President and Sister Nelson, Elder and Sister Christofferson embark on Southeast ministry

Continuing his worldwide ministry, President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, embarked Friday to Southeast Asia, with plans to visit four countries in seven days Nov. 15 to Nov. 22.

“Wendy and I are looking forward to traveling with Elder D. Todd Christofferson (of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) and his wife (Sister Kathy Christofferson) to Southeast Asia,” said President Nelson. “We will have the privilege of visiting two countries celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Church being organized in their lands — Singapore and Indonesia — and two countries where the Church is much younger — Vietnam and Cambodia.”

President Nelson will speak at member meetings and meet with government and religious leaders.

There are 30,000 Latter-day Saints and four missions in the countries the leaders will visit.

Almost a decade ago, President Nelson visited Singapore and Indonesia as an Apostle in February 2010.

This will be the first visit to Vietnam and Cambodia by a Church president in more than 20 years. President Gordon B. Hinckley visited Vietnam and Cambodia in 1996 and Singapore and Indonesia in 2000. No other president of the Church has visited these countries.

 “We have been honored by officials from Vietnam and elsewhere who have visited us in Salt Lake City, and we look forward to becoming better acquainted in their countries,” said President Nelson. “This is a vibrant corner of the world, one that has seen plenty of strife through the years but also a region filled with valiant, resilient, determined souls. We hope to share a message of hope, peace and love for the Lord Jesus Christ to all who are willing to listen.”

Elder David F. Evans, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Asia Area, called President Nelson’s visit “a tremendous blessing.”

“We can feel the excitement and the joy,” he said. Members throughout the area will be traveling at some personal sacrifice and with significant time commitments to attend meetings with the prophet “for, perhaps, the only time in their lifetime.”

“These gatherings will be among the smallest gatherings that he will likely go to during the course of his ministry as President of the Church,” said Elder Evans. “As we’ve discussed that with him and others, he’s expressed a lot of joy about having the opportunity to be in a somewhat more intimate setting.”

Cows rest near the Kampong Thom Branch in Cambodia on April 28, 2018.
Cows rest near the Kampong Thom Branch in Cambodia on April 28, 2018. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

President Nelson sees “a bright future for the Church in Asia, and in these countries in Southeast Asia, where he is going.”

“He also recognizes the extraordinary commitment by these members of the Church who have accepted the gospel in places where most people have not either been traditionally Christian or had the opportunity to make the kind of wonderful changes in life that go with accepting the gospel and converting to the Church.”

Vietnam is a country where the presence of the Church is relatively new and growing. In Cambodia, there are about 15,000 Latter-day Saints in 29 congregations and one mission. The Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple was announced by President Nelson in October 2018 during general conference.

About 14,000 members of the Church, in 43 congregations, reside in Singapore and Malaysia. The Church is celebrating 50 years in Singapore this year. About 7,500 Latter-day Saints in 24 congregations live in Indonesia, and there is one mission. The Church is also celebrating 50 years in Indonesia this year.