Ultimately, no matter how hard we try, we will fail and disappoint a child. We’re human. Our job is to show them no matter how we or others may fail them, they have a good Father who will always love them. When they come to that understanding and we get to walk through that with them, THAT’s when it’s all worth it.” ~~Mary Vassar 

Aaron and Mary Vassar, along with their three daughters, came to Coyote Hill as relief staff in August of 2018. They became full-time Home Parents in The Atherton Home in January of 2019. We’re excited to share their story with you. 

We’re from Kansas City, and found out about Coyote Hill about seven years ago. We were at a Christian concert weekend and were amazed by this family with a lot of multi-ethnic children. It was so fun watching how they all interacted together, so we introduced ourselves and asked them their story. It was Charlie and Jaimee Marshman, Home Parents in the Zimmer Home from 2011-2014. We asked lots of questions about Coyote Hill, and it ended with Charlie inviting us to come check it out. 

Father daughter at Kansas City Chiefs game | coyotehill.org

We did, and it was the neatest thing we’d ever seen. It intrigued us. Mary’s father is adopted. I and my seven siblings were abandoned by our mother at young ages, so I was raised by my aunt. Mary was in an abusive relationship before we met, and her husband abandoned her and their baby girl. The idea of serving and working with abused and neglected children stirred both our hearts. 

Sisters at Christmas | coyotehill.org

We decided to apply as Home Parents. Yet when the call came saying they were in need of Home Parents and could we come for an interview, we were caught off guard and got cold feet. Our oldest, Brooklyn, wasn’t interested in it, and we were just filled with doubts about whether or not it was the right thing for us. God knew the timing wasn’t right and we needed a bit more time to grow and prepare for this work, but it stayed in the back of our minds. 

A few years later, I was involved in men’s ministry in our church and had been praying that God would use our family somehow. We love being together as a family and we kept thinking it would be neat if we could do a work or ministry that allowed us to all serve together. We had kept in touch with the Marshmans – they’re now some of our best friends. One day, Charlie called to let me know there would soon be a position opening up at Coyote Hill. I didn’t say anything about the call to Mary, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I just prayed that if it was something God wanted us to do, He would make that clear. Out of the blue that very same day, Mary walked in the room and said, ‘I don’t know why, but I can’t get Coyote Hill out of my mind!’”  

–Aaron Vassar
Aaron and Mary Vassar December 2019 | coyotehill.org

I told her about Charlie’s call. We were still hesitant though, as we thought Brooklyn was opposed to the idea. Later that day when Brooklyn was there, the subject of Coyote Hill came up, and she asked, “Why didn’t we ever go to work there?” We explained that we thought she didn’t want to, but she expressed that she was willing to think about it again. 

We took that as our go ahead to make the call and express our renewed interest. Bill Atherton arranged for our family to come spend a weekend on site. Our youngest two, Mackenzie and Hailey, were ready, willing and excited. At their young ages, they weren’t as connected at school or our church and Coyote Hill looked like a ton of fun to them. But Brooklyn was getting ready to enter her freshman year of high school. She had good friends, enjoyed our church’s youth group and was involved in things she enjoyed at school, like drama. Our last night of our weekend visit, however, she said it was okay and she was willing to do this. 

young girls with horse | coyotehill.org

We went home and started the process of selling our house. We had tried a few years before, but after three weeks on the market with no showings, we decided to give up. This time, we had twelve showings on the very first day, and four offers! The offer we accepted was higher than our asking price. It was like God was kicking us out the door and saying, “It’s time. Let’s go do this thing!” 

It’s been the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but we get to experience Jesus in ways that other people don’t get to. We NEED him in order to do what we do. Other people may be able to get by day to day mostly relying on themselves. But without God, we would never get through this. We get to be the hands and feet of Jesus. 

Mary Vassar with Development Director Kelly Myers | coyotehill.org

Our community and church have embraced us. We needed a smaller, supportive church that understood who we are and the intense ministry we’re involved in. Our church (Harrisburg Christian Church) is so supportive and understanding of us and our situation. They ask us what THEY can do to serve us. They give us the grace to just come and be who we are without expecting us to do more.  

foster daughter places stickers on dad | coyotehill.org

Several years ago, my mom died in January at the age of 39, a homeless alcoholic who had abandoned all eight of her children. I believe it was not a coincidence that we moved in as Home Parents at The Atherton Home, a home that can hold eight abused and neglected children, on a day in January when I was 39 years old. The significance of that was not lost on me.  God seemed to be making it perfectly clear that this was exactly where he wanted me. I can get down on my knees and look a child in the eye and say, ‘I get it. I understand. I can show you the scars.’ It’s been quite the ride, but we love what we do here.” 

–Aaron Vassar

There’s not one specific story we can point to and say, ‘Ah ha, that’s why God called us to this.’ Honestly, there are many days when we feel like we’re failing and we’re not going to make it. But then you see a kiddo standing beside you, telling you that they see Christ in you and they want to accept Christ and His healing in their own life. THAT makes it all worth it. We’ve helped lead three different children to Christ in the past year. That’s what we live for. It’s not for our glory. It’s not for the glory of Coyote Hill. It’s to give our Father glory and to expose these children to His grace and forgiveness.  

Ultimately, no matter how hard we try, we will fail and disappoint a child. We’re human. Our job is to show them no matter how we or others may fail them, they have a good Father who will always love them. When they come to that understanding and we get to walk through that with them, THAT’s when it’s all worth it. 

~~Aaron & Mary Vassar 

Home Parents in front of the Atherton Home | coyotehill.org
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