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.
… for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.
Every time our Bethel Baptist team returned from a mission trip serving with ACE, I left another part of my heart here in Jamaica. It was after our 2014 trip that God birthed in me a desire for an extended stay. During that next year, God took me on a journey through His Word that had me answering some hard questions. The final outcome of that journey was God indicating that I needed to wait. Looking back over those three years of waiting, I could see God’s hand in my life working out all the details of His plan—not my plan. When Marla called and asked me to join her and ACE for a year I was able see how God had marvelously prepared every detail of my life to make this year a reality. It would take another article to chronicle all those details.
Since I arrived May 9, I have continued to see God’s hand at work in my life and my work here in Jamaica. Initially, along with the many other day-to-day activities, my primary focus was searching newspapers and the internet for possible grant funding sources for our four areas of service: spiritual, education, healthcare, and microbusinesses/farming. There were many long days Googling and searching that eventually led to a detailed spreadsheet with all the information that was needed to send to some willing people in the states who are knowledgeable in grant writing. At this time, our first application and supporting materials have been sent out for a possible grant that will support an initiative called ”Seed to Jar”. This program will help single mothers provide food for their families by teaching them to grow vegetables, to can what they grow, and then share their crops with each other through a food bank.
More recently, my focus has been on the many facets of our Child Sponsorship program. The most significant aspect of this program for me has been working with our Jamaican staff, visiting every sponsored child’s home to interview their parents so we can update and add to the information we have for each child. In many cases, it’s been a heartbreaking journey, not only to see, firsthand, the long, arduous journey some of our children have just to get to school, but to see their indescribably difficult living conditions. We will use the information we have gathered to begin seeking ways to help our neediest families, knowing that by doing this we are making it possible for their children to be more successful in school.
In everything I have been involved with since I arrived, there never has been any doubt that I am where God has chosen for me to be, and I feel very much at home here. Sure, there are some really difficult days, but this verse sustains me: “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” I Thessalonians 5:24
Not to be mistaken for a couple, these two individuals are a welcome new addition to the ACE team. We’ve asked Arlene to share about her role with ACE in this newsletter (See Arlene’s article here.) It’s been a fun experience to watch Arlene fulfill many roles living at the Campus. She’s not only housemother to Alvana, a second story student living with us, but also a pet owner, cook, help to our local administration staff, and a friend to all.
D’Vaun came to us as ACE was wrapping up the summer, and he is full of vigor and excitement over his new position in St. Mary. We are excited to see how this young man, a graduate from Jamaica Theology Seminary in Ministry with a minor in early childhood counselling, will grow into his role as a Child Sponsorship Coordinator. D’Vaun is in training for the next six months. He’s enjoyed the American summer volunteers, and now he’s growing fast in his role as ACE develops. The miry course of personal growth and human development is similar. Whether our days are marked by victory or by crisis, by progress or the call to turn around and try again, the Spirit goes with, reinforcing that God has been there all the time. Welcome, D’Vaun….grow well!
If any of you love growing roses, you will know that it’s not an easy task. When you purchase the rose plant, it’s most of the time a green stick with a thorn or two sticking out.
Over time, the gardener fertilizers it with special fertilizer made just for roses. If all goes well – the sun shines, the rains come, and the gardener doesn’t lose interest – within a short time, the fragile flowers appear, bringing fragrance and beauty to all who pass.
Professionals will tell you that the best time to prune back roses is shortly after the plant blooms its fullest. By cutting back the top part, the base of the plant is allowed to grow stronger so it can produce more flowers and grow resistant to many diseases.
With all this back-breaking labor, it is easy to be tempted towards finding an easier way. As for ACE, we have been growing roses for many years in Jamaica. Our beautiful roses have names and faces, however, and represent the very essence of what all of us strive for in ministry.
ACE has enjoyed being a part of nurturing Dacia and Tracey and watching them bloom in the garden of life. These two ladies have served with ACE in our Educational Department for years. Tutoring our children, overseeing our Quiz Bowl between schools, helping write those thank-you letters, and most of all showing their love to all who come to serve with us as well as to their students.
The sign of a true teacher is the passion to have one’s own classroom of influence. Tracey and Dacia have left us to have their own classrooms of primary students, one in Ochi, the other in Kingston. We thank Tracey and Dacia for being part of ACE, for being the beautiful roses who have provided us so much joy.
We recently enjoyed a going-away party where, as usual, we all had chicken and rice cooked by our staff. Will we see them again? You betcha. When school is in break sessions, they promise to come by ACE and continue to be connected to our larger vision of “changing lives and transforming communities”.
Anyone ever get a yearbook at the end of their senior year of high school? You know the ones that have at least one picture of every senior in there doing something wonderful so you have to order the book for memory’s sake? Then, just a few weeks before graduation, you receive the book, and everyone you even slightly like, including teachers, is asked to sign your book.
When you go back to look at what people write, there seems to be this common theme penetrating the pages by your picture: “Gone, but not forgotten”, “I’ll never forget you” and “It was nice knowing you!”
That’s not exactly how ACE felt this month as we dropped our 2017 iQuest interns off at the airport. Instead, we took it to the next level. It was something along the lines of “ We already miss you and can’t forget you…and we want to see you back in Jamaica soon!!”
Yes, it’s true: this year’s iQuest Team had to be one of the best group of young adults we’ve had in a long time. In addition, they were joined by two high school students in our 4-S program who had been ACE Child Sponsorship students since fifth grade, and one of Pastor Watson’s young men. Our iQuest 2018 and 4-S program will begin taking applications starting September 1st. ACE would love to see some of you consider spending the summer with us. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to apply.
Thank you to all the leaders, teachers and trainers who flew down for a week of investment with our student/adults. At the end of the summer, it’s these programs that thrill our hearts and continually remind us of our slogan we’ve had for years: ACE is truly “changing lives and transforming communities”.
If ACE had a summer yearbook to sign, I think it would read more like: “Gone for a season, but back for a lifetime” Go ACE!!!
Many of our regular readers know that Pastor Kermit Jones lost his bride of 58 years last November. It was a shock to all of us as Gloria’s departure was sudden. Since that time, Pastor had struggled with the sudden empty space in his life.
About the same time, Orlando – who has been one of the “outside” children with ACE for 13 years – was hitting a low in his life, looking for direction. If you recall, Orlando was the recipient of a loan for his first cow click here to see the story. While Orlando paid off his loan and now has seven cows, there was an emptiness in his life as he made choices in his lifestyle that seemed to be right choices but isolated him from the friendships that were going a different way.
ACE, seeing the need in both men’s lives, decided to branch out and hire Orlando four days a week to become Pastor Kermit’s driver and assistant. Speeding forward four months, Orlando is now the grandson Pastor Kermit never had and Pastor Kermit, the grandfather Orlando always wanted.
This Saturday, ACE was invited to attend a birthday party for Orlando given by Pastor Kermit. Orlando turned 21. What a party! There was dancing, singing, lots of food, and, of course, big story telling – all in the carport of the house where now Orlando and Pastor Kermit live. Yes, the two are inseparable. Orlando has his own bedroom and cooks for Pastor, while Pastor helps Orlando improve his reading and writing skills. Orlando is a great driver while Pastor Kermit is a great talker… and ACE is so happy to see God taking care of two of our favorite men.
Thank you, partners, for providing this type of investment into the lives of two great men who take care of each other. What goes around comes around, as they say in Jamaica. We will keep you updated as Katie and Pastor Kermit continue to build relationships through the health clinics.
It’s got to be that time of year for ACE. We are in our normal drought period, temperatures are well above the normally humid eighty-four degrees to the mid-nineties, and we all are walking around with very curly and frizzy hair.
Our entire ACE staff smiles as we pass each other and sit silently in the briefings, just enjoying the moments of A/C and quiet. But when it’s “Show Time” (as we call it), I am always delighted to see our Interns, our Senior Staff and Americans jump into gear with all the energy and excitement one can imagine as the bus pulls into the hotel with another group of enthusiastic, eager volunteers! It’s ACE summer!
Allen bought me a Fitbit to keep up with my steps. I’m well over 10k each day. I was so excited until Katie noticed that her Fitbit clicks off miles when she drives on the pothole roads, so maybe it’s a little slanted. Lately, I fall into bed, only to find myself thinking about the entire day, all the projects and conversations. My Fitbit says I’m supposed to sleep at least seven hours a night. I have to admit, I’m falling short each night. I suppose I’m just too tired to sleep…
But, really, it’s a good tired. It means work is getting done and progress is being made. We are enjoying every moment with our teams, and we are so very grateful for all of you! I don’t think we are ready for this summer to be over. We call it the “good bye look”…. but not quite yet.
While the medical students from Wright State came to give and learn, our Jamaican community and Galina Breeze Hotel treated these future doctors with much culture and love. These twelve students from Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine came and served at seven different clinics throughout the parish of St. Mary.
The service didn’t stop at the clinic sites! These students were busy counting pills each evening and helping move our pharmacy over to the Green Life Wellness Center. They were a huge help! We are one step closer to the Wellness Center being up and running full time. We are so grateful that Wright State, under the Direction of Dr. Tom Herchline, has helped the Ministry of Health see and treat many of our rural clinics throughout St. Mary.
Many of you have already met the 2017 iQuest interns at Galina Breeze this summer. For many decades now, ACE has had a program designed for young adults right out of high school through age 25 to come live and learn about leadership in a hands-on way.
This year however, we were so excited to introduce a new program that blends with the iQuest internship, called the 4S program (Second Story Summer Series). This program consists of our Jamaican National young adults who have come up through the ACE student sponsorship program in our primary schools.
Leadership is such an important tool for individuals to possess going into the world, whether it’s work life, church life, or home life, so ACE wants to equip all of the young Nationals and Americans to face the many challenges of life moving out of school.
For approximately 75 days, we have been fortunate to get to know seven of the most outstanding students in many years. We decided to show you pictures of them in their element. Thank you, Austin, Alvana, Audrey, Hannah, Tajeb, Mallory, and Michael.
Summer is here, and we have started our field trips each week with the infirmary residents to the Galina Breeze Pool for physical therapy. This is always a spectacular day for everyone. I had no idea how cherished it was until recently, when we were painting the outside of the men’s ward at the Centre. Christopher, who some of you may know, asked if he could help. With some hesitation, he was given a paint brush and a little paint.
Before long, several other residents joined him in their request to paint. Soon, we were looking like salt and pepper hitting a massive wall of color. It was hard work but fun as we saw so many of our golden children participating in painting “their” wall. At the end of the day, we were all covered in paint.
That’s when Christopher handed me this simple note, as I was leaving for the hotel: “Thank you for the field trip.” At first, I thought it was the pool therapy he was referring to, but he had not been to the pool yet this year. That’s when I realized that, sometimes, field trips can be right in the yard of the infirmary. It was actually his day of painting on his wall that broke up the monotony of the day, and fresh purpose was created. It made me smile and enjoy the moment of play.
Yes, summer has begun – come play with us at ACE! It brings out the kid in you again and certainly gives all our golden children at the infirmary purpose.