Elder Uchtdorf encourages building ‘a strong foundation for the future’ during ministry in southeast Asia

In Thailand, Elder Uchtdorf made a surprise visit to the country’s first FSY conference, ministered to members and presented a humanitarian donation

During a seven-day ministry in southeast Asia, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made a surprise visit to the first For the Strength of Youth conference in Thailand; did in-person and virtual meetings with leaders, members and young adults; presented a humanitarian donation from the Church; and met with religious leaders in Indonesia, reported

Elder Uchtdorf encouraged all to prepare for the opening of the Bangkok Thailand Temple next year. The temple is the first in Thailand.

“We came here to lift up the members, but they lifted us up because of their goodness and their kindness,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “Their dedication to the Lord will be a strong foundation for the future. They are building a legacy for the future.”

Meeting with youth, young adults and leaders 

More than 300 youth gathered from all over Thailand to participate in the country’s first FSY conference. Elder Uchtdorf made a surprise visit on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and passed out copies of the new “For the Strength of Youth” guide. He told the youth that God will help them make correct choices.

“You are the future of Thailand. You are the future of the goodness of Thailand,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “Take on your responsibility to build up your own legacy of goodness and faithfulness by putting your trust in the Lord.”

Conference attendee Papawarin Thanadechwaranon said, “Normally I feel like I am just an ordinary person in this world, but after what Elder Uchtdorf said, I feel more important.”

Also while in Thailand during the weekend of Oct. 22-23, Elder Uchtdorf met with priesthood leaders from 12 territories throughout the area in person and via Zoom. Members in Bangkok gathered to hear Elder Uchtdorf in person or via a broadcast, and he also spoke at a young adult devotional.

In Thailand, Elder Uchtdorf was accompanied by Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder David P. Homer, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Asia Area, and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, and his wife, Sister Carol Waddell. 

Elder Uchtdorf encouraged the young adults to focus on what they could do in their current circumstances and not on what they could not do. 

“You are the message. You are the testimony. You are the strength. And your choices will make all the difference,” he said.

James Chaoworatrakhul said Elder Uchtdorf’s words helped him make an important decision.

“Some of us aren’t sure if we should serve a mission,” Chaoworatrakhul said. “But now I’m sure that I want to serve a mission and share all the things I’ve learned from him.”

There are more than 23,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 41 congregations in Thailand, which is also known as “Land of the Smiles.” 

‘Serve all of God’s children’

At the Good Shepherd Sisters in Bangkok, 88-year-old Sister Louise helps to provide shelter and educational training for at-risk women. She and Elder Uchtdorf became fast friends during the Apostle’s visit with Bishop Waddell on Monday, Oct. 24, reported

“We both know that true happiness comes by following the teachings of Jesus Christ to serve all of God’s children,” Elder Uchtdorf wrote of Sister Louise in a Facebook post.

Elder Uchtdorf presented Sister Louise with a humanitarian donation from the Church that will help build a teaching kitchen to provide vocational training for the women at Good Shepherd Sisters. “These cooking skills will make the difference between a life of poverty and one of prosperity,” Elder Uchtdorf wrote. 

Sister Louise told “It is very, very important for all religions to support each other, and I am so glad that this is happening today. It’s a means of uniting together. We are all one. And we are all one because all these people are interested in other human beings and the betterment of others and lifting them up. We are all God’s people.”

Building bridges through understanding 

While in Thailand, Elder Uchtdorf went to the Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, in Bangkok and shared the importance of understanding and respecting the religious history and faith of others, reported. 

Elder Uchtdorf also ministered in Indonesia, where there are more than 7,500 Church members in 24 congregations. He visited the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, which is the largest mosque in southeast Asia, and met with Dr. Nasaruddin Umar, the grand imam of the mosque, and Dr. Alwi Shihab, the Indonesian president’s special envoy to the Middle East and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, on Thursday, Oct. 20. They sought to build bridges of understanding between Muslims and members of the Church, reported

Dr. Shihab, who has had a relationship with the Church for over 25 years, is working on an educational program to help students respect all religions.

He said: “We are all from the same source, from God the Almighty — Christians, Jews and Muslims. And according to the Quran, we need to find commonalities between us for us to cooperate positively and to live together harmoniously.”

Of Indonesia, Elder Uchtdorf said: “I have a special feeling for Indonesia. It’s the largest population of Muslim people in the world, and they welcome us. We respect their religion, their tradition and their way of life.”

Earlier this month, Elder Uchtdorf was in New Zealand to rededicate the Hamilton New Zealand Temple. 

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‘A beacon of light and a place of hope’: Elder Uchtdorf rededicates Hamilton New Zealand Temple
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