Happy Thanksgiv— wait… Merry Christmas?

Better late than never right?
Sometimes I feel like I operate on Mexico time, although that tends to be a few hours late, not 22 days. But what the heck.
Sometime around Thanksgiving, I was going to post about how thankful I was for so many people in my life, and what they are doing for the ones I care about most. But I guess it’s better that I’m so late so I don’t seem so cliché. Ha.
Anyways, I work with this amazing group of people and we all have a common goal: to change the world. No big deal, right?
We’re starting with changing the lives of 8 at risk, inner-city boys. We call ourselves Advent Urban Youth Development. (auyd.wordpress.com ,www.facebook.com/onebelovedcommunity)
I was onced asked by a good friend, “how do you change the life of someone?” People have hearts. (most, anyways.) Some just don’t know how to go about affecting the lives of others in meaningful ways. Problem is, we want a cookie-cutter model. We want something that works for everyone, and we want it to be easy. We want it to be convenient, simple, and short-term.
The only words I had for him was, “just live with them. Share life with them. The ups and the downs. Your life will most likely be changed more than their’s, but it will be worth it. Stick around and see.”
At Advent, we aren’t here to pass out food and feed someone for the day. We aren’t here to give a quick fix and bail on the plan. It’s not easy. The model demands consistency, sacrifice, unconditional love, hardship, and investment. But I promise you, invest fully, and your life will be enriched endlessly.
This Thanksgiving, many of our mentors involved our boys in their lives by bringing them along for Thanksgiving with the family. With each boy from a different situation, different broken family, different living conditions, and different cultures, who knows how and if they even celebrate Thanksgiving? Not that we’re trying to convert them to celebrating America’s made-up holidays or anything, but exposing them to a healthy family experience is eye-opening to them. An afternoon with food, family and fun but absent from yelling, fighting, drug dealing and hardship is heaven for some. Again, not saying our families do it right, or are flawless, but sharing life with the boys is what changes them.
Don’t be surprised if we drag them along for Christmas celebrations too. To show them what it’s really about: giving. Just like the mentor gave the boy their time, love, care and advice, the mentee will begin to mentor others. When they live life with others, loving them, creating community with them, lives can be changed.
This past Saturday, we all met at Unity Park for an afternoon of serving the homeless. I have never been more proud of them. They acted very mature and courageous in meeting people with whom they’d never had any contact. They blessed the lives of those people with joy, as seen by the smiles that many of them flashed.

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They played basketball and football with them, bringing a sense of childhood joy normally absent from the street atmosphere. They boys loved it. They claimed they had made friends there, and they were right. We
plan to return soon.
Mentors seem to show up all the time in the lives of the boys. We eat lunch with them at school. We attend their school concerts and plays. We show up on weekends. We show up on weekdays, birthdays, holidays… just show up for the heck of it. They love it. And they’re changing. Thanks to those who show up.
Personally, life is good. I’m happy. I graduate in 2 days, and start graduate school in January. Advent Urban Youth Development is gaining traction and will expand soon to a low-income apartment complex in Haltom City.
To the people who have anything to do with AUYD, you’re amazing. You’re my hero. You make the world go round. You’re the icing to my cake, chip to my dip, marshmallow to my hot chocolate… point across?
Ya’ll make AUYD possible and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
To everyone else, you suck.
Haha, just kidding. We’re all busy, and I know that just as much as anyone. However, if you want to get involved, visit facebook or our blog to find out how. We are in need of the two things non-profits are always in need of: manpower and money.
Prayers, too. We are nothing without guidance.
Love ya’ll!
-Ryan U

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