About American-Caribbean Experience

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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Marla’s Minute: Calling all Dog Lovers

Those who know me know that I’m a diehard animal lover. We spend most of our time helping children and their families survive, but what about God’s little creatures we see roaming around the bush searching for food? We pick these pups and defeated animals up all over the place, then bring them home to worm, feed, and neuter them. This is quite expensive and there isn’t a budget for the ACE animals to do this. That’s why we are asking you to consider helping us neuter six more dogs/pups that have joined the ACE Campus after losing six last year to poison. If you feel this might be a way to help in our creatures department, let us know and mark on your donation for ACE Pet Critters. We will all give you a high paw of praise!

 

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Lorna needs a house… and Quick!!!

The end of 2017 became a record breaker in Jamaica for rainfall. We had more rain in two months than the total amount of three hurricanes, our weather channel said. Most of us were feeling it with the mildew smell on our clothes, but never did we experience what Lorna, our ACE Coordinator, experienced one morning. She lost half her yard and garden to a land slide. Imagine waking up and seeing your yard and garden ten feet lower than when you left it the day before!

Because of the rain, the entire hill Lorna lives on has begun to move. The chicken coop was left untouched but only by inches. Needless to say, Lorna has to leave her family property in search for a safe area to live. God takes care of his kids in such practical ways sometimes: a lot where she used to rent many years ago from a nice lady was returned to her for a lifetime lease. She’s got a great lot for a home, her chickens and her farm but we need your help.

Would you consider helping ACE build her a home? ACE has determined we can build her a home for $6000US. This is four rooms. It doesn’t include an inside bathroom, but we will work on that as we move forward. Right now, she just needs help moving. The land she is on continues to shift and we’ve offered to have Lorna and her son and daughter live at the Campus until we can get her home built. Many of you have grown to love our ACE family. We love them, too, and want them safe and secure.

If God moves you to invest your treasure or time or talent, then contact our office and let us know. We’d like to see Lorna in her new home by June at the latest. Think about it. Pray about it. Please.

 

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Did you know that the James Bond books were written in Jamaica?

All of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books were created right here in Jamaica (only one was written in Barbados), and there are many nods to Mr. Fleming around this area. In fact, this month’s mind stimulation trip with our Infirmary residents was at James Bond Beach. This is a small quaint beach near Galina Breeze Hotel at which the creator of 007 used to be seen with his beautiful women enjoying the clear waters and warm sun.

We brought our own beautiful women and 007 men! That’s right, Cokesbury UMC and our friends picked up these residents we call family and spent an incredible day dancing, eating fish and chicken, and laughing in the small waves by the shore. I think Mr. Walker, our resident with MS, enjoyed it the most — he won the sunglasses!  Are you nervous about spending time with our Infirmary Seniors? Don’t be – just come down and you’ll see how these field trips connect us to the simpler moments in life, where we all just want to have a great time with friends!

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It only gets better!

This year marked our 8th Men and Women’s Conference in Jamaica. Thanks to so many dedicated friends and partners, ACE has kept the vision of joining the community and friends together for three exciting nights at the Galina Breeze Hotel. This year the theme was “Stand Up and Stand Out.”  Standing firm in what you believe, staying true to your convictions and values – that’s what makes great leaders and content individuals. We learned from the three nights of presentations and discussions how Daniel stayed true to his faith and was ultimately rewarded by others and by God.  We all can stand up in our own lives for big and small issues, just doing the right thing when others choose not to, and, in time, the rewards will come.

Thank you Pastor Helen, the Trinity on the Hill team, our own Stateside ACE staff, Teresa the Organizer whom we all love, and, most of all, the many volunteers who gave their time to make this event fantastic as we laughed, prayed, learned and socialized with our friends from Jamaica. Hey, let’s do it again next year — mark your calendars for February 23-27, 2019! We would love to see you!

Check out the slideshow below by scrolling through the images:

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