About American-Caribbean Experience

Marla’s Minute- Big Up 30!

With this year being ACE’s big 30th birthday, we decided to have you share in some very special “firsts” throughout this season. We’ve aptly given this year the name “BIG UP 30”. BIG UP is a term Jamaicans use to show respect to someone or something and admiration for accomplishment. Just ACE being in Jamaica for 30 years – touching the lives of so many in so many ways– is nothing short of a miracle. The numerous individuals who have committed to three decades of serving with us have literally changed lives and transformed our communities in and around St. Mary.

Two BIG things are happening this year! First, all team leaders this summer will be our Jamaicans who work for ACE – not just work but own the vision we started three decades ago.  Second, ACE is making arrangements to bring our ACE Nationals to the U.S. this September to say “thank you” and to see where you live and serve in your communities. While we wish we could fly our staff all over the country, we probably will be able to get them to Atlanta and then drive via bus to finish in Dayton, Ohio, where our main office is located. More details will follow as we will be asking you – our friends – to consider hosting individuals and giving us a platform at your church to see everyone!

Yes, it’s an exciting time for ACE turning 30. The next generation is stepping up and we ask that you pray for us, as we begin the transition of changing the guard in Jamaica. This is what every ministry dreams of seeing happen. And it’s happening at ACE – BIG UP 30!!!

Marla and Allen

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Lorna’s Home is Going UP    

This month, we are so proud to say that because of all of you, Lorna’s new home is being built by, frankly, all of us!  With the help of the cement mixer, Bullah, Akeel, Yomo, Lorna, and a host of her family and friends all worked hard on getting the footings poured in between rain showers. Lorna is all smiles and continually thanks God for this gift through you.

There are other homes being constructed due to the financial investment from sponsors and friends. We all cannot wait to see you this summer. Bring your smiles, your muscles and, most of all, your love for all that God is doing through these wonderful Nationals!

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A Different Season for Katie Guy

Just when you think you know how summer is going to flow, something changes and a new season blows in for Katie. This is what happened a few weeks ago when Katie was returning from a brief visit to the States.

Katie starts a new season in the U.S. She is still helping ACE stateside in communicating and training our Wellness Volunteers.  Here is a word from Katie…..

This past April, I had my usual time home in the states for a couple weeks before the very busy season of summer begins in Jamaica. It was great! I got to spend time with old friends, family, and my boyfriend in the time that I was in Ohio. I boarded the plane, sad to say goodbye, but ready to be back home in Jamaica. I missed my cat, Macy, and all of the ACE and Galina Breeze staff and was looking forward to being back!

Unfortunately when I got to immigration, I immediately hit a wall. There was no line and I met an inquisitive immigration officer. She noticed that I spend a lot of time in Jamaica and had a lot of questions for me. I answered the best I could and she told me I had to talk to her supervisor. I knew at that moment that it wasn’t good. I prayed to God for peace, favor, and wisdom to handle the situation the best I could. I talked more with the supervisor and she informed me that she was sending me back to the states. It was an emotional and exhausting day. I kept playing through the conversations in my head to try and figure out what I could have done differently. Finally, I was able to say that I couldn’t have done anything different on that day. God was with me and will continue to be with me as I try to pick up the pieces and see what is next.

While I’ve been stuck stateside the last couple weeks, the ACE staff in Jamaica have been hard at work, not only with the regular day-to-day ministry, but assisting me in getting papers, meeting with lawyers, and prepping for a medical/dental team. I’ve always considered the ACE staff to be another family to me, but actions of support and kindness have been innumerable and really shown how much we can care for each other, no matter how far apart we are.

I’ve been looking at the options for getting back to Jamaica and seeking the fastest possible solution. We’ve been meeting with politicians and reaching out to people in the Ministry of Health in an effort to find a way to speed up the process of applying for a work permit. We haven’t had any luck in speeding things up, so I’ll have to wait four to six weeks to hear if I can get it. While I wait for things to be sorted out in Jamaica, I’ll be working part-time for ACE stateside and part-time other odd jobs. I can now share my experience of working on the ground in Jamaica with the stateside staff. I’ll be living and working in Columbus until I get word of the results of my work permit inquiry.

This is a very challenging time for me as I try to understand where God is in all of this. I know that God is with me and I’m learning to go with the flow and do whatever I can to assist ACE stateside. Some of you may recall that I was applying for a work permit last year. I applied through ACTS church, and though the permit was taking a long time, I wasn’t having any trouble traveling. Eventually, the permit was pulled, but I moved on, praying through everything and trusting God through it all. Now, ACE has received the accreditation required to apply for foreign help and I’m applying through them.

Please pray for me as I seek God in this uncertain period, that I can understand my role and what God has for me stateside. I already see God moving through this as the newer staff to ACE are able to shine and learn new roles within ACE in my absence. Mr. Moncrieffe and Saskia will be leading the upcoming medical and dental team and the rest of the staff will be prepping for the beginning of the summer. This will give the staff a chance to build confidence and see what they are really capable of. Those of you that are going down for a mission trip this summer, make sure to give everyone a nice big hug from me, until I see them again.

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It’s your Serve!!!

ACE sponsored the high school boys’ volleyball team at Oracabessa High School last year. Following a close win for first place, Mr. Moncrieffe, our PE/Education teacher for ACE, introduced volleyball to our primary schools with the hope that some will be promoted to a higher level of competition when moving to secondary education.

Just learning to serve has its challenges, but with Mr. Moncrieffe leading the team, everyone gets charged to learn. Get ready for some competition when you visit us for PE. We are ready to SERVE!

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Miracles Still Happen!!

Through the great generosity of a dentist in Augusta, Georgia, ACE Wellness Center now has its own two dental units. If you have ever been serving as part of our specialty teams within our ACE family, you will know that for years, we have had our dentists using cardboard and regular chairs to see and treat patients in clinics. Can you imagine pulling teeth and sitting in a chair?

 

Well, Dr. Scott saw the need and sent us two brand new units to install at the Center where ACE is will be seeing families from all three nearby locations. As our team of doctors and dentists arrive they will be pleasantly surprised by what ACE has to offer them to assist in their desire to serve our Jamaica friends. ACE will be working with the main Dental School in Kingston to begin a partnership of “JAmericans” serving in Rural St. Mary. Pray the partership develops and events happen. Stay tuned for more on that topic.

 

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Marla’s Minute: Betty’s Back in Jamaica!

I don’t know about you, but when my family comes to visit, whether in Atlanta or in Jamaica, I love it. We get to catch up, laugh about new and old stories, and share the love and joy of togetherness that we sometimes forget when family members are miles away.

That love never changes, even as our family members grow up and age.  Betty, Allen’s mother, has been living in Jamaica with us for the past 13 years now. She has volunteered to do almost anything she’s asked to do. The cement hauling and infirmary visits stopped a few years ago, but for the most part, she’s willing to help.

Many of you asked this winter where Betty was. Well, she took some time away from Jamaica to visit Allen’s brothers and their families. Everyone got a nice break and change of scenery, but, for the update, she’s back and doing very well – she is still amazing! How many of you at soon to be 86-years-old can walk up and down the hill to the parking lot here at Galina Breeze five times a day and still be ready to play a card game after dinner? She’s proven age is mind over matter and that you are never, ever too old to serve!

Welcome home, Betty! The ACE staff missed you and so did the volunteers! Now, please go load those water coolers in the back of the van…(she also still has a great sense of humor!).

With Betty back and so many of you returning, it’s a wonderful start to our spring and summer plans! This year, our budget is a challenging one with all the many projects ACE is doing in the community. We pray that God may give you some treasure to sow into ACE this quarter, and as always, we are grateful for your physical skills in teaching, training, and encouraging our Nationals for the Kingdom.

All the best –

Marla

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Update on the Honey Venture – We Have Honey!

This week, the ACE Honey Micro-Enterprise Business reaped its first batch of honey!

Thanks to our bee masters from Ringgold, Georgia, and Port Maria, Jamaica, Anthony – our first bee keeper with ACE – reaped his first batch of honey. What a sweet moment! Everyone present watched from afar as the two bee keepers went up the hill at the campus in their suits and pulled some of the honey from the hive. The bees were not very happy about it. The honey frame was put in an extractor where the honey was removed and filtered into a bucket.

This was just our first shot at it, but we got 28 pounds of honey! Thanks to Randy, from Ringgold, we put them in the 1-pound honey jars. We are working on getting the labels on and storing them. If anyone would like to help join in on this project, ACE would love it.

We need to purchase quite a few items to beef up the production and, well, honey is a great business to be in if you have the place, time, and investment. Anthony is so excited. He said this week that he has a friend who really wants to learn to make honey.

Of course! After all, the goal is to get these young men excited about making a living for themselves and their family. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes many hives to make a business. Think about getting involved with your time and treasure. We need you!

BEE seeing you soon!

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G.B. Bars

Everyone loves chocolate, including us folks in Jamaica. A quick fact – did you know that chocolate first originated in the Caribbean? And that the cocoa tree only grows 20 degrees north and south of the equator?  We didn’t know this until a friend of ACE, Bruce, started teaching us all about chocolate and its origin.

You see, Bruce is a confectionary consultant with many years of experience in the chocolate industry, and God just happened to get him to Jamaica with his Philadelphia church team to visit us. It wasn’t until he was halfway through the week that Bruce began to share his knowledge and love for sweets.

Jamaica, in past years, was known for exporting chocolate to countries like the U.S. and U.K. for many years. In fact, even on a small scale, chocolate is still made and sold today. In an ongoing effort to create jobs for our Nationals in St. Mary, ACE has decided to explore the possibilities of making our own G.B. (Galina Breeze) Bars.

What does that look like? Initially, we must purchase the equipment and materials to begin making our 2-oz bars. After attending a fast course in Atlanta a few weeks ago with Bruce and the vendors who sell the equipment, we came away with amazing information on the complex way chocolate is made. In addition, we learned that by starting on a small scale, we have plenty of business already just locally! Would you like to be involved in this program? If so, contact us for details.

Currently, the plan is to hire two single mothers from our sponsorship program and train them to be chocolatiers! (smile). We hope it will be a sweet deal for all of us at ACE and the community.

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Naniki Naturals

If you are an adult team volunteering at ACE, chances are you’ve experienced Rina’s Naniki Naturals products and learned how to make soap and insect repellant. Rina is a single woman who has many talents, talents that have enabled her to get her now-adult children through school and living well with their families.

While Rina is producing great products using all natural ingredients, she needed that next step in organizing her business to understand the back-office operations. With the help of several expert business individuals from abroad, Rina began to get an understanding of things like cash flow, production costs, invoicing and receivables. Believe me, when these volunteers began helping her with these topics, we were all ears. She took it all in and gave herself some time to digest all this new information.

Just this past week, Rina remarked on how much she appreciated the help, was ready to move forward and asked exactly how this thing called Micro-Enterprise with ACE will work. You see, while Rina received a loan to boost her production, it can be difficult for Jamaican business men and woman to understand there are “no strings attached” to the help they receive. Yes, they take a loan with an annual interest rate that is lower than most banks, but even more, they receive 24/7 expert advice and help in developing and marketing business products – you don’t get that from any bank! After all, isn’t that what Christ does for us? No strings attached, just outreach and love? It’s all about the relationship, and we hope we can be a help to Rina’s business success and also a friend to her personally.

We’ve put a tour together on the ACE debrief day at Rina’s workshop if you are not a beach person. You will learn to make soap, eat a fabulous vegan lunch in the yard, make some bug repellant and finish with shopping in Rina’s little store on site. Once you start using Naniki Products, you will never quit – they are very nice, indeed!!

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Making a Way– through Business

As most of you may know, ACE is very much involved in the Micro-Enterprise business in Jamaica. The program came out of meeting parents and caretakers of our sponsored children who were willing to work but didn’t really have a plan or practical skills.

Many years ago, ACE thought the best way to help would be to offer loans of $200 to $300US for items like weed eaters (Whippers in Jamaica), chicken business items, tuck shop merchandise, etc. What we found out very quickly was that once the machines broke down or the chicks died or the food was purchased, the business fell by the wayside because of the lack of knowledge of investment and sustainability. ACE brought in some of the best business men and women from the States to offer one-on-one coaching. Unfortunately, we all had to realize that all the know-how in America doesn’t necessarily relate to the day-to-day survival of individuals who are struggling just to feed their child or get them a taxi to go to school.

Those years were real learning curves for us as well as lessons on middle-class mind-filtering. We in America have been so fortunate to think on a critical-skills level. We think all people in all countries have the same advantage – until we begin to move in the circles of poverty. Poverty is where the majority of people in the world live. There isn’t a welfare program, a Social Security plan, soup houses, or free taxis. There is just a community trying to pull together to make it through the everyday challenges we call “living”.

We have said that Jamaicans seem to give us middle-class Americans more than we give them. While we have the knowledge and generosity to give our time and expertise for career guidance, it is indeed the Jamaicans who teach us what real life and self-sacrifice is all about. Getting that latest TV or smart phone isn’t as important as having someone to communicate with, someone who cares, even if all you have is a “banger” phone (a cheap phone that Jamaicans use to communicate). Knowledge is key, and so many want to learn and be successful in their businesses – not for the fancy things they can buy but to provide for their families and have peace of mind.

Today, with ACE turning 30 years old this year, we all feel that our focus has changed from the earlier days to having a better understanding of who we serve and the why behind it. We’d like to highlight a few businesses that are doing well and changing lives for these individuals, and their families and friends, and in the process, offer change for us in our well-established world.

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