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.
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!
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.
Marla and Allen
While the art camp was going on in Galina, a special project was being created with more garbage and trash and whatnot from the shores of our beaches in St. Mary. On the first day, the youth and volunteers went out to the beach in Port Maria to collect what would turn out to be a beautiful art piece for the Infirmary garden.
It’s amazing how plastic, board, glass and all those things that are thrown into the sea can actually be crafted and magically turned into art. With a small presentation, the arbor was placed gently in the infirmary garden for all to see and enjoy. Even Alrick thought it was something worthy of getting his picture taken with.
Sometimes, the simplest things make the greatest gifts.
Ever hear the phrase “When it rains it pours”? That’s how I feel right now with our vehicles. Earlier this year, we were in desperate need of a school bus for our children. God was so great to fulfill that need through you, our faithful supporters. Our children enjoy the safety of transportation all year long.
Well, our 1992 red Pickup truck has finally died… The old girl has finally gone on to truck heaven after serving us well. The engine ran well, but the body gave out. “Bondo” can only work so many times. (Sounds like me when I look in the mirror.) Now, the white 2005 truck has begun a slow death, racking up costs that soon will outweigh the value of the vehicle. We’ve been waiting on parts for over four months now to repair the struts.
As you begin to think of how you want to invest your year-end giving, would you please contemplate sending ACE some financial funds? If everyone would consider sending a donation of $500 or more as a year-end gift, we would have all the funds we need to purchase at least one “newer used” truck to put us in a good place for the 2017 year. We ask that you prayerfully reflect on this need for ACE, and perhaps you will be able to meet this financial challenge.
As Thanksgiving comes to America, we in Jamaica wish you all the best time ever with your families. We pray for America as great changes are coming in 2017. Just never forget…. God is not asleep at the stick. He is very much involved in our future both in Jamaica and America. Happy Thanksgiving friends. We are grateful for you.
So many times, our infirmary friends ask us to send them a picture of themselves with a volunteer friend. And so many times, our wonderful volunteers forget.
But this month, thanks to our friends at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville and Cokesbury in Knoxville, our infirmary patients were beaming….
Marla had the joyful experience of sharing the pictures with about ten residents and, wow, they were happy! Giving full smiles with or without teeth, you could tell they were so excited.
Thank you, friends, for taking the time to write the notes and send the pictures. It’s just another way you make the lonely feel part of a bigger family.
Mr. Matthews has joined the ACE team on the ground as our Farm Manager and Garden Box Coordinator. So far, we’ve seen the farm expand 300%. We now have 6,000 Scotch bonnet pepper plants in the ground growing. With Mr. Matthews’ connections, we hope to sell all of the peppers (300 peppers average per plant) to none other than the hot sauce company here in Jamaica.
That means our farmers will get increased hours from three days a week to four and even a possibility of hiring a fourth farmer who is currently unemployed. Now that’s a HOT story!
We will keep you posted and thank you, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Myers, Easton, MacGyver, and Lorna for the hard work!
Many times unexpected things happen in Jamaica, and this is no exception. Last week our little friend Sharon at the infirmary took up a new residence in heaven. Sharon had enjoyed our volunteers as seen here with Brice and the pool therapy sessions just a few weeks earlier.
I visited last week and saw Sharon slumped down in her chair. It appeared that she had a stroke and went down from there. We all know that death is a certainty, but it’s never expected…. We would love for you to send us your pictures and memories you have with Sharon, and thank you all for your love and kindness towards her when you visited the infirmary.
Summer is a wonderful time for children, students, and yes, even our golden kids – our infirmary residents.
Since the middle of May, ACE has been taking the infirmary residents for water therapy every Thursday to none other than the Galina Breeze Hotel swimming pool! For those of you who used to take part in this great afternoon of therapy, you may remember us going to Pagee Beach outside of Port Maria.
Between the sand, the seaweed and the bug bites, we made the decision to bring them to the crystal clear salt water pool on the hotel property. What a winning decision that was! We put plastic chairs in the shallow end, and voila – our residents begin kicking their feet, moving their arms and hitting the big beach balls back and forth. It is a fabulous time to be a kid again!
Several of our residents left the pool and picked up the game of ping pong, better known as table tennis here on the island. We are still in the lead on scores, but, hang on, things could change next month as the continued movement therapy is renewing both mind and balance.
Jamaica celebrated Labor Day on May 23rd. In observance of this holiday, Jamaicans like to do something to benefit the community like paint the police station or clean out curb gutters, and ACE installed fans at the infirmary. For those who have visited the infirmary, you know how hot it can become inside the room where most of the residents sit all day.
Thanks to our medical team who took the day to contribute, the infirmary has fans a-blowin’ to cool down those hot days. Our nurses and other healthcare volunteers were busy at the same time painting the frame work around the screens we installed a few months ago. Even Doctor Baribeau learned how to do fan installation. He said he had some to do at home and thought this was a good tutoring lesson.
Thank you to everyone who committed to sending funds to purchase these fans. The total price came out to $360US dollars plus $50 for installation. We look forward to receiving the money that you committed for this project and invite you to come enjoy the fresh breeze moving through the Infirmary, thanks to your generosity!