ACE enjoyed a wonderful spring break with our volunteers. We so appreciate individuals taking time out of their lives in the U.S. to give back to Jamaica. As much fun as we have with teams, it is a lot of work, so two weeks ago on a Friday, we surprised our National ACE staff with an outing to a beach that no one had visited before.
Jamaicans enjoy the beach differently than most Americans. I know my first order of business is to always scope out the best place to get my lounge chair situated. Then I look for the closest snack bar and find some place where the waiter comes to me versus me parading around the pool to get a drink (do I sound middle class?).
Not our ACE team – they went straight for the tables in the shade and set up their dominoes and got two teams going. Then the girls walked around and took pictures of themselves and tested the pool. No one went in the ocean. Arlene and I loved it… just watching everyone have fun and do nothing. For those of you who forget to celebrate events no matter how small, just find a Jamaican to relax with for a day and you will enjoy even the little moments. Our staff definitely deserved a day of rest in anticipation of seeing all your smiling faces this summer.
We will be thinking of you all as we celebrate this beautiful Easter season. I am a lover of painted eggs, but Easter is really about the big fact that separates Judeo Christianity from all religions — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you don’t believe that part, the rest is all a fun story. The Easter Bunny is all about marketing – great for chocolate companies, and we all love chocolate – but the real gift is the one given by Jesus for all of us. Keep that in your hearts!
Blessings, and Happy Easter!
MarlaRETURN TO NEWSLETTER
I have to say, caving and being “captured” in restricted quarters has never been on my bucket list to do. In fact, when I was in my 20’s , I went rock climbing in Colorado with a group of friends. We went to this great place called Red Rock. I was about 20 pounds lighter than I am now and had much more muscle mass.
Going up was great, but when I got to the top I was frozen. I couldn’t climb down. The space was restricted on all sides. If I turned any way, I would fall, or so I thought. Long story short, my friends called rescue and I was helped down by the trained emergency team. What I learned from that experience is one, there are other people afraid of restricted places like me, as they have a number to call for help; and two, we all have our limits of comfort.
The RAMH Boys Club’s trip to Green Grotto Caves pushed all the buttons of comfort for the young students. D’Vaun and Nicalos led the way with hats and flashlights. It was a little scary, they said, when the guide turned out the lights. The boys held on to each other and never lost sight of D’Vaun; even in the dark, they made sure they knew where he was. Afterwards, the jokes and banter began with each student accusing the others of being a scaredy-cat.
As I heard the story and saw the pics from staff, I was quickly reminded of how scary it is sometimes to not know what is ahead and have no vision of what the plan will turn out to be. That’s when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” I’m so glad for our RAMH Boys Club (by the way, no girls allowed) and how the simplest of adventures always point back to who you trust for your future. I know who I trust. I think I’ll sign up for the next faith adventure (and dress like a boy).
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Not only do the sponsored students get field trips with ACE each year, but we take the entire grade with us — and this season was no different. Students in primary schools study local community and government just like in the states. Remember when you were young and went on a field trip to the capitol or maybe the police station? Our little ones get the same experience. With ACE providing the means and schedule, our students enjoyed the day in Port Maria, learning all about their local community.
We visited the police station where students received a talk from the sergeant about safety and laws, then the mayor gave the students his undivided attention to answer questions. Another group was addressing letters to themselves and mailing them from the post office. The funny part about this field trip is that our own ACE staff seemed to enjoy it as much or more than the students. We even learned that our grown adults had never addressed and stamped and mailed a letter at their own post office. A real change in times, right? What a great experience for everyone!
After lunch with patties, the students received the finale at the fire station, where they got to climb into the firetruck and hold a hose spraying water. Is it any wonder all our third graders decided they wanted to be part of local government? Jobs like fireman, policeman, and postal attendant were all at the top of their lists, but no one wanted to be mayor! Perhaps it was the big desk he sat behind that looked very large or scary. Either way, we are grateful for our local servants in Port Maria for making the two days of field trips very educational and fun.
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While it is now officially spring, ACE had an incredible winter season in Jamaica. Our 10th annual Men and Women’s Conference turned out to be a huge success, even with many changes taking place.
For ten years, God has provided ACE with wonderful teachers, musicians, and volunteers to set the stage for our three-night conference, a conference that began years ago with only six attendees in a church in Trinity. While numbers are not a true sign of success, we must admit having more than six attend encourages us that we are moving in the right direction. With over a 150 attending this year’s conference, held at the beautiful Galina Breeze Hotel, our theme was “Be Doers, not just Hearers”.
And doers we were! Our regular worship leaders could not attend this year, so that left Allen and Marla to sing and lead worship – just kidding! Actually, as He always does, God came through and provided two worship leaders from the Atlanta area and a young couple already in Jamaica to come together for the first time and deliver three incredible nights of music and worship.
Our wonderful Pastor Helen showed up each evening to deliver a supernatural inspired message to all the women as we crowded into the Henry Morgan room to soak up the atmosphere. And what an atmosphere – very calming, peaceful, and yet energizing at the same time. The men crowded into to the Louise Bennet room downstairs, engaged in the ongoing conversation and teaching of Dave Duff and the other men on his team. Thank you to the long-standing work of Trinity on the Hill and the many individuals who gave up vacation days to volunteer their time and talent! Our 10th Annual Conference was once again a big success and a confirmation that little can be much when God is in it.RETURN TO NEWSLETTER
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.
Royal Ambassadors of Mason Hall was formed by a high school graduate in the United States. Trent, in lieu of a gift for graduating from 12th grade, wanted to send ACE some treasure to impact the boys without fathers that he got to know and spend time with at Mason Hall. Today, because of his love for others, we are on our second year of the RAMH Boys Club, where every Thursday, we have over a dozen boys from 3rd grade to 6th attending our leadership program after school. Our ACE men – Richard, D’Vaun, and Nicalos – all take an active role in meeting, teaching, studying, playing and most of all serving as role models for these young boys seeking attention anyway they can get it.
This is just one example of how God, through ACE, has touched the hearts of volunteers over the years. Trent could have been done with his week of service, but he didn’t stop when his plane landed. The idea was planted and he followed through, which gave ACE employees an opportunity to make a bigger impact on the community, which in turn may inspire these boys to create a better world for themselves and their families. The cycle is ever-growing. One life changed becomes many lives changed.
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.
Most Americans never think about the fact that Thanksgiving is not a holiday celebrated in Jamaica. In fact, it’s only been the past few years that the local restaurants advertise a special meal to tourists for this day. ACE was fortunate enough to participate in what we would call a real Thanksgiving event just days before we sit down to a marvelous dinner with family and friends.
Mr. Irons is a relatively new resident who has some unknown sickness. Since ACE visits and feeds our infirmary residents three times a week, we see new men and women arriving quite often. As we got to know Mr. Irons a little better, we began to talk about simple topics like his family, where he is from, what he used to do, etc.
As the conversation went on, the question came, “Do you have any children?” Almost immediately, tears began to stream down his face as he began to cry. We sat and waited. The answer was soft, but we could still understand him… “Yes, I have four boys, one 16 and the others are triplets, they are 10.”
He paused. “And I long to see them.”
Speeding forward and with a little detective work, we located the family. They live in the Highgate area with their mother. With the mother’s permission, we picked up the boys and brought them to the infirmary to see their father, who undoubtedly looked much different to them. He was overcome with the joy of seeing his sons. The time was short as children are really not supposed to be at the infirmary, but the visit was good.
As we dropped the boys off at the taxi stand and gave them some taxi and food money, my mind still needed to sort out what had just happened. Did we do the right thing? Was it worse to not see each other in the condition their father was in, or was it what was needed to remind them that their father loves them and misses them? We’re not sure, but the last words the oldest son said to us as he got out of the bus were, “Thank you. I will come back next Friday.” And for that, we are thankful…
Thanksgiving comes in many different size packages. Find the joy where you least expect it.
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.