Season of Transformation: Oscar's Story
In a kitchen bustling with endless demands and a frenzy of orders, Oscar is a steadying force, bringing calm to the chaos. “Most of the jobs I have had were in the service industry, and you have 500 meaningless conversations with everyone that comes in,” he explains. “But every morning I tell myself I am going to make someone happy and I am going to smile because I know my God is greater and my God is bigger. Through my story, I have seen that He can conquer anything.”
Oscar’s story begins in a parallel type of chaos, with a household of five siblings and a busy working mom. Exposure to substance abuse and chronic childhood stress soon translated into other aspects of his life, as he began skipping school at the early age of ten. His grades were suffering, and he was headed down a path with no role models or guiding light. He met his mentor, Garrett, in the same phase of life, when Mercy Street mentors and staff would come to his school (the now-demolished Carver Elementary) to build relationships with him and his classmates. Oscar and his best friend and present-day roommate, Bobo, started spending time with Garrett and his family, and officially became his mentees in January 2009.
At sixteen years old when his home life grew rockier, Oscar packed up his belongings and moved into Garrett’s house. Together, he and Garrett looked at the trajectory of Oscar’s grades and saw the seemingly-unattainable long road ahead to high school graduation. As a former teacher in Brazil, Garrett boldly offered to homeschool Oscar if he would prove his commitment by reading all of The Chronicles of Narnia series. That summer, Oscar was working in a warehouse and riding the bus two hours each way – a bus ride that became a sacred space for Oscar to plow through all seven books. The mentor/mentee duo then launched into the season of Garrett serving as mentor, landlord, and teacher to Oscar until he successfully earned his GED in 2016.
“With Garrett, I was exposed to a proper Thanksgiving, a proper Christmas,” says Oscar about his time spent under Garrett’s family’s roof. “ I had so much to say about what was going on in the world and in my family that was out of my control – I did not pick my family or the situations I was brought in. But it felt good to talk and have someone listen.”
As a young adult, Oscar’s involvement with Mercy Street continues as he has helped out with the sports program, interned with the summer Leadership Intensive, and now mentors five high school boys through a Street Team. “Street Team is like having brothers,” he explains. “They have met my family and I know their families. I spend more time with them than I do with my mom or my friends.” Oscar’s desire to mentor stems from a deeper conviction to give back to Mercy Street all that his mentor has given him. “I have always been told that if you borrow something, you should give it back in better condition. I would be doing the world a disservice if I did not help out and share the wisdom I have been given to the next generation,” Oscar explains. “I want to pass on the baton to my Street Team.”
Oscar, now twenty-two years old, works at a bakery in downtown Dallas, managing orders and staff and learning the art of bread-making. His inquisitive nature and loyalty have produced a surplus of hobbies, deep relationships, and interesting travels throughout his young adulthood. He pours as much of his spirit into baking bread as he does into his Street Team relationships; he invests as much time reading books and Scripture as he does visiting friends across the globe.
“Mercy Street has shown me that there can be purpose in life - that there is something more than being selfish,” Oscar articulates. “There is happiness found in Christ.”
He gives a powerful charge to future mentors: “There is beauty in differences. You will see how your mentee can change you for the better. You may end up crying next to a student because they are crying about a situation, and all you can do is listen. Be prepared to be in someone’s life.”
This season, we are sharing stories of mentees like Oscar whose lives have been transformed through mentorship. Will you provide another mentee with the same opportunity by giving this Season of Transformation?