Fall Update 2023
On Our Way Back: A window view of the setting sun glistening over the city of Merida, Yucatan.
Dear Friends & Family,
After settling back in Merida, we’re glad to finally sit down and greet you in this post. We pray that you are safe and well. After traveling in the States for two months through different time zones, from Seattle to New Jersey to Houston, packing, re-packing and lugging three huge suitcases, we came back to Mexico at the end of September pretty much depleted.
Despite the cansancio (fatigue), we are happy to return to the normalcy of life here even if it means being woken up by the blaring music from the gym across the street and catching up with errands in 90-degree weather.
We thoroughly enjoyed our travels to our supporting churches and donors in Washington state. We had planned to start off our journey by visiting our friends at FPC of Lebanon, Oregon but, unfortunately, coming down with COVID prohibited us from making that trip. After recovering, our trip went fast and before we knew it, we were on our way to New Jersey for training with Living Waters for the World. (More on this further in the update.)
Coming back to Yucatan this time around was different without Kawika, who has always been our travel partner. Since he was a toddler, during our flights back to Yucatan, he'd always be excited to see Merida from the skies and watch the ground crews work outside the airplane window. We always enjoyed those moments watching him.
Our goodbyes in Seattle were emotional as expected. Inez had dreams of Kawika as a little boy the week before he left and cried for 30 minutes after leaving him at Seattle Pacific University before leaving Washington state. But it helped to see him happy and ready to start a new chapter in his life. An immense blessing from God, as this is what we prayed and hoped for all along.
And then there were our goodbyes to our grandkids Ethan and Sophia. As we said goodnight and tucked them in bed the night before we left Seattle, both began crying not wanting us to go while Malia and Adam comforted them. When Malia tried to convince Ethan that the time would pass quickly before seeing us again, he responded: “But this is different. When it’s love, time goes slower.” The quote of a lifetime!
"But this is different. When it's love, time goes slower."
As our grandchildren get bigger and with Kawika in college, we are praying that, God willing, we'll be able to make yearly trips back to the States during the four years Kawika’s in school.
We realize with life transitions come pain and with pain, growth. We are so thankful to each of you for coming alongside us in our journey. To know that we are backed by your prayers, support and love, encourages us to keep serving in Yucatan.
We are excited to share about our travels, the teams that will be coming next year and what we learned at the Living Waters for the World’s Clean Water U. And finally, we'll tie in the special moments during our trip in Inez's reflection on water. Please be sure to read our prayer requests and Tidbits further along in this update. Thank you for your support, prayers and interest in our ministry. We are blessed by you!
Blessings & Aloha,
Byron & Inez
In This Issue:
Visits to Supporting churches in WA state
Clean Water U & Chalmuch Water Plant Project
The Spiritual Side of Water Ministry
Other Updates: SC church & upcoming projects in Akil
Travel Reflections on Water - by Inez
A Shout Out of Thanks
How to Donate
Visits to Supporting Churches in WA. State
Five o'clock in the trees over Lake Sammamish, WA
Being a non-furlough year for us, our two-month trip to the states was shorter than previous trips. Yet, it was intense, and we were able to cover a lot of ground – from visiting supporting churches in the area, Kawika settling into college, a trip to Alaska and ending our travels in New Jersey before heading back to Yucatan. And, in between all of this, reuniting with family and a lot of fun catching up with our grandchildren. Here’s a recap of our trip:
First Presbyterian Church of Lebanon, Oregon
Unfortunately, we began our travels falling ill and had to miss our visit with FPC of Lebanon, Oregon, and a memorial service for Doug Benson, one of Byron’s college fraternity brothers in Portland. We are grateful to our friends in Lebanon who prepared to host us in their homes (Debbie Stalley, Dennis & Corinne Pearson) and receive us at church. We are grateful for your prayers over us and your continued financial support of our ministry. We miss you and look forward to being able to see you next time.
Calvin Presbyterian Church, WA
Thanks to God, we rebounded and were able to present at our home church, Calvin Presbyterian, both during service and during an informational “Street Tacos” luncheon for our upcoming water plant in Chalmuch. We had the privilege of having Laura and Brian Alonso from Rolling Bay Presbyterian church (RBPC) with us.
As mentioned in earlier posts, RBPC has partnered with us constructing the buildings to house Living Waters for the World water purification systems. In February, RBPC will also help construct the building in Chalmuch, and in March, train the folks there on how to install and maintain the system after construction is completed. (More on that later.)
Also present was the Northwest University Women’s volleyball team, with coach Steve Bain, who will also be partnering with us to construct the water plant building in March. During the luncheon, generous hearts contributed toward the volleyball team's construction costs of this project.
Loving On Us: The evening before the service, we were able to reunite with our Calvin Action Team for dinner and we all were graciously served an amazing paella dinner by our hosts, Dennis & Kaye Ostgard. Meeting up with the team members, who have been by our side for these last two decades, always gives us a sense of renewal and great encouragement.
So, thank you, Ostgards, for your hospitality and the rest of our Action Team for welcoming us back and to Calvin Presbyterian for your generosity and support of this project and our ministry.
Muchas gracias to Steve & Betsy Bain for preparing all the delicious tacos at the church luncheon. And especially to the Northwest University Women’s Volleyball team, who will be helping to construct the plant building. It was awesome that you could attend the event with us. And just as much, we are grateful to all those who came to listen and learn about this project and contributed toward it.
First Presbyterian Church of Everett, WA
Each time we drive up and turn on Rockefeller Avenue in Everett, we know what awaits us: Smiling faces, hearty laughter, and lots of bear hugs. It was great to update Pastor Alan and our friends at FPC on our ministry and for Kawika to receive such warm graduation congratulatory greetings. After service, we were treated to a BBQ luncheon at the Roberts’ lovely beach home overlooking the water and Camano Island. Kawika was surprised (and so were we!) with a graduation cake and a video call from Darcie Cooper, who has led construction teams to Yucatan, and her husband Jack, who were in Oklahoma at the time. It was a blessing for him to hear such endearing words and encouragement heading into college at Seattle Pacific University.
Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church (RBPC), WA
RBPC is located on Bainbridge Island and to get there, you can take a beautiful ferry ride over the Puget Sound. We’ve experienced some of the most amazing scenes of nature during our boat rides out there – including watching flock of birds skimming just above the open waters while the sunlight brushes a shimmering delight across the velvety sound. It’s no wonder we look forward to these trips, despite the long wait to embark.
When we arrived on the island, we were welcome by our hosts, Laura & Brian Alonso, who invited a group of “newbies”, who were interested in our upcoming water plant project, over for a potluck dinner. We were able to present our ministry and answer questions on top of enjoying a vast array of food. The next evening, Cory and Molly Dunn hosted an “alum” potluck dinner where we reunited with past team members and answered questions from those who will be returning to Yucatan next year.
Then on Sunday, Inez presented an update during minute for missions, and Byron delivered a sermon on shepherding and reaching out to the next generation (Gen Z) of believers. We left the island refreshed and excited for our upcoming Living Waters for the World training in New Jersey with a group of three people representatives from RBPC.
Clean Water U and Upcoming Water Plant Project in Chalmuch, Yucatan
Living Waters for the World instructors and staff with Clean Water U graduates in New Jersey
After a hands-on, 5-day training workshop nestled in the quiet wilderness surrounding the Johnsonburg Camp & Retreat Center in New Jersey, we received our certificates from Living Waters for the World’s (LWW) Clean Water U. Three fellow team members from Rolling Bay Presbyterian church also completed the training with us. Laura Alonso and Byron attended the 101 Water Project Management & Relation Development course, Inez the 102 Health & Spiritual Education class, and Dan Nordmark and Brian Glover enrolled in the 103 Water System & Maintenance Operation workshop. All three curriculums set a strong foundation for long-term sustainability and each with equal importance.
During the week, we were engaged with not only workshop lessons, but with interactive gatherings, presentations and daily worship in the mornings and evenings. There were 33 graduates, not including instructors and staff. It was wonderful to meet and be with other passionate people from churches and ministries from all over the U.S. to bring clean water to the world. Special thanks to Kendall Cox and the rest of the LWW staff and volunteers for putting together an excellent workshop.
What's Next After Training?
Now that RBPC has three Clean Water U graduates, the church has officially become a LWW Initiating Partner (IP). As international partners on the ground in Yucatan, we can help support RBPC in this endeavor now that we have completed training as well.
Our next step is to receive RBPC's development team in November and together with the local Yucatan Network, we will be meeting the leaders of the Solo Cristo Salva church (SCS) in Chalmuch to introduce the system management plan as well as sign a covenant agreement of partnership and responsibilities between RBPC and SCS.
SCS has nearly completed the foundation of the building and will soon begin columns and walls. If all goes well, the construction of the building is scheduled to be completed in March. By then, the water plant system, funded by RPBC, will be ordered and received. As well, our education materials organized and packed for the next stage: Implementation.
After construction, an implementation team from RBPC will arrive to train the SCS water committee, local health educators, and system operators on how to install, operate, maintain and troubleshoot issues that may arise with the system.
And then: Celebration! RBPC and SCS will coordinate a special community gathering to mark the inauguration of the water plant; and the best of all, clean water will be produced from the plant and distributed to all attendees.
Still, our work won't be over. The next phase in working with the SCS church is sustainability. That’s when we and RBPC will stay connected and make return visits to the Chalmuch over three years, listen to the church’s successes and difficulties of both running the plant and providing ongoing education to the community -- and then discuss ways to improve operation and reach sustainability goals.
As you can see, we are gearing up for a lot of work, so we ask for your prayers for God’s guidance and clarity. As we walk in faith in this collaboration, we want to thank:
RBPC for its missional investment and compassion to better lives in Yucatan.
Calvin Presbyterian, for covering our travel and hotel room in New Jersey.
LWW for covering our tuition and lodging at the Johnsonburg Camp & Retreat Center.
Laura Alonso, Dan Nordmark and Brian Glover of RBPC for your commitment and sacrifice of time to attend the Clean Water U and Lori Glover who will be training the local educators along with Inez.
We look forward to seeing and working with you again next month in Chalmuch!
The Spiritual Side of Water Ministry
Congregants from Rolling Bay Presbyterian watch Maria & Isaias share praises to God because of water ministry.
So far, we've talked about the technicalities and timeline involved with our upcoming water plant project in Chalmuch. But the water ministry encompasses so much more, including bringing others to faith such as this lovely Maya couple, Maria & Isaias. When people see the church work hard together to provide a tangible service such as producing clean water for its community, they respond with deep gratitude not just for this service, but for the love they receive and to God for his faithfulness and provision.
Thanks to our friends Marcos & Selmi in Maní, we were able to share the following video they presented to us to help others understand the spiritual aspect of the ministry. Some of you have seen this during our recent visits. We pray that you will all be blessed watching this beautiful testimony.
Other Updates: S.C. Teams and Upcoming Projects in Akil
Prior to our travels to the states, we received an email from a wonderful pastor who we had the privilege to work with building homes in the pueblo of Muna years ago. Pastor Scott has since relocated from Florida to South Carolina and now works on church plants and organizes mission outreach around the world. During our trip, we were able to connect with him via Zoom, and it was a pleasure to see and catch up with a friend after so much time.
We are happy to report that he’ll be sending two teams to work with us next year from Mitchell Road Presbyterian church (Engage the World ministry). The first team will arrive in March, shortly after the Northwest University volleyball team leaves. The group will be made up of young adults, and they’ll be helping the Filadelfia church members in Akil with their new roofing. The second team, made up of high school youth, will also be working in Akil in July on a new home. We are excited to receive these teams and introduce them to our friends at the Filadelfia church. This past Sunday, we had the blessing to meet with Pastor Emanuel and the session board there to begin planning, and they are thrilled to be able to work with Mitchell Presbyterian church.
Travel Reflections on Water
- by Inez:
One morning at the Johnsonburg Camp & Retreat Center in New Jersey, I took in the beauty of the early, morning fog gently rolling across Glover Pond lake. Stunned by nature, I was reminded of this scripture:
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2).
I thought about how the Holy Spirit is described as life-giving water in the Bible and how waters such as lakes, rivers and oceans are teemed with life in and above them. I considered how waters have made it possible for human civilizations to exist. Waters that have and still connect communities together throughout centuries. Which made me think of another moment on our trip back to the U.S.
During our travels, we were gifted with an incredible opportunity to join Byron’s Kamehameha High School alumni from Hawaii on an Alaskan cruise. The highlight of the cruise was during a port stop in Juneau, Alaska.
There, we had the privilege of sharing an evening of intercultural exchanges between the Kamehameha alumni and citizens of the Tlingit & Haida tribes. It was a unique and special gathering of indigenous people and an excursion of a lifetime. The relationship between the natives of Hawaii and Alaska goes back a thousand years connected by sea voyages.
Just back in the 1990s, the Hawaiians set off to build a second voyage canoe. They discovered there was a lack of healthy and accessible Koa wood large enough to build a double-hulled canoe for long distance voyaging. So, the Polynesian Voyage Society called upon its native Alaskan brothers for help and was generously gifted two Sitka spruce logs, allowing them to craft their second canoe, Hawai’iloa, using traditional materials. Prior to a voyage launch this summer in Juneau, the Hokule’a crew made a heritage sail to different Alaskan indigenous communities to say thank you and a fulfill a promise to bring the canoe to the Alaskan waters.
Looking out at the ocean from the cruise ship, I contemplated how waters also allow for relationships to foster throughout generations. And as I thought about it, I began having an even deeper appreciation of such a precious resource as water given to us by God.
Now back in Merida, I think of the ancient Maya in Yucatan who engineered water cisterns in lime-stone caves to collect rainwater because the region lacks rivers or lakes to depend on. Instead, its source is from underground reservoirs of water also known as cenotes (or natural sinkholes). Often called hidden gems in Yucatan's landscape, cenotes are breathtaking to see.
And when I remember the rolling fog across Glover pond lake in New Jersey, I think of God’s presence when he created the world and saw that it was good.
Yet, as many of us realize, humans have contaminated global precious resources of clean water through the use of pollutants, bacteria and waste - including plastic pollution. In Yucatan, raw water is not safe for consumption and scientists have forecasted water pollution could compromise the reserves by 2030 if initiative goals are not met.
One of the points made in the education component of Clean Water U is that by providing purified water through a proper treatment system, we can help rectify our human error by helping communities gain access to drinking water.
The rolling fog across the lake.
People connected by sea voyages across the ocean.
Collection of rainwater deep below the earth’s surface to sustain life.
These are images that will accompany me as we forge into the water plant project in Chalmuch. And when we see purified water coming forth from the new plant and see young and old alike drinking the water, it will be good.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. -- Isaiah 44:3 NIV
A Shout Out of Thanks!
In gratitude to the Lord for the amazing goodness he has shown us during our travels, we want to give a shout out to all of our wonderful hosts, in addition to those already mentioned in this post, who made our travels possible and a great blessing.
Malia & Adam for your royal treatment and patience during our stay. Among many other things, thank you for organizing an amazing luau graduation party for Kawika and for gifting us your car. To Aunty Sharon & Aunty Michele for all the ono Hawaiian food. And to the rest of our ohana and close family friends who welcomed us back and encouraged our graduate with your gifts and words.
Dan & Sunny Coppin for hosting our traditional poke dinner together in your home. Always a treat!
Dottie & Alan Villesvik (FPC) for a delicious egg souffle breakfast in your home and introducing us to your wonderful community of friends at The Meadows.
Gracias Laura & Brian Alonso for hosting us at your home on Bainbridge Island.
Barbara and Dave Rood for the wonderful afternoon there in Edmonds.
Pam & Cliff Bickford, and Pete & Angel Down, for taking time to meet up with us.
Mahalo sis’ta Michele for the ono meal at Bobby’s Restaurant.
Mahalo to you too sis’ta Shalena for all the meals you cooked for us and the gang.
Dan Nordmark, and Sharon & Rick Sheppard, for all your help with the car.
Mahalo for ‘72 classmates, especially Debbie & Duane for all you did for the class.
Fun breakfast with you Mickey Hanson.
Malia, Adam & Shalena for checking-in Kawika into SPU.
All those that played a part to celebrate our Kawika at this new stage of life for him.
And for each supporter and friend who took the time to meet up with us during our tight and limited schedule. Gracias!
Prayer Requests For:
Christ to be exalted by using the water ministry and our other projects.
Our preparation for our upcoming teams in November, February, March and July.
God’s protection over our health during the dengue season (normally ends by November).
Byron's continued bout with his heel. Pray that we will find a good physical therapist.
To help us be clear communicators as we witness God’s love in our new role with LWW.
To bring a speedy resolution for our dear elderly friend Doña Magda who has been suffering from kidney pain but whose surgery has been postponed twice since last year due to a malfunctioning machine at the government hospital.
To bring peaceful resolutions to two separate property line battles involving members of two Christian families close to our hearts.
To protect and deepen Kawika's understanding of the whys and purpose of his Christian faith as he examines those questions in college.
Tidbits in Yucatan
Hey, is there anyone out there, besides us, who loves chocolate? Did you know that chocolate hails from Mexico and was brought a step closer to its modern form by the Maya here? Known as cacao, it is often used in Mexican cuisine to lend a distinctive rich and bitter flavor, such as in the popular and ubiquitous mole sauces here. You can find cacao in beauty lotions, soap and shampoos, too. But for us, we're content to indulge in its simpler form of candy bars, and Inez enjoys finely grounded cacao in her coffee and sprinkled on her pancakes.
Origin of the Name "Yucatan"
And did you know that the name Yucatan never originated from a place nor an important ruler? Depending on which story you hear, it is said that when the Spaniards arrived and asked the locals what they called the place, the Maya answered their questions with the phrase “Uh Yu Ka T'ann”, which means “Hear how they talk.” Or "Tectetan," which translates to "I don't understand you." In other words …. a name given because of a misunderstanding. Ummm, sort of like how Don Corleone got his name after he went through customs as a kid.
Gracias For Reading Amigos!
Dios Los Bendiga! God Bless You
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 “Inez 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."
For Personal Gift Contributions
All personal gifts are non-tax deductible and must be sent to our U.S. address:
1918 214th CT SE
Sammamish, WA 98075
Payable to Byron K. Ahina, Inez T. Ahina or Byron Kawika Ahina
You can also make a Zelle transfer and find us through our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.