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  • Writer's pictureYucatan Helping Hands

Summer 2023 Update

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

A glimpse thru the Arco Del Puente of the setting sun in Merida Yucatan

Dear Friends and Family,

As the saying goes, every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn. Kawika has graduated from high school and will soon be off to college at Seattle Pacific University. These past months have been bittersweet with the excitement of Kawika’s future and knowing our time here with him is short.

Besides reporting on our ministry updates and prayer requests, much of this post will cover Kawika, who’s been an integral part of our ministry since he was little. Toward the end of this post, read more about the farewells he’s received and click through a special slideshow of him growing up in the mission field. We'll also share our personal psalm of thanksgiving to God for his guidance in Kawika’s life in Yucatan.

A couple of weeks ago, Kawika had the honor of being invited by his Montessori elementary school, Yaldud, to participate as a judge for the school’s spelling bee. We were so impressed with the preparedness of the students who competed. The second level group battled through 18 rounds before a winner was declared. And there were three more group levels yet to compete! What a joy for Kawika to experience as a Yaldud alumnus.

His last days in Yucatan have been filled to the brim. Besides taking advantage of every free moment to hang out with friends, he volunteered as an interpreter for a youth church work team from Ward Presbyterian Church in Michigan and is with another team this week from Missouri for a children’s/family camp on the coast at Porvenir. After that, he’ll go right into a summer youth camp before the big move to Seattle.

We'll be traveling to Seattle on August 1 to spend time with with our daughter Malia, Adam and our grandkids, see family and friends, and visit churches in the area. We can't wait to see everyone! We are excited for a luncheon that our home church, Calvin Presbyterian, will host for us, members of the Northwest University Volley Ball team and team representatives of Rolling Bay Presbyterian church who will jointly build the a new water plant in Chalmuch, Yucatan. Thank you Calvin Presbyterian for your wonderful support!

Come early September, Kawika will be moving into his dorm at Seattle Pacific University and we'll say our goodbyes to him before we head to New Jersey to participate in a five-day training course for Living Waters for the World (LWW). Then from New Jersey, we will return to Merida to start up our English classes, begin the first phase of construction and finalize details for our upcoming water plant project in February/March. We are also in discussions with another church for possible projects next year.

On a somber note, in this post, we are honoring the memory of our wonderful friend, Jim Darden, from Birmingham AL who went to be with the Lord last month. He was an eager participant in our work teams in the pueblos of Yobain, Xbec, and Akil. Please be sure to read about him and his excellent testimony in working in Yucatan.

After heat waves in June with weather in the triple digits, the rains finally came this month, and we've been experiencing a reprieve with cooler temperatures. We pray that you all are keeping safe and hydrated wherever you are.

We are deeply blessed by your kindness and thank you for your support in friendship, prayer and financial giving.

Sending you our love and blessings from Yucatan.


Byron, Inez & Kawika


In This Issue:

Update on Chalmuch Water Plant Project

A Summer Hiatus from Our English Classes

Praise Report: Mechanic's Auto Workshop is Completed

Special Tribute to A Dear Friend: Jim Darden of Altadena Valley Presbyterian Church

Yucatan Farewell to Kawika & a Psalm of Thanksgiving

Prayer Requests

TidBits in Yucatan

How to Contribute


Update on Chalmuch Water Plant Project

Meeting with church members in Chalmuch where we will build a new water plant in February and March.

Chalmuch is a sleepy little pueblo just 20 minutes by car from the capital city of Merida. Yet, on any given day, the inhabitants there can find themselves without clean drinking water. It can take an hour for a family to use public transportation to buy purified water in Merida. As well, the two small grocery stores in the pueblo where drinking water is sold are closed for two hours in the afternoon and sometimes close early. Only a limited amount of purified water is available each day. If the water is sold out, it can take two days for the shops to restock on the water.

Besides, they claim the quality of purified water sold there is poor with complaints of people becoming ill after consuming it. All of this, coupled with the increase of water prices, has led the congregation of the Solo Cristo Salva church to petition for help in building a water plant.

Now with the generous help from Rolling Bay Presbyterian church, the Northwest University Women's Volleyball team, and financial assistance from Calvin Presbyterian Church, the desire among the Chalmuch brethren to support their community with available and affordable drinking water can now be answered.

As the U.S. teams prepare for their upcoming trips to build the water plant and install the system next year, the church leaders of Solo Cristo Salva are getting things in order as well. They gathered at our house for breakfast and met with us to discuss logistics and timelines. Later, we met with the brothers and sisters in Chalmuch who will be involved in the project. At the end of the meeting, they all took turns expressing their gratitude to God and to us for considering their request. It was all very touching. Last week, a group traveled to the most recent built water plant in Pomuch, Campeche to tour the plant, observe how it functions, and gather ideas for the plant that will be built in Chalmuch. This week, the church plans to begin to clear the land on its property to prepare for construction.

Learning the ropes: Church leaders visit an operating Living Waters for the World water plant in Pomuch, Campeche.

Please pray for our next steps:

∙Starting of the construction of the plant's foundation this summer

∙Training at the Living Water U in New Jersey in September

∙Receiving the RBPC installation team leaders in November to meet with the Solo Cristo Salva church to layout a development plan and agreement.

∙Receiving the construction teams in February and March followed by the system installation team.


A Summer Hiatus From Our English Classes

We celebrated our last English class on a rainy July 4th before summer vacation kicked off. This gave us the opportunity to share a bit of our culture with our students and a great reason to have cake too. We were pleasantly surprised to find out how much the students already knew about our history. Including the significance of our flag and what the stripes and stars represent. (On our part, we didn't know anything about the Mexican flag until Kawika entered elementary school.) Inez was going over general Independence Day history with the students, she suddenly lost their attention because this particular creature disrupted her classroom:

And to the dismay of Teacher Kawika, Bruno (Byron) also showed up in the children's class as well. ♬That's why We Don't Talk About Bruno - no, no, no. ♬ (A running joke, based on a Disney movie song, we have about Bruno).

The truth is Bruno makes these classes fun. Inez can be going over grammar rules when he comes in with doughnuts for everyone. He gives the kids five-minute breaks to run around and plays games with them. He stresses the importance of celebrating birthdays each month and so besides learning English, we confess, we do eat a bit of cake. We'll certainly miss our students over the summer break! The children will definitely feel the absence of Kawika who's been a a lot of help and fun as a teacher.


Praise Report: Mechanic’s Auto Shop is Completed!

Please rejoice with us! As we covered in our earlier posts, we've been working as a liaison between North Creek Presbyterian Church’s Mission Strategy Team to help Jose Alonso build a new auto workshop business. After challenges with shortage of material supplies, price increases and lack of available building masons, the construction of his auto shop is done. Thanks be to God!

In late April, we attended Jose Alonso's special service of thanksgiving in Kimbila for the completion of his new auto workshop. Since opening his business, he’s been gradually gaining new customers, saving up for more tools and taking online classes to keep current with the latest in automotives. Part of the arrangement with NCPC MST was for Jose Alonso to “pay back” a small portion for other people in need. He’s been faithful and happy to do that.

During the service, Jose Alonso spoke about the suffering he had battled with when he injured his shoulder and was out of work for a year before the pandemic. He talked about the difficulty he experienced and his low points. We thank God that He sustained Jose Alonso during that hard period to be able to witness the Lord's faithfulness through North Creek Presbyterian’s generosity. And to tell others about it as well! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!


Special Tribute to A Dear Friend Who Loved Yucatan

On June 15, the world lost a great man, Jim Darden, to a rare blood cancer disease. He came from Alabama with a banjo on his knee. And knew how to play the piano, dulcimer and bell chimes too. He was epic in nature. A towering man, you could not miss him. But when he began to talk, he would put you at ease with his humble nature.

We were drawn to his beautiful southern drawl, his easy laugh, and his true servant heart. And this is also true of his lovely wife, Martha. Please join us in prayer for her, the Darden family, and Altadena Valley Presbyterian church where Jim attended and served in missions and other ministries. He faithfully supported our ministry throughout the decades in friendship, prayer, leading and working with teams here, hosting our family in his home with Martha, and financial giving.

Jim loved Yucatan and the people he served here. And they loved him back. A few days before he died, he texted with us on WhatsApp while in the hospital telling us he wished he could've had some puchero (a delicious regional stew), his favorite Yucatecan dish. He had hoped to visit us here in the winter. He was praying for our ministry. Even in his last days, he was thinking of us and Yucatan.

To honor his memory, we are reposting a link on a reflection we did on Jim back in 2019. For anyone looking into serving abroad or just traveling, the reflection speaks of Jim’s heart felt willingness to communicate with the indigenous people here. He was always asking about the Mayan language, wanting to learn the right details about pronunciation and even taught the Mayan word Koox (let’s go) to Vacation Bible School children at Altadena Valley Presbyterian church in Birmingham.

But that's what made Jim so special to us. He was a genuine communicator because everyone he came across mattered to him enough to share a bit of their culture with others. He is missed by many friends here. Well done faithful servant and loyal friend. Until we meet in heaven.


La Despedida: Farewell to Kawika & A Psalm of Thanksgiving

As we prepare to say our goodbyes to Kawika, we know there will be a big void in our lives. Since he was in diapers, he accompanied us wherever we traveled and wherever we served. On one hand, we are excited to see him enter a new era. On the other hand, we'll miss his humor and quirks. Who else enters his mother's contact name on his phone as "Come Down Now!" or "One More Thing".

There's been a lot of goodbye hugs so far and still more to come. Friends have invited us over to say adios and have dropped over to do so as well.

Cheli, who many of you know as our ministry cook, prepared the fatted turkey for her famous panuchos as a sendoff. We had a great time with her family as we also bid farewell to her grandson, Jonathan, who will be attending high school in Texas at the end of this month. Please pray for God's blessing on Jonathan's journey. His father is Pastor Antonio, one of our advisors here and the president of the Yucatan synod and leader of the Peninsular presbytery. Many of you may remember him as one of our early translators. (See Photo below.)

The other weekend, in the middle of a visit from friends at our home, a group of 7 mariachi band members entered our house with trumpets blaring, guitars strumming and violins vibrating. It was a surprise for Kawika as a farewell gift from our close friends, Valetina and Bere. It was an absolutely wild and beautiful experience. We never imagined having a Mariachi band perform in our home.

Yet, this wasn't the only farewell surprise waiting for Kawika. Diana, his elementary school director and teacher, and her husband Juan invited us over for dinner. When we arrived at their home, we were led to their backyard under a canopy which had been set up like a mini outdoor chapel. A Bible and a purple cloth were laid out on a table. Diana reminded us that Kawika had missed his 6th grade graduation ceremony at Yaldud back in 2017. We had been on furlough in the states at that time and clearly remember Kawika agonizing over missing his graduation with his peers.

Standing under the canopy, we were in awe of this teacher who never misses a step. One of the life lessons that Yaldud teachers instill in their students is that they finish what they start. Fittingly, Diana then proceeded with the order of the 6th grade Yaldud ceremonial rites and presented Kawika three symbols: A gold key (Godly wisdom), a purple cape (childhood) and a Bible (God's truth). During the ceremony, she asked Inez to remove the purple cape from Kawika, signifying the end of his childhood and the beginning of a new chapter. Not an easy feat for Inez. She clung and hugged the cape in her arms before putting it behind him. Diana then led us into an offering prayer entrusting Kawika to the Lord. A truly remarkable and unforgettable farewell.

Speaking of letting go, we know this is the stage where our parent-child relationship changes for good and that we'll need to amp our trust in God to lead Kawika as he makes his own way in the world.

The good news is he'll be surrounded by family and friends in the Seattle area. He'll finally be closer to Malia, Adam and our grandkids and will have the chance to hang out with our extended family more. And in Washington State, he’ll be closer to friends from churches in the Pacific NW he’s served with on the field here. Last month, Kawika had the pleasure of being a part of First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Everett's graduation church service. We joined online to watch his name being announced during the service. Having served alongside work teams from this church since Kawika was a baby, the service meant so much to us. Thank you FPC for including him as part of your family.

Likewise, we want to thank each of you who has prayed for Kawika, served alongside him in Yucatan, hosted him in your home, and supported him in friendship and financial support. You have helped to influence and mold him into the person he is today. Through your kindness, you have shown him Christ. We are grateful!

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

A personal psalm of the Ahinas. Looking back in their journey with Kawika in Yucatan.

We give thanks to God for his unfailing love.

Let all that we are sing a new song to the Lord!

Praise be to His name!

When we were lost as fresh foreigners in Mexico,

understanding was far from our reach.

Yet, the Lord saw fit to send us a child,

even in unfamiliar terrain.

But we put our trust in Christ,

the author of our peace.

We called out for His guidance, and He answered.

He sent us loving pastors, doctors, and teachers to counsel us.

They helped us lead Kawika on a sound path.

With every new stage of our son’s childhood, God helped us.

Yes, God helped us with every new stage.

In Yucatan, far from our homeland,

God showered Kawika with second mothers, grandmothers, aunties and uncles.

He did not hold back the floodgates of His love.

Now our son will be a foreigner in the land of his kin.

God, show him the way to go and let him entrust his life to you.

Let him not forget your commands,

which are life and strength to his bones.

Let every morning bring word to Kawika of your unfailing love,

Let him remember your good deeds and put his trust in you.

Declare your plans for him, oh Lord, a hope for a future and not harm.

As for us, we will remember your goodness and faithfulness all of our days.

Let all that we are sing a new song to the Lord.

Praise be to His name!

Slideshow: A Rite of Passage From Kawika's Infancy to Adulthood in Yucatan, Mexico

(Click on the right arrow > on the photo to advance to next slide. The > arrow may be a bit hard to see, but it's on the right side of the photo toward the middle edge)


Prayer Requests For:

God's continued guidance in our ministry and for the U.S. groups that are fundraising, planning and praying as they prepare to come to Yucatan. As well, for the Solo Cristo Salva church in Chalmuch as they get ready to build and receive these teams.

Kawika's transition to the U.S. and college -- academics, culture shock, adapting, integrating well, and finding a solid faith community to support and encourage him.

Our transition as parents. We were reminded that although Kawika is leaving our nest, the nest is not empty -- there's still two of us. Amen!

Good health, safety and travel mercies for our upcoming trip to the Pacific NW and New Jersey.

Protection over our home during our absence during hurricane season. Our friends will be house sitting.

Jonathan, Cheli's grandson, who will be attending high school in Texas this month.

For Jim Darden's wife, Martha and her family in their new transition in life. As well as for Altadena Valley Presbyterian church members as they mourn the loss of Jim on this side of eternity.

Our friend Doña Magda from Maxcanu whose kidney surgery had to be postponed until September due to a malfunctioning machine needed for the operation. She has suffered from a lot of pain because of a kidney stone since the fall. Pray that the Lord will sustain her as she awaits the surgery.

Thank you for your prayers for Inez. Her back is doing much better and her sugar level is under control. She was also able to get her dental issues worked on thanks to a special donation from Calvin Presbyterian.


TidBits in Yucatan

On Crazy Nicknames

Until we moved to Yucatan, we thought only Hawaiians use seemingly derogatory nick names in their everyday conversations. Like “hey watch out stupid head!” to warn your careless sibling crossing the street. But here in Mexico, some words that would be avoided in other parts of the world, are used freely and many times affectionately.

We remember our early days here being alarmed when people in the grocery store would shout out to their spouses: “Flaco (skinny), grab some tomatoes!” Or “Gorda (fatso), we need more bread.” And the most shocking to us: “Negrito (little black person), could you help me?” What was more confusing was when that person wasn’t skinny, overweight or dark skinned. It just happens, for instance, that if a person was chubby as a little child yet grew to be thin, the “gordito” name stuck. There's a saying: Nicknames stick to people; and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive. To help you realize these nicknames mean no harm, just take a look at who these businesses are named after:


Hawaiian Day Anytime, Anywhere

You'll be amazed at how many people in Yucatán enjoy putting on Hawaiian-themed festivities. Which makes our islands seem not so far away. From kindergarten graduations, fiestas and spirit week at Kawika's high school, they'll find what they can to come dressed ready for the celebration. The only things missing is the flaming knife dance!


Thanks 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, 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 (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:

If you have any questions, please contact us at, 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.

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