The two border towns of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, permanently staring at each other from opposite sides of the Rio Grande, could not be more different.
Congressional Quarterly recently named El Paso the second-safest city of its size in the United States — although more than 600,000 people call El Paso home, fewer than 30 murders have taken place there in the past two years.
Conversely, Juarez is the most dangerous city in Mexico and one of the most treacherous in the world. According to a recent Associated Press story, over that same time frame as many as 4,000 of Juarez's 1.5 million inhabitants have been murdered.
With that backdrop, against all earthly logic, hundreds of Latter-day Saints cross the border from El Paso to Juarez every week. Their purpose? To attend the temple.
The El Paso Texas Mount Franklin and El Paso Texas Stakes are both part of the Ciudad Juarez Mexico Temple district. The former is assigned to provide temple patrons each Tuesday, the latter every Thursday.
"The instructions I give are that the Ciudad Juarez Temple is our temple," said Darwin R. Jensen, president of the El Paso Texas Mount Franklin Stake. "That's where we have our assignments. My counsel to [members of the stake] is that this is our opportunity and we have a responsibility to fulfill our assignment. If we do as we're instructed, if we go straight to the temple and we take care of our duties and assignments there and then we come straight home, everything will be fine."
Four times a week, Steven D. Bone drives from his home in El Paso to the temple in Juarez. Brother Bone, who is retired and a member of the El Paso Texas Stake, serves as an assistant recorder in the Ciudad Juarez Mexico Temple.
"The temple is about 11 miles from my house," he said. "Usually it only takes about 25-35 minutes to get to Mexico. There have been instances recently where it has taken me as long as two hours to get back. It's getting so they're kind of strict checking us [going] across the border both ways."
Brother Bone happily reports that his service in the Juarez temple provides him with the satisfaction of knowing he's faithfully serving in his calling and in fulfillment of his patriarchal blessing.