After two years it was very refreshing to see our colleagues face to face again! The praise band was back together, with Dan playing bass guitar and Efrem, his flute. Unfortunately, Silas didn't have time off from school to join us. Thankfully, Dan's wrist held out fine playing the bass, thank you for praying! The theme this year was hospitality, moving from hostility to hospitality by creating space for others. As Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, Reaching Out: "In the midst of a turbulent, often chaotic life we are called to reach out, with courageous honesty to our innermost self, with relentless care to our fellow human beings, and with increasing prayer to our God. To do that, however, we have to face and explore directly our inner restlessness, our mixed feelings toward others and our deep-seated suspicions about the absence of God." Jesus shows us such beautiful examples of openness, welcoming those whom society shunned. His was far from the us vs. them mentality which judges and separates. It's interesting to consider why outcasts felt so comfortable, even drawn to Jesus. Nouwen encourages us to receive the story of our fellow human beings with a compassionate heart that doesn't condemn but rather recognizes how the stranger's story connects with our own. Who in your life do you struggle to find common ground with? How might a change in attitude reflect the beauty of the gospel? Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God - Romans 15:7
Efrem sent flute audition videos to three music schools in the UK and another conservatory in Paris. While the Paris option didn't go any further, all three English schools accepted him. The real kicker is that one of these offered him a full academic scholarship for all four years of bachelor's study! So Efrem will be attending the Royal Academy of Music in London next year. Only about 25 flute students attend the Academy, of all the years of study through master's degree. And this year they only accepted four new students. We are thrilled that Efrem has this opportunity. His perseverance and hard work show, as well as God given talent. He and May visited the Royal Academy of Music last month. Efrem toured the campus, met other flute students, and took lessons from potential teachers. It was a very warm welcome, everyone was remarkably friendly. For the first time in his life, he will be the one with an accent at school. He will have to learn a new language, British English, and a new culture. Efrem also turned 18 this month, another big milestone. It's tough and rewarding watching them grow up!