At a ceremony in Hanoi, the government of Viet Nam gave official recognition to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Representing the Church were Elders Cook and Stevenson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Elder Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy and former president of the Asia Area, and President Lewis Hassell, President of the new Viet Name Hanoi Mission.
Official recognition allows the church to own property in the name of the Church in Viet Nam, and act as an officially recognized religion within the county.
Fifteen young missionaries (including President Hassell) worked in Viet Nam April 1973 - April 1975. They left Saigon as the north was about to conquer the south and unify the country. Not all of Vietnamese Saints were able to leave before the north took control.
No official representatives of the Church would return to Viet Nam until January 1993 when two senior couples (Bateman and Steadman) arrived to serve as humanitarian missionaries and teach English at elite schools in Hanoi. Senior couples serving as humanitarian missionaries have served in Viet Nam ever since that time. Much of the credit for the church achieving recognition in Viet Nam goes to these senior humanitarian missionaries who built trust with the government over many years.
In 2012, young missionaries were introduced to Viet Nam (as part of the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission). They were known as branch builders, serving in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They were under proselyting restrictions that prevented them from going out to find investigators, but anyone interested could come to either of the registered church locations and ask to be taught the gospel. These restrictions were not modified as part of the granting of official recognition. Later the Bangkok Thailand Mission introduced young missionaries to Vientiane Laos and Yangon, Myanmar under similar restrictions.
The article spoke of their visit to Thailand and the meeting that was held on February 21, 2016 at the Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok at which 3,000 were in attendance. Please note that this was the first of several events in Thailand commemorating 50 years of missionary work in that country. The major celebration is scheduled for November 2016.
This was the headline and lead photographs in the print edition.
Elder Merlin R. Lybbert of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy and President of the Asia Area, worked through LDS physicians to open new doors for the Church. LDS physicians had visited Vietnam to perform charity work with Operation Smile. Through them Elder Lybbert arranged for the church to donate a surgical microscope to a hospital in Hanoi. This made it possible for further humanitarian services to the country. In 1992, Elder Lybbert arranged for two LDS couples to be called to prepare to serve in Hanoi as teachers. The way opened with the start of the new year in 1993 for Stanley and Mavis Steadman along with Levar and Helen Bateman to depart for Vietnam. They arrived on January 6, 1993.
Humanitarian missionaries form the Church have been serving in Vietnam since that time. Starting in 2012, young missionaries, known as "branch builders" have been serving in Vietnam under strict proselyting restrictions. Dr. Hassel has made many return trips to Vietnam starting in the 1980s. During such trips, he had the opportunity to meet with Vietnamese physicians to share knowledge and often make donations of equipment. He has been doing research at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The Deseret News reported that the Hanoi Vietnam Mission would be created during the first half of 2016. It is rather unusual for new missions to be created at any time other than July 1 of each year. The Bangkok Thailand Mission was such an exception as it was created in August of 1973.