The Ubon Ratchathani Stake Center, the first stake created outside Bangkok. Ubon Ratchathani is located in eastern Thailand. The new stake covers more than half of the area known as "Isan" or northeast Thailand. Traditionally this region has been a poorer part of Thailand since less rainfall is realized here than in other parts of the country. New irrigation techniques developed over the last 20 years has improved the agricultural economy is this region markedly.
March 26, 2016 - LDS Church News Reports on the visit of Elders Stevenson and Gong to Thailand, Viet Nam and Macao
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 commemerating 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 Stevenson celebrates 50th anniversary of Church in Thailand during visit to Asia
November 2, 1966 - Dedication - Lumphini Park - Left to Right President Keith E. Garner and Sister Garner, President Southern Far East Mission (Hong Kong), Elder Gordon B. Hinckley and Sister Hinckley, Elder Marion D. Hanks and Sister Hanks
February, 2016 - At Lumphini Park - Left to Right President Kelly R. Johnson and Sister Johnson (Thailand Bangkok Mission), Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Sister Stevenson, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Sister Gong
The on-line version centered on their activities in Viet Nam where they visited government leaders and started the new "Vietnam Hanoi Mission" under the leadership of President Lewis Hassell.
February 21, 2016 - Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and Elder Gerritt W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy visit Bangkok.
A multi-stake meeting was held Sunday February 21, 2016 at the Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok. Elder Gong, formerly President of the Asia area traveled with Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles on a multi-nation tour. Elder Gong introduced Elder Steveson to church leadership in Thailand. They both spoke at the special sabbath day meeting.
Announcement of the visit of Elder Stevenson and Elder Gong
Photograph of Congregation at Ambasador Hotel - Source: Deseret News
February 2, 2016 - New Missionary Group Arrives in Bangkok - 16 Elders and 4 Sisters
January 7, 2016 - New Mission Announced – Hanoi Vietnam Mission
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today announced the creation of three new missions, one of which is the Hanoi Vietnam Mission. Called as the first president of the mission is Lewis Hassel M.D. He was one of the 15 missionaries who served in Vietnam 1974-1975. The current president of the Cambodia Phnom Penh mission (which has had the responsibility for Vietnam since 1997) is James Christensen, who was also one of those first 15 missionaries.
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.
Elder Miner (an early branch builder) with Lewis Hassel in Hanoi Vietnam (2012)