As she arrived and walked through the XNA airport by herself, she was wide-eyed and nervous. This was her first time on an airplane and her first time away from home. English was her second language, and she knew no one. Carolina Villalobos was taking a step of faith, a leap’s more like it! She was a little nervous and unsure but as she was greeted at the airport by a family from Central, she knew it would be okay. Carolina was excited to start this new adventure!
A native of Juarez, Mexico, Carolina Villalobos is a 17 year old student at the Lydia Patterson Institute, a United Methodist High School located in El Paso, Texas, just across the border from Juarez. For over 100 years, LPI has been educating mostly lower income students from Mexico, giving them a chance to learn English and get a good education. Over 500 students from Mexico attend LPI each year. Central has been supporting LPI for two years, providing finances for a full tuition scholarship each year. LPI, lovingly called “La Lydia” by her students, makes a tremendous impact in the lives of many families. 95% of her students graduate, and of those, over 98% continue their education at colleges in Mexico or across the US.
In addition to a rigorous education, LPI offers a strong lay ministry program, encouraging students to consider vocational ministry. LPI partners with churches throughout the US to plug students into internships where they can experience ministry first-hand, practice English, and make some new friends.
For the past two summers, Central has had the blessing of receiving a student intern from LPI. And that brings us back to Carolina, explaining why she was walking through the airport alone that day in early July. She had signed up for an internship in the spring and Central was the place chosen for her to go.
Over the next three weeks, Carolina stayed in homes of Central families and served as an intern at Central. She helped with the babies in the nursery on Sunday mornings, assisted at the Shine! Music and Drama Camp, served with the students at S.O.S. in Memphis, TN, and volunteered as a leader at Middle School Missions Camp. She also celebrated her 17th birthday, made a bunch of new friends, and had a life-changing experience!
We are blessed to partner with the Lydia Patterson Institute, and grateful for the continued support and faithfulness of our Central family which makes this partnership possible.
Central’s Mission Pastor