Sunday, November 8, 2015

Returned Missionaries--George's Post

1.    Returned Missionaries

The importance of the returned missionaries in the Blantyre District to the Church’s stability and growth cannot be overstated.    Currently, the District has 21 returned missionaries attending the branches, available to hold positions and to help with training.  They spread among the four branches and one group--Blantyre 1st--5 returned missionaries;[1] Blantyre 2nd--3 returned missionaries;[2] Ndirande---3 returned missionaries;[3] Zingwangwa--8 returned missionaries; [4]and, Liwonde Group—1 returned missionary[5].  The number of returned missionaries active in a branch serves as a rough barometer of its strength, though it is not that simple.   Other factors include how long the returned missionaries have been home; how faithful they were on their missions; and, whether they are married and have established households.   Without question, returned missionaries add stability to a branch, bring a wealth of knowledge regarding gospel principles and Church procedures, and constitute a pool of talent for staffing critical positions essential to the Church’s growth.   
The Blantyre District has reason for additional optimisim since 8 District members are currently on missions,[6]   and as they return to Blantyre and are incorporated back into their home branches, they will further fortify the ranks.   The current missionaries from Blantyre are serving in Mozambique, South Africa Johannesburg; England South London; Zimbabwe Harare; England Birmingham; Uganda.   This past year Malawi has sent the first missionaries from Malawi outside of Africa, reversing the historical return of having Western missionaries come to Africa.
“Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”[7] This aphorism might be applied appropriately to a number of different situations, but it certainly works to describe the impact of returned missionaries upon various branches.   We have witnessed this most directly in the Zingwangwa Branch, blessed to have 8 returned missionaries.   They hold some, not all, of the key leadership positions in the branch.[8]   But most importantly, they function as anchors in the branch and, for the most part, are extremely reliable.   Carole and I have the highest respect for the returned missionaries in the Blantyre District.   They are committed, hard-working, and dependable.   They know the gospel and serve as seminary and institute teachers, as branch executive secretaries and clerks, and in elders quorum presidencies.  
Generally speaking, other members find the returned missionary to be exemplary and look to them for guidance.   Young adults and teens often want to go on missions because of their examples and because of what they see in the lives of the young missionaries working in the branches.   Without fail, the returned missionaries are exceptional teachers—they know the gospel well and their missions taught them how to ask good questions and to stimulate meaningful discussions.   Hence, most of the seminary and institute classes are taught by returned missionaries.  
Of course, occasionally we hear comments about the returned missionaries “knowing everything.”   Some returned missionaries may not be as sensitive to the feelings of others as they should be, but it is equally possible that members, who have not served missions, may be hypersensitive, feeling insecure due to their lack of Church experience.   These feelings are most apt to come from those who otherwise see themselves—due to strength of personality or social standing--as most suited to hold prominent positions in the Church, and are resentful whenever they think someone has being preferred over them for Church leadership positions due to their earlier mission experience.        

[1] Blantyre 1st returned missionaries include Gabriel Chinomwe, Sister Chinyumba, Jonathan Banda, Frank Mantchichi, and Edward Matale.
[2] Blantyre 2nd returned missionaries include Lyford Ngwira, Mike Nyirenda, Chris Sitolo, and Ivy Lifa.
[3] Ndirande’s returned missionaries include Boniface Nyenyezi, James Duwa, and ___________________.
[4] Zingwangwa’s returned missionaries include Clement Chikapa; Sister Chikapa; Amos Monjeza; Chisomo Phiri Monjeza; Jonathan Nkhoma; Gladwell Tsegula; Steven Sikumbiri; and Michael Lombola.
[5] Aaron Benjamin, the Group Leader’s son, recently returned from his mission.
[6] As of November 1, 2015, the District have the following 8 missionaries serving: (i) Herbert Chazuka of Blantyre 1st; (ii) Felix Paul of Blantyre 2nd;  (iii) Agnes Chirwa of Ndriande; and (iv) Funny Monjeza, James Mwale, Jr., Maxwell Mbera, Khama Kangire, and Memory Munthali of Zingwanwa.
[7] Romans 5: 6.
[8] Until recently, the only one of the members of the Branch Presidency was a returned missionary.   President Chikapa is a returned missionary from Kenya, but neither of his counselors—Brothers Mkandawire or Chimaliro—served as missionaries.  Neither the Elders Quorum President nor the Relief Society President is a returned missionary.