Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rambling Thoughts: Lydia Patterson Institute

(The following is a post written by Bishop Monk Bryan, my grandfather, whose "rambling thoughts" about God, church, and life in general are a periodic feature of Enter the Rainbow, depending on how freely he will offer them!)

Last Monday I flew to El Paso; came back the next day. Our South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops meets once each four years at Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso and once at Saint Paul Seminary in K C. ... I was [chairman of the LPI board from]1980 to 1984. I always enjoy being with my colleagues in the College of Bishops and it was good to visit LPI again and get reconnected.

LPI is a Methodist middle and high school, founded in 1913, for the poorest of Hispanic children in Juarez (just across the Rio Grande river; now over two million population) and in El Paso. There are now about 450 students, some two thirds coming each day from Juarez. Without LPI they would have no middle or high school and would be blank as to English. Many of the Juarez homes from which they come are below our understanding.

LPI busses pick them up each morning and take them back at the end of the day. The jams at the check gates entering the U S take from one to two hours morning and evening; in winter the kids leave home before dawn and get back after dark. Yet there are few absences.

It is a risk program, considering the poverty, sometimes dysfuntional, often single parent homes from which they come. Lupita, a girl from Juarez, had planned for months to start in LPI last year. The school and a Methodist Church had worked on it, including rebuilding the family's shack home. But a few weeks before school started, Lupita disappeared. No one knows where she is. Lupita's younger sister is now in LPI and a still younger one is likely to be in two years.

Keeping in mind all the problems and struggles, there are few behavior problems, the attendance rate beats any of our U S schools. Over 90 % graduate from high school. And over 90 %, sometimes over 95 %, go on to college. Without LPI, they would know little or no English; upon graduation, all handle it well. There are working relations with our Methodist colleges, and LPI graduates are now in Centenary, Hendrix, Oklahoma City U, Southwestern U, Texas Wesleyan U, Nebraska Wesleyan U, Lon Morris, Wiley, S M U, Emory, Duke, and others.

LPI is contained to one block. There are plans to secure another half block in a year or two. And hopefully the other half of that block later. What a wonderful investment Methodism makes !!!

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