Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Are Mexican Latter-Day Saints Coping With The Violence Spawned By The Drug Cartels? El Paso Mormons Also Take Risks To Visit The Juarez Temple

The violence spawned by the activities of the Mexican drug cartels has touched many Mexican families without regard to income or religious denomination. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have not been spared; in 2009, former temple President Meredith Romney was abducted from his ranch property near Casas Grandes, Chihuahua. The U.S State Department, the FBI and Mexican authorities worked together on the investigation, but Romney was only released after his family finally succumbed to the blackmail conditions and paid for his freedom.

In addition, breakaway polygamist Mormons not affiliated with the mainstream church have also been targeted by the cartels; in July 2009, the Washington Post reported on the kidnapping of Benjamin LeBaron from Colonia Lebaron in the state of Chihuahua after LeBaron dared to denounce criminals who had grabbed his teenage brother Eric earlier in the year. LeBaron also refused to pay the demanded $1 million ransom. While Eric was ultimately released, Benjamin was killed.

The BYU Daily Universe provides the story of the current situation. For example, in a ward on the north side of Ciudad Juarez, leaders close the vehicle entrance to the grounds to prevent unknown cars from coming into the chapel’s parking lot. As a measure of additional security, LDS families try to get home early and to stay in constant communication during the day. Leticia Orozco, an LDS member in Juarez, explained how they cope. “It’s hard to live in a city where violence is a common thing, especially for our kids,” said Orozco. “We teach our kids that they need to be valiant and not be afraid, that God will protect us, if we trust Him and pray for protection. It’s a great way to develop faith and prayer together.”

Mormons who live on the U.S. side of the border are also affected, because the Ciudad Juarez Temple District includes two different stakes in El Paso. However, Yahaira Andrade, an LDS member living in El Paso, explained how they cope. “President Paredes [the current temple president] extended a promise to the members of the Church that if they go exclusively to the temple, and not for shopping or for fun, they will return home safe,” Andrade said. “My husband and I can testify that it’s true; we go just to the temple once a month, and many times we feel that angels watch over us as we drive across the border. We know that if we do our part, the Lord will do his.”

This serves as a good reminder that people all over the world, even as close as Mexico, continue to make sacrifices to go to the temple. It should increase the desire for those who live in safe areas to patronize their temples as well.

1 comment:

Shawz said...

I was recently in El Paso about the same time this post from Juvenile Instructor was posted... http://

It tells the story of Mormon Colonists who fled a similar situation in the early 1920's. I was able to visit a wonderful LDS Chappel in El Paso, that is now a Texas Historical site. I was very surprised to learn of the rich Moromon history related to El Paso.