Every now and again I am quickly reminded of how much energy it takes to continually work with (mostly) middle and high school students. One morning in particular I was delighted to have a quite morning opening the café by myself. Usually I spend this time the getting the cafe ready for the day, holding conversations with the morning mall walkers and praying over the café and volunteers that will be coming in and out throughout the day. That is how my morning was going, until these two loud and very energetic boys perched themselves in front of the café gate.

Mind you, it was 9:45 in morning! Not the typical time for teenage boys to be up wandering around the mall.  After watching them walk around the food court a couple times they wandered back to the front of the café. One of the boys was very familiar with our free samples and had no problem asking for a free bubble tea. Quickly getting an idea I told them to come back at 10am and we could work something out. They insisted on just hanging outside the gate and holding a conversation with me as I prepared the café for opening. I hadn’t even had my matcha, so it was taking a lot to keep an energetic, welcoming smile on my face.

The second it turned 10:00am they were ready to “help me” finish with my morning duties by pushing open the café gate. Trying again to get a free drink they asked what it would take to speed up the process. My offer was to have them do a “sample off”.  Each teen will get their own tray and the first to pass out all their samples wins. The first tray went faster than expected so they did best two out of three. At the end of it all they were both given a free bubble tea as a reward for all their hard work.

The morning came and went and I couldn’t help but wonder what an odd way to start the day. What did God have up his sleeve? Why did he place these very social, energetic boys in the café when they easily could have hung out at Zumiez chilled in the food court? Later that afternoon my two friends returned to the café eager to “help” me run things. They wanted to learn how to make the drinks, asked many questions about the loose-leaf tea and were really intrigued as to why we do what we do. They returned to the cafe about every hour just checking to see if I changed my mind on giving them any more free drinks.

During one of our many conversations, I asked them why they were spending all day in the mall. They told me that their parents had dropped them off because there was nothing to do at home. They were visiting their mom for the summer and were sick of sitting at home.  I asked them if they weren’t at the mall, what other things would they be doing. They said they’d be hanging out with other friends that usually don’t make the best choices.

I saw those boys every day for the next two weeks. Sometimes they came in and talked for a couple hours other times they just popped in to say hello. They loved our bubble teas samples and appreciated how we wanted them to stick around and hangout in the cafe, even though they couldn’t buy anything.

I never would have thought allowing two teenage boys to work for free bubble tea would have lead me to this.  It always amazes me to see how God forms relationships out of nowhere. In the middle of the mall these boys were able to find a place that focuses on real and genuine relationship. I am so thankful that we were able to make such positive memories in their lives. I pray that the seed we planted in their hearts allows for more God stories in their lives.

I seek your help in praying, not only for these boys but all the kids like them that step foot in the cafe. Whether volunteering or enjoying bubble tea samples, I pray that the conversations we have with them are seeds of Gods hope in their life. Seeds that can grow and continue to stay with them as their lives go on.