About American-Caribbean Experience

Healthcare/ Wellness

Last week, ACE was asked to attend an award ceremony in Kingston hosted by the Local Government for the Poor. ACE received the award for all of St. Mary for our consistent commitment and service to the people of St. Mary Infirmary.

This was such a surprise, since we don’t think of it as serving the underserved but rather spending time with those we love. ACE is at the infirmary three or more days a week, 52 weeks a year, with or without volunteers. Through your generosity, ACE has given to date 4,967 adult diapers and 200 bed chux to the infirmary to ensure the residents’ needs are taken care of.

This year alone, ACE brought 5,460 meals of patties, hot soup, and specialty items. We have taken 25 – 40 residents at a time on 32 mind stimulation and physical therapy field trips, including Galina Breeze pool parties, afternoons at the beach, craft activities and dance classes in the park. We shave, we cut hair, we clean, we help the staff, we spend time with the residents… we simply love them. They are family to us.

We are grateful to receive an acknowledgement from the government, but we already know in our hearts that this is where we need to be, and we thank the infirmary residents for rewarding us every day.

We are also proud to report that through ACE, 8,229 dental/medical/chiropractic patients have been seen and treated. This includes patients from the government clinics in rural St. Mary as well as our own Wellness Center located in the Llanrumney commercial building. There are now lots of healthy people walking around with pulled teeth, clear lungs, lower blood pressure, and overall wellness.

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Education

From the beginning three decades ago, ACE has been heavily involved in the educational process of our sponsored and unsponsored children. Currently, ACE sponsors 250 students in St. Mary.  Their needs are great: food, taxi, clothing, tutoring, medical/dental needs, counseling, safe places to live. All this takes lots of people and resources. Without your support of love and funding, we would be at school without a pencil.

In 2018, through your financial support, ACE has employed three Nationals dedicated to our schools, children, families, and learning. These men are college-educated and come with a knowledge base and love for early child development. Saskia, our Administrator, has gone through extensive training the past three years and is overseeing the day-to-day activities of all children and their parents. ACE hosted five birthday parties in 2018 for our 250 sponsored students. In addition, we have employed two mothers of children in our sponsorship and built six homes this year, offering a true safe haven to families in need.

This year, ACE held 24 CFMs (Community Family Meetings) for the parents or guardians offering speakers from the community that teach/speak on topics like positive discipline, nutrition, hygiene, and spiritual needs in a child, just for a start. Speakers are leaders in our Parish and take great joy in delivery these topics to parents of the children. 

ACE held summer school for the 26 Second-Story students who made it to the second level of public education offered in Jamaica.  Our US educators and local staff held a one-week critical thinking program where students solved a mystery of who stole Ms. Shirley’s cook book. Students actually showed up early to attend the class… WOW!

While we still don’t have our own school or our children’s village, it’s never left our mind. We wait on the land to come available so we will ensure it’s permanent. Let’s see what God will do in 2019.

Did I mention ACE is sponsoring the high school boys volleyball team at Oracabessa High school? In fact, on behalf of ACE, D’Vaun – one of our Child Sponsorship employees for ACE – accepted the award last week for supporting and sowing into our community of Galina and Oracabessa. Let’s hope they win the National Title this year – that means scholarships for University and abroad for some of the boys!

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Spiritual Discipleship

Did you know that every person who desires prayer with ACE in our clinics gets a phone call the next week and a personal visit from our staff – 100% of the time? Many didn’t know this until a former patient came into the wellness center a few months ago and said, “Thank you for the visit. When I’ve been to other clinics, no one has ever come back to see me.”  Our ACE staff is continuing these outreaches as most of the families have no church or have been rejected from the traditional church due to lack of income, clothing, or just the ability to get there.

That’s why, in 2019, ACE will be building our own community “Peace House” – a place just like the New Testament home churches had back in the early AD times.

As you may remember from previous newsletters, this place will be a gathering spot where the local community brings food and cooks with our ACE National staff, while engaging in social activities. Everyone will eat a big meal together and hear a story told by another National about the Book of the Beginning and how God loves them so much, He sent His Son. And guess what? We expect to have so many coming that we may have to offer two services a week! The subculture in St. Mary is alive with a desire to be loved and begging to be a part of something wonderful!

2018 gave us so many blessings and opportunities for spiritual discipleship. Join us in 2019 as we multiply them ten-fold and begin the PEACE HOUSE.

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Micro-Enterprise

We’ve had a great year for our Micro-Enterprise businesses! GB Jerk continues to be a winner. People drive from Ochi to taste our Jerk and locals always flood the ice-cream side on Sunday afternoons. Did we mention GB Jerk sauce is in big demand from the locals? Thanks to Ms. Shirley and MacGyver, it is a hit!

Our farms are producing more and more peppers – and now over 400 pineapple! We are hiring young men and women from our special needs school that we partner with, Edge Hill, to work our farms and be taught a trade. Whipper businesses (weed eaters) are “cutting a trail” with work in Port Maria. Naniki Naturals is busy filling orders and expanding their business, making and selling their all-natural soaps and skincare products. Our court bailiff business is hiring another person to handle the work load the courts are sending their way.  Our honey bee business is buzzing, and many more micro loans are going out in 2019. Just wait for Cloud 9 chocolate to begin producing. We are looking forward to making our mark in the chocolate world, with some of the finest Jamaican cocoa products around!

Micro-Enterprise is just one way ACE helps get people back on their feet, finding joy in a job well done and paving a path to success. Thank you for all your time, donations and efforts in supporting these fine businesses!

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The Eyes Have it!

We’ve got a great update for you regarding Mr. Byrd and Ashley’s sight challenges.

ACE took Mr. Byrd and Ashley to a private specialist in Kingston to find out what we could do to help them see better. Mr. Byrd was diagnosed with glaucoma. With him being in his 80’s, most of his sight cannot be restored; however, he is being given drops each day to help him at least maintain what sight he has.

He is so grateful – and did I mention, on the trip back from Kingston, we stopped in his home town so he could say hello to everyone? We think that did more healing than the drops! ACE will continue to supply him with the expensive drops available only through private pharmacies.

Ashley received her special glasses. This little girl is a super star!  While her vision is a “born” challenge, the glasses are compensating for the loss of sight. Ashley is so surprised to see leaves on trees!!  Imagine, all your life, just seeing big blobs of things and not details. And life really is in the details.

Thank you, friends, for stepping up to this challenge of helping those that cannot help themselves.

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A Jamaican Thanksgiving

Most Americans never think about the fact that Thanksgiving is not a holiday celebrated in Jamaica. In fact, it’s only been the past few years that the local restaurants advertise a special meal to tourists for this day. ACE was fortunate enough to participate in what we would call a real Thanksgiving event just days before we sit down to a marvelous dinner with family and friends.

Mr. Irons is a relatively new resident who has some unknown sickness. Since ACE visits and feeds our infirmary residents three times a week, we see new men and women arriving quite often. As we got to know Mr. Irons a little better, we began to talk about simple topics like his family, where he is from, what he used to do, etc.

As the conversation went on, the question came, “Do you have any children?” Almost immediately, tears began to stream down his face as he began to cry. We sat and waited. The answer was soft, but we could still understand him… “Yes, I have four boys, one 16 and the others are triplets, they are 10.”

He paused. “And I long to see them.”

Speeding forward and with a little detective work, we located the family. They live in the Highgate area with their mother. With the mother’s permission, we picked up the boys and brought them to the infirmary to see their father, who undoubtedly looked much different to them. He was overcome with the joy of seeing his sons. The time was short as children are really not supposed to be at the infirmary, but the visit was good.

As we dropped the boys off at the taxi stand and gave them some taxi and food money, my mind still needed to sort out what had just happened. Did we do the right thing? Was it worse to not see each other in the condition their father was in, or was it what was needed to remind them that their father loves them and misses them? We’re not sure, but the last words the oldest son said to us as he got out of the bus were, “Thank you. I will come back next Friday.” And for that, we are thankful…

Thanksgiving comes in many different size packages. Find the joy where you least expect it.

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A note from Dawn Wheeler, Child Sponsorship Coordinator

Dear ACE Family;

I am writing to let you know that, for a period of time, I will be stepping away from my position as ACE Stateside Child Sponsorship Coordinator.  This is necessary due to some health issues that I am currently dealing with.  If you think of me, I would appreciate your prayers. The Lord has already answered many prayers regarding my situation and we know that He will continue to move.  He is in control!

During the time that I am away, please know that you will be in good hands. Many of you may know ACE’s wonderful previous intern Beth (Barnett) Pitts.  Beth has graciously agreed to step in and handle the Child Sponsorship program while I am off.  THANK YOU, Beth!  We appreciate you very much!

At this time, I do not know the exact date of when I will be returning, but I looked forward to reconnecting with you when I do.

God bless you all!

In Christ Love,

Dawn

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A Special Wellness Program comes to Jamaica

Most of you know about the wellness side of ACE. It’s one of the four impact areas of ACE where we focus on physical wellness in our communities. This month was extra special as we had some old friends of ACE return with Buckie the Tooth Giraffe. They performed fluoride treatments in our primary schools and our newest partner, Edge Hill, our special needs school. What a great time!  Dr. Frank, a former Chairman of ACE, returned with his brother Dr. Bill and their dental team to work non-stop at our Wellness Center using the new equipment a friend donated earlier this year. “The new dental chairs and units are fantastic!” was the general comment by all. The week ended with over 400 students being treated with fluoride and over 190 community friends served in the chairs.

While the dentists were busy filling and extracting teeth, the medical side of our wellness initiative was taking on other challenges, both inside and outside our wellness center. Dr. David and Dr. Alice from Trinity On The Hill and their team saw and treated over 100 community friends daily. With water supply being low in the areas where the doctors were working, it took a lot of extra effort to make it work. It makes us feel great when we have such continued support, especially when we see our numbers for extended care in the districts actually go down as a result of continued care.

Thank you to Trinity, Dr. David, Dr. Frank and all the workers and providers that gave their time away from home to help us in Jamaica this fall.

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Big Up 30 returns Home!

If you were around to say hello to our Jamaicans who came to the U.S.A. last month, then you will know what a wonderful time we all had those 10 days. Allen drove us from Atlanta, Sugar Hill, Knoxville, Dayton, Cincinnati, Ringgold, and back to Atlanta in a white “church bus”. It was so much fun!! Getting to meet all of you in your environment in your regular clothes – we loved it!

Thank you for treating our Nationals with such hospitality. Believe me, they never wanted to come back. But, as we know, all good things must come to an end. We all arrived with our barrels packed to the top with things like food, cleaning supplies, and, yes, some clothes and DVDs. And everyone is happy and tired. The biggest gift weighed nothing and took up very little space. It was the gift of memories that you all provided of love and hospitality. Those memories will last forever!

Hey, let’s do it again at 50 years! We will make sure we will have a wheelchair-access church bus this time…

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The Transitioning of a Foundational Block of ACE

Missions have a way of changing all of us – including me. Back in the beginning, my church at the time, North Avenue Presbyterian, served a major role in getting me on the field in Jamaica. This church understands the significance of recruiting people to take a mission trip and make a difference while serving others. While sending and serving is a big part of missions, it’s also a time of grooming and training that next generation of Believers who hear the call to “go”.

Veazey LeCraw was my assigned Elder at North Avenue, during those formative years of missions. Veazey loved Jesus and loved me. When ACE was getting its roots in Jamaica, it was Veazey who was quick to fly down and spend whatever time I needed to give me that boost of encouragement – and yes, he even took the time to teach me some vital construction techniques. Mixing “Mowta” is an important step if you want the building to stand, he would always say. I remember one time the entire team of teenagers from New York working with me and Veazey were giving him a hard time about how he substituted the word cement to “Mowta”. By the end of the week, everyone was talking Southern and passing the Mowta. Veazey was my friend, my mentor and, most of all, a godly man who transitioned last month into the arms of Jesus, one week short of turning 93.

Welcome home, Veazey, and know your life on earth had huge impact on all of us – including this Jamaican girl you fondly called “Mawla”.

 

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