One of the most exciting moments of the summer was late one night in the dorm in Tokaj Hungary during the Crescendo Summer Institute. I heard voices in the hallway outside our room. Silas and Efrem were talking with two students from Portugal about their faith in Christ. The boys were part of the youth discussion group May and I were leading, where they asked lots of questions clearly expressing their agnosticism. They really wanted to know why we believe in God. Silas and Efrem's enthusiasm for this open discussion of faith was evident. They were experiencing the thrill of sharing Christ! Later, they beamed when recounting their conversation.
The theme for the morning devotionals, and our discussion group, was happiness. We explored, "What do you need to be happy?" as well as considering the importance of close relationships and the joy knowing God brings. Our group had young students from nine different countries. For us, being at Crescendo again was amazing, enveloped in music and the Christian love that permeates the institute. There were so many concerts! Once again, Silas and Efrem participated, having frequent opportunities to perform, solo, in ensembles, and even Beethoven's 3rd symphony. One more thrilling moment was watching Efrem nail the piece he played at the final gala concert (Nocturne et Allegro Scherzando by Gaubert). He had the privilege of being chosen out of 15 flutists to play.
We were home only a few days (to catch up on laundry) before we left on our family's fifth biking/camping adventure. We continued following the same trail where we left off two years ago. This time we made it all the way to Spain, crossing the Santiago Bridge! The final leg covered 126 miles of the south-western coast. We passed through Bayonne and Biarritz, taking in the Basque culture. This area is also known for its waves, which Silas and Efrem notably love to body-surf. The boys also were put in charge of cooking with the camping stove, another good skill to develop. Our bikes, laden with saddle bags, had zero problems. Their riders, on the other hand, sometimes had to climb off and push them up the hills as we got closer to the border and the mountains.