Today, both worlds came together in my car. The world of middle class and poverty class. You ask, “Your car?” Yes, let me explain…
During the summer, we had our interns shave faces and cut hair for the men and women residents at the Infirmary. It was great, but it was time for more grooming at the Infirmary with our October team of adult volunteers. With shears and razors in hand, away we went. Residents loved it, we loved it and the one-on-one time seemed to be better medicine than anything else.
Then the word came from my family in the States that my biological father had been put in a memory care facility close to where we have our townhouse in Atlanta. Since I haven’t had a close relationship with my father for decades, thoughts ran through my head on the ride up. What am I getting myself into? Is this going to be long term? Will he still be the same person I remembered as a young adult? Even though I had seen him briefly between the years, if anyone has ever read the book the Mango Tree Gospel, you will understand what I’m talking about.
As Allen and I pulled up to the nursing home and walked in to sign the book, too many things seemed very familiar. As we were directed to my father’s room, we were very much aware of the odor, the moans, the wheelchairs everywhere, and the blank empty look on so many of these once active adults, all looking into space.
There was my father, who I remembered as a strong, tall, outspoken man, sitting in a wheelchair. He was not sure at first who I was. He smelled and had not bathed in a few days. I quickly started washing down his legs that were dirty and talking to him the way I would any of my infirmary friends. He smiled and began to come alive.
We decided to get him a shave and a haircut. With it being Sunday, all the barbershops were closed. The only place open was good ol’ Supercuts. Away we went. He felt pretty good about the whole event. And so did we.
As we dropped him off at the center and got back into the car, I realized that death is certain and, for the most part, we have no way to determine how we go. It just doesn’t matter if it’s poverty in Jamaica or middle class in America, the outcome is all the same. It’s that last breath that we take going into eternity that will matter.
Make a difference now whether it’s at the infirmary in Port Maria or the nursing home where you live. Get out there and make that time between living and falling away a happy moment for those needing your smile and touch. Even though all of time had lapsed between then and now, just like the infirmary, Daddy was glad someone came to see him. Thank you all for caring for our “least of these” in Jamaica. It truly makes us all smile.
ACE Healthcare is one of the four strategic areas that support the ACE Mission. We partner with the Ministry of Health and local community heath care workers to provide primary care to St. Mary. Katie Guy serves as the boots-on-the-ground Healthcare Coordinator, and she helps support the medical and dental teams before, during and after their trips.
As with all of ACE’s efforts, we strive to look at the whole person. Of the seven teams that have served in St. Mary this past year, we have had over 2,000 patient visits. Our patients have received medical, dental, chiropractic and optical services. Providing medicines to treat acute and chronic conditions is a unique blessing our teams provide. So far in 2017, over 6,000 prescriptions have been filled. Focusing on prevention, over 1000 fluoridation treatments were performed in the schools this year.
We focus on the healing power of the Holy Spirit and make prayer a priority as we serve. As a result, many decisions for Christ have been made; Katie, Sister Marie and Pastor Jones have made follow up visits to new believers and disciple them as they find a church home. 2017 saw the first patients to be seen in our own Green Life Wellness Center. Generous help from volunteers have transformed the once barren office building to a warm inviting place. The center now houses our pharmacy in a climate-controlled room as well as a large waiting are, five exam rooms and a dental/surgical area. Recently, we have acquired used equipment in Jamaica, as well as items from sources in the US.
As we look forward to 2018, we continue to network and develop teams from all over the US. We are always looking for willing servants from all aspects of the healing arts. Dentists are an emergency need for us right now. We have medical equipment in the US that needs to be shipped to Jamaica, and we are praying for the most efficient way to ship and clear customs in Jamaica. We are currently searching for a physician to be a continuous presence at the Green Life Wellness Center. Please continue to pray for all these needs to be met.
On behalf of the ACE Board of Directors, I would like to thank all the volunteers and the ACE staff that support the Healthcare ministry. Your loving service expresses Christ’s love to others and opens the door to discipleship.
Steve Guy MD
Board of Directors
This month is all about our golden friends, the infirmary residents, as we had one of our fall medical teams return to serve with ACE in our St. Mary clinics.
Before the official work began, the ACE volunteers were able to enjoy a big Jamaican Holiday called Heroes’ Day (compare this to our U.S. Presidents Day). In honor of Heroes’ Day, ACE decided to take some of the infirmary residents to lunch and a celebration of the day with sightseeing, great lunch on nice table cloths and fine china. Minto and Jamaica music brought out the dancers in the residents as well as the Americans. What a great time! The stars really came out for the moment.
Not sure about you, but we felt there were many heroes that day. Thank you, infirmary residents and ACE healthcare team – let the music play!
School is now in session in Jamaica. Our tailors who set up their machines in the open air and on street corners have finally gotten a breather. ACE students look bright and cheery as they walk to school with their new book bags in their school uniforms.
With 223 students sponsored by our generous donors, it’s very easy to smile these days knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of these young ones and their families. They may not all get to the educational levels we strive for here in America, but we will however meet the goals of instilling hope and the fact that someone loves them and cares about their family and needs. People in our area know how to manage with very little. They make a go of things with what they have. This coming year, ACE will be focusing on extending that hope to a deeper level per household. The ground team has completed extensive visits to each child’s home to update our files and familiarize ourselves with the situations at home. It’s been exhilarating.
I was reading an article recently by Andy Bannister about what does it mean to be human. As we move forward into our pruning winter months with ACE, Andy lists five things the Bible tells us about this topic.
- The Bible tells us that human beings are designed primary for relationships.
- Human beings have incredible value and dignity
- The dignity God bestowed on us extends to choice. There are real, meaningful choices to be made and the choices we make have consequences.
- The Bible tells us that there is such a thing as love, and that love is ultimately defined by the character of the God who created us.
- The Bible tells us that there is a big story. And that big story is ultimately a love story, a story of how the Creator God reaches toward each one of us, with our hang-ups and our fears.
Our goal for our friends and loved ones we serve in Jamaica is important in all these areas: as Bono of U2 put it, “the goal is soul”.
If you want to get more involved with our ACE vision, please call us, write us, email us, text us. We have a place for you to serve and make a difference in the lives of our friends in St. Mary.