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 diversity, 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!

Meet Sarah!

Meet Sarah!

ACE has been fortunate to have extra helping hands from time to time. Sarah has been one of the people who has been down to Jamaica several years in a row and saw a need that she might be able to fill temporarily. We would to take this opportunity to introduce you to Sarah, a 27-year-old young lady from North Georgia.

Here is a note from Sarah in her own words.

I felt a longing in my heart to do something more with my life, so when the opportunity came to be able to volunteer in Jamaica, I resigned from my job, ended my lease on my apartment, and never looked back.

Since I’ve been here helping out with day-to-day functions of ACE and Buccaneers, I’ve been able to work closely with the ACE staff. What an awesome experience it has already been. I’ve learned many new things, like how to drive on the opposite side of the road, how to call avocados “pears” and even how to navigate my way through Port Maria – but most importantly, I’ve learned how to depend on Christ.

One of the most amazing things about being down here is seeing firsthand the way God has been using ACE to assist these precious people. I can say from the bottom of my heart that ACE has been the hands and feet of Christ for the people of St. Mary. ACE has bridged the gap for employees, their families, and families in our communities by providing food, educational access, and basic needs.

Already in 2021, we are seeing God working in additional ways. While we miss our friends at the infirmary and can’t be with them like we used to, we can still make an impact to those in need. A short survey of our community brought forth numerous seniors that are shut-in, lonely, and longing for human connection. They, too, feel abandoned and forgotten. Instead of becoming frustrated with limitations and setbacks, we are allowing this season to go deeper into our community and relationships. I am learning that God always has a plan, and if I am willing to trust Him in all things, He will open doors of opportunities and ways to be His hands and feet.

I’d like to end with a quick story:

We were visiting a single mother that cares for her disabled adult son, every day, seven days a week, with no help or assistance. We brought coffee and, of course, the famous “Betty” condensed milk creamer. We started out talking about the little things – a new year, the weather – but then the conversation began to go deeper. She shared during this COVID season that she really misses being able to go to her church. I think that has been a tough thing for a lot of people. We decided to hold church right where we were by reading her favorite Psalm, Psalm 51, singing and a few songs. We ended our little service that touched us all by having a prayer together.

I can never go wrong by putting love in action. It has been so humbling to be exposed to a portion of this active ministry. I’m looking forward to the journey ahead – with all of you, the wonderful ACE Family.

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A Word from our Board of Directors Chairman, Dr. Guy…

A Word from our Board of Directors Chairman, Dr. Guy…

Sitting on a recent flight to Jamaica reading the “American Way” magazine, I came across an article entitled “Refueling Your Emotional Tank”. I reflected on how little time I had spent over the last eight months in recharging my emotional batteries. Covid has robbed us of many activities that usually help to do just that; many of us have not been attending regular worship services, bible studies, family visits, volunteering or even working out.

 Being back at Galina Breeze this month reminded me of how thankful I am to be part of ACE. The energy that still persists at ACE warms my heart! The hotel is looking great, getting new solar panels to help us reduce our cost of electricity and be off the grid. The ACE campus is housing volunteers spending one to four weeks working on the farm and with Cloud 9 Chocolate. The ACE house is buzzing with students who are out of school working in virtual classrooms. Child sponsorship is still running full time to help feed students and their families as well as attend to other needs.

 Cloud 9 Chocolate is busy upping production for the upcoming holiday season. Bruce (our expert chocolatier) has been experimenting with new flavors, like incorporating sorrel flower into the chocolates. We are also getting ready for chocolate tours from the cruise industry when they return to the island. The jerk center on our Green Life Llanrumney property has been a big success with increasing business, providing the best jerk on the North Coast! Our newest tenant in the center is Knutsford Express. Two buses a day stop to pick up and deliver packages and people to Montego Bay and Kingston – that will be bringing even more business to that area.

 I had the chance to meet Robin, our cattleman with well over 50 years’ experience. Our pastures are ready, and we will be bringing 60 head of cattle to graze and get ready for market. The wellness center is ready and waiting for our medical and dental teams to ramp up soon. We are working with health officials to prepare a team for February.  We were proud to show off our facilities recently to the Smile With Heart foundation, a non-profit that partners with volunteer professionals to provide dental care to children in need.

Well, after spending the last five days traveling and engaging with the ACE staff in Jamaica, I am recharged, refueled and my heart overflows. Covid can’t minimize the impact of ACE. When you are getting weary or feel burned out, when your emotional tank reads E, say a prayer for ACE, sign up to sponsor a child or make a donation.  We are still changing lives and transforming communities. We encourage your continued prayer support and we are thankful for your time and treasure.

 May God bless and continue to encourage you as you serve,

Steve Guy

Marla’s Minute: ACE and AVC

Marla’s Minute: ACE and AVC

Since all the craziness continues in the Education Department in Jamaica over who learns online vs. who goes to school, ACE found a common problem happening among our sponsored students…well, among several common problems.

Most of our students were unable to learn via tablets because they didn’t have one. Then there was the issue of students being given instructions to use their parent’s phone for lessons using data. The problem was there were two to three students in different grades all wanting to use mommy’s phone at the same time, as well as mommy! So, that wasn’t working either. We know these facts because ACE has many parents of sponsored students employed with us who told us, and we heard from other parents in the sponsorship program. No internet, no tablets, no phones and, if a parent works, no supervision. Sound familiar?

We hope it’s better in the U.S. than here because our Ministry of Education is having to correct or modify its policies weekly. And, frankly, I would not want to be in their shoes. They are trying to keep adjusting even while the Ministry of Health is making constant changes to the health codes. It really is craziness.

Then ACE had an idea. What if we create a place where at least 30 of our students who had no way of connecting to an online class could do so on a daily basis in a safe environment with adult supervision to help with connections and facility needs?

Introducing ACE Visual Classroom or AVC! AVC will be held at the ACE office at Llanrumney and at the hotel. Beginning November 1st, ACE staff plans to implement a Visual Classroom upstairs in the Henry Morgan room for 15 students, one ACE person, and a volunteer parent. The second AVC will be in the ACE Headquarters office on our Llanrumney property for another 15 students.

The question came up earlier, why just 15 per classroom and not more? In accordance with the Ministry of Education guidelines, ACE is not a school and therefore can only provide enough space per location for 15. If we chose to have more than 15 per location, we would fall under the guidelines of a school and, well, let’s face it, we are not a school. Each location has bathroom facilities, full internet and tables for spacing. We are seeking the advice of principals, former teachers and Board Members on how to do this in the best way possible.

There was just one thing missing from this idea. We didn’t have computers or tablets for our student to join on the internet for their classes. Have you ever heard the expression, “The lights are on, but no one is home”? That’s us. Everything was in place — even the students that will be walking to AVC – but nothing to use.

Then it happened – again. We prayed that God would provide what the students needed to attend online classes and, thanks to a very generous family, ACE has 10 tablets on their way down to Jamaica. These are not cheap tablets, either; they will handle everything the school needs our students to do. Thank you, friends, for making a huge difference in the lives of these young Jamaicans and their families.

Stay tuned for pictures and updates next month.  In the meantime, remember all the PB&J you brought down? ACE is providing lunch for each child who cannot bring a lunch with juice. We’ve got enough PB&J to last us to the end of the year hopefully. Thank God for His ideas on how to create change. When we ask our volunteers to remember some key sayings, it’s because we had to learn them first…. it’s just the way we like it!

Blessings and Very Grateful

Marla

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