top of page

UPDATES

Search
  • Writer's pictureYucatan Helping Hands

Spring Update 2024

Updated: Jun 12


Absence of Yucatán's luster green on the road to Cenote Abalá due to heat wave in Yucatán

Dear Friends & Family,


We're finally getting caught up with our blog posts, sneaking our Spring Update just shy before summer officially begins. For us though, it feels it's been summer since mid-April when Mexico's first heat wave began. Although we had a slight reprieve of 101-103 degrees, we’ve faced steady temperatures at 105-110. Imagine brushing your teeth with hot water and rinsing your mouth with hot Listerine. Like many Yucatecans, we're praying that the rains will come soon.             

                                                   

As we finish this update, we're with our team from North Palm Beach in Florida in the pueblo of Maní. We'll explain more about this team and the other four groups we received during these last months. We send our greetings to the churches that have partnered with us, generously funding projects and sending groups to Yucatán to work alongside us. We are so grateful! Muchisimas gracias to all the wonderful team leaders and participants who poured out their talents, whole beings, and love for Jesus to those they served in Yucatan.


Some exciting summer plans: A few days after our June team departs, Kawika will be returning for vacation after finishing his first year as a college student. We can’t wait! In August, we head to the Riveria coast for some R&R, thanks to a generous gift from our friends Dan and Sunny. One week later, we head further down the coast to be reunited with our grandkids and Malia & Adam. We’re so thrilled. It will be the kiddies’ first trek to Mexico. And if that’s not enough, Grace, Kawika’s girlfriend from college, will also make the trip down south to accompany us. It’ll be so wonderful to meet her face to face after all the video chats we’ve had enjoying getting to know her. God is good!


We realize this is a longer update than usual. But there is so much to share. Thank you for your interest and your prayers during this season which have sustained us through God's grace and provision. Be assured, He has heard your requests and has answered them faithfully. Sending you our gratitude, heartfelt aloha and greetings from Yucatán.


Dios los bendiga!

                                                                                                                                              

Inez & Byron


 

In This Issue:


1.      Purified Water in Chalmuch!

2.      Mitchell Rd. Presb. Helps Build New Roof for Filadelfia church in Akil

3.      First Presbyterian North Palm Beach Building New Floor for Church in Maní

4.      Mitchell Road Presbyterian Funding New House in Akil, Yucatan

6.      Prayer Requests

7.      Tidbits in Mérida

8.      How to Donate


 

Purified Water in Chalmuch!



After a year and a half of planning and preparation, the Living Waters for the World water plant was installed in Chalmuch in April. As you can imagine, prior to this point, the water plant, La Peña de Horeb, wouldn’t have been possible without the faith, enthusiasm, and effort of many hands -- including the Solo Cristo Salva church (SCS) families who donated their time to work on the building and raise funds to pay for mason labor.


Thanks to the great help of the work teams who came in February and March -- RBPC and Northwest Women’s Volleyball team respectively -- SCS now has a wonderful water plant building. After the construction groups left, we worked with the LWW local coordinator and SCS to ensure that all electrical, plumbing, and wells were installed so that the building was ready for the installation of the purification system in April.


Throughout these phases, there were two special people who significantly contributed to the water plant project: Our translators, Aldo and Josué (in photo with team leader Laura). In fact, they worked tirelessly to make the project seamless, playing an instrumental part from its infancy to completion. Interpreting, laboring and sweating alongside our teams, they learned the various stages of construction and the overall training curriculum established by LWW. They forged through physical and mental exhaustion and even learned a thing or two about running a volleyball clinic. But more than using their muscle and intelligence, these young men gave of their heart -- always caring and looking after the well being of the groups and working side by side with us, Pastor Jeremias and the masons. They are an inspiration to us!


The following is a closer look at the construction and implementation (installation) phases of the water plant project during these last months:


Rolling Bay Presbyterian Construction Team


In February, we greeted our first construction team from Rolling Bay Presbyterian church (RBPC) consisting of energetic youth and some exceptional veteran team members who've helped us build other projects in Yucatán. This intergenerational team arrived excited to begin work and experience a new adventure together in Chalmuch.


To start off, the group received a heartwarming welcome from Pastor Jeremias and the folks at SCS. And then during the week, despite rough nights of dogs barking and roosters crowing at odd hours, the team pulled through in putting all their energy into pouring the first two layers of the roof, leveling the interior floor, tiling the counters and even clearing piles of dirt to level out the driveway.



A shout out to Annie (photo, bottom right), trained in first aid, who carefully tended to Byron’s wound every day. (He had gashed his shin by hitting the metal tow hitch of the concrete mixer.) No infection, no stiches and just a small scar. Way to go “Doctora” Annie. The Scouts and the First Cross would be so proud of you!  


In addition to Byron’s injury, Inez had a swollen foot due to a flying soccer ball slamming it during VBS. Thankfully, our team managed to stay injury free!


During the afternoons, the group put on a fun VBS for children engaging them in listening to Bible stories, playing games and making crafts.


The consistent joy, perseverance and wonderful attitude of the team lifted not only our spirits but also that of the SCS as well. The fun RBPC bunch demonstrated their openness in serving and forming relationships with the people of Chalmuch, no matter the discomforts of the heat, unrestful nights, and aching bodies. Even Cory, the brave man he is, agreed to an arm wrestling match with the lead mason, Victor. Watch him, and another valiant contender, Jayden, behind mason Victor, arm wrestling with one of the kids from Chalmuch. (Video below.) Now that's really connecting with the locals!




Northwest University Women’s Volleyball Team


In early March, we received the 2nd construction team – the mighty strong and tall women volleyball players from Northwest University, led by coach Steve Bain. They also combatted the high temperatures, honing their skills in working as an athletic team, while waterproofing the roof, pouring concrete for the sidewalk and interior flooring, and sealing and painting the building.


Being athletes, they stored enough energy and stamina for more physical action in the afternoons: leading volleyball clinics for the kids in the community. Many of the kids never played volleyball before and a few of them had difficulty breaking the habit of using their legs to stop the ball! At the end of the last day of the clinic, a group of men from the SCS church courageously challenged the women’s team to a volleyball game. It was fun to watch, but you can imagine how that ended.



Azaria from NU Women's Volleyball team spikes the ball during a clinic in Chalmuch as children watch in amazement.

A highlight of the week was a friendly volleyball match which we helped arrange between the NU team and two women volleyball teams from Yucatán. The game was held in a nearby town, at the community sports center in Caucel. Pastor Jeremias and many of the SCS brothers and sisters also came to watch and cheer the NU team on. We were in high spirits as we waited for the game to start. It was fun to hear our Chalmuch friends’ chant “USA! USA! USA!" in the midst of Yucatecan bystanders.


While the NU team won their matches, a pinnacle moment of the evening came as the U.S. women joined hands with the local players and coaches while one of the NU adult leaders led them in prayer. From the stands above the court, the scene was powerful.  But it didn’t end there. Before leaving the sports center, the NU women players gifted their jerseys to the local players. Watching the delight on the young women’s faces was priceless. Some of them commented on how privileged and blessed they were to play with NU team and that they would keep their jerseys forever.



Jorge, the local coach we worked with to put this together, had this to say after the game:


"A very beautiful experience, above all the prayer at the end. A very memorable moment for our players. The NU team left an invaluable gift, and I am sure that our young women will treasure it for the rest of their lives. The NU women are an example to follow. A thousand hugs and blessings."


RBPC Implementation Team

Pastor Jeremias & Laura get ready to cut the cake during the community celebration in Chalmuch. The rest of the team (l to r): Translators Josue & Aldo, Ted & Iris, Brian, Lori & Brian, Dan, and Inez & Byron.

During the implementation (installation) week in April, the RBPC team split into groups to train SCS in administration, education, and installation of the system. Since the capacitation was based on the Clean Water U curriculum set by LWW, our two translators took the time to study the Clean Water U manuals prior to the training week. Josue translated for Installation and Project Management while Aldo interpreted for Education. We can't say enough about their dedication to ministry and the varied roles they carried out to make this project successful.


We were also blessed to have the support of eight local representatives from the LWW Yucatán network to help install the system and support us in training as well. According to our local quadrant coordinator, Pastor Freddy, it's rare to have all eight of them, who live in different states, in one place. We're so thankful for having had the privilege in working with these pastors and their wives who volunteer their time for LWW installations and education.

The LWW team beautifully sang, Unidos, Unidos  (United, United) as we all said our goodbyes to one other (video below). Muchas gracias to Fani & Isaias; Tere & Freddy; Adiel & Sandra; and Angela & Carlos for being part of our team.




Despite the first workday reaching triple digits, the team persevered and did a fantastic job with “training the trainers” from SCS. Although construction was completed, we had plenty to keep us busy. Byron ran logistics, including trips out to Home Depot for the installers, and Inez, who received training in education at Clean Water U this past fall, helped lead the RBPC educators to teach the SCS trainees.


Project Management (administration)


Ted (standing in photo) and Laura led the training in Project Management. Part of the LWW covenant requires that a local water committee is set in place to oversee the operation. Ted, a businessman by profession, did a phenomenal job in going over numbers and asking the committee members hard questions as to how they were planning for sustainability and had them discuss how they would avoid losses as a new plant.


One of the challenges that other plants have faced is the loss of new water jugs, either due to improper handling by clients and delivery people; customers selling the jugs to competitors; or inefficiency in delivery time, which results in clients taking their new bottle jugs to competitors for quicker refills. This becomes a huge debit if not controlled. And that's why it's imperative to have a local water committee forecast, analyze and resolve issues like these.


Adopting an idea from another LWW water plant to make it difficult for competitors to use LWW water jugs, Laura helped the committee by forming a stencil with its plants initials, PDH (Peña de Horeb), for spray painting their brand new jugs. Off to a promising start!



Installation of Reverse Osmosis System




After months of editing drawings and going over many details, Dan and Brian came to Chalmuch prepared. They worked with installation “experts” from the LWW network to teach SCS operators how to install and run the system as well as troubleshoot problems. While most installations take three days and a half, the system in Chalmuch was done in two. More so, according to our local LWW network lead, Pastor Freddy, when the quality of the water produced in Chamulch was tested, it measured as one of the most purified of LWW plants installed in the Yucatán region. On our last day in Chalmuch, Inez asked the plant operators if they were nervous about running the system on their own (as new operators in the region often are). With much assurance, they shook their heads and said that they were prepared because the steps they learned were made clear.

 

Education to promote health in community through purified water



Inez and co-trainers, Lori and Iris, thoroughly enjoyed working with the group of education trainees from SCS. We were blown away at how the local educators took the lessons taught to them in the morning and made it their own while teaching the children and their parents in the evening. They added little things to make it fun, incorporating games, like instructing children to find puzzle pieces hidden around the room and having them choose from different attractive color water drops with an attached question regarding the lesson for the day.


Believing in the importance of using purified water, the SCS teachers worked hard in planning their afternoon lessons and were eager to digest all the information that were handed to them. It’s not a surprise they taught so well and held the attention span of the children who came to learn about the water plant system and why using purified water is important to their health. But what really impressed us was learning that some of trainees had to go outside of their comfort zone and overcome their fear of public speaking and working with children. With the enthusiasm and confidence they each projected, we would have never known. It's as if they had been teaching the curriculum all along.



We ended the week with the inauguration, certificates for all trainees and a celebration for the community. The municipal leader, known as the sheriff, attended the festivities and was invited to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony. Afterwards, he spoke to some of the educators, assuring them of his support to help them promote education at the schools. The community lined up to have a cup of the new water freshly produced at the plant. It was a pleasure watching the excitement, especially on children's faces as they toured the water plant building, even stopping to take a good look at the reverse osmosis system. Later, SCS provided tacos for everyone and a cake to top it off. Please pray for the success of this water plant and that the Lord would use SCS to bless the people of Chalmuch in this ministry.



 

Possible Future Water Plant Project in Muna, Yucatán



Along with RBPC, we have gained a wealth of knowledge, and the LWW process is much clearer to us. At the end of the RBPC implementation trip in April, we were able to arrange a meeting with RBPC, Pastor Freddy from the local LWW network and a church in Muna, Yucatán for a potential future water plant (see photo). It turns out, we’ve worked with Pastor Geronimo from the Muna church in the past, building homes in his community with a church from Florida.  It seems very promising, and we look forward to where God will lead us in this.

 

Mitchell Road Presb Helps Build a New Roof for the Filadelfia Church in Akil


Mitchell Road team and Filadefia church members gather for a photo after the pouring of a new concrete roof.

Thanks to the generosity of Mitchell Road Presbyterian church (MR), the Filadelfia church in Akil has a new roof, a long-awaited answer to prayer for the congregation there. In mid-March, we had the blessing of working with the energetic youth & young adult S. Carolina team who served genuinely. As you might recall from our last update, the group helped the Filadelfia church in Akil build a much-needed new church roof, since the original antique roof was damaged and eventually caved-in due to the devastating Cristobal storm during the pandemic.  As we mentioned, the brothers and sisters have been worshipping under a laminate roof which does not protect them from wind and rain.


Our Filadelfia church friends had been waiting for the group’s arrival with high anticipation and joy. When the team’s bus arrived, it was endearing to watch the brothers and sisters giddy as they excitedly formed a line with the church leaders at the forefront to greet the group. Pastor Emanuel gave warm words of welcome and gratitude, setting the tone for the week. A shout of thanks to Pastor Armando and our friends at Bethel church in Akil, who opened their classrooms to provide lodging for the group.



From the very first day, the team was enthused to start construction early in the day, beginning with lifting beams, removing large rocks from the demolition and other work, including setting up the scaffolding. In the afternoon, the group performed VBS and sports activities in the evening.



We were amazed at the amount of energy the youth had after each day of construction. They asked for community participation for the evening sports activities and they got it. Right down to official referees. At the end of these events, different team members gave their testimony of how they came to know Christ.


From left: Caydo, Emily and Lance share their testimonies for Christ.


After a game of basketball, one of the local players, Feliciano, (in photo with our translator Josué), shared his powerful testimony as well. He explained that it all started while he was in jail walking by a table of free Bibles. Thinking at the time that Christians were crazy, he ignored the Bibles, but yet a voice inside of him repeatedly urged him to turn around and grab one. He went on to explain that he read it all night and although he took one step forward and two steps backwards for a while, he came to have a personal relationship with Jesus and asked his loved ones for forgiveness. He and his wife now own an orchard and sell fruits. They, along with with his parents, are members of the Filadelfia church.



During one of the evenings, the Filadefia leaders organized a special event in honor of the Mitchell Road team: A night of culture filled with jarana, the regional dance of Yucatán that has a blend of both Maya and Spanish influences. It was beautifully choregraphed, performed by children, and held at the municipal park so that the community could attend as well. The program was translated from Maya to Spanish and then our translator Josue interpreted it from Spanish to English. An unforgettable evening!




God’s grace poured over us. The last day of construction was the heaviest day of all when concrete had to be mixed and poured over the large 9 x 21 meter roof in one day. To help the team and the Filadefia church with this daunting task, approximately 60 volunteers arrived at the site, starting with an early morning devotion. Even our former ministry masons, Cristino and Charlie (and Charlie’s son), traveled to Akil from their pueblo to participate in the work effort. The intense synergy was highly festive, filled with camaraderie, and before we knew it, the job finished quicker than expected!




More so, as we had been experiencing 100-degree days prior to the project, Inez had prayed for two weeks that the Lord would provide a covering of clouds (and no rain) for the day of concrete pouring. The Lord graciously responded by not only providing clouds as protection but even allowing for lower temperatures! Just as the job was finished, the clouds began to separate. That special day will be an everlasting reminder of God’s power when we answer the call to serve as the body of Christ in one spirit and united in his love.




 

Other Work


First Presbyterian North Palm Beach Building New Floor for Church in Maní


FPC N. Palm Beach team members are introduced during welcome service held at Marcos' & Selmi's garden in Maní.

As we mentioned, we're in the pueblo of Maní with a team from First Presbyterian North Palm Beach, Fl. (FPNPB). The 16-person youth group is working with the Divino Pastor church to build a new floor where the church members worship and meet under a metal dome roof. Because of the flooring demolition and construction, the Divino Pastor families have taken turns hosting church services in their homes.


The original church, built in the 1930s, is very small and has been used as a classroom for many years. And with a growing congregation in need of more room, the Divino Pastor congregants have been using their sports court as their place of worship. While they were able to raise money in years past to build a metal dome over the open-air court, they haven’t been able to replace the 30-year-old deteriorating cement floor, which was long exposed to direct sunlight. See photo of flooring "before construction" (on left) and "in-progress" (right).



This floor project, much like the roof project in Akil, has energized the local church to the point of collecting funds among themselves to rebuild the deteriorating stage they use as their sanctuary under the dome. In the photo, you can also see the new sanctuary (stage area) behind rebuilt as well as the beginning of new walls.



So far, the Florida team is working incredibly fast despite the triple digit weather. There're also about five fluent Spanish speakers in the group, the most any of our teams have had. The only real challenge we're going through is the scarcity of ice due to the high demand. In fact, the Divino Pastor brothers had warned us about this as Maní has experienced a lack of ice supply since the end of April. We are quickly discovering that nearby, larger towns are also facing this challenge as we had a difficult time finding ice today in Mani as well as in Oxkutzcab, a small city and agriculture center not far from where we are. After being told from one store to another that there was no ice to be found, we were finally led to a vendor who told us he would sell us two bags at the most. However, after we pleaded with him, he finally settled on allowing us to purchase four, which we gladly accepted. We hope our search goes better tomorrow as we need to refill our ice chests that carry food supplies and replenish water coolers with ice during construction.


There's a lot to cover here, but we'll give a more complete report of our mission in Maní in our next update. Stay tuned!


 

Mitchell Road Presbyterian Funding New House in Akil, Yucatan


Some change of plans to report. A second Mitchell Road (MR) team that was scheduled to arrive in July will unfortunately not be able to travel this summer. This is mostly due to a new university schedule in South Carolina that has classes for some first-year students now beginning in July. The group had plans to help with a home extension for Jose Idelfonso and his family in Akil.  While we and our friends in Akil had been looking forward to working with MR again this season, we trust in God’s will. We know his plan is always for the good and thank MR for continuing its generosity and commitment by offering to still help finance the project.


The plans for the home extension involve replacing Jose and Maribel’s laminate roof with a cement one, adding another room to the back of their home that includes a kitchen counter and sink, applying stucco and paint to the walls, installing doors and windows, adding plumbing in the bathroom, and installing more electrical outlets and lighting in the house.


It’s hard to describe the cramped living areas of the one-bedroom home, slightly smaller than a 1-car garage, which is divided by a temporary wall so that the couple and their 16-year-old daughter, Alexia, have a sense of privacy. There is very little wiggle room in the bathroom. Outside, in the back patio, the family has a small make-shift kitchen without any sink or appliances.  Inside, the oven-like heat is intolerable, especially under a laminate roof.  And because the walls aren’t finished, the family is constantly forced to deal with moisture and mold. 


It's no wonder the Filadelfia church has requested help for Jose, who is disabled and a faithful, active member of the church who plays the piano keyboard on Sundays. While Jose doesn't have a permanent job because of his disability, he's contracted by a government program to teach children in indigenous schools how to play the piano. Sometimes he’s sent for months to another rural area, but it isn't constant. His wife Maribel works at a loncheria selling food to help cover family expenses.


The Filadelfia church leaders have chosen this family as a deserving house recipient because despite Jose's obstacles, he’s been an active and reliable church member, devoting much of his time to the church's ministry.


Please pray for the masons, church brothers and Jose’s family as they work to complete the remodeled home.


José with MR team, flanked by Pastor Scott Puckett (l) and Pastor Emanuel (r).
 

Prayer Requests for our:


Health. Byron continues to have pain in his right ankle, especially when carrying heavy items and being on his feet for a long period. And now that we have a break from groups, we will be needing overdue dental work.


Protection. With the severe hot weather and rains that normally come during hurricane season, that means breeding of mosquitos that transmit dengue.


Recovery. We've had a very busy year and need some time to rest and be restored!


Furlough plans. Yes, it's that time again when we plan our trips to visit our supporters in the states. We look forward to seeing you! Pray that the Lord will help us to piece all the places and dates together.

 

Tidbits in Yucatán



Our ongoing connection with Hawaii and Mexico continues. For Pentecost Sunday service in May, Inez was invited to read scriptures in Hawaiian and Byron sang How Great Thou Art as a duet with Don Luis from the Divino Salvador church where we attend. Byron sang some of the verses in Hawaiian, Don Luis in Spanish and together they ended in English together. It was a blessing to participate in this way, sharing and blending our languages together to honor God. During the service, other indigenous languages such as Maya and Chol were spoken as well!

 

Thank you for reading amigos!

Dios Los Bendiga!

 


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: ahinabk@gmail.com


If you have any questions, please contact us at ahinabk@gmail.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.

135 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page