Update on Growth in Nicaragua
Missionaries report that the Church is calling unprecedented numbers of additional missionaries to staff the two missions in Nicaragua - one of which just opened earlier this month. Total missionaries serving in this Central American country will likely reach 400 in the coming months, with 200 missionaries in each mission. Additional groups or dependent branches have also been recently organized. In Puerto Cabezas, a fourth branch was just created, the El Caminante Branch. The three additional branches in the area are the Puerto Cabezas, Bilwi, and Loma Verde Branches. A future district based in Puerto Cabezas appears highly likely in the coming months although there are no official reports that this will occur.
New Branches in East Malaysia
The three originally branches in Kuching were realigned to create two new branches. The Kuching East Malaysia District now has five branches. With five congregations, the district can work towards becoming a stake in the future although the number of active members and Priesthood holders remains insufficient. In the Sibu East Malaysia District, a fourth branch was created in Sibu Jaya. Missionary activity occurs exclusively among non-Muslims in Malaysia.
City Opens for Missionary Work in Mozambique
Missionaries report that Chimoio, Mozambique has opened for missionary work. What was previously the city with the most inhabitants without a Church presence, no branch has been organized and the Church meets as a group under the Mozambique Maputo Mission Branch. The opening of Chimoio is a significant development as low convert retention and struggles to develop local leadership have prevented additional areas of the country from receiving missionaries. In the past couple years, several cities which had branches previously established have had full-time missionaries assigned, including Nampula and Tete.
Breakthrough in the Solomon Islands: Members Meeting in Three Congregations
The Solomon Islands have remained the least reached by LDS mission efforts among all the islands of the Pacific despite boasting one of the largest populations in the region of over half a million. The first branch was organized in the mid-1990s in the capital of Honiara and slow membership growth occurred between 2000 and 2007. It appears that the Honiara Branch has recently been divided and two new congregations have been established in Honiara. Although LDS missionary work remains severely limited in the country, the creation of additional units allows for expanded outreach and greater opportunities to spur local leadership.
Branch Discontinued in Paramaribo, Suriname
One of the seven branches in Suriname was recently discontinued in the Blauwgrond region of the city. It is unclear whether the branch continues to meet as a group or dependent branch of a neighboring branch or whether members in the area now travel to a different location for Church meetings. Suriname has experienced strong membership growth in the past five years, but modest convert retention rates and poor local leadership development resulting in dependence on foreign missionaries for administrative tasks.