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  • Writer's pictureYucatan Helping Hands

Winter Update 2023-2024

Note: Due to our crazy workload, this Update is belated by 3 months.
So as you read on, imagine yourself in February!
You can expect to receive our late Spring update soon!

Chickens graze at the site of a new water plant being built in Chalmuch, Yucatán

Dear Friends & Family,


As always, it’s wonderful to greet you! We’ve been enjoying cooler temperatures in the 70s and waking up to a “cold air mass” in the upper 50s this past week. Even Don Bruno (Byron), "El Hawaiiano," who normally goes around the house shirtless and in shorts, has put on his long sleeve shirts and long pants. While many of our friends complain about this weather, both of us appreciate every minute of it knowing this “freezing” climate won’t last for long.


Since our last post, we’ve been busy preparing for our upcoming construction teams, which we will share in more detail later.  We also had the blessing of receiving a team from Rolling Bay Presbyterian church in November for the development stage of our water plant project in Chalmuch. Shortly after, Thanksgiving arrived, and we had the privilege of sharing our turkey meal with our group of local advisors. A couple of days later, Kawika visited us for the Christmas holiday. Right after we greeted him at the airport with friends, we whisked him away to one of his favorite restaurants so he could chow down on Pastor Pizza, something he'd been craving for while in the U.S. We enjoyed Christmas quietly together as a family, after hosting visitors in December. And the celebrations continue as Byron just turned 70!



These days we find ourselves swamped working out details, facing delays and adjusting to changes in plans. It's easy to get bogged down and exhausted. The apostle Paul understood the source of his energy and strength. In Colossians he writes “to this end, I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” In Philippians, he says: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” A powerful reminder for us in this busy season.


We're excited and look forward to receiving this year's teams, knowing that we would not be here if it weren't for God's grace, and your outpouring of love and generosity in giving of your resources, time and interest in our ministry. We thank you each of you.

 

May God bless you! Blessings & Aloha,

Byron & Inez

 

Covenant agreement signed for New Water Plant System in Chalmuch

- Rolling Bay Presbyterian & Solo Cristo Salva Church in Chalmuch



In November, we hosted a group from Rolling Bay Presbyterian church (RBPC) which is working with the Solo Cristo Salva church (SCS) in Chalmuch. The team consists of team and project management leader, Laura Alonso; two installation trainers, Dan Nordmark and Brian Glover; and, Lori Glover, one of the two educators who will be training the local educators with Inez.


Once the construction is done and the building is ready for the purification system, Ted and Iris Eimon from RBPC will be joining this team to help with project management and education training, respectively. If all goes well, they'll all be here in April for the implementation stage of the project and inauguration of the water plant.


With the guidance of Pastor Freddy, a local network coordinator for Living Waters for the World (LWW), the two churches signed a covenant agreement heralding the beginning of a new water purification plant. In addition to helping fund the construction of the building, RBPC will provide the reverse osmosis water plant system and train SCS participants.



It was an intense week of meetings, decision making and touring three other LWW water plant sites in Opichen, Mani and Cantamayec, where RBPC constructed the plant building in 2018. Visiting these sites was very educational as we learned more about the ins and outs of running the plant from local pastors and operators.


We were also able to catch up with our beloved ministry cook Doña Cheli and her husband Jose Francisco for dinner in Merida at a lovely restaurant, Holoch, where their son, Obed, is a partner and an award-winning chef. Our group feasted on octopus, pork belly tacos, cochinita-pork pizzas and the like. Obed also treated us to samples of exquisite dishes and desserts, including flan made of coconut and goat cream. An absolute culinary treat during the hard week of work.


In addition, while in Mani, we were able to meet up with Cristino (in photo), who for health reasons left the masonry trade. Cristino and his brother Charlie have been an integral part of our ministry in the past leading construction projects. They are respected and beloved by past RBPC groups who have worked with them. It was a tearful goodbye for Cristino as he said his farewell to the team, thanking them with profound gratitude for their work in Yucatán.


Meanwhile, the RBPC implementation team has continued to work diligently with revising site plans as changes arise, meeting regularly and planning LWW health education lessons with Inez and materials to be purchased for the educational training in April.


 

Upcoming Work Teams for Water Plant


Three-way Partnership to Help SCS Construct New LWW Water Plant


Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church (RBPC)


We're gearing up for the arrival of RBPC in mid-February, the first of two construction teams to help with the building of the new Living Waters for the World (LWW) water plant. No stranger to constructing the buildings that house the reverse osmosis systems, RBPC has constructed two other plant buildings in 2018 (Cantamayec) and 2019 (Tikinmul). We are excited to receive the team which will consist of the veteran builders, youth and children.


Since July, SCS has been working hard raising funds to cover labor expenses for the building’s foundation and walls. The church has also organized work parties to contribute muscle and grit to the project. We've been busy working with Pastor Jeremias in ordering and purchasing materials as well as meeting with church leaders as construction progresses. We are pleased to see how the building is coming together. We can already imagine the new roof installed!



Northwest University Women's Volleyball Team


Also, we’re getting ready to host a group of 23 people from the NU Volleyball team led by coach Steve Bain. We had the privilege of meeting them back in the summer at our home church, Calvin Presbyterian.  This will be our first time receiving a sports team who in addition to helping with the construction of the plant but also will be providing volleyball clinics for the community and is scheduled to play against volleyball teams in Yucatan in a nearby town. The team is a godsend to help contribute funding, resources and muscles to this project. We’re so excited for their arrival!


Shout out to Calvin Presbyterian Church. We're also blessed and thankful for the wonderful support of our home church from Washington state which is also generously donating funds for the building and the installation of the water plant. It's a privilege to be on the ground here, witnessing everyone coming alongside SCS to provide the Chalmuch community clean water through Living Waters for the Word.


 

Upcoming Projects


Church In Akil to Receive New Roof Thanks to Mitchell Road Presbyterian


Masons and brothers from the Filadelfia church in Akil remove the last of the deteriorating roof to be replaced in March

In mid-March, we'll receive a team from Mitchell Road Presbyterian church consisting of young adult fellows, high schoolers, and ministry leaders who are helping with the construction of a new church roof for the Filadelfia Presbyterian church in Akil. When we presented the news to the local church that Pastor Scott from Mitchell Road (Engage the World ministry) would be bringing a team to help them with this project, it produced a new momentum and spark among the local congregation.


Back in 2018, Filadelfia began its efforts to build a new church building as the existing one had been deteriorating gradually for years. Then the pandemic came along with the Cristobal storm that caused major flooding and damage in the region. When the church leaders assessed the condition of the temple, they realized that their collapsed roof was impossible to repair.


They removed most of the roof with the intention of rebuilding, albeit slowly with the limited resources they had during the difficult years of the pandemic shut down. As a result, the church until this day worships and meets in a patio-like hall outside under a laminate roof.


We’ve had the firsthand experience of being there during a service when it was cold and drizzling. Because of the winds, the light rain entered where we were and made our clothes damp. As the leaders say, the children suffer the most.


Since Filadelfia received the news that help would come, the men, women and children have been busy washing cars and motorcycles, selling clothing, and preparing food to raise funds for the project. The men have gone into the fields to chop wood necessary for the construction. It’s wonderful to see the excitement and the church joyful in working hard together.



So far, the congregants have been able purchase the materials and labor to complete the new walls in anticipation of Mitchell Road's arrival to complete the roof in March.



When we visited the church there the other week to thank the brothers and sisters for their dedication and work, Pastor Emanuel gave thanks to the Lord that their prayers for a new roof was coming to fruition. Our heads bowed, our clothes damp and the light rain on our skin, we were humbled sensing the Lord’s mighty working power among his people. Just earlier we had been crunching numbers with the church leaders on the cost of materials. But under the laminate roof, we realized that as mundane as calculating numbers or cooking hotdogs or washing cars might be, God uses these little tasks to bring community together in a profound way that results with a recognition of a power greater than ourselves.



 

First Presbyterian of North Palm Beach Looking at Possible Project in Maní


This month we also hosted a youth team leader, Kim Sanders, who came on a scouting trip for First Presbyterian North Palm Beach (FPNPB), Fl. She was introduced to us by our retired pastor, Will Ackles, who attends FPNPB with his wife Nancy. We arranged a meeting with Kim, Pastor Will, and the leaders of the Divino Pastor church about their need of a new cement floor. If the project happens, this won't the first time working with Divino Pastor as we've built homes in this pueblo with First Presbyterian Church in Everett, WA. We had a great meeting with the leaders there, and Pastor Will was able to re-connect with a former seminary student of his, Pastor Marcos of Divino Pastor. Our friends in Maní also surprised us with a birthday cake for Byron and Will, who share the same birthday (February 5th). Besides a possible new floor for the Divino Pastor church, there is another church project in Dzizantun that is being considered for a summer project by FPNPB. Looking forward to see how the Lord leads us!



 

Prayer Requests For:


  • Preparations for our upcoming projects and teams. Please pray for us, the rural churches and visiting churches who are all in planning mode, and that the the Lord will guide us with his wisdom and strength.

  • Kawika who is now back at Seattle Pacific College. He suffers from the cold weather and is misses Yucatán. He dreams of home and the streets of Mérida! Pray for peace and health.

  • Byron, who turned 70 yrs old February 5th. As Pastor Antonio said, "Wow. Byron's 70 but he still think he's 20!" Forever young. Please pray for his health and his ongoing foot problem.

 

Tidbits in Yucatán


There's Something Rich About Marquesitas Besides the Flavor!




There's an ubiquitous dessert from Yucatán called Marquesitas. They're sold all over Mérida - as much as the creperies found on the streets of Paris. You can find marquesitas at local markets, parks, fairs, and beaches. We once attended a wedding that included a marquesita stand in the array of desserts. Imagine the long line of elegantly dressed guests who waited for this simple savory street treat. It'd be like having Hawaiian shaved-ice at a formal wedding. (Actually, not a bad idea.)


So, what is a marquesita? Basically it's like a crepe, only it's a crunchy waffle cone. As you watch the vendor pour the batter out on a hot grill before you, you can decide which filling to order or have a combination of any of the following: caramel sauce, shaved edam cheese, strawberries, bananas, cream cheese, strawberry jam, chocolate syrup and even peanut butter. Our go to favorite is one made simply with caramel sauce and edam cheese. The gooey sweet and salty mixture is incredibly decadent. We make sure we have hot coffee on hand to go with it. And because it's quite filling, we always share one.


The history of the marquesita goes something like this: An ice cream vendor sometime in the 1930s or 40s needed to create another dessert during the winter months due to lagging ice cream sales. Hence, the hot waffle-cone turned crepe. No wonder we crave marquesitas especially around Christmas time.


What's rich about Marquesitas besides its flavor? It's in the name. Apparently the original vendor named his dessert after two daughters of a wealthy marquis who both loved eating them.


If you ever get to Yucatán, be sure to try one. You won't have to go too far to find them!


 

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.

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