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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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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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.