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  • Writer's pictureYucatan Helping Hands

March - July 2017 Furlough & Family Reunion Trip

Updated: Sep 10, 2018

At the end of our CMDA/USA medical mission trip this past week, we were graciously treated to some R&R with the team in Cancun. On the last morning, I (Inez) woke up early to take a stroll on the beach before the tourist crowds arrived and reflected on the time serving the Lord during the week with the group. As I prayed, strong winds picked up and blew my hair directly straight eastward, just as the palm tree

branches did surrounding me. Instantly, I remembered words to a familiar hymn:

"I, the Lord of wind and flame; I will tend the poor and lame I will set a feast for them; My hand will save Finest bread I will provide; Till their hearts be satisfied I will give My life to them; Whom shall I send?"

This week showed us once again how the Lord holds his people across different countries together at every joint, equipped and building itself in love. This is mirrored with other groups and local churches we partner with as well, including ministry helpers who faithfully work alongside us. How privileged we are to serve with the people God sends. How blessed we are to see how His saving hand is manifested through their love in tending to the broken. We thank the Lord for sending people who surrender their hearts to Christ and for preparing them to do good works by leading them with his Spirit.

Thirteen quick years have passed since we began ministry, and tomorrow we begin another furlough in the United States. We trust the Lord will lead us safely from Florida across the states to Seattle and then to Hawaii for a large Ahina family reunion. I am especially excited to see my mom and siblings. I have not seen them for 7+ years now!

Our schedule is limited since we return to Yucatan on the same arrival day as our next home building team from Everett First Presbyterian. So, although we may not have the opportunity to visit each of you, please know we remain grateful for your encouragement, support and prayers. Blessings to each of you.

Below, we will be posting photos below on this post during our trip along the way. !Saludos!

We're On Our Way!

UPDATE MARCH 2017 - Furlough

* Late March we started our 4 month, 6000 mile furlough with an 8 week drive across the States to visit supporters, churches, friends & family - a different church each Sunday or Wednesday night. We flew into Orlando, Florida - then on to Birmingham & Huntsville in Alabama - Dayton, Ohio - Reinbeck, Iowa - Wichita, Kansas - Midwest City & Edmond both in Oklahoma - Phoenix, Arizona - San Diego, L.A., & Novato in California - Lebanon, Oregon - then a 3 week visit with our daughter Malia, Adam, and grandson Ethan in Sammamish, Washington. To cap it off we joined in the fun to Hawaii for a 4 week family reunion including for Byron’s 45th high-school class reunion. Gracias for all those that provided lodging, meals & fun along the way. See photos below!

* Thanks for  lodging:Both Vic & Cathy, & Dave & Melissa, in Orlando; Mary E. in Huntsville, AL; Bob & Barb in Dayton, OH; Dr. John & family (& mom, Dr. Robin) in Midwest City, OK; Our friend ; Evie and Randy in Phoenix, AZ; Diane & Rick in San Diego; Doug in Compton, CA; Aunty Doris, Moana & George in Novato, CA; Debbie in Lebanon, OR; Malia & Adam in Sammamish, WA; Darcie & parents in Everett; Bill & Chris in Shoreline; Laura & Brian, & friends on Bainbridge Is; Lionel & Yuko in Ewa Beach; Chantal & Ola in Kapolei.

* Special Thanks To:Bill & Les in Orlando for welcoming us back to the U.S.A! Dr. Robert for Inez’s oral surgery in OK; Jeff in Birmingham for providing us lodging in Santa Fe, NM; Sharon Keyser for helping us get around in Hawaii.

With youth Pastor "Antonio" & Sarah, Jeff & AVPC youth

From top l to r: with Darrell & Eleanor in Birmingham, AL; Bob & Barb in Dayton, OH; Janet, Mel, & Pastors Mike & Sheryl in Reinbeck, IA; and Symphony musician Mickey in Wichita KS.

Sunday Worships: (l to r): FPC Reinbeck IA; Byron & Kawika at FPC Lebanon OR; jazz worship at UCC,Wichita KS

A Special Thank You to Dr. Robert Livingston (in photo below with CMDA team) who generously performed Inez's dental bone graft surgery for us at no cost during our stop in Oklahoma. We are grateful for such top-notch care and wonderful attention

From top L to R: Dr. John (& family), Dr. Jab, Joey, Dr. Robin in Mid West City, OK; Dr. Brent & Dana, Edmond OK; With Evie & Randy and bunny friends in Phoenix, AZ; Diane & Rick Signore, San Diego, CA

The Unexpected: An Elephant ride in Waterloo,IA; Watching Mickey perform in the Wichita Symphony; Kawika riding in a red Corvette to Route 66 with Dr. Brent in OK; Cruising the neighborhood in a golf cart with Randy in Phoenix AZ. Thank you to our dear hosts for such adventures!

Awesome to meet Jeff, a Hawaiian, a group leader with AVPC from Birmingham, in the pueblo of Akil ... shaka braddah! And mahalo for covering the cost of lodging while we passed through Santa Fe.

From top l to r: With fellow Duck and Oregon Frat brother Doug Baker in CA; our lovely Lavilla Ohana near San Francisco; Friends from FPC Lebanon, OR; and finally, our Action Team in Shoreline WA


It's springtime and the weather is gorgeous! That means visits to the park with grandson Ethan and lunch at Pike's Place Market before heading to our visit with friends at Rolling Bay Pres on Bainbridge Island

From top l to r: with Shoreline friends Mimma & Chuck; an amazing time with Darcie Cooper & gang at the EFPC Fundraiser for our next home building project in Mani, Yucatan; Early breakfast with Jack & Gretchen Morrison; and lunch after service with Dennis, Kaye, Pastor Neil and Kristi


Byron's 45th Kamehameha High School Reunion

One of the major events we look forward to when returning to Hawaii is Byron's week-long school reunion with events held daily. Kamehameha schools is a private institution which was established by the Hawaiian princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop in 1887 to educate children of Hawaiian descent. As she was a devout Christian, her values of integrity and service are still upheld in the school today:

Mission, Values & Vision

  • Aloha (to have compassion and empathy)

  • ʻImi Naʻauao (to seek wisdom)

  • Mālama (to care for and protect)

  • ʻIke Pono (to know and do what is right)

  • Kuleana (to take responsibility)

  • Hoʻomau (to persevere and perpetuate)

  • Haʻahaʻa (to be humble)

This year, the school celebrated the classes ending in "2" & "7". So having graduated in 1972, Byron celebrated his 45th reunion, sister Sharon her 50th, and sister Ola her 60th. A lot of alumni fly in from out of state and many choose to stay on campus in the dorms. It's beautiful to see the strong bond among classmates and long lasting relationships that were formed since childhood days at Kamehameha. Such a wonderful time for both of us to be with friends that we get to see every 5 years (or when we're able to get back to Hawaii). Mahalo Pauahi for your legacy. Imua Kamehameha!

Top photo: Class of 1972; bottom left: Mahalo Candy (standing behind Kawika) for hosting a lunch at the Golden City Chinese restaurant. Gracias all for being there. Sooo much fun and awesome grinds; bottom right: a wonderful dinner at Nico's with Billie and Nelson. Mahalo amigos for allowing us the use of your SUV for part of our stay on Oahu.

From top l to r: Byron & Kawika performing "the Boy From Lapahoehoe" hula for the 72 class Talent Show; The school reunion included a Paniolo (cowboy) Night; the 3 of us at class night; with Grandma Viola at the Kamehameha Lūʻau

Debbie (the best class rep ever), and Brian, mahalo for all you guys do, not just for our family but all the lives you guys touch including our wonderful class of '72.

Ahina / Lavilla Family Reunion - Wonderful spending time with such a fun-loving gang. This group that also gets together every 5 years is dove-tailed immediately before or after the Kamehameha School reunion as two of Byron's sisters are alumni as well. And to explain: the Ahinas are from Byron's father's (Joseph Ahina Jr) side, and the Lavillas are from his mother's (Sophie Lavilla) side.

From top l to r: With Malia, Adam & Ethan in Waikiki; Byron with siblings Ron, Sharon, Lionel, Ola, Nona & Michele; Inez with Mom Viola; and with her siblings (Jason, Vanessa & Lisa) celebrating Vanessa's birthday at Bravos. An incredible BLESSING to be with our loved ones after so much time.

Hawaiian Heritage

Inez's great, great grandmother Tutu Elizabeth. What a gift to learn more about her Hawaiian ancestry from her mother during this trip. Photo dated circa 1900

From top l to r: Beach stroll with Diamond Head in background; breakfast at the Ilikai (guava chiffon pancakes!) with our Ohana; More family festivities at reunion get together at Kapolei; at Aulani with Uncle Lionel & Aunty Yuko

From top l to r: Malia ordering from Shrimp Shack Truck in Hau'ula; Inez w/ Kay & Mike at Kapolei; Malia, Adam & Ethan look out at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor; Reminiscing at the Royal Hawaiian where we married (not too long ago)

Ohana (family) group photo during circle isle bus tour on Oahu, Hawaii. Awesome & crazy. Great to spend time with family. Mahalo to the Seitz family for organizing all the fun!

Celebration of Life for Herb Weatherwax at Pearl Harbor

Byron's classmate from Kamehameha '72, Mary Elizabeth (dancing the hula in top left of photo collage below) invited us to the celebration of life in honor of her late father, "Uncle Herb" Weatherwax. He died at 99 yrs of age and would have turned 100 yrs old on the day of the celebration. A native Hawaiian Pearl Harbor survivor, he later would be often photographed as a volunteer greeter at Pearl by visitors. He also wrote an autobiography, "Counting My Blessings" and was featured on Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's show Rock The Troops. The ceremony was held at Pearl Harbor, and we were honored and blessed to be among those who loved him dearly. Thank you M.E. for allowing us to be there. It was truly a highlight of our trip back home.

Beautiful memories at the Celebration of Life at Pearl Harbor (close to where Inez grew up). It was a reminder of what it means to serve with the spirit of aloha and the great sacrifice at Pearl by our veterans for our freedom.

Son of Hawai'i

At Walmart (Keeamoku) with our favorite NFL QB Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans), and former Oregon QB and Heisman winner. Byron's an Oregon alumnus so the pride for Marcus runs deep. (BTW, Marcus is standing on a stool, and we're kneeling.) As always, Kawika is the conversationalist - no matter who with! Getting to meet #8 was icing on the cake and an unforgettable way to end our Hawaii trip. Thanks Uncle Jason for giving us the heads up!

Aloha 'Oe

The Lord has been faithful to us throughout our travels since we left Mexico in March. Not easy to say goodbye to loved ones. End of our furlough and heading back to Yucatan! At Mexico City airport waiting for our connecting flight back to Mérida.

These guys are wiped out!

Arrived back to Mérida, jet lagged, and preparing for our home building mission in Maní tomorrow with Everett First Presbyterian from Washington.

The congregation of El Divino Pastor in Maní is ready for us -- hammocks and all! May the Lord bless and give us strength during this upcoming week of service with EFPC.

Hasta el proximo. !Dios los bendiga!

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