BANGKOK, Thailand — Amid highways, skyscrapers and a rail link in this city that just five decades ago was navigated by boat through canals and klongs, President Russell M. Nelson stands back and imagines a new temple.
It is hot and humid in Thailand, but President Nelson doesn’t seem to mind the weather. Motioning upward, he speaks of the six-story sacred building that will feature a grand central spire and eight smaller spires.
A separate 91,370-square-foot multipurpose building will stand behind the temple, housing two Church meetinghouses, an area service center, seminary and institute classrooms, and mission offices and living quarters. There will be extensive underground parking.
“We will make good use of this property,” he says, adding that he foresees “no obstacles in the way.”
Before the temple here was announced in April 2015, the nearest LDS temple was in Hong Kong, more than 1,000 miles away.
Located in a redeveloping residential and business district of Bangkok on the site of the current Church office building on Petchaburi Road, the property is directly in front of the Makkasen Station on Bangkok’s Airport Rail Link.
“My thoughts are almost inexpressible,” President Nelson says to reporters of the temple, the first constructed in mainland Southeast Asia.
“It is going to be a happy day,” he added.
Accompanied by his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, President Nelson would again speak of Bangkok’s temple in a member meeting a few hours later.
“We will build that temple as fast as we can,” he told more than 3,000 members gathered at the Queen Sirikit Conference Center. “But it is up to you to build yourselves to the point where you can go to the temple.”
The end in mind
Bangkok was the sixth stop on President Nelson’s global ministry tour — a whirlwind trip to eight cities on three continents in 11 days, April 11 through April 22.
Each stop on the tour had a significant tie to the temple. The prophet spoke of the ancient temple in Jerusalem; the announcement of temples to be constructed in Kenya, Zimbabwe, India and Thailand; and the blessings of the historically significant temples of London, England; Hong Kong and Laie, Hawaii.
“Everything we’ve done in these last few days together circling the globe could be summed up in two words — the temple,” said President Nelson at the conclusion of his tour in Hawaii. “In Jerusalem we talked about the temple Jesus loved. And in several cities, we talked about the temple that is going to come to their place, and here in the shadows of the temple in Hawaii we talked about temples again.”
The temple, however, is not only the central theme of President Nelson’s global ministry tour, but also of his presidency.
President Nelson broadcast his first address as prophet from the Salt Lake Temple annex. The new First Presidency wants “to begin with the end in mind,” he said.
“The end for which each of us strives is to be endowed with a power in a house of the Lord, sealed as families — faithful to the covenants made in a temple that qualify us for the greatest gift of God, that of eternal life.”
He said ordinances and covenants of the temple are key to strengthening marriage and family and the ability to resist the attacks of the adversary. “Your worship in the temple and your service there for your ancestors will bless you with increased personal revelation and peace and will fortify your commitment to stay on the covenant path.”
‘Change your life’
Speaking during the final session of the Church’s historic 188th Annual General Conference, President Nelson announced the construction of seven new temples — including the first in the countries of India, Russia and Nicaragua.
“We want to bring temples closer to the expanding membership of the Church,” he said. “Construction of these temples may not change your life, but your time in the temple surely will. In that spirit, I bless you to identify those things you can set aside so you can spend more time in the temple.”
In India, President Nelson explained that as the Church grows in various parts of the world, temple building is essential.
But going into general conference, President Nelson had not planned to announce a temple for India.
“Our plans were to announce six new temples at conference time,” said President Nelson. “The Lord told me on the eve of conference: ‘Announce a temple in India.’ … That was the Lord’s doing.”
President Nelson told members “it was a thrill” for him to “receive the real impression” that he should announce the temple for India. “This will bless not only the people of India but in neighboring nations.”
In a way, he said, “it is easier for us to build a temple, than it is for us to build a people who are ready for the ordinances and covenants of the temple. It is going to take you a while to get ready.”
President Nelson told the congregation he is looking forward to returning to India to participate in the temple’s dedication. “I am 93 years old,” he said. “You had better hurry.”
That will be a happy day, he concluded. “That will be the only day that will be even happier for me than today.”
It’s been a year since President Thomas S. Monson announced plans to build a temple in Nairobi, Kenya, and two years since plans were announced for a temple in Zimbabwe.
Members in Zimbabwe began lining up at 8 a.m.for the 5 p.m. meeting with President Nelson and Elder Holland. After the meeting, “it was hard for [President Nelson] to leave the auditorium and it was hard for them to let him,” said Elder Holland.
In Kenya, some members traveled up to 16 hours to attend the meeting with President Nelson.
“I don’t know how long it will take to build that temple,” President Nelson said, “but let’s have a little contest: See if you can build your lives to be ready and your ancestral documentation to be ready for when the temple comes.”
He also emphasized the importance of prophets, the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the priesthood, family and worshipping Jesus Christ. He said one of the great lessons of his 93-year life is that people are God’s children and He speaks to them.
“It’s no different for you than it is for me,” he said. “You can get personal revelation for your own circumstances, just as naturally as I can for my circumstances. You get it for your family and yourself, and I get it for the whole Church.”
Everywhere he stopped, President Nelson’s message was the same: “We have been a temple-building people under the direction of the Lord from day one,” he said in India. “We will have to give up contention, we will have to learn to love one another, we will have to keep the commandments, we will have to be honest, then we will be ready to enter the temple.”