For many years now, ACE has focused on helping our students and their families push through the barrier and challenges of living in poverty to achieve a higher level of education through the child sponsorship program. ACE is now on its 10th year of sponsoring St. Mary children. We thought we would give you some factual information on how education can impact a student and their families if we make a commitment to stick with sponsorship.
Tahjeb Suer is making the Super Student Status with ACE.
It’s not every day that a student like Tahj comes along, but when he does we have to highlight his hard work and desire to move forward in his studies. We told you about him back in July’s newsletter. Several years ago, when little Tahj was just in Primary school, ACE began sponsoring him at Hampstead and then on to high school at St. Mary where he graduated top of his class. Tahj has a vision to become a Ship Captain, and last year in faith he applied to the Caribbean Maritime University located in Kingston. This is a prestigious school with 100% job placement that costs an average of $12K US per year to attend.
Tahj was accepted and worked with ACE all summer to earn money for his books and food. While he was busy helping ACE, we were praying about where the money was going to come from. By now, we should all know God comes through every time when He is brought into it – and, as usual, several men and women who have followed Tahj and his family heard God’s call, stepped up and committed the funds needed to get him through this first year.
Last week, Tahj was given the prestigious award of being the number one student in his class for excellence and grades!! We are so proud!! That’s why ACE has a created a new level of child sponsorship called Super Student Status – Tahj, this is for you and your family! Look for Tahj this summer as he intends to be working full time with ACE again. Let him know how proud you are. We certainly smile every time we hear that name.
Now, comes year two. We are praying again for the funds to come in for his second out of four years at school. Want to help? Let us know!
Our famous experienced canners returned to Jamaica again this winter to see how our mothers and staff were doing in canning food since last year. All of our canners from the States were pleasantly surprised to find not only was canning going well, but our ladies had branched out into making preserves.
As the week began, everyone who canned last year got to open their jars from a year ago and prepare for lunch at the Campus. Part of the canning program is not just about canning meats and soups and vegetables but also demonstrating how these sealed jars can last a year or more on a shelf inside a home that doesn’t have air conditioning or refrigeration. Many of our Jamaicans had raised eyebrows as they wondered if the chicken they canned a year ago would be good to eat.
Carefully and methodically, the cans were opened and the food heated and put in with the rice. It was funny to watch as each National waited on the other one to eat first. Of course, our American counterparts dove in and then, everything was okay! Lots of food, lots of laughter and lots of sharing all week in between the new canning. Thank you, ladies, for making a great concept for Jamaica come alive at the Campus.
Some of you may remember ACE building Kal a home in the Galina area a few years ago. During that time, one of his peers who was working with ACE then, Lecepth, ran into some challenging problems where he, his wife and two children were living. Lecepth asked if he could rent the house ACE was building for Kal until he could get his home built right next door.
Kal and ACE agreed, allowing Lecepth to rent his home for approximately $28US a month. Many of you and your churches helped complete what is now the prettiest house in the neighborhood.
Lecepth and his family are now safely in their home next door, and Kal is finally in his! Needless to say, Kal is quite happy. For the first time in his life, he has his own water meter in his name and, soon, his own electric meter. Why is that a big deal? In Jamaica, many people “borrow” electricity from the power company. We used to see in the paper where people were electrocuted weekly. Unfortunately, it hasn’t stopped and many times, church people are guilty of the very same thing. But Kal officially owns his own utilities, and this speaks volumes for who he is. He may be deaf, but he knows that part of ownership is taking responsibility.
And he loves the colors Marla picked out for him! All he needs now, he says, is a swimming pool in the back yard! Congrats, Kal, for a growing up and becoming independent.
For years, we’ve been talking about building our own school. Then our plans changed, as God withheld the property we had hoped would open up for a school, at least for now. Believing God’s timing is far better than ours, we pulled back. ACE wanted to build a special needs school at one time but found that putting both schools together would not attract the local families, as there seems to be a stigma with joining a special needs school with a regular school.
Every day for the past five years, as we drive to the ACE Campus, we pass a school called Edge Hill . You might have seen it – the name is on a big Digicel sign. In checking online, we realized that the Digicel Foundation had in fact built this school for the 30+ students who were assessed as special needs. Remember when your parents and teachers would say to you, “Never assume, always ask?” Well, I must have forgotten that because I assumed Digicel was actively involved in the day-to-day needs of running the school. I was wrong.
After meeting the vice principal, Mrs. Lee when ACE donated the stove a few months ago, we learned that Digicel only built the building but doesn’t support the actual operation and costs involved to run the school. And that’s when ACE enthusiastically said, “We will!!!” We became partners this year with Edge Hill Special Needs School and feel honored to have access to the students and wonderful teachers.
Our first interaction with the students was last week, when our friends and partners at Castine Church conducted our first home economics and shop classes for the students. Eyes got wide and smiles began when we opened the chocolate chip cookie mix and the peanut butter cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies?!
While the cookies were being made, another class on table-setting was being conducted across the hall. Setting a table with forks and knives might come in handy if the Mayor were to stop by. The best part of was cutting the peanut butter sandwiches before eating them.
In another class room, the shop students all built sailboats. Using drills and an electric saw, our expert volunteers allowed the students to actually cut and drill into their wood for their boats. I’m not sure which had a greater impact, using the equipment or finishing their boats! It was a wonderful time. The school asked if we would be willing to sponsor some of their students as the need is great. Of course! We are honored to have so many volunteers on a waiting list to adopt/sponsor students so that should be an easy ask.
Next time you visit us in Jamaica, bring us some home economics stories and cooking items. Cookie sheets, pots, pans,, bowls, spoons – you name it, they need it. And if you are the shop kind of person, bring your old tools, new tools, levels, safety goggles, measuring tapes, and anything to build. They love it and, frankly, so do we!!
We’ve got a great update for you regarding Mr. Byrd and Ashley’s sight challenges.
ACE took Mr. Byrd and Ashley to a private specialist in Kingston to find out what we could do to help them see better. Mr. Byrd was diagnosed with glaucoma. With him being in his 80’s, most of his sight cannot be restored; however, he is being given drops each day to help him at least maintain what sight he has.
He is so grateful – and did I mention, on the trip back from Kingston, we stopped in his home town so he could say hello to everyone? We think that did more healing than the drops! ACE will continue to supply him with the expensive drops available only through private pharmacies.
Ashley received her special glasses. This little girl is a super star! While her vision is a “born” challenge, the glasses are compensating for the loss of sight. Ashley is so surprised to see leaves on trees!! Imagine, all your life, just seeing big blobs of things and not details. And life really is in the details.
Thank you, friends, for stepping up to this challenge of helping those that cannot help themselves.
Dear ACE Family;
I am writing to let you know that, for a period of time, I will be stepping away from my position as ACE Stateside Child Sponsorship Coordinator. This is necessary due to some health issues that I am currently dealing with. If you think of me, I would appreciate your prayers. The Lord has already answered many prayers regarding my situation and we know that He will continue to move. He is in control!
During the time that I am away, please know that you will be in good hands. Many of you may know ACE’s wonderful previous intern Beth (Barnett) Pitts. Beth has graciously agreed to step in and handle the Child Sponsorship program while I am off. THANK YOU, Beth! We appreciate you very much!
At this time, I do not know the exact date of when I will be returning, but I looked forward to reconnecting with you when I do.
God bless you all!
In Christ Love,
Most of you know about the wellness side of ACE. It’s one of the four impact areas of ACE where we focus on physical wellness in our communities. This month was extra special as we had some old friends of ACE return with Buckie the Tooth Giraffe. They performed fluoride treatments in our primary schools and our newest partner, Edge Hill, our special needs school. What a great time! Dr. Frank, a former Chairman of ACE, returned with his brother Dr. Bill and their dental team to work non-stop at our Wellness Center using the new equipment a friend donated earlier this year. “The new dental chairs and units are fantastic!” was the general comment by all. The week ended with over 400 students being treated with fluoride and over 190 community friends served in the chairs.
While the dentists were busy filling and extracting teeth, the medical side of our wellness initiative was taking on other challenges, both inside and outside our wellness center. Dr. David and Dr. Alice from Trinity On The Hill and their team saw and treated over 100 community friends daily. With water supply being low in the areas where the doctors were working, it took a lot of extra effort to make it work. It makes us feel great when we have such continued support, especially when we see our numbers for extended care in the districts actually go down as a result of continued care.
Thank you to Trinity, Dr. David, Dr. Frank and all the workers and providers that gave their time away from home to help us in Jamaica this fall.
If you were around to say hello to our Jamaicans who came to the U.S.A. last month, then you will know what a wonderful time we all had those 10 days. Allen drove us from Atlanta, Sugar Hill, Knoxville, Dayton, Cincinnati, Ringgold, and back to Atlanta in a white “church bus”. It was so much fun!! Getting to meet all of you in your environment in your regular clothes – we loved it!
Thank you for treating our Nationals with such hospitality. Believe me, they never wanted to come back. But, as we know, all good things must come to an end. We all arrived with our barrels packed to the top with things like food, cleaning supplies, and, yes, some clothes and DVDs. And everyone is happy and tired. The biggest gift weighed nothing and took up very little space. It was the gift of memories that you all provided of love and hospitality. Those memories will last forever!
Hey, let’s do it again at 50 years! We will make sure we will have a wheelchair-access church bus this time…
I know that we are not supposed to have favorites when it comes to family members, but really and truly, I think that is just a myth someone made up. We all have certain people we just like or love a little more. And I guess I’m no exception.
I enjoy going to the infirmary alone on Saturday evenings with a big pot of coffee, condensed milk, chocolate, and a dozen cups. It’s this time of the week and day when I can see God at His best in me. I’m a member of what I call the “Old Men’s Club”. Granted I’m a little old, but being a woman, I suppose it’s good enough for me to stay in the club. After all, I have the coffee. Most of the time, we all hang out on the back veranda of the men’s ward and talk about life, the good, the bad, and the best times. Today was no different except for the fact that my favorite person in our little coffee club has throat cancer.
Ever since July, I’ve seen him losing weight. He complains about the food (which, who doesn’t) and, really, I kind of ignored him. Then, two weeks ago, he didn’t seem himself and asked if I could get him to a dentist to look at his tooth. Being the Doctor Wannabe that I am, I got my flashlight and had him open his mouth for me to check. No tooth. In fact, nothing. He insisted it was his tooth. I called our local dentist and asked if he would stop in and see my friend. He did and returned with a message I wasn’t prepared to hear. While he’s only giving an educated guess, he’s seen it before and suspects it’s cancer.
I know that sooner or later, we all will die, and I also know that this body is just an encasement of our Spirit, but when I told my friend what it might be, his answer was something I didn’t anticipate. He looked up into my eyes and said, “It’s okay. I know, I’m ready, and will you be back next Saturday with more coffee?” It took everything I had to answer him without a tear. I read him Romans 8, verse 1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He liked it and asked if I would read the last part of that chapter, verses 38 and 39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I kissed his head and did the normal, “See you later, alligator,” and left. What a guy. No wonder he is my favorite at the infirmary. He has no fear, no fret – just loved me and my cup of coffee. Thank you, Lord, for these moments. It’s really what life is all about with You.
Marla & Allen
Next time you go to the dentist, take note of the pictures that surround you in the waiting room. Last time I went, I got to watch a rotation of people with crooked, chipped, and missing teeth smile into a camera with the bottom header saying “Before”. Then the next clip showed a picture of the same mouth with straight, white, clean teeth all lined up to present a “game show” smile, with the heading below stating “After”.
While ACE doesn’t claim to be a reconstructive ministry, we have found ourselves doing quite a bit of “Before and After” shots this past summer. So many of our families in St. Mary who are in our programs from Child Sponsorship to Green Life Farms and Galina Breeze Hotel were living in the “before” shot.
That’s until our friends, sponsors, and donors decided to invest their treasure into other people’s lives here in Jamaica. By making a monetary donation to families who were living in the “before” house, lives were incredibly changed into their “after” home… and this was not for just one or two, but many. You see, ACE believes not only in Education, Wellness, and Spiritual Discipleship, but ACE also believes that all humans deserve a place to be safe and clean. The simple things middle-class Americans enjoy every day but don’t think about – a roof, a bed, a lock on the door, food, running water – we call them basic needs, but they are not always for everyone. Here’s a highlight of what happened to change lives and help transform our communities.
While ACE is just touching the tip of the iceberg in Jamaica, believe us, it’s making a huge difference for almost a hundred people who may not live in the house but who see the goodness of God being poured out on their friends and neighbors who struggle to survive. Who knows, with your help and prayers, we may be able to get another community settled in, safe and sound and dry for the night. Thank you, supporters.