I'm often trying to explain to people who have never worked a summer here just how crazy it can be. The hours we spend in the kitchen together are long and hot and space everywhere is tight.
More difficult than explaining how hard each day can be is explaining that working 12+ hour days, six days in a row can actually be really rewarding. Getting to the point in the summer when everyone has learned how to gut and cut a whole squid, make onigiri, and run the dishwasher so that we can each work in co-operative silence (or on some days completely in muppet voices) is the best feeling. Cooking Japanese yakisoba noodles is great once, less great after five days in a row, but making incredibly dumb jokes while prepping yakisoba or discussing life plans with people from all over the world are the things that I look forward to in the summer.
The point of all of this, of course, is the guests. The first summer that I worked I think I was more stressed by the guests arriving in groups of 30, 40, and sometimes 80. I would think about dinner being late and imagine all of them being terribly upset with me. Four years later and some hard lessons in time management and organization later, I enjoy having the guests around. Watching them have time to sit together in worship, work on crafts together, drink tea and relax or dress in sheets for a Bible skit gives more meaning to my 5:30am kitchen starts and helps me look forward to the next year’s work of dodging the other volunteers in our tiny kitchen while singing stupid songs together.