Dear Friends, Family and Former Team Members,
What comes to your mind when you think of Fiji? An exotic vacation? Beautiful islands? Crystal clear seas? Survivor? What comes to my mind when I think of Fiji—an amazing summer with 24 great kids, fantastic missionaries, a beautiful camp, spectacular sunsets, sunrises and stars to gaze at and beautiful weather. Without a doubt, this has been one of our best summers all the way around.
We began with two weeks of training at the Lord’s Boot Camp. Due to the large amount of rain, our tent site had to be moved right before the kids arrived. Despite the heat, humidity and mosquitoes, Boot Camp proved to be a very good experience. The Lord moved in a mighty way in the kids’, leaders’ and staff lives. We had great speakers in our evening rallies. Contemporary Christian artist, Lindsay McCaul, a former team member, came and shared her music during one of the rallies and also shared that 20 years ago she accepted Christ as her Savior at Boot Camp.
Commissioning was June 30 and we immediately boarded our bus for our trip to the Orlando International Airport. But before we even got off the island, the bus broke down. However, the driver was a mechanic and got the bus back on the road fairly quickly. During this unanticipated stop, the team members began to pray and then began singing praises which continued on during our hour-long trip to the airport.
Once we arrived at the airport, we quickly unloaded and organized our bags before filling up on all the food and drinks the parents provided for our team. After everyone had their fill, we moved our bags inside and got comfortable for a long night. Early the next morning, we boarded our American Airlines flight to Los Angeles where we again waited for many hours. During this time, many of the team members (and three leaders) walked to In and Out Burger. We checked into our flight that evening and flew right before midnight directly to Nadi, Fiji. We arrived at 6 AM (Fiji time) and were met by our missionaries, Bimal and Salochna. We loaded up the trucks and boarded the mini vans for a short drive to our project site, Sabeto Youth Camp.
Wow, the site that greeted us was jaw-dropping! The camp is a former US military hospital from WWII. It is beautiful with wide open fields surrounded by sugar cane fields and mountains in the distance. The weather was very pleasant, in the high 70’s to low 80’s. We rarely experienced rain and that was only sprinkling. The team was housed in dorms with a toilet/shower building close by. We had a large room with a mini kitchen and small bathroom. The camp kitchen was nice with refrigeration/freezer (rare on TMI teams), a stove and a large rice maker. After unloading our duffels and getting them into the dorms, we were treated to brunch by our hosts who spent the rest of the day preparing a Fijian meal for the team which we ate that night.
Our project was to build a dormitory for the camp. The foundation was already poured, so we immediately began with the block laying. In addition, the team also painted the missionaries’ house, the dormitories, benches and tables. The team was able to successfully complete the building with putting on the roof the day before we left.
In addition to the work projects, the team was able to minister in three Hindu schools, sharing the Gospel with these precious kids. They also enjoyed an afternoon at an orphanage, playing with the kids there. They ministered all four Sundays in two different churches.
Paul was mainly responsible for running the work site, and I was mainly preparing meals for the team (they ate a LOT!). During Bible study, I taught the book of James which was made so much more enjoyable due to their hunger for the Word of God. They were quick to share after their daily personal devotions and during their evening devotions. For the most part, they truly sought to know the Lord better and to grow spiritually in Him. They were great at encouraging one another in their walks with the Lord and continue to do this even to this day. There were many opportunities to counsel, encourage and be encouraged by the team members. We challenged them and they challenged us spiritually. And we ended every evening by getting in a circle, holding hands and singing the Doxology.
Thank you so much for your prayers for us and the team this summer. The summer was definitely a booster to the call of God on our lives!
Here is a report from Danae and her summer in Madagascar:
First and foremost I want to thank all of you for being in prayer for my team and me this summer in Madagascar, as well as my parents in Fiji! I strongly believe that these summers are so impactful for everyone involved and the fact that they go smoothly is due heavily to the fact that they are bathed in prayer. So thank you for being a part of my incredible summer!
This summer in Madagascar I had the privilege to lead 16 amazing teenagers (ages 16-20) with the help of two other team leaders. Our specific project was to travel, by dirt bikes, to various villages throughout the weeks holding Sunday schools. At these Sunday schools, the team members would perform a little presentation that included singing and skits for the kids and then, with the help of a translator, a couple of the kids would help tell a Bible story. Following the story, the kids would receive a coloring page that they would get to color and keep to take home to their parents. After the Bible story, the team members would begin the phonics lesson. After the Sunday school portion, the team members would get to do their favorite part of the day, which was getting to play and love on the Malagasy children. I had 12 boys out of the 16 team members and they LOVED starting a soccer game with the nationals. My team also had the opportunity to help with the construction of a security wall for the Teen Missions base where we were staying.
This summer I was able to pour into my kids and they poured back into me, as well as helped me grow as a leader and as a believer. I know I may say this every summer, but this was my favorite summer. Thank you so much to everyone who prayed and supported me! I cannot thank you enough!
Our team finished on August 3 and we worked the next week during the last Debrief. On Friday afternoon, August 10, we loaded up the car, along with Danae and BJ, and began our trip to take them to college. We took BJ to Bryan, got him moved in and then continued our road trip to Chicago where we dropped Danae off, got her moved in and settled in her campus apartment that she is sharing with three other girls. Last week, we were able to take a short trip to Tennessee to watch BJ play in two soccer games. We have missed him and soccer! We had a great time and were able to visit with my mother, a supporter and also see Logan from our Fiji team.
BJ is doing fine at Bryan. He is playing on the JV soccer team—it is an adjustment going from playing with the same guys for 10+ years to playing with a whole new group of guys, but they are getting settled in and playing better. He is also playing intramural volleyball which he is really enjoying. He is enjoying the new friends he is making and the fun times on the weekends, from knee boarding to jumping off of 30’ cliffs into the water. A couple of his classes are proving to be a challenge for him. He is taking 18 hours, playing soccer and volleyball and working a few hours every week. Please pray that he will use his time wisely and that he will adjust to the harder academic schedule. Also,pray for an improvement in his grades and his adjustment to being away from Florida and his high school friends. Please pray that he will seek the Lord in every area of his life and for the provision for his school fees next semester.
Danae is a second semester junior! She is enjoying her studies and living in a campus apartment (even if it is small). It is an “easier” semester academically. She is looking into internship possibilities for this next summer. She continues to work at the college post office along with babysitting which helps with her spending money. Please pray that she will do well this semester and will continue to seek the Lord in her future decisions. Also, please pray for the provision for her second semester school fees.
Colton is doing his last semester at Eastern Florida State College and hopefully will be going to the University of Central Florida next year pursuing a Film major. He is only taking one class this semester and is doing well. He is battling with the school, over school fees. They keep giving him different answers, depending on who he talks to. Please pray that the finances with EFSC will be straightened out and that he will seek the Lord with his future plans.
Lindsay will be moving back to Florida next month. She has completed her commitment in Tennessee. She has won several awards, including some from the judges she works with. Please pray that she will find work quickly and that she will adjust to the changes involved.
Some have asked us how “empty nesting” is going. On the positive note, our water and food bills have decreased, there is not much laundry, the house stays cleaner and we have more food. But, then again, oh how we miss the constant “in and out”, laughter, friends over and waking up to make sure they are home safely. We are still up in the air about how we feel about it. We are looking forward to Danae and a friend coming home for her Fall Break and BJ coming home for his Fall Break. They are both here the same week, so we are so looking forward to the arguments on who gets the car…
We are back in the office and are doing the preparations for the 2019 teams. Paul just returned from a set-up trip to Kenya and Rwanda. The 2019 brochure copy needs to be written, proofed, sent off to the printers and posted on our website. The teams need to be entered into our database before we can start registering the team members. We already have almost 50 registrations!
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and financial support. Thank you for helping us serve with a ministry that we love so much! We pray that this letter gives you a glimpse of the impact you are having in our ministry!
Paul, Beth, Colton, Danae and BJ Kostner