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!

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Jamaican Cowboys

Jamaican Cowboys

It sounds funny when you read the title. A Jamaican cowboy? Our age is showing when we think of TV shows like Gun Smoke and Bonanza or all of those John Wayne movies where everyone is Caucasian with fancy boots, spurs, big hats and a horse to ride. But when we talk about cowboys in Jamaica, we need to begin to think a little outside of the box.

If you have not yet visited this miraculous piece of property ten minutes out of Port Maria, our home town, then you will have to set your calendar to come on out. When you come, you’ll see our Jamaican cowboys who will soon be riding horses (left on the property by the previous owner) to keep up with all of our GLLF cattle.

Meet Dwight Huie, known to us as simply “Huie” or by his pet name, “Gold Teeth”. Huie is what we would call an “all-rounder”, soon to be “cowboy”. Huie is the father of two grown daughters (twins!) living in England. He, like all of us, is a true animal lover with lots of heart.

This month, LeRoy, another cowboy, worked on saddling up the horses and getting them accustomed to being ridden. We do have an age limit on who gets to ride (no one over 60 or under 21). These are working horses and working cowboys, so we want to keep the work safe and efficient. As the economy picks up (soon, we pray), we should be able to expand our staff and pastures.  Keep us in your prayers!

Thanks, Huie and LeRoy, as well as Indian, Sheldon, Maggie, Skanka, and Noyan (who just turned 80 this month), for keeping those fences going in, one post at a time. Reminds us of that old “Don’t Fence Me In” cowboy song… are we showing our age again?  These fences are definitely needed, but our cowboys will still enjoy the wide open country that they love! Who knew that Jamaica – a tourist spot for beaches, resorts, Bob Marley, Blue Mountain Coffee, Irie Mon – would now become home to true Jamaican cowboys!

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It’s Official!!

It’s Official!!

 iQuest made it through Summer 2020…

For the past 18 plus years, ACE has enjoyed having many young adults ranging from 18 to 26 spend their summers to help us out in Jamaica. This program, called iQuest, has turned out to be one of the best “pauses” in a young adult’s life ever. This past year, we opened up our intern application process in October 2019. Usually, we have anywhere from six to eight immediate applicants going on to our website. Not this time. Instead we had three, then two, then one. We were scratching our heads wondering what was going on.

God knew what was coming… and, in usual style, we went along.

Moving forward, Covid became a popular topic after the first of the year. One by one, all our volunteer teams cancelled for the summer. But, there was one young man who didn’t cancel, didn’t back away and in fact kept pushing forward to come be an Intern for the summer.

Meet Abe. Abe came from Indiana in May and was ready to meet any challenge ACE had for him. With our own Super Student, Tahj, as the house father, Abe stayed with Anthony and Tahj at the Campus this summer. We called it the Jamaican Guys Club and it worked! Not only has Abe developed muscle, but he has developed a love for his new home in Jamaica. Like most interns who complete the Leadership Course, we hope he’ll always consider this his “go to” spot when he needs a getaway from life in the U.S.

ACE is offering iQuest intern programs all year long in 2020. Look at your calendar and see if ACE fits into your life for that much needed “pause”.

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Marla’s Minute: Working and Sweating

Marla’s Minute: Working and Sweating

Normally, those two verbs are not something anyone would be attracted to unless you were an athlete. But here in St. Mary, we have lots and lots of hard manual outdoor work to do that keeps us busy for as many hours as a day can hold.

For the past two weeks, all our ACE and Green Life Farm staff have pulled together to work hard at doing grunt work. We are learning every day that this fantastic piece of land is bearing fruit and food everywhere.  Last week, a small group of us headed out into the pastures and began picking guavas. Growing up in Miami as a child, I remember having guava trees in the yard. I hated them and would throw the fruit at my friends because they smelled and would squish easily.

Not now – I have a new appreciation for this fruit. It’s high in vitamin C and can be juiced and frozen for months and months… and, most of all, it can be made into jelly. If you have ever visited us at Galina Breeze, you know what guava jelly tastes like, and it’s good! We have close to 400 trees all over, and what we can’t pick quick enough, we go back and pick up the ones that have dropped to the ground and give to the pigs (did I mention we have a few?) as a treat! Pigs love fruit, especially guavas.  The things you learn when you become a fruit picker! Last week, we filled up four freezers full of guava and began juicing them with ginger. We were able to give each employee their own bottle of guava juice to take home. As this newsletter is being sent, we are already scheduled to head out again for another 300 pounds of guava.

The farm is full of limes, ackee, citrus, and guavas. God is good as we are able to share all this with our staff and their families. And we can do all of this six feet apart…(smile). Social distancing is taking on a different role than just standing in line. It’s easy to stay apart when you are working and sweating as much as we do — body odor can be a great deterrent.

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ACE has something to say

ACE has something to say

​None of us ever thought we’d be where we are today with such a global event affecting us all.  When the virus finally came to Jamaica, there was a panic of everyone looking at each other as if the entire country was a carrier of this strange disease. There is so much information to decipher for communities where day-to-day living is hard enough. Jamaica currently has 21 cases with one death (as of March 24th). Like most of you in your states, we are doing whatever our Prime Minister asks us to do and that’s “stay put”. Those that have jobs can go but use caution.

As the medical experts work night and day to find a way to stop this awful disease, the Church (not the one made of brick and mortar) is compelled to rise up and come together. We may be social-distancing, but we have never been more connected with a shared goal to care and pray for each other and for the state of our world. Some of us had to go to Ocho Rios to the pharmacy this past week. What a great impression and experience it was. Every store was open and security-equipped with hand sanitizer on a counter at the front door as we walked in. All had a big smile and greeted each customer as they entered. Tape was put on the floor in the checkout lines saying, “Please stay one meter apart for cashier”… and everyone was doing it! People can be helpful and neighborly, coming together for the common good.

Our staff and families are pulling together, but it’s difficult. The hotel is closed, as well as the jerk centers and just about everything ACE is involved in on a daily basis. Funds are hard to come by and, frankly, we have all sacrificed like you have at home, being paid for just a few days a week, if any. That is the most painful part of being in a ministry like ACE. It’s not just a job for us; it’s a way to impact people already hopeless and give them purpose through work. This will be our last week to employ the 41 Nationals who serve with ACE on the ground. The ACE team in the US has volunteered to cut back to just a few hours a week.

We at ACE will continue to pray for each of you, our partners, that this time of togetherness will be one of rest, relationship, and relying on our God who is forever good. We can look at the crazy, faithless side and wonder how will we make it through OR we can ask God to increase our faith, put fear in a box and throw it into the ocean. This newsletter will highlight some of what our ACE staff has been doing during all of this, especially with our March, April and May teams having to cancel. We hope what we are doing in Jamaica will encourage each of you – our life line in the states – to continue to do good in your corner of the world until we can once again serve together in Jamaica.

We as a ministry appreciate your prayers and your donations, even when giving hurts. You are all amazing and we leave you with a powerful verse found in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed.” (NEJV)

Stay the course; we will get through this together and be better because of it.

From all of us at ACE – Thank you for being so generous in our time of need.