For students at Lydia Patterson, who live in Juarez and cross the bridge each weekday, the small, United Methodist preparatory school has become a safe haven in the months since drug-related violence in Juarez has intensified
The above is from a recent CNN report on the Lydia Patterson Institute. According to its website, LPI is
…the only remaining United Methodist institution in the United States, that serves a predominately Hispanic population Lydia Patterson Institute continues to serve as a church-related and church-supported institution because of its mission to serve a special human need in a environment where faith and knowledge interact to enrich our lives and develop Christian leadership for church and society.
We got to see a glimpse of life on the border and we ventured several times into New Mexico and saw the beautful places like Aguirre Springs, White Sands, and Carlsbad Caverns. We hung out with another youth group from Kansas and did some grunt work (I think we scraped and painted desks and cleaned classrooms) for LPI.
We also crossed the border into Juarez. We went to a market and had lunch, but most importantly we went into a migrant’s slum, full of cardboard houses. Here is a description of these places–writen a decade after we had visited there as high school students
Unfortunately life has not changed for everyone in Juárez: hourly pay is still about $1.25. Many workers have to travel hours each way by bus from colonias like Anapra, subdivisions that have sprung up without paved roads, water or sewer service. The homes look like preschool art projects, glued and stapled together from cardboard and plywood and tin. Bootleg power lines drop from overhead wires, loop down to the ground and are held in place by a rock, then snake through the sand to a house. Some wires are live, and arc and spit when it rains. The young women who live here are favored by the maquila bosses for their nimble fingers and obedience. But more than 200 women, many of them maquila workers, have been murdered since 1993 — often raped, strangled and mutilated during their long, dark treks home to remote colonias. Most large maquilas have begun providing bus service, but it has failed to stop the killings.
For United Methodists, we must start and be a part of more projects like Lydia Patterson. And as mission trips go, lets not be afraid to show our young adults (and adults) society on the edge. And let’s give them the theological, intellectual, and organizing skills to become part of the solution to these huge problems.
Aren’t we supposed to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”?