Today is bittersweet…
There is a vague sense in which I get a little of my life back today. Breaktime and the Bakery are done for the summer, we just returned from our Bakery trip, and today I’m left to process it all. So far today, I’ve intentionally kept myself busy so I don’t have to feel the seasonal end of those programs. The truth is, I’m slightly relieved they are both done for the summer, but in the spirit of honesty, I’m also sad.
Summer’s are busy and I feel like I rarely see my home and family. I’m grateful that I have more time now with my biological children before school begins. I’m also sad that I won’t see my ministry children each day anymore.
The Bakery was intense this summer, it always is, but I really enjoyed the group of students I had. Those kids were amazing and I saw growth in many of them.
One of the greatest stories of the summer for me was Jajuan. Jajuan was in the Bakery last year but didn’t seem to enjoy it. He came every day, did his tasks, and hung out with people, but never seemed to thrive. I wondered what he’d be like as a returning student, and he surprised me in many ways. He came in with a great attitude, and performed most days as a leader. He told other kids to stop picking on each other, he focused on his recipes, and even mastered the Cinnamon Roll recipe. In fact, he made them so well, our cinnamon rolls will be named after him from now on.
Jajuan continued to amaze me this past weekend on our Mackinaw adventure. He was helpful at meals, constantly refilled our water jug without being asked, was super polite, and was always good for some humor. Jajuan even contributed to one of the greatest stories on Mackinac Island.
We were biking around the Island as a group and he was next to Zack. Zack’s bike seat fell down while he was riding, which caused him to loose control and crash. Jajuan couldn’t stop in time and rode over Zack’s head, and flew off his bike too. It sounds serious, but no one was hurt! I heard this story repeated about twenty times this weekend, and the funniest part is Jajuan saying, “I landed on my PB&J man! I totally crunched that thing! Thats messed up!” This probably isn’t funny to you, but to hear him say it is truly funny.
There were many other funny moments this weekend. KJ would often get worked up telling a story and butcher a word. He told me to pull my hobo pie out of the fire before I “burned it to a crips!”
Walking by some shops he lamented his broken phone and told me there are websites where you can sell a broken phone for $74.00. When I asked him what site, he said, “Trip Advisor.” We laughed, but he was serious.
Overall, the kids did well camping this past weekend. Most of them loved the zip lines on Friday. OJ was the exception. He started to back out, and the guide grabbed his clip, I picked him up, we connected him to the line and pushed him off. After 10 seconds of screaming, he smiled and loved it.
Mackinac Island was also great, even with the bike crash. Sunday we hiked Tahquamenon Falls. It was a four mile up and down hike from the lower falls to the upper falls. The first mile was great, by the second mile kids were showing signs of fatigue, by the fourth mile some of them hated me. The experience was worth it though.
On the way back we stumbled upon Oswald’s Bear Ranch. Oswald’s rescues black bear and care for them their entire lives. As we pulled in, the kids saw the sign below and one of them immediately said, “They got swimming bears?” Turns out there is a big difference between “See Bears” and “Sea Bears.” Coolest part of Oswald’s was the kids feeding and petting a bear cub, which you can see in the picture below.
While we had a great trip, it wasn’t without some challenges. One of the biggest ones happened on Monday as we walked around St. Ignace. Julie and some of the boys were in a shop when the owner angrily kicked them all out. She claimed the boys were rough housing, but in reality she kicked them out because of their skin color. She singled out the black kids and told them to leave. The situation was heartbreaking for Julie and I, but in some ways normal for the kids. For those of you who think racism isn’t alive and well, you should hang out with people of color for a a few days.
These are just a few snippets from the trip. We also enjoyed fireworks over the bay, a boat ride under the Mackinac Bridge, and a movie in the park. The Breaktime Bakery kids are incredible.