ACE has been sponsoring students for almost eight years now. We started with a few kids in the neighborhood that really needed help with food, clothing, books, taxi and shoes. Speeding forward, we now have close to 250 elementary and kindergarten students coming out of our communities of Hampstead, Galina, Water Valley, Mason Hall, and Heywood Hall.
The one-year commitment we originally made has quickly turned into a lifetime of learning and relationships between Jamaican families and their American sponsors. Even Allen and I have developed a special relationship with the families of our sponsored children, especially one in particular. Tahjebe, son of ACE’s own Lorna from Green Life Farms, is now on his way to the Caribbean Maritime University, a prestigious college in Kingston that has a 100% placement rate. Watching Tahj grow from a skinny little boy in Primary school to a skinny college man (smile) is a great marker to how this program prepares our students for future academic success.
This is Tahj’s last summer with ACE as he is preparing to enter the University and live on campus next month. Lorna, Tahj, and I were sitting around the kitchen table a few nights ago, reminiscing about Tahj as a child and how proud we are to be part of his life. Of course, his mother started crying and then Tahj got embarrassed – a typical mother/son relationship. She has always had big dreams for him, and now he is ready to find them for himself. Tahj wants to be a Ship Captain, which seems very achievable to me.
For those of you who sponsor students with ACE, we’d love to know the stories behind your child and how your stories have impacted your lives. Allen and I, while we don’t have children of our own, truly feel like we have a whole bunch of kids around us growing up fast. We are all making a difference in young lives, some here at home and some right next door.
What’s your story?? We would love to know!
~ Blessings, Marla & Allen
Yes, it’s that time of year again – Vacation Bible School! Each week in July, teams come down to Jamaica to help ACE facilitate VBS in the four communities we serve. Most of the time, the VBS location is the local public school where our Child Sponsorship Students attend. We find that by holding this one-week-a-year Spiritual Outreach program in a public environment verses a church, we attract more children and can refrain from being “branded” in a community as being “those church people”.
Many times, people who live close to ACE-partner schools have been hurt in some way or know of a family member who has been hurt by someone who has attended church, leaving a negative connotation of religion and a bad taste for any Biblical programs. ACE has been successful in reaching these families through this annual program. By not being affiliated with a church yet teaching Biblical principles, ACE has had a great response to the VBS programs we operate, thanks to our ACE partners in the States. Thank you, July VBS teams, for making this our 30th year of outreach!
It was an incredible blessing that many of our ACE family were able to celebrate with Amber as she got married this month! We are so excited for Amber, Brinson, Cameron and Sammie beginning this next season of their lives. We’d like to share this letter that Amber left with us on her last day. We just can’t say it any better…..”bye for now”.
Excerpts from Amber’s Letter:
In 2007, I took my first mission trip to ACE and never expected to journey with a ministry for over a decade. The thrill of ministry in a foreign country, experiencing the growing pains as the impact of a non-profit expanded, the humanness found within ministry, an appreciation for the Word of God, and the joy of seeing people come into a deeper relationship with Christ. It has been an honor to have been a part of the ACE family and a part in serving the incredible community in St. Mary.
Although it has been two and a half years since I left the island, I can assure you that I think and pray for my island family daily. God, in His infinite wisdom, transitioned me which was a hard season, but He always gives abundantly more than we could have asked or hoped for. My love and passion for an island and ministry have turned towards one incredible man and his two beautiful children. My vision and calling ebb and flows and shifts to accomplish the Lord’s purpose. I am grateful that ACE was included in that purpose.
I find it perplexing the impact that a ministry and a culture can have on a person. My heart will always contain salty air, vibrant colors, and beat green, gold, and black. My ears will never forget the incredible stories and jokes told by a staff that became a family. My eyes will never forget what heaven on Earth looks like from seeing people serving sacrificially and allowed their hearts to be open to the vulnerability of loving others. My hands will never forget each little hand it held. My feet will never forget the rugged roads and home visit journeys that left my heart hurting and desiring to give more.
I have discovered that I always desired to give more. More of myself, more of my time, more of my heart. Yet in the giving, I found I became filled. My life has more intention, my finances more eternal value, my time used more wisely. God has used ACE to help me discover who I am and what I am made of. It has been a hard decision to let go fully of ACE by resigning my position with the Stateside staff. Yet, I am excited for the adventures that the Lord has ahead of me.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to have served with your ministry. I realize that this is only a “see you later”, or as my grandfather always says, “bye for now”. However, I just wanted to express my gratitude and share the impact that ACE has had on my life.
We are proud to introduce our 2018 iQuest team! They arrived – excited and wide eyed – on May 23rd prepared for an incredible summer serving with ACE. When you arrive this summer, you will have the pleasure of meeting Anna, Ben, Carley, Olivia, Roger, and Ryan. Of course, you may already know Anthony, our Jamaican intern, who will be joining them in July once his school term is over. We ask for continued prayers for them as they immerse themselves in the Jamaican culture and support our Nationals this summer.
We will begin accepting applications in September for our Summer 2019 iQuest Program. Email Susan Eisenhauer at email@example.com for more information.
With this year being ACE’s big 30th birthday, we decided to have you share in some very special “firsts” throughout this season. We’ve aptly given this year the name “BIG UP 30”. BIG UP is a term Jamaicans use to show respect to someone or something and admiration for accomplishment. Just ACE being in Jamaica for 30 years – touching the lives of so many in so many ways– is nothing short of a miracle. The numerous individuals who have committed to three decades of serving with us have literally changed lives and transformed our communities in and around St. Mary.
Two BIG things are happening this year! First, all team leaders this summer will be our Jamaicans who work for ACE – not just work but own the vision we started three decades ago. Second, ACE is making arrangements to bring our ACE Nationals to the U.S. this September to say “thank you” and to see where you live and serve in your communities. While we wish we could fly our staff all over the country, we probably will be able to get them to Atlanta and then drive via bus to finish in Dayton, Ohio, where our main office is located. More details will follow as we will be asking you – our friends – to consider hosting individuals and giving us a platform at your church to see everyone!
Yes, it’s an exciting time for ACE turning 30. The next generation is stepping up and we ask that you pray for us, as we begin the transition of changing the guard in Jamaica. This is what every ministry dreams of seeing happen. And it’s happening at ACE – BIG UP 30!!!
Marla and Allen
This month, we are so proud to say that because of all of you, Lorna’s new home is being built by, frankly, all of us! With the help of the cement mixer, Bullah, Akeel, Yomo, Lorna, and a host of her family and friends all worked hard on getting the footings poured in between rain showers. Lorna is all smiles and continually thanks God for this gift through you.
There are other homes being constructed due to the financial investment from sponsors and friends. We all cannot wait to see you this summer. Bring your smiles, your muscles and, most of all, your love for all that God is doing through these wonderful Nationals!
Just when you think you know how summer is going to flow, something changes and a new season blows in for Katie. This is what happened a few weeks ago when Katie was returning from a brief visit to the States.
Katie starts a new season in the U.S. She is still helping ACE stateside in communicating and training our Wellness Volunteers. Here is a word from Katie…..
This past April, I had my usual time home in the states for a couple weeks before the very busy season of summer begins in Jamaica. It was great! I got to spend time with old friends, family, and my boyfriend in the time that I was in Ohio. I boarded the plane, sad to say goodbye, but ready to be back home in Jamaica. I missed my cat, Macy, and all of the ACE and Galina Breeze staff and was looking forward to being back!
Unfortunately when I got to immigration, I immediately hit a wall. There was no line and I met an inquisitive immigration officer. She noticed that I spend a lot of time in Jamaica and had a lot of questions for me. I answered the best I could and she told me I had to talk to her supervisor. I knew at that moment that it wasn’t good. I prayed to God for peace, favor, and wisdom to handle the situation the best I could. I talked more with the supervisor and she informed me that she was sending me back to the states. It was an emotional and exhausting day. I kept playing through the conversations in my head to try and figure out what I could have done differently. Finally, I was able to say that I couldn’t have done anything different on that day. God was with me and will continue to be with me as I try to pick up the pieces and see what is next.
While I’ve been stuck stateside the last couple weeks, the ACE staff in Jamaica have been hard at work, not only with the regular day-to-day ministry, but assisting me in getting papers, meeting with lawyers, and prepping for a medical/dental team. I’ve always considered the ACE staff to be another family to me, but actions of support and kindness have been innumerable and really shown how much we can care for each other, no matter how far apart we are.
I’ve been looking at the options for getting back to Jamaica and seeking the fastest possible solution. We’ve been meeting with politicians and reaching out to people in the Ministry of Health in an effort to find a way to speed up the process of applying for a work permit. We haven’t had any luck in speeding things up, so I’ll have to wait four to six weeks to hear if I can get it. While I wait for things to be sorted out in Jamaica, I’ll be working part-time for ACE stateside and part-time other odd jobs. I can now share my experience of working on the ground in Jamaica with the stateside staff. I’ll be living and working in Columbus until I get word of the results of my work permit inquiry.
This is a very challenging time for me as I try to understand where God is in all of this. I know that God is with me and I’m learning to go with the flow and do whatever I can to assist ACE stateside. Some of you may recall that I was applying for a work permit last year. I applied through ACTS church, and though the permit was taking a long time, I wasn’t having any trouble traveling. Eventually, the permit was pulled, but I moved on, praying through everything and trusting God through it all. Now, ACE has received the accreditation required to apply for foreign help and I’m applying through them.
Please pray for me as I seek God in this uncertain period, that I can understand my role and what God has for me stateside. I already see God moving through this as the newer staff to ACE are able to shine and learn new roles within ACE in my absence. Mr. Moncrieffe and Saskia will be leading the upcoming medical and dental team and the rest of the staff will be prepping for the beginning of the summer. This will give the staff a chance to build confidence and see what they are really capable of. Those of you that are going down for a mission trip this summer, make sure to give everyone a nice big hug from me, until I see them again.
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.
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!
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: