About 4,000 Thai Saints gathered at the Queen Sirikit Conference Center in Bangkok on Friday evening April 20, for a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Bangkok was the sixth stop on President Nelson's around the world trip to visit with Latter-day Saints. This was the second visit of a Church President to Bangkok, the first was the visit of Gordon B. Hinckley in June of 2000.
Remarking how he had visited Thailand in his role as a medical doctor in 1966, President Nelson said how he was impressed by the growth of the Church in Asia in the past fifty years. As a member of the quorum of twelve Apostles Elder Nelson accompanied Elder Neal A. Maxwell to visit with the Saints in Bangkok in June, 1992.
President Nelson spoke of the blessings of the temple and his visit to the site of the Bangkok Thailand Temple on New Petchaburi Road, adding, " We had a very special feeling", President Nelson said “These people are energized. They are inspired. They want to do something about their faith. They are going to get ready for their temple.” President Nelson challenged the people to prepare now to attend the new temple when it is complete saying, “I bless you with love at home, success in your work, and joy in your hearts as you prepare for the temple of the Lord here in this sacred country.”
In his remarks Elder Holland offered the following “I wish that every missionary who has ever served in Thailand could be here tonight, especially those in the early years when there were virtually no members and little tiny branches, very few who really knew the language,” expressed Elder Holland. “And now this, with a broadcast in Laos and Myanmar—the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are a stunning sight.” That statement was touching to many of us who had served as missionaries in Thailand.
Elder Wisit Khanakham, an Area Seventy, said members feel “absolutely excited, delighted and so happy,” about the new temple. "The temple is the symbol of righteousness that shines the light of Christ to the nation,” he said.
Friday's date of the Bangkok member meeting had a special significance for Larry R. White, reached by phone in Salt Lake City. Called to labor in the Southern Far East Mission, White was one of six young missionaries sent to Thailand in 1968. Their mission president told them “to learn the language and get the church started.”
On April 20, 1968, 50 years ago to the day of President Nelson’s visit — the missionaries knocked on the door of Srilaksana Suntarahut. She was baptized on July 4, 1968, only a few months after the first missionaries arrived in the country. “Her testimony came powerfully, after reading just a few verses, from the English Book of Mormon,” recalled White, who presided over the Thailand Bangkok Mission from 1991 to 1994. Ultimately, Suntarahut, who died in 2013, became the primary translator of the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price into Thai.