Spring 2023 Update
Updated: Apr 10
Hola Dear Family & Friends,
¡Felices Pascuas! Just like that: spring arrived, and Easter is here. A journalist once wrote: Winter never lasts forever; spring never skips its turn. Here in Yucatán, we wish winter would last a little longer, and it seems that spring has skipped its turn. We went from 60-70 degrees just recently to sweltering heat up to 100 degrees these last weeks.
We celebrated Easter today at a 6 am worship service at El Divino Salvador in Mérida and later enjoyed some tamales during the church breakfast. It's always a blessing to gather with the brethren. We've been attending this church for 19 years already, and we can hardly believe how time has flown.
In fact, Inez felt a bit nostalgic at last week's Palm Sunday service, remembering Kawika when he was little as the children entered the sanctuary waving palms. Recalling the years when Kawika participated in the same procession to commemorate Jesus' final entrance into Jerusalem, she was moved with gratitude that he's grown up in such a special church. As Kawika moves on to the next chapter in life, we pray that his faith will grow stronger based on the spiritual foundation he's received here in Yucatán.
In Mexico, students are in the middle of a two-week break for Easter. Many people take advantage of this time and head for the beach. For sure, a time to pause, reflect and press the "restart button."
Now that April is here, Kawika has started to receive financial aid package offers from schools. Praise God, he's been accepted by all five universities he applied to. We thank you for your prayers and request that you ask for God's provision and wisdom over him as he soon chooses where he'll attend.
We have lots to share with you and are happy to bring you this update. Besides our ministry news, please be sure to read Inez's Easter reflection, our prayer requests and Tidbits at the end of this update. We send each of you blessings for a Happy Easter. May God bless you with his eternal peace, joy and hope.
Byron, Inez & Kawika
In This Issue
Update on Chalmuch Water Plant Project: 3-way Joint Venture
Upcoming Clean Water University Session in NJ
Living Waters Conference in Tekax, Yucatan,
Update on English Outreach Class
Reflection by Inez: Death of a Friend & What It Means to Me This Easter
How to Contribute
Update on Chalmuch Water Plant Project : 3-way Joint Venture
Since our last update, when we reported a setback on the construction of a water plant project in the pueblo of Chalmuch, God has opened doors. Although we had a team (RBPC) willing to fund and build the housing of a future water plant there, what was missing was a Living Waters for the World (LWW) installation partner (IP) to install the reverse osmosis system.
You see, for the past two water plant buildings that RBPC constructed, LWW already had an IP team scheduled to provide the installation after RBPC finished the building. Coming out of the pandemic, however, finding an IP had been a challenge.
Trained IPs play a pivotal role as they not only finance and install the water system, but they also educate their local operating partner (OP) church on how to maintain the system and train a local team of designated teachers to provide ongoing education to its community on the use and importance of clean water. IPs are required by LWW to complete a 5-day training course in one of LWW Clean Water U campuses in the U.S.
And so, a group from RBPC approached us to explore the possibility of RBPC not only constructing the building but also installing the system in the “spring of 2024”. We met with LWW leaders and RBPC via zoom to talk about this prospect, and now RBPC will be sending a team to be trained as a LWW installation partner. We are so grateful for RBPC's dedication and commitment to their work in missions.
At the same time, we were concerned that construction costs have doubled since the pandemic. With RBPC already facing the need to raise funds for both the construction and installation, we contemplated that the increase in prices would put an extra strain on RBPC.
While this was going on, we were also discussing a potential project during a zoom meeting with our one of Calvin Presbyterian Action Team members, Steve Bain. A UW professor, Steve also coaches the women’s volleyball team from a Christian college, Northwest University. He broached the subject of the possibility of bringing his team, staff, and possible team from Calvin over to Yucatan for a construction project in the “spring of 2024”. Since he was looking for a service project for his team to get involved with, we provided him information on several possible home and church projects.
And then it dawned on us that his team would be coming around the same time as RBPC: Spring 2024. So, do you all see where this is heading? We asked ourselves, why not merge their efforts together to offset the increase of construction costs and help RBPC with some “muscle power”? So, back to the drawing board we went and presented the idea to Steve and RBPC. All are on board, and the Chalmuch project is back on the plate. Praise be to God for bringing all this together!
Upcoming Living Waters for the World Clean Water U
Left photo: With LWW leaders in Mérida including Joanie Lukins (center) who will be leading the education training workshop in September. Right photo: Inez with Kendall Cox, a LWW Clean Water U organizer, during the LWW Yucatan Network conference in Tekax, Yucatan.
As we mentioned earlier, we received the official news that RBPC Missions approved the motion to send a team to the LWW Clean Water U this coming September in New Jersey. As well, as feet on the ground here, both Byron & Inez will be able to assist the future RBPC installation partner team by becoming officially trained by LWW in the areas of project management and ongoing education. Considered as LWW International students, we'll be headed to Clean Water U in September as well. So exciting! After working with LWW and RBPC throughout the years, we look forward to this new endeavor. Our deep gratitude to LWW network for sponsoring this training for us.
The LWW Yucatan Network Partners Conference in Tekax, Yucatan
Speaking of Living Waters for the World, back in February, we had the opportunity to attend the LWW Conference in Tekax, Yucatan. The event draws representatives from local plants in the Yucatan region, installation partners, LWW hosts, and local quadrant coordinators together. Being the first conference gathering since 2020, it was wonderful to listen to the local plant operators give their updates and input, hear inspiring words by the network moderator, and reunite with pastors and friends from various congregations we know -- all under one roof.
One of the things that impressed on our hearts was the commitment of the local churches to serve their communities with clean water through challenges and government regulations that come with operating and maintaining a water plant.
A couple of takeaways from the conference:
Helping to Protect Against COVID-19:
One participant shared that before the COVID pandemic, proper hygiene practices were already in place in her community because of the LWW education training they received. Because of this, children and families were already accustomed to using clean water and washing their hands. Her church went even a step further by having a local doctor reinforce these practices during church gatherings during the pandemic. As Kendall, one of the LWW hosts, expressed: We are an example to the community – even with washing our hands.
Keys to ensure clientele trusting of water:
Without people trusting the quality of water, the operation of a water plant would cease. So, when representatives of local water plants were asked what makes new clients trust their water, they responded with:
1. What they see: The condition of the building, the cleanliness of the plant and that operators are wearing proper gear.
2. How they are treated: Treating people well = good testimony. Treating people badly = bad testimony. Such simple truth and yet challenging to carry out 24/7. Kendall added that a Cuban team starts each day praying that whatever is bothering them, that they would leave it behind them before they begin their work.
Now that’s a takeaway for all of us can abide by!
Update on our English Class Outreach
Teaching your native tongue to other speakers involves a certain courage. There’s always that self-doubt about your inadequacy, fear of not being able to explain clearly, not remembering grammar rules sufficiently to teach well and worst of all, not keeping your students interested and activated. But after tackling such nerves, by God’s grace, we settled into our teaching rhythms. Inez teaches the adult class, Byron the children and Kawika helping to lead when he's not bogged down with too much homework.
It’s been a fun experience, and the students, anywhere from 30 to 40 of them who gather at El Verbo de Dios church, are a great bunch. What motivates us each week is their deep desire to learn. Some want to communicate with foreigners who visit or have relocated to Mérida. Others need it for school and work. Just as it requires courage for us to teach, it takes even more bravery for them to speak and make mistakes in front of others. And boy, do we have a lot of our own stories to share of the hilarious errors we've made in speaking Spanish -- and still do! Example:
When Yucatán was just getting out of the pandemic and people began overcoming their fear of being in public without their masks, we were having breakfast with friends at a restaurant. Byron wanted to make a congratulatory "toast" to our friends who were celebrating their anniversary. So, he lifted his glass of orange juice and said in his booming voice, "Tengo un toast! Tengo un toast!" Only to have our friends look down at their plates and other patrons throw us looks of uncertainty. What everyone had thought he was saying was: Tengo un tos! Tengo un tos! (I have a cough! I have a cough!)
The point here is for us to encourage students to make mistakes, learn from them and laugh at their errors. We discussed this with them using the following quote from a former NBA basketball player.
"If you're going to learn a new language, you can't try to be perfect. You'll stop yourself from talking. You just have to let go." - Yao Ming, Houston Rockets basketball player
Thanks to designated donations, we’ve been able to provide work books to every student, and it’s been great to see the dynamic and interaction between them as they learn in pairs and groups, practicing and correcting one another.
And finally, a shout of thanks to our grandchildren, Ethan & Sophia, for helping us out with our lesson plan on "What Do You Like To Do?" We shared a video of the two of them describing the favorite things they like to do while our students followed along reading their scripts. This exercise proved one thing for sure: That kids everywhere gravitate toward humor. The children were especially interested in learning and repeating how to pronounce one of the things that Ethan loves to do: Telling jokes. It was wonderful to have Ethan and Sophia participate with us! Gracias Malia & Adam for recording our grandkids.
Reflection by Inez: Death of A Friend & What It Means to Me This Easter
Hermana (sister) Eddy was one of those precious women who always made me feel welcomed just by saying my name. When I would enter our classroom for Bible study, she would simply greet me with: "Hermana Inés." Yet, in a genuine way that one would say "I just love that you're here." Her warmth reached the heart of my soul.
As Christians, Easter is the principal festival of our faith commemorating Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. This Easter has taken on a new meaning for me because of Eddy's faith.
She passed away last month after battling excruciating pain from a rare virus which doctors could not control. Although I had prayed for God’s will all along, I was devastated when she died. When I had been receiving updates on her continued decline, all I could think of was the pain she had been going through. Being in and out of the hospital, the misdiagnosis, her loss of vision, the bleeding ulcer, the blood transfusion. I asked God, "Why does it have to happen this way?"
My mind knew the answer, of course. It was God’s plan. That through our trials, we are made partakers in the sufferings of Christ. To suffer is to know Jesus more. But what I knew in my mind wasn't transferring into my heart. I just didn’t get it. And for days, after her passing, I carried my heavy heart wherever I went.
That was until we invited her sister, Marivel, and her family to have dinner with us. Initially, I thought that our family would be the ones to encourage and cheer them up. But it was Marivel’s testimony that made my heart understand that there was much more going on than Eddy's suffering. Despite the unsurmountable pain she suffered, her family remembers how tranquil she was throughout her ordeal and how she was able to experience God’s peace in all of it.
In fact, when Marivel broke down at her bedside witnessing the physical agony that gripped her sister, sweet Eddy reached out to her to console her. But what welled up in me was what Marivel had next to share. Fighting her tears back, she gave me an account of what her niece, Eddy’s daughter, told her. You see, her niece had been encouraging Eddy to get well so she could celebrate what would have been an upcoming birthday at home with the family. Sometime later in the hospital, Eddy began asking her daughter: “Is this my party you promised?” When her daughter tried to explain that there was no one else in the room, Eddy was convinced otherwise. She went on to observe with much delight, “Everyone looks so beautiful. And look at how many people have come… all dressed in white.”
End of life dreams and visions (ELDVs), according to studies, are not uncommon leading up to death. Yet, they can't be explained by science. Nonetheless, this account lifted the anguish from my heart because, only then, was I truly able to comprehend that although her body had been decaying, Eddy’s mind was being renewed. Instead of the spiral downhill of pain that I had perceived engulfing my friend, the Lord had been liberating her.
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” -- 2 Corinthians 4: 16-17
All. dressed. in. white. When I heard those words, I instantly connected her vision to the scripture below as described by the apostle John (emphases mine):
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands. -- Revelation 7:9
In the midst of her struggle, I believe that Eddy was running the race like an elite athlete -- just before the goal line, with victory before her, and her spiritual vision acuity intact. Because of her genuine faith, she was able to withstand her diminishing health in a way that blessed others. God had not abandoned her; he had been leading and protecting her all the way. What a great lesson and example for me! I pray that when my time comes, with God's help, I will finish well like Eddy.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. -- Romans 5:3-4 NIV
As we celebrate Easter, I hold her close to my heart. For me, she embodied the faith of a sincere Christian. Her undistracted and unwavering hope wasn’t based on the temporal (such as the condition of her health) but rather on the eternal. That's why she could take her eyes off from her own pain and provide comfort to Marivel. That's why she was certain she was partaking in the celebration. Because her hope was rooted in Jesus Christ -- the one who died for her and set her free from the bondage of sin through the shedding of his blood on the cross. And because of her faith and the resurrecting power of Christ in her, she could see that many others were joining the party. Such awesome reasons to celebrate Easter!
So, no matter what we face, may the redeeming grace of Christ fill each and one of us. Christ has risen, hallelujah!
Prayer Requests For:
Inez's health as she has been dealing with dental problems, back pain (due to aggravating a bulging disc) and issues with her liver and elevated blood sugar which she is working to lower. Praise report: Her last thyroid ultrasound in March shows that the cysts have diminished in size.
Byron as he carries the load helping Inez and managing the housework - with Kawika lending a hand as well.
Kawika as he finishes his senior year and makes his decision on which college to attend. Please pray for a deepening of his spiritual walk with Christ as he prepares to leave for the U.S.
Our granddaughter, Sophia, who turns 5 years old April 14th.
God's continued guidance in the Chalmuch water plant project, the upcoming LWW training workshop and our ongoing English classes.
Marivel (who Inez wrote about in her Easter reflection) as she learns to adapt without her sister Eddy. She's also grieving the loss of her mother-in-law who just passed away a few days ago.
Our friend Doña Magda from Maxcanu who needs surgery to separate her kidneys which are joined together. Hopefully, she will receive news on the date of her surgery in her next appointment this month.
Our Toyota Sienna van, which is now 17 years old, is requiring more repairs.
Tidbits in our life in Mérida
Celebrating February babies! Both Byron and Kawika turned a year older in February. Yes, Kawika, our Yucatecan son is now 18! We also had the privilege of celebrating with other February babies with friends from church and another double birthday with Pastor Will Ackles who shares the same birthday as Byron. Definitely, a big month of cake and candles!
Move aside soccer, volleyball season is here. Been having fun cheering on our good friend, Danire, (front right in photo below) as she competes in volleyball matches. Due to much of her insistence, she was able to get her school to approve an extramural team from her high school, Edai, to compete with others. ¡Arriba Danire!
Fruit of a Good Husband. Thanks to Byron for being a most attentive chef and waiter last week to Inez and her dear friends, Claudia (Danire's grandmother) and Valetina, who participated virtually in an all-day Mujer Verdadera conference (with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth). This year, it was held live in Guadalajara, México with 8,000 women in attendance. A special time of praying with another, studying God's word and being renewed.
Speaking of taking time out to study scriptures, Kawika spent a 3-day weekend at El Divino Salvador's church youth retreat in Merida last month. The youth examined scriptures and discussed themes such as making good decisions, handling challenges and carefully living out their faith. Important topics as he enters adulthood!
Thank you for reading our dear amigos!
God Bless & Happy Easter!
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.