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  • Writer's pictureYucatan Helping Hands

Fall 2018 - Just Spent a Month Enjoying the Autumn Colors in the NW, Ministry & Grandchildren

A writer once quipped: An hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again. Anything longer than that, and you start to age quickly.

We write this update while we are in Washington state assisting Malia out with our grandchildren while our son-in-law Adam goes hunting during October. What a joy to be reunited with our daughter and see Adam when he comes back briefly between hunting trips.

Enjoying Fall festivities with Minnie Mouse Mommy (Malia), Snow White Sophia & "Little Orange Fish" Ethan

We are thrilled to return to the Pacific Northwest and make up for lost time with Ethan (2 yrs) and Sophia (6 mo). They make us laugh, and they make us amazed at how the Lord has created such beauty. We are completely in love with them. So we just have to plug in a few cute stories here:

Kawika has proudly and successfully taught Sophia how to mimic him by blowing raspberries with her mouth. She lights up when Kawika starts it and can't wait to imitate him back. The whole reaction thing is mesmerizing to watch. In fact, one early morning, Malia noticed Sophia making strange noises in her crib. You guessed it. Blowing raspberries. Now we're all making raspberries sounds with her.

Inez (who goes by "Lita" for abuelita) has been "duped" by Ethan's incredible negotiating skills. One evening after bathing him, she unsuccessfully tries to persuade him to get him out of the tub. She finally says, "This is it. One more minute." Ethan sadly looks up at her and shows her the two foam dolphins he's been playing with and irresistibly says: "Ethan Dolphin and Lita Dolphin," then adds with the sweetest voice: "5 minutes please."

Ethan also happens to be about the only person we know who can get Byron to exercise regularly, and really puts demands on his grandfather's cardiovascular system. After about half an hour of chasing each other, Byron says, "Okay enough Ethan, grandpa needs to rest." But Ethan has none of it. He takes grandpa's hand and orders, "Run, grandpa, run!" Who needs to hire a fitness trainer when you have grandchildren?

We’ve been wonderfully entertained and incredibly exhausted!

Read on for ministry updates including future mission projects, our water plant in Cantamayec, and how you can partner and pray with us in ministry.

Ministry Updates

During this time, we’ve also been able to speak at and visit with our church friends in the NW, Rolling Bay Presbyterian church on Bainbridge Island, Everett First Presbyterian church, First Presbyterian in Lebanon Oregon and at our home church Calvin Presbyterian in Shoreline, WA.

Enjoying lunch with friends from Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church. RBPC is making plans to return to the Yucatan Peninsular to construct a second water plant building.

Reuniting with team members from Everett First Presb Church who will be return to construct dormitories for the Peninsular Retreat Center in Chuburna, Yuctan.

Hanging out after service with friends at FPC Lebanon who will help with the building of a pastoral house in Akil.

Having Dim Sum (something we don't get to do in Mexico!) with our Calvin Presbytery Church Action Team

Needless to say, October was a whirlwind -- it came and went quickly. We regret that we could not visit with everyone we would've liked to but look forward to seeing more of you during our next furlough this time next year.

Although this has been a short trip, it’s been great to meet up with churches in the area who are planning future mission trips with us: Rolling Bay Presbyterian has approved to help build a new water plant; Everett First Presbyterian will help construct more dormitories for a Christian presbytery beach campsite in Chuburna; and a First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Lebanon, OR, will assist a local church with the building of a pastoral house in Akil.

Join FPC Lebanon mission trip to Yucatán in August

By the way, FPC Lebanon is inviting more people to join their group which consists of about 8-10 people, mostly women. The mission in Akil will be in August this summer. Please prayerfully consider this opportunity. If you are interested, please contact us by clicking the following link to our website:

We are so excited to see these teams return to Yucatan just as much as the churches who will be receiving the groups.

Bethel church in Akil, Yucatan, who will receive a team from Lebanon, Oregon in the summer

Pastor Antonio, Peninsular Presbytery President, and youth from his church send greetings and gratitude to Everett First Presbyterian church who will be helping with the construction of dormitories at the Presbytery Camp Center

Cantamayec Water Plant Update: Bringing Clean Water to the People

Women from Principe de Paz church in Cantamayec visit Esther and provide her with clean water every week

The Principe de Paz church has been busy with its new water ministry in Cantamayec. The church has been distributing water not just to those who come to the plant to purchase it at minimal cost but also by delivering and giving free water to the pubic school, and those in need like the disabled, widows and elderly like Esther (photo above, far right).

In fact, the church's women’s society has been regularly visiting a young widow Silvia (photo on left, inside doorway) whose husband died of cancer a few months ago.

They bring her a free jug of water each week and share the gospel with her. It’s through these visits that she recently accepted Jesus as her savior.

As she grapples with the loss of her husband and finance worries, we praise God that she has found comfort and support through the local church.

Pastor Irving informed us that the church has also been delivering water to schools and other pueblos as well. However, because they have been borrowing a truck to do this, they are not able to consistently provide the water to these areas. So, to raise money for a truck of their own, the church women have begun to sell panuchos (black bean filled tostadas topped pulled pork and vegetables) every week. Please pray that the Lord will help them raise the funds for this need.

Other fundraising opportunities for you to partner with us:

Have you ever wondered how you could contribute to our ministry besides coming on a work team to Yucatan? There are always ways to give and make a difference. Read on to learn more:

Fundraising Request for Community Health Evangelism (CHE) Training

As we continue to feel called to bring ongoing training to the rural churches we serve with on developing ministries that integrate community health and evangelism, we'll also begin fundraising for our second CHE training conference in Mérida and for the Cantamayec Water plant which will focus on micro enterprises. Our goal is to have the CHE Coordinator for México, Pastor Jacob Sotelo, return to Yucatán at the beginning of the year to give these conferences. Please look out for our fundraising announcement coming soon. Meanwhile, to learn more about CHE, please click on the following link here:

Help our Friends in Mérida Make a Difference for Cisteil, an impoverished community in Yucatán

Another fundraising effort we are doing is helping a wonderful, lively and close-knitted group of retired men who we've become friends with at a neighborhood breakfast cafe over the years (photo above). They've decided to put their resources together and make a difference by regularly visiting Cisteil, a pueblo with scarce resources and historical importance. They plan to make monthly trips to visit the indigenous people there and provide them food and clothing and have invited us to come along.

Some historical background about Cisteil: When rebellion leader, Jacinto Canek, planned a campaign against the Spaniards in 1761, word got out to the government about the organized uprising. As a result, the pueblo was burned, demolished and covered with salt. Many were tortured and massacred, including Jacinto Canek who suffered a brutal death. Cisteil was lost from the Peninsular geography until a researcher discovered its location about 50 - 60 years ago. Today, there are less than 100 inhabitants in this pueblo whose economic struggle is still great. This has moved the hearts of our friends deeply as well as ours as they share their story. Please keep this effort in your prayers.

If you'd like to contribute to this cause, please click the link below and send in your donation with a reference: "Cisteil Aid"

Personal praise report: Byron's sister recovering well

While our days go quickly here in the Pacific NW, we’ve been able to be with Byron’s sister Sharon, (in left photo, on far right next to son Ryan), who suffered an aneurysm last month and is recovering remarkably well. Despite fatigue and some headaches, she’s able to do most everything she’s done before. Including cooking our favorite dishes and baking cookies! This is a big answer to prayer as Byron lost his older brother Joe last year to complications after an aneurysm -- as well as his mother when he was just 14 years old. We are so thankful to the Lord for his mercy and grace and to have our fun loving Sharon with us.

Reconnections in Yucatán

Sometimes, in our day of hurrying around, God places people in our midst to break up the routine to remind us who is in control of our schedule.

Early in September, we took Kawika to the dentist, and there sitting in the waiting room was Abel and his wife Ana, a lovely couple from Yobain, a pueblo where we served in the beginning years of our ministry. It was such a joy to see them after many years, and we ended up having Abel, couple of other church brothers and their Pastor Joaquin over for lunch. A few days later, we celebrated their church anniversary service with them on Mexico's Independence Day.

During their service, they told the history timeline of their church and gave thanks for our ministry and the teams from Altadena Valley Presbyterian Church (AVPC) that served with us for making an impact in their community and church. Besides building and repairing a number of homes, AVPC also built the church's dining room and outdoor stage. It was a great reunion and celebration. We were blessed to see the church's former pastor, Florencio, who we had worked with closely during our initial years here (photo above). While he had always inspired us by his humility and hard work ethic, we especially remember his timeliness in a culture that doesn't normally place punctuality as a priority. He'd always start his sermons right on time, even when there were only three people present besides us. His motto is still the same after all these years: "The Lord is always on time, why shouldn't I be?"

The same week we saw Abel at the dentist office, we ran into the son-in-law of Pastor Librado, who, also in the early years of our ministry, often accompanied us on our trips to the pueblos, including Yobain. Pastor Librado and his wife Amelga were such a blessing to us as newcomers back then: She spoke English, and he, knowing all the back and main roads well, taught us how to navigate around the pueblos before GPS and smart phones. We reconnected and laughed together for hours, looking back at all of our adventures.

Right before our trip to Washington state, we were also able to meet with our Mexico ministry advisers over lunch at our home. (A note to our Hawaiian ohana and friends: They especially enjoyed the beef stew and rice!). It was a great time sharing our meal, talking about our families and ministry plans. We are grateful for this group of men: Pastor Ricardo Santana, Pastor Jan "Juan" Van Ee, and Pastor Antonio Reyes (many of you remember Antonio who lived with us in Shoreline for a year as a church intern while he studied English.) We value the work they do as well as their wisdom and foresight.

How thankful we are to the Lord for reminding us of how we got started here and his great love in bringing people to us to guide and care for us throughout our ministry. It's always good to go back to our beginnings to see the glorious extent of God's faithfulness to us.

Our Gratitude

A shout out to our kind hosts during this trip: Malia & Adam Opitz for having us and trusting us with our precious grandchildren; Tim & Melissa Opitz for providing us wheels and making it easier for us to get around; and to Dennis and Corinne Pearson in Lebanon, OR, for their support and treating us with such TLC during our visit there. Also to the churches we visited. Thank you dear friends for giving us your time and encouragement and allowing us to worship with you. And of course, to our Ohana who came to visit us and to Cindy Keyser and Donna Keyser for your support. You all are a refreshment to our souls!

Our Prayer Requests

Please pray with us for the upcoming projects we have, researching and settling on a final site for our next water plant with RBPC and Living Waters for the World, fundraising to host another CHE seminar in Yucatan, the water plant ministry in Cantamayec, our financial support deficits, our need for dental care (bone grafts and implants) and our spiritual growth as we soon begin our 15th year in ministry. To God be the glory.

Muchas gracias and many blessings from Washington State!

Kawika, grandson Ethan and son-in-law Adam enjoying a trip out to the pumpkin farm

A drive out to the country on a sunny day, passing the Snohomish River bridge

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