Country information: Laos

On 28 August 1852, Elam Luddington and Levi Savage were called to serve in the Kingdom of Siam. At that time, Siam governed the area of present-day Laos. Elders Chauncey West and Benjamin F. Dewey were also called to serve in Siam at about the same time.

Savage and Luddington traveled in the spring of 1854 from India to Burma and stayed there for some time. Luddington continued to Bangkok and arrived there on 6 April 1854. Though he likely did not travel to the area known today as Laos, he did write a letter at the request of the Siamese minister of foreign affairs to "His Most Gracious Majesty Phrabat Somdet Pra Chom Klaw Chao Yu Hua, Sovereign of Laos," telling him in the letter "something about the gold plates." Luddington stayed in Bangkok for several months and baptized James Trail, the skipper of the ship on which he had arrived.

In 1945, the nation of Laos was formed, having declared its independence from France.

There is no other known record of a Latter-day Saint presence in Laos until the mid-1960s, when a group was formed to serve American Latter-day Saints living in Vientiane. From then until the mid-1970s, missionaries serving in Thailand occasionally visited to renew their Thai visas. They often met with the local Church members. Church leaders also occasionally visited. By 1970, the group in Vientiane also had a small "Chinese division" that met on a regular basis.

On 20 March 1971, Latda Phornnikhom became the first known native Laotian to join the Church. She was baptized by Elders Rodger D. Garner and Clifford W. Martell.

In 1975, President Paul D. Morris of the Thailand Bangkok Mission challenged Church members living in Laos to submit papers to the government requesting official recognition. The papers were submitted but before they could be approved, the political situation in Laos deteriorated and the non-Laotian Church members left the country.

From that time into the 1980s, many refugees who left Laos came in contact with the Church and were baptized. Several Laotian and Hmong branches were formed outside of Laos during this time.

On 24 September 1982, selections of the Book of Mormon were published in Lao. On 4 August 1983, selections of the Book of Mormon were published in Hmong. A complete Book of Mormon in Hmong was published in 2000.

From 7-9 September 1993, Elder John K. Carmack visited Vientiane to explore the possibility of sending Church humanitarian missionaries to Laos. He was followed on 3-4 February 1994 by Elder Kwok Yuen Tai and President Larry R. White of the Thailand Bangkok Mission who met with Laotian government officials. They arranged to have the Church ship rice to Laos to aid in drought relief. Later that year, 40 tons of rice and 328 bales of clothing from Church storehouses arrived in Laos.

In November 1995, Leland and Joyce White were assigned by Elder Hugh W. Pinnock to serve up to four weeks in Vientiane to cultivate local government contacts. Humanitarian missionaries Ralph D. and Gale L. Steiner arrived in Vientiane on 22 December 1995 on a 30-day tourist visa, one day before the Whites left the country. The Steiners arranged to teach English to a few government officials, which led to them acquiring six-month visas. Numerous humanitarian missionaries followed, with an average between eight and 14 missionaries serving at any given time over the next few years.

Toukta Sonevilay Phongsavanh was baptized 28 April 1996 in the Mekong River by D. Justin Thorp, just outside of Nong Khai, Thailand. She had traveled there from Laos for her baptism. She had been taught the gospel in Nong Khai because at the time missionaries were not permitted to teach in Laos.

On 1 July 1997 responsibility for the development of the Church in Laos was transferred from the Thailand Bangkok Mission to the newly formed Cambodia Phnom Mission. Laos returned to the Thailand Bangkok Mission on 1 June 2004. Shortly thereafter, a proselyting district was formed across the border from Vientiane in Nong Khai, Thailand.

The group in Vientiane was likely formed into a branch sometime between 2000-2004.

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