Yesterday was tough.

Yesterday was good.

Yesterday we ended the fifth week of the Breaktime Bakery. By now I expect students to be reading their recipes, using the appropriate measuring cups, and generally knowing that 1 stick of butter is a half cup. When we kicked off our baking time with breads, it seemed as though most of the students immediately forgot most of what they learned through the summer. I intervened on two recipes where the students were simply not following the directions, which would have result in really bad baked goods. I heard, “What do I do next?” about ten times in a half hour, a question easily answered by simply reading the directions. After an hour in the kitchen, I stopped everyone and challenged them to step up their game. I could feel my frustration rising.

Yesterday we had our annual summer luncheon, where we provide a delicious meal from farm and bakery products, and give people a tour of our ministries. I told the students that if they worked hard, and stayed on task, I would reward them with ice cream. Just before the luncheon started they boys began acting crazy, and after reminding them to calm down, I eventually had to pull some students aside and give them some stern words about what is and isn’t appropriate in the work place. After the luncheon I saw they had worked hard and took them for ice-cream. The moment we got back to the building, craziness unfolded. I won’t go into the details here, but it was enough misbehavior that my frustrations boiled over.

Yesterday we planned an after-bakery field trip to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel to see their banquet facility, and get a tour of their huge pastry kitchen. Because of the way the kids were acting, I didn’t want to take them, but I also knew it could be a great opportunity for them to see where a career in culinary arts could take them. We went to the Amway and the day was redeemed. The kids stood in amazement at the facility. They were shocked by the size of the ovens and mixers. They were blown away that people actually bake for a living. The students asked great questions, and many of them came to life as they realized what they were learning this summer could lead to a great job.

Working with kids is a constant tension between challenges and joys. The kids in the Breaktime Bakery are ripe with potential. Some of them have incredible leadership abilities, some of them are super creative, some of them are great with customers, and some of them are the hard workers I’ve ever had. I desperately want them to go great places in life! It is easy for me to let these joys be overshadowed by the challenges, but my hope is that the challenges will help these students grow to become followers of Jesus who will help redeem this little corner of our city.

Monday will be a new day. I’m excited to see where these group of students will go in the remaining two weeks of summer. I’m even more excited to see where they will go in the coming years, as they discover their abilities and use them for God’s kingdom.