Fall 2021 Update
Porvenir Beach Camp, Yucatán -Photo by Kawika Ahina
Dear Friends & Family,
November's here and how sweet it is. First, the weather's certainly cooler (mid 80s), and we finally get to turn off the car air conditioning and drive around with the windows down. You don't know how liberating that is until you live in a hot climate like Yucatán.
And even better news. Just today, Yucatán's "traffic light" monitoring risk system has changed to green, with mask wearing and social distancing still in place. We expect to have more information of how this will affect us in the upcoming days in regards to loosening of restrictions. Truly exciting!
With COVID cases finally declining since a strong wave hit the region this summer, we feel a sense of relief and tranquility. And yet, we know that under the surface, God is using rough currents to make things new.
Amid struggle, we have seen the fruits of gratitude, brotherly love and perseverance in his church. We’ll touch on more of these thoughts as we share about our recent visits to rural churches and the hardships that our brethren in Yucatan continue to endure due to COVID, loss and injustice.
We thank you for your prayers and support for our family and life & ministry in Yucatan. It's our hope, God willing, that we will continue to see a steady downward trend in cases and that we can begin to gradually receive work teams again. Please be sure to read our How You Can Help section and how you can pray for our ministry.
Blessings & Aloha as you prepare for the upcoming holiday season,
Byron, Inez & Kawika
In This Update:
Reflections: Our Visits to Kimbila, Tikinmul and Maxcanu
Special Prayer Request for Camp Porvenir leaders
Struggling through COVID (Update on Pastor Emanuel's health)
Reciting the Apostles Creed in multiple languages
How You Can Help & Prayer Requests
Update on Cristino's House: It's finished!
Tidbits on life in Merida:
-Catching up with Cheli (our ministry cook)
-135th church anniversary of El Divino Salvador church in Merida
-More of Hawaii in Merida?
Reflections: Our Visits to Kimbila, Tikinmul & Maxcanu
That I may come to you with joy, by God's will, and in your company be refreshed.
Traveling on familiar roads to the pueblos is rejuvenating because we know what’s ahead of us: Smiling faces, genuine greetings and good laughs. The smell of warm tortillas and food cooked over wood. Conversations that go deep into the heart. Feeling at home. A time of refreshment.
With joy, we share our recent experiences on the road. Our visits with the brothers and sisters in rural churches gave us insight as to how the Lord is producing fruit in each of them.
Kimbila: Gratitude & Genuine Praise
In our last update, we wrote about how we helped Jose Alonso, a young Christian man, by helping him purchase necessary tools to begin his auto workshop business in Kimbila. All this was made possible through North Creek Presbyterian Church and the Serving His Servants Foundation and Pamela Bickford who was our liaison between the two.
In September, we traveled to Kimbila to attend a service of thanksgiving organized by Jose Alonso and his wife, Perla, for the blessings of health and provision they received during the pandemic, including the generous help they received to start up their business.
During our visit, we stepped into the home of Benjamin, Jose Alonso’s father-in-law who we had just met for the first time. On his wall hung a single, rectangular photo of Seattle with Mount Rainer in the background. Yes, Seattle. Our home city, nearly 6,000 miles away.
Not something we expected in the middle of a small, Mayan pueblo.
From left: Don Benjamin, Jose Alonso and Byron in Kimbila
Turns out, many years ago, unknown to us and Jose Alonso, Benjamin and his family had visited Seattle with the help of our friend and retired pastor, Will Ackles, from Calvin Presbyterian. We were astounded. First there was the connection between our friend Pamela Bickford of NCPC on Jose Alonso’s side and now another close connection on Perla’s side.
Coincidence? We’ll side with prayers and God’s sovereignty. We believe it was God’s way of showing us that he connects his body of believers in mysterious ways. After all, like scriptures say, we aren't strangers but fellow citizens and members of the same household of God.
Jose Alonso and Perla publicly offering a service of gratitude to the Lord.
The intimate, outdoor service lifted our spirits. The clear, melodious singing praises of those in attendance made Psalm 100:1 jump out of our Bible:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Come into his presence with singing! Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
We were also able to deliver words from Pamela to Jose and Perla, and Inez was asked to do the closing prayer. Afterwards, we joined the brothers and sisters for a wonderful meal of empanadas and sandwiches. Their simple, yet profound gratitude of “Hoy, hay comida!” (Today, there is food!) takes nothing for granted and gives cause for celebration of every blessing given to us.
We drove back to Merida inspired by the hearts of Jose Alonso and Perla who make it a priority to be celebratory, intentional and focused in their gratitude and praise to God.
Please join us in prayer for this couple’s business endeavor. The two have faced some setbacks with their grand opening due to illness (Covid-like symptoms, not confirmed) but will continue with their plans as they’re now healthy again.
For now, they've come up with their new business name, Alper (Al for Alonso and Per for Perla), and created the following logo. May the Lord bless their vision and gratitude of heart!
Tikinmul: Brotherly and Sisterly Harmony
Working with COVID contingencies: The Principe de Paz church holding services in its recently built outdoors court.
We’re also thankful for being able to visit our wonderful friends in Tikinmul, Campeche (the state south of Yucatan). We were able to worship with them outdoors under the Principe de Paz church’s new “cancha” next to the water plant that Rolling Bay Presbyterian helped build back in 2019.
Although one of the sisters, who leads the children ministry, shared about how sad it’s been not to have classes and activities due to contingencies, Pastor Ricardo told us that the pandemic hasn’t stopped the church from meeting in small groups and assembling for service on Sundays. It was evident by the large number of people who attended service.
We sensed a strong brotherly and sisterly harmony that’s alive and reviving when the brethren are together. It was a great time to greet the congregation, and one of the elders joked that they should build us a house in Tikinmul (hey, not a bad idea!).
After service, we had a pleasant afternoon spending time with Pastor Ricardo, his wife, Bertha, and friends who work at the church water plant.
Left: Las hermanas, Iliana and Aurora, who deliver water, & their family. Right: With plant operator Alejo and his family.
We also had the chance to see the truck the church had recently purchased for its water ministry made possible from sale proceeds. Until then, the church had been renting a truck for deliveries. Unfortunately, that truck broke down earlier this year. As a result, the women who deliver the water jugs had to resort to distributing water on a cargo tricycle in the hot weather.
We give thanks to the Lord for his provision for this ministry and the strong unity of this church!
Maxcanu: Working Through Adversity
The Emanuel church kitchen project in Maxcanu continues to progress slowly but surely. As you may recall, a Michigan church team had planned to come and help with the construction last year but ended up graciously funding the cost of materials.
Maxcanu has reportedly been hit hard from the virus, including the COVID death of the mayor there last year. We thank the Lord, that despite setbacks due to COVID cases, restrictions and fear of the virus, the brothers continue to work gradually on the kitchen. It hasn’t been easy, but now most of the work has been completed. The brothers only have some plumbing left to be done and are waiting for the electrical utility to connect the power.
We give thanks because the brothers have not stopped nor neglected the project. We confess, at times, we found the work speed discouraging but remind ourselves that it is by God’s grace and timing (not ours!) that the kitchen will be brought to completion for his purpose. Who dare despises the day of small things? (Zechariah 4:10)
So, with every phase done, we give joy to Christ.
Meeting with project leader Benjamin (in blue shirt) and family at Doña Magda's house in Maxcanu.
Special Prayer Request for Camp Porvenir
Camp Ministry: Fighting the Good Fight
Kawika (front left, striped shirt) participating in an earlier Porvenir camp retreat on the coast with other youth.
The leaders of Camp Porvenir, a well-known Christian camp ministry here on the golf coast, have been under fiery trial. A couple of the lots on the property were purchased illegally by a federal judge who’s suing the camp board members for "trespassing and damaging" protected flora and fauna with fabricated evidence. The camp ministry, began in the 60s, by the Legters, beloved American missionaries, who have served in Yucatan throughout the decades.
The camp ministry has special meaning to our family. Our daughter, Malia, has fond memories there when we served on a Calvin missions’ team to build a sports court, and Kawika has participated in several youth camps there. Early on in our ministry, Inez was invited to lead an altar call for children to accept Christ. Many come to know Jesus’ grace and salvation through the service these leaders do.
Before the first court hearing, we prayed outside of the courthouse for God’s justice and a fair trial with the board president, attorneys and others. The next court hearing is scheduled for November 21st.
Please join us and many others in the Yucatan Peninsula in prayer against the corruption and darkness in this situation. We ask that you lift up all those involved, especially our good friend Jean Legters and her family as they trust in the Lord as this unfolds. And may the Lord open doors for the camp leaders to share their faith with their accusers.
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! -Isaiah 30: 18
Struggling through COVID-19
In everything there's a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecc 3:1). Our good friend and electrician, Carlos, has learned this while in isolation. He contracted COVID just as his mother, Irma, a dear sister in faith, passed away a couple of weeks ago. While recovering, he told us that he believes God has used his quarantine to help him accept his mother’s death. When he returns to work, he'll need to face the absence of his mother's presence because his workshop and office (which belonged to his late father, also an electrician) are on the same property where Irma lived. This is just one the cases of loss and grief that people we've been praying for have gone through during the last COVID wave. As we pray for our friends like Carlos and others who have recently lost loved ones, we pray over them with John 14:18:
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Update on Pastor Emanuel from the Filadelfia church in Akil
In our last update, we asked for prayers as Pastor Emanuel was just beginning to show signs of COVID symptoms. We give praise to God that he and his wife Mari have since recovered from the virus. Because they suffered the illness at the same time, they sent their toddler children to be with family in another village. You can imagine their reunion as a family after 21 days of being separated. We ask that you continue to pray for them as Emanuel and Mari still battle with fatigue, and the children have been combating throat and stomach infections. Thanks to the Lord, with the help of donations, we were able to cover their cost of COVID tests, medical expenses and food for the family.
The Apostles Creed in Multiple Languages with Pastor Emanuel
Speaking of Pastor Emanuel, we were invited to say the Apostles Creed for our home church, Calvin Presbyterian, a couple of months ago. The creed summarizes the core and central truths of our faith in Christ. Pastor Emanuel joined us in our video reciting it in Maya, while Byron said it in Hawaiian and Kawika and Inez in Spanish.
You can click below or copy the link below and watch the video on your browser.
How You Can Help & Prayer Requests
Prayerfully consider donating toward food and/or health expenses for families in need. As the pandemic has continued to negatively affect finances, there are people in the church, like Pastor Emanuel, who lack resources to make ends meet, especially when illnesses arise.
($35 toward a 2-week food package or $30 toward COVID medical expenses)
Pray for the Lord's guidance as we cast our vision for the next year. During our meeting with our local pastor advisors, we discussed possible projects, the needs of the church and its communities, and new ideas coming out of the pandemic. Churches continue to ask us for help with construction projects and there may be opportunities to build other water plants with Living Waters. As these plans develop more, we’ll keep you updated. Meanwhile, please pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading in our ministry.
Pray for the financial state of churches here. Please pray the Lord would provide a marked improvement in Yucatan's economy and job openings as restrictions lift. We've been told that churches in the city are struggling to make ends meet.
Pray for our continued health as restrictions open up, such as possible in-person classes for school and larger public gatherings. Inez is still looking for a specialist for her thyroid biopsy. Praise to Christ, Byron has mostly recovered from his heat stroke with seldom dizziness getting out of bed.
And pray for Kawika who is currently preparing for his SAT college exam in December.
Update on Cristino's House for Paty: It's Finished!
A reason to rejoice: Cristino and his family have completed the house for his daughter Paty and granddaughter. Once again, our sincere gratitude to all of you who have helped this family in their time of difficulty.
Tidbits on life in Merida
What's new with Cheli, our beloved ministry cook
A few weeks ago, we caught up with some of our favorite people in Merida. Many of you who have served with us in Yucatan probably are wondering how Cheli's doing.
Both she and her husband Francisco, who’s also served with our teams, have underlying health conditions. So, from the start of the pandemic, her adult sons convinced them both to stay isolated at a Christian retreat center just outside of Merida where Francisco takes care of the property.
For anyone who knows Cheli, you know how much she loves being around people and how cooking for teams energizes her. Needless to say, the loneliness has been challenging on them, but they have remained healthy. With visits from her family and now being able to return home with her husband every week, she has learned to adjust over the last year and a half.
Her son Obed, a culinary arts teacher and chef, recently renovated the front room of her home to open a restaurant business. It’s no surprise that she passed down her love for cooking to Obed who’s also used his talent and compassion to cook for the needy during the COVID shut down. So, when she invited to try out his food, we were eager participants!
Obed’s food is amazing. He’s definitely inherited his mother’s touch. And best of all, he features ingredients which are locally raised and grown in the pueblos known for these products. Like smoked ham from Temozon, fruit from Oxcutzcab and sought-after honey produced here since pre-hispanic times . An excellent way to promote Yucatecan produce. Cheli’s already thinking of which dishes she would copy for future work teams to try out. Anyone up to it?
A Church that Endures
The Divino Salvador church we attend in Merida just celebrated its 135th anniversary. We continue to worship virtually as a family since Byron's unable to attend due to age restrictions. But what a delight it was to see the sanctuary filled with musicians and the pews occupied. Hopefully, a good sign for what's to come! We look forward to the day when we, of all ages, can return to the temple with reaping a harvest of rejoicing.
More of Hawaii in Merida?
There's a new store, about a quarter mile from our home. It's called Waikiki! But you won't find any flower leis or sandy beaches there. Not even bathing suits...but instead a lot of fun, fancy party balloons! In a previous update, we included a photo of a gift store called "Ohana," just down the road from "Waikiki." (Ohana means family in Hawaiian.) To our dismay, no Hawaiian products sold there, not even Spam. But, hey, the owners liked the name. And this Ohana does too!
Thanks for Reading. Dios Los Bendiga Amigos!
Thank you for your support in prayer and financial giving
For contributions toward our ministry & personal expenses:
If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation, go to MissionDispatch.org, and either go to our missionary page or click on the “Giving” tab and yellow “Donate” tab. Or mail your check payable only to “Mission Dispatch” (not to Yucatan Helping Hands or the Ahinas) to the address below. Be sure to reference “Byron Ahina” on the bottom of the check.
Mission Dispatch / PO Box 641 / Edmonds WA 98020
You can also set up an automatic bill payment through your bank account.
If you wish to make a non-tax-deductible donation, please send a check to our US address:
Payable to: Byron Ahina / 1918 214th CT SE / Sammamish, WA 98075
For contributions toward food relief packages or construction projects:
If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation, go to MissionDispatch.org (see above instructions). All gifts we receive from Mission Dispatch are considered as income to us. Therefore, we will set aside a portion of that gift to cover for IRS taxes.
If you wish to make a non-tax-deductible donation, maximum up to $15,000, please send a check to our U.S. address above and include a brief description note for the purpose of the donation. Example: "These funds are to reimburse Byron and Inez Ahina for __________. The Ahinas did not have any financial gain from this gift."
If you have any questions, please contact us at email@example.com, call us directly at +52 999 129 6227 or leave us a WhatsApp message at the same number. You can also leave us your number as we have unlimited calls to the U.S. Thank you.