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Paul and Beth Kostner Newsletter (Fall 2021)

Here we come Zambia—all 16 of us! Oh, wait, we didn’t get to go to Zambia...

What a summer! My phrase this year is “But God...”—mainly due to Paul’s cancer scare in January. I went into this summer with “But God” on my mind. I was excited to see God work in my life, in the kids’ lives, and I was excited to see how He would crush Covid so that we could do what He called us to do this summer. But God...

Our Leader Development Team began on June 6th, a week earlier than Boot Camp. There were 12 kids and four leaders. They spent their first week going through their Boot Camp, tents and all. The day before the other participants arrived, they moved into dormitories and began the first part of their “project” which was assisting in almost all aspects of Boot Camp.

These 12 kids were AMAZING! They helped in classes such as music, puppets, drama and construction classes. They cleaned bathrooms, did KP every morning, helped judge the OC, assisted the Video Department and ran cameras during the evening rallies. They did whatever was needed and they did it with enthusiasm. It was such a blessing for me to walk by the bathrooms in the mornings and hear them talking and laughing or singing praise songs as they cleaned. We began every morning singing “Lord Prepare Me” and ended every evening with the “Doxology”. They grabbed my heart big time!

All the team members, leaders and volunteers were required to come in with a negative Covid test. We had a “closed” Boot Camp and no one was allowed to leave or come in. The first week went great. However, the dreaded Covid started showing up right before Commissioning. All foreign teams were required to have a PCR test within 72 hours of flying. The testing began the day before Commissioning and there were some positive tests and crushed team members and leaders. Two of our kids tested positive and one never found his passport, so we were down to nine. The other Zambia team lost a leader who ended up going to Honduras because their leader had Covid. But three leaders with nine kids was very doable. Our team was scheduled to leave on Monday. We couldn’t wait to get to Zambia! But God...

Our President came to Paul and me on Sunday morning (Commissioning was on Saturday) and asked us to switch to the “Dream Team”. Yep, the kids and leaders who had tested positive for Covid—all 45 team members and four leaders. Paul and I, along with Caleb (our Zambia back up leader), joined the four “Covid” leaders and 45 team members and became one HUGE team!

It was hard, very hard. We had spent three weeks bonding with our Zambia team and now we were given a new team and had to watch those nine amazing LDT kids join the other Zambia team and leave with them. But it was also very hard for all of those team members and leaders who had tested positive. We were all grieving and trying to process the sudden changes thrust upon us. I struggled with giving up nine amazing kids and I struggled with taking on so many who were hurting too.

As Richard (our President) introduced us to the team, I looked upon those sea of faces and wondered if they would be able to capture my now broken heart. My second concern was if I would ever learn all of their names. Both happened—they captured my heart within a day or two and I learned their names within about two weeks. But God...

What an amazing group of kids. One of the staff told me that we were getting some of the “best of the best” and he was so right. However, there were those who were a little rough around the edges. There were those that stepped up and were leaders among their peers and we watched as the others also rose to the occasion. As I said, it didn’t take long for the team to grab my heart. I loved watching them interact with one another, laugh, sing and play. I loved watching them all grow closer to the Lord. I loved watching them encourage one another. They were such an encouragement to me.

Although the symptoms of Covid were minimal if any, many did experience the Covid fatigue. Most were able to work in the mornings and rest (or play) in the afternoons. It was fun watching Paul put together the work list. They would ask for five and get 10! They were able to accomplish many jobs here at the base including clearing brush, rebuilding a Sunday school pavilion, organizing, packing a shipping container, painting chalkboards for our Sunday school ministries overseas, taking down walls, etc. The work accomplished put us ahead 2-3 months on what needed to be done here at the base.

It wasn’t all work and no play. There were advantages to being here in Florida—air-conditioned dorms, cold drinks, a swimming pool, washers and dryers, canoes, kayaks and fishing. Once everyone was past the two-week quarantine mark, we were able to go to the beach and Ron Jon Surf Shop on one Saturday and also we all went air-boating which was a lot of fun.

Now, cooking for all of us...There were three lady leaders who had tested positive for Covid, so there were four of us in the kitchen. It was very hot and humid, which made making cinnamon rolls a breeze. We all worked well together and found our niches in the cooking process. I am so thankful for Nellie, Sarah and Kim and all they did to make cooking so easy and fun. However, it was three weeks before I ventured into making a meal once we were home.

During our last week of evening devotions, one of the girls stood up and talked about her plans last year to go to India and how it was cancelled. Then she had plans to go to Zambia and got Covid. And the last thing she said was, “I would not want to be with any other people and in any other place.” God knew exactly what He was doing in keeping us all in Florida. Our experience was not any less important than those who went overseas. He placed every single one of us EXACTLY where He wanted us and He doesn’t make mistakes. But God...

Now on the home front. Lindsay continues to do well as an adoption specialist and was recently promoted. She is also playing on a recreational soccer team and we are looking forward to going to some of her games which will help us with our soccer craving. Colton is looking to return to college in January. He still wants to do film work on the side, but realizes that he needs something more secure, so he is looking into doing something with computer programming. Danae moved home in June (and had their first roommate reunion in July...). She was able to keep her job and is working remotely. Right now her office is in the living room. It seems to be working out well. BJ just passed his year mark (with a raise) with ETA (a space company). He enjoys the variety of jobs and working with his hands. He is also going to school part time.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us this summer. It was not the summer we expected, but it was the summer that God planned. We also appreciate your faithfulness in supporting us. We continue to love what we are doing and are thankful for the opportunity to serve Him through this ministry.

In Christ,

Paul & Beth

For our LDT and Dream Teams:

We love and miss you all tons! You grabbed our hearts and for that we are thankful. Keep seeking Jesus! “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.” II Thessalonians 2:16-17