farm. For those of you who don’t know what is happening, the water pipes from the National Water Commission (government water) do not come to us at the Campus or the Green Life Farm next door.

Actually, all of us in Hampstead, Heywood Hall and beyond are without water most of the year and have to rely on collected rain water, water from the river, or buy it privately. You can imagine what happens in drought.

We waited for eight months for them to come after we initially ordered a well to be dug, and, with the help of donors, we were able to raise the funds to have this project completed two weeks ago – and…no water.

That’s right, you would think that drilling 200’ down at 170’ above sea level would turn up some H2O, but it didn’t…just slush. You can imagine all the thoughts we were thinking. For instance: “God you can make water come out of a rock, why not here?” or how about this one: “God, am I doing something wrong, not living right, eating too much? Any sin in my life I need to confess?” Please tell me you all have had these similar thoughts when God decides to do something different than “our” plan?  As if to think God really holds back things to punish us. Not so.

For now, we will continue to collect water outside of the normal everyday average person schedule and see what God has for us in the future. Thank you all for contributing to this cause. We know there must be a silver lining in this cloud somewhere. Perhaps in the next rain storm.