Doing the next right thing.

Last night we went to a mentorship training at our church for a program we are involved in called Gospel Village. (Which they are desperately needing more mentors by the way, if you have an interest, please let us know! The demand from Tyler schools is very high. There is a great need.) Anyways, at the training, they made mention of an email that Ryan had sent to the director about his experience thus far mentoring. She said it “flooded the church offices” the day he sent it. I had not read or heard about this email until it was mentioned last night so immediately when we got home I asked him to send it to me!!! I read it and it brought many tears to my eyes. Our mentee boy is changing OUR lives through this program. And wow…I am so incredibly thankful to be married to a man who has a heart like this:

“The greatest hour of my week is now on Tuesday.
Every Tuesday I now have a very special appointment from around 11am till noon. I drive 1/4 mile down the road in my late father-in-laws, beat-up, blue Chevy truck to Caldwell Elementary. I get out, check in at the front desk, then head though large halls of this worn-out school towards the cafeteria.
I walk though the doors and am greeted with chitter chatter and turning heads like a celebrity just walked in. I then use my “where’s Waldo?” skills to find the prettiest face in the room, my daughter Addison. She waves at me with the hugest smile and welcomes me over to her table and the space that she has saved for me.
I spend about 30 precious minutes in conversing with her all-the-while in awe that she is mine. I ask about her day so far while she eats her usual peanut butter only, peanut butter sandwich. She doesn’t stop smiling. Neither can I. Her table buddies can’t help but fill me in with all they have going on in their little lives as well. Surrounding table kiddos make their presence know as well which usually results in [school counselor] and the other lunchroom adults working to control the volume.
At around 11:25 [mentee’s] class walks into the room. Addi alerts me of his arrival, makes me hug her, tells me she loves me and then goodbye. I leave her table to join up in the lunch line with [mentee] and his class.
I greet him and his buddies with a high five. [mentee] usually says with a smile, “Hey Mr. Ryan!” and asks “Did you bring money for food?” to which I always say “YES!!!”. We go though the line, he helps be get chocolate milk, juice and the usual Tuesday flavorless and undercooked pizza option. I see the underlying pride in his step as he seems to really appreciate that I am here. Here for him. We check out at the register and walk outside to the vacant metal picnic tables overlooking the playground.
For the next 30 minutes, we have time without the cafeteria clamor to talk. Simply talk. Life, goals, sports, school, friends, influence and Spiderman. He was just awarded the opportunity to participate in a student leadership council meeting by his teacher, Ms. [teacher], which meets every Tuesday. This has provided some great talks for him and I as we discuss leadership, good versus bad and examples of both. A golden opportunity for me to share great things that my mentors in life have taught me.
My late father-in-law “Kip”, Traci’s dad, was an amazing mentor to everyone he came in contact with. He had an crazy way of motivating people to go above and beyond. He truly was above the norm. He preached and lived a life that was intent on living it to the fullest. Today one conversation that came up was in regards to leadership and making good decisions. I told him that one of my favorite things the Traci’s dad taught me is that, “When you don’t know what to do next, you do the next right thing.”
The lunch time goes so quickly. We ate then played a game of UNO as we talked. We then leave to throw away our trash and put up our trays. By this time his class is usually in line to go back to their room but today we got a bit distracted by our game. I walked him to his room, dismissed with a high 5 and then said our simple goodbyes. I always end with, “Thanks for having lunch with me. I’ll see you next week” which usually receives a simple “Ok. Bye Mr Ryan.”
I then walk differently down the stairs, past the undersized administrations office and back though the doors that I came in less than 1 hour ago. The difference now is I am full. Full of a sense of worth, value, purpose and positive impact. I drive back home in that old, battered, blue truck reflecting on my influence and thankful for those who have influenced my life in the even the simplest ways.
When presented with the opportunity to serve in this manner, I really didn’t feel comfortable with the one-on-one as that is honestly, not my style. It is a heavy responsibility and one that I did not want to take 1/2-hearted or without focused intention. When debating with the decision to become a mentor with Gospel Village, those words of wisdom from my favorite mentor, Kip, rang true again. When you don’t know what to do next, do the next right thing. This has been not only the right thing to do, but has also become literally the greatest and most important hour of my week.”