Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Three New Stakes Created in Costa Rica; New Stake Created in the Philippines; Districts Created in Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, and Russia; District Discontinued in Ukraine

Costa Rica
The Church in Costa Rica organized three new stakes in July.

The Liberia Costa Rica Stake was organized from the Liberia Costa Rica District. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Cañas, La Victoria, Liberia, San Roque, and Santa Cruz Wards and the Nicoya Branch.

The Cartago Costa Rica Stake was organized from a division of the San Jose Costa Rica La Paz and San Jose Costa Rica Los Yoses Stakes and the Costa Rica San Jose East Mission. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Cartago, Paraíso, San Diego, Tres Ríos, and Turrialba Wards and the Los Santos and San Isidro del General Branches.

The Guapiles Costa Rica Stake appeared to be organized from a division of the San Jose Costa Rica Los Yoses Stake. No information is currently available on which wards and branches have been assigned to the new stake.

There are now nine stakes and three districts in Costa Rica.

The Church organized its first stake on Bohol Island on July 26th. The Tagbilaran Philippines Stake was organized from the Tagbilaran Philippines District. The new stake includes the following five wards and four branches: the Cortes, Dauis, Tagbilaran 1st, Tagbilaran 2nd, and Valencia Bohol Wards and the Baclayon, Duero, Jagna, and Pilar Branches.

There are now 94 stakes and 78 districts in the Philippines. 

The Church organized a new district in Ondo State, Nigeria on July 26th. The new district includes three branches that previously pertained to the Nigeria Benin City Mission, namely the Adeyemi College Road, Ondo, and Yaba Branches. The Church organized two of these three branches in September 2014. The organization of the new district signals a significant milestone in establishing the Church in many of the minimally-reached administrative states native to the Yoruba people. The Church previously operated a district in the nearby city of Akure that administered two branches in Ondo (one of which was later discontinued in the 2000s). The reassignment of Ondo State from the Nigeria Lagos Mission to the Nigeria Benin City Mission in 2013 appears to have been a significant catalyst in recent progress reversing stagnant or declining LDS growth in the area. A second branch was also reestablished in the city in Akure.

The Republic of the Congo
The Church organized a new district in Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo. The Pointe-Noire Republic of the Congo District includes four branches that previously reported directly to the Republic of Congo Brazzaville Mission, namely the Aeroport, Loandjili, Mpaka, and Pointe-Noire Branches. The new district is the first district to operate outside the capital city of Brazzaville.

There are now two stakes and one district in the Republic of the Congo.

The Church organized a new district in the Moscow area on July 19th. The Moscow Russia South District was organized from five mission branches in the Russia Moscow Mission, namely the Kaluga, Lipetsk, Smolensk, Tula, and Voronezh Branches.

There are now two stakes and six districts in Russia

The Church discontinued the Odessa Ukraine Tsentralny within the past month or two. None of the branches appeared to be discontinued and all now directly report to the Ukraine Kyiv Mission. The decision to discontinue the district in unclear, but is likely due to no foreseeable prospects for the district to become a stake within the foreseeable future.

There is now one stake and two districts in Ukraine


Bryce said...

Interesting short radio piece about a growing generation gap in North Korea: http://www.npr.org/2015/08/11/431512111/north-korea-s-millennials-demonstrate-entrepreneurial-spirit

bwebster said...

Great site; it's on my daily list of LDS blogs to read, and I appreciate the time and effort required to gather and post all this information.

Since you mentioned Costa Rica, here's a bit of historical background for you. I served in the Central American Mission (renamed to the Costa Rica San Jose Mission while I was there) from 1972 to 1974. It covered four countries -- Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama -- plus the US-controlled Canal Zone (though we were not allowed to actively proselytize there). If I recall correctly (I ended my mission serving in the office), there were roughly 10,000 members of record in the entire mission, with roughly 2,000 of those active. There were no stakes or wards. Honduras had two [church] districts (San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa); Nicaragua had one district; Costa Rica had (I think) two districts; and Panama had one district. There were probably 30 branches in all in the four countries.

We had one missionary zone per each church district; so, for example, when my companion and I were zone leaders in Nicaragua, we were zone leaders over the entire country (something we found both amusing and a bit terrifying). Most of our communications with the mission office (in Costa Rica) were by mail -- phone calls were only for emergencies -- and the mission president would come visit us once every six weeks. When I left (August 1974), I believe we had about 120 to 140 missionaries in the mission. Monthly baptisms in the entire mission during my time there ranged anywhere from just 8 (I remember that distinctly) to somewhere close to 100 (I'm not sure we ever broke 100 baptisms in a month, but I could be wrong). I doubt that I baptized more than 20 people during my two years there (I lost my mission journal about 30 years ago, so I no longer have a record).

It never ceases to stagger (and delight) me to see the growth in those same four countries in the 40+ years since then: something over 320,000 members, nine missions, and three temples. It is now, in my early 60s, that I can more fully appreciate the Lord's charge in D&C 64:33: "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."

Again, thanks for the great web site and the work that goes into it.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Also, consider all the thousands of Central American members in the U.S. I attended the San Bernardino CA 6th Branch from 2003-2005, and perhaps 20-30 percent of the membership was from Central America, usually Guatemala and El Salvador.

In the DC/MD/No Va region, the biggest number of Latinos (which is not small) hails from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras (followed by Peru and Bolivia, I think Mexicans come in 7th or further back, maybe there are more from DR or Ecuador than Mexico).

There is a Spanish ward in Reston, VA called Spring Lake that probably is half central American. The Maryland side has large numbers of Latinos, some towns close to DC, with large Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Honduran numbers.

There are a few of the others: I worked with some second generation Nicaraguan, Panamanian people in Northern Virginia.

Also, I taught at a school in San Bernardino with a lady from Costa Rica (not a member).

I bet Florida and Chicago have large numbers of Central Americans as well. And the New York City area. It would be interesting to see where the biggest numbers are and where the most LDS are.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Back then the Spanish 6th Branch was in the San Bernardino Stake, with another Spanish unit in the nearby Highland Stake. Then in 2005 Highland Stake was fused and by 2007 or so I think it became the San Bernardino 6th Ward, with the Highland Latinos fusing into the San Berdu Stake.

I would estimate Mexicans and Mexican-Americans made up about 60 percent.

Joseph said...

Unit Update

July 12
Araripina Branch, Juazeiro Brazil District (6 Branches)

Aug 2
Cajuru Branch, Ribeirão Preto Brazil East Stake (2 Branches, 6 Wards)
La Providencia Ward, Pachuca México Centro Stake (1 Branch, 8 Wards)

Aug 9
Non listed for this week - first such occurrence this year

YTD 356(11.125/week 32)
Africa 120, 33.7%
Asia 10, 2.8%
Europe 13, 3.7%
North America (w/ Caribbean) 95, 26.7%
Pacific 25, 7.0%
South and Central America 35, 9.8%
Utah & Idaho 58, 16.3%

Totals no-sensitive
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 147 418 3,141 548 22,409 7,332 34,020
Us/Can 11 80 131 1,586 11 12,501 2,067 16,387
US n/a 72 124 1,539 8 12,165 1,915 15,823
Utah n/a 15 10 576 1 4,660 326 5,588
Canada n/a 8 7 47 3 336 152 553
Out 14 67 287 1,555 537 9,908 5,265 17,633

With Sensitive
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 147 418 3,141 559 22,413 7,422 34,125

MainTour said...

There are five all Spanish speaking stakes in Southern California.
- East Los Angeles CA
- Huntington Park CA West
- San Fernando CA
- Covina CA
- Santa Ana CA South

John Pack Lambert said...

I believe the Huntington Park CA West stake was discontinued a few years ago, with the units in that stake being merged into the Los Angeles stake and some others. From comments I have read on this blog I gather that in the Los Angeles Stake all young men/young women programs are combinations of Spanish and English speaking units, with one being a three-way combination of a Spanish, an English and a Korean unit.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I went to the re-opening of the historic chapel/stake center in Koreatown that had a Korean unit back around 2002/03. The building was closed at to be earthquake proofed and looked a bit like a temple. Made in late 1920s or so.

John Pack Lambert said...

This FairMormon article about the Church's decision to work to develop some of its land in Florida is very interesting. http://blog.fairmormon.org/2015/08/13/church-development-in-florida/

Eduardo Clinch said...

The political and military strife in Ukraine is unique for a "first world situation" in our modern church history. Would we have to go back to Germany and the surrounding nations in WW II for a time when this number of Saints were threatened in a modern society?

I know African nations have faced severe ethnic and military issues with members of our faith, and many thousands of Latin Americans have confronted times of coups, juntas and martial law and governmental authoritarianism and all that can entail.

Also, an interesting situation of a nation that is mostly forgotten is "Transnistria", or something like that, that exists between Ukraine and Moldova, many of whom consider themselves independent. How is the LDS Church there? I think it has between 800 k and a million people.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I suggest going forward, we add the word "language" or "speaking" after every reference to a church unit's predominate language. For example, "my stake has 2 Spanish language wards" instead of "my stake has 2 Spanish wards". It may seem like semantics to some, but I assure you that there are real ramifications that slow church growth. When I was stake clerk in a multi-language stake, there was confusion too often by new and/or inexperienced members AND long time members and children, including STAKE LEADERSHIP at times.

Examples of questions: "Do I have to go to the Spanish ward because I am Spanish?", "I thought this is a Spanish ward, why do we have a white/black/German/etc bishop?", "Why do we have that white/etc. family in our ward?", "My wife speaks Spanish and English, and I only speak English, but she doesn't feel welcome in the English ward, because she thinks she is supposed to go the Spanish ward" "Why do we have Latino members in our ward, don't they know we have a Spanish branch?", "Why do we have a non-Spanish high council member assigned to us; we are able to (or want to) do this our way" "Why do they segregate our/their members, are we/they racist?", "Why am I assigned to serve/serve in the Spanish ward, I am not Spanish", "We have 'Spanish' sessions at the temple? I didn't know we segregated at the temple", "I don't attend church very often because I'm Spanish, but I don't know Spanish very well" Even worse, are the times when these were not voiced & corrected, but instead unconsciously believed.

The questions I heard were generally not made in a racist way, and I don't believe that referring to units as "Spanish units" is racist. However, using such language certainly does not reduce already-existing racism, and I can see how some sensitive individuals viewed the church as being less than ethnically sensitive, or at least raised questions in their minds.

All these questions, potential issues, and more would easily be avoided with just referring to it more clearly. I realize the same could be true about keeping doctrine pure in church, and it has been: “I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand” (2 Nephi 25:28)

I'll start: "I attend an English-speaking ward"

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually the situation is more complex. I am not sure calling wards "English-speaking" is wise. My ward is just plain the geographical ward for its area with a designated YSA branch also covering our area. Yesterday as I was leaving Church (I had to leave early to go to my job, this was partly through sacrament meeting, so this was basically everyone there) the only out-of-state license plate I saw was from Jalisco.

I had a roommate at BYU who served a Spanish-speaking mission in Virginia and he seemed to think that Spanish-language units were based on ethnicity and culture as much as language. Ignacio Garcia, a history professor at BYU, if anything has an even more militant view on this and seems to think trying to get Hispanics and Latinos to attend English-speaking units is an attack on their culture. He also thinks the Church should create Spanish-speaking stakes in Utah.

In direct support of your theories, the Church did a few years ago rename "deaf" units to "American sign language". At some level I am surprised at "Spanish" designations creating this confusion. I guess this is because I do not think of my friends such as Quetzalli "Sally" Sanchez Lambert (my sister in law), Chad Lyons Chavez (our ward mission leader, he was born in Mexico but is only 3/4ths Latino, his paternal grandmother was Latino but obrn in the US, his wife is from Colombia but her Dad is American, so their daughter is 5/8ths Latino) George Velez (a member of the high council, his wife is American and my primary teacher when I was 9 was his older brother whose wife was an American of Lebanese descent, George's parents had 13 children), the Malagon family (they were the ones with the Jalisco license plate) as "Spanish" but as Mexican. I think of the wife of my 1st scoutmaster as Urugayan, and the wife of my second scout master as Venezuelan. I think of our ward clerk, Chris Hathon, as being partly Mexican, not partly "Spanish".

That said, my ex-wife who served a Spanish-speaking mission would refer to "English sisters" in a way that was very confusing. I assumed at least before thinking about what she was saying that she was speaking of sister missionaries from England.

In the Rama Los Feliz (now Barrio Los Feliz) in the Sunrise Stake, which has the Las Vegas Temple in its boundaries, there was a family with the last name of Johnson, where the wife was Hispanic (probably either born in Mexico or the daughter of parents born in Mexico).

My general impression is that with families where one spouse has one native language and the other spouse has another native language and there are posibilities of attending church in either language they most often attend based on the wife's language. If these couples come from multiple countries they tend to live in the husband's home country. Thus when an English-speaking state was formed in Japan at least one member of the stake presidency was a Japanese man with an American-born wife.

I think "language" would be a better designator than "speaking". I think it would be best if the unit listings were changed to reflect this fact.

That said, not all the dislike between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking congregations I saw in Las Vegas were traceable to langauge issues. Some of it was due to widespread racism among Anglo-American members. However some of it was due to expecting Spanish-speaking congregations to only have language as a difference, but there will always also be cultural differences outside of the actual gospel principals that have non-language roots. For example Spanish-speaking units are much more likely to hold general dances than English-speaking congregations.

John Pack Lambert said...

Another point is that the ethnic nature of units where there is no language designated unit potentially are much different. I did at BYU know one girl who both her parents were immigrants from Mexico and grew up in Southern California who when she was a teenager her parents decided to go to the English-speaking unit because her and her sibblings knew little Spanish and disliked communicating in it more. On the other hand I have been told that the youth in the Spanish-speaking unit in Corpus Christi are all fluent in English and some do not know Spanish at all. It seems at times Spanish-speaking units do became de facto more ethnic than language, which might work at times but I think is more of a hinderance than a help.

While it needs to be remembered that many people who can function at work and in society in English do not know it deeply enough to truly comprehend the gospel when taught in that language, it also needs to be remembered that just because people are the children or grandchildren of immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador or Cuba and they know some Spanish, does not mean that they know it deeply enough to truly comprehend the gospel when taught in that language.

In some ways I think the best situation is to have multi-lingual missionaries. I saw in my mission, partly spurred by missionaries who cared more about a high number of baptisms for themselves than about building the kingdom of God in any way (I once had a companion criticize me for encoraging a sister to work on going to the temple because it did not have any potential of getting a baptism we could count). So as long as they could pull it off, some missionaries would teach people even if it was not setting them in the best situation. English-speaking missionaries would teach people who had only rudimentary understandings of English, and really would have been better off in the Spanish-speaking units. Some native speakers of Spanish assigned to English-speaking units would teach native Spanish-speakers in Spanish and get them to come to their ward.

I am not sure that going to calling units Spanish-speaking or such would solve all such problems, but it might get people to think more deeply on the issue.

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually, the designation of most newly formed units as Mandarin instead of Chinese may be another sign of progress on this front. I have been told the Canal Street Unit in NYC (I don't remember if it is still a branch or is now a ward) suffers from the fact that it is made up both of Cantonese and Mandarin speakers, two languages that are less mutually inteligable than English and Spanish.

For full disclosure I come from a tradition of language-openness. Here in Metro-Detroit the main division is black/white, and no one has yet proposed creating Ebonics-speaking church units. In the 1990s there was de facto almost complete division of the church into black and non-black units just by boundary drawing, but that no longer would work, even if the boundaries had not been redrawn to try and avoid such. Still my girlfriend's branch while having a good amount of connection between black and white, although when I show we are the only inter-racial couple, has an odd boundary. The blacks live primary in some of the east side of Detroit's most economically depressed areas. The whites live in Grosse Pointe, which is the second most affluent community in Metro-Detroit. There is no middle ground. To be fair there was at a time in the past a couple where the husband was white and the wife was black. They met while he was branch president of an inner-city branch that no longer exists. In that case he was a young white professional living in a high priced apartment in the urban core, and thus naturally drawn into a branch that included the economically low area his future wife lived in.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Spanish and English are heuristics to save time and energy; stereotypes and ethno-centrism are far from gospel compatible.
One note about my experience with Spanish speaking units: it is more effective to speak English with teenagers (in English speaking environments). But the whole family is communicated with en espanol.

Alex said...

We had the unintentional but rampant segregation-by-culture problem on my mission in Miami, Florida, too. The rationale was that because Grandma spoke Spanish only, the entire family would go Spanish. This was in spite of a weird dynamic where parents would raise their children English-only, so that grandparents (Spanish only) could not speak to their grandchildren (English-only). The Church's response to this segregation problem (and it was a problem that really badly divided the Church by race) was to close both of the Spanish stakes in heavily Latino Miami-Dade County and combine them with the relevant English stakes. I even saw a couple wards get turned into explicitly dual-language wards (headsets and sacrament meeting translators go a long way), and some of the Spanish wards had at least Primary (I think also YM/YW) in English. This actually created a much more unified Church presence in the area, which led to a lot more baptisms, unity, and activity, and all of that was probably a help in getting the Ft. Lauderdale temple announced a couple years after the 2nd stake closed. I'm told that similar combining of different language stakes in Texas and California occurred for the same reasons. The Church does NOT want segregation by race or ethnicity or culture, and members of specialized units such as language units and YSA units, in a perfect world, would all eventually join the geographical unit so that everyone could draw from everyone else's strength (an example of "unity trumps diversity"). I know my YSA branch in Chicago is much stronger because the white native English speakers, the Latinos, our amazing black members, and our Chinese members all work and worship together, and I'd be upset if anyone tried to get a Spanish YSA and a Mandarin YSA together because it would destroy all of that unity.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Language units in the US, or other places where they speak something other than the lingua franca (like English units in China, Twee in Paris, etc.) serve their purpose to bring people together and to Christ. It seems through globalization we all are reducing the global language count, which I see happening in the dialects of Arabic, where Al-Jazeera and other media bring very disparate dialects closer together over time and space.

Tyler Sorensen said...

Eduardo, I served my mission in Romania and Moldova. A little information on Transnistria. It does not exist as a separate nation, it is a Russian Military controlled buffer region of the Republic of Moldova between Ukraine and Moldova. There was a revolt in the early 90's soon after the Republic of Moldova gained independence those who wanted closer ties to Russia rose up against the newly formed government and the Russian military stepped in to protect them and have "occupied" this region since then. With the situation in Ukraine it is worrisome that the Russians may further militarize this zone to use it to control Moldova and Western Ukraine away from closer ties to Europe which each nation is seeking to establish.
There are no known members in the Tranistria region 1 member from Chisinau is from there but resides in Chisinau and there are a few from neighboring cities. The bulk of the members reside in the three main cities of the Chisinau district, Chisinau, Balti and Orhei.

Alex as far as the church wanting to integrate all language units I disagree as recent as 6 months ago the Chisinau Moldova branch was split in 2 Russian and Romanian the cultural and language differences was great enough to be causing some problems with activity and both branches report more unity. It is the same with the Spanish wards I have attended in Provo, they are very grateful to hear the gospel in their own language and interact with those of a similar culture.

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts. Regardless of how we refer to units, I think the most important thing is for everyone to easily be able to understand that language units are available as an option for people who prefer the particular language.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think we need to keep in mind that the vision of Zion includes a unified people. The society after Jesus came and visited those who we learn of in the Book of Mormon had "nomanner of -ites." So ideally we would move beyond divisions. However the reality is that there are divisions and sometimes very deep ones. At times not acknowledging these divisions and creating Church units to conduct outreach in them creates difficulty.

For example, headset translation is inperfect. When I was little there was a sister in my ward who only spke Spanish and one of the brother's in the ward who served a Spanish speaking mission (and whose wife was a native speaker of Spanish) would translate for her when she gave her testimony.

I know in parts of Las Vegas when I was on my mission they had English/Spanish wards where they would do translation of all talks one way or the other. The speaker would speak in one language and then wait while what they said was translated. It is much easier to translate in that way and requires less skill. Live translation in real time is very difficult, especially when you do not know what will be said. This is why copies of planned general conference talks are distributed before hand and the translators hope there is not too much deviation from the text.

There actually are Spanish-speaking and Tongan-speaking YSA units in California and Tongan speaking ones in Utah.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Maybe Trasnitria is comparable to South Ossetia, which lies outside of Russia politically but in reality is Russian annexed like Crimea. Does anyone know if ethnic Russians identify with one particular tribe of Israel? What a country.

John Pack Lambert said...

I was just reading this https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/firm-foundation/27-missions-and-missionary-administration-and-organization article about the operation of the Missionary Department and Missionary Executive Committee (mainly as a reaction to Sister Oscarson being made a member of the Missionary Executive Committee). I found it interesting that the process of choosing new mission presidents takes about 18 months. Also not too surprising that the Missionary Department has to identify more potential mission presidents than actually get called.

Ryan Searcy said...

Major news!

Three women (General RS, YM, and Primary Presidents) have been placed on different committees (priesthood and family; mission; temple and family history, respectively) that previously not had women on these committees.


Joseph said...

Unit update
26 July
Guápiles Costa Rica Stake (3 Branch, 4 Wards)
Cariari Branch
Puerto Limón Branch
Puerto Viejo Branch
Guacimo Ward
Guápiles Ward
La Rita Ward
Pococi Ward

Aug 2
Centerton 2nd Ward, Bentonville Arkansas Stake (8 Wards)

Aug 9
Honolulu 2nd Branch (Chuukic-Pohnpeic),
Parent Honolulu Hawaii Stake
Participating Units Honolulu Hawaii West Stake, Waipahu Hawaii Stake
Keene Branch (Marshallese), Weatherford Texas Stake (5 Branches, 6 Ward)

Aug 16
Cedar Lake Ward, Morristown New Jersey Stake (2 Branches, 7 Wards)
Kaypian Ward, San Jose del Monte Philippines Stake (8 Wards)
Kuna 16th Ward, Kuna Idaho Stake (1 Branch, 9 Wards)
Morgan 10th Ward, Morgan Utah Stake (12 Wards)
Rollins Ranch Ward, Morgan Utah North Stake (12 Wards)
Seshego Branch, Tzaneen South Africa District (6 Branches)

YTD 366(11.09/week 32)
Africa 121, 33.1%
Asia 10, 2.8%
Europe 13, 3.7%
North America (w/ Caribbean) 99, 27.0%
Pacific 26, 7.1%
South and Central America 36, 9.8%
Utah & Idaho 61, 16.7%

Totals no-sensitive
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 147 418 3,142 547 22,417 7,330 34,026
Us/Can 11 80 131 1,586 11 12,508 2,067 16,394
US n/a 72 124 1,539 8 12,172 1,915 15,830
Utah n/a 15 10 576 1 4,662 326 5,590
Canada n/a 8 7 47 3 336 152 553
Out 14 67 287 1,556 536 9,909 5,263 17,632

With Sensitive
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 147 418 3,142 558 22,421 7,420 34,131

John Pack Lambert said...

It looks to me like the 2 Morgan Utah stakes may soon be made into 3. I am also glad to see a growing number of Marshallese and Microneisan units in the Church.

Pascal Friedmann said...

I am currently dating someone from Mountain Green (which is incorporated into Morgan) and she says that there are plans to create a third stake in the near future.

It's a very demographically interesting area. Traditionally most of the valley's population lived either from producing weapons or tomatoes. Now, both of these industries have seen declines in employment in the Morgan area and many younger people have moved away. Despite those challenges, population growth continues, and so does the growth of the Church. All now 24 wards in the valley are on the large side and more units would likely be created along with a third stake.

My guess is that there will actually be a stake headquartered in - and named for - Mountain Green. It is the closest (larger) settlement to Weber Canyon and also the part of the valley that has seen the most population growth.