Eight new missions announced
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Eight new missions - four of them in eastern Europe and four in Latin America -have been announced by the First Presidency.
The new missions in eastern Europe are the Latvia Riga, Romania Bucharest, Russia Samara and Ukraine Donetsk. The other new missions are the Guatemala Guatemala City Central, Brazil Ribeirao Preto, Brazil Rio de Janeiro North, and Peru Chiclayo.With the creation of four new missions in eastern Europe, there are now six missions in the area of the former USSR, and 12 in what was formerly the Eastern Bloc.
Regarding these missions, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve explained, "This is a natural and orderly evolution of our missionary labors in Middle and Eastern Europe in consideration of the increasing numbers of experienced missionaries who speak the languages."
The Church now has 286 missions throughout the world.
On this page is a map of the new Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission; other maps are on pages 8-9.
Guatemala Guatemala City Central
The new Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission, which will begin July 1, will be a division of the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission, although the Guatemala City North and Guatemala City South missions will also be realigned. The Guatemala North Mission will include the country of Belize.
The new Guatemala City Central Mission will have 24,723 members in five stakes and two districts and a population of 2.2 million.
The Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission will have six stakes and four districts with 28,477 members and a population of 2 million.
The Guatemala City North Mission will have 28,376 members in five stakes and seven districts, and a non-member population of 2.4 million people.
The Guatemala City South Mission will have 25,786 members in five stakes and five districts and a population of 2.3 million.
Pres. Julio Alvarado of the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission explained that the creation of Guatemala's fourth mission will be a blessing that will offer members a great opportunity for growth. The new mission is to include a heavily populated area that extends from the mountain highlands to the coast and to the south urban centers in Guatemala City.
"Frequently in the past our missionaries met people who were interested in having the lessons, but were unable to hear the gospel because we did not have enough missionaries. Now we will have enough missionaries to carry the gospel to many more places to those people who are waiting for the gospel," he explained.
He said that living in the mountains are colonies of pure Lamanites who "are very special in accepting the gospel. Their activity rate is higher than 75 percent, and the young people are very strong at living the teachings of the gospel."
Brazil Ribeirao Preto
The Brazil Ribeirao Preto Mission was created from a division of the Brazil Campinas Mission. The new mission, which began Feb. 1, has 9,693 members in four stakes and two districts, and a population of 6.5 million people.
The Brazil Campinas Mission retains seven stakes and two districts with 22,571 members in a population of 6.9 million.
According to Pres. A. Heliton Lemos of the Brazil Campinas Mission, the area of the two missions is considered the "California of Brazil" because of the great number of oranges produced. Sugar cane is also raised in abundance, and many citrus processing plants and sugar factories operate in the two missions.
Missionary work is progressing well, he said. Members provide up to 80 percent of the investigators. And, after an investigator requests baptism "the ward mission leader prepares everything for the baptismal service. Members provide the music, and a ward member performs the baptism," said Pres. Lemos.
"As Elder Helvecio Martins [of the Seventy and a counselor in the Brazil Area presidencyT said, this part of Brazil can be the place of many stakes. I have the same feeling. In my city, Campinas, we now have three stakes and we expect two of them to be divided soon."
Brazil Rio de Janeiro North
The new Rio de Janeiro Brazil North Mission, which also began Feb. 1, has 9,867 members in three stakes and one district, and a total population of 6.1 million. The existing Rio de Janeiro mission now has three stakes and one district with 9,867 members and a population of 10.3 million.
"The best proselyting methods depend on members giving references," said Pres. Orville Wayne Day of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Mission.
He noted that about 80 percent of the missionaries are Brazilians. "Lots of young men and women sacrifice everything they have to serve a mission. Their [non-memberT parents tell them never to come back. They still serve, and many of them see their families baptized while they are on their missions."
He continued: "One of the greatest blessings of missions is the training it gives youth. They return home knowing how to make the Church function. They marry in the temple and are leaders for a long time. They are really an important part of Church growth."
Pres. Day explained that "this large city compares with New York City in population and the center of a huge city has a lot of challenges. We have many people moving out and the local leadership is not as strong as it should be. But we have a lot of fantastic members here. They have great faith and they work hard. They are up against big-city obstacles, such as crime. Everyone lives in tall buildings. We work a lot through referrals, and we also hold expositions or displays on streets or on the public squares. Most Brazilians have heard very little about the Church."
The new Peru Chiclayo Mission will be a division of the Peru Trujillo Mission that will take effect July 1. The new mission will have four stakes and three districts, and a membership of 14,460 and a total population of 3.5 million people. The Trujillo mission will have 17,909 members in five stakes and five districts and a population of 2.6 million.
The Chiclayo mission will include the highland Andes, where many of Lamanite descent live, and land bordering Ecuador.
This area is made up of the Sechura Desert and irrigated coastal areas, said Pres. Rafael De La Cruz of the Peru Trujillo Mission. Most of the people are involved in agricultural work. Exported crops include cotton and sugar cane, while for themselves Peruvian farmers raise such crops as bananas, beans, rice and potatoes. Potatoes were an important food in Peru before they were known anywhere else in the world.
"Missionary work is going well," Pres. De La Cruz said. "We are working hard to improve activity. The members are helping in the work. They help us a little more each time we ask, and the missionaries are getting along well with them."
All the missionaries are Peruvian, said Pres. De La Cruz. "They communicate very well with the people and they know all the customs."
The Romania Bucharest Mission will be created from a division of the Hungary Budapest Mission. Pres. James L. Wilde of the Hungary Budapest Mission said that about 200 members reside in Romania and belong to one of four branches. Almost all have been members for two years or less. Forty-nine joined in 1991, and an additional 119 were baptized in 1992. "The first baptisms in modern times in Romania were in late March 1991."
"Most of the branches have at least a Relief Society and a Young Women organization and priesthood groups. The first native Romanian living in the country, Daniel Pauna, has received his mission call. Another native, Nicolae Jipa, who joined the Church in western Europe, is presently serving a full-time mission in Romania. And Octavian Vasilescu, the first elder in Romania, served as the first native Romanian branch president over the Bucharest Branch before it was divided."
Other eastern European missions are:
The Latvia Riga Mission, to be created from a division of the Russia St. Petersburg Mission and to include the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It will have about 150 members in a population of 8 million.
The Russia Samara Mission to be an extension of mission boundaries from the Russia Moscow Mission to the Volga River southeast of Moscow. It will have about 5.5 million people within its boundaries. The Ukraine Donetsk Mission to be an extension of the Ukraine Kiev Mission toward the southeast. It will have a population of 19.5 million people.
Pres. Gary L. Browning of the Russia Moscow Mission observed that generally in Russia, missionary work is progressing well.
"It is a very difficult time for Russians because of the economic turmoil, and that is distracting a certain amount of their interests from spiritual matters. They are worried about finding food and clothing and whether they have jobs, and that complicates our work."
In Moscow, there are 600 members in 15 small branches, and seven branches in other cities. In addition, there is an international branch of English-speaking members.
"The Church is becoming better known," he said. "It is creating good friends and making contributions. The Tabernacle Choir made a wonderful impression and historic contribution during its visit in 1991. People are still commenting about the choir and BYU's performing groups that have visited."
He said another source of help for the Church are the Americans living in Russia to work in joint ventures with Russians. "They have been a tremendous strength to our mission. They bring experience and they are very devoted and generous with their time."