This month, ACE was the sponsor of a very special conference at Galina Breeze Hotel. Thanks to an organization in the U.S., led by Dr. Clark Miller, “The Man in the Mirror” came to Jamaica to encourage those who attended to seize their true purpose in being a man after God’s heart.
The topics included being the leader in the family, the hero in youth’s lives, and the lover every wife needs. Allen attended and came out better than he was before, and that’s hard to beat! Galina Breeze Hotel hosted a wonderful lunch and break for the men. Thank you, Dr. Miller and Dr. Guy (our own Board Chairman), for hosting this wonderful day for men.
The men keep asking, “What about a ‘Woman in the Mirror’ conference?” Well, you can’t perfect perfection!
We all know what this time of year looks like for most of the U.S., but in Jamaica, it’s pretty much the same day in and out. Until the Child Sponsorship parents started thinking about the day in December. A few years ago, ACE began asking the sponsors of our 200+ students to consider sending ACE a monetary gift for their child so we could purchase something small in remembrance of the holiday and throw a festive Christmas party for the sponsored children. We are so happy to continue that tradition.
Yesterday, Amber went shopping and came back with what looked like a sleigh full of goodies. It’s amazing how far your donations go to provide wonderful gifts for the children. Some of you may be saying, “Well, I could have bought my child a gift and sent it versus sending in funds.” That is correct, but our past seems to define our present decisions in this area. Let’s face it – Americans think bigger is better rather than simple is sensational. We were receiving cameras, bikes, full clothing outfits, and stuffed animals the size of a car (not really, but close), but this way provides each child with a simple expression of kindness and a moment to know that they are all loved and cared for by you, their sponsors.
As we prepare for that big holiday, we certainly don’t want to forget to be thankful for all of you. Thanksgiving is such a great time for reflection. We attached a card we sent out to a few of you. You may wonder what that yellow stuff is on the front of the card – it’s not popcorn! Those are Scotch Bonnet peppers from our farm with boots of our farm employees, boots that a great family donated to our staff earlier this year. With that, we say Happy Thanksgiving! We are all so grateful for each of you and what you continually do for all of us Stateside and on the ground in Jamaica.
Blessings from all of us!
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.
… 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!!!