Missionaries… only backwards.

Selling it all. Pioneering to learn. Risking to restore families.

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Remaining in mystery

Posted by avaughan on Sep 27, 2023

The seasons are beginning to change.  The beauty of it all enthralls me.You can feel it in the atmosphere. You can see it on the trees. You can literally hear it in the wind. Something is coming. But not yet. That is how I am feeling. I know God has something coming… A shift in seasons… Not sure what path I’ll walk down next… I just know there appears to be limited visibility… and my paths always seem dusty… But I continue to live in the not-yet. As I press deeper into what God might have. He seems content allowing me to remain in mystery. There is tension as we live in the in-between. I wonder if you have ever felt the same? Honestly, it feels humbling and embarrassing to not know exactly what is next. It feels like I have been in this current season for so long… At times I find myself being tempted to get swept away by frustration and confusion. Often I feel like I’m frantically spinning my wheels, but I’m not making any progress. Yet, I want to exit this season the same way I entered… With joyful faith… With so much unrealistic hope that over that nearly 9 years ago we packed up our four small children, got rid of all our belongings, and began a new life in a new and unknown world. We knew nothing and yet we had the thrill of hope. I don’t want uncertainties and practicalities to allow hope fatigue. For those who are looking… They will sense the season change long before it arrives. Tiny sign by...

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July 2023

Posted by avaughan on Aug 6, 2023

Blessings and love to you.  Thank you for taking time to read this… thank you for ongoing care for me. Recently, I had the opportunity to return to my beloved Costa Rica…   I was honored and blessed to reconnect with those I deeply love. Some have literally grown up right before my eyes… both physically and spiritually. I am forever thankful that God puts the lonely in a family.  When we were so far from home, God gave us Kingdom Family.   As I’ve processed my trip, I have three main thoughts resonating in my head. First, in all honesty, I’m asking the Lord what He wants me to do.  I don’t feel like I’m making the impact that I had hoped to make.  I’m referring mostly to my involvement in the Bible Institute.  I’m not totally sure what to think… I thought I had much more traction.  To be honest, this left me feeling discouraged.  I wanted to have something magnificent to show… with much fruit… and deep roots spreading broadly. Did I make the same mistake that I have seen so often from missionaries?  That’s the mistake of assuming that I know what my Costa Rican friends want and need.  It’s never done with mal-intent, but it causes missionaries to do what might not actually be meeting a true perceived need. Instead, I felt chopped down in many ways… yet, the Lord was surprising me with some new, unexpected growth.   Second, the Lord encouraged me by reminding me of what He can do with a little seed.  A friend of mine in Costa Rica has...

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Quick update and a challenge…

Posted by avaughan on May 29, 2023

Many blessings to you.  Thank you for reading this.  Thank you for your love and your support.  Even if you don’t read the rest of this, I just want you to know that I appreciate you. First, a quick update… Life is great… just so full.  I still can’t believe how amazing the culture is in my new role at Midtown Community Church.  I really love these people!   I see God’s hand moving in so many ways. My spirit feels hopeful and expectant. In terms of the ministry in Costa Rica, I had hoped to go in April.  Unfortunately, the funds were not there, but the Lord has provided other ways.  I have received some funds (I’m extremely grateful!), and the Lord has also given me some work on the side (landscaping / mowing / pressure washing – I’m learning).  The work has been a blessing because 1) I get time with my father-in-law (who I love, respect, and enjoy), 2) it’s a financial blessing, and 3) I get some exercise. I am looking forward to returning to Costa Rica to serve pastors and local churches in mid-July.  Good news… my dear friend, Ben (who is my ministry partner in the Bible Institute) and I are continuing to move forward.  Even when I am not able to make it back, he is continuing the work that we have both begun.   The picture below is an example of him investing in healthy, Christ-honoring marriages (he’s already lead one marriage workshop and walked with many couples… he’s on the far right of the pic). I am very grateful for his heart,...

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beginning again…

Posted by avaughan on Feb 22, 2023

A Year since we moved from Costa Rica… I never would have dreamed that God would have asked me to return again… It’s terrifying in some ways… triggering my nerves… yet, so exciting and beautiful in other ways.  I’m so grateful for how the Lord orchestrated it. After I returned to Knoxville from my recent trip to Costa Rica, all of my loved ones sweetly asked, “How was your trip?!?” Well, overall, I would say that it was – “Great!” However, it was a unique ambivalence. It was strange to feel such conflicting emotions.  I’ll explain… I was so thrilled to get to spend time with my dear friend, Erick. I was so honored to preach at his church, but it definitely felt quite stretching to prep a sermon in Spanish again! Other familiar faces felt like a gift as well.. This is Gigi and Gramps… as we affectionately refer to them. They adopted us while we were in Costa Rica.  The continue to faithfully serve in the church we formally pastored. This is my dear friend, Jorge. He was my first friend when I moved to Costa Rica, and he’s still a good friend!  It has a been one of my deepest joys to walk beside him.  His friendship offered rich encouragement when I felt so alone. Because of the number of years we were in Costa Rica… God has allowed my eyes to see little boys turn into young men. It only stirs deeper love and longing to continue to pour into the investments we have made. From tico elders and pastors… It felt right to reconnect...

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Rejection Redeemed

Posted by avaughan on Dec 8, 2022

I don’t know how to do this.  For some reason, writing this post has felt brutal. I’ve deleted the two previous posts I wrote… Then, I made a couple videos to post.  I even posted one of them, but I took it down after several hours.  I am struggling to communicate the whole story (concisely), the degree of desperation we have felt, and the overwhelming gratitude… Roughly 8 years ago, we left all that knew to serve in Costa Rica.  The hardest part was leaving those we love. We had no clue what we were doing… Everything was step by step… Holding tightly to Jesus and each other We sought obedience. There were so many “firsts” for us… maybe “seconds?” Kelly and I had to re-marry for legal documents. Day by day, our hearts became deeply intertwined with the people. The Lord graciously provided leaders in the community who invited us to serve alongside… Our children were our dearest ministry partners during this season of extreme learning… I was fortunate to have more opportunities to teach and to train than I could actually do. Even though I was learning so much from my new friends, I loved being able to care for their hearts, offer friendship, and provide ministry tools that they did not have the opportunity to learn. Our deep desire was to embrace the people and the culture… Learning a new language, a new climate, a new way of thinking… We chose to be humble students. Many of you came alongside us and partnered in our new world… You loved us and served us so well. My...

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It doesn’t have to make sense

Posted by avaughan on Nov 18, 2022

Life is a bit of mystery. Life with Jesus… Can be even more so. Accepting the invitation to FAITH… Practicing trust in the unseen… Can feel a bit like a maze. At first glance… Intrigue and adventure beckon…. The mystery of what lies ahead stirs curiosity and life. The journey welcomes us with… Hope lined paths… As we surge forward in expectation. Rich joys are interchanged among travel companions… Chapters intermix with others sojourning. History is written with every turn. Life overflows with mystery. Constant change presents Unforeseen obstacles… Directional shifts… Learning… Gains and losses… New opportunities and withered dreams… Successes and fumblings… New clarities and confusion. Just when comfortability motions to set in… Unexpected re-navigation steers unto the new and untraveled. Peace must be made with what no longer is… To make room for the bounty that has not yet fully come into view… We must never forget… The trails tell a story… And every good story includes beauty and ashes. We must fight against the spirit of offense when we cannot see or understand… Gratitude in the great unknown keeps the soil permeable to growth. Realizing the grandness of our paths reminds us of our scale… Whispering to ours souls… We were not designed to navigate on our own. We must have a guide. Mazes speak volumes regarding life. How we enter is not how we finish… Getting turned around and losing your footing can be frequent… Constant guidance from The Designer of the path is crucial… Patience, perseverance and grace are essential… We must constantly remind our feeling hearts… Our view is limited and it doesn’t...

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