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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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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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!

A Word From D’Vaun

A Word From D’Vaun

We’ve told you about our ACE staff visiting the homes of our sponsored children. Here are some behind-the-scene moments from D’Vaun on how these visits are going.

The very first greeting we get as we approach any home is, “I hope the ACE family are all safe” or “How is my sponsor doing?” This reaffirms within me that the sponsored families are not simply looking to us for handouts but they do care. To them, ACE is not a welfare system; ACE is a part of their family! These kids whose lives sponsors are changing understand the value of the help being given. During a visit in Oracabessa to a four-year-old sponsored child, we took a picture with her that she thought was a video. While waving at the camera, she said, “Hello, I hope you are staying safe from Corona and I love you!”  To all the donors who make it possible for these families to meet their basic need for food, I’d like to tell you from the inside… you are meeting an even greater need for love. Thank you for making the sacrifice during this time and being God’s hands and feet, regardless of your own struggles.

Visiting my kids and their families during this time has been a humbling experience. One would think that we’re the ones giving to them, but what we receive through the relationship with these families is so much more than something tangible with an expiry date. Last week, during the process of praying with a family in Hampstead, I got the chance to sit with a family of four, a single mother with three girls, ages 16, 13 and 9. We got to have a heart-to-heart about the well-being of the girls and the struggles the mom faces with passing on solid values to the next generation. During that discussion, there was a drunken passerby who was, for some reason, within earshot of our conversation. I could have ignored this seeming degenerate, but, in that moment, God reminded me that He came to save the lost. There and then, I got the chance to pray for him and planned on meeting when he was sober. Through that experience, I had the opportunity to teach the kids a lesson about God’s love as I was reminded myself.

Our kids have to be out of school and the demographic we cater to does not have ready access to the internet which means they do not get to continue the studying process. While one would think kids would be nonchalant about the fact that they have no school, our kids are thirsty for knowledge. On our visits, the ACE team takes the time to read with the kids (while social distancing) a book about prayer. At the end of the book, everyone – from tiny tots, even some babes who can barely speak, to the adults – joins me in saying the foundational prayer “Our Father”. At the end of this, the kids will ask “Do I get a book?” to which I’m happy to let them know there are books in the packages we hand out. In that moment, you can physically see the delight on their faces which is amplified by me adding, “You also have a special toy to play with!” thanks to all the donations we get during the summer from our teams.

Pray for our single mothers who have been laid off due to the pandemic, our kids who are missing out on months of schooling with no means to catch up, our families who can’t predict their next meal after receiving what we’ve given and our staff who put themselves at risk to be God’s hands and feet as they continue to change lives and transform communities.

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